10/20/2011 07:00 pm ET | Updated Dec 20, 2011

Another Climate Denial Argument Bites the Dust

The classic mark of antiscience thinking is the cherry picking of sciency-sounding bits of data to support a rhetorical argument designed to convince someone of a predetermined conclusion. Rhetorical arguments are OK and are the way most of us navigate life to get what we need. But they become antiscience when we use them to attempt to refute data-based arguments by only presenting the data that support our position, instead of also considering the data that do not support it.

The urban heat island effect was first noted in 1833 by Luke Howard, an amateur meteorologist, who noticed that urban London was at night about 3.7o F warmer than the surrounding countryside. One of the favorite arguments of climate change deniers is that the urban heat island effect is unduly biasing global temperature readings.

Because of this, climate change deniers have been especially excited about the prospects for the BEST project (Berkeley Earth Surface Group, a part of the Novim Group, which is friendly to the idea of geoengineering) headed by physicist Richard Muller. Judith Curry is also involved, as is 2011 physics Nobel laurate Saul Perlmutter. It is funded by, among others, the Koch Brothers. The project's goal is to create a separate global temperature estimate, and to carefully examine whether urban heating has had any impact on global temperatures. To do this, they analyzed temperature data from 39,028 meauring stations around the world.

The bombshell is that this Koch-funded group has not been able to show that the urban heat island effect has had any influence on temperature measurements of global warming. In fact, the group found in a paper just released that both urban and rural areas "show significant warming."

This is significant because the BEST group was widely expected to take a contrarian stand.

Another favorite climate change denial argument bites the dust.

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