When Science Goes Political

No area of science has drawn more public scrutiny in recent years than climate change. Everyone has an opinion. Strongly held views fall into two divergent camps:

  1. Alarmist
  2. Denier

An “alarmist” is someone who believes the Earth is getting hotter because of human-caused CO2 atmospheric emissions. They believe if we do not reverse its effects immediately then a global climate catastrophe will result.

A “denier” is someone who believes the Earth is not getting hotter. They believe it’s all a gigantic hoax created by the United Nations and big governments to extend their power and control over citizens.

Scientists should remain impartial and fall into neither camp.

Unfortunately, when millions of dollars in research grants hang in the balance then impartiality becomes blurred and science can become politicized.

Has this happened to climate science?
Has the new HadCRUT4 global temperature database been tainted?

Sticking a Thermometer in Earth

Scientists have been monitoring Earth’s temperature for centuries.

Putting a thermometer into Earth to monitor its surface temperature over time isn’t exactly easy, but it’s not hard either.

All that’s needed is to collect the temperatures from all existing thermometers on earth over time, both land and sea, and put them into one giant database. That has been done.

Since 1850 Earth’s direct temperature has been measured well enough to determine global patterns. Patterns of more ancient temperature variations must be inferred from tell-tale scientific signatures.

A complete profile of direct temperature measurements comes from two sources:

  1. Sea
  2. Land

The Hadley Centre (Had) in the UK monitors global sea temperatures. The Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia in England collects the world’s land-based temperature databases from many global sources… including the U.S. National Weather Service.

Their combined database is called HadCRUT. The “T” stands for temperature.

HadCRUT is the database used by the United Nations through the IPCC for its global climate recommendations. The Kyoto Protocol was passed based on HadCRUT data.

There have been several revisions to the HadCRUT database. The newest is HadCRUT4 released in March of this year.

HadCRUT3 compared to HadCRUT4

Old HadCRUT3 Global Temperatures 1998-2012: Note DOWNWARD Trend Line (Source: Wood For Trees)

New HadCRUT4 Global Temperatures 1998-2011: Note UPWARD Trend Line (Source: Wood For Trees)

There is a really cool online research tool created by computer programmer and environmentalist Paul Clark. It’s found at www.woodfortress.org. It allows normal folks to compare global temperature databases. It has remarkable research flexibility.

Clark’s tool allows us to compare the new HadCRUT4 database to the old HadCRUT3.

The most astounding change in HadCRUT4 is that since 1998 Earth’s temperature profile has reversed direction. In HadCRUT3 global temperatures went down. HadCRUT4 now shows them going up!!

I referenced 1994+ HadCRUT3 data when writing this article: “The Global Warming Challenge!

Generally speaking, HadCRUT4 also lowers temperatures in the late 1800s and raises them between 1945 and 1975. See below.

Dr. Peter Stott, chief climate scientist at the Hadley Centre, describes the HadCRUT4 changes:
Updates to HadCRUT global temperature dataset” Peter Stott, MET office, 3/19/2012

HadCRUT4 before 1998

Old HadCRUT3 Global Temperatures 1880-1998: Note UPWARD Trend Line (Source: Wood For Trees)

New HadCRUT4 Global Temperatures 1880-1998: Note STEEPER Trend Line (Source: Wood For Trees)

These two Clark graphs reveal a HadCRUT4 increase in the rate of global warming before 1998.

Combined with the two previous Clark graphs HadCRUT4 exposes two opposite global warming effects built into the new database that, when combined, exaggerate the effects of global warming.

HadCRUT4 makes the global warming problem look worse than HadCRUT3 did. It steepens the rise prior to 1998 while reversing the downward trend that occurred after 1998.

HadCRUT4 appears made-to-order to fit the IPCC’s 1988 anthro-CO2 global warming hypothesis.

Looking Closer at HadCRUT4

HadCRUT4 is distinctly one-side… suspiciously, all tipping in favor of massive global warming.

Global temperature records were “adjusted” across the entire database, back to it’s oldest records. In other words – history got rewritten!

One set of changes lowered older temperature readings from the 1800s. The other set of changes raised modern temperature readings between 1945 and 1975 and then again after 1995.

The alarmists must be ecstatic, especially given that the downward trend in global temperatures since 1998 got wiped out and replaced with an upward trend!

According to MET’s official explanation there were two main adjustments:

Sea Buckets:

Research has shown readings from buckets were generally cooler so when the database changes from one source to another you see artificial jumps in the raw data. We’ve quantified these effects and corrected for them
Dr. Peter Stott, MET, 3/19/2012

400 New Arctic Stations :

For the latest version we have included observations from more than 400 stations across the Arctic, Russia and Canada. This has led to better representation of what’s going on in the large geographical region.
Dr. Phil Jones, CRU, 3/19/2012

The MET makes this paradoxical claim… add 400 new cold region measuring stations and it RAISES the earth’s overall temperature. Huh??

Logic dictates Earth’s temperature should be lower when more cold region stations get added, not higher… unless the Sahara Desert suddenly moved to the North Pole.


For years, global warming skeptics pointed out that Earth’s temperature peaked in 1998 and has been  dipping slightly lower ever since.

Now, without fanfare, that damning criticism of the anthro-CO2 global warming hypothesis suddenly gets illogically wiped away by adding 400 new cold region arctic weather stations.

There’s more. Ed Thurston conducted a detailed cross comparison between the HadCRUT3 and  HadCRUT4 databases and found some very disturbing results:
Has the CRUTEM4 Data been fiddled with” – Ed Thurston, WUWT, 5/3/2012

Thurston shows numerous examples of data discrepancies in land-based measurements that were not explained by the Met but that have the clear signature of data manipulation.

This has obvious political overtones.

If Thurston is correct then the integrity of the MET becomes questionable. If data has, in fact, been purposely manipulated to support a particular theory of global warming then the integrity of all scientific inquiry is jeopardized.

HadCRUT4 may become the Piltdown Man of climate science.


About azleader

Learning to see life more clearly... one image at a time!

Posted on Jul 20, 2012, in climate change, culture, economics, Global Warming, Life, news, Opinion, Politics, Thoughts. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Another well written and researched posting. After your last two articles, I have been reading qutie a bit on this, and have come to the conclusion that I did not know as mush as I thought. I knew a decent amount, but this is such an extremely complex subject that it was not enough. I know more now, but I still have much to learn.

    You wrote “The MET makes this paradoxical claim… add 400 new cold region measuring stations and it RAISES the earth’s overall temperature. Huh??”

    Based on what I have been reading, this, though counter-intuitive, makes sense. The Earth has been warming faster at the poles. Scientists are not sure why yet. So, if more temperature stations were added at the arctic, then the results could show an increased warming trend because there is more warming happening at the poles.

    I dont consider myself an alarmist but I am convinced that humans, while one of many causes, are the largest cause of global warming. Another thing that I recently learned is that scientists (who are not publicity hounds and who are ignored by the media) are not 100% positive that humans are the cause- they think the odds are good that it’s people, but there is a chance that humans are playing a much smaller role that what is currently thought.

    On an issue like this I feel like I should defer to the experts. I consulted with a freind of mine who is a PHD and former professor of earth science. I asked him if people were the cause of climate change. His response: (paraphrase) The Earth is definetly warming, but it may be a 1 degree increase and not the two degree that is commonly stated. People are most likely the primary cause. We will know for certain in 20 years.

    Thanks for a thought provoking series of articles.

    • What you say about the poles getting warmer is true. Your argument is the same one that the MET and others use to explain the temperature increase since 2000.

      One word describes the validity of their argument: Horse-hockey!

      Though the poles are indeed getting warmer much faster than the rest of the planet, these places are still very COLD compared to the rest of the planet.

      Add 400 cold stations into the database and its GOT to make the overall global temperature colder. Thermodynamics dictates that result.

      I agree with you that humans are a contributing factor in global warming through greenhouse gas emission. You, like the alamists, think we are the primary contributors.

      But there is plenty of evidence proving that mother nature still controls climate, not man. Man is messy and overpopulating and polluting this planet, but is not destroying it yet.

      However, just like federal government spend and unfunded entitlement liabilities, we are on an unsustainable pollution path that will eventually ruin Earth’s environment.

      It all has to do with carbon sinks. The Earth is like a living organism that breaths in CO2 and then breaths it out again in a regular yearly cycle. Man’s contribution to the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is about 1/4th of the total and holding firm even as anthro-CO2 rises.

      There is a good paper in the Geophysical Research Letters from 2009 by Knorr that talks a little bit about that stuff:

  2. Correct me if I am wrong, and I may be, but the graph that you presented does not show a direct representation of temperature. Mathmatically, you are correct if you have a set of temperatures and average in a new set of colder temperatures the global average would decrease. This is where I think that you may be misunderstanding the graph. If I am correct in reading it, it shows- not temperature- but instead depicts the variation from the expected norm. So the same logic that you were using about cold temperatures dragging down a global average, can apply to this. Add sensors in places with high variation (the arctic) and the average global variation will increase too, so the trend line goes up on the graph that includes data from cold places. The graph is about variation and not temperature.

    • Correct!

      About every global temperature graph there is does not plot temperature… they plot temperature anomalies. An anomaly is the difference between a measured temperature and a preselected reference point.

      The global reference point used in HadCRUT is something like the sum of all earth’s temperatures averaged between about 1950 to 1980.

      On all the graphs above you see on the left a zero point. That is the reference. Each point on the graph represents one month of Earth temperature anomaly. Positive, of course is hotter and negative is colder.

      Additional arctic readings should reduce the anomaly in each month’s point. If it doesn’t the numbers are being fudged or they are doing something fishy.

      Thurston pointed out in several places what looks to be fudged measurements in his HadCRUT4/HadCRUT3 analysis.

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