Change in Hottest Year Fuels Global Warming Skeptics

By Knickerbocker, Brad | The Christian Science Monitor, August 23, 2007 | Go to article overview

Change in Hottest Year Fuels Global Warming Skeptics


Knickerbocker, Brad, The Christian Science Monitor


Was 1998 the hottest year in United States history, as most reporting on climate change has presumed? Or was that record set back in 1934 before "global warming" became a scary household phrase?

A corrective tweak to National Aeronautics and Space Administration's formulation shows that the hottest year on record in the US indeed was back during the Dust Bowl days.

But does this mean that all the concern about global warming being a relatively recent phenomenon tied to carbon-belching power plants and hulking SUVs is a bunch of Al Gore hooey?

Climate change skeptics and their cheering section among conservative bloggers and radio shoutmeisters think so - even though most scientists say, no, the tweak is not a big deal and overall trends are in the direction of toastier days around the globe.

The controversy began "when Steve McIntyre of the blog Climateaudit.org e-mailed NASA scientists pointing out an unusual jump in temperature data from 1999 to 2000," reports The Los Angeles Times."When researchers checked, they found that the agency had merged two data sets that had been incorrectly assumed to match. When the data were corrected, it resulted in a decrease of 0.27 degrees Fahrenheit in yearly temperatures since 2000 and a smaller decrease in earlier years. That meant that 1998, which had been 0.02 degrees warmer than 1934, was now 0.04 degrees cooler."

Put another way, the new figures show that 4 of the 10 warmest years in the US occurred during the 1930s, not more recently. This caused a stir among those critical of the push to stem human- induced climate change.

"Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh used reports of the revisions to argue that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by scientists with liberal agendas," reported The Washington Post."We have proof of man-made global warming," Limbaugh said on his show.... "The man-made global warming is inside NASA. The man-made global warming is in the scientific community with false data."

Blogger Steve McIntyre, who started the controversy, lives in Canada. His hometown newspaper, The Toronto Star, headlined its story "Red faces at NASA over climate-change blunder.""They moved pretty fast on this," McIntyre said. "There must have been some long faces."

Still, McIntyre called his finding "a micro-change," and others agree. …

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