Global Warming Dogma Melts in Glaciergate

The latest in scientific malpractice from climate change alarmists.

Recent history has been unkind to those who maintain that human activity is leading to catastrophic climate change.

Two months ago, we had “Climategate,” the scandal that revealed how the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit had conspired to manipulate data and to bully scientific publications in order to silence scholarship that failed to affirm the global warming gospel. Last month, the failure the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to reach any kind of meaningful agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions dealt another hammer blow to the cause. The latest setback came last week, when the world was presented with a new climate scandal: Glaciergate.

In the latest case, it turns out that the IPCC employed shockingly sloppy science to suggest that, as a consequence of global warming, Himalayan glaciers were on the verge of destruction. Specifically, the IPCC fabricated a non-existent link between climate change and natural disasters. In its 2007 report, IPCC claimed that:

“…glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world, and if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate.”

That statement, it turns out, was not based so much on science as on speculation. It was based on a report published by the World Wildlife Fund in 2005. That report in turn was based on an article published in New Scientist in 1999, which had no scientific grounding at all. Glaciers don’t – can’t – melt that fast. If the current rate of melting continues, Himalayan glaciers might disappear in hundreds of years, not twenty five, which is the kind of “rounding error” that seems to permeate climate science.

The IPCC should have known better that to publish anything so patently ridiculous, and there were plenty of skeptics who told them so. “The absurdity was obvious to anyone who had studied the scientific literature,” Patrick J. Michaels, a senior fellow in environmental policy at the libertarian Cato Institute said. “This was not an honest mistake. IPCC had been warned about it for a year by many scientists.”

The chair of the IPCC, railroad engineer Rajendra Pachauri, acknowledged the grievous error in a press release, stating that the report presented:

“…poorly substantiated rates of recession and date for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers. In drafting the paragraph in question, the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedures, were not applied properly.”

Obviously this is an isolated incident, NASA scientist and global warming apologist Gavin Schmidt wrote at his website, Replace Gavin’s “The IPCC Is Not Infallible” header with “The IPCC Is Not Credible” and he might be a bit more believable. The more we learn about the way the IPCC does things, the less reason to entrust the future of the planet to this organization.

Speaking of “isolated incidents”, the 2007 IPCC report also said:

“Once the data were normalized, a small statistically significant trend was found for an increase in annual catastrophe loss since 1970 of 2% a year. Once losses are normalized for exposure, there still remains an underlying rising trend.”

This statement form the basis for alarmist claims that global warming is causing more severe weather around the world. We now know that this statement was based on a research paper authored by Robert Muir-Wood of Risk Management Solutions of London, a paper that was not actually finalized until 2008, a year after IPCC 2007 was published. And this will come as no surprise: the Muir-Wood concluded that there is no linkage between natural disasters like hurricanes, tornados, etc. and “climate change”.

Again, many scientists have dismissed the supposed causal relationship between the two for a long time. “All the literature published before and since the IPCC report shows that rising disaster losses can be explained entirely by social change,” Roger Pielke professor of environmental studies at Colorado University said. “People have looked hard for evidence that global warming plays a part but can’t find it. Muir-Wood’s study actually confirmed that.”

Which brings us to the United States’ very own version of Climagate. Legendary meteorologist John Coleman hosted a special broadcast aired by San Diego television station KUSI last week. According to Coleman and the Weather Channel’s Joseph D’Aleo NOAA has altered its method of representing global temperatures in order to inflate temperature increases. Coleman and D’Aleo say that NOAA reduced the number of global weather stations it uses from over 7,000 to less than 1,500 in order to artificially inflate temperatures. Consider one telling example from the broadcast: NOAA records temperatures in California based on weather stations in San Francisco and Los Angeles only. Weather stations located in the cooler, more upland regions of the state are no longer part of the data set.

NOAA doesn’t see any problems with its methodologies, relying heavily on the techniques developed by NASA’s Dr. James Hansen to estimate worldwide temperatures. Of course, the fact that Hansen is one of the nation’s most ardent global warming alarmists makes one wonder why anyone would entrust him with the task of proving a theory he has already declared to be irrefutable. According to the NOAA:

The analysis method was documented in Hansen and Lebedeff (1987), showing that the correlation of temperature change was reasonably strong for stations separated by up to 1200 km, especially at middle and high latitudes.

“Reasonably strong?” Not exactly a ringing endorsement. Nor does NOAA explain why, when trying to take the temperature of an entire planet, less data is better than more. It all strikes this scientist as very suspicious. But then this is the same NOAA that has simultaneously claimed that 2009 is one of the warmest years on record and that the summer of 2009 is the 34st coolest season recorded. The CRU scandal; disappearing glaciers that remain stubbornly in place; relying on research that doesn’t actually exist; more fun and games with temperature data – how many more blows can the alarmists take?

Three years ago, thirty eight per cent of Americans thought that global warming should be a top policy priority. The most recent Pew survey now pegs the number at twenty eight percent. Himalayan glaciers won’t disappear in the next twenty five years, but the more fragile science upon which global warming theory is built comes to light significant public support for alarmism may melt away in a tenth of the time.