Monday, November 2, 2009

Weird global-warming denialist claims appear on National Weather Service site

This is what they’re teaching kids in Texas. In a lab designed to show the direct cause-and-effect relationship between carbon dioxide and radiative balance – the most obvious demonstration of global warming possible – this totally incorrect copy pushes the opposite conclusion:

It has been thought that an increase in carbon dioxide will lead to global warming. While carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been increasing over the past 100 years, there is no evidence that it is causing an increase in global temperatures.

In 1997, NASA reported global temperature measurements of the Earth's lower atmosphere obtained from satellites revealed no definitive warming trend over the past two decades. In fact, the trend appeared to be a decrease in actual temperature. In 2007, NASA data showed that one-half of the ten warmest years occurred in the 1930's with 1934 (tied with 2006) as the warmest years on record. (NASA data October 23, 2007 from
The 1930s through the 1950s were clearly warmer than the 1960s and 1970s. If carbon dioxide had been the cause then the warmest years would have understandably been in the most recent years. But that is not the case.

The largest differences in the satellite temperature data were not from any man-made activity, but from natural phenomena such as large volcanic eruptions from Mt. Pinatubo, and from El Niño.

The behavior of the atmosphere is extremely complex. Therefore, discovering the validity of global warming is complex as well. How much effect will the increase in carbon dioxide will have is unclear or even if we recognize the effects of any increase.

It’s hard to imagine any NWS copy editor would let that last sentence through, but the larger issue is that every paragraph is wrong or extremely misleading. How this copy made it onto the site would be an interesting story – reports that it was present in the Oct 15, 2003 version!

Annoyed taxpayers may want to send a message to the NWS webmaster.

UPDATE: RealClimate has a subthread going. More contacts:

Steven Cooper
Deputy Regional Director, NWS Southern Region Headquarters, Fort Worth, Texas

Michael Vescio
Meteorologist-in-Charge, NWS Pendelton, Oregon

Dennis Cain
a.k.a. “Professor Weather”, NWS Fort Worth, Texas”

UPDATE 2: The rogue NOAA page is no more, and the “It’s a Gas, Man” lab has been removed from the lesson plan.

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