Record global temperatures are being set at an unprecedented rate. Photo: Iwan van Hagen Former coal miner and now One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts says NASA data on climate change is ‘corrupted’. Photo: Robert Shakespeare
Nanjing Night Net

It probably takes a lot to faze Gavin Schmidt, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, but the outlandish views of Malcolm Roberts, the newly elected One Nation senator, can do it from half a world away.

On Monday night’s Q&A program on the ABC, Roberts was venting his now well-worn view that there was no empirical evidence of climate change.

Among those exasperated was fellow panelist, Brian Cox, the physicist and rock star science communicator of this generation, who told Roberts: “I could sit here and read out figures until I’m blue in the face”.

Indeed, how much data do you want?

Richard Muller, a former prominent sceptic US scientist, re-examined 14 million temperature observations from 44,455 sites across the world going back to 1753. The results prompted a “total turnaround” in his views, as my colleague Ben Cubby wrote in 2012.

“Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by 2½ degrees fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of 1½ degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases,” Professor Muller wrote.

Roberts, a former coal engineer, and then manager of the Galileo Movement, was unimpressed.

“We’ve based our views on empirical science, and there’s nothing in the Muller study to undercut that,” Roberts told Cubby at the time. Climate change science had been captured by “some of the major banking families in the world” who form a “tight-knit cabal”, he insisted.

That sense of capture – if not the sinister anti-semitic hints that prompted even fellow denier commentator Andrew Bolt to distance himself from Roberts – remains four years on.

Anyway, when Cox pulled out some charts on Q&A from US space agency NASA showing a clear upward trend in global temperatures, Roberts readily dismissed the data as “corrupted” and “manipulated”.

Roberts’ argument, apparently, is that the world was hotter in the 1930s but NASA had altered the figures to make the current era look warmer. (According to one take, the issue is whether the continental US was warmer in 1934 than in the hot years of 1998 or 2006 – but 2012 then blew away all previous records.) Record heat – again

Roberts wasn’t to know it but NASA’s regular monthly readings on global temperature were just hours from being released.

A glance at the chart below released overnight suggests herculean efforts would be needed to make the 1930s look warmer than any recent decade, let alone the current one. Note, too, the prediction for this year.

Meanwhile, Schmidt, the climate modeller who is also the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, was clearly following the live Australian debate on Q&A.

In rapid succession, Schmidt fired out a dozen tweets, bemused by the claims of manipulation.

His world-renowned centre had been estimating global temperature changes since 1981, and the data has been available to the public since 2007, Schmidt said. So I’m flummoxed. Where do these ppl feel data manipulation is happening? It’s not in inputs or the code or presentation. So where??? 9/n— Gavin Schmidt (@ClimateOfGavin) August 15, 2016Spot the ‘pause’

Mind you, the NASA data is scary enough to concern anyone paying attention.

Since July is typically the hottest month of the year given the preponderance of land in the northern hemisphere now in summer, a record hot July also means we just posted the warmest for any month on record.

For more than a year, each month has set records for heat, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A big El Nino, now all but over, provided a boost to the background warming.

However, Roberts and his friends routinely claim the world hasn’t warmed in the past two decades – the senator plucked out 1995 as the beginning of the “pause” on Monday.

Usually the starting point is 1998 when a record large El Nino made for a temperature spike that took some years of background warming to eclipse.

But now we have 2005, 2010, 2014 and 2015 all exceeding 1998, with 2016 a 99 per cent chance of being yet hotter, Schmidt says. (NOAA in 2015 ruled out any slowdown in global warming.)

Here’s how this year is tracking, courtesy of Schmidt again: July 2016 was absolutely the hottest month since the instrumental records began. pic.twitter南京夜网/GQNsvARPDH— Gavin Schmidt (@ClimateOfGavin) August 15, 2016This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.