November 24, 2009

Climategate - 3 (updated)


Yet another update on Climategate. As we have already learned from the previous episodes of the series, CRU hacked emails reveal a pattern by prominent climate alarmist scientists of concealing evidence contradictory to the theory of man-made global warming, manipulating scientific data, preventing conflicting reports from being published in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report, etc. Here is a couple of examples.

CRU head Phil Jones, in response to an article challenging global warming, writes that Climate Research, the journal which had published the article, needs to “rid themselves of this troublesome editor.” And here is Michael E. Mann’s reply (Mann is director of Pennsylvania State University’s Earth System Science Centre and a regular contributor to the popular climate science blog Real Climate):

I think we have to stop considering “Climate Research” as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal.


As Robert Tracinski points out in a very thoughtful post at Real Clear Politics, it is to be noted

the circular logic employed here. Skepticism about global warming is wrong because it is not supported by scientific articles in “legitimate peer-reviewed journals.” But if a journal actually publishes such an article, then it is by definition not “legitimate.”


But this scandal, says Tracinski, goes beyond strictly scientific journals and into other media.. for example, RealClimate.org, a website which much of the mainstream media has relied on for climate science developments and which has been billed—at least until some time ago, in particular (I presume) until before this article by Roger Pielke Sr.—as an objective website and as a place where both global warming activists and skeptics can engage in an impartial debate. Yet, in another email, Michael E. Mann, on behalf of the CRU people, boasts that RealClimate is pretty well under control..

I wanted you guys to know that you’re free to use RC in any way you think would be helpful. Gavin and I are going to be careful about what comments we screen through […]. We can hold comments up in the queue and contact you about whether or not you think they should be screened through or not, and if so, any comments you’d like us to include. […]
You’re also welcome to do a followup guest post, etc. think of RC as a resource that is at your disposal to combat any disinformation put forward by the McIntyres of the world. Just let us know. We’ll use our best discretion to make sure the skeptics don’t’get to use the RC comments as a megaphone...


Well, I don’t really know what else to say about this, other than the pattern emerging is simple enough:

In any discussion of global warming, either in the scientific literature or in the mainstream media, the outcome is always predetermined. Just as the temperature graphs produced by the CRU are always tricked out to show an upward-sloping "hockey stick," every discussion of global warming has to show that it is occurring and that humans are responsible. And any data or any scientific paper that tends to disprove that conclusion is smeared as "unscientific" precisely because it threatens the established dogma.
For more than a decade, we've been told that there is a scientific "consensus" that humans are causing global warming, that "the debate is over" and all "legitimate" scientists acknowledge the truth of global warming. Now we know what this "consensus" really means. What it means is: the fix is in.


Needless to say, this has little to do, in itself, with one’s honest and sincere convictions about the “Anthropogenic Global Warming” doctrine, or about the opposite (and equally respectable) view according to which global warming is a natural phenomenon, correlated to solar flare activity. And no matter if in the 1300’s grapes were grown in the south of England and parts of Norway could cultivate wheat, and when they discovered Greenland, they called it Greenland because there wasn’t as much ice or snow as there is now.. But the fact remains that now the CRU people (if not all those arguing the case for man-made global warming) seem to be afraid of open and honest debate. Which makes them (at least) far less reliable than what was thought previously.

----

UPDATE: Nov. 25, 2009

Even British writer George Monbiot, a leading environmentalist and a columnist for The Guardian, has admitted to being “dismayed and deeply shaken” by some of the emails:

It’s no use pretending that this isn’t a major blow. The emails extracted by a hacker from the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia could scarcely be more damaging. I am now convinced that they are genuine, and I’m dismayed and deeply shaken by them.
Yes, the messages were obtained illegally. Yes, all of us say things in emails that would be excruciating if made public. Yes, some of the comments have been taken out of context. But there are some messages that require no spin to make them look bad. There appears to be evidence here of attempts to prevent scientific data from being released, and even to destroy material that was subject to a freedom of information request.
Worse still, some of the emails suggest efforts to prevent the publication of work by climate sceptics, or to keep it out of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I believe that the head of the unit, Phil Jones, should now resign. Some of the data discussed in the emails should be re-analysed.
[…]
The hacked emails are a hard knock, but the science of global warming withstands much more than that.


Of course George Monbiot doesn’t think these revelations justify the sceptics’ claims that this is “the final nail in the coffin” of global warming theory. Yet, nobody was expecting him to suddenly change his mind about the whole matter. Intellectual honesty is enough of a reason, for me, to recommend a thorough reading of this article. Monbiot has taken an intellectually honest stance, and I really appreciate him for that.



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17 comments:

  1. Link to your blog has been add in my friends blog list @ spacestation-shuttle.blogspot.com

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  2. Thank you! I'll check out your blog as soon as I can. Cheers.

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  3. Needless to say, this has little to do, in itself, with one’s honest and sincere convictions about the “Anthropogenic Global Warming” doctrine, or about the opposite (and equally respectable) view according to which global warming is a natural phenomenon, correlated to solar flare activity.

    NO. This isn't, and should not, a matter of faith, were we "agree to disagree" and respect all points of view. If there are alternative explanations to experimental evidence, they must be weighted against the data, and the ones incompatible with the data must be discarded. Or perhaps new, better explanations (perhaps a combination of the formerly competing explanations) are proposed.

    The solar flares theory, for example, has the problem that mean solar activity has been more or less constant since the 1950s, while temperatures have raised in the period.


    And no matter if in the 1300’s grapes were grown in the south of England and parts of Norway could cultivate wheat, and when they discovered Greenland, they called it Greenland because there wasn’t as much ice or snow as there is now.

    Medieval Warm Period, I think is part of the "scientific consensus", although there are few data for extra-European locations. I don't think it would be good to have now a repeat of that kind of climate, it was pleasant to enjoy warmer weather in North Atlantic, but it seems to be associated with rather dry conditions in other parts of the world (South-Western US, West Africa).


    But the fact remains that now the CRU people (if not all those arguing the case for man-made global warming) seem to be afraid of open and honest debate.

    And this is bad. The scientific method requires that one's theories are exposed transparently, along with the experimental data, for others to peruse, reproduce and possibly point out errors.

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  4. Many industrialists across the world would be delighted with reports of scandals and exaggeration (if not total denial) of the doctrine of 'anthropogenic global warming'. If, as evidence already clearly indicates, further results of independent scientific research prove that global warming is a reality to contend with urgently, far more harm than good would come from reports going to the other extreme claiming that global warming is a myth, encouraging business as usual without restriction, rules or regulations.

    Even if it's plausible that global warming is not man made, that it's a natural phenomenon, not trying to do something about it, claiming that it's a hoax in order to continue with industrial trends of over production, of exploiting fossil burning energy on an indefinite basis, can only make things worse.

    The world, like life itself, is a precious loan. We have the responsibility to protect it as best we can for future generations. If it's at all possible to contribute, even modestly, in trying to prevent things from getting worse, surely it's better than throwing all caution to the wind on the strength of casual reports such as these.

    We all know in any case, that we have to change our ways and adapt to the reality that fossil energy resources can't last for ever. Whether they are to blame or not for climatic change and global warming is irrelevant to this reality.

    This point of view takes nothing away from the validity of your articles Rob, which as per usual are timely and very well chosen. I don't want to be a 'guastafeste'. But nevertheless the subject is too critical to shrug off too casually.

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  5. @Mirino:
    I thoroughly respect your opinions, and as I told StefanoC, I always appreciate intellectual honesty. Furthermore, I have no dogmatic stand on this. I am simply looking for the truth—no matter where that takes me.

    P.S.: Thank you for your kind words!

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  6. Here are two more studies, one supporting your articles Rob, and one from the Iowa State University seeking to clarify the suggestion 'that there is a discernible human influence on global climate".

    http://www.isil.org/resources/fnn/2007june/global-warming-hoax.html

    http://www.geology.iastate.edu/gccourse/model/co2/seedsci.html

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  7. And finally this article in Le Monde today, 25th November, treats the 'climato-sceptics' as negators of established facts that have been up dated by science during the last 40 years.

    Here's a translation of part of it:

    "In the USA the self proclaimed 'think tanks' financed by petrol industries, hire the services of scientists who have not often worked in the field of climatology, but produce documents that they defuse, allocate to the disposition of the media, the political decision makers or their entourage."

    Suggestion: 'Certain people compare the CIEC to an inquisition that advocates the truth and 'ex-comunicates' those who have a counter argument.'

    Reply: "That's absurd. The CIEC isn't an organisation that would enlist scientists who would then become members of a closed circle... On the contrary, our organisational structure is open and transparent : It permits any capable scientist of climatology to put forward an expertise."

    Question: 'What are the established facts?'

    "The principal ones are that the total average temperature increased during the last century by more than 0.7 °C, that the oceans have risen by 17 cm, that the ice-caps have lost 10% of their cover, that the surface water of the ocean has become acidified- potential source of problems of calcification for certain marine organizations like planktons or the corals."

    "Several accumulations of proof obtained independently establishes a bond between these observations and the rise in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases. The content of CO2 is currently higher than 29% than ever it has been since at least the last 800,000 years. The growth of CO2 in the atmosphere is 200 times faster than in the last 100 centuries. Lastly, this CO2 increase is the fruit of the combustion of fossil resources and deforestation. These, among others, are established facts."

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  8. Forgot to add the article's link (Le Monde):

    http://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2009/11/23/climat-les-negateurs-du-rechauffement-ignorent-les-faits-etablis_1270788_3244.html#ens_id=1234881

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  9. Mirino's recent posts are stimolating my contrarian spirit, so I'll try to present what (in my view) could be a GW skeptic position.

    To evaluate the effect on future weather of policies on emissions, politicians and scientists use global climate models. These models are calibrated and validated using data of the past world climate. It may be said that the models are as good as the data used to calibrate them.

    While recent data, regarding Europe or North America, can be easily be found, global data, expecially that predating weather satellites, is hard to collect. Non-digital sources are to be collected, collated and homogeneized by hand. It's a labour-intensive and costly process, and the result is that there are very few complete collections of worldwide data.

    Now, one of those is maintained at CRU, the hacked institution, and the hacked files hint that the quality of that data collection is lower than formerly claimed. It seems the data base contains many duplicate or otherwise invalid entries, and that the maintainers tried to "correct" them using buggy software, perhaps worsening the situation.

    I don't know what effect this low data quality may have on the quality of the climate models (it must be hoped the models were also checked using the other climate databases), but it's sure that this informations increases the uncertainty in a field that is per se much uncertain.

    I see that this same point is made here by Megan McArdle (only she erroneously talks about a "model" instead of the database -- some commenter corrected).

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  10. Doesn't it seem overly suspicious that this polemic has been aired, if not orchestrated, only a few days before the Copenhagen conference?

    To StafanoC, like you I don't disagree for the sake of disagreeing. I believe that this
    issue is something none of us have the right to be casual about. From an economical view point the world's magnates have far more to gain by pushing the hoax theme, than investing in extremely costly CO2 free systems.

    Perhaps the question should be, has the world the right to shrug off the evidence and what serious scientists maintain are established facts, on the grounds of a shaky supposition that global warming is a natural phenomenon that has nothing to do with human activity, exploitation of fossil fuels and deforestation, etc? Surely not.

    Surely the evidence speaks for itself, far louder than a few, casual and timely emails from so called scientists who may have succeeded in raising a few questions, but they have also clearly displayed a lack of professionalism, which also comes down to a lack of judgement.

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  11. This is interesting. The alleged villains this time are the climate scientists at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NiWA)..

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  12. It seems to be reaching a point where full, independant investigations are necessary. But it will take a great deal more to convince many, that there's no truth in 'Andropogenic Global Warming'.

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  13. @StefanoC:

    Interesting point. We all need to try to be “bipartisan” in our own “working hypotheses” if we want to get an idea—though vague and nebulous—of the whole story. After all, the truth could be somewhere in between the theory of man-made global warming and that of skeptics—for example: the greenhouse effect is real, but whatever human effect is not that significant (and very difficult to detect), at least if compared to the natural effect.., etc.

    @ Mirino:

    ”Doesn't it seem overly suspicious that this polemic has been aired, if not orchestrated, only a few days before the Copenhagen conference?”

    Whose interests are at stake? Obviously the economic/financial (and political) side, and “on both side of the fence,” but certainly also academic interests are at stake. And that’s why to be on the alert is our due as citizens and as human beings. But without blinkers..

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  14. After all, the truth could be somewhere in between the theory of man-made global warming and that of skeptics—for example: the greenhouse effect is real, but whatever human effect is not that significant (and very difficult to detect), at least if compared to the natural effect.., etc.

    Even if the humanity where responsible of only part of the effect, I think we should try to reduce at least that part.

    If this scandal undermines somewhat the confidence in the models, that means that things could go better than forecast, but also that things could go _worse_ than forecast. Uncertainty cuts both ways.

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  15. @ StefanoC :

    ”Even if the humanity where responsible of only part of the effect, I think we should try to reduce at least that part.”

    You won’t believe me, but I cannot but agree with you..

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  16. I agree with the last two comments.

    (If I'm also exaggerating- monopolising on comments, please bear with me, but this subject is of great concern to everyone).

    My own convictions regarding this issue are based on logic. Not the logic determined by science or graphs or falsified data, but the logic and laws of nature. Perhaps such convictions would be considered simplistic and naive, but even simplicity and naivety have there qualities.

    Human nature, although obviously part of nature itself, is often incompatible with natural laws. Although incontestably integrated, we consider ourselves demigods, above natural laws. We try to realise dreams, build empires and reach the stars.
    More out of necessity than conviction we try to solve the problems that we create, 'within reason', because despite our 'demigod' auto-proclaimed status, we are nevertheless dominated by financial considerations, interests and limitations.

    But the laws of nature dictate that they cannot be abused. One cannot indefinitely produce more than nature can reabsorb. The reality of Ouroboros.

    When Ouroboros, the circle of life, starts to be seriously asphyxiated by itself, by greed, overproduction, pollution, depletion of natural resources, etc., something has to be done before the point of no return- The death of Ouroboros.

    Our devil of financial interests often decrees that it's best to wait for the rock to fall from the cliff-face to crush the car, before one pays the bill to make the cliff-face safe. But we have no right to try to apply this non-logic to the real ecological problem we are faced with. Our responsibility is a great deal weightier than a car crushing rock.

    Even these examples of fraud and exaggeration reflect the same phenomenon- personal interests, ambition. But they have no impact on the truth. Despite natural fluctuations of temperatures and various climate changes throughout history, never in the past has there ever been such a build up of C02 and other noxious gases in the atmosphere, and never has there been such massive deforestation as there has been within the last century. For obvious reasons this is undeniable. Whether global warming tendencies are exaggerated or minimised for whatever personal interests, this doesn't alter the truth.

    http://mirino-viewfinder.blogspot.com/2008/09/ouroboros.html

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  17. Tell it to the Ice-caps (Eugene Robinson)

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/25/AR2009112503608.html?wpisrc=newsletter

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