Climate Skepticism and Rural Roots

Why do conservatives tend to doubt global warming scare scenarios more than their liberal counterparts? Dennis Avery at Right Wings News has an interesting theory: it’s because more conservatives are from rural areas, where that hasn’t been any warming.

My colleague Ed Long, formerly a NASA physicist, has found a severe problem with the “official” U.S. temperature records from the Goddard Space Institute and the National Data Collection Center. Both data sets deal with the inevitable gaps in station-by-station data by averaging the gap station with another nearby station. Supposedly, this works because “stations in the same latitude bands tend to share a more similar climate.”

Too often, however, this has led to averaging rural and urban temperatures together. Inevitably, that means the blended temperatures will be higher. Due to the Urban Heat Island effect, a big city can raise its own temperatures by five degrees C. Even a small city can be 2 degrees C warmer than the surrounding countryside. The rural population of America has stayed roughly the same since 1950, but the urban population doubled from 1950–1960—and has continued to grow twice as fast.

[…]

To assess the real size and meaning of the rural-urban divergence, Long selected one rural station and one urban station per state; the rural and urban station trends were then averaged separately. The results are startling.

The rural data set shows no warming since 1890! The temperatures have trended up and down, but there’s no overall increase. The urban stations show a strong warming, especially after 1965. Are these two “skeleton sets” of raw data more representative of reality than the urban-polluted “adjusted” data sets in the official records? Long says “Yes”

So in other words, most of the data sets that indicate significant warming come from from urban sites that fall withing municipal heat sinks. And the data from rural sites that demonstrate against these trends are glossed over with statistical manipulations.

Read the whole thing here.

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