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In Bonn, a Global Warming Propaganda Tsunami Is Triggered

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”

This famous quote from the fictional Sherlock Holmes well-summarizes the search for truth in criminology, but it also applies perfectly to today’s global warming debate.

The inconvenient truth about climate change is that we lack the data to properly understand what weather was like over most of the planet, even in the recent past. Without a good understanding of past weather conditions, we have no way of knowing the history of the planet’s average condition -- the climate. Despite the confident pronouncements of politicians and climate activists, we cannot compare today’s climate with the past. Meaningful forecasts of future climate change are therefore impossible.

For example, consider the touchstone of the global warming movement: the “HadCRUT4” global average temperature history for the past 167 years. This record was produced by the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, and the Hadley Centre (UK Met Office), both based in the United Kingdom:

Figure 1: The "touchstone" of the global warming movement.

The graph above displays the monthly instrumental temperature records formed by combining the sea surface temperature records and the land surface air temperature records. The baseline is an average from 1961 - 1990.

Until the 1960s, temperature data was collected using mercury thermometers located at weather stations situated mostly in the United States, Japan, the UK, and eastern Australia. Most of the rest of the planet had very few temperature sensing stations. And none of the Earth’s oceans, which constitute 70% of the planet’s surface area, had more than the occasional station separated from its neighbor by thousands of kilometers. The data collected at the weather stations in this sparse grid had, at best, an accuracy of +/-0.5 degrees Celsius. In most cases, the real-world accuracy was no better than +/-1 deg C.

Averaging such poor data in an attempt to determine global conditions cannot yield anything meaningful.

Displaying average temperature to tenths of a degree, as is done in the "HadCRUT4" global average temperature history above, clearly defies common sense.

Modern weather station surface temperature data is now collected using precision thermocouples. However, starting in the 1970s, less and less ground surface temperature data was used for plots such as “HadCRUT4.” This was done initially because governments believed that satellite monitoring could take over from most of the ground surface data collection. But the satellites did not show the warming forecast by computer models. So bureaucrats simply closed most of the colder rural surface temperature sensing stations, thereby yielding the warming desired for political purposes.

Sherlock Holmes would have condemned this twisting of the facts to suit the theory.