Really Sciency

Visit my other blog 'Really Sciency' looking at Climate Science and its portrayal, misrepresentation and denial in the media.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Goddard’s Great Arctic Conspiracy

Steve Goddard has a conspiracy theory, Arctic Fraud, that he posted on the 9th of March 2012. I think I do remember scanning this at the time but ignored it as the usual worthless scaremongering that occurs with great frequency on his blog.
 
But then on of his commentators referenced it in reply to me to suggest this was a great discovery and I though that I’d have another look at it. If some of his readership took it seriously, regardless of how confused they may seem, others might as well.
 
Goddard claims that the whole ‘fraud’ was uncovered when "Thanks to the work of skeptics, two key government documents have been dug up ".  Hidden documents revealing a global fraud that were dug up due the fearless dedication of climate 'skeptics' -this is scary stuff.
 
The first of these hidden documents is a graph of Arctic sea ice extent and was uncovered in 'Climate Change the IPCC Assessment' from 1990 ... Hang on a moment – a 1990 IPCC report? How much digging up did that take? It’s probably been on the IPCC web site for, like decades now. They can't be very good at hiding their fraud if they just let anyone with an internet connection access to it – but then these ‘skeptics’ must be pretty useless at spotting it since it’s been right under their noses for about 22 years, don’t they read science? Oh I forgot, of course they don’t.
 
Actually this IPCC report is well referenced by ‘skeptics’ who often post this graph from it on page 202;
It seems to appear every time a Prof. Michael Mann’s ‘Hockey Stick’ graph of global temperatures is referred to as ‘proof’ that the Medieval Warm Period has been fraudulently erased from history – but that is another level of bunk I won’t go into here.
 
The first piece of evidence for Goddard’s fraud is a graph of sea ice extent anomaly, and can be ‘dug up’ on page 224. This is Goddard’s version of it;
For some reason that I can’t entirely understand, (perhaps someone in the know can help me out), he adds red bits and shows where proper satellite monitoring starts and where the value of ice is high. Is he trying to suggest that the US government at the time, (Carter was president), spent billions of dollars putting, keeping and monitoring satellites in orbit, to fraudulently inflate sea ice area then gradually bring it down over decades, (about 40years and counting), so that sometime in the future, when goodness knows who would be in government, it can be used as evidence for global warming and an excuse for increases in taxation, a new world order or something sinister based on a long perpetrated fraud? Perhaps Goddard’s red markings are there for some credible reason but it escapes me. 
 
Anyway I think Goddard’s ‘smoking gun’ from this graph is that sea ice was low back in the day and it is low now. But that graph is only part of a series;
We can see that while the Arctic starts fairly low and rises, the graph below for the Antarctic shows the ice high and falls. So global sea ice can't be considered anomalously low. How lame a fraud is that? Surely if you want to suggest that the ice is decreasing globally you keep both poles high at the start? Don’t these conspirators know nothing?
 
Seriously, it can be seen from considering both these graphs, pre satellite, that global sea ice was not low. But it also suggests that pre satellite measurements had much higher levels of uncertainty. That is way satellites were launched with a mission to measure ice area – not to inflate the figure but to get a more accurate measure. The first graph in the series shows a gradual decline in snow extent during the same period.

During the research of this post I came across another blog, ‘More GrumbineScience’, that does a far more rigorous examination of exactly what is in the 1990 IPCC report regarding sea ice extent. It explains exactly how the ice was measured at the time compared to more recent measurements. I'd recommend it for anyone interested in the facts - clearly Goddard has never read it.
 
So Goddard’s ‘Arctic Fraud’ isn’t of to a great start. The first key piece of evidence uncovered was freely available for decades and just shows the state of knowledge at the time.
 
But what of Goddard’s second key piece of evidence for a fraud. It is much more scary – a document from the CIA! This is a 1974 report by the CIA called "A study of climatological research as it pertains to intelligence problems". It was apparently dug up by in 2009. Was it uncovered by a  whistle blower? Was there a hack of the CIA servers? Is any body's life in jeopardy?
 
Well no. It was got from the British Library, where no doubt it has been for decades and open to the public for scrutiny. In fact it is available from several places on-line - it can be purchased from here for example. This document isn’t entirely unknown either. It is often cited as evidence every time the ‘Scientists thought there would be global cooling in the 70’s’ meme is brought up. So I can’t help wonder if this document was dug up and revealed in ‘skeptic’ circles in 2009, and the first document has been freely availably for decades, why it has taken Steve Goddard about 3 years to reveal his great Arctic conspiracy fraud? Perhaps he was fact checking? – Sorry, I must try to tone down the sarcasm.
 
Goddard’s ‘smoking gun’ from the CIA report is the line;
 Early in the 1970s a series of adverse climatic anomalies occurred;
  • The worlds snow and ice cover had increased by at least 10 to 15 percent.
That is further used by him to suggest that sea ice was also low back in our recent past. But this isn’t a scientific report. In fact the science in it is dodgy at best. It was commissioned and written during the cold war and at a time when the media were hyping the idea of global cooling, and when Arctic sea ice had been increasing. This is clearly part of the series of events that occurred in the 1970s, unusual enough at the time for the somewhat paranoid CIA to worry about possible 'intelligence problems'.
 
If the CIA had taken time to ask the scientific community the general direction the near future climate was expect to take was one of warming, not cooling.
 
So looking at all the evidence that has been ‘dug up’, can any one rationally say there is any credible evidence for a fraud? Isn’t it more like another case of doubting the research based on ignorance and bias by a fantasist?
 

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