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Surprise: 1934 now “Warmest Year on Record,” not 1998

According to this Daily Tech blog entry, they have discovered a flaw in the NASA study that reported 1998 as the warmest year on record. In response, one of the NASA scientists who did the study admitted they screwed up, and the newly-corrected data now shows that 1934 is the warmest year on record, and five of the ten warmest years on record occurred before World War II.

“Global warming” has to be the one of the few topics where large groups of people blindly accept the results of studies often without independent confirmation or even peer review. Hopefully this revelation will result in a serious attempt at peer-review of popularly-accepted (I’m looking at you, Al Gore) climate studies.

  1. […] the correction made by NASA. You can read more about their mistake that never go reported here or here or here or even here in the CORRECTED climate data released by […]

  2. Christiansen says:

    NASA did not fix the problem. A Canadian scientist did. He received no support in his endevour. But they had not much choice when the mistake was documented. NASAs James Hansen did not HELP AT ALL. That is a fact.

  3. Christiansen says:

    If there is something you would expect from the “humans cause global warming due to co2” -theory it must be warming yes? But we don

  4. Mark Fradl says:

    Michael –

    Great point about the fact that no single scientific study stands on its own, but i think it’s often not the researchers that blow things out of proportion, it’s the media. This is exactly what happened with Global Cooling in the 70s, it was a scientific theory not yet explored, and the media ran with it before any actual studies and research were done.

    The irony here is that it is in fact the Global Warming skeptics who take one little factoid here or there and try to blow it out of proportion. Those who accept the likelihood of Global Warming have thousands of studies to back them up, not one or two.

  5. Mark Fradl says:

    Michael G.,

    Great point – and of course the media doesn’t help because they leap on any little factoid and blow it all out of proportion –

    a great example of this is, again, the fact that so many people, even here, keep saying that in the 70s there were all these peer reviewed scientific studies predicting global cooling – simply not true
    http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/iceage/
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=94

    And yes, I’m citing internet sources, but if these sources are wrong, if there were scads of peer reviewed studies and scientific organizations backing the theory of Global Cooling I’d love to see some links and evidences.

  6. Michael G. says:

    Wow, my first post in months, and look at the attention it received. I’m happy.

    My main point here is that until now, nobody checked up on the NASA study, it was simply accepted as a fact. NASA deserves some credit for having fixed the data, but the mistake should have been caught much earlier. As in, before the government decided to put out a bunch of press releases about it.

    My criticism is that this happens all too often when climate change is the topic. Not that it doesn’t happen in other fields, but they usually don’t result in quite as extreme of a reaction on any side.

  7. Vincent. says:

    But wubba, your tenure isn’t over yet.

  8. Wubba Wubba says:

    That is correct, you are not supposed to be intelligent because you are a comedian. Comedy is 95% truth, and 5% timing. Intelligence plays no role in your job.

    Here’s your jester’s hat. Make me laugh!

  9. Mark Fradl says:

    Decimals are Arabic, if memory serves! Coincidence? I think not!

    Oh.. sorry… I’m not supposed to be intelligent or have an opinion, because I’m a comedian.

    And please always remember, as my people have noted to many a schoolchild – 7 ate 9. JUST like the Jews eat the Christian babies.

  10. Vincent. says:

    They year 6565 is for AL QAEDA!

  11. Timothy says:

    In the year 2525
    If man is still alive.
    If woman can survive, they may find.

    In the year 3535
    Ain’t gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lies.
    Everything you think, do and say, is in the pill you took today.

    In the year 4545
    Ain’t gonna need your teeth, won’t need your eyes.
    You won’t find a thing to chew.
    Nobody’s gonna look at you.

    In the year 5555
    Your arms hanging limp at your sides.
    Your legs got nothing to do.
    Some machine doing that for you.

    In the year 6565
    Ain’t gonna need no husband, won’t need no wife.
    You’ll pick your son, pick your daughter too.
    From the bottom of a long glass tube. Whoa-oh

  12. Vincent. says:

    Well, 15/3 is on our side, that’s for sure. 1765*5 is more or less a mouthpiece for Osama, and 13-9 is starting to go wobbly in Afghanistan.

    I’m not sure about those decimal numbers, though. We’re buying them off with foreign aid so they won’t attack Israel, but it’s fairly clear that they’re funding certain radical groups under the table.

  13. CJ Ciaramella says:

    You have to understand that we’re in a global struggle against islamo-fascism. These people hate our freedoms and everything we stand for. There’s no room for neutrality or objectivity. Mathematics is either for us or against us. We will not differentiate between terrorists and the mathematical theories that support their hateful activities. That goes for the home front as well. We need to unite behind our President and whatever mathematics he deems appropriate. If we don’t, the terrorists win.

  14. Vincent. says:

    I bet 3+8 supports AL-QAEDA!

  15. niedermeyer says:

    Yeesh Wubba… this has got to be the first time I’ve ever heard a mathematical model called “treasonous.” I mean the concept of the variable can take it in the dumper for all I care, but treasonous mathematical models? That’s just silly.

  16. Sean says:

    Good sesh, good sesh. Drinks on me all around!

  17. Wubba Wubba says:

    I did happen to forget one thing:

    I tend not to take scientific words from a comedian. Which is what Mark Fradl is.

  18. Wubba Wubba says:

    1. Absence of evidence does not preclude evidence of absence. And a preponderance of evidence does not automatically mean the evidence is not preposterous.

    2. That’s probably because you were not born in the 1970s. It is your job to prove that it is wrong that the same people who panicked about global cooling are now panicking about Anthro-Global Warming. Not to mention that many of the mathematical models that have been used in the past 8-10 years have been proven to be faulty at best, treasonous at worst.

    3. Sometimes, you have to accept the fact that there is not always a logical explanation for everything. And you have to accept that sometimes, what happens…well…just happens.

  19. Mark Fradl says:

    1. Peer reviewed science can still be flawed. True. But when you have THOUSANDS of peer reviewed studies that come to one conclusion, and NO peer reviewed studies (that I know of) coming to another conclusion, it certainly seems to fall under the heading of “preponderance of the evidence.”

    2. There are NO peer reviewed scientific studies that predicted global cooling that I have ever seen – anyone care to link to one???. Yes, it was a theory, and yes the media took it and ran with it. But it was just a theory…which lead to research…which lead to peer reviewed studies…which led to the last 30 years of scientific discovery on the issue…. which led to the still evolving theory of Global Warming. Evolving, yes, but again at some point you have to say “Wow, the evidence is really looking strong.”

    3. Wubba – so…you argument is that science is SOMETIME wrong so therefor it’s ALWAYS wrong. Ya… time for me and probably everyone else to stop wasting time trying to address you with logic. Or at all.

  20. niedermeyer says:

    I dunno Olly, sometimes “just making shit up” seems good enough to me…

    In the year 2000 the term “scientifically proven” will come to mean “I’m right and I don’t want to talk about it.”

    *In the year 2000*

  21. Olly says:

    “Olly, you just happen to be incorrect.”

    Heh, yes, that was a bit of a cheap shot. Sorry. And yet…

    “The fact of the matter is that peer review is not infallible. It has errors, biases, and skewed results that can and usually is overlooked, in order to either get more money, grab more headlines, or further an agenda.”

    Peer review certainly is not infallible – depending on the peers in question – but once you dismiss it out of hand, what’s left? (Other than just making shit up, that is.) One can take issue with the lazy distillation of an extremely complicated body of scientific research into “the world is ending and it’s all the fault of, like, technology and stuff” without deciding that science itself is necessarily corrupt. The problem is not so much how results are being obtained, but in what conclusions are being extrapolated from those results; this, of course, is not a new phenomenon.

    (By the way, the inevitable P.J. O’Rourke reference here is “All The Trouble In The World”, which I think on balance might actually be his best book.)

  22. Sean says:

    What’s her MOS?

  23. Wubba Wubba says:

    Timothy: As I like to say, in my case and others on the board, my thoughts will generally not change because of what I’ve seen and what I know. Just as I am not expecting to change other people’s minds, because that would be fruitless and not the point of anything I do.

    And yes, my mom does wear Army boots. She’s a drill sergeant at Fort Ripley.

  24. Timothy says:

    So now peer review and the scientific method are bunk because every now and again Pfizer turns a profit on some compound? I’d argue with you about this point, Wubba but:

    1) Your handle is “wubba”, which doesn’t exactly lend itself to seriousness and
    2) Seriously, “Wubba”.
    3) From reading the rest of this exchange it seems pretty obvious that there’s just going to be a lot of calling each other immune to persuasion through evidence. Also, your mother wears army boots.

  25. Wubba Wubba says:

    It’s not necessarily political, Ted. It’s financial as well. Skew the results enough with the mathematical models, and you can get more financial backing from those who agree with your position. It’s not “connect the dots”, it’s “show me the f-ing money”.

    And CJ, as much as I’d like to believe that scientists change their minds about things, a lot of them don’t. This generally leads to things being unproven 50-70 years after, usually after the scientist in question has since moved on to Shady Lawn Cemetary.

  26. niedermeyer says:

    Wubba- Ok, so the pharma industry is giant and profitable, so it makes a certain amount of sense for them to try to manipulate peer review for their own purposes because the money they earn makes it possible. The example you give doesn’t really jive with the climate research scenario, because the motivations for fudging review there are purely political. Sorry, but no amount of Horowitzian, “connect the dots, man” pablum is gonna make me think that climatologists are really skewing their chosen (scientific) field in order to get someone/some party elected. And if there were a “vast left-wing conspiracy” in climatology, who the hell is benefiting from it? It’s not like the Democrats are really making that much hay on the issue…

    Brown- I read Olly’s point a little differently… it seems to me that the Op-Ed unfriendliness of the issue almost begs less public debate. For example, the two “misconceptions” you point to seem to be inescapable realities. Are you telling me that reducing your personal carbon footprint doesn’t entail sacrifice? You don’t really think that even a radical change in your personal lifestyle will really make a huge difference, do you? Maybe we should all just shut up and let the experts work on this one…

  27. CJ Ciaramella says:

    Wait, hold on a second. I just realized I actually had something serious to say. If you read this post, you’ll notice that NASA admitted their mistake and corrected the data. Think about that for a second. Yeah, scientists screw up (a lot) and are just as prone to band-wagon mentality and sensationalism as the rest of us, but everytime they realize they’re wrong they try and fix it. Over time, our understanding of the world becomes a little less wrong and a little more right. That’s the great hope of science, and it’s why scientists are constantly trying to prove themselves wrong.

    It’s also what seperates science from most other human endeavors, such as religion and politics. Everybody involved in those kind of things (and you, dear Wubba) are only interested in proving themselves right. Global warming may be a big crock of shit, but eventually science will figure it out.

    To sum up, I would rather be right 10% of the time than never acknowledge the possibility that I was wrong.

  28. CJ Ciaramella says:

    Wow, I really thought we were past the days when people still denied that the earth was warming up. I mean, to deny that global warming is man-made is one thing, but to deny it altogether … ugh. I mean, not even Sean Hannity’s got your back on this one.

    Dare I ask what criteria we are to use if all peer-reviewed studies are suspect? When it comes to weather, I only trust my farmer’s almanac, and I have this knee joint that acts up whenever a cold front’s coming in.

    Seriously, though. I’d be happy to declare all current scientific opinion off limits to this debate if I get to argue for the four humours.

  29. Wubba Wubba says:

    Olly, you just happen to be incorrect.

    I apply this standard to all scientific things. Example: The claim that Vitamin C can cause kidney stones. Researcher is X. Yolanda Zipper at ABC University. Her school receives grants from X Brand Pharmaceuticals or someone listed with them, working on a drug. They send their research to someone who is likely to approve their research, someone who also has an affiliation with X Brand Pharmaceuticals. By having their research printed, they get more money from X Brand Pharmaceuticals in order to continue doing more studies similar to the Vitamin C study.

    The fact of the matter is that peer review is not infallible. It has errors, biases, and skewed results that can and usually is overlooked, in order to either get more money, grab more headlines, or further an agenda.

    In the case of global warming, one just has to look 30 years back when all of the experts were saying that we were experiencing global cooling. Peer reviewed journals said the same thing, and they are now printing the global warming crap that we’re all being fed.

  30. Brown says:

    I think I see a consensus emerging on this issue (as far as this post is concerned). It seems that most of us agree that global warming is a problem that must be handled in some way or another. We also seem to agree that there are potential political pitfalls in doing so. On the left, there is the potential of overstating the threat for hype (i.e. doomsday/war on terror scenario). On the right, there is the potential of underestimating the threat to the point of ignoring it.

    Olly correctly pointed out that global warming is not something that fits easily in to the commentary section of the newspaper. This point touches on what is perhaps the greatest pitfall of the global warming debate (or any political debate, for that matter)- lack of meaningful public dialogue on the subject. The nuances of global warming are complex, but that does not mean we shouldn’t discuss the problem. Currently, the left is out pushing a lot of bogus solutions to the problem (liquid coal, corn based biofuels, etc) that essentially pander to the predominate industries in their respective districts. Now that the right has stopped outright denying the problem exists (well, expect for James Inhofe), they have spent their time pointing out petty “hypocrisies” of global warming advocates. This usually takes the form of “Al Gore flies in planes that emit serious carbon emissions” or “Al Gore uses crude oil to power his industrial puppy killing machine.” These attacks reenforce the misconceptions that

    1. Global warming is too big of a problem to be dealt with (If Al Gore can’t cap his carbon emissions, how can I?)
    2. Combating global warming will mean I have to live in a cave for the rest of my life (Fight global warming requires huge sacrifices like limiting my air travel and shutting down my puppy killing machine, that means I won’t be able to enjoy even the simplest modern conveniences).

    I think the ultimate common ground here is that we need meaningful discussion that seeks practical, ambitious solutions to what is a serious problem – no matter what Al Gore or Leo Dicaprio do.

  31. Olly says:

    “… and that peer review is only as good as the bias of other scientists and their combined desires.”

    I have a hunch that Wubba only applies this exacting standard to scientific studies with whose outcome he disagrees.

  32. Wubba Wubba says:

    Eh, I’m gonna die when I wanna die.

    I’ll take Donuts for $400, Alex.

  33. CJ Ciaramella says:

    Newton claimed the world would end no earlier than 2060, but as far as eschatology goes, I’ve got my money on the Mayans.

  34. Jake says:

    To add to what Olly said about Doomsday theories, before there was global warming there was a theory called global cooling. Scientists like to predict that the world is going to end; they’ve been doing it for years. Hell, according to the Mayans we are all going to die in 5 years anyway. So why not enjoy the man-made temperate weather.

  35. Wubba Wubba says:

    My argument was the only rational one out there, Mark. See, unlike true green believers like yourself, I understand that science is not the end all to be all, and that peer review is only as good as the bias of other scientists and their combined desires.

    Like that of the old greenback.

    Again, and this time I’ll use plain language, Put your head in your ass and spin around like a top. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll actually realize that your arguments do not fly with a permanent skeptic.

  36. Olly says:

    Mark is exactly correct here, apart from the bit where he’s arguing with someone called “wubba”:

    “If you contend that peer reviewed scientific studies are meaningless then how exactly is science to be evaluated?”

    Right on. On the other hand, science is not an exact science. I find the more talks I go to on the subject, the more interested I become in mundane things like methods of data collection, especially when we’re talking about measurements of global temperature (whatever the hell that means) a century ago. After all, as it has become de rigeur to point out, thirty years ago people like Al Gore were convinced that our sinful technocratic society was bringing on a new Ice Age. A little humility when drawing conclusions is only appropriate; and in actual (peer-reviewed!) scientific papers, it is there. That’s part of what makes science science and what, over the decades, has made Al Gore Al Gore.

    Anyway, I don’t know anything about climate science and I don’t know much about statistics. Here’s what I’ve got from talking to people who know more than me:

    1) Climate change is not a conspiracy made up by liberals.
    2) It is very complicated, not necessarily well-defined or acting in one direction, and not easily reduced to op-ed form, not that that’s stopped everyone from trying.
    3) The current global-warming doomsday scenario is just another in a long line of popular doomsday scenarios stretching back to the dawn of human civilization, and the main purpose it serves is in allowing some people to feel good about their panic attacks.
    3.5) On the other hand, when the thing you study is in vogue, who’s going to turn down extra opportunities to study it?
    4) What Ted said.

  37. Brownie says:

    It seems to be like the major theme of this post is global warming should be approached from a realistic and pragmatic standpoint. Just as the far right should not overlook the fact that global warming is accelerated by human activity, the left should not create a war on terror type scenario to combat it. I’m also pleased that there is some agreement that we need less rhetoric and more action-sensible action to solve the problem.

    In general, I am disappointed with the mainstream political dialogue on the subject. Some liberals tote bogus solutions that they say will reduce greenhouse gas emissions (liquid coal, corn based biofuels, etc) that simply promote their home state’s interests under the banner of energy independence. Meanwhile many on the right have stopped debating the issue all together and simply try to point out how every global warming advocate is a hypocrite in some way or another (Al Gore flies a lot, Al Gore uses crude oil to power his puppy killing machine, etc). This specific argument is a last ditch effort to place doubt in the public mind about the importance and reality of the issue. One might even go as far to suggest that the argument instills a certain sense of futility about ever significantly reducing greenhouse gases (i.e. If Al Gore, who apparently cares deeply about reducing carbon emissions, can’t cap his own use, how will I ever cap mine?)

  38. Mark Fradl says:

    wubba-

    it seems pointless to have a discussion with someone who meets a rational argument with “stick it up your ass”, but I’ll try anyway.

    if you contend that peer reviewed scientific studies are meaningless then how exactly is science to be evaluated? As i understand it, peer reviewed studies have been the basis for all scientific knowledge for a very long time-

  39. Brownie says:

    Vince,
    I absolutely agree with you assessment that it is the rate of change that is alarming, not so much that change is occurring. I also whole heartily agree with your assessment that destroying capitalism will not end the problem. We must destroy capitalism AND patriarchy!

    But seriously,

  40. Vincent. says:

    Whether climate change is entirely man-made or part of a natural climate trend is almost irrelevant

  41. niedermeyer says:

    Vince, I agree… I don’t see the point in whipping folks into a frenzy over a problem (carbon dependency) that isn’t going anywhere… hence the War on Terror analogy. Let’s also recognize that although Americans have slowly become more aware of their environmental impact over the last 30 years, the global economy allows lots of those impacts to be hidden. Certified “green” buildings built with Chinese steel forged in coal fired plants are just one classic example.

    Whether climate change is entirely man-made or part of a natural climate trend is almost irrelevant… if the earth is getting warmer there is little reason to make it any worse by burning carbon at an ever-increasing rate. But, if Global Warming becomes the “WOT of the Left,” you will see the same results… tons of rhetoric, tons of government intrusion, very few results.

    Oh, and I just really wanted to use the “heckuva job, Brownie” reference.

  42. Michael G. says:

    I might point out that merely agreeing with your buddies so you keep your government funding is not “peer review,” nor is it “independent confirmation.”

    This was clearly a case of both peer review and independent confirmation actually taking place, and discovering that the initial results were wrong.

  43. Vincent. says:

    No, Brown is more or less right about that. There’s no doubt that doing what we can to mitigate climate change is a good thing. We can work to be more environmentally “friendly” or we can keep going the way we’ve been going. Both choices, however, have unpleasant consequences associated with them.

    It’s long past due for the “green” movement to decouple from its traditional anti-modern/anti-capitalist stance and move into a more pragmatic phase. Demanding that everyone grow food in their backyards and taxing gasoline to the point that driving becomes unfeasible simply will not work. Turning corn into gasoline and flying around in a Gulfstream while buying “carbon offsets” will not work. “Destroying capitalism” will not work.

  44. niedermeyer says:

    Huge numbers of people scared silly about something that they have no way of fixing are great constituents and great consumers. In other words, freaking out about climate change is the most American thing ever.

    “The debate should be focused on how we work to mitigate climate change (or how we stand idly by).”

    “You’re either with us or against us,” eh? Doing a heckuva a job there, Brownie.

  45. Josh M. says:

    Um, Vincent, don’t you mean “un-cereal”?

  46. Vincent. says:

    Global warming is a phenomena that is caused by man-made greenhouse gases- that is a fact.

    Uh, no it isn’t. Climate change is a fact, and anyone who’s bothered to check will see that the Earth has gone though numerous periods of global warming and cooling ever since the beginning of the Pleistocene. Glaciers have formed, glaciers have melted. The climate in the recent (geologically speaking) past has been much warmer than it is now. It has also been much, much cooler. It will be much, much cooler in the (probably distant) future.

    Global warming is real. The claim that global warming is “caused” by man-made greenhouse gases, however, is not only false, but the sort of argument that’s advanced by people who don’t really have even the most basic understanding of climate change. Or by people who have some sort of agenda and don’t really care about what’s actually happening to the environment.

    What is alarming is not that the climate is changing. What is alarming is that the climate is changing at the rate that it is currently. The rate of global warming is likely due to human activity, not the phenomenon itself.

    Claiming otherwise is akin to claiming that the sun rotates around the Earth or that unicorns are prancing beside rainbows at this very instant. Or, at the very least, scientifically un-serious.

  47. Brown says:

    Wubba- You’re right science and facts mean nothing when it comes to debating scientific phenomena.

    I seriously worry about anyone who has not accepted the an overwhelming consensus among scientists that global warming is accelerated by man made greenhouse gases. Global warming is a phenomena that is caused by man-made greenhouse gases- that is a fact. Claiming otherwise is akin to claiming that the sun rotates around the Earth or that unicorns are prancing beside rainbows at this very instant.

    The debate should be focused on how we work to mitigate climate change (or how we stand idly by).

  48. Wubba Wubba says:

    Peer-Reviewed Studies are bullshit, are biased, and mean nothing when it comes to the debate.

    Mark, you can take those peer reviewed studies, and insert them sideways into your rectal cavity.

  49. Mark Fradl says:

    The question remains, does this effect the underlying science behind the theory of man-made climate change or merely adjust it. It’s certainly normal for findings to undergo correction, but that doesn’t mean the entire theory is wrong.

    I find it absolutely hysterical, however, that you state:

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