Climate denial organization aims to manipulate NOAA data on its own

In an effort to refute claims that human-caused climate change is causing the earth and country to warm at an unprecedented rate, a well-known disinformation organization about climate change is constructing its own network of temperature sensors around the US.

The Illinois-based Heartland Institute has spent years criticizing the temperature data collected by NOAA, as have other organizations that disseminate incorrect information on climate change. Scientific institutions worldwide extensively use this data, which led to the conclusion that 2023 was the “warmest year since global records began” and that the ten warmest years in recorded history had all occurred since 2014.

The earth is already experiencing the effects of global warming, according to compelling evidence. As a result, organizations attempting to minimize the impact of climate change or raise questions about the science have taken aim at that data.

Heartland refers to its station network as the Global Open Atmospheric Temperature Systems, or GOATS. Given the sensors’ $2,000 setup costs, Heartland has been urging its supporters to contribute to the construction of more stations across the country. In order to get “unbiased temperature data,” the organization intends to construct hundreds of “properly located” sensors.

When an E&E News reporter repeatedly asked the Heartland Institute for further information about the sensors, their intended use, and their location, they never responded. At least two emails that the Heartland Institute sent to its followers disclosed the network’s existence.

One of the emails states that there is at least one station installed. The sensor’s location is unclear.

Anthony Watts, a senior fellow at Heartland and a meteorologist, is leading the initiative. In particular, Watts has spent years criticizing the NOAA data temperature network, arguing that the heat island effect has tainted it and has long minimized the findings of climate research.

Because “structures such as buildings, roads, and other infrastructure absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat more than natural landscapes,” According to the EPA, metropolitan areas endure higher temperatures than surrounding locations.

Cities are home to certain NOAA data sensors. This causes their temperature measurements to be erroneously higher, according to Watts.

According to Gavin Schmidt, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, scientists have long recognized the heat island effect and have taken the variable into account when gathering data.

He asserts that climate scientists are not particularly concerned about data errors, as they would have rectified them if they existed. He continued by saying that in order to get additional data from a larger range of sources, federal researchers started employing a second system in 2005 called the U.S. Climate Reference Network.

Anthony Watts is the only one. According to climate modeler Schmidt, Anthony Watts repeats the same statements every ten years or so. He seems to have a single talking point that he constantly brings up. Others almost never discuss it.

Watts did not respond to two requests for comment.

Individuals’ strategies for being reluctant or uninspired to embrace the conclusions have changed as the majority of Americans become more aware of the evidence behind climate change. Allies of fossil fuel companies and anti-regulatory organizations are less likely to outright reject climate science than to argue that the harm posed by global warming is not as great as scientists have determined.

Attacks on climate data collection tools and global warming modeling models are common among those seeking to maintain or increase the use of fossil fuels. The Heartland Institute asserts that temperature data serves as the “empirical bedrock” upon which the radical left bases its agenda.

The group stated in a letter to potential funders that “climate change serves as the justification for ESG scores, carbon taxes, the Green New Deal, and other forms of economic destruction.” “Comparable scientific data that directly refutes the left’s assertion of an impending environmental disaster must be easily accessible to the public.”

The fossil fuel industry, as well as well-known conservative organizations and individuals, have donated millions of dollars to the Heartland Institute, which currently does not reveal who its donors are.

The Mercer Family Foundation is an organization that supports initiatives that undermine climate research.

Robert Mercer, a hedge fund manager, and his daughter Rebekah backed US President Donald Trump’s candidacy in 2016. The Mercer family withdrew their support for Trump in 2020 but joined him again for the 2024 campaign. This month, they co-hosted a Mar-a-Lago fundraiser that brought in over $50 million for the president.

As part of a larger attempt to reverse the Biden administration’s “climate fanaticism,” Trump’s conservative supporters want NOAA “broken up and downsized.” In March, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, a Republican, demanded “increased federal oversight” of NOAA data, citing Watts’ false accusations of tampering with federal temperature data stations to inflate the severity of climate change.

According to Schmidt of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, there is no collusive effort by hundreds of federal climate experts to conceal information.

Instead, he suggested that Heartland and Watts might be surprised to learn that, if properly collected and made public, their additional temperature stations could benefit NOAA’s current cooperative data network.

“It’s a cooperative network, right? He asked if they were interested in participating. Additionally, anyone can host a station, use it however they want, and add it to the hopper. And NOAA will undoubtedly respond, “That’s fantastic; let’s make sure all of your data is open so we can access it.”