Energy & Environment

Pop Went the Climate Bubble

The New York Times’ editorial writers have apparently spent the last 11 months in a Rip Van Winkle-like state of unconsciousness when it comes to climate change.

Monday‘s lead editorial, “In Climate Denial Again,” railed about the 19 of 20 or so Republican Senate candidates who do not “accept the scientific consensus that humans are largely responsible for global warming.” The Times contrasted those deniers with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2007 report, the group’s “most definitive statement on the human contribution to climate change,” and a 2000 promise by George W. Bush to cap carbon dioxide emissions

But nowhere in the editorial did the Times recall Climategate or the other related global warming-related “gates” that the November 2009 scandal touched off—all of which, no doubt, helped make skeptics of 95% of Republican Senate candidates. So here’s a quick recap of what happened over the past year to the legendary scientific “consensus” on global warming.

Last November, a host of private and candid e-mails between climate alarmist-scientists stored at the University of East Anglia (UK) somehow made its way into the public domain and history. Like a shot heard around the world, the e-mails instantaneously validated what the climate skeptics had been saying for more than a decade about the alarmists — that they had cooked the books on global warming science and then conspired to silence and belittle their critics.

Most famously, the e-mails revealed that the alarmist community was aware and, indeed, even proud of the scientific fraud known as the “hockey stick” — a graph purporting to show that global temperatures had been stable over the last millennium and then had spiked upwards during the 20th Century, impliedly due to human activities. All this was expressed in an e-mail that featured the infamous Climategate phrase “Mike’s trick… to hide the decline.”

As it turns out, the reason a “trick” was needed to “hide the decline” was that, in reality, the hockey stick data used to show global temperatures spiking during the 20th Century actually showed a decline in the later part of the 20th Century — the precise opposite phenomena that the alarmists claimed to have occurred. But the inconvenient data was intentionally deleted and replaced with other, more cooperative data.

This fraud is what prompted Virginia Atty. Gen. Ken Cuccinelli to launch an investigation into whether Virginia taxpayers were defrauded by hockey stick inventor and former University of Virginia researcher Michael Mann.

Perhaps the real significance of Climategate is that it opened the floodgates of pent-up global skepticism. Climategate was followed in rapid succession by glacier-gate, rainforest-gate, Pachauri-gate and NASA-gate.

Glacier-gate exposed the much-repeated and IPCC-official falsehood that global warming was going to cause the disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035. This myth was used by Sen. John Kerry to whip up frenzy about Himalayan melting leading to regional water shortages and, ultimately, war between India and Pakistan.

As it turns out though, there never was any scientific study or evidence that the glaciers were going anywhere soon. The IPCC claim about the glaciers was based on a mere 1998 telephone interview with an obscure Indian scientist that was reported in the New Scientist magazine, which by the way, is not anywhere close to a peer-reviewed science journal.

Amazon-gate involved another IPCC claim that global warming was going to destroy 40% of the Amazon rainforest. Once again the sourcing of the factoid was dubious. It came from a report put together by the World Wildlife Fund, a radical green activist group. The report had not been independently peer-reviewed or validated.

Glacier-gate and Amazon-gate opened up the IPCC and its chief Rajendra Pachauri to a great deal of criticism and made Pachauri vulnerable to inquiries about his various conflicts of interest.

Though he positioned himself as the impartial head of the Nobel Peace prize winning IPCC, in reality Pachauri has had ties to many energy companies, including companies that planned on profiting from carbon trading. Reminiscent of another major UN scandal — oil-for-food — Pachauri-gate helps explain how glacier-gate and Amazon-gate happened.

The still ongoing NASA-gate involves the systematic distortion of global temperature readings by the U.S. government. As revealed by a team of skeptics riding the Climategate wave, NASA researchers were exposed as improperly manipulating temperature data to produce claims such as “2005 was the warmest year on record.”

The researchers showed how NASA had been gradually trimming the number of temperature stations (from about 6,000 in the 1970s to about 1,000 now) and then averaging temperature data in such a way as to produce synthetically warmer temperatures. The 2005-warmest-temperature-claim was, in fact, based on a temperature “data base” that had no original temperature data.

A fascinating aspect the past year’s meltdown in climate alarmism is that most of the facts underlying the developments weren’t newly discovered — at least to climate skeptics.

Glacier-gate, for example, was flagged at my web site JunkScience.com in 1998 when the claim was first made. The hockey stick had been publicly exposed and debunked in 2006, including in congressional hearings and by the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council. NASA’s skewing of temperature data was also a familiar topic of concern among skeptics.

Climategate was the straw that broke the alarmists’ back. The rapid-fire succession of glacier-gate, Amazon-gate and Pachauri-gate left global warming alarmism reeling. It now seems that the deniers are those who insist that Climategate and its progeny have not smashed the public confidence in the 50-year-old climate alarmism hypothesis.

But there is one lesson in physical science that the New York Times and its fellow alarmists will learn when they wake up from their stupor of denial — it takes a lot less time to pop a bubble that it does to create one.


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