John Christy, a climatologist who is Roy Spencer’s contrarian buddy at the University of Alabama Huntsville, just published a paper showing that there has been no statistically significant decrease in snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Ok. But what happened next has become a familiar story. Christy went to the media with a press release claiming that his study proves that standard climate models are wrong. The story was picked up by James Taylor, a Heartland Institute operative who blogs for Forbes and by a few other media outlets. (Remember that James Taylor was the same guy who broke the story “New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole in Global Warming Alarmism“–you know the one about the study in which Roy Spencer had left out a bunch of data he said he analyzed, but that completely undercut his conclusions? That’s the kind of thing James Taylor writes about when he’s not trying to convince people that second-hand smoke is actually good for you because nicotine delays Alzheimer’s onset.) Well, a reporter at the Reno Gazette-Journal not only interviewed John Christy about his paper, but checked out what Christy said with other climatologists. It turns out that Christy might just have been exaggerating the significance of his results a teensy bit. And by “a teensy bit” I mean that almost all the standard climate models projected essentially the same thing that Christy reported in his paper.
The RGJ article is a great example of what reporters can do when they decide to go beyond “he said, she said” and actually check facts.