Serious Doubt Cast on NASA’s ‘2014 Hottest Year on Record’ Claim

Ben Birchall/PA Wire URN:21185984/AP
Ben Birchall/PA Wire URN:21185984/AP

Late last week, media outlets all across the country rushed to report that NASA had claimed 2014 as the “hottest year on record.” But now, serious doubts have been cast on that claim, with some saying that climate scientists left out data and even made data up to reach the desired claim.

After NASA’s claims made news around world, Gavin Schmidt of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies had to admit that there was “margin of error” to the stats. In fact, the agency is now only 38 percent sure that they are right about the whole “hottest year” claim.

What most media outlets didn’t note was that the “hottest year” claim was based on a rise over the 2010 record of a mere 0.02°C—that is only two-hundredths of a degree. Yet the margin of error was 0.10°C, quite a bit higher than the supposed record-setting rise over 2010.

Bob Tisdale from the climate blog Watts Up With That, said that the report was “misleading” and perhaps purposefully so:

NOAA never stated specifically that 2014’s record high surface temperatures were a result of human-induced global warming, but they implied it…thus all the hoopla. NOAA has omitted key discussions within that report, which biases it toward human-induced global warming. In other words, the NOAA State of the Climate report was misleading. NOAA has once again shown it is a political entity, not a scientific one. And that’s a damn shame. The public needs openness from NOAA about climate; we do not need to be misled by politically motivated misdirection and misinformation.

Another climate blogger pointed out that, in one case, the numbers were just made up out of whole cloth. “Gavin simply fabricated warm temperatures across huge areas like Greenland, where he had no actual thermometer data in December,” Steven Goddard wrote on his Real Science blog.

Finally, Dr. Lubos Motl notes that it is typical of many of these global warming supporters to make claims and publish clarifications in places where no one will see them.

“The tweet by Gavin Schmidt is a simple example of mass manipulation in action,” Motl wrote. “They publish some of the correct yet inconvenient clarifications at places where almost no one reads – the press conference was attended by a small number of people, Schmidt has a few thousand Twitter followers, almost no one reads the bulk of the IPCC reports etc. – while at the places which matter because millions of people read them, they always post the distortions, oversimplifications, and downright lies.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


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