When the satellite data were first published eight years ago by Roy Spencer and John Christy, of NASA and the University of Alabama respectively, the record was only 10 years long; the global warmers chanted in unison that the record was too short and therefore only a blip. Steve Schneider, who was the federal guru of climate change (he’s now with population apocalyptic Paul Ehrlich at Stanford), told Science that “the next ten years will tell the story.”
They have, but the administration hasn’t listened. The story is that there’s a slight (but statistically significant) cooling trend in the satellite data. It’s not surprising — but it is scientifically dismaying — that the administration wants that trend to stop. So when the White House held its big global warming show last fall, up popped the leader of one of the nation’s most prominent environmental organizations (hint: it’s the one that destroyed the nuclear power business, thereby causing the greenhouse increase to begin with!) to declaim, “We have got to do something about the satellite.”
Climate watchers have been wondering how long it would take the $2.1 billion the federal government spends each year on global change research to “do something.” It did on February 23, when a California rocket scientist sent a manuscript to Nature magazine, claiming he had found the error in the satellite data and that the atmosphere was actually warming up after all. (Sorry, can’t mention the author. Nature has a hard‐and‐fast rule about blabbing to the press, and they’d have to pull the paper.)
The scientist calculated how much the solar wind — a stream of high‐energy particles that exerts a slight force on everything in the solar system — would slow the satellites. In slowing down, the satellites fall a bit toward the earth’s surface, and they “see” a smaller area from which to take their measurements. To the satellites, a reduced area would appear colder than it really is.