Friday, December 04, 2009

A reply to an old bull

The old bulls of the global warming industry are coming out in defence of the University of East Anglia fraudsters -- using the Dan Rather defence: "The data is fake but accurate". Below is a comment (no. 13) put up as a reply to old bull James McCarthy

I am a climate scientist, and it is clear that the evidence that "human activity is prominent [sic] agent in global warming" is NOT overwhelming. The repeated statement that it is does not make it so. Further, even if we accepted the hypothesis, cap-and-trade legislation does not do anything about it.

Here are the facts. We have known for years that the Mann hockey stick model was wrong, and we know why it was wrong (Mann used only selected data to normalize the principal component analysis, not all of it). He retracted the model.

We have known for years that the Medieval Warm period occurred, where the temperatures were higher than they are now (Chaucer spoke of vineyards in northern England). Long before ClimateGate it was known that the IPCC people were trying to fudge the data to get rid of the MWP. And for good reason. If the MWP is "allowed" to exist, this means that temperatures higher than today did not then create a "runaway greenhouse" in the Middle Ages with methane released from the Arctic tundra, ice cap albedo lost, sea levels rising to flood London, etc. etc.), and means that Jim Hansen's runaway greenhouse that posits only amplifying feedbacks (and no damping feedbacks) will not happen now.

We now know that the models on which the IPCC alarms are based do not do clouds, they do not do the biosphere, they do not explain the Pliocene warming, and they have never predicted anything, ever, correctly.

As the believers know but, like religious faithful, every wrong prediction (IPCC underestimated some trends) is claimed to justify even greater alarm (not that the models are poor approximations for reality); the underpredictions (where are the storms? Why "hide the decline"?) are ignored or hidden.

As for CO2, we have known for years that CO2 increases have never in the past 300,000 years caused temperature rise (CO2 rise trails temperature increase). IPCC scientists know this too (see their "Copenhagen Diagnosis"); we know that their mathematical fudges that dismiss the fact that CO2 has not been historically causative of temperature rise are incorrect as well.

We have also known for years that the alleged one degree temperature rise from 1880 vanishes if sites exposed to urban heat islands are not considered. We have long known of Jones's paper dismissing this explanation (Jones, et al. 1990. Assessment of urbanization effects in time series of surface air temperature over land, Nature 347 169- 172) is wrong and potentially fraudulent (see the same data used to confirm urban heat islands in Wang, W-C, Z. Zeng, T. R Karl, 1990. Urban Heat Islands in China. Geophys. Res. Lett. 17, 2377-2380).

Everyone except Briffa knows that the Briffa conclusions are wrong, and why they are wrong; groups in Finland, Canada (lots of places actually) show cooling by this proxy, not warming; the IPCC even printed the Finn's plot upside down to convert the fact (cooling) into the dogma (warming).

Prof. McCarthy is, of course, part of the IPCC that has suppressed dissenting viewpoints based on solid climate science. His claim to support by "peer review" is nonsense; he has helped corrupt the peer review process. We now have documentary evidence that Jones, Mann, and the other IPCC scientists have been gaming peer review and blackballing opponents. On this point, the entire IPCC staff, including Prof. McCarthy, neither have nor deserve our trust.

We have tolerated years of the refusal of Mann and Jones to release data. Now, we learn that much of these data were discarded (one of about 4 data sets that exist), something that would in any other field of science lead to disbarment. We have been annoyed by Al Gore, who declared this science "settled", refused to debate, and demonized skeptics (this is anti-science: debate and skepticism are the core of real science, which is never settled). The very fact that Prof. McCarthy attempts to bluff Congress by asserting the existence of fictional "overwhelming evidence" continues this anti-science activity.

All of this was known before Climategate. What was not known until now was the extent to which Jones and Mann were simply deceiving themselves (which happens often in science) or fraudently attempting to deceive others. I am not willing to crucify Jones on the word "trick". Nor, for that matter, on the loss of primary data, keeping only "value added" data (which is hopelessly bad science, but still conceivably not fraud).

But the computer code is transparently fraudulent. Here, one finds matrices that add unexplained numbers to recent temperatures and subtract them from older temperatures (these numbers are hard-programmed in), splining observational data to model data, and other smoking guns, all showing that they were doing what was necessary to get the answers that the IPCC wanted, not the answers that the data held. They knew what they were doing, and why they were doing it. If, as Prof. McCarthy insists, "peer review" was functioning, and the IPCC reports are rigorously peer reviewed, why was this not caught? When placing it in context made it highly likely that this type of fraud was occurring?

The second question is: Will this revelation be enough to cause the "global warming believers" to abandon their crusade, and for people to return to sensible environmental science (water use, habitat destruction, land use, this kind of thing)? Perhaps it will. Contrary to Prof. McCarthy's assertion, we have not lost just one research project amid dozens of others that survive. A huge set of primary data are apparently gone. Satellite data are scarcely 40 years old. Everything is interconnected, and anchored on these few studies. Even without the corruption of the peer review process, this is as big a change as quantum mechanics was in physics a century ago.

But now we know that peer review was corrupted, and that no "consensus" exists. The "2500 scientists agree" number is fiction (God knows who they are counting, but to get to this number, they must be including referees, spouses, and pets).

The best argument now for AGW is to argue that CO2 is, after all, a greenhouse gas, its concentration is, after all, increasing, and feedbacks that regulated climate for millions of years might (we can hypothesize) be overwhelmed by human CO2 emissions. It is a hypothesis worthy of investigation, but it has little evidentiary support.

Thus, there is hope that Climategate will bring to an end the field of political climatology, and allow climatology to again become a science. That said, people intrinsically become committed to ideas. The Pope will not become a Protestant even if angel Gabriel taps him on the shoulder and asks him to. Likewise, Prof. McCarthy may claim until the day he retires that there remains "overwhelming support" for his position, even if every last piece of data supporting it is controverted. As a graduate student at Harvard, I was told that fields do not advance because people change their minds; rather, fields advance because people die.

Posted by Sean December 2, 09 11:26 PM


Rasmussen poll: Americans Skeptical of Science Behind Global Warming

Most Americans (52%) believe that there continues to be significant disagreement within the scientific community over global warming. While many advocates of aggressive policy responses to global warming say a consensus exists, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 25% of adults think most scientists agree on the topic. Twenty-three percent (23%) are not sure.

But just in the last few days, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs seemed to reject any such disagreement in a response to a question about global warming, “I don't think … [global warming] is quite, frankly, among most people, in dispute anymore.”

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Americans say it’s at least somewhat likely that some scientists have falsified research data to support their own theories and beliefs about global warming. Thirty-five percent (35%) say it’s Very Likely. Just 26% say it’s not very or not at all likely that some scientists falsified data.

This skepticism does not appear to be the result of the recent disclosure of e-mails confirming such data falsification as part of the so-called “Climategate” scandal. Just 20% of Americans say they’ve followed news reports about those e-mails Very Closely, while another 29% have followed them Somewhat Closely.

That’s a lower level of interest than has been shown about the White House party crashers and suggests that Americans have had their doubts about the science of global warming for some time.

One reason for this skepticism may be the role the United Nations has played in promoting the global warming issue. Only 22% of Americans consider the UN to be a reliable source of information on global warming. Forty-nine percent (49%) disagree and say the international organization is not reliable on that topic. Twenty-nine percent (29%) aren’t sure. Still, 46% of Americans say global warming is a major problem. However, 36% disagree, and 18% remain undecided.

President Obama and other U.S. officials are planning to attend a UN summit in Copenhagen, Denmark next week intended to further advance a proposed international treaty on global warming. Obama recently committed the United States to a 17 percent emissions cut by 2020 if Congress agrees, but critics say such a cut would seriously hurt the U.S. economy.

But then Republicans and voters not affiliated with either major party are more likely than Democrats to see disagreement in the scientific community over global warming and to suspect that data has been falsified.

Even as Obama and senior members of Congress are pushing major anti-global warming initiatives, Americans overwhelmingly believe they should focus on the economy instead. Seventy-one percent (71%) say the bigger priority for U.S. national leaders is stimulating the economy to create jobs. Only 15% say they should focus instead on stopping global warming to save the environment.


Phil Jones offers myriad reasons for not sharing data

It was always crystal clear that he had lots to hide

Phil Jones, of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, has stepped "aside" during an internal university investigation into the ethical questions arising from the thousands of e-mails and computer code recently released.

Three months before “stepping aside” from his position atop the most prestigious climate change institute in the world earlier this week, Phil Jones made a number of interesting comments. The first was this: “In the UK I am not considered a public servant.”

It was August, months before the explosion of Climategate, and I was drawing to a close the research for my forthcoming book on climate, Don’t Sell Your Coat. Jones was good enough to respond to questions I had then about data sharing, transparency, and United States Department of Energy funding. For, although an English researcher, Jones counted on the United States Department of Energy for substantial sums of money – millions of dollars.

Public servant or no, Jones was evidently bound by the Department of Energy’s data-sharing protocols, which were stringent: “Open sharing of all program data among researchers (and with the interested public) is critical to advancing the program’s mission … a copy of underlying data and a clear description of the method(s) of data analysis must be provided to any requester in a timely way.”

As Jones dealt with several such requests, but principally from his arch-nemesis, the Canadian amateur climatologist Steven McIntyre, he found it distasteful in the extreme to share raw temperature data that would allow McIntyre to look for problems in his data and work. As the world recently learned reading the e-mails among Jones and fellow-scientists, Jones threatened to delete data if McIntyre ever learned of the United Kingdom’s Freedom of Information Act.

But as the Department of Energy policy from this side of the Atlantic makes clear, no Freedom of Information request is even necessary in order to compel Jones, or any other DOE-funded scientist, to share all data as well as all code that is used in grooming the data for publication (in such documents as the IPCC 4th Assessment published in 2007). What Freedom of Information policy in the United Kingdom does require, however, is preserving any documents that are known to be sought via Freedom of Information request. Jones, in the trove of released e-mails, asks his peers to delete precisely these e-mails. Whether the internal investigation being conducted by the University of East Anglia determines that this was ethical remains to be seen. It also remains to be seen whether parliamentary investigations will be launched into the matter, as well as any inquiry by Scotland Yard.

As I said, Jones made several odd comments in August regarding unavailable data. The second bizarro statement regarded the meteorology agencies from which his Climatic Research Unit obtained data in the first place. “It is the Met services that you should be lambasting,” Jones wrote. “I have been for years, but have not gotten very far.” Two quick points: First, I never lambasted Jones but merely asked if he thought that greater transparency might better serve science, and himself, in the long run. Second, Jones, at least until today, could not verify his claim to have fought with European meteorological agencies himself. He had, however, alluded in one of the recently released e-mails to just such a gambit involving the agencies: “Data is covered by all the agreements we sign with people, so I will be hiding behind them.”

Just to be safe, however, Jones did have data removed from a University of East Anglia server during the summer of 2009. When pressed by me in our e-mail exchange in August, his reasons for making the data disappear seemed disingenuous, at best:
Our ftp site has had some data deleted from it. It is a site we use when working with other scientists around the world. The datasets were not explained. It seemed easier to stop people wasting their time trying to determine what it was.

The words “other scientists” here are code for “people other than the Canadian amateur climatologist Steve McIntyre.” While McIntyre is a statistician without a Ph.D. in a climate-related field, he has nonetheless proved himself to be a capable intellectual adversary of Jones. Jones’s e-mails allude, more or less obsessively, to the Canadian, as do those of many of Jones’s closest colleagues. Far from being at risk of wasting time deciphering what he had in front of him, McIntyre had by that point been veritably begging for Jones’s data and computer code for years. He had been joined in his pursuit of data, by the way, by Ross McKitrick, with whom he had also authored a peer-reviewed paper successfully dressing down American climatologist Michael Mann.

It was Jones’s 2009 summertime deletion of data that prompted me to ask him about transparency in the first place. One other reason Jones offered for refusing to share data appeared bizarre, to say the least:
I will say one more thing. Have you considered this issue from a perspective of a Met Service in Africa or South America. I have been told by people from these Met Services that one of the reasons they restrict access to data is that scientists in Europe and North America use their data to further their own scientific ends. This is a sort of data imperialism. They get nothing back and think of themselves as mere data collectors. They want to improve the lot of their scientists. I am able to help a few of them with grants to come and do MSc and PhD courses here at UEA, but it is only a few.

I take Jones at his word here, but it has been a matter of some surprise that he has not mentioned these issues in dealing with other journalists. More to the point, alluding to the plight of underprivileged meteorologists as a means of explaining why data sharing should not be moved forward as expeditiously as possible is, for lack of a better word, weird.

It’s interesting, and there’s likely a story there, but it’s still weird. Jones’s data, as he is very aware, is one of the linchpins of the IPCC’s sternest warnings about the fate of humanity and our ability to continue operating world economies with energy sources that are available now. While preserving the feelings of several dozen meteorologists might be praiseworthy, compared to deciphering what is actually going on with the world’s climate it seems to be a trifling matter.

It will be interesting to see whether Jones is reinstated by his university and whether the world climatology community returns him to his former position as one of its top four or five de-facto leaders. If it does, you can bet that he will avoid sending e-mails like the following about the Canadians McKitrick and McIntyre that he sent in 2005:
The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone.

As always, he signed it, “Cheers, Phil.”


Climategate: Science Is Dying

Science is on the credibility bubble

Surely there must have been serious men and women in the hard sciences who at some point worried that their colleagues in the global warming movement were putting at risk the credibility of everyone in science. The nature of that risk has been twofold: First, that the claims of the climate scientists might buckle beneath the weight of their breathtaking complexity. Second, that the crudeness of modern politics, once in motion, would trample the traditions and culture of science to achieve its own policy goals. With the scandal at the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, both have happened at once.

I don't think most scientists appreciate what has hit them. This isn't only about the credibility of global warming. For years, global warming and its advocates have been the public face of hard science. Most people could not name three other subjects they would associate with the work of serious scientists. This was it. The public was told repeatedly that something called "the scientific community" had affirmed the science beneath this inquiry. A Nobel Prize was bestowed (on a politician).

Global warming enlisted the collective reputation of science. Because "science" said so, all the world was about to undertake a vast reordering of human behavior at almost unimaginable financial cost. Not every day does the work of scientists lead to galactic events simply called Kyoto or Copenhagen. At least not since the Manhattan Project.

What is happening at East Anglia is an epochal event. As the hard sciences—physics, biology, chemistry, electrical engineering—came to dominate intellectual life in the last century, some academics in the humanities devised the theory of postmodernism, which liberated them from their colleagues in the sciences. Postmodernism, a self-consciously "unprovable" theory, replaced formal structures with subjectivity. With the revelations of East Anglia, this slippery and variable intellectual world has crossed into the hard sciences.

This has harsh implications for the credibility of science generally. Hard science, alongside medicine, was one of the few things left accorded automatic stature and respect by most untrained lay persons. But the average person reading accounts of the East Anglia emails will conclude that hard science has become just another faction, as politicized and "messy" as, say, gender studies. The New England Journal of Medicine has turned into a weird weekly amalgam of straight medical-research and propaganda for the Obama redesign of U.S. medicine.

The East Anglians' mistreatment of scientists who challenged global warming's claims—plotting to shut them up and shut down their ability to publish—evokes the attempt to silence Galileo. The exchanges between Penn State's Michael Mann and East Anglia CRU director Phil Jones sound like Father Firenzuola, the Commissary-General of the Inquisition.

For three centuries Galileo has symbolized dissent in science. In our time, most scientists outside this circle have kept silent as their climatologist fellows, helped by the cardinals of the press, mocked and ostracized scientists who questioned this grand theory of global doom. Even a doubter as eminent as Princeton's Freeman Dyson was dismissed as an aging crank.

Beneath this dispute is a relatively new, very postmodern environmental idea known as "the precautionary principle." As defined by one official version: "When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically." The global-warming establishment says we know "enough" to impose new rules on the world's use of carbon fuels. The dissenters say this demotes science's traditional standards of evidence.

The Environmental Protection Agency's dramatic Endangerment Finding in April that greenhouse gas emissions qualify as an air pollutant —with implications for a vast new regulatory regime— used what the agency called a precautionary approach. The EPA admitted "varying degrees of uncertainty across many of these scientific issues." Again, this puts hard science in the new position of saying, close enough is good enough. One hopes civil engineers never build bridges under this theory.

The Obama administration's new head of policy at EPA, Lisa Heinzerling, is an advocate of turning precaution into standard policy. In a law-review article titled "Law and Economics for a Warming World," Ms. Heinzerling wrote, "Policy formation based on prediction and calculation of expected harm is no longer relevant; the only coherent response to a situation of chaotically worsening outcomes is a precautionary policy. . . ."

If the new ethos is that "close-enough" science is now sufficient to achieve political goals, serious scientists should be under no illusion that politicians will press-gang them into service for future agendas. Everyone working in science, no matter their politics, has an stake in cleaning up the mess revealed by the East Anglia emails. Science is on the credibility bubble. If it pops, centuries of what we understand to be the role of science go with it.


Climate change sceptics are 'muddled', says Lord Stern

But does not offer a single example of just where and how they are muddled and confused

Speaking after the posting online of stolen emails between climate scientists which sceptics claimed showed researchers manipulating the data to back up their theory, Lord Stern said evidence of climate change was "overwhelming".

While he said it was important for all views to be heard, he said the degree of scepticism among "real scientists" was very small. Climate science had a strong basis stretching back 200 years, while evidence for global warming came from a number of sources including ice cores which went back as far as 800,000 years into the past, he said.

"This is evidence that is overwhelming, from all sources, that's the kind of climate science we're talking about," he said. "I think it is very important that those with any kind of views on the science or economics have their say - that does not mean that unscientific muddle also has the right to be recognised as searing insight." He added: "If they are muddled and confused, they do not have the right to be described as anything other than muddled and confused."

Lord Stern was speaking at the launch of studies looking at whether the UN climate talks starting next week in Copenhagen could deliver a deal which would keep temperature rises below the 2C increase that could lead to "dangerous" global warming.

The emails and other material were taken from servers at the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit before being published on websites run by climate change sceptics, possibly in a bid to undermine the global summit in Denmark.


Climate cabal unity crumbling

Climategate: Phil Jones accused of making error of judgment by colleague

Prof Jones, director of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) has been accused of manipulating climate change data following thousands of leaked documents that suggested academics delete sensitive emails to evade Freedom of Information requests from climate change sceptics.

Prof Jones, who has denied altering figures, has since said he would stand down from his post while an independent review is carried out

One of the scientists to whom the emails were addressed, Professor Michael Mann, the Director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University has moved to distance himself from some of the comments in the emails that suggest scientists did not want the IPCC, the UN body charged with monitoring climate change, to consider studies that challenged the view global warming was genuine and man-made.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight, Prof Mann said: "I can't put myself in the mind of the person who wrote that email and sent it. I in no way endorse what was in that email."

Prof Mann also said he could not "justify" a request from Prof Jones that he should delete some of his own emails to prevent them from being seen by outsiders. "I can't justify the action, I can only speculate that he was feeling so under attack that he made some poor decisions frankly and I think that's clear."

Prof Mann then argued however that there was "absolutely no evidence" that he too had manipulated data, while he also said "I don't believe that any of my colleagues have done that". [Of course Mann has not manipulated the raw data -- Running invalid analyses is his specialty]

While climate change sceptics argue the emails are proof scientists have been hiding evidence of temperature decline, Prof Mann said he believed the incident "false controversy" manufactured by sceptics "to distract the public and to distract policy-makers to try to thwart efforts next week in Copenhagen". "The emails are genuine and have been misrepresented, cherry-picked, mined for single words and phrases that can be completely twisted to imply the opposite of what was actually being said, manufactured controversy and the timing of it is not coincidental as far as I'm concerned," he added. [Of course it is not coincidental. Stopping the runaway Copenhagen freight-train is vital to the welfare of the world]


Australia: Gagged government scientist resigns

Politicized climate science again. Warmism is a cancer of the intellect

Eminent scientist Clive Spash has resigned from the CSIRO and called for a Senate inquiry into the science body following the censorship of his controversial report into emissions trading. Dr Spash has lashed out at the organisation which he says promotes self-censorship among its scientists with its unfair publication guidelines. He has been stunned at the treatment he's received at the hands of CSIRO management, including boss Megan Clark, and he also believes he's not alone.

"I've been treated extremely poorly," he told AAP on Thursday. "There needs to be a Senate inquiry. "The way the publication policy and the charter are being interpreted will encourage self-censorship. "It's obviously happened before at the CSIRO - and there's issues currently."

Last month, Dr Spash accused the organisation of gagging him and his report - The Brave New World of Carbon Trading - and restricting its publication. The report is critical of cap and trade schemes, like the one the federal government is seeking to introduce, as well as big compensation to polluters. Dr Spash advocates a direct tax on carbon.

The CSIRO said the report was in breach of its publication guidelines, which restrict scientists from speaking out on public policy. But it provoked accusations the CSIRO is censoring research harmful to the government. Under intense pressure, Dr Clark publicly released the report on November 26 but warned Dr Spash would be punished for his behaviour and his refusal to amend it.

"I believe that internationally peer-reviewed science should be published or, if Dr Clark wishes to have her own opinion, then she should publish her own opinion," Dr Spash said, who has been on sick leave. "I've been to the doctor under extreme stress. "I was surprised at senior management and how I was treated."

He had been ordered not to speak to the media while working for the CSIRO, which originally headhunted him for the job. Dr Spash, who is heading to Europe where he plans to stay indefinitely, was reluctant to openly criticise the government but noted that Science Minister Kim Carr had been abreast of the situation.

Journal New Political Economy had written to Senator Carr, detailing the changes the CSIRO had demanded and refusing to publish the censored version of the paper. "They cut the conclusion by half, 11 per cent of the text, changed the thrust of the meaning from being an index criticism of an ETS to being an argument that it stands to be redesigned," Dr Spash said. "I was clearly censored."



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


1 comment:

Cathy Sander said...

It's very important for us to understand the chemical underpinning of our problems, whatever they may be.

Thermodynamics and kinetics will, in the long run, take us all down. It's a matter of how.

PS: I'm not a greenie. I'm currently learning chemistry.