Thursday, February 11, 2016

Warmists are not the only secretive scientists

Obama: "The only people who don't want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide"

Warmists have always been rock-solid in refusing to follow the general scientific practice of making their raw data available to others for analysis. And on the big occasion when Warmist data did leak out we saw why. In constructing his hockeystick Michael Mann simply left out proxy data that did not suit him: Totally crooked. Tom Karl's controversial "adjustments" to sea-surface temperatures are also now under attack -- even requests from Congressional committees have not been sucessful in getting the data released.

So a failure to release data shouts loudly that the secretive scientists have something to hide.  It shows that they have no confidence in their own conclusions.  They fear that a re-analysis will arrive at conclusions different from theirs.

But these days Warmists are not the only unscientific ones.  There is a lot at stake in today's "publish or perish" academic  climate and it seems that people in lots of disciplines have been taking "shortcuts" to get their stuff published.  The example below concerns a controversial medical study.  Because of the great disbelief in the study's conclusions, it was a prime candidate for data release -- so that doubts could be set at rest for once and for all.

The authors have however dug their heels in so that really tells you all you need to know.  There will now be no-one who trusts their conclusions.

What I find most pathetic is the shallow reasons given for refusing to release the data.  Requests for the data are described as "harassment".  Michael Mann does that too.  A request for normal scientific courtesy is harassment?  It may indeed be harassment if people keep asking for the data and the authors keep resisting but if they had released the data straight away there would have been no reason for multiple requests

The integrity of science as a whole now seems uncertain and faith in it is probably badly damaged.

Data sharing is all over academic news now. We had Research Parasites, a noxious species of scientists who want to analyse others’ published data without granting its “owners” co-authorships and a certain control over the interpretations. Then there is a major battle between patients and clinicians about the release of the original data from the so-called PACE trial, originally published in The Lancet, which analysed medical efficiency and economic costs of different therapies for chronic fatigue syndrome/ myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME). Since the PACE study came out in 2011, the patients, but also a number of academic scientists, remained unconvinced of the published therapy recommendations and suspected a misinterpretation of data. The authors felt harassed and even threatened by the patients’ incessant demands. The relevant research institutions, the Queen Mary University London and the King’s College London, took the side of their clinicians and refused the release of data, using as argument the allegedly inappropriate nature of such requests and the privacy rights of trial participants.

Importantly, the data sharing requests always concerned anonymised patient data, where names and any other personal information of the trial participants was specifically deleted, to avoid any even approximate identification and breach of privacy. Yet even then, several attempts of patients as well as academics, to obtain the anonymised PACE trial data were converted by the universities from academic inquiries into the bureaucratic Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, which were then repeatedly rejected. At the same time, some of the original PACE authors have been apparently somewhat critical of their original interpretations.

In 2012, a cost-effectiveness analysis of the PACE trial therapies was published in the open access journal PLOS One, where the authors by default had to agree “to make freely available any materials and information described in their publication that may be reasonably requested by others for the purpose of academic, non-commercial research”. James Coyne, professor of Health Psychology at the Dutch University Medical Center in Groningen, has since used this clause to demand the release of the published PACE data (Coyne is also an academic editor at PLOS One and writes a PLOS blog). His request was once again converted into a FOIA and turned down by King’s College London as being “vexatious” (just as Queen Mary University did before). The official letter to Coyne read:

“The university considers that there is a lack of value or serious purpose to your request. The university also considers that there is improper motive behind the request. The university considers that this request has caused and could further cause harassment and distress to staff”.

Nevertheless, PLOS One has issued an editorial notification saying:

“we are seeking further expert advice on the analyses reported in the article, and we will evaluate how the request for the data from this study relates to the policy that applies to the publication”.

Coyne, it seems, brings it in his blog post to the point:

“No one forced Peter White [lead author of PACE study,- LS] and colleagues to publish in an open access journal committed to data sharing, but by doing so they incurred an obligation. So, they should simply turn over the data”.


Phil the deceiver is back

I have had a fair bit of fun with Phil Plait's writings over the years.  He is not even clever in his deceptions.  Below he hails a new study as refuting the skeptical claim that scientists at NOAA and elsewhere have been "fiddling" the historical temperature record. So I did my usual trick and looked up the study.  It does not do what Phil wants it to do.  It covers only the last ten years so is quite irrelevant to what skeptics say.  Phil also implies that the new study shows ongoing warming.  But it doesn't even attempt to do that.  What a farce.  I wonder what drives Phil?  A hunger for approval, probably:  Pretty infantile.  The study Phil eulogizes is here

A common claim by climate change deniers is that scientists have been “altering” ground-based temperature data to make it look like the Earth is warming. This claim—which is not just wrong, but exactly wrong, as I’ll get to in a sec—has gotten more traction than most others offered by the forces of anti-science.

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, has been using this false claim as a blunt hammer against scientists in NOAA, for example, holding hearing after hearing trying to pin charges of conspiracy on them. But of course he’s wrong and is wasting huge amounts of taxpayer money pursuing a lie. As I’ve written before, the scientists aren’t “altering” the data, they’re correcting them.

A new paper has come out reinforcing this. Researchers from Berkeley, the University of York, and NOAA have looked at the temperatures recorded at stations across the U.S. They assessed the corrections being applied to the data and have confirmed their accuracy. In other words, despite Smith’s claims, the techniques the scientists are using to calibrate the data are solid.

The basic idea is this: There are temperature stations all over the U.S., and many have been in use for more than a century. However, over the years, some have been moved, replaced, or their environment has changed. This, of course, changes the temperature they record.

To account for that, scientists apply a correction to the data to make sure that they are comparing apples to apples when looking at modern measurements versus older ones. But how do they know if the corrections are accurate?

Actually, there are quite a few ways, but in the new study the researchers looked at more modern stations that are known to be quite accurate and compared them to the data from nearby older stations during the 12-year period where the two different systems were both in operation at the same time. As was expected, the uncorrected data from the older stations didn’t match the newer ones well. However, when the corrections were applied, the older stations did in fact match the newer ones much better. This shows that the corrections being applied are in fact making the data more accurate.

Smith and his allies want you to think that scientists are nefariously altering the data, but that’s not the case. Calibrating data isn’t “altering” it. Think of it more like editing typos and bad grammar. Once those are gone, you get a far better picture of what’s actually happening*.


SCOTUS Puts Obama's 'Global Warming' Regs on Ice

    A divided Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to halt enforcement of President Barack Obama's sweeping plan to address climate change until after legal challenges are resolved. The surprising move is a blow to the administration and a victory for the coalition of 27 mostly Republican-led states and industry opponents that call the regulations "an unprecedented power grab."

    By temporarily freezing the rule the high court's order signals that opponents have made a strong argument against the plan. A federal appeals court last month refused to put it on hold. The court's four liberal justices said they would have denied the request.

    The plan aims to stave off the worst predicted impacts of climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants by about one-third by 2030. Appellate arguments are set to begin June 2.

    The compliance period starts in 2022, but states must submit their plans to the Environmental Protection Administration by September or seek an extension.

    Many states opposing the plan depend on economic activity tied to such fossil fuels as coal, oil and gas. They argued that power plants will have to spend billions of dollars to begin complying with a rule that may end up being overturned.

One small step for mankind. The high court ruling means the Obamabots can't start implementing the economy-crushing regulations and then present a fundamentally transformed country with a fait accompli somewhere down the long and winding legal road. For now, a victory for common sense against "green" superstition and cultism.


Wind Energy Lobbyist: ‘Drastic Steps’ On Climate Change Or We’ll ‘Lose Up To 50% Of The Global Species In Our Generation’

Refuses to face the mayhem his windmills cause among birds

John Anderson, senior director for permitting policy and environmental affairs at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), said at an event on Friday on Capitol Hill that climate change, not wind turbines, poses the “greatest threat” to wildlife and that without “drastic steps” being taken, up to half of all species around the world will be lost “in our generation.”

In his prepared remarks, Anderson said, “Regardless of what type of individual, localized impacts you might see from any type of human activity, climate change is the single greatest threat to wildlife.” cited statistics from a 2013 study in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, reported by the Institute for Energy Research (IER) in 2015, showing that every year 573,000 birds, including 83,000 raptors, and 888,000 bats, are killed by wind turbines, and asked Anderson if he could provide data showing how climate change posed a greater threat to the birds.

“You can find all sorts of information at National Audubon, National Wildlife Federation, National Resource Defense Council – all commissioned studies --showing that if we don’t take drastic steps to reduce the impacts of climate change, that we will lose up to 50 percent of the global species in our generation,” Anderson said.

Anderson also said he was not familiar with the source for the statistics cited, but that he preferred data gathered at wind operations, and a 2007 estimate by the National Academy of Sciences on bird fatalities.

“I’m going to go with the number that’s the most statistically robust and that’s the number that we had,” he said.  “That said, the bigger point is that I’m going to trust the National Academy of Sciences that said that .0003 percent of all bird fatalities are attributed to wind.”

In a press release distributed at the event, the trade association concluded, “All forms of energy generation have impacts, some are acute and have a significant effect on human health and the natural environment. However, the impacts of the wind energy industry are comparatively modest, particularly when one considers the benefits of generating electricity from wind, including that it does not create air or water pollution, greenhouse gases, use water, require mining or drilling for fuel, or generate hazardous waste that requires permanent storage.”


Ignoring Truth at Our Peril: Lessons From NASA

Thirty years ago, on January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger shattered out of existence.

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, the most famous member of the panel assigned to study the disaster, argued that the estimates of reliability offered by NASA management were wildly unrealistic, differing as much as a thousand times from the estimates of the engineers, who had called for the mission to abort due to extreme cold.

But management, determined to fly, ignored their advice, holding to fancy rather than facts.

Seven astronauts lost their lives — a physicist, five engineers and one school teacher.

Feynman observed, “For a successful technology reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

Thirty years later, little has changed at NASA. It exemplifies many problems we see in science and culture — an inability or, perhaps more accurately, a dangerous unwillingness to deal with reality and truth. Truth seekers examine the world for what it is rather than fixate on what they want it to be. Ignoring reality can be dangerous.

Scientists should know this. But an emphasis on models has shown that new generations of scientists are becoming astonishingly immune to such reasoning. Trained mainly on computer modeling rather than real-world observations, they self-consciously admit that they frequently fail to distinguish models from reality. They keep aggressively massaging actual data, trying to make them fit models.

Huge sums have been thrown at studying global warming, nowhere more than at NASA, whose annual budgets for that alone now tally in the billions. Given lavish funding to blame global warming on human carbon dioxide emissions, NASA has done just that.

The problem is that data don’t match the models. The alarming warming one hears about is more a figment of modelers' imagination than reality. Their climate models simulate two to three times the observed warming. And no models predicted that for about 20 years there’s been no warming apparent in NASA’s satellite records, the most reliable data source because it’s the least contaminated and least “adjusted.”

In 1958 NASA launched into existence with the National Aeronautics and Space Act. Its mission was, “To provide for research into problems of flight within and outside the earth’s atmosphere, and for other purposes.” Since then the mission has been updated more than a few times: “To understand and protect our home planet; To explore the Universe and search for life; To inspire the next generation of explorers … as only NASA can.”

Inspiration and E.T.? Look, if you want inspiration, you can get it for a few bucks from Star Trek or Starbucks. You can boldly go … across the road. And looking for extraterrestrial civilization is about as nebulous a vision as Superman opening his own security firm. What next — no alien left behind?

Well, sort of. A few years ago President Obama refocused the NASA mission: “to reach out to the Muslim world … to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering.”

It is difficult to see how making Muslims feel good about their worldview has anything to do with the science of going to space. But then, in our times, the pursuit of truth seems less important than thinking the correct political thoughts. Truth must bend the knee to other considerations. That there is no point beyond politics seems to be the point of NASAs reimagined vision.

When this modus operandi becomes the norm at the highest levels of a society, truth is only the first casualty. There is a loss to science via the useless diversion of valuable resources, a coarsening of the culture as people cynically begin to play the game, and eventually people die.

Models don’t match reality? No problem. Keep changing the data till they do. We even have a technical term for it now, drawn from the name of the government scientist behind last year’s attempt to erase the 18-year lack of warming by dodgy adjustments to already dodgy data: Karlization.

Shouldn’t genuine pursuit of truth prefer to modify models? Instead, some scientists alter “official” climate records when they don’t fit with their models. That is to prefer fancy over fact. It is tragic. And deadly.


Intelligence Director: Climate Change Could Lead to Larger Refugee Crisis

Perhaps it would -- if we ever have any climate change

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned Tuesday that the effects of climate change could lead to mass migrations in the years ahead that will strain the western world on a much larger scale than the Syrian refugee crisis, adding that worldwide resources to support a growing population are “somewhat of a finite resource.”

“What we have in the world by way of resource to feed and support the growing population is somewhat of a finite resource,” said Clapper, adding that there’s only so much water, air and land that can be used to grow crops, so climate change will “foment more pressure for migrants” in addition to “instability of governance.”

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on worldwide threats, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) said Tuesday that he was afraid that the Syrian refugee crisis will be a precursor to a larger refugee crisis over the next 10-20 years “based upon predictions of climate change.”

“You touch on this Director Clapper in your report. I’m afraid that the Syrian refugee crisis is a precursor of a larger refugee crisis that we could be facing over the next 10 or 20 years, based upon predictions of climate change,” said King.

“The band of the world that is going to be subject to drought, famine, crop loss, flooding in some areas, incredible heat in the band around north Africa, central Africa, into southeast Asia. We could see mass migrations that could really strain the western countries. Would you concur in that secretary?” King asked.

“Well I think you’re quite right, and I alluded to that at least briefly in my oral statement about the fact that we have some 60 million people around the globe displaced in one way or another, and I think that—” Clapper responded.

“If that increases, it’s going to create—because all those people are going to want to go where things are better, which happens to be the north hemisphere,” King interjected.

“Exactly, and so that’s why that …will place ever greater stresses on the remainder of the countries – whether here in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, wherever – and the effects of climate change, of weather aberrations – however you want to describe them – just exacerbate this,” Clapper said.

“What we have in the world by way of resource to feed and support the growing population is somewhat of a finite resource. There’s only so much water, only so much arable land, and so the conditions that you mention I believe are going to foment more pressure for migrants – that on top of the instability of governance that I spoke briefly in my oral statement as well I think are going to make for a challenging situation in the future,” he added.

In written testimony provided to the committee, Clapper said: “Extreme weather, climate change, environmental degradation, related rising demand for food and water, poor policy responses, and inadequate critical infrastructure will probably exacerbate—and potentially spark—political instability, adverse health conditions, and humanitarian crises in 2016.

“Several of these developments, especially those in the Middle East, suggest that environmental degradation might become a more common source for interstate tensions. We assess that almost all of the 194 countries that adopted the global climate agreement at the UN climate conference in Paris in December 2015 view it as an ambitious and long-lasting framework,” he wrote in his opening statement.

Clapper cited a UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report, which “attributes extreme weather events in the tropics and sub-tropical zones in 2015 to both climate change and an exceptionally strong El NiƱo that will probably persist through spring 2016.”

“An increase in extreme weather events is likely to occur throughout this period, based on WMO reporting,” he wrote.

“Human activities, such as the generation of greenhouse gas emissions and land use, have contributed to extreme weather events including more frequent and severe tropical cyclones, heavy rainfall, droughts, and heat waves, according to a November 2015 academic report with contributions from scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),” Clapper wrote.

“Scientists have more robust evidence to identify the influence of human activity on temperature extremes than on precipitation extremes,” he added.

“The Paris climate change agreement establishes a political expectation for the first time that all countries will address climate change,” Clapper wrote.

“The response to the deal has been largely positive among government officials and nongovernmental groups, probably because the agreement acknowledges the need for universal action to combat climate change along with the development needs of lower income countries,” he added.

Clapper noted that “independent team of climate analysts and the Executive Secretary of the UN climate forum” have concluded that “countries’ existing national plans to address climate change will only limit temperature rise to 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100.”



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1 comment:

slkTAC said...

If scientists won't share data so their findings can be verified, then they really are no different than the psuedoscientists who do the same thing. No one is going to know what is correct, except both sides keep winking and smiling and assuring everyone they are trustworthy. Perhaps if the data is locked up, the study should simply be disregarded since it's not science. (The idea of an "intermediate panel" mentioned in one of the linked articles sounds like an "indepedent" panel of pals to guard the data. Why would people trust the intermediate any more than the original researcher. They are still hiding data.)