A very embarrassing chapter in the history of our nation’s scientific establishment has been unfolding thanks to a creative new website www.SurfaceStations.org set up and run by Anthony Watts. This site is providing unwelcome scrutiny to the United States’ surface temperature measurement network, supposedly the most reliable in the world. The reputation has been built over the years in part because of our government’s purported insistence on uniformity of technology as well as siting (putting the gauges where they will gather the most accurate data) and maintenance standards.
But if you place your measuring equipment in the wrong place you could help start a global warming panic. Which is, apparently, just what government bureaucrats are doing.
Recently, evidence increasingly made its way to people who pay attention to such things that that our network’s reliability was not all that it was cracked up to be, that there just might be misplacement of measurement instruments enhancing a mild warming trend begun in the late 1970s that otherwise seems to have stopped. Now, a full-blown scandal is erupting, exposing the expensive U.S. surface measurements as quite possibly not much more than yet another tool in the global warming alarmists’ kit to frighten taxpayers into accepting a radical eco-lifestyle agenda.
The importance of network standards and accuracy emerged as a concern after economics professor Ross McKitrick charted a dramatic, worldwide closure of fully one-half of the planet’s surface temperature measurement stations from 1989-91. Those closures — and the limitation of data that resulted — resulted in a statistical artifact — the “hottest decade ever!” according to agenda-driven alarmists — of an apparent jump in global surface temperatures in the 1990s. Not a warming trend, mind you, but a sudden shift upward. As it turns out this in all likelihood is simply a product of having closed thousands of cold-weather latitude stations, at a time when for example the Soviets/Russians found themselves with bigger things to worry about than maintaining Siberian thermometers, such as a collapsing empire.
So the enterprising Mr. Watts, a TV and radio meteorologist, began taking a closer look here at home. Watts put out a call for individuals to photograph each of America’s 1221 surface stations. As the first snaps came in Watts noticed a preponderance of ridiculously sited temperature apparatuses which common sense would dictate factored in a warming bias among the U.S. network (which, remember, is the world’s least unreliable).
It seems fair to conclude that siting thermometers in Arizona parking lots, overhanging black asphalt pads, near cell towers and hot-air blowing air conditioner exhausts or next to trash burn barrels has to result from either a complete breakdown of scientific discipline or an intent to skew the data to produce evidence of global warming.
But what can you say about setting one just away from a chimney directly above a Weber barbecue grill? That’s just what they did in Hopkinsville, KY. These practices would be hilarious if they didn’t result in large amounts of corrupted data upon which our policymakers desperately seek to base an energy scarcity regime.
This embarrassment came amid NASA also having to correct its data since the year 2000, which has been used to support many of the global warming alarmists’ “money claims”, such as Al Gore’s line that 9 of the 10 hottest years on record occurred in the past decade.
Well, no. We now know that this is false and that NASA has corrected the record to reflect that the warmest year in the U.S. was 1934, 4 of the 10 warmest here occurred in the 1930s, 3 during the 1990s, and one each in the 1920s, 1950s and this decade.
That this claim has now been debunked, like most every other statement of substance in Mr. Gore’s movie, will no doubt be disregarded by activist educators using the propagandistic movie in school curricula.
Regardless, as a result of all of the controversy a clearly not amused National Climatic Data Center suddenly pulled the actual locations of the temperature measuring stations from publicly available resources! Mr. Watts took them to task. As of this writing, the locations are again publicly available.
This brazen act nonetheless prompted me to file a request under the Freedom of Information Act seeking the internal deliberations behind such apparent trickery. NCDC has yet to respond, but watch this space, for I also sought internal discussion of a related, potential scandal picked up by climatologist Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr. That is NCDC’s continuing decision to not make photos of particular Historical Climate Network sites, that are in their possession, publicly available (see Pielke’s blog post, “NOAA Cover Up Of US Historical Climate Network Surface Station Photographs”).
Remember, even though they may not want us to look, these are your tax dollars at work. Not for you, but for those who are aiming to saddle you with a greater tax burden and their idea of a green lifestyle. As Kermit the Frog used to say, “it’s not easy being green.” For Americans, it won’t be easy. It’ll be enormously expensive.
(Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to Mr. Watts as Dr. Watts. We regret the error.)