Accuracy in Media

Global warming advocates have taken some heavy hits recently. They base their forecasts of catastrophic climatic consequences on studies that purport to show dramatic warming over the coming decades. Left unchecked, they predict melting ice shelves, flooding coastlines, and other natural disasters. Human factors are at the root of all these potential catastrophes, they argue, so we must accept draconian limitations on our economic growth. But new research has called into question many key premises of global warming theories.

For example, many such predictions are based upon research by climatologist Michael Mann. His work purports to show that global temperatures over the past fifty years have been the highest on record. But two solar physicists challenged Mann by showing that there have been warmer periods in the past one- thousand years. Andrew Revkin of the New York Times smeared them by insinuating that their research was influenced by grants from the American Petroleum Institute. Revkin failed to report that a peer review of the research subsequently validated their conclusions.

Now Mann’s research has been attacked on another front. Two Canadian statisticians have uncovered serious methodological flaws in Mann’s calculations. They report that his research suffered from numerous “quality control defects.” Lorne Gunter, an Edmonton Journal columnist, charged that Mann’s predictions were based on the “wrong dates and the wrong numbers.” When corrected, his findings confirm that the 1500s were warmer than the 20th Century.

Global warming advocates and their friends in the media have also ignored discrepancies between surface and atmospheric temperature trends. Satellite temperature data have consistently shown dramatically lower atmospheric increases in comparison to trends on the Earth’s surface. Now the media have locked onto a study that purports to show convergence between the two data sources. The Times’ Revkin and Newsweek reported that a new interpretation of satellite data shows temperatures rising in the atmosphere at rates consistent with those measured on the surface.

But Newsweek and the Times couldn’t resist fudging even these data to hype their story. Newsweek and Revkin both claimed that the satellite data had “until now shown no evidence of warming whatsoever.” That’s not accurate. Dr. Fred Singer and others have reported the satellite data show a 0.1 degree Fahrenheit increase per decade in atmospheric temperatures since 1979. Revkin and Newsweek report that the new interpretation of the satellite data shows a 0.18 degree Fahrenheit increase.

Observers might be forgiven for asking what’s the big deal. Even if the gap between the two measuring systems is closing, it shows only a very modest warming trend. As Dr. John Christy, who has been analyzing satellite data for years, has said, these data show that the earth’s warming is “just not going in the dramatic and catastrophic direction.” And scientists seem no closer to comprehending the sources of even this modest warming. If that’s true, then why the rush to choke off economic growth?




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