Sunday, November 29, 2009

'Trust Us' Say Climate Change Scientists

Sunday Times Environment Editor Jonathan Leake has written a brilliant summary of the Climategate scandal HERE. Anyone who is interested in the continuing debate about the science around climate change should read it. Here is an extract...

Al Gore, the former US vice-president turned green campaigner, has described the climate debate as “settled”. Yet the science, say critics, has not been tested to the limit. This is why the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia is so significant.

Its researchers have built up records of how temperatures have changed over thousands of years. Perhaps the most important is the land and sea temperature record for the world since the mid-19th century. This is the database that shows the “unequivocal” rise of 0.8C over the last 157 years on which Mann’s hockey stick and much else in climate science depend.

Some critics believe that the unit’s findings need to be treated with more caution, because all the published data have been “corrected” — meaning they have been altered to compensate for possible anomalies in the way they were taken. Such changes are normal; what’s controversial is how they are done. This is compounded by the unwillingness of the unit to release the original raw data.

David Holland, an engineer from Northampton, is one of a number of sceptics who believe the unit has got this process wrong. When he submitted a request for the figures under freedom of information laws he was refused because it was “not in the public interest”.

Others who made similar requests were turned down because they were not academics, among them McIntyre, a Canadian who runs the Climate Audit website.

A genuine academic, Ross McKitrick, professor of economics at the University of Guelph in Canada, also tried. He said: “I was rejected for an entirely different reason. The [unit] told me they had obtained the data under confidentiality agreements and so could not supply them. This was odd because they had already supplied some of them to other academics, but only those who support the idea of climate change.”

IT was against this background that the emails were leaked last week, reinforcing suspicions that scientific objectivity has been sacrificed. There is unease even among researchers who strongly support the idea that humans are changing the climate. Roger Pielke, professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said: “Over the last decade there has been a very political battle between the climate sceptics and activist scientists.

“It seems to me that the scientists have lost touch with what they were up to. They saw themselves as in a battle with the sceptics rather than advancing scientific knowledge.”

Professor Mike Hulme, a fellow researcher of Jones at the University of East Anglia and author of Why We Disagree About Climate Change, said: “The attitudes revealed in the emails do not look good. The tribalism that some of the leaked emails display is something more usually associated with social organisation within primitive cultures; it is not attractive when we find it at work inside science.”

There could, however, be another reason why the unit rejected requests to see its data.

This weekend it emerged that the unit has thrown away much of the data. Tucked away on its website is this statement: “Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites ... We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (ie, quality controlled and homogenised) data.”

If true, it is extraordinary. It means that the data on which a large part of the world’s understanding of climate change is based can never be revisited or checked. Pielke said: “Can this be serious? It is now impossible to create a new temperature index from scratch. [The unit] is basically saying, ‘Trust us’.”

No thanks.

UPDATE: Neil Hamilton has written a good column in this week's Sunday Express on this issue HERE.

26 comments:

Snowdon said...

A decent article and all the more remarkable for having being written by Jonathan Leake who has been the alarmist-in-chief at the Sunday Times for several years.

john in cheshire said...

It would be interesting to know the names of the friends and acquaintances of the so-called 'expert' scientists. Maybe it was a question of being in a hole and digging deeper, rather than admitting the limitations of the original data. It is also possible that the likes of 'professor' Jones are and have been part of the socialist problem that has been polluting this country for the past 60 or more years.

Plato said...

Iain, I am simultaneously delighted and horrified by what has been going on re Climategate.

Many of us thought it was a controlling/tax generating home for those lefties who took over Greenpeace all those years ago.

If you haven't been to this site that is currently picking apart the antics of Prf Jones et al - it is well worth a look

Don't worry too much about getting the science bit - just read the comments to see the incredulity of what theses charlatans have been doing.

I've been covering the most layman friendly stuff in my blog.

Hope this helps to make sense of it all.

Honestly, these people haven't just fiddled about at the edges with the data - they've been indulging in practices worthy of the Enron traders that caused California to blackout so they could make a killing.

Plato said...

Iain - also - if you haven't seen the fall out on the Blue Blog to David's last email - do have a look.

James Delingpole took the mick yesterday big time after I tipped him off.

I seriously hope that David takes a serious position on this nonsense very soon.

Mirtha Tidville said...

The `Man Made` climate change lobby are the same bozos who have been looking for a cause ever since their beloved communism was shown up for the empty shell it was...

To lose one argument is careless, two begins to look repetitive....

As for Al Gore, well best forgotten. He made George Bush look intelligent..

maria said...

ClimateGATE? The yawns are deafening. Why can't we drop this boring "-Gate" business? I'm sure a lot of people lose interest as soon as they see the LATEST -Gate. Were there no scandals before Watergate? And if so what on earth did we call them?

Roger Thornhill said...

IIRC In the 1980's a single tape reel could store up to 100MB of data. This is because 4 usually backed up an RA81 disk drive that was 485MB in capacity.

When we are talking raw numerical data that is quite alot - 25million standard precision numbers, 34 years of max min daily temps for 1000 base stations, for example.

One tape.

How much data did they need to store? If they threw away the raw, that would not make then scientists but PR men.

Dungeekin said...

Here's my opinion - in song, as so frequently.

D

tallbendyman said...

@Maria

Profumo :-)

trevorsden said...

You can count yourself out of the govts climate change mantra here

http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/proveit/sendgov.aspx?action=out

'its your call ...'

Re maria - I've given up trying to avoid the 'gate' nonsense.

Climategate is the biggest ever scandal to ever hit the planet - so in this case the soubriquet is deserved.

Jimmy said...

"Neil Hamilton has written a good column in this week's Sunday Express on this issue HERE."


Neil Hamilton? Really?

trevorsden said...

PS there is also this petition to no10

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/UEACRU/

Twig said...

It seems like the wheels are coming off of the AGW bandwagon.

And now for a trip down memory lane:
Three Wheels On My Wagon

It should be the theme tune to Copenhagen.

peter_dtm said...

Good stuff Ian

All science is - at its very simplest - is asking questions.

There is no 'trust me' in science; science demands that everything; data; methods, theories; revisions are ALL available so that anyone else can run the same tests and (hopefully)get the same response.

Why would ANY scientist not want to release data & method ?

Only politicians; advertising people & PR types want to hide their methods - and look where it got the politicians.

Climategate demands a complete OPEN review of all the claims - but please always remember that the MODELS used HAVE TO predict everything to be of any use - especially the slow down of warming over the last 10 years.

Hawkeye said...

The precedents and rules are clear. If you lack the data to back your theories then you must either redo the experiments or junk your theory.

That is the standard approach in science.

Since they lack RAW data to prove their theories (and for other scientists to verify the methodologies involved) then the choices are clear. Redo or Junk.

The captcha-thingy is saying "downski" which rather sums up the warmists's public profile at present. Lots of downski...

JPT said...

Do YOU trust them?

Jimmy said...

Quote of the Day here surely?

"doom-mongering is so much more fun now, with junkets all over the world in top- class hotels at taxpayers’ expense."

Neil Hamilton - anti-junketeer.

Joe Public said...

The Fraudsters do it for the Government (?intergovernments?)Grants.

As Deep Throat said...... "Follow the money"

DocRichard said...

The emails show the scientists are fallible humans, and the destruction of data, if true, is shocking, but there is nothing in them to affect the basic facts, which are (1) that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, (2) that it has increased significantly since the Industrial Revolution to a level that has not been seen for many thousands of years, and that (3) the planet has been warming for the last 150 years.

Even if CO2 were not a greenhouse gas, decarbonisation would still be a safe bet, because it would help diminish acid rain, acid sea, energy insecurity and blunt the economic impact of Peak Oil.

davidncl said...

Whatever side your on. Blu Red Grn.

This is it.

There is no bigger issue.

Lights on or off.

Rush-is-Right said...

Good stuff here, and here.

The King of Wrong said...

"Trust us"?

No! There's a reason why the Royal Society's motto is "nullius in verba" - take nobody's word for it.

Paul said...

Dear DicRichard

1) is true, but current CO2 levels are absorbing pretty much all the energy that they can (absorbtion spectrum thing). Doubling CO2 will NOT double the energy absorbtion by CO2

3) isn't true either.

If CO2 has been increasing by 0.5% per year (CRU numbers) why have temperatures not risen since '97 and in fact have been falling since 02?

You are lying or incompetent (or, most likely; both).

And the reason not to get hysteric about the issue is that the global economy will be screwed by your cap & trade fantasies.

Even your hysterical hero Hansen says they're crap

Rush-is-Right said...

@DocRichard

You are wrong on all counts.

1. There is no correlation between temperatures and CO2 levels, except in the sense that if temperatures rise you get a rise in CO2 levels some time afterwards, which can be explained by the stuff being released from solution in oceanic water. (That was 4th-form chemistry when I was at school BTW).

2. The 'greenhouse-ness' of CO2 is as nothing compared with, for example, water-vapour which is omnipresent and over which we have no control. And in any case most CO2 comes from volcanoes.

3. It is as clear as day that for at least the last 10 years the temperature has not been rising, it's been going down. This is the 'decline' that 'professor' Jones was trying to conceal.

4. Your final point is the most pernicious of all. There is no means by which 'decarbonisation' can happen short of returning the world to the industrial levels (and population levels) that pertained in the middle ages (when it was a lot warmer than it is now incidentally). Most people would call that poverty. Nothing safe about it at all.

iCowboy said...

Rush-is-Right said...

'And in any case most CO2 comes from volcanoes.'

No it doesn't as even a cursory check will show you:

Volcanoes: 130-230 million tonnes p.a.
Humans: 27 billion tonnes p.a.

Gerlach, T.M., 1991, Present-day CO2 emissions from volcanoes: Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, Vol. 72, No. 23, June 4, 1991, pp. 249, and 254-255.

Must be time for the 'Vikings lived in the middle of Greenland' line to come along next.

Rush-is-Right said...

@iCowboy

You may well be right. I withdraw that sentence about volcanic CO2. The rest stands though!