Saturday, February 14, 2015

Paul Homewood and Christopher Booker are wrong about global surface temperatures

Sou | 2:06 AM Go to the first of 41 comments. Add a comment

For some odd reason, arch-science denier Christopher Booker has been getting some play in the media. He's been broadcasting false claims about the surface temperature records.

Every so often a science denier will scour the temperature records to unearth some that have been adjusted upwards. They'll then shout to the world "fraud" "scam" "it's all a hoax". What I've never seen from any denier is them scouring the records for temperatures adjusted downwards. That would totally spoil their propaganda.

This sort of thing happens from time to time, often when the UN is meeting to discuss action on global warming. The timing of the denier attacks in this case coincide with the UN meeting in Geneva.

The reason I think it's weird for any reputable newspaper to publish anything from Christopher Booker these days is because his articles on climate are nuts. Newspapers don't usually like to be associated with utter nuttery (except for the Murdoch papers). Remember this from Christopher Booker back in March 2013? He put up a very silly chart of surface temperature with a cherry picked start date and a scale to hide the temperature change.

Compare the charts below from HadCRUT4:

Data source: UK Met Office Hadley Centre

In the above I showed the equivalent of Christopher Booker's dumb attempt to confuse people. This is how Christopher Booker actually portrayed the global surface temperature back in March 2013 - with my annotations:

How can anyone take the chap seriously after that bit of silliness?

This time he's trying to promote a wrong claim by some other denier in deniersville UK. A bloke by the name of Paul Homewood - whose denialist tactics have also been featured at HotWhopper previously. Paul tried to downplay the devastation of Supertyphoon Haiyan. He is also known for building strawmen. And he once tried on a variation of the "bouncing climate" theme - described here. He's a middling denier - not the most extreme I've come across. He's either in denial about global warming or he's in the disinformation business.

Anyway, Christopher Booker managed to con the UK Telegraph into publishing Paul Homewood's misinformation, just in time for Geneva. Here is what Christopher grandly announced:
Of much more serious significance, however, is the way this wholesale manipulation of the official temperature record – for reasons GHCN and Giss have never plausibly explained – has become the real elephant in the room of the greatest and most costly scare the world has known. This really does begin to look like one of the greatest scientific scandals of all time.

Does that sound familiar? It will if you're a regular reader here. It's the sort of nonsense you'll read daily in the comments at denier blogs. "It's all a hoax" the rabble wail. "It's a conspiracy." interspersed with allusions to Jewish bankers in the 1800s who started this whole plot, and how FEMA is going to round up all deniers and put them in concentration camps because of the UN sustainability program, Agenda 21.

Christopher Booker comes across as no better than extremist conspiracy nutters who write for WUWT or Prison Planet or Above Top Secret or some other lunatic blog. Apparently before he declared his denialism, Christopher Booker had a career as a journalist. He still manages to persuade some gullible or attention-seeking editors to publish his nonsense.

Kevin Cowtan is a scientist. He's not a climate scientist but he has made a very valuable contribution to the science of global temperature records. You may have heard of the Cowtan and Way paper that was widely acclaimed last year.

He investigated the claims made by Paul Homewood and Christopher Booker. Here are two you tube videos to let you know what he found.

The first is about claims made about Paraguay:


The second one is about the Arctic. Go to YouTube to get the files that Kevin refers to.

References and further reading

Kevin Cowtan isn't the only one who dumped on this latest attempt by Paul Homewood, the UK Telegraph and Christopher Booker to misinform the general public. Here are some more:

  • Victor Venema, who is a temperature homogenisation specialist, wrote an article pointing out the silliness and putting it into context. He also wrote a "be nice to deniers" version here. Victor's articles have links to several related articles - including one from Phil Plait at Slate; and one from John Timmer at ArsTechnica - and several more (ATTP and Nick Stokes etc).
  • FactCheck.org has an article denouncing the deniers.
  • RealClimate.org also has an article showing that Christopher Booker and Paul Homewood are wrong.
  • Politifact also has an article about deniers refusing to divulge their "sources" but probably it was a denier (Booker) quoting a denier (Homewood). In that article, Paul Homewood takes a small step back - not far enough - but some. (Added by Sou 14 Feb 15)

Cowtan, Kevin, and Robert G. Way. "Coverage bias in the HadCRUT4 temperature series and its impact on recent temperature trends." Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 140, no. 683 (2014): 1935-1944. DOI: 10.1002/qj.2297 (open access)


  1. Maybe it is interesting to note that my post shows that the fundamental assumption that climatologists increase global warming for political reasons is wrong: climatologists reduce global warming when they remove non-climatic changes from the temperature data.

  2. He used the wrong scale on that chart. It should have been Kelvins!

    1. Or even Kelvin (I don't believe there is a plural) - and its certainly not degrees! :-)

    2. Rattus,

      This one frequently makes the rounds at WUWT: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-rTuLMZXv8jM/VLdp7K9eZoI/AAAAAAAAARc/0kbKNma6pHk/s1600/image_thumb265.png

      First time I saw it, I made the same crack about using the Kelvin scale. [crickets] Few weeks later, someone asked -- in earnest -- why not do it in Kelvin. I gave them the links to KNMI for the data and walked through the calculations to do it. [crickets] Few days later, same plot, same question. Helpful guy that I am, I did it for them: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-lPGChYUUeuc/VLhzJqwRhtI/AAAAAAAAAS4/ehDtihKNKIw/s1600/GISTemp%2BKelvin%2B01.png

      I've witnessed no indication of understanding over there of why I find the whole thing hysterically funny.

    3. OK, my meager science background is revealed. Could you please explain what's so funny? (Squares shoulders) I'm ready to be embarrassed.

    4. FLwolverine - Gavin Schmidt summed it up well when he said:

      [Response: Changing a unit to have a small sounding number doesn’t actually change anything; neither the significance nor the accuracy. But if you want to play rhetorical games, go right ahead – though perhaps not here. – gavin]

    5. Dr Inferno took this thinking to its logical, most blog-scientifical conclusion here: http://denialdepot.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/how-to-cook-graph-skepticalsciencecom.html

  3. Here in the UK we are used to the BBC - which is supposed to set the gold standard of journalism - presenting Nigel Lawson to us as an expert on climate change. So finding people like Booker still publishing their misinformation is no surprise. It is amazing how wrong you are allowed to be when it serves the fossil fuel industry.

    I heard the Daily Telegraph referred to as the "Tory Trashmag" some 30 years ago. I guess nothing has changed there then.

    1. Actually, the Telegraph is for intelligent people so I am not surprised at your comment. I wonder if I called the Guardian a leftytrashmag whether you might react?

    2. Anonymous' reaction isn't to the exposure of the lies by Christopher Booker and Paul Homewood. Instead it's to Millicent's name-calling of his or her favourite paper. I guess for some people, intelligence doesn't count for much compared to loyalty to an ideology.


    3. Anonymous

      Ah, just go for the person and imply they are not intelligent rather than make a sensible point.

      The Telegraph publishes some good articles from its more serious journalists. But it also publishes some terrible right wing guff.

      You might say the same about the Guardian So react? Meh.

      Which is the more trashy mag? Which is more dishonest? Which has more propaganda? Which is less balanced?

      I expect an intelligent person like you has the correct opinion.

    4. Jammy - There was a barrage of spam, so I turned on moderation for a few days. Now moderation has been partially removed but is still on for older articles only. That can mean a bit of a delay before legitimate comments appear.

    5. The fact that our anonymous friend thinks the Telegraph is for intelligent people merely tells us something about him. What a low bar the poor man sets. What's next: is using a knife and fork to be seen as something that only intelligent people do?

      And the attempt at an insult directed at me rather misfires as my anecdote specifically ruled out me as the person who condemned the paper. I only noted that this example of gutter journalism appears to confirm something I had heard long ago. So a failure in reading comprehension confirms the initial estimate of our anonymous friend's intelligence. Or, rather, the lack of it.

    6. 'The Torygraph', I think you'll find. But, yeah, it's not the Daily Fail, which is the real prolefeed tabloid. To get the distinction think JS Mill's observations on stupid people.

    7. I suspect that Anonymous might just be a troll. Still, he's reflective of the general condition of conservatives... The facts remain though that science and reality have a left-wing bias, and that right-wing ideology and unrestrained libertarianism cannot be sustained as the dominant paradigm in a world with so many humans and with so much (growing) technological complexity.

      Readers concerned about the Right's antipathy to progressive social cohesion may be interested to read this piece, as well the comments that follow:


  4. Millicent.

    I think the BBC has cleaned up its act of late and no longer wheels out those of the GWPF or close associates.

    Recent memory is of the title Torygraph for the paper I once bought regularly for the crossword and to discover what those 'who thought Britain still ruled the world' valued, this in comparison to the Daily Mail, or was it The Daily Express, read by those who 'wished Britain still ruled the world like it once did'.

    I recall, from the 1970s, the opinion column written by one Peregrine Worsthorne who was to the right of Ghengis Khan and looked at a world covered in pink IIRC.

    I note he still writes with a piece in The Guardian that will give you his measure for he seems to be saying that the working class should be happy with their lot and not aspire to greater things.

    I happen to agree with him somewhat about the lacklustre and poorly thought of current brood of politicians but then many are hardly from working class backgrounds.

    Then there is the Viscount Monckton, born to it, I wonder what poor Peregrine thinks of him.

    1. Ah, another example of the Guardian being it's own worst enemy. One of the reasons I can't be bothered buying it is because it often gives space to benighted hacks from the barking right wing, perhaps in some misbegotten idea of fairness. If I wanted to read lies and hysterical nonsense I would buy a mail or a torygraph or suchlike. I don't want to read it in the Grauniad.

    2. I imagine he regards Monckton as a ghastly little oik. Just as most of the people Monckton went to school will have - and no doubt told him so. To quote another great, Alan Clark, "the sort of fellow who buys his own furniture".

  5. I believe Paul Homewood is in denial and he will go to extraordinary lengths to keep himself firmly rooted there.

    His speciality is spotting what he thinks are promising trends in climate data sets, i.e. downward trends. The classic example is CET. In December 2012, following a prolonged period of subdued temperatures in CET, Paul decided to run monthly updates on it (accessible from links at the top of his blog).

    At first, all went well. Spring 2013 happened to be unusually cold; the 33rd coldest on record for CET, I think. This was duly trumpeted by Paul in his CET posts.

    Then disaster struck; summer 2013 was a 'belter' in the UK and winter 2013/14 was unusually mild. Worse, spring 2014 was the 5th warmest on record. To cap it all off, 2014 was the warmest year on record for CET.

    Paul's response to this could hardly be described as even handed. The monthly updates dried up and, whereas the cold spring in 2013 was heralded from the roof tops, the exceptionally warm spring of 2014 went virtually unmentioned. Certainly its rank order was never mentioned.

    That's essentially the way it is with Paul. When he sees something that seems to support his personal bias he seizes on it. If it turns against him he drops it like a hot stone and, apparently undaunted, switches his attention to some other nonsense.

  6. This nonsense popped up in my hometown paper's on-line forum. I replied with some material that I've saved up for stuff like this:


  7. Paul Homewood: "I make no claims about the effect of (temperature) adjustments globally".

    He was just asking questions about a few stations, did not want to claim a global effect. The problem lies with The Telegraph. I wonder whether they will print a correction now.

    1. The Telegraph has too much invested in Booker's 'block buster'. It's been lying about all manner of things for a very long time without the need to correct the record.

    2. How’s this for textbook Curry dissembling?

      From Pundit-Fact

      Judith Curry is chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Curry believes the issues with the adjusted data are "greater than have been portrayed." On the other hand, she told PunditFact that the concerns in the Telegraph op-ed were "overblown" and that the basic conclusion remains the same.
      "The adjustments aren't of such a magnitude that they throw into question the overall increase in global temperature for the past 100-plus years," Curry said.

      So Judith, what are those 'issues' and who amongst your colleagues do you gutlessly slime this time for 'creating' said issues?

      Why does anybody take this woman seriously?

    3. I am also happy to go on record stating that "the issues with the adjusted data are greater than have been portrayed." I am sure there is someone somewhere on the internet who claimed that there we no issues.

      I am also happy to go on record stating that "the issues with the adjusted data are smaller than have been portrayed." For example on WUWT it was wrongly claimed that half of the warming was just a problem with data adjustment.

      The suggestive unscientific language of Judith Curry.

    4. Victor if I read that statement from you I would ask for your reasonings and expect a scientific answer from a fine scientist who is also an expert in the matter.
      Curry was asked the question by Pundit-Fact in the context of accusations of fraudulent behaviour. We all know what she meant, Curry has literally carved out a business plan based on snide attacks and innuendo to undermine climate scientists and CO2 emission policy.

      Curry and Singer are peas in a pod.

    5. Victor if Pundit-Fact asked me whether there was any truth to a published story that Charles Koch was running a meth lab in the Lincoln Centre's box office and I said it was overblown rather than patently false, then to not consider me a liar would itself be a lie.

    6. No, PG, that would be irony. Irony is not lying.

    7. No Cugel it would be a stinking lie.

    8. I know. I was lying :)

    9. It used to be called lying. Now its called adding balance.

    10. VV - "I wonder whether they will print a correction now"

      We formally complained on Februrary 10th:

      A Letter to the Editor of the Sunday Telegraph

      The Telegraph's complaints procedure states "We aim to acknowledge your complaint within 5 working days of receipt."

      We have still received no reply. You do the math!

  8. I glean from reading this stuff; that no one denies, that temperatures have been adjusted upward, in the interests of good science; but that anybody who states this, is a liar, and in denial of being as denialist. You people are clinical

    1. Is falsely claiming the temperature record is being doctored to misrepresent the magnitude of global warming OK by you then?

    2. Perhaps you have not gleaned well enough. Try reading again with a bit more comprehension and it may become clearer to you.

    3. Many have also been adjusted down. In fact, if you use just unadjusted temp data, it shows temps are actually slightly higher. This means the effects of all the adjusting in total has slightly lowered the temps.

      (Re)Read the article. If you're still confused just ask---there's a mass of links from real scientists and distinguished scientific organizations that people would be happy to give you.

    4. These are past temperatures, so raising them reduces the trend. I'd have thought people would take a little comfort from that, but you can never please everybody. Some people you can never please at all.

    5. These are past temperatures, so raising them reduces the trend. I'd have thought people would take a little comfort from that, but you can never please everybody. Some people you can never please at all.

  9. Paul Scott when discussing this issue you must be aware that The Telegraph has asserted fraudulent conduct. Effectively that accusation is against scientists at Berkeley Earth, CRU, Hadley and more.
    That malicious allegation has been disproven. Curry reckons the malicious and false allegation of wide spread inter-organisational fraud is overblown .In selecting those words she joined The Telegraph's defamation of good people doing good science.

  10. The comment by Paul Scott provides an interesting case.

    People who are predisposed to science denial have a tendency to read articles about climate science with a jaundiced eye. Perhaps they really do misread and misunderstand, or perhaps they are seeking attention (ie trolling).

    It's hard to tell whether it's confirmation bias on Paul's part that causes him to misread the article. Or if Paul knows that he is misrepresenting the HotWhopper article and does it anyway.

    He could hardly have missed quote from Christopher Booker alleging "greatest scientific scandals of all time", which if he agreed would place him with Christopher as a conspiracy nutter. He may not have seen (unlikely, but possible). the point I made that deniers never mention temperatures adjusted downward. He couldn't possibly have missed the videos by Kevin Cowtan, or the references to other articles on the subject.

    Instead he makes a leap in the wrong direction. Paul Scott wrote:

    "I glean from reading this stuff; that no one denies, that temperatures have been adjusted upward, in the interests of good science; but that anybody who states this, is a liar, and in denial of being as denialist. "

    In that statement Paul wrongly concludes that I am labeling scientists and climate hawks as "deniers" - scientists such as Kevin Cowtan, Victor Venema, Rasmus E. Benestad of RealClimate.org; science writers like Phil Plait, John Timmer; and he's even alleging I am calling myself a "denier".

    Paul these people cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called science deniers. That term is reserved for people like Christopher Booker and Paul Homewood. (And if you think the cap fits you as well, by all means don it.)

    Paul's closing "You people are clinical" suggests that he views climate discussions in "them and us" terms, putting himself on the "side" that is anti-science.

    Paul, if you still don't understand the point of this article, then by all means ask about the bit you don't understand.


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