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GISS's October Data. The large reddish-brown area in Russia is actually September readings.
Amateur team finds NASA error similar to one they discovered a year ago.

NASA'S Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) is one of the world's primary sources for climate data. GISS issues regular updates on world temperatures based on their analysis of temperature readings from thousands of monitoring stations over the globe.

GISS’ most recent data release originally reported last October as being extraordinarily warm-- a full 0.78C above normal. This would have made it the warmest October on record; a huge increase over the previous month's data.

Those results set off alarm bells with Steve McIntyre and his gang of Baker Street irregulars at They noted that NASA's data didn't agree at all with the satellite temperature record, which showed October to be very mild, continuing the same trend of slight cooling that has persisted since 1998. So they dug a little deeper.

McIntyre, the same man who found errors last year in GISS's US temperature record, quickly noted that most of the temperature increase was coming from Russia. A chart of world temperatures showed that in October, most of Russia, the largest nation on Earth, was not only registering hot, but literally off the scale. Yet anecdotal reports were suggesting that worldwide, October was actually slightly colder than normal. Could there be another error in GISS's data?

An alert reader on McIntyre's blog revealed that there was a very large problem. Looking at the actual readings from individual stations in Russia showed a curious anomaly. The locations had all been assigned the exact temperatures from a month earlier-- the much warmer month of September. Russia cools very rapidly in the fall months, so recycling the data from the earlier month had led to a massive temperature increase.

A few locations in Ireland were also found to be using September data.

Steve McIntyre informed GISS of the error by email. According to McIntyre, there was no response, but within "about an hour", GISS pulled down the erroneous data, citing a "mishap" and pointing the finger of blame upstream to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration (NOAA).

NOAA's Deputy Director of Communications, Scott Smullens, tells DailyTech that NOAA is responsible only for temperature readings in the US, not those in other nations.

The error not only affected October data, but due to the complex algorithm GISS uses to convert actual temperature readings into their output results, altered the previously published values for several other months as well. The values for August 2008, for instance, changed by 0.11C and the global anomaly as far back as 2005 increased by a hundredth of a degree.

GISS is run by Dr. James Hansen, a strident global warming advocate who has accused oil companies of "crimes against humanity".  Hansen recently made headlines when he travelled to London to testify on behalf of a group of environmentalists who had damaged a coal plant in protest against global warming. Hansen also serves as science advisor to Al Gore.

Dr. Hansen could not be reached for comment.

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By Catalyst on 11/17/2008 5:08:53 PM , Rating: 2
I take your explanation of how you perceive the issues as the real crux of the matter for the skeptics crowd, and I’d like to just reiterate two observations of the average skeptic’s underlying argument that seem pertinent to your position.

1.The holding of the erroneous perception that burden of proof falls on the opposing side to show no harm

2.The inadvertent or unconscious blending of whether something CAN be done with whether it SHOULD be done, which then apparently colors their perception of the validity of the issue.

Again on the first, if you are conducting an activity that is known to cause harm, it is YOUR responsibility to remediate that issue, whether it adds cost or not. Because of the costs, linking the difficulty or burden of the solutions with whether or not action should be taken I think lies behind most of the business-centric skeptics of the science of climate change. If the cost of changing behavior were free, I think you would see most of the calls about the “questionable” nature of the science disappear. Gathering from these two these points, I think it would be more appropriate to call them “objectionists” rather than skeptics. The arguments they make would not lose their stridency even if the evidence were irrefutable, which is not a science based skeptical position.

To illustrate this point more clearly, think of the person who is uninsured who is told that they have an aggressive but treatable form of cancer, but that treatment will cost them 500,000 dollars. When told they will have to pay the full amount for treatment and having no ability to do so, they would reasonably object. “I don’t have that kind of money and it would be impossible for me to get it, so treatment is not feasible.” The objection is wholly merited based on the facts of their financial situation, being uninsured they truly don’t have the money to pay for treatment. This does not, however, negate the diagnosis that they have cancer. Regardless of their ability to pay, they will die if they go untreated, objections or no, merit to their economic position or no. “Reality” reality trumps economic reality. However, if the patient were then to go one step further and call the doctor a money grubbing liar, we would be at the point where it seems most discussions of the climate problems devolve to.

The blending of Tech philosophy, which I agree is founded in science and is forward thinking, and business philosophy, which is more self interested and nebulous, seems to be the cause of the contradictory stances on science held by those in the tech community. Objectionists really take issue more with the perceived IMPLICATIONS of the observation rather than with the observation itself. Their energy would be better spent by working toward finding a profitable solution (as many are now are) than with determining with 100% certainty (which is neither necessary, wise, or possible)the state of the science.

PS. I didn’t directly address your issue about the nature of the science in the second part because I feel others have and are more qualified than I to do so. I think most of the lower tier misunderstandings can be handled by sites like Science Blogs

Check that posting to see if your some of your issues can be resolved there.

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer
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