In his response to the those of us who self-identify as Climate Blasphemers on the issue of the change in NASA's data at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) showing that 1998 is no longer the warmest year in United States' recorded history - 1934 is - head of the GISS, celebrity scientist James Hansen has this to say:
What we have here is a case of dogged contrarians who present results in ways intended to deceive the public into believing that the changes have greater significance than reality. They aim to make a mountain out of a mole hill. I believe that these people are not stupid, instead they seek to create a brouhaha and muddy the waters in the climate change story. They seem to know exactly what they are doing and believe they can get away with it, because the public does not have the time, inclination, and training to discern what is a significant change with regard to the global warming issue...The proclamations of the contrarians are a deceit, but their story raises a more important matter...That paragraph could well have been written by any of the now majority of people who doubt the sound scientific basis of the global warming argument.
Hansen then posts two graphs, shown below, with before and after plots to demonstrate how minor the changes to the temperature record really are with the implication being that it's all much ado about nothing. On the left is the global record and on the right is the US record. As you can see, the change in global temperature shows a quite dramatic rise while the US change is less so. Putting the graphs side by side puts into context how meaningless any change in the US temperature record really is. Right?
Here's an expanded view of the global temperature graph...
...and here's the expanded US graph:
Notice anything? Anything at all?
James Hansen, head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, a man who wrote (as quoted above) that we "...dogged contrarians...present results in ways intended to deceive the public into believing that the changes have greater significance than reality..." has, in fact, done exactly that.
The global temperature graph above is plotted using a 1C range (-0.4 to +0.6) while the US temperature graph is plotted with a 3C range (-1.5 to +1.5). The effect is to flatten out the US graph while making the global one more visually dramatic.
Hansen is simply a politician dressed up as a scientist - and not a very good scientist at that it seems. He has deliberately tried to - let's paraphrase his words - present results in ways intended to deceive the public into believing that the changes have less significance than reality.
I've said it before and I'll say it again now - the damage being done to the reputation of science and the public's perception of it, and trust in it, by Climate Brown Shirts such as Hansen is incalculable.
UPDATE: Steve McIntyre has an important piece on Hansen's and Schmidt's talking down of the significance of the change. CO2science.org also has a terrific rebuttal of Hansen's position.