Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Global Warming Wrestling Match


While the Global Warming Propaganda Wrestling Match continues apace, pitting, in this corner, Climate Denier, against, in the far corner, Climate Alarmist, others have been calmly looking at the data and saying, "Excuse me, did you notice...?"

In USHCN vs USHCN Version 2 – more induced warmth, E.M. Smith points out that NASA has modified its US Historic Climate Network data set, again. After having previously deleted 75% of the temperature reporting sites, retaining urban sites with their Urban Heat Island effects intact, now we learn that NASA is putting many of those sites back in the mix, "adjusting" the data as they do so.

As a budding graduate student learning the ins and outs of academe, I remember my astonishment in discovering the power of statistical manipulation of raw data. I was working with tree-rings, both as chronological markers for archaeology sites and as proxy climate data for reconstructing climate factors in Inupiat migrations in northwest Alaska. I learned that through the application of principle component analysis and other powerful tools, one could reduce highly complex raw data into virtually meaningless graphs that could be interpreted to support whatever preconceived hypothesis was put forward.

This didn't sit too well with my ideological underpinnings. I opted for simpler smoothing and growth based regressions, leaving the heavier data manipulation to those with climate axes to grind. They promptly left me behind, as well, not to mention out of the grant and publication loop.

So I understand how data manipulation takes a strong upper hand, even if there is no nefarious agenda being served by the manipulators.

While I see how climate data is easily shaped to support either the Climate Denier or Climate Alarmist agendae, I don't see quite so clearly the motivations of their proponents. Hansen, of course, is on the world stage and has staked out a circle for himself that he must defend at all costs, else he, and NASA, come out with egg on their scientific faces. Pachauri has his reputation sunk in the IPCC, and his fingers in many carbon trading and alternative energy technology pockets, not to mention his own liberal "think tank" in India. Many of the global warming skeptics express their distrust of climate change conclusions in terms of detriment to world economics, that is, capitalism and the universal mythology of perpetual economic growth.

What gets lost in all this burning rhetoric is growing global imperialism and militarism, air, water and land pollution, topsoil loss, fresh water depletion, critical habitat loss, human population increase with concomitant consumption and, most of all, increasing frustration and feelings of disenfranchisement in the process of government.

Climate change is real. The extent of human influence on global climate has yet to be objectively established. Until then, we have other wrestlers in the ring threatening to pin us to the mat before they tag their Global Warming partners.