Monday, 8 October 2018

Global Warming: In reality, or is it only in the data?

Just as the IPCC is about to issue a new report declaring that renewed effort will have to be taken politically to avert a 1.5 degree rise in global temperatures ("news" that you will hear being shouted from the rooftops by all your favourite media and social-media sources),  a detailed audit reveals that the very temperature set against which all global warming is measured is "unfit for purpose."
The first ever audit of the world’s most important temperature data set (HadCRUT4) has found it to be so riddled with errors and “freakishly improbable data” that it is effectively useless...
    HadCRUT4 is the primary global temperature dataset used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to make its dramatic claims about “man-made global warming”. It’s also the dataset at the centre of “ClimateGate” from 2009, managed by the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University.
    The audit finds more than 70 areas of concern about data quality and accuracy.
     But according to an analysis by Australian researcher Dr John McLean it’s far too sloppy to be taken seriously even by climate scientists, let alone a body as influential as the IPCC or by the governments of the world.
Yes, you read that right. This is the first ever audit of this globally-crucial data set, and it appears unable to bear the load imposed upon it.
Thanks to Dr John McLean, we see how The IPCC demands for cash rests on freak data, empty fields, Fahrenheit temps recorded as Celsius, mistakes in longitude and latitude, brutal adjustments and even spelling errors.
The data set contains absurdities everywhere:
  • There are cases of tropical islands recording a monthly average of zero degrees — this is the mean of the daily highs and lows for the month. 
  • A spot in Romania spent one whole month averaging minus 45 degrees. 
  • One site in Colombia recorded three months of over 80 degrees C. (That is so incredibly hot that even the minimum there were probably hotter than the hottest day on Earth.) 
  • Sea surface temperatures represent 70% of the Earth’s surface, but some measurements come from ships which are logged at locations 100km inland. Others are in harbours which are hardly representative of the open ocean.
  • For two years the entire Southern Hemisphere temperature was estimated from one sole land-based site in Indonesia and some ship data. 
  • We didn’t get 50% global coverage until 1906. We didn’t consistently get 50% Southern Hemisphere coverage until about 1950.
  • The Hadley Met Centre team have not even analysed this data with a tool as serious as a spell checker.  Countries include “Venezuala”,” Hawaai”, and the “Republic of K” (also known as South Korea). One country is “Unknown” while other countries are not even countries – like “Alaska”
  • In probably the worst systematic error, the past is rewritten in an attempt to correct for site moves. While some corrections are necessary, these adjustments are brutally sweeping: When a thermometer is relocated to a new site, the adjustment assumes that the old site was always built up and “heated” by concrete and buildings. In reality, the artificial warming probably crept in slowly. By correcting for buildings that likely didn’t exist in 1880, old records are artificially cooled. Adjustments for a few site changes can create a whole century of artificial warming trends.
The effect of this last, systematic, error is profound -- especially in terms of the alleged global problem the temperature set is supposed to confirm: these scientists simply assume that every time an older site is moved to avoid the warming effects of having been  surrounded by new concrete and asphalt that the older site's temperature should therefore be scaled back, sometimes by as much as 2C (in other words, a greater "adjustment" than the problem the IPCC say the world needs to avoid!  The effect of these systematic adjustments is to systematically lower older temperatures as against more recent temperatures, and give any reasonable person grounds to wonder whether systematic warming appears around the globe, or only in this flawed data!

Because it does not look like data on which a trillion-dollar shut-down of industry should be relying.

Dr McLean, who audited the HadCrut4 global data from 1850 onwards for his PhD thesis, and then continued it on afterwards til it was complete, concludes:
“I was aghast to find that nothing was done to remove absurd values… the whole approach to the dataset’s create is careless and amateur, about the standard of a first-year university student.”

It sounds like it deserves a fail.


  1. Oh well then, the laws of thermodynamics are plainly nonsense. Go about your business, nothing to see here. Is there no limit to the communists’ chicanery?

  2. While many of these are troubling, and we CERTAINLY need to clean up the data, including the spelling errors is a bit much. Most scientific datasets have errors of this nature, for a few reasons. First, conditions change. Texas was a country, and now is a state within the USA, for example--historic records may refer to it as a country (some fossil records do), and those are left as-is to preserve that historic information. Second, there are multiple sources of error. The person recording the data could make a mistake. They could write poorly. The book could get damaged. The person typing the data in may make a mistake, or read it improperly. In most organizations the data goes through a QC process, but such errors creep in. See the PaleoBiology Database for numerous such errors.

    1. I should emphasize that none of this has much of an effect on the data. Such minor errors in spelling generally are easy enough to identify in data analysis. You may lose one or two datapoints if you're not careful, but without additional errors that doesn't amount to much. In my experience, one or two datapoints isn't significant if you have a good-sized dataset. Now if there ARE other errors, or the dataset is small, that's another question entirely.

    2. No, no Dinwar. You can use this nonsense to negate the laws of physics when they’re inconvenient for you. Peter, tell him!

    3. Attacking something that is pretty much inevitable is hardly going to paint us as rational critics of the idea. It makes us look like folks who are looking for any excuse to dismiss it, rather than folks taking a serious look at the weight of evidence.

      Further, note that I said nothing about the other issues raised. The simple reason is that they are valid concerns, ones that pretty much everyone involved has long had. My comments were confined to the advisability of including a single point, from a tactical perspective.

    4. Oh, stop it Dinwar! You are undermining the entire libertarian “argument” against human induced climate change. Haven’t you been following? It’s all a hoax to prevent Atlas from getting his just desserts and an SUV. And just in case it isn’t, the solution is a larger air conditioner, right Peter?

    5. I can see that there's no point in actually attempting to discuss anything of substance with you. People like you are the reason I refuse to discuss global warming with anyone but geologists/paleontologists.

    6. "I refuse to discuss global warming with anyone but geologists/paleontologists"

      I think that's a good call when it comes to discussing the science of whether the climate is actually warming, and if so by how much. The anomalies and errors highlighted in this post may change the fundamental conclusion, or they may not. I'm not qualified enough to venture an opinion on that either way. It's ok to say "I don't know" when it comes to the science. I accept that when you're dealing with complex datasets some errors are inevitable, and those errors don't necessarily destroy the credibility of the overall conclusion.

      What I am qualified to comment on and observe is:

      1. Most of the predictions on temperature rise to date far exceed actual rises.

      2. There's a definite political motivation that clouds scientific judgement on these matters (certainly in favour of global warming, but also sometimes against).

      3. As with most environmental matters, the tendency of most commentators is to concentrate almost solely on the downside of man-made change, and disregard the benefits. Any proposal to decrease fossil fuel use has to consider both the alleged benefits of this cutback, plus also the costs/disadvantages. No proposal can be rationally evaluated without considering both the benefits and costs.


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