Category Archives: Bias In News Media Reports

Comment On Tom Karl’s Interview In The Washington Post

There is an interview of Tom Karl, Director of the National Climate Data Center titled Global warming: What the science tells us. His responses repeat his advocacy position that he has presented in other venues.

However, I want to highlight what one of his answers which is quite a dishonest response.

The question and answer are

Silver Spring, Md.: Hello,

“Many people imply that the CRU temperature data are the exclusive or principal basis for climate change predictions. Please identify some key studies that do not rely heavily on CRU data, and their conclusions. Thanks.”

Thomas R. Karl: Hi there – thanks for the question. In fact, there are other global temperature datasets that are calculated by other institutions. For example, NASA calculates an independent global temperature dataset, as does NOAA (here at National Climatic Data Center). The analysis techniques for each of these datasets are all independent of each other and yet they all come to the same conclusion: that global warming is unequivocal….”

This is a dishonest answer and Tom Karl knows it. The NASA data set and the CRU data sets are not independent of the NCDC data set.

I have discussed the interdependence of the data sets in recent posts (e.g. see and see ).

Tom Karl has  even conveniently ignored the text from the CCSP 1.1. report [of which Tom Karl was the Chief Editor!];  i.e.

In the report “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences Final Report, Synthesis and Assessment Product 1.1” on page 32 it is written

“The global surface air temperature data sets used in this report are to a large extent based on data readily exchanged internationally, e.g., through CLIMAT reports and the WMO publication Monthly Climatic Data for the World. Commercial and other considerations prevent a fuller exchange, though the United States may be better represented than many other areas. In this report, we present three global surface climate records, created from available data by NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies [GISS], NOAA National Climatic Data Center [NCDC], and the cooperative project of the U.K. Hadley Centre and the Climate Research Unit [CRU]of the University of East Anglia (HadCRUT2v).”

These three analyses are led by Tom Karl (NCDC), Jim Hansen (GISS) and Phil Jones (CRU).

The differences between the three global surface temperatures  that occur are a result of the analysis methodology as used by each of the three groups…… This is further explained on page  48 of the CCSP report where it is written with respect to the surface temperature data (as well as the other temperature data sets) that

“The data sets are distinguished from one another by differences in the details of their construction.”

On page 50 it is written

“Currently, there are three main groups creating global analyses of surface temperature (see Table 3.1), differing in the choice of available data that are utilized as well as the manner in which these data are synthesized.”

and

“Since the three chosen data sets utilize many of the same raw observations, there is a degree of interdependence.”

The chapter then states on page 51 that

“While there are fundamental differences in the methodology used to create the surface data sets, the differing techniques with the same data produce almost the same results (Vose et al., 2005a). The small differences in deductions about climate change derived from the surface data sets are likely to be due mostly to differences in construction methodology and global averaging procedures.”

and thus, to no surprise,  it is concluded that

“Examination of the three global surface temperature anomaly time series (TS) from 1958 to the present shown in Figure 3.1 reveals that the three time series have a very high level of agreement.”

There are also other major unresolved issues with the surface data sets of NCDC, NASA and CRU which Tom Karl continues to ignore; e.g. see

 Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229

and

Recommended Reading Of An Article By Joe D’Aleo On The Lack Of Quality Of The Long Term Surface Temperature Trend Data Set Over Land

Tom Karl has a serious conflict of interest, as I have documented in these posts

Do The CRU E-Mails Provide Further Documentation Of A Conflict Of Interest In The Preparation Of A CCSP Climate Assessment Report?

E-mail Documentation Of The Successful Attempt By Thomas Karl Director Of the U.S. National Climate Data Center To Suppress Biases and Uncertainties In the Assessment Surface Temperature Trends

He also keeps showing his lack of knowledge of climate science; e.g. see

Erroneous Climate Science Statement By Tom Karl, Director Of The National Climate Data Center And President Of The American Meteorological Society

Tom Karl has clearly demonstrated that he is an advocate and is presenting  erroneous information on the robustness of the surface temperature data record as a metric to assess multi-decadal surface temperature trends. We need a new Director of the National Climate Data Center who will provide policymakers with an accurate balanced monitoring of the climate system.

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A Myth About The Surface Temperature Record Analyses Perpetuated On Dot Earth By Andy Revkin

On the weblog Dot Earth today, there is text from Michael Schlesinger, a climatologist at the University of Illinois, that presents analyses of long term surface  temperature trends from NASA, NCDC and Japan as if these are from independent sets of data from the analysis of CRU.  Andy Revkin is perpetuating this myth in this write-up by not presenting the real fact that these analyses draw from the same  original raw data.  While they may use only a subset of this raw data, the overlap has been estimated as about 90-95%.

The unresolved problems with this surface data (which, of course, applies to all four locations) is reported in the peer reviewed paper

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229.

I discuss this issue in my recent post

Further Comment On The Surface Temperature Data Used In The CRU, GISS And NCDC Analyses

where I document that even the CCSP 1.1. report acknowledged this lack of independence.

Andy Revkin’s post on the surface temperature record data sets is not journalistically accurate.

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Comment On The Inaccurate Response By Gavin Schmidt Of Real Climate On The Role of Land Use Change On Temperature Trends

UPDATE: December 1 2009

Gavin Schmidt  responded to this post with the following [thanks to Bob Thompson for alerting us to this!]

From Real Climate

990 whatAboutBob says:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/11/the-cru-hack-conte=xt/comment-page-20/#comment-145828> 30 November 2009 at 8:21 AM

Gavin,

Your response in comment #289 is incorrect (at best uninformed) please see

 <https://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/> https://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/

Gavin’ response

[ Response: Not sure what you are pointing to specifically, but I stand = by that statement. The relevant IPCC summary (Chp 2. p185) is as follows:

Since the dominant aspect of land cover change since 1750 has been deforestation in temperate regions, the overall effect of anthropogenic land cover change on global temperature will depend largely on the relative
importance of increased surface albedo in winter and spring (exerting a cooling) and reduced evaporation in summer and in the tropics (exerting a warming) (Bounoua et al., 2002). Estimates of global temperature =
responses from past deforestation vary from 0.01=B0C (Zhao et al., 2001) to = =960.25=B0C
(Govindasamy et al., 2001a; Brovkin et al., 2006). If cooling by = increased surface albedo dominates, then the historical effect of land cover = change may still be adequately represented by RF. With tropical deforestation becoming more significant in recent decades, warming due to reduced evaporation may become more significant globally than increased surface albedo. Radiative forcing would then be less useful as a metric of climate change induced by land cover change recently and in the future.

and (p184)

On the basis of the studies assessed here, including a number of new estimates since the TAR, the assessment is that the best estimate of RF relative to 1750 due to land-use related surface albedo change should =
remain at =960.2 =B1 0.2 W m=962.

Thus while there are complexities and uncertainties involved, the best estimate is that LCC has been a cooling effect historically. I still don’tknow where the US statistic that was quoted in #289 comes from. – gavin]

My Reply

Gavin is using old information. New research has shown a significant warming effect for a number of landscape conversions; e.g. see

 Fall, S., D. Niyogi, A. Gluhovsky, R. A. Pielke Sr., E. Kalnay, and G. Rochon, 2009: Impacts of land use land cover on temperature trends over the continental United States: Assessment using the North American Regional Reanalysis. Int. J. Climatol., DOI: 10.1002/joc.1996. https://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/r-329.pdf

from the abstract

“….most of the warmingtrends that we identify can be explained on the basis of LULC changes, we suggest that in addition to considering the greenhouse gases–driven radiative forcings, multi-decadal and longer climate models simulations must further include LULC changes.”

and

New Idea offered to fight climate change  from Georgia Tech which has 6 links (under the author’s name) in google news where the press release has the text

“Across the (United States) as a whole, approximately 50 percent of the warming that has occurred since 1950 is due to land use changes (usually in the form of clearing forest for crops or cities) rather than to the emission of greenhouse gases,” Stone said. “Most large U.S. cities … are warming at more than twice the rate of the planet as a whole — a rate that is mostly attributable to land use change.”

******END OF UPDATE****

There is a response by Gavin Schmidt on Real Climate with respect to the role of land use change on the attribution of surface air temperature trends [thanks to Charlie Allen for alerting us to it!]. While Gavin has expertise in global climate modeling, his reply illustrates his lack of expertise on the role of landscape processes within the climate system, and, in this example, with respect to the role of land use/land cover change on long temperature trends.

The text from Real Climate is

  1. 1.       CCPO @258 – you quoted Gavin as saying “Note. global land use effects result in a cooling because the biggest issue is the chopping down of forest (dark) to make cropland (bright)”

Well, that’s not actually true. Here’s a press release for a new paper from Georgia Tech, showing how 50% of the warming across the US is due to land use changes.

Original reference for Gavin’s comment was from Edward’s post @95.

Cheers.

[Response: A statement in a press release is not a scientific result and the paper referred to does not show this to be true (and in fact I doubt very much that it is true). There are many papers on the global impacts of land cover change – Pondgratz et al is good, and all such papers show that land use at the global scale drives a cooling. – gavin]

The person who prepared the comment (CCPO CORRECTED Dec 1 2009 – Thanks to Michael Lenaghan who let me know the correct person to credit was Ted) clearly better understands the science issue  better than Gavin Schmidt. 

 I have already documented his lack of expertise in research topics that he comments on at Real Climate and elsewhere in my post

Does Gavin Schmidt Understand Boundary Layer Physics?

A Recent paper of ours which document an increase in surface temperatures due to landscape change include

Fall, S., D. Niyogi, A. Gluhovsky, R. A. Pielke Sr., E. Kalnay, and G. Rochon, 2009: Impacts of land use land cover on temperature trends over the continental United States: Assessment using the North American Regional Reanalysis. Int. J. Climatol., DOI: 10.1002/joc.1996

With respect to the study by Stone Jr, Gavin apparently did not even read it before he commented!

 In the paper

Stone Jr., Brian, 2009: Land Use As Climate Change Mitigation,  Environmental Science and Technology (in press).

 it is written [emphasis added in bold face font]

“….the mean decadal rate of warming across the urban stations is significantly higher than that of rural stations. Averaged over the full period, the mean decadal rate of warming for urban stations was found to be 0.08 °C higher than that of rural stations. This average rate of heat island growths i.e., urban warming in excess of the rural trends rises to 0.20 °C/decade over the most recent 20 years of observation.”

and

“The increasing divergence between rural and urban temperature trends in U.S. cities highlights the limitationsof a climate policy framework focused on emissions reductions alone. If land use change is the dominant agent of climate forcing at the urban scale, Kyoto-based emissions trading schemes may fail to sufficiently safeguard human health in the most heavily populated regions of the planet. It is important to emphasize, however, that the phrase “urban heat island effect,”muchlike the phrase “greenhouse effect,” is a misnomer…The physical mechanisms underlying warming trends in cities are limited neither to urban areas nor to small geographic regions. Rather, changes in surface moisture and energy balances accompanying land conversion processes across large swaths of the planet’s land area are giving rise to changes in climate that may be of the same order of magnitude as changes brought about through the emission of GHGs. As such, the urban heat island effect should be understood to be only the most visible manifestation of a larger phenomenon occurring across multiple geographic scaless a phenomenon better characterized as a “green loss effect” than as something unique to urban areas.”

This reply by Gavin, besides ignoring (e.g. Fall et al 2009) and his trivializing (e.g. Stone Jr 2009)  peer reviewed papers that disagree with his perspective,  his comment also shows that he has learned little from the exposure of the inappropriate attempt by Phil Jones and colleagues to serve as gatekeepers to climate science issues.

Since Gavin Schmidt is not a recognized expert on the role of land use/land cover change, he should have sought a qualified climate scientist to address the comment by CCPO. Instead, he perpetuates the biased and often inaccurate presentation of climate views on Real Climate.

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Bias In News Reporting

UPDATE: November 14 2009 There is a very informative discussion of my post at http://cruelmistress.wordpress.com/2009/11/14/bias-in-reporting/.  The issues that are raised in that post are valid; hopefully, my post will encourage a rigorous scientific assessment of this question.

There is a press release on a paper yesterday from NCAR titled Record High Temperatures Far Outpace Record Lows Across U.S.

I plan to post on the paper on which this news article is based next week ( it has major problems, as already identified at Watts Up With That). However, today, I want to just compare the news exposure of three press releases, one of which supports a surface temperature changes from the human addition of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (the NCAR press release), and two others which present other explanations for at least part of the surface temperature increases.

The NCAR press release as of 10am EST November 13 2009 has 95 links (under the lead author) at google news.

The other two press releases are

“Study gives clearer picture of how land-use changes affect U.S. climate”  from Purdue which has 3 links (under any of the co-authors) in google news where the press relase has the text

“What we highlight here is that a significant trend, particularly the warming trend in terms of temperatures, can also be partially explained by land-use change,” said Dev Niyogi, a Purdue earth and atmospheric sciences and agronomy professor, and the Indiana state climatologist.”

New Idea offered to fight climate change  from Georgia Tech which has 6 links (under the author’s name) in google news where the press release has the text

“Across the (United States) as a whole, approximately 50 percent of the warming that has occurred since 1950 is due to land use changes (usually in the form of clearing forest for crops or cities) rather than to the emission of greenhouse gases,” Stone said. “Most large U.S. cities … are warming at more than twice the rate of the planet as a whole — a rate that is mostly attributable to land use change.”

The news community clearly has a bias in its reporting.

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Erroneous Claim in an AP News Article

UPDATE #2 October 24 2009: If Dina Cappiello, Seth Borenstein and/or Kevin Freking chose to reply in order to refute my criticism of their statement in the news article, we would be glad to post as a guest weblog.

UPDATE Oct 24 2009:  To make sure my text is clear, I repeated “the primary cause”in the text  below. As I weblogged on this morning, the human addition of CO2 from fossil fuel emissions is a first order global warming, and more generally a first order climate change forcing.  Efforts to reduce the magnitude of the human intervention into the climate system must include mitigation approaches with respect to CO2 emissions. However, by itself, this is only a part of the issue, as other human climate forcings are also of first order importance.

There is an Associated Press [AP] news article today by Dina Cappiello, Seth Borenstein and Kevin Freking titled “Poll: US belief in global warming is cooling”.  In this article the reporters perpetuate the myth that

“Though there are exceptions, the vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is occurring and that the primary cause is a buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels, such as oil and coal.”

This is not true and is a case of the media seeking to make up news.

We have already documented that a significant minority of climate scientists do not consider greenhouse gases as the primary cause for global warming, and, more generally, [as the primary] cause [of] climate change; e.g.  see

Brown, F., J. Annan, and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2008: Is there agreement amongst climate scientists on the IPCC AR4 WG1?

and

National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties. Committee on Radiative Forcing Effects on Climate Change, Climate Research Committee, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 208 pp.

In the coming month, we will be presenting another article that documents that the AP authors are erroneous in their claim “that the vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is occurring and that the primary cause is a buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels, such as oil and coal.”

If the reporters want to be balanced in their presentations, rather than lobbyists and advocates, they would persue the validity of their claim.  So far, however, they have failed in this journalistic role.

 

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The Economist Heats Up The Climate Issue

In the October 15 2009 issue of the Economist there is an article titled “Bad policy will boil the planet”.   The article itself is quite informative and worth reading. However, this Economist article has a headline like the National Enquirer Magazine!

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Scientificially Absurd News Headline, Which, Unfortunately Prevades The Current Debate on Climate and Energy Policy

The news today includes an article by Richard Cowan of Reuters titled  “US climate control debate heats up in Senate” . The article itself is informative.

However, the  claim in the header of the article that the government can design a program for “climate control” is absurd.

In our book,

Cotton, W.R. and R.A. Pielke, 2007: Human impacts on weather and climate, Cambridge University Press, 330 pp,

Bill Cotton and I presented the history of how weather modification was oversold to policymakers and funding agencies. With the claims that the governement is going to control climate, the excesses that occured with respect to weather modification are being taken to an even higher level.

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Lack Of Balance On Tamino With Respect To His Post “Arctic Sunlight”

Tamino’s website “Open Mind” published a post “Arctic Sunlight”on September 8 2009 which criticizes a observational finding which I presented in my post .  

The text on his website reads

Roger Pielke Sr. has joined Anthony Watts in la-la-land with a post which was also posted on WUWT, Pielke Senior: Arctic Temperature Reporting In The News Needs A Reality Check; it’s Pielke’s attempt to throw dirt at the recent Kaufman et al. research. 

Pielke refers to modern arctic temperatures thus:

 “The documentation of their biased reporting is easy to show. For example, they do not report on observational data which does not show this rapid recent warming; e.g. see that the current high latitude temperatures are close to the longer term average since 1958. The Danish Meteorological Institute Daily Mean Temperatures in the Arctic 1958 – 2008 [and thanks to the excellent weblog Watts Up With That for making this easily available to us!]”

As for current high-latitude temperatures being close to the longer term average since 1958, no they’re not. Pielke and Watts need a sanity check.”

Well, despite the title of Tamino’s weblog as Open Mind, it is anything but that.  He conveniently  left off the rest of the text in my post on September 4 2009.  I will repeat it here for readers who believe in balanced scientific debate:

From  Arctic Temperature Reporting In The News Needs A Reality Check, the text left off by Tamino reads

There are also peer reviewed papers which show that the Schmid and Revkin articles are biased; e. g. see

 i) the areal coverage of the coldest middle tropospheric temperatures (below -40C)  have not changed radically as shown in the Revkin figure; see

Herman, B., M. Barlage, T.N. Chase, and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2008: Update on a proposed mechanism for the regulation of  minimum mid-tropospheric and surface temperatures in the Arctic and Antarctic. J. Geophys. Res.-Atmos., 113, D24101, doi:10.1029/2008JD009799.

and

ii) there is a warm bias in the Arctic surface temperature measurements when they are used to characterize deeper atmospheric warming; see

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2009: An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., accepted.”

Tamino’s weblog is clearly not an Open Minded source of information on climate science. Tamino’s post just reaffirms that there needs to be a reality check in media reporting.

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Arctic Temperature Reporting In The News Needs A Reality Check

There new articles that claim the Arctic is rapidly warming. These articles are an excellent examples of the cherrypicking of particular published papers to promote the very narrow perspective of the journalists.

These include

An Associated Press news article by Randolph E. Schmid titled “Arctic reverses long-term trend”.

A New York Times article by Andrew C. Revkin titled “Humans May Have Ended Long Arctic Chill”.

The Schmid article has the text

“The most recent 10-year interval, 1999-2008, was the warmest of the last 2,000 years in the Arctic, according to the researchers led by Darrell S. Kaufman, a professor of geology and environmental science at Northern Arizona University.

Summer temperatures in the Arctic averaged 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.4 degrees Celsius) warmer than would have been expected if the cooling had continued, the researchers said.

The finding adds fuel to the debate over a House-passed climate bill now pending in the Senate. The administration-backed measure would impose the first limits on greenhouse gases and eventually would lead to an 80 percent reduction by putting a price on each ton of climate-altering pollution.”

Revkin reinforces this extreme view in his September 3 2009 article with his figure of  2000 years of Arctic surface temperatures, with each decade having the same temporal resolution as the last 10 years.

The publication of these news articles are clearly meant to influence the political process, as evident in the last paragraph, where Schmid writes “The finding adds fuel to the debate over a House-passed climate bill now pending in the Senate.”

The documentation of their biased reporting is easy to show.  For example,  they do not report on observational data which does not show this rapid recent warming; e.g. see that the current high latitude temperatures are close to the longer term average since 1958

The Danish Meteorological Institute Daily Mean Temperatures in the Arctic 1958 – 2008 [and thanks to the excellent weblog Watts Up With That for making this easily available to us!]

There are also peer reviewed papers which show that the Schmid and Revkin articles are biased; e. g. see

 i) the areal coverage of the coldest middle tropospheric temperatures (below -40C)  have not changed radically as shown in the Revkin figure; see

Herman, B., M. Barlage, T.N. Chase, and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2008: Update on a proposed mechanism for the regulation of  minimum mid-tropospheric and surface temperatures in the Arctic and Antarctic. J. Geophys. Res.-Atmos., 113, D24101, doi:10.1029/2008JD009799.

and

ii) there is a warm bias in the Arctic surface temperature measurements when they are used to characterize deeper atmospheric warming; see

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2009: An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., accepted.

At least the news Editors of the newspapers are starting to recognize that these journalists are presenting slanted news. The Schmid article appeared only on page 12 of my local newspaper.

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