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February 10th 2015 print

Roger Franklin

A Case for the Statistics Squad

It might be possible to view the ever-rising slope of BoM temperature charts and conclude that the world really is melting down, but only if you regard "adjusted" records as more accurate than actual ones. Now, for the first time, independent statisticians will analyse those methods

magnifyThere were more important things to occupy the press over the lazy days of January — Prince Philip’s knighthood, for example, and the annual announcement that the year just concluded had been hotter than any other — so Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s appointment of a statisticians’ panel to examine the methods used the Bureau of Meteorology to calculate average temperatures passed largely un-noticed.

As sceptics have noted, the BoM’s “homogenised” figures show an insistent tendency to affirm that temperatures are soaring and the world is going to hell in a hand-basket. When Jen Marohasy looked at the raw numbers for specific sites she found the record had been transformed, often from a mild cooling into an uphill slope of sweaty days.

This reversal was achieved, she noted, by dismissing the original numbers as compromised and performing “adjustments” with readings borrowed from weather stations many kilometres distant. The panel announced by Hunt on January 20 is somewhat heavier on expertise than your standard-issue Fairfax stenography pool or ABC climate-justice collective. Its deliberations, set to begin March, will mark the first time catastropharian logic has not been evaluated by fellow doom-is-nigh’ers, so the results could make for fascinating reading.

The panelists are (full bios at this link):

Dr Ron Sandland
Emeritus Professor Bob Vincent
Dr Phillip Gould
Dr John Henstridge
Ms Susan Linacre
Professor Michael Martin
Professor Patty Solomon
Professor Terry Speed

If the panelists find the idea of science being compromised by green hysterics and institutional imperatives very hard to accept, they might draw uncomfortable re-assurance from a recent charting of the raw and adjusted temperature graphs for Paraguay, one example of which is reproduced below. It and others have been animated for easy reference by blogger Paul Homewood of Not A Lot Of People Know That



You will need to be only a tad smarter than a carbon economy editor to pick which trend line has been homogenised and grasp what those adjustments mean. How do Paraguayans say ‘careerism’ and ‘lovely grants’?


Roger Franklin, the editor of Quadrant Online, lives in Melbourne and last night had to put an extra blanket on his bed.