NASA, NOAA, Climate Change, and the Importance of Context

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently released a climate change study reporting that the last decade was the warmest in modern times (since 1880 when reliable record keeping began). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in a report released at the same time tells us that the globally averaged temperature in 2020 was the second highest to date. According to Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, “These long term trends are very, very clear…. This is another piece of evidence that tells us the planet is warming decade by decade” (Wall Street Journal, January 15).

The takeaway messages NASA and NOAA reports intend to convey are:

  • The planet is unusually warm and getting warmer at an accelerating rate.
  • High levels of greenhouse gases, especially CO2, are the main drivers of rising temperatures.
  • A human-generated activity, the burning of fossil fuels, is the main cause of rising CO2 atmospheric concentrations.
  • Global warming is responsible for record wildfires and hurricanes.

These government agency reports are masterpieces of the bureaucratic art of currying favor with one’s political overlords. The NASA and NOAA senior officials know that the incoming Biden Administration is uncompromisingly zealous in its belief that there is a climate emergency requiring immediate action. Their reports support that view, but only at the cost of being hugely misleading; they omit vital context:

  1. The Earth is not unusually warm when viewed over hundreds of years, thousands of years, or geologic time scales. What we are observing today is well within the range of normal climate variability.
  2. The geologic record shows that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was much higher when temperatures were lower and lower when temperatures were higher. How can the level of CO2 in the atmosphere be a decisive determinant of surface temperature when the correlation is so low?
  3. Human activity has some impact on the level of CO2 concentration, but there is considerable evidence that its overall impact is trivial. Almost all the variation may be caused by natural  activity. Contrary to the mainstream narrative, the science is not settled.
  4. The intensity and extent of natural disasters – hurricanes, floods, wildfires, droughts, etc., has not increased over the last few decades. Their cost, however, has risen, mainly because of misguided government decisions, such as providing flood insurance and ending the practice of controlled forest burns to prevent the build-up of tinder.
  5. If you want more analysis and data in support of these points and their sources, please see

The media have been derelict in their duty to find out what is true. They should take pride in being reflexively skeptical of politicians and the coterie of “experts” who rely on government for their funding. The mainstream media should be committed to seeking out the viewpoints of intellectually honest, evidence-driven people who do not agree with the pronouncements of the powerful. They should ask, “Whose logic and evidence seem most robust?” Instead, they act as cheerleaders for climate change alarmism. They seem intent on abetting a totalitarian-level enforcement of an orthodoxy that brooks no challenge; skeptics are labeled as either evil or stupid or both. What a shame and what a disservice to the public.

When I started my inquiry into the climate change issue, I was agnostic. The more I read, however, the more I became convinced that the climate change Chicken Little crowd did not have a sound, conclusive, science-based foundation for their assertions. Indeed, those claiming there is no climate emergency in my view have the stronger, more evidence-based arguments. I have seen no analysis that compels me to change my mind. If I do, I will.


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I strongly welcome comments, but  ask you to abide by the principle, “Always respect the person, never respect the idea.”  A thoughtful analysis of why the views  I present are wrong helps all of us get closer to discerning what is true, but civility must rule.



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