President Obama is redefining the mission of NASA (for the record, the National Aeronatical & Space Administration) away from space and aeronautics and toward the monitoring of global warming:
When the White House releases his budget proposal Monday, there will be no money for the Constellation program that was supposed to return humans to the moon by 2020. The troubled and expensive Ares I rocket that was to replace the space shuttle to ferry humans to space will be gone, along with money for its bigger brother, the Ares V cargo rocket that was to launch the fuel and supplies needed to take humans back to the moon. . . .
In the meantime, the White House will direct NASA to concentrate on Earth-science projects — principally, researching and monitoring climate change — and on a new technology research and development program that will one day make human exploration of asteroids and the inner solar system possible.
Perhaps NASA could use the extra climate-babysitting money, as a new report suggests the agency may have been complicit in skewing the record on global warming:
[Report authors] Mr. D’Aleo and Mr. Smith say NOAA and another U.S. agency, the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) have not only reduced the total number of Canadian weather stations in the database, but have “cherry picked” the ones that remain by choosing sites in relatively warmer places, including more southerly locations, or sites closer to airports, cities or the sea — which has a warming effect on winter weather.
Over the past two decades, they say, “the percentage of [Canadian] stations in the lower elevations tripled and those at higher elevations, above 300 feet, were reduced in half.”
Using the agency’s own figures, Smith shows that in 1991, almost a quarter of NOAA’s Canadian temperature data came from stations in the high Arctic. The same region contributes only 3% of the Canadian data today.
Mr. D’Aleo and Mr. Smith say NOAA and GISS also ignore data from numerous weather stations in other parts of the world, including Russia, the U.S. and China.
They say NOAA collects no temperature data at all from Bolivia — a high-altitude, landlocked country — but instead “interpolates” or assigns temperature values for that country based on data from “nearby” temperature stations located at lower elevations in Peru, or in the Amazon basin.
The result, they say, is a warmer-than-truthful global temperature record.
“NOAA . . . systematically eliminated 75% of the world’s stations with a clear bias towards removing higher latitude, high altitude and rural locations, all of which had a tendency to be cooler,” the authors say. “The thermometers in a sense, marched towards the tropics, the sea, and to airport tarmacs.”
The NOAA database forms the basis of the influential climate modelling work, and the dire, periodic warnings on climate change, issued by James Hanson, the director of the GISS in New York.
Neither agency responded to a request for comment Wednesday from Canwest News Service. However Hanson did issue a public statement on the matter earlier this week.
“NASA has not been involved in any manipulation of climate data used in the annual GISS global temperature analysis,” he said. “The agency is confident of the quality of this data and stands by previous scientifically-based conclusions regarding global temperatures.”