gavinUnless you live on the moon you’ve probably heard lots of feverish hype attributed to NASA about 2014 being the “hottest year” ever. And being NASA, you’d expect that they should know, given that they have all those advanced satellites we taxpayers bought them. 

Well, maybe you’d be very wrong to assume that, much less to expect an honest and objective report.

A lot more skepticism on the part of the media would be prudent. 

  • On January 16, the Associated Press bleated,“For the third time in a decade the globe sizzled to the hottest year on record, federal scientists announced Friday.”
  • The New York Times carried an article titled, “2014 Breaks Heat Record, Challenging Global Warming Skeptics.”
  • Bloomberg News presented an animated warming depiction and challenged skeptics to “deny this.”
  • The Washington Post reported that “the year 2014 was the hottest ever measured, based on records going back to the year 1880.”

Here’s a trick question: How many satellite recordings are there dating back to 1880?

What this press release posted by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) failed to mention is that the report excluded references to any contradictory satellite records at all. Instead, it only cited highly unreliable data from sparse ground stations. 

As Roger Pielke, professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University, told the Washington Post, “there pielkeremain significant uncertainties in the accuracy of the land portion of the surface temperature data, where we find a significant warm bias.”

Why doesn’t GISS use the far more reliable satellite data which has been available since 1979? Is it perhaps because that data isn’t linked in to those antennae mounted above its Midtown Manhattan headquarters? 

Maybe they just forgot to renew their subscription service. Otherwise they would have realized that global mean temperatures have been statistically flat now over the past 18 years despite increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

And by the way, NASA GISS Director Gavin Schmidt, who has replaced NASA’s previous alarmist James Hansen, also didn’t mention that his own estimate of the likelihood that 2014 was the warmest year since 1880 is just 38%. Yet when asked by the Daily Mail whether he regretted this omission in his briefing, he reportedly gave no response.

As the Mail also noted, “The NASA press release failed to mention that the alleged ‘record’ amounted to an increase over 2010, the previous ‘warmest year’, of just two-hundredths of a degree — 0.02º C. The margin of error is said by scientists to be approximately 0.1º C — several times as much.”

In fact, a separate analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project — drawn from ten times more measuring stations than GISS used — concluded that if 2014 did set any record, it was by an even tinier amount. The report stated: “Numerically, our best estimate for the global temperature of 2014 puts it slightly above (by 0.01º C) that of the next warmest year (2010) but by much less than the margin of uncertainty.”

The BEST report went on to say, “Therefore it is impossible to conclude from our analysis which of 2014, 2010, or 2005 was actually the warmest year . . . the Earth’s average temperature for the past decade has changed very little.”

According to satellite measurements, 2014 was the third-warmest in the 36 years since measurements have been recorded. John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, argues that any recorded temperature changes since 2001 are “statistically insignificant.”

curry2Judith Curry, a professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, agrees. She observes that, “with 2014 essentially tied with 2005 and 2010 for hottest year,” the implication is that “there has been essentially no trend in warming over the past decade.”

It is tragic to see the agency that applied solid science to put humans the moon so hopelessly mired in a political climate alarm propaganda machine. 

Sen. Ted Cruz, who will likely be heading a Space and Science Committee that oversees NASA, told the Houston Chronicle that the misguided focus “has degraded manned exploration because the Obama Administration has undervalued that, and shifted the funding to other priorities. It has shifted the funding to global warming pursuits, rather than carrying out NASA’s core mission.”

Responding to accusations during a Heritage Foundation policy summit that in expressing this view he is “climate denier,” Cruz replied: “It is a dangerous thing when those purporting to talk about science speak in the language of theology . . . I believe science should be dictated by data and evidence.”

Yes, and such shameful lack of accountability on NASA’s part should no longer be tolerated by taxpayers who have every right to expect more.


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  • Larry Bell

    CFACT Advisor Larry Bell heads the graduate program in space architecture at the University of Houston. He founded and directs the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture. He is also the author of "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax."