October 16, 2009
A big chill on global warming
Something important is happening when even the BBC is compelled to ask, as it did this week, "What happened on global warming?" The British news organization has heretofore insisted that the scientific consensus was cemented long ago that global warming is real and is mainly caused by human use of carbon-based fossil fuels. Put simply, what has happened is global temperatures have dropped every year since 1998, recent peer-reviewed research has uncovered the decisive influence of hot and cold cycles in the oceans on land temperatures, and growing numbers of scientists with unquestioned credentials are stepping forward to question the conventional wisdom.
But reaching a new consensus will be exceedingly difficult because the raw data on which the landmark 1996 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change based its conclusion has been destroyed. The University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit acknowledged in August that it discarded data that, in addition to the IPCC report, has been cited by other international studies as the main justification for severe restrictions on carbon emissions worldwide. This development raises more troubling doubts about global warming just as scientists and policymakers are expected to call for harsh new limits on energy use in its name when they meet in December in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Every schoolchild knows that the last step in the scientific method is independent reproduction of results. But lost climate data cannot be reproduced, which is a huge problem for everybody. "Every time CRU massaged the temperature data, they were getting more warming from the same numbers. It's incumbent upon scientists to find out why, but you can't find out if you don't have the data," Dr. Patrick Michaels, senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute, told The Examiner. "The data needed to verify the gloom-and-doom warming forecasts have disappeared."
The Competitive Enterprise Institute has formally requested that the Environmental Protection Agency, which helps fund CRU, "reopen the record" and allow CEI and others to submit newly uncovered information regarding the East Anglia data destruction. The conservative think tank also wants to submit information about flaws in other data EPA is using as it devises stringent new anti-global warming regulations. Congress should also investigate the dumping of data partially paid for by U.S. taxpayers and other suspicious global warming anomalies, such as the temperature readings taken from "ghost weather stations" like the one at Maine's Ripogenus Dam. It was officially closed in 1995 but allegedly is still transmitting climate data 14 years later. Such questionable data sources must be eliminated if credible policy decisions are ever to be reached.