NOAA’s cli­mate change science fic­tion

The en­vi­ron­men­tal in­tel­li­gence agency ig­nores satel­lite data

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By La­mar Smith

The Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion (NOAA) is the na­tion’s lead­ing col­lec­tor of cli­mate data. Ev­ery day, NOAA an­a­lyzes vast amounts of data to pre­dict changes to our cli­mate, weather, oceans and coasts. The agency also pub­lishes monthly tem­per­a­ture av­er­ages across the na­tion and com­pares those num­bers to his­tor­i­cal tem­per­a­ture records.

As the na­tion’s self-pro­claimed author­ity on “en­vi­ron­men­tal in­tel­li­gence,” NOAA should be held to the high­est sci­en­tific stan­dards. This means their con­clu­sions should be ob­jec­tive, in­de­pen­dent of po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tion and based on all avail­able sources of in­for­ma­tion.

NOAA’s top of­fi­cial, Kathryn Sul­li­van, has de­scribed the agency’s role as pro­vid­ing “timely, re­li­ably, and ac­tion­able in­for­ma­tion — based on sound science — ev­ery day to mil­lions of Amer­i­cans.”

In tes­ti­mony be­fore the House Science Com­mit­tee, NOAA’s deputy ad­min­is­tra­tor, Man­son Brown, made sim­i­lar re­marks, not­ing the im­por­tance of satel­lite data. He said that NOAA’s abil­ity “to de­liver en­vi­ron­men­tal in­tel­li­gence starts with keep­ing the pulse of the planet, es­pe­cially the at­mos­phere and the ocean, and this is the cen­tral ca­pa­bil­ity where space-based as­sets come into play.” So why does NOAA leave out satel­lite data when it re­leases cli­mate pro­jec­tions?

NOAA of­ten fails to con­sider all avail­able data in its de­ter­mi­na­tions and cli­mate change re­ports to the pub­lic. A re­cent study by NOAA, pub­lished in the jour­nal Science, made “ad­just­ments” to his­tor­i­cal tem­per­a­ture records and NOAA trum­peted the find­ings as re­fut­ing the nearly two-decade pause in global warm­ing. The study’s au­thors claimed th­ese ad­just­ments were sup­pos­edly based on new data and new method­ol­ogy. But the study failed to in­clude satel­lite data.

At­mo­spheric satel­lite data, con­sid­ered by many to be the most ob­jec­tive, has clearly showed no warm­ing for the past two decades. This fact is well doc­u­mented, but has been em­bar­rass­ing for an ad­min­is­tra­tion de­ter­mined to push through costly en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions.

In­stead, NOAA fo­cused its study on sur­face tem­per­a­ture mon­i­tor­ing that is of­ten flawed be­cause th­ese sites mea­sure thou­sands of in­de­pen­dent tem­per­a­ture read­ings and uti­lize a hodge­podge of dif­fer­ent meth­ods that have changed over time. For ex­am­ple, mea­sure­ments from land-based sta­tions can be skewed be­cause of their lo­ca­tion and prox­im­ity to sur­round­ing heat-hold­ing as­phalt in ur­ban ar­eas.

Satel­lite data, on the other hand, is highly cal­i­brated and pro­vides com­plete global cov­er­age. For decades, satel­lites have been used to mon­i­tor the earth and col­lect in­for­ma­tion. Satel­lites mea­sure some­thing ex­tremely im­por­tant — the deep at­mos­phere. The tem­per­a­ture read­ings col­lected by satel­lites of­ten dif­fer from ground mon­i­tor­ing sta­tions and have con­sis­tently shown much smaller rates of warm­ing. Yet NOAA re­fuses to in­cor­po­rate satel­lite data into its monthly pro­jec­tions that are re­leased to the pub­lic. Why?

NOAA ap­pears to pick and choose only data that con­firms their bias. NOAA then dis­sem­i­nates this in­com­plete data to the me­dia who man­u­fac­ture alarm­ing head­lines but ig­nore the un­cer­tainty of the con­clu­sions.

Ear­lier this year, NASA is­sued a news release stat­ing that 2014 was the warm­est year on record. Few me­dia ac­knowl­edged the foot­note: Sci­en­tists were only 38 per­cent sure this was ac­tu­ally cor­rect. That is less than 50-50.

NOAA fully un­der­stands mar­gins of er­ror and works with them on a daily ba­sis. But where are th­ese de­tails in their news re­leases? While NOAA’s monthly pro­jec­tions usu­ally warn of in­creased warm­ing, they ig­nore satel­lite data that re­futes their alarmist state­ments.

The abil­ity to re­main in­de­pen­dent of po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tion seems like a min­i­mum re­quire­ment for an agency that should pro­vide un­bi­ased sci­en­tific in­for­ma­tion. But NOAA’s habit of pick­ing and choos­ing data raises se­ri­ous ques­tions about the agency’s in­de­pen­dence. In fact, it shreds NOAA’s cred­i­bil­ity.

As a self-pro­claimed “en­vi­ron­men­tal in­tel­li­gence agency,” NOAA’s re­ports should be based only on the best avail­able science that takes into ac­count all sources of data. Un­for­tu­nately, NOAA con­tin­ues to rely upon bi­ased science in pur­suit of a pre­de­ter­mined out­come. That’s not good science, it’s science fic­tion.

This ad­min­is­tra­tion is pur­su­ing an ex­treme po­lit­i­cal cli­mate change agenda and has made NOAA its ac­com­plice. Th­ese are not the ac­tions of an ob­jec­tive agency. NOAA needs to come clean about why it cherry-picked and changed cer­tain data, while ig­nor­ing satel­lite data, to get the re­sults it wanted. La­mar Smith, Texas Repub­li­can, is chair­man of the House Com­mit­tee on Science, Space, and Tech­nol­ogy.


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