By Henry Fountain
7 February 2017
(The New York Times) – In an article that appeared online in The Mail on Sunday, a British tabloid, the journalist David Rose described “astonishing evidence” that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States had “rushed to publish a landmark paper that exaggerated global warming and was timed to influence the historic Paris agreement on climate change.”
“Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data,” the article’s headline read.
Mr. Rose, who has made climate-related claims in the past that did not hold up to scrutiny, said a “high-level whistle-blower,” John J. Bates, a recently retired scientist at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, had told him that the agency “breached its own rules on scientific integrity” in publishing the study in June 2015.
According to Mr. Rose, the study, which refuted earlier work that suggested global warming had slowed in the first decade of this century, “was aimed at making the maximum possible impact on world leaders” at the talks in Paris in December 2015 that led to the agreement by more than 190 nations to set limits on carbon emissions.
After Mr. Rose’s article was published, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and its chairman, Representative Lamar Smith, Republican of Texas, wrote about it on Twitter. […]
The 2015 paper, by Thomas R. Karl, who was then director of the National Centers for Environmental Information, and others, used improved data sets to show that the slowdown probably did not occur at all. Because temperature data was collected in different ways over the years — and some methods were more reliable than others — it is normal for the data to be refined and adjusted. Dr. Karl’s paper reflected the latest refinements, especially for ocean data.
In the Mail on Sunday article, Dr. Bates, who at one point was in charge of archiving climate data at the centers, accused Dr. Karl of having used “unverified” data. In a long blog post published Saturday, Dr. Bates went into extensive detail — the kind that only true data geeks could love — about how data sets are or are not archived and verified at NOAA.
But Dr. Bates also accused Dr. Karl of misusing the process. “We find Tom Karl’s thumb on the scale pushing for, and often insisting on, decisions that maximize warming and minimize documentation,” he wrote. […]
In an interview on Monday with E&E News, Dr. Bates appeared to distance himself from some of what he wrote in the blog post, and from the way his criticisms were portrayed in the Mail on Sunday article.
“The issue here is not an issue of tampering with data,” he said, “but rather really of timing of a release of a paper that had not properly disclosed everything it was.” [more]