The recent releases from America's NOAA National Climatic Data Center make a convoluted tangle of misinformation that has tripped up almost everyone - including many climate realists.
The confusion starts with NOAA's own website announcing the report at http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100728_stateoftheclimate.html. Here's a snapshot of the page (click to see a larger image):
See the image of the report cover at the top of the web page? That is not the cover of the Report. Now notice the pretty graphic "Ten indicators of a warming world" a bit lower down. That one is not in the Report, it is in the Report. Confused?
It turns out there are actually two reports, and the NOAA web page only links to one of them. At the bottom of the page, below the bit I screen-captured in the graphic, there is a link to "The Report" - which is the one whose cover is shown on the web NOAA page, and which is also the one written by "more than 300 scientists from 160 research groups in 48 countries". But that Report is not the Report that the NOAA website goes on to describe in detail!
There is a second Report, called "2009 The State of the Climate Highlights", which the NOAA web page does not link to (but which you can see here), which is the source of the alarmist statements quoted on the web page, including this one:
The report emphasizes that human society has developed for thousands of years under one climatic state, and now a new set of climatic conditions are taking shape. These conditions are consistently warmer, and some areas are likely to see more extreme events like severe drought, torrential rain and violent storms.
Here is the cover of the "Highlight" Report:
Other climate realists have pointed out that the passage I have quoted above is a ludicrous fallacy. The Medieval warm period was warmer than now, the Roman warm period even warmer. In between we have had frigid times of death and disease including the dark ages and the little ice age. Human society thousands of years under one climatic state? Piffle! And NOAA certainly know it.
But what about those 300 scientists, the 160 research groups, the 48 countries, you ask? Surely they would not say such a thing if it were not true?
Well they didn't. Those 300 scientists in 160 research groups in 48 countries wrote "The Report", but this crackpot claim about "one climatic state" is not in the Report, it is in the Report, meaning the Highlight Report. Got it? The second Report, not written by those 300 scientists, is the one with the nutcase alarmism. The Report, meaning the full Report, written by 300 scientists in 160 research groups in 48 countries, that Report doesn't even discuss thousands of years.
Not at all.
Not one syllable.
Here's how I searched for the source, in the full Report, of the crackpot claim:
- I searched for "thousands", looking for something about "thousands of years" - but this word does not occur in conjunction with a time period anywhere in the full Report.
- I searched for "year". It occurs all over the Report, but only once in conjunction with the word millennium on pp541-542, which says: "Since 1750, ~335 billion tons of carbon has been emitted into the atmosphere by human activities, about half of this since the mid-1970s (Marland et al. 2008), and emissions rates increased by > 3%
from 2000–04 (Raupach et al. 2007). Atmospheric CO2 has increased from about 280 ppm at the start of the industrial revolution to more than 380 ppm today. About half of the emitted CO2 remains in the atmosphere after a year, and after a millennium, ~20% remains (Archer and Brovkin 2008)." Now this sounds highly suspect, because decaying substances don't behave like that. Something that decays to half in a year will decay to 25% in two years, 12.5% in three, and so on. 20% after a millennium? Pull the other one. But that's another story. It isn't the source of the "one climatic state for thousands of years" rubbish.
- I found "year" with 500 on p5139, talking about flooding in parts of Minnesota and
North Dakota along the Red River. Again, not the source of the claim.
- There are no other occurrences of "millennium" or "millennia".
- I looked for "society" since the claim is about evolution of human society: Minus "society islands" [sic] and names of societies, there are no other occurrences of this word.
- I tried "culture": no occurrences.
- I tried "climatic: there no references in conjunction with human development or society.
- I read the full Introduction: no mention of social development at all.
- I read the table of contents: nothing remotely relevant.
- There was no conclusion to the document.
I think this proves, as well as can be done when trying to establish a negative conclusion, that the full Report simply doesn't even discuss the subject which NOAA's web page claims "The report emphasizes ..."
So this is how the trick was worked: The full Report is a compendious and unattractive recital of thousands of climatic happenings during 2009, none of which (since "weather isn't climate") proves anything about anthropogenic global warming. NOAA assume, maybe, that no one will ever read it. Then a "Highlight" Report is written which simply makes stuff up about the contents of the full Report. Finally the announcement web page creates fog and confusion about what the Report actually contains, what the 300 scientists actually reported, and what was simply made up by the policy activists in NOAA. Enough of a mess there that everyone can claim plausible deniability.
Now I don't know about you, but when I read a report that says it is highlights of a bigger report, I assume it tells me the important points to be found somewhere in the bigger report. Well with NOAA, at least, you cannot assume this. Hundreds of scientists will be paid (from your taxes and mine) to generate a lot of pulp material so turgid and complicated that few will be able to make sense of it, and then a second report will be fabricated out of thin air to tell you whatever story the ideological commitments of the NOAA decision makers lead them to want to tell you. It will be absurd, but they will point to all those scientists to shut up any objections if necessary. Finally, a third level of PR hacks will take material from both reports, hide one of them from you, and paint an even more alarming fantasy picture.
Our civil society is under attack from within. The institutions such as NOAA, established to be a reliable and conscientious scientific resource for the rest of us to make sound policy decisions, now pay little more than lip service to their true missions. We have big problems, which stretch far beyond the one issue of global warming.