What Fresh Hell Is This?

August 1, 2007

Scaife's Trib Editorial Board Does It Again

Better make yourself comfortable. This might take a little bit of time.

In an editorial today, the Trib's editorial board writes:
The National Hurricane Center labels as "sloppy science" a National Center for Atmospheric Research study that blames an increase in Atlantic Ocean tropical storms on global warming. More affirmation that the science of global warming is "settled," right?
Ah that conservative skepticism, you just gotta love it!

As far as I can tell, the quotation comes from this AP story. Here's the "sloppy science" part:

Chris Landsea, science and operations officer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center, said the study is inconsistent in its use of data.

The work, he said, is “sloppy science that neglects the fact that better monitoring by satellites allows us to observe storms and hurricanes that were simply missed earlier. The doubling in the number of storms and hurricanes in 100 years that they found in their paper is just an artifact of technology, not climate change.”

Note that it doesn't exactly say that Landsea is speaking on behalf of NOAA. He may be - it's just not clear. The Trib, I guess, just assumes that it's the official word of NOAA.

I took a look. NOAA has a FAQ page devoted to global warming at its website. They even ask:Is the climate warming? The Answer? Take a look:
Yes. Global surface temperatures have increased about 0.6°C (plus or minus 0.2°C) since the late-19th century, and about 0.4°F (0.2 to 0.3°C) over the past 25 years (the period with the most credible data). The warming has not been globally uniform. Some areas (including parts of the southeastern U.S.) have, in fact, cooled over the last century. The recent warmth has been greatest over North America and Eurasia between 40 and 70°N. Warming, assisted by the record El NiƱo of 1997-1998, has continued right up to the present, with 2001 being the second warmest year on record after 1998.
So NOAA (where Chris Landsea works) certainly thinks that the answer is settled - though there will always be debate on the details.

And who is this Chris Landsea anyway? Here's his bio at the NOAA website.

He's also one of the guys the Bush Administration allowed to speak on the link between global warming and greater hurricane intensity. Take a look at this article from Salon.com about Thomas Knutsen, who said he'd been barred to speak to CNBC because his research suggested such a link:
But Commerce's deputy director of communications, Chuck Fuqua, was happy to have a more politically reliable NOAA hurricane researcher named Chris Landsea speak to the press. At the time, Landsea was stating publicly that global warming had little to no effect on hurricanes. "Please make sure Chris is on message and that it is a friendly discussion," Fuqua wrote regarding a request for Landsea to appear on "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer." On the show, Landsea downplayed research that linked global warming with more-intense hurricanes like Katrina.
By the way, there there's a link on Landsea's bio page to the Hurricane FAQ that he authored. And on that FAQ there's this question:
How might global warming change hurricane intensity, frequency, and rainfall?
Go take a look at the answer. While Landsea is skeptical of a lot of the science, he does not doubt its that global warming is occurring - unlike our friends sitting on the editorial board at Scaife's Trib.

But take another look at what Landsea actually said. His charge is that better monitoring lead scientists to know about hurricanes that they wouldn't have known about earlier in the century. That's what he was talking about. Now here's the Trib's editorial again:
The National Hurricane Center labels as "sloppy science" a National Center for Atmospheric Research study that blames an increase in Atlantic Ocean tropical storms on global warming. More affirmation that the science of global warming is "settled," right?
Geez, once you know the facts (something the Trib's editorial page didn't bother with), the picture painted looks a whole lot different, huh?


Sherry said...

i'm looking for the advil right now.

Whigsboy said...

Looking at his bio is interesting, because I just started reading "Storm World" by Chris Mooney, which looks at the debate over global warming's impact on hurricanes. Landsea's advisor at Colo. State was Dr. William Gray, who, as the book explains, "rejects entirely the notion that humans are causing substantial global warming and whose students hold positions of great scientific influence..."

I'm only 30 pages in, but from the intro it sounds like there is still heated dispute about whether global warming is creating more hurricanes or making them more intense. I'm hoping I get to actually read some of it on vacation in a week or so, but two kids 5 and under don't make for vacations chock full o' reading time.

The Bag of Health and Politics said...

When I was in Pittsburgh, I never read his national editorials. Local ones, maybe. National ones, never.

Still, he's coming out against the war in Iraq. The Trib breaking with a Republican President. I never though I'd ever see the day.

vrabincha said...

I think it says everything we need to know about Mr. Landsea that he lists TKE membership on his professional credentials. I mean, Phi Beta Kappa, sure, but a social fraternity (and the notorious TKE at that)? Pardon my Yinzspeak, but what a jag.