Monday, August 13, 2007

The Untouchables

Last week, Newsweek magazine soiled the bed over the so-called global warming "denial machine," demonizing as money-tainted obscurantists any scientists who dare question the fashionable orthodoxy among climate change alarmists. As Warren Meyer notes in a delightful "letter to the editor":
There are so many interesting scientific issues involved in climate change that it was flabbergasting to me that Newsweek would waste time on an extended ad hominem attack against one side in a scientific debate. I was particularly amazed that Newsweek would accuse the side of the debate that is outspent 1000:1 with being tainted by money. This is roughly equivalent to arguing that Mike Gravel's spending is corrupting the 2008 presidential election.
Yet now comes the amazing news that the NASA temperature database from which most of the alarmism community has been drawing was corrupted by--get this--the Y2K bug, and NASA has quietly had to revise their temperature estimates downward.

As noted at Meyer's Coyote Blog:
Today, the GISS [NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies] admitted that [the person who had noticed a likely program glitch] was correct, and has started to republish its data with the bug fixed. And the numbers are changing a lot. Before today, GISS would have said 1998 was the hottest year on record (Mann, remember, said with up to 99% certainty it was the hottest year in 1000 years) and that 2006 was the second hottest. Well, no more. Here are the new rankings for the 10 hottest years in the US, starting with #1:
1934, 1998, 1921, 2006, 1931, 1999, 1953, 1990, 1938, 1939
Three of the top 10 are in the last decade. Four of the top ten are in the 1930's, before either the IPCC or the GISS really think man had any discernible impact on temperatures.
He also asks a pertinent question, which shows how pernicious and ultimately anti-scientific the strong-arm attempts to silence opposition like the one at Newsweek last week really are:
So how is this possible? How can the global warming numbers used in critical policy decisions and scientific models be so wrong with so basic of an error? And how can this error have gone undetected for the better part of a decade? The answer to the latter question is because the global warming and climate community resist scrutiny. This weeks Newsweek article and statements by Al Gore are basically aimed at suppressing any scientific criticism or challenge to global warming research. That is why NASA can keep its temperature algorithms secret, with no outside complaint, something that would cause howls of protest in any other area of scientific inquiry.
"Denial machine" indeed. Science is about testing conflicting theories against the available evidence. When anyone attempts to shut down such inquiry by fiat, we should ask ourselves what they have to hide.

Oh, and incidentally, the one person most responsible for this corrupted NASA database? James Hansen, the incorruptible and untainted hero of last week's story in Newsweek. As an Investor's Business Daily editorial notes:
Hansen was once profiled on CBS' "60 Minutes" as the "world's leading researcher on global warming." Not mentioned by Newsweek was that Hansen had acted as a consultant to Al Gore's slide-show presentations on global warming, that he had endorsed John Kerry for president, and had received a $250,000 grant from the foundation headed by Teresa Heinz Kerry.
(Hat tip: Coyote Blog, via Hot Air--whose post you also really should read, via Centuri0n)

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