How the Vice President Gave Us "The Hottest Year on Record"
February 1, 1999
by Dennis T. Avery
Vice President Gore has held frequent press conferences lately to announce that scientists have just recorded the highest global temperatures in history. We can expect him to do the same in 1999—as long as the press keeps printing the results of the temperature index put together by the National Climatic Data Center.
Mr. Gore needed something new such as this, because a glance at the recorded weather history would not persuade many voters to elect a global warming activist. The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) did their best to help him, considering the stubborn truths they had to work with. Official land-based thermometers show a recent increase of 0.2 degrees, but that is because they are surrounded by pavement and tall buildings. National Weather Service readings from more than a million high-altitude balloons show no temperature increase over the last twenty years. NASA’s satellite temperature readings put recent temperatures in the middle of the range for the last two decades. Ocean-air temperatures taken from buoys show no significant warming trend since the early 1980s. Sea surface temperatures taken aboard ships have risen slightly, but are probably anomalous, because all other data are moving in the opposite direction.
The index created by the NCDC is problematic at best—the analysts arbitrarily raised sea surface temperatures 25 percent after 1982! No wonder the index showed higher temperatures. Yet this blatant scientific fraud worked, and reporters got the "warming" news they expected. Few asked how the index was constructed, and the NCDC did not publish it until six months after Gore's first press conference on it.
Finally, the NCDC sent a document to various organizations stating, "Our methodology was not documented in the open refereed literature. The [memorandum] is an attempt to provide that documentation." However, it offered no rationale for raising the sea surface temperatures. By then, of course, the index was "old news" to reporters, and the good news was buried.
Meanwhile, in a petition started by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, more than 17,000 scientists stated that they see no evidence of human activities raising world temperatures. Dr. Patrick Michaels, the Virginia State Climatologist, called the NCDC index "misrepresentative" and "a tawdry misuse of scientific resources."
We can probably expect similarly creative efforts from global warming scare-mongers in 1999. After all, real temperature records offer little to suggest that global warming is an immediate threat.
Dennis T. Avery is based in Churchville, VA, and is director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Global Food Issues.