Friday, August 24, 2007

Turns out Al Gore was full of hot air

A recent government report debunking global warming alarmists hardly received coverage in the mainstream media. This editorial from The (Delaware County) Daily Times struck my attention. It looks like Al Gore needs to return his Oscar because his "documentary" was based on bogus information. Read on:

Global warming may not be as hot a topic

Earlier this month, NASA quietly corrected its list of the warmest years on earth.
It turns out the hottest year on the planet, as reported in Al Gore’s Oscar-winning film "An Inconvenient Truth," was not 1998.

It was 1934.

In fact, after NASA’s recalculating the average U.S. surface-air temperatures for the lower 48 states, four of the Top 10 hottest years occurred in the 1930s, not in the 1990s or this century.

Why did NASA recalculate it previous findings? Was it done under pressure from the Bush administration?


NASA can thank a man named Steve McIntyre, a Canadian climatologist, who thought there was something wrong with NASA’s raw temperature data for some time and ultimately proved it to NASA’s satisfaction. And embarrassment.

What does this mean?

Well, for one thing, it means that those who believe in global warming dangers are going to have to change their scripts when it comes to their pronouncements of the hottest years on record.

It does not mean that global warming isn’t happening or that it is not a serious and important issue.

But it does raise questions and it can serve as a reminder that global-warming science is only as good as the people who perform it.

And, of course, that people, including scientists, make mistakes.

Moreover, scientists are no less likely to fall victim to a herd mentality than are experts in other fields, like journalism for instance.

Recently, Newsweek magazine produced a cover story on the "global-warming denial machine," in which it portrayed climate change skeptics as corrupt and in the pockets of Big Oil and big business.

But there are excellent reasons why America hasn’t adopted the sort of stringent, anti-warming regulations that were proposed by the Kyoto treaty in the 1990s. They are, simply put, too expensive and too ineffective to justify imposing on our (and the world) economy.

To the extent that carbon emissions are creating a greenhouse effect over the planet, there remain honest scientists unsure of just what the long-term effects will be. Again, that does not mean the issue should be ignored. It does not mean we should jump to "sky is falling" conclusions either.

There are excellent national security reasons for us to try to wean ourselves from foreign oil. And there are fine environmental reasons to cut down on our carbon emissions.
We cheer individual and community environmental efforts to cut pollution and energy usage.

But demonizing those who raise questions about the issue and point out how much we don’t know about it is not the best way to win hearts and change minds.

Copyright 2007, The Daily Times, Primos, Pa.


Breaking Point said...

Oh boy. Sorry, but, well, just no.

The very minor adjustment to the data set that Mr. Macintyre pointed out to NASA was, first of all, far from an embarrassment. NASA thanked him for his contribution and set to work making the adjustment right away.

More saliently, the adjustment makes no measurable difference to global temperature records whatsoever. None. At all. 1998 is still hotter than 1934, although 2005 is hotter than either. The adjustment only affects the continental U.S. records, a very small part of the global temperature record. 1934 now just barely edges out 1998 as the hottest year on record. No great surprise, as there are a number of hot years on record in the continental U.S. during the 1930's - you've heard of the Dust Bowl, I am sure.

Nothing about the adjustment changes anything about global warming or casts any doubt on what Gore reports in AIT. Climate scientists say that Gore got the science admirably right in that movie.

In sum, nothing at all has changed. If anyone reading this is interested in learning more about the adjustment and what it is all about, the full story as told by climate scientists is here at

What this sort of thing really makes me wonder is why there seems to be such an energetic brigade invested in playing "gotcha" with Al Gore, in everything from misrepresenting his personal consumption habits to freaking out over what he ate at his daughter's wedding, to this post here, taking a minor technical adjustment and blowing it up into evidence that "Al Gore was full of hot air."

To be honest with you, this kind of negative hyperbole does little to provide comfort that the "concerns" of those who would have us continue our present course heedless to the dangers of which the world's top climatologists have been warning us of for years are either sincere or well-founded.

In any event, you might really want to look more closely at whatever source it was that presented you with this misinformation about the NASA adjustment

LM said...

While it is certainly true that scientists make mistakes (not to mention journalists), the erroneous difference between 1934 and 1998 was so small that it didn't even reach statistical significance.

By and large, the consensus among climatologists is that the temperature of a single year is meaningless unless placed within the context of longer-term trends -- and the warming trend of recent years still holds quite firm.

I think striving for accuracy means it is important not only to correct mistakes, but also to avoid overstating their significance.