The kerfuffle over the EPA’s so-called “suppression” of Alan Carlin continues apace, with two new commentaries from right-wing columnists. Both syndicated columnist Mark Steyn and the Wall Street Journal’s Kim Strassel cite Carlin in support of the tired contrarian assertion that “global temperatures are on a downward trend”. (Of course, at the risk of repeating myself, this has been debunked thoroughly here, there and everywhere, as John Lennon might have put it)
But, once again, it turns out that Carlin did not write certain relevant key passages himself, and also failed to attribute them to the original author.
[Update, July 8: In another astonishing twist, I have just discovered that Marlo Lewis, the National Review columnist whose piece Carlin lifted as discussed below, is - wait for it - a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which just happens to be the right-wing think tank that has been touting the so-called "suppression" of Alan Carlin's report. I'll have more on this soon.]
[Update, July 7: I've added a comparison of the "updated" chart of global temperature projections and observations given by Carlin, and the original found in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). As well, an ironic twist to Steyn's quote from Carlin is noted.]
As we’ve already seen (here and here), at least four key sections in Carlin’s review of the EPA draft endangerment finding, not to mention his central premise, were lifted nearly whole from Pat Michaels’ World Climate Report climate disinformation blog, without any attribution whatsoever. If nothing else, you would think that would give pause to anyone quoting at length from Carlin, as chances do seem high that the more “quotable” sections are not his.
Nevertheless, here’s Mark Steyn, in full rhetorical flight:
Alan Carlin, in a report for the Environmental Protection Racket – whoops, Environmental Protection Agency – that they attempted to suppress, says:
“Fossil fuel and cement emissions increased by 3.3 percent per year during 2000-06, compared to 1.3 percent per year in the 1990s. Similarly, atmospheric C02 concentrations increased by 1.93 parts per million per year during 2000-06, compared to 1.58 ppm in the 1990s. And yet, despite accelerating emission rates and concentrations, there’s been no net warming in the 21st century and, more accurately, a decline.”
The problem is the analysis comes word-for-word from Marlo Lewis in the Planet Gore blog of the National Review last August (and repeated at icecap.us):
According to a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, fossil fuel and cement emissions increased by 3.3 percent per year during 2000-2006, compared to 1.3 percent per year in the 1990s. Similarly, atmospheric CO2 concentrations increased by 1.93 parts per million per year during 2000-2006, compared to 1.58 ppm in the 1990s.
And yet, despite accelerating emission rates and concentrations, there’s been no net warming in the 21st century. It don’t add up!
[Update, July 7-8: In a particularly ironic twist, the Steyn piece now appears in the National Review. So we have one National Review columnist attributing to Carlin a quote that was apparently plagiarized from another National Review columnist. I wonder if they'll print a correction.
As noted above, Marlo Lewis also happens to be a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the organization that originally made the accusation of "suppression" against the EPA.]
The passage in question comes from Carlin’s section 1.3, entitled IPCC Global Temperature Projections Look Increasingly Doubtful.
The section starts with a chart from icecap.us, which is attributed to the double source (Icecap.us and Marlo Lewis).
This graph, courtesy of atmospheric scientist John Christy, shows how climate models and reality diverge.
Instead, Carlin amended that to:
Figure 1-2 shows how climate models and reality diverge.
Even a cursory glance reveals some obvious problems with the chart:
- Only the lowest rising (HadCRU) of the three commonly cited surface temperature series are shown. NASA/GISS and NOAA are omitted. [Update, July 8: The original only shows HadCRU as well.]
- The graph has only partial averages for 2008, which were considerably below the final figures.
- The UAH curve, which happens to be the lower of the two tropospheric satellite-based series, has been “adjusted to surface” in some mysterious, unspecified manner. Since the projections are for the surface, it should not have even been included. (It turns out the adjustment involves dividing by a factor of 1.2, which lowers all positive anomalies relative to the baseline, including all recent years – see comments below).
[Update, July 7: It's instructive to compare the "updated" chart to the original IPCC AR4 chart TS-26.
Several obvious changes have been made:
- As previously noted, the Christy/PlanetGore/Icecap chart added the UAH tropospheric series. (It so happens that John Christy, along with Roy Spencer, produces the UAH analysis.) This series exaggerates the 1998 peak and is lower in the 2000s.
- The "updated" version omits the previous IPCC projections.
- The "updated" version "connected" the observation annual temperature dots, but omitted the smoothed, decadal curve.]
This last point is especially salient. For, despite large natural variations within the 2000s, the decade as a whole was significantly warmer than the 1990s, especially in the series that the Planet Gore/Icecap chart did not show. Obviously, decade-over-decade increments are more meaningful than short-term variations within a decade.
Nevertheless, this “smoking gun” (or is that non-smoking, cold gun?) was proudly displayed on Fox News as “proof” of Carlin’s contentions. (That was during the same interview where the Fox interlocutors called Carlin a “scientist” and “a man of science” and Carlin neglected to correct them each time. But I digress.)
Anyway, here is Carlin’s complete analysis immediately following the chart, with copied material in bold (note the mix of “lifted” and new material even within the same paragraph):
Figure 1-2 shows how climate models and reality diverge. The red, purple, and orange lines are model forecasts of global temperatures under different emission scenarios. The yellow line shows how much warming we are supposedly “committed to” even if CO2 concentrations don’t change according to the IPCC. The blue and green lines are actual temperatures as measured by ground-based (HadCrut) and satellite (UAH LT) monitoring systems. It is fairly evident that the IPCC projections are quite divergent from the actual experience in recent years. Yet if the GHG/CO2 only hypothesis is correct, there would be likely to be a greater correspondence.
If global temperatures are viewed as suggested in Figure 2-8 below the large downward drop in 2007-8 appears to be simply a return to the 1978-97 range and might not be particularly noteworthy. If, on the other hand, global temperatures are viewed as an increasing trend, which the Draft TSD appears to do, then the 2007-8 drop would appear to bring temperatures well outside the likely range suggested by the IPCC projections. So if the former viewpoint is taken, then the Draft TSD needs to explain how it could be that there has been such a great divergence from the IPCC projections.
What’s really rather remarkable, is that since 2000, the rates at which CO2 emissions and concentrations are increasing have accelerated. According to Canadell et al. (2008), fossil fuel and cement emissions increased by 3.3 percent per year during 2000-2006, compared to 1.3 percent per year in the 1990s. Similarly, atmospheric CO2 concentrations increased by 1.93 parts per million per year during 2000-2006, compared to 1.58 ppm in the 1990s. And yet, despite accelerating emission rates and concentrations, there’s been no net warming in the 21st century, and more accurately, a decline.
Interestingly, the Icecap/Lewis passages were in a totally different section (section 3.3) from the chart in the draft version. At that point, they had already been edited as shown above (i.e. removal of the Christy reference, and the substitution of the specific reference to Canadell et al. for the more generic PNAS reference in the original). And, of course, even at this early stage there was no attribution.
As for the Wall Street Journal’s Kim Strassel, she echoed the ridiculous trope that the muzzling of James Hansen by the Bush administration and the “suppression” of Alan Carlin’s plagirized pseudo-science were somehow equivalent. I’m not sure where she got that idiotic idea, but she did quote from a scrap of legal text that Roger Pielke Jr has been carrying around that he claims shows that the “rulemaking record” must show “the evidence relied upon and the evidence discarded.” But even that same source refers to the mandatory inclusion only of “any document that might have influenced the agency’s decision.” On the face of it, that should not apply to every unsolicited document submitted, especially one that failed internal review and clearly had no influence whatsoever on the agency’s decision, as many of the more sensible commentators have pointed out.
But in one regard, other columnists would be well advised to follow Kim Strassel’s course, rather than Steyn’s. The only direct quote from Carlin in the WSJ columnist’s piece is this:
“We believe our concerns and reservations are sufficiently important to warrant a serious review of the science by EPA,” the report read.
At least we can be reasonably certain that Carlin did write that himself.