The Accusations of ‘Manipulating Climate Data’

Wednesday, March 27, 2013
10:24 P.M.

Don Easterbrook speaking at the 4th International Conference on Climate Change, sponsored by The Heartland Institute – May 16, 2010: Retrieved from nofrakkingconsensus.com

I spend a lot of time on KOMO’s website, particularly because of their wonderful weather forecasts by Shannon O’Donnell and Scott Sistek. I’ve always been impressed with the writing of these two, and if their excellent weather discussions weren’t enough, Scott Sistek runs an excellent weather blog about miscellaneous weather and other scientific topics. You can visit his blog here: http://www.komonews.com/weather/blogs/scott.
Because I visit the KOMO website so often, I see all the other news and articles that are posted up there. Yesterday, I came across a headline that caught my attention. The article was titled: “Washington lawmakers here from global warming skeptic.” Here’s a link to it for your convenience. http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Washington-lawmakers-hear-from-global-warming-skeptic-200149941.html

This article talks about Don Easterbrook, a professor emeritus of geology at Western Washington University, and a Republican-dominated majority in the state Senate setting aside some time to listen to his views on climate change. Easterbrook believes that federal agencies like NOAA and NASA manipulate climate data, and he bases this claim off his beliefs that the climate is not warming but cooling and that carbon dioxide does not account for global warming. His findings that the climate is actually cooling are backed by his use of different climatic data than is used by most scientists, who use the data collected by NASA and NOAA to assist in their research. The article did not mention where Easterbrook got his data and stated that Easterbrook has no hypothesis as to why these federal agencies would tamper with climatic data.

As most of you know, Easterbrook’s views are contrary to the scientific consensus on climate change. Ninety-seven percent of the most prominent climate scientists believe that global warming is caused by anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and other various greenhouse gasses, and even more believe that the Earth is warming. In response to Easterbrook’s presentation, the Western geology department stated that they agree with the scientific findings my the National Academies of Science, the National Research Council, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that global climate has warmed significantly since the 1950s and that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gasses are responsible for this warming. Finally, the article connects Easterbrook’s views and the hearing that was attended by the Republican majority of the state Senate to a measure passed by Washington’s state Legislature that would result in a study of the practices most suitable for mitigating climate change.

After reading this article, the first thing that came to my mind was how polarized the whole global warming debate has become in our current political climate. Despite the overwhelming majority of scientists believing in global warming, there is a huge rift in the political atmosphere with respect to it. Things were much less polarized before Al Gore’s movie, which, by the way, is a very scientifically sound movie and it is unfortunate that the skeptical side to the global warming debate has painted this as untrue. And no, those puns weren’t intended, my obsession with weather carries over to my writing.

But the biggest thing that stood out to me was Eastenbrook’s belief that American scientists are tampering with data to support their claims that global warming is occurring. It is healthy for there to be differing scientific opinions regarding global warming when they are backed up by solid evidence. The only evidence that Eastenbrook has to support his claim is that the numbers he used were different than the ones used by the thousands of climatologists who dedicate their lives to studying the effects of human-induced global warming. Eastenbrook makes a very serious accusation, but he does not have substantial evidence to back it up.

While it is true that the evidence for global warming based on measured temperature rises is currently not that obvious due to natural variability and the lag behind carbon dioxide emissions and the resulting increase in Earth’s temperature due to the many positive feedbacks that amplify a warming climate, the evidence for global warming occurring based on ice cores, model predictions, and environmental trends is very strong. The evidence for measured temperature rises will become obvious by 2050 and will only increase exponentially from there.

There are lots of misconceptions regarding global warming… I will explain these in detail in a later post. I have to be careful not to get too riled up regarding global warming deniers… but it’s a serious issue for my generation and will only get worse. If you have any questions or comments about this post or global warming in general, comment below! And if you’d like me to address one of your questions with a blog post, I’d be happy to do so.

On another note, I’m still looking for bloggers for WeatherOn. If you are interested in blogging for us, contact me. It’s a great opportunity to help any prospective atmospheric scientists improve their resume, and it’s really fun too.
Meteorologically yours,
Charlie
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