In The Movie

THE JERK, Steve Martin performs a scene running around like a Jack Russel terrier whose owner has just turned off the expressway ten miles down the road, headed for home. His one line, repeated over and over, is, “The new phone books are here!”

I kinda feel that way about this report, from Anthony Watts’ Surface Stations initiative. Over the last couple of years, I’ve watched eagerly as the initiative has rolled up the numbers of stations surveyed, and with growing satisfaction as my suspicion has been confirmed that global warming has not even been proven to exist, let alone had its causes demonstrated, or its prognosis predicted. As Warren Meyer quotes:

We found stations located next to the exhaust fans of air conditioning units, surrounded by asphalt parking lots and roads, on blistering-hot rooftops, and near sidewalks and buildings that absorb and radiate heat. We found 68 stations located at wastewater treatment plants, where the process of waste digestion causes temperatures to be higher than in surrounding areas.

In fact, we found that 89 percent of the stations — nearly 9 of every 10 — fail to meet the National Weather Service’s own siting requirements that stations must be 30 meters (about 100 feet) or more away from an artificial heating or radiating/ reflecting heat source.

In other words, 9 of every 10 stations are likely reporting higher or rising temperatures because they are badly sited. It gets worse. We observed that changes in the technology of temperature stations over time also has caused them to report a false warming trend. We found major gaps in the data record that were filled in with data from nearby sites, a practice that propagates and compounds errors. We found that adjustments to the data by both NOAA and another government agency, NASA, cause recent temperatures to look even higher.

The conclusion is inescapable: The U.S. temperature record is unreliable. The errors in the record exceed by a wide margin the purported rise in temperature of 0.7° C (about 1.2° F) during the twentieth century. Consequently, this record should not be cited as evidence of any trend in temperature that may have occurred across the U.S. during the past century. Since the U.S. record is thought to be “the best in the world,” it follows that the global database is likely similarly compromised and unreliable.

This is what I mean when I say we neither know nor can we know that there is or has been global warming. I agree that the probability is high, but we have no data to back up that surmise. We can say that the data record shows a warming trend — of, coincidentally, (far less than the number Watts cites as the error induced by bad siting and construction of temperature recording stations) per century. But we cannot say that we know or have demonstrated that the warming actually has occurred.

For “settled science” and a “debate” that’s “over,” this is pretty thin stuff on which to found a church. If Algore wants to be a latter day Saint Peter to the high church of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, I think he needs to, in the words of Ayn Rand, re-examine his premises.

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