The Groucho Marx Explanation for Climate Change

The late comedian is known for a number of one liners.  One that is often repeated is “who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes”.  That question is often the approach taken by climate advocates.

A case in point is the annual ritual of claiming that the latest year’s temperature is one of the highest on record even though satellite records since 1998 show that temperatures have not risen.

Advocates are quick to criticize satellite temperature measurements because they don’t conform to their orthodoxy, cover too short a time period, and are only an indirect way of estimating surface temperature.  And, they have readymade explanations for the adjustments that they routinely make to surface measurements that always make the surface temperatures warmer.

In the past few months, two analyses have shown how these advocates engage in scientific and statistical manipulation to bolster their argument that human activities are the primary cause of warming that has occurred over the past 50 years and that the warming hiatus is a mirage.

Climate scientists, James Wallace, Joe D’Aleo, and Craig Idso, have prepared a report—On The Validity of NOAA, NASA, & HADLEY SURFACE TEMPRATURE DATA— that examined the surface data adjustments in three data sets—NOAA, NASA, and the Hadley Center in the UK.  In their study, they make the point that “ the notion that some “adjustments” to historical data might need to be made is not challenged.”  They go on to make the logical observation that it would be expected that sometimes the adjustments would raise temperatures while others times they would lower them.  Instead, what they found was the adjustments were consistently to increase temperatures and had the result of “removing the previously existing cyclical temperature pattern.”  Clearly, climate advocates at these agencies know what they want temperature record should look like—keep going up—and adjustments are the way to get the desired result.

John Brignell has written a wonderful book—Sorry, Wrong Number, that covers in great depth the abuse of measurement, which has been going on for a very long time and is far broader than climate.  Conclusions don’t flow from data; data are arranged to confirm conclusions.

The steady increase in temperatures reported, generally with great fanfare, by these three organizations is used as a way of validating climate models, which on their face should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.  As John Christy showed in recent testimony before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology the models that predict ever increasing temperatures require the addition of “extra GHGs.” When the extra GHs are removed, model results “overlap the observations almost completely”.

Examples like this provide a strong justification for the Red Team exercise proposed by Steve Koonin and embraced by the EPA Administrator.




Founder and president of Solutions Consulting which focuses on public policy issues, strategic planning, and strategic communications.

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