Colorado scientist’s cool-headed analysis amid global warming alarmism

By | August 6th, 2012

For decades, we have been subjected to the modern-day apocalyptic vision of global warming.

Beginning with the 1988 Congressional testimony of James Hansen, longtime director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, an academic industry, supported by a number of western governments and the United Nations, has grown up around the idea that carbon dioxide emissions were helping to bake the planet.

Egged on by data that appeared to show an unprecedentedly rapid warming in the 20th century, media populizers have spread warnings of a sick planet, whose oceans were set to engulf the coasts where much of our civilization lies.

When U.S. Sen. Barack Obama clinched the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 [see video above], he said - with self-proclaimed humility - in St. Paul, Minn. that we would look back at this as “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”.

However, in the wake of the Climategate scandal and the debunking of Michael Mann’s famous “hockey stick” graph, the reliability of the underlying data used to produce these studies has increasingly come into question.

Recently, three papers were published on that subject.

One, the BEST project started by Richard A. Muller at Berkeley, led to the “The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic,” his Op-Ed in the New York Times.

Two other studies undermine the main global warming narrative. One “discussion paper” is by Anthony Watts of the blog Watts Up With That.

Roger Pielke, Sr., a senior research scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado, provided “inspiration, advice, and technical proofreading of this study,” according to the paper, which Pielke described as “a game changing study,” if the findings are robust.

The other study, of which Pielke is a co-author, is from R.T. McNider of the University of Alabama, Huntsville.

Pielke, who co-wrote “Human Impacts on Weather and Climate,” has been critical of the conduct of climate science in the past, but is not a skeptic, and certainly not a “denier.”  Based on ocean temperature data and atmospheric readings of CO2, Pielke believes that global warming is real, and that human CO2 does contribute to it.

Taken together, the Watts and McNider papers argue that the siting of temperature stations matters greatly, and that previously-held assumptions about random fluctuations cancelling out errors are incorrect. This means that for surface temperatures - the basis of the most widely-used data sets - a significant warm bias exists, meaning that the warming over the last several decades, while real, has been substantially overstated.

The papers undermine the wilder claims of the warming alarmists, and call into serious question much - if not most - of the baseline research that he been done using these data sets, including the BEST project, and from climate research centers such as GISS, East Anglia University, and the UN’s IPCC. It also means that claims that rest on the unprecedented rapidity of the warming are at most overstated.

As an alternative to the flawed surface data, Prof. Pielke suggests that the oceans do have a role in all of this - as a source of temperature data that is a more accurate reflection of actual warming.