So says Snopes. Snopes is, like most media today, a partisan outlet promoting its agendas and ideologies. In Snopes' case, it does so under the guise of 'fact checker.' That is, it takes a story and then rates it as True, False or something in between. The assumption is that it is the neutral judge, the referee looking at the instant replay to determine the real truth behind various stories or political pronouncements.
So we had a blog cycle of people jumping on a story that suggests NASA was faking climate data. The stories claimed that NASA had been caught 'red handed' in the scam. Now, I'm no scientist, so all the delving into the facts doesn't really help me. You might as well have people arguing over Sanskrit as to argue the numbers about Global Warming.
But since Snopes took up the cause to assess the claim's validity, I thought I would see if there is something there there. Turns out, Snopes smacks the claim down with a resounding False!. NASA did not fake the data, according to Snopes. Or, I should say, according to an initial reading of Snopes.
Once I read through the article, however, I saw how Snopes did it. Basically, per Snopes, the claims are true. And they are what both advocates and critics have admitted for some time. Climate data is not based on a thermometer on every square foot of the planet recorded and analyzed every day for the last five billion years. It's based on data collected at particular places around the world, based on records that date only to about 150 years ago, and laden with assumptions and guesses to fill the gaps.
Think of that scene in the movie Jurassic Park, when the cartoon is trying to explain DNA cloning to an uneducated audience. It says the DNA for the dinosaurs was extracted from fossils, particularly mosquitoes trapped in tree sap. The DNA, however, was incomplete. Therefore the DNA of other animals had to be fit into the DNA gaps to make a complete DNA strand (and therein lies at least some of the mischief in the Jurassic Park mythos).
Same thing here. We don't have some magical science box that takes the temperature of every square foot of Planet Earth, analyzes it, and says 'Thus will the world be in a hundred years.' We have very sparse data in some cases, sometimes inconclusive data, and data that could potentially be impacted by certain conditions - such as data collected deep in major metropolitan areas that tend to be warmer on average than more rural areas. Everyone knows it. Everyone admits it. Scientists then step in to improvise where gaps or certain inconsistencies might arise.
And that's where Snopes focuses. It's not saying the data wasn't tweaked or embellished or even flat out added to. It was, and Snopes admits it. It's saying the story is false because nobody was caught 'Red Handed'. All of this was already out there. There was nothing being caught. And since Snopes accepts the obvious truth of Global Warming and, like Pope Francis, apparently assumes the purity of heart and intellectual efficacy of Global Warming advocates, that's all we need to know.
Here's the thing. Perhaps the story is false in the usual 'Ten reasons Climate Change is a lie, #7 will shock you!' sort of way. But the essence of the story is what critics have been charging for years; for decades. It comes down to those pushing for a more hysterical approach to Climate Change insisting that all of these variables and subjective interpolations into the data are no big deal, versus those saying that such an approach to the data is a very big deal and could actually skew the resulting portrait of what is really happening, much less what will happen.
In short, Climate Change activists insist the practice, the variables, and the poetic licence used at times doesn't matter. The findings are close enough, and we know Climate Change is real, so whatever trivial details are in the mix is small potatoes. The critics, however, point out that this is the problem. Since those adding the extra info already believe in the Climate Change Apocalypse to begin with, it's very possible that when they adjust something here or interpret a model there, they are doing so in a biased way; one that pushes the data where they want it to go, not where it should go.
Given the long history of failed predictions and adjusted paradigms for understanding just what is happening with the climate (is it Climate Change, Global Warming, Climate Disruption?), never mind the vast chasm between the hysterics and the actual personal sacrifice seen in so many Climate Change activists, I'm inclined to think there could be more to this story than Snopes wants to admit.
There sure is more to a sane conclusion than accepting the explanation of 'sure we're biased and what we adjust is likely based on our biases, but trust us, despite all the times we've been wrong so far, at least in terms of future predictions, this time we'll be spot on'. I'm inclined to say what I've said, that Global Warming is a scientific molehill upon which a mountain of agendas and biases has been piled.