Clear, simple and wrong

Arne at Night

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” – H.L. Mencken

‘Everyone with half a brain knows global warming is a load of crap, right? The whole thing’s a socialist fraud and guess what, it’s just been busted wide open. Turns out the world isn’t really warming anyway. NASA have been fiddling the data records for years and now they’ve been caught red-handed. It’s over, baby. Over.’

Er, no.

It seems that US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher is going to instigate formal hearings into adjustments made to NASA GISS climate records. Some sceptics are getting very excited about this, but frankly the prospect fills me with dread.

Let’s face it, whatever form the hearings take (assuming they happen), they will inevitably be used by Rohrabacher and colleagues for grandstanding and partisan point scoring. The sight of a bunch of self-righteous Republicans aggressively interrogating NASA scientists will not be edifying, and is more likely to repel neutrals than win them over. I suspect those involved are hoping to create a sceptical version of James Hansen’s famous/infamous 1988 congressional testimony which more or less kick-started global warming alarmism in the public eye. But it is impossible to discuss temperature record adjustments in any meaningful way without diving into a lot of pretty arcane detail. Even if a few minor points could be scored, I would be very surprised to find Rohrabacher and company have both the aptitude and patience required.

If there is a silver bullet that can kill off climate alarmism, it certainly isn’t the adjustments to global temperature series. When I first looked into the subject a few years ago I was sure that alarmists had their thumb on the scales. But the closer I looked, the more the adjustments made sense – including TOBS, station moves, equipment changes, etc. There is still uncertainty about the UHI effect but nobody, whether mainstream or sceptic, seems to be able to really get to grips with it.

The only way the GISS temperature series could possibly be considered fraudulent is in the claimed accuracy of the results, and in what they mean as evidence to support global warming alarmism. The real problems with global surface temperatures are poor coverage and accuracy of the raw data, which between them mean we may accept the results as useful approximations, but certainly not as data correct to ±0.1°C.

If the Republicans really want to haul alarmism over the coals, there are far better targets. The computer models that underpin forecasts of dangerous global warming have utterly failed to predict the climate. The IPCC process, by which climate science is packaged up neatly for politicians to play with, is badly broken. The much-trumpeted 97% consensus is a total farce. Any of these subjects would generate excellent political theatre, and each contain some guaranteed bulls-eyes that would not only make the scientific point but also hurt the Democrats (if that is your aim). If the political knock-about is all that matters then GISS will make as good a topic as any, but it will be a terribly wasted opportunity and could easily backfire badly.

As they say, be careful what you wish for.

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