Rick Perry Caught Fudging Climate Data; Former Climate Change Skeptic Changes Tune

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones released a couple of revelatory articles about a week ago and today.

The earlier article reveals that Rick Perry’s appointees at TCEQ (that’s the Texas version of the EPA) deleted all information showing climate change from a report prepared by an oceanographer at Rice University:

Top environmental officials under Perry have gutted a recent report on sea level rise in Galveston Bay, removing all mentions of climate change….John Anderson, the oceanographer at Rice University who wrote the chapter, provided Mother Jones with a copy of the edited document, complete with tracked changes from top TCEQ officials. You can see the cuts—which include how much sea level rise has increased over the years, as well as the statement that this rise “is one of the main impacts of global climate change”—here. As the document shows, most of the tracked changes came from Katherine Nelson, the assistant director in the water quality planning division. Her boss, Kelly Holligan, is listed as a reviewer on the document as well.

Today’s article points out that UC Berkeley’s Richard Muller, a physicist whose disbelief in the validity of the mathematics in an assortment of papers asserting global climate change (to the delight of the Right, of course), spent over a year on his own Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project (BEST), only to find that climate change is real and is as predicted:

Using a novel statistical methodology that incorporates more data than other climate models and requires less human judgment about how to handle it (summarized by the Economist here), the BEST team drew several conclusions:

  • The earth is indeed getting warmer. Global average land temperatures have risen 0.91 degrees Celsius over the past 50 years. This is “on the high end of the existing range of reconstructions.”
  • The rate of increase on land is accelerating. Warming for the entire 20th century clocks in at 0.73 degrees C per century. But over the most recent 40 years, the globe has warmed at a rate of 2.76 degrees C per century.
  • Warming has not abated since 1998. The rise in average temperature over the period 1998-2010 is 2.84 degrees C per century.
  • The BEST data significantly reduces the uncertainty of the temperature reconstructions. Their estimate of the temperature increase over the past 50 years has an uncertainty of only 0.04 degrees C, compared to a reported uncertainty of 0.13 degrees C in the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.
  • Although many of the temperature measuring stations around the world have large individual uncertainties, taken as a whole the data is quite reliable. The difference in reported averages between stations ranked “okay” and stations ranked “poor” is very small.
  • The urban heat island effect—i.e., the theory that rising temperatures around cities might be corrupting the global data—is very small.

In the press release announcing the results, Muller said, “Our biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously by other teams in the US and the UK.” In other words, climate scientists know what they’re doing after all.

When the first indications of climate change were published several decades ago, I was skeptical; a lot of work needed to be done. By now, I assert that anyone who attempts to ignore the overwhelming body of evidence that climate change is underway and is caused by human activity is either a fool or (in Rick Perry’s case) a premeditated liar. We can either acknowledge and attempt to address this problem, or we can watch as civilization collapses around us, in a hundred years or (as seems increasingly likely) in a decade or two. If we let damned fools run our national environmental policy, it will surely be the latter.

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