CEI's Horner enlists Fox News in manufacturing another climate email scandal

A March 30 FoxNews.com article advanced global warming skeptic Chris Horner's baseless claim that climate scientists' emails show that the U.K.'s Climatic Research Unit's (CRU) temperature data are inaccurate, and that NASA's, “by its own admission,” “are in even worse shape.” In fact, there is no evidence in any of the emails that show the data from either organization are wrong.

FoxNews.com: “NASA's temperature records are in even worse shape than the besmirched Climate-gate data”

FoxNews.com: “By its own admission, NASA's temperature records are in even worse shape than the besmirched Climate-gate data.” From FoxNews.com's March 30 article, titled, “NASA Data Worse Than Climate-Gate Data, Space Agency Admits”:

NASA was able to put a man on the moon, but the space agency can't tell you what the temperature was when it did. By its own admission, NASA's temperature records are in even worse shape than the besmirched Climate-gate data.

E-mail messages obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that NASA concluded that its own climate findings were inferior to those maintained by both the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) -- the scandalized source of the leaked Climate-gate e-mails -- and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center [NCDC].

The e-mails from 2007 reveal that when a USA Today reporter asked if NASA's data “was more accurate” than other climate-change data sets, NASA's Dr. Reto A. Ruedy replied with an unequivocal no. He said “the National Climatic Data Center's procedure of only using the best stations is more accurate,” admitting that some of his own procedures led to less accurate readings.

“My recommendation to you is to continue using NCDC's data for the U.S. means and [East Anglia] data for the global means,” Ruedy told the reporter.

“NASA's temperature data is worse than the Climate-gate temperature data. According to NASA,” wrote Christopher Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute who uncovered the e-mails. Horner is skeptical of NCDC's data as well, stating plainly: “Three out of the four temperature data sets stink.”

Fox Nation: “NASA Rocked by 'Climategate II.' ” The Fox Nation linked to the FoxNews.com article with the headline, “NASA Rocked by 'Climategate II' ”:


CRU emails did not show that scientists manipulated temperature data

Fox News, right-wing blogs falsely asserted CRU emails are evidence scientists manipulated data. Right-wing media -- including Fox News -- seized on false claims that emails stolen from CRU scientists showed that they had “fudged” or “manipulated” temperature data.

Union of Concerned Scientists: "[T]here is no evidence that scientists 'fudged,' 'manipulated' or 'manufactured' data." The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) stated: “There is no evidence scientists did anything with temperature data they weren't already doing openly in peer-reviewed papers. At this time, there is no evidence that scientists 'fudged,' 'manipulated' or 'manufactured' data.” From UCS:

While the emails have raised some concerns, the email content being quoted does not indicate that climate data and research have been compromised. Most importantly, nothing in the content of these stolen emails has any impact on our overall understanding that human activities are driving dangerous levels of global warming. Media reports and contrarian claims that they do are inaccurate.

FactCheck: “Claims that the e-mails are evidence of fraud or deceit, however, misrepresent what they actually say.” FactCheck.org stated: “Climate skeptics are claiming that they show scientific misconduct that amounts to the complete fabrication of man-made global warming. We find that to be unfounded.” FactCheck also reported that "[c]laims that the e-mails are evidence of fraud or deceit, however, misrepresent what they actually say" and that "[o]ther quotes that skeptics say are evidence of 'data manipulation' actually refer to how numbers are presented, not to falsifying those numbers."

AP: U.K. investigation shows “no evidence” that CRU scientists “had tampered with data.” The Associated Press reported on March 31 that "[t]he House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee said Wednesday that they'd seen no evidence to support charges that the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit or its director, Phil Jones, had tampered with data or perverted the peer review process to exaggerate the threat of global warming -- two of the most serious criticisms levied against the climatologist and his colleagues." The House of Commons issued the report on March 31.

NASA did not say its data are “in worse shape” than CRU's

NASA scientist advised a reporter to cite CRU temperature data for “global means” because NASA's data are calculated for modeling purposes. In the email exchange that the FoxNews.com article highlights, NASA's Reto Ruedy did not say that NASA's data were not correct, as the article suggested; rather, he was indicating that the NCDC's methods for calculating U.S. temperature data are more “accurate” than NASA's because NASA's “method is geared to getting the global mean and large regional means correctly enough to assess our model results.” Ruedy further suggested that the USA Today reporter with whom he was exchanging emails “continue using” CRU “data for the global means” for the same reason.

Fox omitted quotes from second NASA scientist's email in which he further clarified that NASA's methods are simply “different” from other organizations and are better for other measurements. The FoxNews.com article omitted the portion of NASA's James Hansen's response, in which he said he “would say it a bit differently” -- that NASA's methods are simply “different” from other organizations. From the email:

Well, I guess that I would say it a bit differently.

Our method of analysis has features that are different than the analyses of the other groups. In some cases the differences have a substantial impact.

For example, we extrapolate station measurements as much as 1200 km. This allows us to include results for the full Arctic. In 2005 this turned out to be important, as the Arctic had a large positive temperature anomaly. We thus found 2005 to be the warmest year in the record, while the British did not and initially NOAA also did not. Independent satellite IR measurements showed that our extrapolations of anomalies into the Arctic were conservative. I am very confident that our result was the correct one in that instance.

Also, as we show in our 2001 paper, our urban warming correction in the U.S. differs from the NOAA correction (we have a larger adjustment, which decreases recent temperatures relative to last century). I would not claim that one is superior to the other, but the different results provide one conservative measure of uncertainty. In general it has proven very useful to have more than one group do the analysis.

Also it should be noted that the different groups have cooperated in a very friendly way to try to understand different conclusions when they arise. You will see that we had co-authors from the other groups on our 2001 paper. And in general it is a bad idea to anoint any group as being THE authority. Science doesn't usually work best that way.

The FoxNews.com article only quoted Hansen as saying: “The different groups have cooperated in a very friendly way to try to understand different conclusions when they arise.”

FoxNews.com article relied heavily on industry-funded climate change skeptic

CEI has received millions of dollars from Exxon Mobil. The article relied on allegations from CEI's Horner. According to reports compiled by Greenpeace, Exxon Mobil Corp. and its foundation donated more than $2 million to CEI from 1998 through 2005.

CEI has received more than $600,000 from Koch family foundations. According to data compiled by Media Matters Action Network, from 1986 through 2004, CEI received $666,420 from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, and David H. Koch Charitable Foundation and Personal Philanthropy. Charles and David Koch reportedly each own 42 percent of Koch Industries, whose subsidiaries “have been in the petroleum business since 1940” and “engage in petroleum refining, chemicals and base oil production, crude oil supply, and wholesale marketing of fuels, base oils, petrochemicals, asphalt and other products.” The president of the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation is Richard Fink, who is also president of the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. Fink is “an executive vice president and member of the board of directors of Koch Industries, Inc., where he leads the legal, government, community relations and communication capabilities for Koch Industries,” according to his bio on the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation's website.