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Posted on January 7, 2013 | Leave a comment My friend Marty has been writing a memoir, charting his own history as a climate scientist and noting what has happened around him. The first two chapters are here and here.
How climate science became such a mess. Chapter 3
“In the late 80's, I returned to my first love, using earthquake patterns to evaluate different theories of gravity. I got a position with a non profit where I looked at seismic cycles and their surrogates – volcanic dust and climate. The volcanic explosivity index had two strong periods, 9.5 and around 11 years. The 11 year cycle was generally attributed to the solar cycle. Many researchers found that seismicity increased with a minimum of solar activity in some areas and a maximum in others. This is not surprising. The earth rotation rate is maximized at solar minimums and its rotational acceleration is maximized during high solar activity. It was the 9.5 year period that intrigued me. I soon found that a 9.5 year period was found in all kinds of climate proxies including tree rings and wheat yields. (This may be the topic of another post.)
I renewed my contacts at NASA’s Goddard center on climate. Several researchers there were analyzing climate variables looking for long and short cycles. I visited there in 1988 after Hansen delivered his famous testimony to congress. Since Hansen was officially the director of the center, global warming naturally came up. The most senior climatologist got up and closed the door. I got an earful. There was a cycle based prediction that predicted warming in the 90's and Hansen was well aware of it.
In 1991, I was again looking for money and climate science seemed to be giving it away. A colleague gave me a stack of papers by Phil Jones and others on the Urban Heat Island effect. After a sleepless night, I came to the obvious conclusion. They were cooking the books. Up until this point I mostly gave the global warmers the benefit of the doubt. But here they were deliberately minimizing surface effects on climate in order to exaggerate the warming due to CO2. This bothered me. But what I did not realize at the time is that these papers bothered hundreds of others. I think that the origin of climate skepticism can be traced to a response to these papers written between 1989 and 1991. This is when others started to ask for data and calculations and to file FOI requests. These requests eventually led to Climategate. (See Tom’s book.)
During this period, the conservative pundits were still firmly behind global warming. To the best of my memory, I don’t remember them changing sides until 1995-96. I sure don’t remember any fossil fuel money.
One of the arguments frequently heard is that we should leave the science to the experts. When the experts on UHI effect were telling Phil Jones’s “team” what they didn’t want to hear, they simply ignored all existing literature on the subject and wrote their own, even though they didn’t have any experience in it. This pattern was repeated with tree rings, glaciers, and sea level.