Fox News reports that e-mail messages obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that NASA concluded that its own climate findings were inferior to those maintained by both the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) — the scandalized source of the leaked Climate-gate e-mails — and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center.
Earlier this month a report by Christopher Horner revealed that 3 of the 4 data sets used to evaluate climate change were tainted. Not only that, all four data sets have a great deal of overlap. Since the data sets are not independent, analysis based on them cannot be viewed as providing independent verification, as has been claimed by climate change advocates.
In Lean Six Sigma projects we spend a great deal of time in the Measure phase. My training courses have more modules in the Measure phase than in any other. I do this for a reason: garbage-in-garbage-out. No amount of analysis can fix bad data, so if the measurements aren’t trustworthy there’s no point moving into the Analyze and Improve phases. When data are being used for something as important as public policy, the need for data excellence is even more urgent. The politics of climate-change and the money involved may make it tempting to cut corners on assuring measurement quality. It’s certainly less glamorous than sensational predictions and it’s unlikely to grab many headlines (other than this one.) But it must be done if science is to be done right. And science that guides public policy and the expenditure of billions in tax dollars and trillions in economic impact must be done right.