A week or so ago I was on the Twitter. Twitter was all a flitter over the latest IPCC report saying we have just 10 more years to act or the damages from climate changes would become irreversible. One of the people I follow on Twitter is Scott Adams, the creator of the highly successful Dilbert comics. Scott Adams is also a commentator on current events. He does these live periscopes which are broadcast on Twitter and Youtube. The latest IPCC report featured in one of his recent discussions.
Naturally I opined with some data and observations to show climate change, meaning the theory mankind is causing temperatures to rise because of CO2 emissions, is a farce. Scott responded to me with the following question, which I have paraphrased. Why should I believe you instead of all these other people with reasonable arguments for climate change which I also can’t evaluate?
Let’s just say I did not respond very well to that question. I worked for 25 years as a Senior Quality Engineer for a corporation which manufactures products for direct to consumer use as well as to other manufacturers all over the world. A company that generates nearly 2 billion in sales annually. I am used to dealing with management on all levels. From Engineers to Directors and VPs. I am used to being looked upon as someone who is completely reliable. I am used to working with people who talk the language. When I look at things like this the truth is generally as clear as it can be. However, I forget the world at large does not deal in statistics, graphs, charts, time lines, and the like.
I will attempt to explain why I am convinced what NASA is telling us about global warming or climate change is simply not true in a way I hope Scott Adams would find persuasive. To make that argument I am focusing on the temperature history of the United States.
The United States has the best, most complete temperature records of any country in the world going back to the late 1800’s. The largest repository of those records is the United States Historical Climatological Network (the USHCN). The data I am showing comes from the USHCN database which I downloaded from their FTP site ( ). For an overview of temperature recording stations around the world, see the illustration included at the bottom of this article.
The argument I am going to make is actually very simple. It is not possible to make this argument without using graphs, math, statistics, and a smattering of physics. However, none of that is terribly complicated. You do not need a degree in mathematics or chemistry to understand any of this. Let’s get to it.
NASA GISS U.S. Temperature Record
· NASA is telling you temperatures in the US have been steadily rising since 1980 because we are putting more CO2 into the atmosphere. They are telling you CO2 is like the thermostat in your house. The more CO2 we put in the air the warmer things get. The reason for this is CO2 traps infrared heat radiation coming from all the many surfaces which comprise the landscape and bounces it back. This causes the surface to warm more than it otherwise would. That is the simple explanation of the greenhouse effect.
· NASA is also telling you this is a universal condition because the amount of CO2 in the air above the US is the same everywhere. There may be temporary local trends which diminish or enhance this effect, but overall the trend is towards ever increasing temperatures.
· NASA is telling you recent temperatures are on average 1.5° C higher in recent years than the average temperature from 1951 to 1980.
DATA from USHCN
· I am telling you when I look at the raw, unadjusted data from the USHCN I find it contradicts NASA completely.
· I am telling you I found very little change in temperatures on average from the 1951 to 1980 average in recent years. That change would be -0.2° C on average. However, I did find a considerable amount of variation between locations. Roughly speaking, half the locations experienced warming up to 3° C. The other half experienced cooling down to -4° C.
· This isn’t fancy math or statistics. This is simply taking averages from 1951 to 1980 and from 2000 to 2014, subtracting them to get the difference, and making a histogram of the results.
· By the numbers 77.9% of stations were within ± 1° C and 99.7% of stations were with ± 2° C of their 1951 to 1980 averages. That is close to a normal bell curve which you might remember from your high school math classes.
· NASA’s results do fall within the range of variability of my results from the raw, unadjusted USHCN data. Their average falls within the upper 12% of that range. The difference between their result and my result statistically speaking is astronomical. Achieving their results from the raw, unadjusted data would require large adjustments to the data.
· To understand the magnitude of any adjustments being made to a measurement it is best to relate those adjustments to the scale and instrumentation used to create the original measurement. Temperature records in the US were kept in degrees Fahrenheit. Most recent measurements use the Celsius scale. Achieving NASA’s result would require adjustments to the temperature record with the overall effect of increasing all recently recorded US temperatures from 2000 to 2014 unilaterally by nearly 3° F or 1.5° C. That would be a very large adjustment indeed.
· Most of the historical records were made using glass thermometers, presumably with precision sufficient to read to the nearest degree or half degree. The definition of precision is how finely graduated an instrument is. You do not adjust for precision, you merely record to the limits of the precision. Accuracy would depend entirely upon the specific thermometer being used as well as whoever was taking the readings. The actual accuracy would change each time a thermometer was replaced.
· Speaking as a Quality Engineer who is well versed in metrology and in analytics the idea of going back and adjusting measurements years and decades after the fact is unheard of. It is something that is simply not done unless you have a precise calibration record for each measuring device used and can quantify precisely the amount and direction of inaccuracy every time the device was used. In cases where you determine a device is inaccurate without such precise records the only choice you have is to discard the record if the amount of inaccuracy is unacceptable or leave it if the error is something you can live with.
This completes the overview of my simple argument against NASA’s version of the history of temperature in the United States. You simply cannot say there is an overall warming effect detectable from increased CO2 in the atmosphere in the United States when half the records show cooling trends and the overall cooling is equal to or even greater than the overall warming. If what NASA says about the history of temperature in the United States, which has the most and longest records of any country in the world, is incorrect you have to assume what NASA says about the rest of the world is incorrect.
Information from Seafriends.org.nz available at the following link. I am only using portions of the page. The remainder is highly informative on a variety of related subjects. I would recommend visiting.
The places where thermometers are placed were never selected with a view of collecting a representative set of temperatures from which the world's average could be calculated. They are simply located where people live, and that introduces the urban heat island effect. The two maps below, show that the world is not adequately or evenly covered. To make matters worse, many temperature stations are pretty recent and do not have a long-term record. Others do not satisfy stringent quality requirements.