ClimateGate: 30 years in the making

The ClimateGate timeline from Mohib Ebrahim, found at Joanne Nova’s place.

You have to see this up close to believe it. Look up close and admire the detail while you despair at how long science has been going off the rails. To better appreciate the past and what was exposed by the CRU emails, the Timeline chart consolidates and chronologically organizes the information uncovered and published about the CRU emails by many researchers along with some related contextual events. That the chart exists at all is yet another example of how skilled experts are flocking in to the skeptics’ position and dedicating hours of time pro bono because they are passionately motivated to fight against those who try to deceive us.

I’ve been working on a post on the interdependence between the CRU dataset, NASA’s GISS, and NOAA’s NCDC; All rely heavily on the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN), home of the Great Thermometer Die Off.  This paragraph sums up what I’ve learned to date; lots of holes
in the record as thermometers are deleted, and lots of heavily processed data that may not make sense anymore.

What about the supposedly independent temperature records of NASA’s GISS and NOAA’s NCDC? CRU, GISS and NCDC get most of their raw data from NOAA’s GHCN. [50] [1255298593.txt] Serious irregularities and questionable adjustments are starting to surface with the source GHCN data itself. [50] [60] [62] [67] [72] [77] [114] [132] [168] [171] “The number of actual weather observation points used as a starting point for world average temperatures has been reduced from about 6,000 in the 1970s to about 1,500 in the most recent years [in the NCDC data]…. [A]nd in the final NASA/GIStemp data file, it drops to about 1,000,” most below 60 degrees latitude, where temperatures are naturally warmer. [168:1] And so, like the Three Musketeers, the CRU, GISS and NOAA temperature records stand or fall together.

Check it out.

And the hits just keep coming

Oopsie, more trouble for the IPCC.

In its most recent report, it stated that observed reductions in mountain ice in the Andes, Alps and Africa was being caused by global warming, citing two papers as the source of the information.

However, it can be revealed that one of the sources quoted was a feature article published in a popular magazine for climbers which was based on anecdotal evidence from mountaineers about the changes they were witnessing on the mountainsides around them.

The other was a dissertation written by a geography student, studying for the equivalent of a master’s degree, at the University of Berne in Switzerland that quoted interviews with mountain guides in the Alps.

The revelations, uncovered by The Sunday Telegraph, have raised fresh questions about the quality of the information contained in the report, which was published in 2007.

More high quality, peer-review “Science” from the IPCC.  And people are beginning to notice.

Professor Richard Tol, one of the report’s authors who is based at the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin, Ireland, said: “These are essentially a collection of anecdotes.

“Why did they do this? It is quite astounding. Although there have probably been no policy decisions made on the basis of this, it is illustrative of how sloppy Working Group Two (the panel of experts within the IPCC responsible for drawing up this section of the report) has been.

“There is no way current climbers and mountain guides can give anecdotal evidence back to the 1900s, so what they claim is complete nonsense.”

How much more will it take before we demand the IPCC do their job, and stop with the fake Science?

Scientific American’s sad decline

It is such a shame.  When I was a wee lad, I loved to read Scientific American, especially C. L. Stong and Jearl Walker’s Amateur Scientist and Martin Gardner’s Mathematical Games features.  But as I grew older, and went off to university, I found a vague dissatisfaction with SA growing.  It seemed that politics entered the arena of Science in more and more SA articles — usually not in the realm of physics, which I understood well past the interested-layman’s level of most SA pieces, and which is remote enough from common concerns that it is ill-suited to polemics.  But the sour taste of politics was definitely increasing, and so in my 20s, SA and I parted ways, because I couldn’t stand to see my beloved objective Science treated as a handmaiden to Politics.  How naive I was to believe that either side would respect the hallowed ground of pure science and reason.

SA published a defense of Copenhagen that reconfirms my earlier judgment of SA.  No longer content to be skeptical and accepting of reasoned dissent, SA is sold out to “consensus”, as it was in the case of Bjorn Lombord and his book The Skeptical Environmentalist.  The 11 page critique of The Skeptical Environmentalist was summarized by the Economist as “strong on contempt and sneering, but weak on substance.”  When Dr. Lomborg provided a 32-page rebuttal, SA refused to print it.  When he published his rebuttal on his personal website, SA demanded he remove it, claiming copyright violation for quoting from SA’s article.  Eventually, Dr. Lombord was allowed a single page to address the criticisms.  So much for free and open debate.

The SA article, if I may be so bold as to use Fair Use to cite sections, is right along the same lines as the Lomborg hatchet job.

Even under this city’s low, leaden skies, at least one thing remained clear as leaders from 193 countries gathered to negotiate climate agreements: one ton of carbon dioxide emitted in the U.S. has the same effect as one ton emitted in India or anywhere else. That simple truism is part of a huge body of data pointing to humanity’s effect on climate, and for most negotiators, the weight of that evidence seems to have crushed any doubt they may have felt in the wake of the 1,000-plus e-mails and computer code stolen from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU).

Well, that’s because the negotiators were in large part not scientists, but political beings intent on creating Yet Another Huge Government Program.  And as we’ve seen from earlier posts on ClimateGate, GlacierGate, and AmazonGate, the “weight of evidence” may be less weighty than SA’s David Biello is letting on.

In fact, nothing in the stolen material undermines the scientific consensus that climate change is happening and that humans are to blame.

So switching from proxies to measured temps (“to hide the decline”), breaking Freedom of Information Request laws to keep raw data unseen, deleting emails, pressuring journals to refuse papers with opposing viewpoints, working behind the scenes to have journal editors dismissed when they don’t toe the “consensus” line, and putting crap references in the IPCC document do nothing to undermine the “consensus?”  What in the world would undermine the “consensus” if the suppression of free and open debate doesn’t?  And to be sure, we aren’t talking about crackpot nutters with no credentials, but serious scientists such as Dr. Richard S. Lindzen, MIT’s Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meterology and Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Meteorological Society.

Some of the kerfuffle rests on a misreading of the e-mails’ wording. For example, “trick” in one message actually describes a decision to use observed temperatures rather than stand-in data inferred from tree rings. Instead of implying deception, the word itself in science often refers to a strategy to solve a problem.

Un huh.  And the fact that the switch from graph of inferred temps from proxies was suddenly switched to plot measured temps because the proxies showed a decline in temperatures instead of an increase?  Is that a strategy often used in science?  A rational skeptic would conclude that something was wrong with the proxy itself if the link between the measured values and proxy inferred values go in opposite directions!

Even if the CRU data “were dismissed as tainted, it would not matter,” argues IPCC contributor Gary Yohe of Wesleyan University. “CRU is but one source of analysis whose conclusions have been validated by other researchers around the world.”

Setting aside the fact that CRU produced the longest, most comprehensive temperature record (and ClimateGate has put enough doubt into those claims to result in a British government inquiry), what would it take to make researchers take a second look?

The stolen e-mails may ultimately provide a sociological window into the climate science community. “This is a record of how science is actually done,” notes Goddard’s Gavin A. Schmidt. Historians will see “that scientists are human and how science progresses despite human failings. They’ll see why science as an enterprise works despite the fact that scientists aren’t perfect.”

No one would disagree that scientists aren’t perfect; that’s why we have peer-review and open debate along with access to raw data as a part of the Scientific Method.  But Dr. Schmidt is incorrect.  Bullying journal editors, breaking FOI laws, misleading graphs, and the like are not “how Science is actually done.”  It is instead a cautionary tale of how Science is subverted.

Ask and you shall find

Well, well, Mr. Google provided an answer to the question in the previous post “just how many more WWF puff pieces are in the IPCC AR4 document.”  The answer is, quite a few, which you can read about at the earlier link to the delightfully named NoFrakkingConsensus.

For example, a WWF report is cited twice on this page as the only supporting proof of IPCC statements about coastal developments in Latin America. A WWF report is referenced twice by the IPCC’s Working Group II in its concluding statements. There, the IPCC depends on the WWF to define what the global average per capita “ecological footprint” is compared to the ecological footprint of central and Eastern Europe.

Elsewhere, when discussing “mudflows and avalanches” linked to melting glaciers, the oh-so-scientifically-circumspect IPCC relies on two sources to make its point – an apparently still unpublished paper delivered to a conference five years earlier (Bhadra, 2002) and a WWF document.

Similarly, the only reason the IPCC can declare that “Changes in climate are affecting many mountain glaciers, with rapid glacier retreat documented in the Himalayas, Greenland, the European Alps, the Andes Cordillera and East Africa” is because a WWF report makes this claim.

In a section on coral reefs and mangroves, a WWF report is the IPCC’s sole reason for believing that, in “the Mesoamerican reef there are up to 25 times more fish of some species on reefs close to mangrove areas than in areas where mangroves have been destroyed.”

When the IPCC advises world leaders that “climate change is very likely to produce significant impacts on selected marine fish and shellfish (Baker, 2005)” it doesn’t call attention to the fact that the sole authority on which this statement rests is a WWF workshop project report (see the “Baker” document below).

Follow the money is always good advice.  If you want the high falutin’ version, ask qui bono.

The WWF is an activist organization. Much of its funding comes from public donations. The more successful the WWF is at persuading the public that there’s a crisis, the more likely people are to give it money.

Many of those associated with the WWF are lovely human beings. But that doesn’t change the fact that the WWF is not a neutral, disinterested party. It has an agenda, an ax to grind, a definite point-of-view. Rather than being a scientific organization, it is a political one. In the UK, the media aptly calls the WWF a “pressure-group.”

The WWF isn’t the only organization with an agenda cited in the AR4.  Greenpeace is there in the citations as well.  Why is the IPCC relying on these activist organizations to make the case for the horrors of AGW?

Forty percent of the Amazon vulnerable to climate change?

James Delingpole looks at the IPCC AmazonGate.  From the IPCC AR4 report, page 596

Up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation; this means that the tropical vegetation, hydrology and climate system in South America could change very rapidly to another steady state, not necessarily producing gradual changes between the current and the future situation (Rowell and Moore, 2000). It is more probable that forests will be replaced by ecosystems that have more resistance to multiple stresses caused by temperature increase, droughts and fires, such as tropical savannas.

Sounds problematic, no?  Is this a solid, peer-reviewed scientific conclusion?  Let’s track down the reference to Rowell and Moore, 2000:

Rowell, A. and P.F. Moore, 2000: Global Review of Forest Fires. WWF/IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, 66 pp. /files/global_review_forest_fires.pdf.

Oopsie, the IUCN has removed that page!  But we can see the report is a World Wildlife Federation/International Union for the Conservation of Nature collaboration and it isn’t peer-reviewed. According to Delingpole,the lead author Andy Rowell is a green journalist:

Andy Rowell is a freelance writer and Investigative journalist with over 12 years’ experience on environmental, food, health and globalization issues. Rowell has undertaken cutting-edge investigations for, amongst others, Action on Smoking and Health, The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, IFAW, the Pan American Health Organization, Project Underground, the World Health Organization, World in Action and WWF.

How about P. F. Moore?  He has a PhD from the Australian National University in Forest Fire Policy, and his expertise is described thusly:

My background and experience around the world has required and developed high-level policy and analytical skills. I have a strong understanding of government administration, legislative review, analysis and inquiries generated through involvement in or management of the Australian Regional Forest Agreement process, Parliamentary and Government inquiries, Coronial inquiries and public submissions on water pricing, access and use rights and native vegetation legislation in Australia and fire and natural resources laws, regulations and policies in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, South Africa and Malaysia.

Yet another “settled science” conclusion from the IPCC AR4 that is neither settled, nor science, nor even peer-reviewed.  Just how many more WWF puff pieces are in the AR4?

Pew Research: Global Warming not a priority

Clearly, the various scandals of the CRU and IPCC are having an effect, along with a worldwide economic recession.  Pew Research surveys the Public’s Priorities for 2010:

Dealing with global warming ranks at the bottom of the public’s list of priorities; just 28% consider this a top priority, the lowest measure for any issue tested in the survey. Since 2007, when the item was first included on the priorities list, dealing with global warming has consistently ranked at or near the bottom. Even so, the percentage that now says addressing global warming should be a top priority has fallen 10 points from 2007, when 38% considered it a top priority. Such a low ranking is driven in part by indifference among Republicans: just 11% consider global warming a top priority, compared with 43% of Democrats and 25% of independents.

Protecting the environment fares somewhat better than dealing with global warming on the public’s list of priorities, though it still falls on the lower half of the list overall. Some 44% say that protecting the environment should be a top priority for Obama and Congress, little changed from 2009.

At the Ninth Law, I believe that the world is warming, that a significant component is natural, and that we do need to take climate science seriously.  But exaggerated claims, dodgy science, demonizing skeptics, and acting as if computer modeling is all that counts isn’t the way to convince the public that a crisis exists.  We need real, solid, testable-hypothesis science, and we need to remember that all models are wrong, but some are useful.

Ten signs the warming scare is collapsing

From Australia, the most ecologically fragile continent, comes this roundup from Andrew Bolt

What’s happened?

Answer: in just the past few months has come a cascade of evidence that the global warming scare is based on often dodgy science and even outright fraud.

Even the British are getting in on the act. Listen to the British government’s chief scientific adviser

In astonishing intervention into the climate change debate, Professor John Beddington condemned scientists who refuse to publish the data forming the basis of their reports said they should be less hostile to sceptics.

Professor Beddington was speaking in the wake of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) admission that it had made a mistake by claiming that Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035.

GlacierGate: follow the money

The industrial engineer who heads up the IPCC was doing rather well:

What has now come to light, however, is that the scientist from whom this claim originated, Dr Syed Hasnain, has for the past two years been working as a senior employee of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), the Delhi-based company of which Dr Pachauri is director-general. Furthermore, the claim – now disowned by Dr Pachauri as chairman of the IPCC – has helped TERI to win a substantial share of a $500,000 grant from one of America’s leading charities, along with a share in a three million euro research study funded by the EU.

Let’s see, the remarkable claim that the Himalayan glaciers might melt in the next few decades doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, but it wound up directing millions to Dr. Pachauri’s institute.  Humm, how could this have happened?  Did people think the IPCC was citing a respected, peer-reviewed study?  The Telegraph again provides the information:

Until now it has been generally reported that the IPCC based its offending paragraph on an interview Dr Hasnain gave to the New Scientist in June 1999. This was a time when global warming researchers were busy making ever more extravagant claims in the run-up to the IPCC’s 2001 report. It was in that year that Dr Michael Mann in America launched on the world his famous “hockey stick” graph, purporting to show that temperatures had risen faster in the late 20th century than ever before in the Earth’s history. The graph was made the centrepiece of the IPCC’s 2001 report, though it has since been comprehensively discredited.

In fact Dr Hasnain had first made his own controversial claim two months earlier, in a much longer interview with an Indian environmental magazine, Down to Earth, in April 1999. It was the wording of this interview which the IPCC was to quote almost exactly in its 2007 report.

Clearly the IPCC was aware that to cite a little Indian magazine as the reference for such a startling prediction would hardly seem sound scientific practice. But it discovered that Dr Hasnain’s slightly later interview with New Scientist had been quoted in a 2005 report by the environmental campaigning group WWF. So it was this, rather oddly, which the IPCC cited as its authority – even though the words it quoted were taken directly from the earlier interview.

Ah, so maybe it just slipped by, and no one paid much attention to this rather remarkable claim.  It could happen.  Oh, wait:

But even before the 2007 report was published, it now emerges, the offending claim was challenged, not least by a leading Austrian glaciologist, Dr Georg Kaser, a lead author on the 2007 report. He described Dr Hasnain’s prediction of glaciers disappearing by 2035 as “so wrong that it is not even worth dismissing”.

Conveniently, Dr. Kaser’s challenge was insufficient to keep the “Himalayan glaciers melting!” claim out of the IPCC report.  So TERI, and Dr. Pachauri, were able to persuade concerned foundations to part with cold cash on the basis of the IPCC’s reputation.

Carbon-tranding goes the way of the buggy-whip

Banks are pulling out of the carbon-offsetting market after Copenhagen failed to reach agreement on emissions targets.

Girl Genius sez

Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from Science.