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Opening Arguments

Cool off, please

Oh, my God! The sky is falling! Well, first, it's probably going to catch on fire, and then it will fall!

For the third time in a decade, the globe sizzled to the hottest year on record, federal scientists announced Friday.

Both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA calculated that in 2014 the world had its hottest year in 135 years of record-keeping. Earlier, the Japanese weather agency and an independent group out of University of California Berkeley also measured 2014 as the hottest on record.

I'm sure you've seen some version of that story. It was everywhere, and why not? It fits the narrative of Evil Humankind heedlessly destroying the very planet we live on. Perhaps you did not see this followup, which got, um, a tad less play:

The Nasa climate scientists who claimed 2014 set a new record for global warmth last night admitted they were only 38 per cent sure this was true…

The claim made headlines around the world, but yesterday it emerged that GISS’s analysis – based on readings from more than 3,000 measuring stations worldwide – is subject to a margin of error. Nasa admits this means it is far from certain that 2014 set a record at all.

Yet the Nasa press release failed to mention this, as well as the fact that the alleged ‘record’ amounted to an increase over 2010, the previous ‘warmest year’, of just two-hundredths of a degree – or 0.02C. The margin of error is said by scientists to be approximately 0.1C – several times as much.

As one critic drily noted: "This ties into the other side of the story which never seems to make its way onto the pages of Mother Jones or in the CNN chyrons." If you want an interesting (you decide on its reasonableness) explanation for all this, check out this link my brother sent me, by someone who has been in the climate research business for three decades:

We still don’t understand what causes natural climate change to occur, so we simply assume it doesn’t exist. This despite abundant evidence that it was just as warm 1,000 and 2,000 years ago as it is today. Forty years ago, “climate change” necessarily implied natural causation; now it only implies human causation.

What changed? Not the science…our estimates of climate sensitivity are about the same as they were 40 years ago.

What changed is the politics. And not just among the politicians. At AMS or AGU scientific conferences, political correctness and advocacy are now just as pervasive as as they have become in journalism school. Many (mostly older) scientists no longer participate and many have even resigned in protest.

Science as a methodology for getting closer to the truth has been all but abandoned. It is now just one more tool to achieve political ends.


Rebecca Mallory
Tue, 01/20/2015 - 3:56pm

NASA's Gavin Schmidt now says that the GISS data indicate a 38 percent chance that 2014 was the hottest year on record.

So much for the accurate reporting of "science."