Now that Donald Trump is president-elect and there are no facts anymore, it only makes sense that the Republican-led House Committee on Science, Space, And Technology (a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil) would retweet a seriously wrong article from Brietbart as if it were somehow legitimate scientific information on climate. It was a fine moment for scientifically literate Americans — dozens of them! — to come together, slap their palms to their foreheads, and realize this is now Official Policy. Even the stately New York Times took note, with the uncommonly strident headline “News Report on Global Temperatures Is Wrong, Scientists Say.”
So, what’s the alleged shocking climate news this time? Oh, just that the scientific community is completely ignoring a massive “plunge” in global temperatures, thus proving global warming is bunk AND climate scientists are corrupt!
The Breitbart piece by James Delingpole is mostly a summary of a story from that paragon of science reporting, the Daily Mail tabloid, plus snotty commentary by Delingpole about the foolishness of climate alarmists. This, from a guy who readily acknowledges he doesn’t read scientific papers himself, but is instead an “Interpreter of interpretations.” The Daily Mail story itself, by climate change denier David Rose, is itself a masterful bit of cherry-picked data, claiming that a recent drop in temperatures over land only (which makes up only 30% of the planet’s surface and has more variable temperatures), for part of 2016, somehow refutes the overall trend of global warming, and insisted that the El Niño weather effect accounted for all record temperatures in recent years. We’ll let the New York Times handle the heavy lifting in debunking Rose’s claims:
But scientists said that while the recent El Niño did contribute to the record warmth, climate change played a major role, too.
“Nobody said the record temperatures were exclusively the result of climate change,” said Mike Halpert, the deputy director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center.
Deke Arndt, the chief of the climate monitoring branch at the NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, said that the long-term warming trend was quite clear, and that the impact of El Niño was in addition to what were already higher temperatures. “You can have both climate change and a goose from El Niño,” he said.
In essence, Rose is trying to pull a common trick by denialists: looking only at a short-term temperature dip or plateau and claiming it negates over a century of increased temperature rises connected with CO2 emissions. As Ars Technica notes, it’s the same horsehockey behind the notion that global warming “mysteriously stopped” in the late ’90s:
After a particularly strong El Niño in 1997 and 1998 drove the global average surface temperature to a major record, those who reject the conclusions of climate science spent years claiming that global warming stopped in 1998. When the long-term warming trend started surpassing the old 1998 record again, the popular excuse was “Well, that’s just because this is a warm El Niño year!” After 2015 absolutely crushed the record, some climate scientists joked about how long it would take for someone to claim that now global warming had stopped in 2015. If you had “less than 1 year” in an office pool, congratulations.
And as our old pals Neil deGrasse Tyson and his chocolate Labrador are always reminding us, temperatures vary year to year, but long-term climate trends are where the important data are found.
The whole mishegas is deeply embarrassing to Democrats on the House Science Committee, like Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark, who told the Boston Globe Friday that the tweet “is one of the first indications before we’ve even had our first meeting in the new session . . . that we’re going to continue on this track of denying science.” She went on to explain the House Science Committee has become, since Republicans took control of the House in 2010, more about protecting polluting industries than about advancing science:
“It is a committee where the experts that we bring in are belittled, ignored, and the views that are promoted are minority opinions within any scientific or research community and are really become just hand-selected to promote an agenda of protecting big oil,” she said.