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The ” Global Warming Is a Myth” Hoax.

Published 08th October 2010 - 2 comments - 1316 views -

The article that claimed " Global Warming Is a Myth" was a hoax.

Some hoaxes refuse to die. In 1997 the Wall Street Journal proclaimed in a headline," Science Has Spoken, Global Warming Is a Myth". Ironically, the next year,1998, turned out to be the hottest year on record. The authors of the article were Arthur B. Robinson, a biochemist, and his son Zachary W. Robinson, a BS chemist. The main point of their article was that while the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air had been going up, the temperature of the Earth was actually going down. They claimed their work proved that man-made global warming was a myth. However, inaccuracies in their data and their methodology made their proof meaningless. But, was it a hoax?

The graphical nitty-gritty. The Robinsonstook their data from a paper credited to the Marshall Institute. The Robinson's graph is copyrighted, so the trend lines the Robinsons used have been reproduced on NASA's graph below. First, the Robinsons projected what the temperature trend would be if caused by the increasing concentration of CO2 in the air. This is the blue line on the graph. Note that it agrees rather well with NASA's experimental data. The Robinsons should have stopped there; however, that would not have been noteworthy and cetainly not the conclusion they wanted. So, the Robinsons then used data from the Marshall Institute's paper to calculate another trend line (the green line) which they claimed was the actual trend in the temperature of the Earth from 1980 to 1996. Since the blue line based on greenhouse warming from CO2 sloped upward and the green line which they claimed to be the "actual trend line" sloped  downward, they concluded that CO2 could not be the cause of global warming. However, as you can see from NASA's  graph, their green line bore no relationship to what actually happened and their conclusion was clearly suspect.

NASA'S experimental data

The data: Couldn't NASA's data be wrong? Not likely. NASA's data agrees well with that published by the World Meteorological Organization and both take their data from temperature stations around the world. Their observations agree with works published by scientists and climatologists in refereed journals. It is curious that the Robinsons used data from the Marshall Institute, an institute funded by Exxon Mobil and other fossil fuel interests. The Marshall Institute's data was an analysis of satellite temperature data of the upper atmosphere that tried to predict temperatures at the Earth' surface. The analysis assumed an incorrect relationship between upper atmosphere temperatures and surface temperatures. The prediction did not agree with the experimental data - a sure sign that the model was wrong. Yet, the Robinsons used it anyway.

The hoax: Everything considered, the article was not only in error but was clearly a hoax. The authors claimed to speak for all scientists when, in fact, very few scientists then or now agree with them.(1) They took their data from the Marshall Institute, a lobbying group, while ignoring much better data from the World Meteorological Organization and NASA. They made sweeping conclusions about climatology when neither author had experience or credentials in the discipline. They did not submit their conclusions for review by other scientists as is customary. They violated, in several ways, the ethical standards set forth in the American Chemical Society's Code of Conduct. (2) Sadly, the hoax has been continued by newspaper columnists, think tanks, "dissident scientists", and even Senators and Congressional Representatives who repeat the Robinson's conclusions to this day. Its time to put this hoax to rest.

(1) Science organizations are now very clear about this. Every major scientific organization in the world has adopted a statement that global warming is occurring and that human activity is the main cause.

(2) The Robinsons held themselves out to be chemists and were therefore subject to the American Chemical Society's Code of Ethics adopted in 1994. It, in part, addressed the ethics of making misleading statements on science issues and publishing scientific articles in the popular press without scientific review.

(c) 2010 J.C. Moore


Category: Climate Reporting, | Tags:


Radovana Jagrikova on 01st November 2010:

Very nice, clear explanation. Thanks!

J.C. Moore on 02nd November 2010:

Thanks. That deception is still floating around and it needs to be ended.

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