Everything but the issue

When I first came across the Telegraph article The scandal of fiddled global warming data, it was unusual to say the least. The article was about blogger Steven Goddard who shows how, in recent years, NOAA’s US Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) has been “fiddling” with its records. He made the extraordinary claim that 40% of the data was “fabricated”: data was created that wasn’t measured. The effect of this has been to downgrade earlier temperatures and to exaggerate those from recent decades, to give the impression that the Earth has been warming up much more than is justified by the actual data. You don’t really find many of these stories in the mainstream media.

The real surprise were the comments. In no time the number of comments surpassed 1,000, then 5,000, then 9,000. Now there are even 12,500+ comments. They were about numerous things like: climate scientists/models being right or wrong, alternative energy, how many scientists agree or not, who does agree or not, melting of the Arctic, sea level rise, Obama, Democrats, greenhouse gases, fossil fuels, funding, all kinds of conspiracies, environmental control, Michael Mann, CAGW, the consensus, “97% of the scientists believe”, “trusted science” and so on and so on and so on.

I saw many commenters calling others loons, idiots, morons, scientific illiterates, bad spellers, demented, deluded, fraudsters, denialists,… Emotions got stirred quite a bit.

Some said that Steven Goddard was just a blogger, not a climate scientist and therefor one should not trust his analysis.

All those things could be very interesting or maybe even true, but there is one thing that I am missing in the comments. The only interesting question would be: IS IT TRUE? Does NOAA adjust(ed) the historic records downwards and the current records upwards? If so, what is the reason they do so? If NOAA didn’t do so, why was the Goddard analysis not correct? All other questions/comments are beside the point.

In science it doesn’t matter who said so. Even if it said by a farmer, priest or a lumberjack. The only thing that should matter is if he said the truth or not. The fact that someone isn’t a scientist doesn’t mean he is not telling the truth. Many historic scientific breakthroughs were made by people who weren’t scientists.

But that babble as seen as a reaction to this article is just a distraction of the real question: is what is being said in the article true or not and why?

I don’t know if the analysis of Steven Goddard is right or wrong. But would it not be more interesting to know if he is right or wrong, in stead of avoiding the issue by stating he is not a climate scientist or babble about other topics in global warming land. One can stay busy with that. 12,500+ comments long, to be exact.

Apparently the extraordinary claim of Steven Goddard (who in the meanwhile also revealed his own name) seem to be correct after all. There could be a bug in the USHCN reporting system that unnecessarily calls a routine that fills in data from neighboring stations. It could be interesting to see how NOAA will react on this.


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