Computer Collates Climate Contrarian Claims

Coan et al. in Nature have an interesting text analysis of climate skeptics’ claims.

I’ve been at this long enough to notice that a few perennial favorites are missing, perhaps because they date from the 90s, prior to the dataset.

The big one is “temperature isn’t rising” or “the temperature record is wrong.” This has lots of moving parts. Back in the 90s, a key idea was that satellite MSU records showed falling temperatures, implying that the surface station record was contaminated by Urban Heat Island (UHI) effects. That didn’t end well, when it turned out that the UAH code had errors and the trend reversed when they were fixed.

Later UHI made a comeback when the SurfaceStations project crowdsourced an assessment of temperature station quality. Some turned out to be pretty bad. But again, when the dust settled, it turned out that the temperature trend was bigger, not smaller, when poor sites were excluded and TOD was corrected. This shouldn’t have been a surprise, because windy day analsyses and a dozen other things already ruled out UHI, but …

I consider this a reminder of the fact that part of the credibility of mainstream climate science arises not from the fact that models are so good, but because so many alternatives have been tried, and proved so bad, only to rise again and again.

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