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The Times, a UK publication owned by Rupert Murdoch and News Corp has been publishing a series of climate science-bashing articles penned by their star reporter and environment editor, Jonathan Leake. Yesterday's offering is quite the tour de force - "World may not be warming, say scientists."

Let's have a closer look at the latest rectal methane released into the corporate conservative echo chamber.

Leake has been publishing regular attacks on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (this is the sixth attack article in the past month). Today he begins with:

In its last assessment the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the evidence that the world was warming was “unequivocal”.

It warned that greenhouse gases had already heated the world by 0.7C and that there could be 5C-6C more warming by 2100, with devastating impacts on humanity and wildlife. However, new research, including work by British scientists, is casting doubt on such claims. Some even suggest the world may not be warming much at all.

From this paragraph, you would assume that new research has been published that casts doubt on the warming trend in temperature data. You would be mistaken about new and research.

First citation to support the conclusion comes from John Christy.

“The temperature records cannot be relied on as indicators of global change,” said John Christy, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a former lead author on the IPCC.

John Christy and his partner Roy Spencer at the University of Alabama at Huntsville made critical analytic errors in handling temperature data from weather balloons (radiosonde) and satellites.  In a panel of his scientific peers, Christy acknowledged the errors:

Specifically, surface data showed substantial global-average warming, while early versions of satellite and radiosonde data showed little or no warming above the surface.  This significant discrepancy no longer exists because errors in the satellite and radiosonde data have been identified and corrected. New data sets have also been developed that do not show such discrepancies.


Making mistakes has not stopped Christy from becoming one of James Inhofe's frequent guests or Spencer from becoming Limbaugh's "favorite scientist." [Spencer is also a creationist opposed to the theory of evolution.]

Has Christy published something new that has cast doubt on the value of surface temperature readings? Not hardly. So why is Leake highlighting the opinions of Christy? Given Christy's track record of mistakes and failed replication by others using other methods and data, Leake would be talking about Christy-gate or satellite-gate if it were not someone feeding the skeptic meme.

Leake next invokes Ross McKitrick, a Canadian economist that claims to be a statistical whiz.

The IPCC faces similar criticisms from Ross McKitrick, professor of economics at the University of Guelph, Canada, who was invited by the panel to review its last report.

The experience turned him into a strong critic and he has since published a research paper questioning its methods.

McKitrick has committed laughable analytic mistakes. Some of his mistakes have been so bad that scientific journal editors resigned for not catching them. These mistakes have also not stopped McKitrick from being a vocal critic of climate science.

“We concluded, with overwhelming statistical significance, that the IPCC’s climate data are contaminated with surface effects from industrialisation and data quality problems. These add up to a large warming bias,” he said.

Leake moves on to Anthony Watts, a non-credentialed television weather forecaster who likes to call himself a meteorologist and runs the anti-climate science website known as WattsUpWithThat.

Such warnings are supported by a study of US weather stations co-written by Anthony Watts, an American meteorologist and climate change sceptic.

His study, which has not been peer reviewed, is illustrated with photographs of weather stations in locations where their readings are distorted by heat-generating equipment.

Actually, Mr. Leake, not only is Watts' publication for the Heartland Institute not peer-reviewed, its conclusions have been evaluated and found unsupported in empirical analyses for a peer-reviewed publication by Matthew Menne and colleagues.

In other words, photos and site surveys do not preclude the need for data analysis, and concerns over exposure must be evaluated in light of other changes in observation practice such as new instrumentation.

Indeed, our analysis does provide evidence of bias in poor exposure sites relative to good exposure sites; however, given the evidence provided by that poor exposure sites are predominantly MMTS sites, this bias is consistent with previously documented changes associated with the widespread conversion to MMTS-type sensors in the USHCN. Moreover, the bias in unadjusted maximum temperature data from poor exposure sites relative to good exposure sites is, on average, negative while the bias in minimum temperatures is positive (though smaller in magnitude than the negative bias in maximum temperatures).


Poor exposure sites are biased toward colder readings rather than the warm bias touted by Watts. The warming trend in the past 30 years is stronger in the good exposure sites than poor exposure sites.  I doubt Watts will ever acknowledge the lack of empirical support for his pet hypothesis or that Leake will ever bother to report the failure.


What we have here is a double standard. The IPCC is held to a standard of absolute perfection with any mistake elevated to conspiracy or fraud, typically with Leake applying the -gate suffix to each story. However, the critics of climate science are held to no standard, past egregious mistakes are ignored, and opinion allowed to supplant empirical evidence. In fact, at the end of Leake's story is a direct link to a publication by Anthony Watts. This garbage is what passes for journalism in the world controlled by Rupert Murdoch and News Corp.

Originally posted to DWG on Tue Feb 16, 2010 at 05:34 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  In a way, Watts did climate science a great help (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, EdlinUser, DWG

    He asked a legit question: Is the location of the data stations acceptable? And the answer is "no", actually. But, in identifying this problem, he accidentally strengthened the global warming consensus a bit, since he got those folks to go out and ask "well, for these poorly situated stations, what is the actual instead of perceived bias introduced". In identifying the unexpected cooling bias introduced by the type of thermometer it's helped the climate science folks to further refine their data analysis.

    I highly doubt Watts is happy that his analysis has ended up backfiring on him (well, backfiring on him in the eyes and ears of those who actually analyze all the data), with the end result being a pretty valuable addition to the climate science arena.

    We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving. - Kingsley Shacklebolt

    by chparadise on Tue Feb 16, 2010 at 05:44:58 PM PST

    •  True (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It is a viable issue and important one to address. The trouble is that the news will not circulate in the echo chamber.

      I did enjoy the recognition given to Watts in the acknowledgements of the Menne paper.

      Acknowledgements:  The authors wish to thank Anthony Watts and the many volunteers at for their considerable efforts in documenting the current site characteristics of USHCN stations.

      Please help the people of Haiti

      by DWG on Tue Feb 16, 2010 at 06:27:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This crap has been all over the place (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, third Party please, DWG

    Not surprising given the tight alliance between the corporate world of the media and the right.

    I keep thinking that these people are really making one hell of a bet on a lame horse.  Pretty consistent actually.  From finance to global warming they've taken the wrong side on every issue.  Sooner or later it will finish them.  Let's just hope and pray that they don't take us with them.

    Die energie der Welt ist constant; die Entropie der welt strebt einem Maximum zu. - Rudolf Clausius, 1865

    by xgy2 on Tue Feb 16, 2010 at 05:45:06 PM PST

  •  Warming (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    third Party please, DWG, xgy2

    Why is global warming even debatable in light of before and after shots of glaciers like the Muir Glacier?

    No amount of soft-shoeing the temperature data can make that go away. This debate is just as stupid as creationism and as we see the two often go hand in hand, along with other nitwit aspects of right wing derangement syndrome.

    •  Why indeed? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And one could also ask another question. Given that reserves of fossil fuels are dwindling and will be rapidly exhausted within 50 years or so, why not expedite transition to non-carbon energy sources?  It would seem that a more rapid transition to clean energy sources will encourage innovation, create jobs, and prevent a rapid spike in energy in near future. The right wing derangement syndrome is killing us in so many ways.

      Please help the people of Haiti

      by DWG on Tue Feb 16, 2010 at 06:40:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thank you DWG. You went through significant amount of effort to debunk the flat-earthers. Anymore, I just ignore them. It's too much work debunking every such claim.

    Stealing from a famous Mahatma Gandhi quote:

    "Throughout history, science and reason have always won over superstition and ignorance. Think of it: Always"

    So, let them shout and scream. Who cares.

    •  The simple answer (0+ / 0-)

      So far the anti-science has been effective in persuading a large segment of our population (not to mention the UK, Canada, and Australia) to distrust the scientists and oppose action to reduce carbon pollution.

      Science and reason may eventually win out, but it requires action. Passivity in the face of well-funded disinformation campaigns will not succeed.

      Please help the people of Haiti

      by DWG on Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 05:05:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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