NASA's Inconvenient Ruse: The Goddard Institute For Space Studies

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NASA's Inconvenient Ruse: The Goddard Institute For Space Studies
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NASA's Inconvenient Ruse: The Goddard Institute For Space Studies

The next time you read that NASA declares this or that day, month or year the hottest since yadda, yadda, yadda -- you might want to check the source. It's a pretty safe bet that it came from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and probably quotes its director, James Hansen.

One would imagine that if you can trust any organization regarding reliable climate information, it would be NASA, right? Particularly a NASA organization named after Dr. Robert H. Goddard, widely recognized as the "father of American rocketry." Think how important it is to get weather information right when launching people into space, and consider all those satellites and other high-tech stuff they have at their disposal. One would certainly believe that they could be relied on to give us the real scoop.  Unfortunately, one might be very wrong, at least regarding the Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

First of all, GISS is actually only a climate modeling shop that relies on surface (not satellite) data that is mostly supplied by others. And even some top NASA scientists consider the dataset produced by GISS inferior to data provided by two other principal organizations, the National Climate Data Center's Global Historical Climatology Network and the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU) --  home of the "ClimateGate" scandal.

As reported in a NASA memo to USA Today's weather editor from Reto Ruedy at GISS: "My recommendation to you is to continue using NCRDC [NOAA] data for U.S. mean [temperatures] and Phil Jones' [CRU] data for the global mean…We are basically a modeling group…for that purpose what we do is more than accurate enough [to assess model results]. But we have no intention to compete with either of the other two organizations in what they do best." He clarified this point, saying, "…the National Climate Center's procedure of only using the best stations is more accurate."

And just how good is that CRU data? One ClimateGate log posted by database programmer Ian "Harry" Harris doesn't provide much public confidence, reporting: "[The] hopeless state of their [CRU] database. No uniform data integrity. It's just a catalogue of issues that continues to grow as they're found…There are hundreds if not thousands of pairs of dummy stations…and duplicates…Aarrggghh! There truly is no end in sight. This project is such a MESS. No wonder I needed therapy!!"

In a ClimateGate e-mail, CRU Director Phil Jones has acknowledged that CRU mirrors U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data. "Almost all the data we have in the CRU archive is exactly the same as in the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) archive used by the NOAA National Climate Data Center," the e-mail said. And as noted by meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo in a January 28, 2011 Energy Tribune article, NASA GISS also uses NOAA data, applying its own adjustments. While all three databases suffer from the same flaws, NASA "tuning" tends to show the warmest trend anomalies, with CRU's generally the lowest, according to D'Aleo. Such differences result from various assumptions regarding unknowns such as changing urbanization and other land use influences that contaminate surface temperature recordings.

Dr. Ruedy of GISS confessed in an email that "[the United States Historical Climate Network] data are not routinely kept up-to-date, and in another that NASA had inflated its temperature data since 2000 on a questionable basis. "NASA's assumption that the adjustments made the older data consistent with future data…may not have been correct", he said. "Indeed, in 490 of the 1,057 stations the USHCN data was up to 1 C degree colder than the corresponding GHCN data, in 77 stations the data was the same, and in the remaining 490 stations the USHCN data was warmer than the GHCN data."

Anthony Watts, a meteorologist who has conducted extensive surveys of NOAA temperature recording posts, told FoxNews.com in February 2010 that "…90 % of them [surface stations] don't meet the [government's] old, simple rule called the '100-foot rule for keeping thermometers 100 feet or more from biasing influence… and we've got documentation".

NOAA and NASA have both received legal Freedom of Information Act  requests for unadjusted data and documentation of all adjustments they have made in order to assess the reliability of their reports in keeping with a Data Quality Act requiring that any published data must be able to be replicated by independent audits. And both have resisted these requests despite promises of transparency and the fact that together they receive nearly a billion dollars in direct annual government climate research funding. They are to also receive up to $600 million more from the Recovery Act of 2009.

Christopher Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute has sought NASA GISS records through the FOIA for three years, including documents related to human-caused global climate crisis theory promotions undertaken by federal employees such as those of Gavin Schmidt, a principal blogger with the aggressively global warming activist RealClimate.org website. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in August of 2007 and January of 2008, the CEI vs. NASA suit specifically seeks documents related to temperature records that NASA was forced to correct in response to criticism from a leading climate watchdog and RealClimate.org nemesis Steve McIntyre. NASA released some documents, arguing that those associated with RealClimate.org were "agency records", and then ceased to comply after admitting that 3,500 RealClimate.org-related emails had been found on Schmidt's computer.

The American Tradition Institute's Environmental Law Center also filed a FOIA lawsuit in the federal district court in the U.S.  District Court in Washington, D.C. on June 21, 2011 to force NASA to release records that pertain to James Hansen's outside income-producing activities which have brought him at least $1.2 million in the past four years alone.  ATI is seeking documents revealing possible noncompliance with applicable federal ethics and disclosure regulations, and with NASA Rules of Behavior. Hansen's high profile global warming alarmism and related energy policy statements fall far outside his official Civil Service job role.

Hansen first gained worldwide attention in 1988 following testimony before then-Senator Al Gore's Committee on Science, Technology and Space when he stated with 99 % certainty that temperatures had in fact increased, and that there had been some greenhouse warming, although he then made no direct connection between the two. This observation was consistent with concerns about a particularly warm summer that year in some U.S. regions.

Over time Hansen's pronouncements became ever more dramatic. In a Dec. 6, 2005 presentation to the American Geophysical Union he stated that the Earth's climate was already reaching a tipping point that will result in the loss of Arctic ice as we know it, with sea levels rising as much as 80 feet during this century (40 times higher than even the upper end of the most recent alarmist U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change summary report has projected), thus flooding coastal areas. He warned that this could be halted only if greenhouse gas emissions were reduced within the next 25 years.

In a Jan. 29, 2006, New York Times interview Hansen charged that NASA public relations people had pressured him to allow them to review future public lectures, papers and postings on the GISS website. Yet in January 15, 2009 testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works-Minority Committee, his former boss John S. Theon, retired chief of NASA's Climate Processes Research Program, took issue with the interference charge, stating: "Hansen was never muzzled even though he violated official agency position on climate forecasting (i.e., we did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind's effect on it). Hansen has embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claim of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress."

Dr. Theon also testified that: "My own belief concerning anthropogenic [man-made] climate change is that models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit".  He observed: "Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modeled in the observations, nor explain how they did it…this is contrary to the way science should be done." He then went on to say "Thus, there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy".

Many members of the newly reconstituted U.S. Congress who are determined to cut non-essential government spending are very likely to agree. Perhaps this circumstance will substantially chill the overheated atmosphere surrounding NASA GISS operations.

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