Sunday, December 13, 2009

'Warmergate' Crisis Deepens as IPCC Figures Called Into Question

In today's Mail on Sunday there is a very interesting feature on what it calls "Warmergate". It reveals of climate change scientists have manipulated data to provide the answers they wanted. Here's an extract which refers to the infamous 'hockey stick'.

Take the now-notorious email that the CRU’s currently suspended director, Dr Phil Jones, sent to his IPCC colleagues on November 16, 1999, when he wrote he had ‘just completed Mike’s Nature trick’ and had so managed to ‘hide the decline.

The CRU’s supporters have protested bitterly about the attention paid to this message. In the course of an extraordinary BBC interview in which he called an American critic an ‘****hole’ live on air, Jones’s colleague Professor Andrew Watson insisted that the fuss was completely unjustified, because all Jones had been talking about was ‘tweaking a diagram’.

Davies told me that the email had been ‘taken out of context’ adding: ‘One definition of the word “trick” is “the best way of doing something”. What Phil did was standard practice and the facts are out there in the peer-reviewed literature.’

However, the full context of that ‘trick’ email, as shown by a new and until now unreported analysis by the Canadian climate statistician Steve McIntyre, is extremely troubling.Derived from close examination of some of the thousands of other leaked emails, he says it suggests the ‘trick’ undermines not only the CRU but the IPCC.

There is a widespread misconception that the ‘decline’ Jones was referring to is the fall in global temperatures from their peak in 1998, which probably was the hottest year for a long time. In fact, its subject was more technical - and much more significant. It is true that, in Watson’s phrase, in the autumn of 1999 Jones and his colleagues were trying to ‘tweak’ a diagram. But it wasn’t just any old diagram.

It was the chart displayed on the first page of the ‘Summary for Policymakers’ of the 2001 IPCC report - the famous ‘hockey stick’ graph that has been endlessly reproduced in everything from newspapers to primary-school textbooks ever since, showing centuries of level or declining temperatures until a dizzying, almost vertical rise in the late 20th Century. There could be no simpler or more dramatic representation of global warming, and if the origin of worldwide concern over climate change could be traced to a single image, it would be the hockey stick. Drawing a diagram such as this is far from straightforward.

Gabriel Fahrenheit did not invent the mercury thermometer until 1724, so scientists who want to reconstruct earlier climate history have to use ‘proxy data’ - measurements derived from records such as ice cores, tree-rings and growing season dates. However, different proxies give very different results. For example, some suggest that the ‘medieval warm period’, the 350-year era that started around 1000, when red wine grapes flourished in southern England and the Vikings tilled now-frozen farms in Greenland, was considerably warmer than even 1998. Of course, this is inconvenient to climate change believers because there were no cars or factories pumping out greenhouse gases in 1000AD - yet the Earth still warmed.

Some tree-ring data eliminates the medieval warmth altogether, while others reflect it. In September 1999, Jones’s IPCC colleague Michael Mann of Penn State University in America - who is now also the subject of an official investigation --was working with Jones on the hockey stick. As they debated which data to use, they discussed a long tree-ring analysis carried out by Keith Briffa. Briffa knew exactly why they wanted it, writing in an email on September 22: ‘I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards “apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more”.’ But his conscience was troubled. ‘In reality the situation is not quite so simple - I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1,000 years ago.’

Another British scientist - Chris Folland of the Met Office’s Hadley Centre - wrote the same day that using Briffa’s data might be awkward, because it suggested the past was too warm. This, he lamented, ‘dilutes the message rather significantly’.

Over the next few days, Briffa, Jones, Folland and Mann emailed each other furiously. Mann was fearful that if Briffa’s trees made the IPCC diagram, ‘the sceptics [would] have a field day casting doubt on our ability to understand the factors that influence these estimates and, thus, can undermine faith [in them] - I don’t think that doubt is scientifically justified, and I’d hate to be the one to have to give it fodder!’

Finally, Briffa changed the way he computed his data and submitted a revised version. This brought his work into line for earlier centuries, and ‘cooled’ them significantly. But alas, it created another, potentially even more serious, problem. According to his tree rings, the period since 1960 had not seen a steep rise in temperature, as actual temperature readings showed - but a large and steady decline, so calling into question the accuracy of the earlier data derived from tree rings.

This is the context in which, seven weeks later, Jones presented his ‘trick’ - as simple as it was deceptive. All he had to do was cut off Briffa’s inconvenient data at the point where the decline started, in 1961, and replace it with actual temperature readings, which showed an increase. On the hockey stick graph, his line is abruptly terminated - but the end of the line is obscured by the other lines.

‘Any scientist ought to know that you just can’t mix and match proxy and actual data,’ said Philip Stott, emeritus professor of biogeography at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. They’re apples and oranges. Yet that’s exactly what he did.’ Since Warmergate-broke, some of the CRU’s supporters have claimed that Jones and his colleagues made a ‘full disclosure’ of what they did to Briffa’s data in order to produce the hockey stick.But as McIntyre points out, ‘contrary to claims by various climate scientists, the IPCC Third Assessment Report did not disclose the deletion of the post-1960 values’.

On the final diagram, the cut off was simply concealed by the other lines. By 2007, when the IPCC produced its fourth report, McIntyre had become aware of the manipulation of the Briffa data and Briffa himself, as shown at the start of this article, continued to have serious qualms.

McIntyre by now was an IPCC ‘reviewer’ and he urged the IPCC not to delete the post-1961 data in its 2007 graph. ‘They refused,’ he said, ‘stating this would be “inappropriate”.’ Yet even this, Pielke told me, may not ultimately be the biggest consequence of Warmergate.Some of the most controversial leaked emails concern attempts by Jones and his colleagues to avoid disclosure of the CRU’s temperature database - its vast library of readings from more than 1,000 weather stations around the world, the ultimate resource that records how temperatures have changed.

In one email from 2005, Jones warned Mann not to leave such data lying around on searchable websites, because ‘you never know who is trawling them’. Critics such as McIntyre had 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’. Yesterday Davies said that, contrary to some reports, none of this data has in fact been deleted. But in the wake of the scandal, its reliability too is up for grabs.

The problem is that, just like tree rings or ice cores, readings from thermometers or electronic ‘thermistors’ are open to interpretation. The sites of weather stations that were once open countryside become built up areas, so trapping heat, and the type of equipment used changes over time. The result is what climate scientists call ‘inhomogeneities’ - anomalies between readings that need to be ‘adjusted’. But can we trust the way such ‘adjustments’ are made? Last week, an article posted on a popular climate sceptic website analysed the data from the past 130 years in Darwin, Australia.

This suggested that average temperatures had risen there by about two degrees Celsius. However, the raw data had been ‘adjusted’ in a series of abrupt upward steps by exactly the same amount: without the adjustment, the Darwin temperature record would have stayed level.

In 2007, McIntyre examined records across America. He found that between 1999 and 2007, the US equivalent of the Met Office had changed the way it adjusted old data. The result was to make the Thirties seem cooler, and the years since 1990 much warmer. Previously, the warmest year since records began in America had been 1934. Now, in line with CRU and IPCC orthodoxy, it was 1998. At the CRU, said Davies, some stations’ readings were adjusted by unit and in such cases, raw and adjusted data could be compared.But in about 90 per cent of cases, the adjustment was carried out in the countries that collected the data, and the CRU would not know exactly how this had been done.

Davies said: ‘All I can say is that the process is careful and considered. To get the details, the best way would be to go the various national meteorological services.’ The consequences of that, Stott said, may be explosive. ‘If you take Darwin, the gap between the two just looks too big. ‘If that applies elsewhere, it’s going to get really interesting. It’s no longer going to be good enough for the Met Office and CRU to put the data out there.

‘To know we can trust it, we’ve got to know what adjustments have been made, and why.’ Last week, at the Copenhagen climate summit, the Met Office said that the Noughties have been the warmest decade in history. Depending on how the data has been adjusted, Stott said, that statement may not be true. Pielke agreed. ‘After Climategate, the surface temperature record is being called into question.’ To experts such as McIntyre and Pielke, perhaps the most baffling thing has been the near-unanimity over global warming in the world’s mainstream media - a unanimity much greater than that found among scientists.

Read David Rose's full article HERE.


Plato said...

It's an excellent and accurate summary of the scandal so far, isn't it :)

I'm surprised that the DT didn't run with first given the massive traction from James Delingpole, but perhaps it is more helpful that the MoS has done the job.

Three weeks ago such coverage would have been unthinkable - on Friday, R5 had a phone-in about whether it was 'okay' to come out as a 'denier'.

The fact that the penny has dropped is good news - it reminds me of the immigration/multi-cultural debate earlier this year.

Perhaps now some commonsense and a rational review of the 'science' can be undertaken. If some of stuff identified as 'temp data fiddling' proves to be true/widespread - the wheels will come off.

And perhaps Mr Cameron will now start to take heed.

James Mackenzie said...

Good god, Dale, this one's been done to death. The data from tree rings starts to get out of sync with actual 20th century temperatures.

Are you saying you'd rather use tree rings as a guide to temperature than actual data?

Norton Folgate said...

Perhaps the should, can tree ring data can be altered and falsified?

simon said...

It's a really good piece by a serious reporter who has looked hard and objectively at the evidence - something which few people in this debate (on either side) are prepared to do. It's not conclusive but it certainly raises questions about the scientific consensus (and I speak as someone who has so far been broadly convinced by the consensus).

More broadly, it shows the value of proper, research-based journalism, rather than the blowhard opinionising of know-nothings like Delingpole.

JPT said...

We've been had. Proper.

Plato said...

Mr McKenzie - you are missing the point.

It's about substituting one source of trend for another when the results go the 'wrong way'.

Why would anyone do that - and not mention it?

James Mackenzie said...

"Plato", your "scare quotes" are absurd.

Tree rings have been understood as a decent proxy for temperature, but the correlation started to break down.

If the actual measured 20th century temperatures don't match the tree ring predictions, I'd use the temperatures. Wouldn't you?

Daily Referendum said...


Yes they should use tree ring data as it is a lot harder to fiddle. Though even that has been done. The tree ring data used was taken from a select number of trees that matched the desired results of the so called climate "scientists".

Dodgy tree ring data

Mark M said...

James Mackenzie

You are missing the point. If tree ring data diverges from actual temperatures in the 20th century, what's to say that they accurately represent temperatures from the past?

We use tree ring data as a substitute for real temperature data because, obviously, we don't have real data stretching back that far. But if we are to use a proxy we need to be confident in its accuracy, and this divergence shows we cannot rely on tree ring data.

Are you saying you believe that tree-rings matched actual temperatures throughout history and then, for whatever reason, decided they couldn't be bothered doing that once the 20th century came about? Who's really in denial?

econyonium said...

Mr Mackenzie misses the point and apparently did not read what is written. It is not about current temperatures, it is about historic ones. The point being it is important to the Warmists to show that past temperatures - particularly in the Mediaevil Warm Period - were lower than current.

The proxy data series in question purports to support this.

However the latter part of the series does not correlate with instrument readings therefore it questions the validity of the whole series as reliable in "proving" past temperatures were lower than today.

The "trick" was to stop the data series at the point of divergence and graft on instrument readings.

Mixing data like this is not science and they did not mention they had done so.

It is important to show "unprecedented" current warming to correlate with rising CO2 emissions to "prove" a Man-made signature. Unfortunately correlation as proof of causality is not science either - logical fallacy.

So to be clear. They used a "trick" to mislead lay observers (politicians, media, public) by exaggerating a logical fallacy.

Tricky indeed.

tapestry said...

The uniformity of media reporting shows that money buys media.

Daily Referendum said...

If I had my way, we would Polygraph the "scientists" before we spend billions to fight a life giving gas.

The King of Wrong said...

@James Mackenzie:
It's not (as some of the Mail on Sunday's wording could suggest) that the temperatures shown by the trees are getting colder...

It's that the trees are completely wrong (after '81 for Mann, after '61 for Briffa) and therefore useless as a proxy. If they can't agree with what we've measured in other ways, they cannot tell us anything about what things were like before corroborating measurements.

They are not a "decent proxy", they are worthless, which is why the decline had to be hidden. It really is that simple.

Plato said...

If you'd like a little chuckle - this is what the media/climate scientists were saying in the 70s.

Increasing CO2 will cause global cooling and another ice age

I always wondered what happened to this theory too.

dave coren said...

"Tree rings have been understood as a decent proxy for temperature, but the correlation started to break down."

Actually, James Mackenzie, it was not the correlation that broke down, it was the theory. Cooling became evident in the rings and this was rather inconvenient for people being paid a fortune in grants to find and report warming.

In science, if a finding does not fit with what was expected, you investigate it further. You don't simply discount the evidence after a certain date because it contradicts your prejudice.

You certainly don't take a plot of tree rings to a certain point and substitute that evidence with a completely different kind of data to provide a false impression. Especially when the different kind of data are ground station readings that have been subject to 'corrections' (manipulation).

Man in a Shed said...

Iain - I'd go with climategate as key word. It'll keep the issue high in search rankings. The more variations that get used, the less impact it has.

Norton Folgate said...


You can't keep referring people back to data when it and the scientists are tainted and untrustworthy.

Johnny Norfolk said...


When are people going to wake up.

You can fool some of the people..........

cassandra said...

The cracks are starting to show in the so called 'consensus' now.
People are starting to ask some very awkward questions indeed and well done to those with a platform who are now feeling able to speak up.

All the billions of pounds wasted so far by the UK alone and all the billions now promised and all for nothing, the tragedy of our energy matrix in decay and crying out for updating with real power units that actually work for a reasonable cost.

No wonder our Mr Dale is finding it difficult to gain a well deserved place at Westminster, he has a mind of his own and knows how to use it, that is tantamount to the highest crime in the new modern Westminster regional EU assembly, how long before only robots need apply to be an MP?
BTW Iain should be proud that he is not felt to have the 'right stuff' to be a modern brain dead nodding head MP.

Daily Referendum said...

From what I can gather from reading about this in several places is this:

1) The "scientists" wanted to get rid of the medieval warming period.

2) They had a large batch of tree rings.

3) They chose the 10 that showed the lowest medieval warming.

4) They said "bugger!" when they realised that these 10 tree ring samples also showed that there had been no significant warming in the last few decades.

5) They fudged the graph to hide the lack of recent warming shown by the tree rings.

6) We found out. They called us deniers/idiots/assholes.

Thatsnews said...

They really HAVE sold us a load of old rubbish, haven't they?

iCowboy said...

For someone who posts so many stories about how climate change is a fraud Iain, you don't seem to do any basic checks of your sources. But perhaps you were waiting for the Mail to put it into small words.

The divergence between tree data and measured temperatures in the latter part of the 20th Century is a well-known issue with climatologists - and there is no accepted explanation as yet. It's removed because there are alternative, more accurate sources.

What's strange is that the Mail and the rest of the deniers focus on one data set - which climatologists admit is problematic - and appear to ignore all the others that are trending upwards in lock-step. Are we now meant to believe that geologists, botanists, zoologists, oceanographers are all in on the grand conspiracy?

As for being a well-researched article; that's bollocks as well.

Mercury thermometer - so what? There were water and alcohol thermometers before then, mercury is just more convenient because it allows for smaller instruments.

1934 vs. 1998 - the difference is 0.01 Celsius between those two years, but the statistics definitely show that 1998 sits well within a warm period, 1934 was generally cooler.

They're trying to make out that the Medieval Warm Period is contentious amongst climatologists. Errr no it's not. What climatologists argue about is the geographical extent and precise duration of the MWP as, unlike the current warming, it is neither global and did not occur at the same time in all places.

As for Greenland's frozen farms - bzzt! They're not frozen and never were. As the MWP waned, they became incapable of supporting the pastureland farming techniques of the Norse, and that's why they died out.

And it'll be a sad day when the Mail - the paper that caused kids to die or become brain injured by their promotion of the MMR causes autism scandal - becomes treated as a serious scientific journal.

Cynic said...

What's slowly emerging is that the entire data set used to draw these horrendous conclusions is unreliable.

neil craig said...

To say that the actual measurements must trump tree ring data presupposes that the measurements are all accurate. This is agrred by both sides not to be so. We have places where the measuring device has been moved. More often we haver places which were in countryside a century ago but which has now been built up & built up areas are uniformly warmer than surrounding countryside. In one cases the measurer was now close to an air conditioning outlet.

Thus tree rings (or Greenland ice cores which recently showed the medieval warming to be a degree warmer than now) are less susceptible to error than human measurements. Even if that were not so choosing & varying what figures you use at different times as useful is fraud & guarantees, purely because there is always random variations, figures which do not reflect reality.

A couple of years ago Stephen McIntyre got access to US figures, which are probably the most complete if only because the US had no invading armies. He corrected them in light of the urban heat island effect & other problems & his corrections were accepted even by Hansen. They showed 1934 not 1998 was the warmest & the 1930s the warmest decade. This was, of course, censored by the BBC fascists here on the grounds that that was just US figures & the rest of the world figures showed warming. This is clearly now a lie too.

I understand why many Conservatives do not want to question the party line adopted by comrade Cameron. However that catastrophic warming is a fraud is now simply a statement of proven fact. It is not something that can be changed by the will of politicians - the world is not significantly warming (quite the reverse now). The comparison with Lysenko is close. However many trillions this fraud costs it cannot survive because it cannot change the facts.

John said...

James Mackenzie misses the point entirely.

"Are you saying you'd rather use tree rings as a guide to temperature than actual data?"

It is the nature of the "actual data" that is being called into question. The fact that a scientist refuses to disclose the data or specify why/how they changed the data is very alarming and goes against the whole ethos of scientific endeavour.

leatherhead said...

A Canadian statistician, Steve McIntyre has been in the lead in questioning the CRU graphs based on tree rings from the Yamal peninsula in Siberia. Originally the CRU refused to release their data. They finally yielded to pressure from the Royal Society when the data was published a few weeks ago, insisted on the rule being obeyed. Using this data McIntyre showed that the CRU studies were based on cherry-picking from hundreds of Siberian tree samples only to leave those that showed the picture that was wanted. Only the evidence from one tree, YADO61, showed a "hockey stick" pattern, which led McIntyre to dub it "the most influential tree in the world".
The point of all this is to demonstrate that using “proxy” data for global temperatures (like tree rings) is riddled with problems. Even actual temperature data from local field stations are subject, over time to environmental effects such as heat effects from creeping urbanisation or, changes in measurement technology. Only satellite data can truly measure global temperatures but, conveniently for the “Warmists” this data is really only available from the late ‘70’s. The data does show a warming trend but, strangely only from around the mid 90’s.
Always beware when politicians & politically funded scientists step into the scientific arena. The science of AGW is NOT settled ....either way!

Plato said...

Mr Cowboy - would you like to cite some sources for your assertion that Viking farms in Greenland were never abandoned due to being covered in white stuff all year round?

I'd be very interested in reading them as I haven't come across these so far.

Plato said...

I thought readers here would be interested in this - the data for the Antarctic temperature rise seems a little - well - cherry picked

Sobers said...

Follow the money and career advancement possibilities. For the last 10-20 years, who has had the most reasearch grants and promotions, the warmists or the sceptics? If you are an ambitious and fairly unscrupulous scientist, which argument are you going to side with, and try to 'prove'?

The whole edifice lies on a few crucial people who control the 3 climate research units, 2 in the USA and one here in the UK. You fall out with them, and you lose your grant, your credibility and probably your job. Most people, when faced with a) increased money and prestige vs b) penury and ridicule, choose the former, whatever their intellectual qualms.

Principles don't pay your mortgage or feed your family.

The Augean Stables need a good clean out. There's a lot of crap to be got rid of.

Roger Thornhill said...

And it is always good to remind ourselves that the IPCC report was issued first in the POLICYMAKERS version, ie get the policy locked in globally before all those Inconvenient Lies come out.

It was true what that hectoring Danish woman said at the openning of Copenhagen - "This is our last chance". Yes, last chance before your scam is found out and a brake can be put on global binding agreements, supranational control of Nation States, emerging country rip-off and bullying, developed country taxation and of course China managing to get the west to pay for their new infrastructure so it can take it over even faster, while it laughs. They wanted - and got, from the useful idiots - praise for promising to reduce the RATE of growth in CO2 by 40%. Not the growth, just the rate of growth. Er, excuse me? Recession in your main markets cough cough, normal modernisation cough cough. Pathetic.

Nigel said...

>>excellent and accurate summary<<

The bit in the article about Darwin is more than a little iffy.
There's a fairly detailed discussion of the Darwin temperature readings here:

dazmando said...

We could cut down all the trees which would halt all potentially unreliable future data.

john in cheshire said...

I long for the day when everyone stops arguing about the minutiae of what is being done to us and focus on the main event.
To encourage the politicians, the scientists, and the lobbyists to come, some of the current liars and charlatans have to be sacrificed.
I vote for the UEA CRU team to be culled. Followed by Monbiot, Obama and the King of Saudi Arabia (since he seems to think that he should be recompensed for us proles using less oil).

thehoatzin said...

Try reading this:

See: Proc. Natl Acad. Sci USA 105, 13252–13257 (2008)

Without inclusion of the tree-ring measurements, the data still showed that recent
warming is greater than at any point in at least the past 1,300 years.

So sorry to disturb your shouting match.

Daily Referendum said...

The level of corruption is staggering. Read This

I was sceptical before. Now I'm convinced this is a massive money making con.

neil craig said...

Recent ice cores in Greenland have confirmed it was 1 C warmer in the Middle ages (Greenland didn't melt).

Far from it being warmest over 1,300 years it isn't warmer than in 1934 (by US figures which are checkable unlike what the CRU has claimed to produce).

Glad Hoatzin at least doesn't deny that it is colder than the Climate Optimum (5,000 - 9,700 BC) which was up to 4 degrees warmer. Greenland didn't melt then either though the mid-Sahara had hippos. How catastrophic.

Yet again the eco-fascists show they have no respect whatsoever for facts. I don't believe your claim to be sorry either Hoatzin.

JD said...


Plato said...

Nigel - unfortunately the journalist you reference appears to have form.

I've never read his stuff, but he does seem to be 'on-side' in his matey conversations with those who are promoting warming.

trevorsden said...

@ the hoatzin --- nope. If you look at the very first graph of 1000+ years history the IPCC used it clearly --- clearly ---- showed that the MWP was significantly warmer than today.

This did not suit the narrative and it was dropped.

icowboy is also missing the same point as McKenzie, he says...
"The divergence between tree data and measured temperatures in the latter part of the 20th Century is a well-known issue with climatologists - and there is no accepted explanation as yet. It's removed because there are alternative, more accurate sources."
First its from the middle part onward and also from when we start to get accurate satellite measures of atmospheric temps. If the tree ring proxies do not match the current temp records - then how on earth can we trust the proxies ??
All icowboy is postulating is that 'scientist' cherry pick the temperature record which suits their prejudice.

The whole point is that no one disputes warming - temperatures have been warming since about 1700. The point is there have been equivalent warmings in the past and that mans input is relatively small. This is an inconvenient truth which warmists seek to obliterate.

Certainly there is no basis for the urgent action which as we see now is concentrated on doling out idiot sums to 3rd world dictators and creating a framework for massive international fraud.

Sane sensible thought through energy conservation measures along with careful management of our natural habitat is quite sufficient to preserve our existence. But nothing we can do can halt the natural cycle of the planets climate.

Frugal Dougal said...

Hopefully the Copenhagen elders will be forced to admit what they're really doing, which is laying down the precepts of a new religion, as opposed to anything connected in any way to science.

John said...

@Daily Referendum

I too read that Telegraph Article this morning. I was so shocked and saddened that I sent an email to my brother about it as it affects our region.

This scenario is exactly what I have suspected is being perpetrated under the guise of this AGW scam.

Russ Williams said...

"For someone who posts so many stories about how climate change is a fraud Iain, you don't seem to do any basic checks of your sources."

The same can be said about you, iCowboy. I've just checked your claim that 1934 was only negligibly (0.01 degree C) warmer than 1998 - according to the raw daily data from the NOAA, it's false.

1934 was, on my analysis of the data, 0.8-0.9 degrees C warmer than 1998.

andanotherthing said...

The whole Climate Change thing is getting out of hand. Can someone please restrain Gordon from giving away more of our money. Its now gone up to £1.6 billion to help third world countries combat Climate Change, and there are rumours that he might increase it again. I hope he explains in detail to Parliament how much our taxes will have to go up to pay for this and why. But somehow i doubt it.

John said...

As a general point.

I find it amazingly arrogant of humankind to believe that we have such a catastrophic effect on the world's climate by upping the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by a relatively small amount. 500 million years ago the level was 10x the current level. That was then converted by plant life into the fossil fuel we are currently using.

The world's climate survived the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 75 million years ago. The world's climate survived the super volcano that created Yellowstone in the USA.

If either of these two events happened today we would probably be wiped out. The world's climate will survive.

Just because we have built many beautiful cities at sea level, why do we presume that the sea level must stay the same from now on? The sea level always has and will change due to the changing climate.

One problem we have as a species is the fact that we are so egocentric. We assume that because we live her and now that the Earth's climate should somehow remain stable so it is suitable for us.

In my opinion, the greatest danger we face is global cooling. If this happens (as has been the case for 90% of the time in the last 500 million years) we will lose most agriculture and the human population will go to well below current levels due to starvation.

James Mackenzie said...

Quick sceptic survey:
1: The Arctic summer sea ice isn't gradually diminishing year-on-year.
2: The Arctic summer sea ice is gradually diminishing but not because of climate change - some other reason applies.
3: The Arctic summer sea ice is gradually diminishing because of climate change, but that climate change is unrelated to CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions.

If you answered 1., then you must also assume some socialist conspiracy has captured the US's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

If you answered 2., you must assume the US Geological Survey has been captured by the same socialist conspiracy.

If you answered 3., you do not accept the greenhouse effect, a function of basic physics, and Nasa must have been captured. I know you think that already, because the existence of James Hansen and his extraordinary body of work annoys you every day.

The facts are these:
a. Atmospheric CO2 and other gases cause the greenhouse effect. This is nearly 200 year old science. I'd love to see sceptics here deny it.
b. Atmospheric CO2 is at a higher level than ever seen in the ice core data, in the upper 300s of parts per million. It's risen by more than a fifth since the 1960s.
c. The main reasons for this are deforestation, burning of fossil fuel, and (increasingly) feedback loops from warming effects, especially melting tundra.
d. The last decade was the warmest since global surface temperature measurements began in 1860.
e. The consequences of this warming are experienced as extreme weather conditions, loss of sea ice (see above, which increases feedback as white reflective ice is replaced by dark water), desertification, food shortages, water shortages etc.

The sceptics will have a lot to answer for if world governments don't find an internationally fair and effective way to start cutting our emissions this week. As the sea waters rise I'll be disinclined to throw you a rope.

James Mackenzie said...

Also, look "credible". Good work Neil.

thehoatzin said...

Try Ben Goldacre, who writes at an 'educated man in the street level'

Michael said...

Good grief! Another posting illustrating why you really should approach matters of science with great caution. Why would anyone use tree ring data for measuring temperature in the 20th Century when there is a very clear record from thermometers and satellites. Tree rings are one strand of evidence that is a bit useful for periods when there weren't hundred of people measuring temperature with precision instruments.

The really interesting thing about this is the apparent obsessive need of some to find reasons to deny the science of climate change. I think the reason reason is easily understood: that you don't like where it leads... you worry that it leads to a lot more government, more regulation and tax, global redistribution, constraints on consumption etc. And no wonder - who wants all those things?

But the fact you don't like where it might lead doesn't change the physical reality. Time for you to examine your motives and work out why you are such a willing booster for contrived scientific nonsense, yet have no obvious desire to weigh the evidence. Yes, you've read the Mail on Sunday... but have you had a go at the IPCC summary for policymakers? What's in there that you disagree with? You could also have a little browse through The Copenhagen Diagnosis by University of New South Wales, giving an account of the most recent science - and on the way through administering a thorough rubbishing to most of the sceptics' denial arguments.

It's frustrating to find much of the right in denial, when it should be engaged in making this work through markets, private sector innovation, stopping extreme waste in the response (like the renewables obligation), and holding the government to account for talking up its commitments and doing very little to deliver. As with Europe, there is a good critique to be made - but mindless denial just leaves you standing on the sidelines looking stupid.

One final thing - for every sceptic that denies the authoritative assessment of the IPCC, there are many scientists that believe the situation is much worse and more unstable than the negotiated 'balance' of the IPCC implies.

Tyler Durden said...

Regarding tree ring data:

By no means can ANY tree ring data be described to be accurate. Essentially ancient tree rings are compared to modern trees (where we have a temp record to give an approximation of temperatures.

However, the links between temperature and tree growth rates are non-linear at best, and many other factors have to be taken into account. Likewise, it is actually hard to even accurately age fossilized tree rings.

As such, you really have to be very careful when using tree ring data as a temp proxy at the ebst of times and arguably more so now we know about how the data has bene manipulated.

thehoatzin said...

From Ben Goldacre's Bad Science column

More than all that, I can spot the same rhetorical themes re-emerging in climate change foolishness that you see in aids denialism, homeopathy, and anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists.

Among all these, reigning supreme, is the "zombie argument": arguments which survive to be raised again, for eternity, no matter how many times they are shot down. "Homeopathy worked for me," and the rest.

Zombie arguments survive, immortal and resistant to all refutation, because they do not live or die by the normal standards of mortal arguments. There's a huge list of them at, with refutations. There are huge lists of them everywhere. It makes no difference.

"CO2 isn't an important greenhouse gas", "Global warming is down to the sun", "what about the cooling in the 1940s?" says your party bore. "Well," you reply, "since the last time you raised this, I checked, and there were loads of sulphites in the air in the 1940s to block out the sun, made from the slightly different kind of industrial pollution we had then, and the odd volcano, so that's been answered already, ages ago."

And they knew that. And you know they knew you could find out, but they went ahead anyway and wasted your time, and worse than that, you both know they're going to do it again, to some other poor sap. And that is rude.

AnOnEye said...

Good lord! Your coverage of this gets more absurd, as do the comments on here. Never has the phrase 'I'm not a scientist but...' be so used by so many for the benefit of so few.

Iain, are you really going to take the Mail (the same newspaper which 'reports' that the Queen is retiring because the Treasury is working out how to adapt royal finance in light of the changes in William's role in the next few years) seriously on a topic as complicated as climate change?

PLEASE apply a bit more rigour to this topic. Your coverage had been disappointing to say the least.

Nigel said...

>>Why would anyone use tree ring data for measuring temperature in the 20th Century when there is a very clear record from thermometers and satellites. <<

To see how well the data correlates with directly recorded temperatures, in order to get some idea of the accuracy of 'proxy' measures.

There's a useful PDF on such stuff here:

The fact that institutions such as the NOAA have discussed the uncertainties in proxy data in great (and public) detail over the years is pretty clear demonstration of how ridiculous are the conspiracy theories peddled by some here.

Joe Public said...

If "AGW" is so obvious, why did a world-renowned Professor at the country's leading Climate Study University have to fiddle the figures to try to show it was happening?

cassandra said...


Never have I read a post that so perfectly encapsulates the AAM cultists mentality, the party bore quoting tired old cliches and insults with no regard to the fact that they would far better fit the accuser, I guess the concept of irony is too difficult a concept to grasp.

The amount of 'yeah but no but yeah'
justifications sound more hollow and boringly repetitive as each revelation of fraud and fakery is uncovered.
The party bore is in fact the loud minority of AAM cultists spouting the same old set routine time after time.
The saddest thing is that rather than add your own constructive contribution to the debate by countering the details of the post, you fall back on the same tired old routine, the good thing is that most people can see an escape and evade reply quite clearly, you people have been rumbled.

Osama the Nazarene said...

Its very interesting how the BBC trumpeted the recently released information that "the last decade has been the warmest in history". To someone not following this whole saga of deceit in detail they would have taken this sort of information at face value. Propaganda eh!

The King of Wrong said...

@James Mackenzie:

Fact checking time!

a) Arrhenius calculated that every doubling the atmospheric CO2 concentration would result in a temperature increase of 1.6C. Therefore the claims of 6C by 2100 implies going from 385ppm to 5200ppm, which is nearly an order of magnitude larger than predicted. Your ball.

b) The level is what it is. Unless you can show that that level is somehow harmful, I suggest you go on about your business.
Also, from the ice core data, CO2 increases lag temperature increases by about 700 years, so we're just as likely to be seeing the effects of the Medieval Warm Period as the Industrial Revolution.

c) The climate is dominated by negative feedback, because if it were positive feedback then the planet would have either frozen or boiled and stayed that way.

d) Almost certainly false. The '30s were warm.

e) Exactly the same claims that were made about "global cooling". Except that warm weather and CO2 actually encourage crop growth. Unlike permafrost.

Nigel said...


>>I've never read his stuff, but he does seem to be 'on-side' in his matey conversations<<

So you make your judgements ad hominem ?
I thought this was about the science (about which, FWIW, I remain sceptical) ?

sebire said...

Like anyone is going consider the Mail to be a fantastic source for scientific information.

Iain, that article seems to take half of its from this Stott fellow who has never even published a single climate-related paper. You may as well take quotes from me - anyone can write a book on climate change.

That Darwin "adjustment" thing is addressed here:

Moreover, the discussion as to whether the world was warmer or cooler in the past is not as relevant as identifying what the cause of clearly obvious recent warming has been:

"But how strong is this warming effect? That is the only fundamental doubt about anthropogenic climate change that can still be legitimately debated. We climatologists describe this in terms of the climate sensitivity, the warming that results in equilibrium from a doubling of CO2. The IPCC gives the uncertainty range as 1.5-4.5 ºC. Only if this is wrong, and the true value is lower, can we escape the fact that unabated emissions of greenhouse gases will lead to the warming projected by the IPCC.

Chances for that are not good. A new large uncertainty analysis that appeared this week in Nature shows that it is very difficult to get a climate sensitivity below 2 ºC in a climate model, no matter how one changes the parameters...

The discussions about the past millennium are not discussions about whether humans are changing climate; neither do they affect our projections for the future. In fact, if humanity takes no action and this century will bring a temperature rise of 2 ºC, 3 ºC or even more, the current discussions over whether the 14th Century was a few tenths of a degree warmer or the 17th a few tenths cooler than previously thought will look rather academic."

Nigel said...

On a lighter statistical note - according to Fox TV, 120% of Americans have an opinion on Climategate:

iain said...

The AGW ecotaleban have been well and truly rumbled.

I would take an angle grinder to every windmill in this country, drop a daisy-cutter on the UEA, and give Anthony Watts a nobel prize.

'And if I read one more person saying '...but it doesn't change the science' I shall thcream and thcream until I'm thick.

James Mackenzie said...

Who'd have thought someone hiding behind the pseudonym "The King of Wrong" could be so wrong.

So, from the top:

a) Arrhenius has been dead since the 1920s. His work was certainly useful but has been rather superceded now.

b) As per my option 3, you do not accept the scientific validity of the greenhouse effect. Perhaps you could explain why they're all wrong about that.

c) I agree, the planet is good at negative feedback, but its atmosphere has also changed radically over the years and so too its temperatures. Some events (early spread of plants, meteor strikes, volcanic activity, El Niño, massive release of aeons' worth of stored CO2) do manage to get it to tipping points, a concept I'm sure you're familiar with.

d) The Met Office hold data that says you're wrong, discussed here. Can you tell me why I should believe you and not them?

e) You're right, claims, now disproved, were made made about global cooling in the 1970s. Plenty of folk then knew they were nonsense. Furthermore, your crowd love to compare yourself to Galileo. In fact, I can hear your ancestors now: "they said the sun revolved around the earth and that's not true - the last thing we should do is start listening to this new conspiracy that the earth revolves around the sun. I mean, is anything actually revolving here?"

Pogo said...

@James Mackenzie, December 13, 2009 5:52:

The facts are these:
a. Atmospheric CO2 and other gases cause the greenhouse effect. This is nearly 200 year old science. I'd love to see sceptics here deny it.

Arrhenius's work on CO2 is actually very inaccurately described as the "Greenhouse Effect"... It's a reasonably close (at least his second shot at it was) approximation of the effect of CO2 on heat absorbtion, but in real life greenhouses don't work by their action upon radiation, they work by reducing convection.

There's also an equally plausible theory that CO2 increases atmospheric temperature purely by its effect on the adiabatic lapse rate.

b. Atmospheric CO2 is at a higher level than ever seen in the ice core data, in the upper 300s of parts per million.

Sorry... Completely wrong... It's been some 15 times higher than at present, during an ice age in fact.

Also, the Tripati et al paper states quite unequivocally (my paraphrase) that "15 million years ago was the last time that CO2 levels were as high as today, at which time the temperature was between 5 and 10 degrees F (bloody yanks!!) warmer and sea levels were 75 to 120 feet higher" - which to a logical mind suggests that CO2 and temperature are not very closely coupled!

c. The main reasons for this are deforestation, burning of fossil fuel, and (increasingly) feedback loops from warming effects, especially melting tundra.

Melting tundra is responsible for methane, not CO2. Not that it's happening...

d. The last decade was the warmest since global surface temperature measurements began in 1860.

That may be the case, but until the temperature record can be validated and the effects of some of the "adjustments" accounted for, it's not really possible to state that with any degree of confidence.

e. The consequences of this warming are experienced as extreme weather conditions, loss of sea ice (see above, which increases feedback as white reflective ice is replaced by dark water), desertification, food shortages, water shortages etc.

Extreme weather conditions - what "extreme..."? The hurricane count is down, and there's no evidence of any present weather being any more extreme than it's been in the past...

Loss of sea ice The arctic ice has been somewhat reduced a couple of years ago, but appears to be almost back to average.

Reflective ice... ISTR reading that the effective albedo of slightly dirty ice is lower than that of open water at high latitudes because with low incident angles water reflects rather than absorbs.

food shortages etc have been mainly caused by the absurd policy of using foodstocks in the production of biofuels, forcing the prices up and reducing the quantity available for human consumption.

The sceptics will have a lot to answer for if world governments don't find an internationally fair and effective way to start cutting our emissions this week.

I fear that the "solution" to a none-existant problem is likely to be far more destructive to mankind than a slight degree of natural warming.

As the sea waters rise I'll be disinclined to throw you a rope.

True, they are rising... At 2 to 3 millimetres a year, the same as they've been doing since measurements started.

Unless you're planning on living for a very long time,I guess that the rope won't be necessary.

The King of Wrong said...

@James Mackenzie:

a) One minute you're saying that the science of the greenhouse effect has been settled for 200 years, the next minute it's changed significantly since the 1920s.

b) I reject all three of your options. Much as I'm sure you'd like to pigeonhole me with a straw-man argument, you can whistle for it.

But the "greenhouse effect" does not suggest that a fixed amount of CO2 in the atmosphere will lead to exponential warming, only that an exponential increase in CO2 will cause a linear increase in temperature.

Since the CO2 concentration is what it is, and the temperature is what it is, we're not in imminent danger from either. There's certainly no need to reduce CO2 to 350ppm (or even 250ppm) as the current temperature isn't hot enough to need cooling, which is rather unfortunate news for those scaremongering campaigns.

c) Yes, I'm familiar with tipping points. They don't apply within an order of magnitude of our CO2 levels or several degrees of temperature, on account of both having occurred in the past and not destroyed the planet. Sorry if that pisses on your bonfire.

d) The Met Office that's currently re-doing 160 years of its temperature record? I don't care who you believe - I'd suggest you get the temperature data from NOAA and see for yourself whether the last decade is the warmest. The weather stations I've checked don't show that the last decade was the hottest, and I'm dubious about the methodology involved in combining them into a "global" measure which says something different to its component parts.

Oh, and you might care to note that the Met Office has issued almost identical "warmest year evah!" predictions for the last three years - yet still has 1998 as the hottest on record. They can't even get the weather right two days ahead!

Anon E Mouse said...


jbw said...

Excellent article here on the "The madness of crowds".

dizzy said...

Plato said...

Iain - you may be interested to know that David Rose who wrote the Mail article has never written on climate science before - he's just a very good investigative journalist who bothered to check his facts with an expert.

What a gold standard that chap has set - quite restored my faith in the profession.

Here's the link to his comment left on the ClimateAudit website

neil craig said...

James lets take your assertion that the NOAA must be right about Arctic ice retreating, despite satellite photos clearly showing the opposite unless they have been captured by a "socialist conspiracy".

The overwhelming evidence is that the warming scam has ben pushed by government (which you may thus call socialist) worldwide. That government has put up 10s of billions in grants to alarmists, while suggesting imprisonment to Exxon executives for dontating $125,000 for independent research.

It has been commented that a very large proportion of public sceptics are emeritus (retired) professors not subjct to grant applications.

So yes it does indeed look like a conspiracy.

However you can disprove this in a simple manner.

We are repeatedly told by politicians & tame journalist, among whom there certainly is a consensus, that there is a "scientific consensus", despite the 10s of thousnads who have openly disagreed. If so can you name only 2 scientists who say we are suffering catastrophic warming & who are not paid by government or alarmist lobbies. Sounds simple doesn't it & if warming were not a complete fraud it would be but I have asked alarmist politicians & blogs (inc realclimate) to name 2 & none of them have been able to.#

Hoatzin - your claim about "zombie arguments" is beneath contempt when your alarmist claims have ben repeatedly disproven on here & yet you simply refuse to answer them & return next time with the same rubbish & the stake removed from its heart.

DocRichard said...

An interesting characteristic of the western bristlecone pines is that their recent growth has markedly increased — ring widths have been higher than in previous decades. Previous studies have debated to what extent this “fact” is real, or just an artifact of the way tree-ring data are analyzed. Because the growth of trees is radial, as trees get older and the diameter of a tree increases, annual ring widths decline in thickness. This is the normal “growth function” that is commonly removed from measurements before further analysis is carried out. The trick is to do this carefully so that as much climate information is retained while the growth function is discarded, and dendroclimatologists know how to do this quite well.

This growth anomaly is the "trick" that Phil Jones was using. It is discussed there in the scientific literature.

So what all this excitement amounts to is that the doubters have taken one line referring to a standard adjustment to data and are using it to attempt to imply that all climate science is tainted.

In fact, we can take the dendrochronology out of the picture entirely, and we still see a rise in global temperature from all the other data sources.

Good story. Pity about the facts.

Nigel said...

@ Plato,
>>What a gold standard that chap has set - quite restored my faith in the profession.<<

Printing the 'Darwin' story without any reference to an easily found rebuttal (which you haven't bothered to address either) -
- is hardly gold standard.

Confirmation bias ? :)

The King of Wrong said...

"Good story. Pity about the facts."

Right back at you!

Your 'explanation' is entirely different from that of Phil Jones himself. That was the second (of four) updates on the UEA homepage, the third was him stepping down, and the fourth was the appointment of Sir Muir Russell to head the independent inquiry.

You might want to take a look at the graphs attached to that press release. One, showing a sharp and faked rise, published on the front cover of the 1999 WMO report; the other, not showing anything close to that, made from the (truncated) real data.

Still, I guess statements direct from the parties involved aren't as much fun as tales of bristlecone pines, eh?

Real said...


So why is David Cameron still so keen about green taxes? Isn't it about time that DC announced that he was a sceptic too?

neil craig said...

"Fool me once shame on you,
Fool me twice shame on me"

There would be little shame attaching to Cameron if he were to say publicly that he had been shocked, shocked I tell you, to find the degree of fraud that has apparently been going on, that the whole thing should be reassessed & that there should by a public Parliamentary enquiry, taking evidence under oath on the entire warming question, including whether the Labour government & other ones, had used their grant giving power to promote alarmism & squash any scientific research of a sceptical nature (scepticism being a cardinal scientific virtue).

DocRichard said...

@King of Wrong.
I can see no clash between the account I copied from Real Climate and the account given by Jones himself.

Tree ring thickness is a good proxy for climate in the inner rings, ring width being proportional to temperature. Outer rings are stretched thin, so inferred temperatures will, wrongly, be cooler. They have to make an adjustment for this.

Tree rings are only one line of inquiry, and can be set aside if oyu prefer, because there are several other data sources that tell the same story.

End of story.
Except deniers have pumped it up into a media perception that "proves" that all climate scientists manipulate their data all the time.

The King of Wrong said...

@DocRichard: how convenient that "outer rings are stretched thin" all from the same point in time, despite trees being different ages and that explanation implying a gradual effect. That doesn't sound at all like a post-hoc rationalisation for why the data doesn't show what you expect. And it most certainly is not an excuse for just pretending that those values don't exist - the decline should be shown and dealt with in the text.

The statement says "This email referred to a “trick” of adding recent instrumental data to the end of temperature reconstructions that were based on proxy data. [...] To produce temperature series that were completely up-to-date (i.e. through to 1999) it was necessary to combine the temperature reconstructions with the instrumental record, because the temperature reconstructions from proxy data ended many years earlier whereas the instrumental record is updated every month."

Even if there's an arguably-valid reason for truncating the series early, there is no possible justification for padding that series with (unacknowledged) data from another source to give the impression of a single continuous record. That would strike me as being blatant academic fraud, and I will be interested to read Sir Muir Russell's report.

You claim that there are "other data sources" that corroborate the tree rings. Perhaps. But the tree ring data was used to provide the IPCC's version of the last 1000 years' temperatures, so they clearly thought it was important in 2007. Now, when the wheels have fallen off, it's just a minor adjunct to the real story? Not buying it. The "Nae True Scotsman" fallacy has no place in what's alleged to be science.