Hmm, does anyone else
Find the incomplete publication, excuses, refusal to engage with unsypathetic peers and all the rest of it disturbingly reminiscent of Pons and Fleischmann?
A landmark FOIA ruling last week will have far-reaching consequences for how public servants interpret their Freedom of Information obligations. Specifically, public servants cannot delete local copies of a file on their PC and then use its absence as an excuse not to disclose the file - if a backup copy exists on the …
Find the incomplete publication, excuses, refusal to engage with unsypathetic peers and all the rest of it disturbingly reminiscent of Pons and Fleischmann?
Unfortunately yes - and while I agree with the critics that the evidence for human activity causing global warming is weak, I think the evidence does show that global warming is real. Eventually it's likely that research WILL show us the degree to which human activity contributes. In the mean-time there are lots of good reason to limit our carbon emissions - which is why it's such a shame that this particular episode is so stupidly distracting.
I can't see much changing while we continue to place more trust in the blathering of newspaper reporters then we do in critical evaluation of the research data. Yes, Jones et. al. were wrong - but the behavior of their critics has been even worse.
By undermining the credibility of any research related to climate change, I'd say Jones et al were far worse. While I accept that in an ideal world everyone would look at it and say "wouldn't harm to change a few things just in case" that's not the world we live in. There are some dramatic and expensive changes (Wind turbines being a good example) being called for and made in the name of climate change. Most people are not going to be happy about this when there's a lack of credible evidence to suggest that it'll make any difference.
That's where the real cock-ups come from, by undermining the credibility that is essential when making a point (especially if you are refusing to release the data!) they've actually been entirely counter productive.
My personal view is that the impact mankind is having on the climate is probably quite small (doesn't mean the climate isn't changing though!), but I'm more than willing to reconsider it when credible evidence is presented. The problem is, given my cynical mind, it'll need to be damn strong evidence now that the games played by Jones et al have come to light.
So whilst the critics aren't entirely blameless, I do think that their reaction is understandable. When you have people who are likely to cry conspiracy anyway, you need to be damn careful to make sure you are being as transparent as possible.
Given that it's not possible to prove that we are not contributing (prove a negative) it's therefore necessary to prove that we are. The lower the credibility of the 'yes' camp (thanks to Jones and others) the harder they have to work to actually prove it without questions being asked about methodology, cherry picking the results etc.
> Yes, Jones et. al. were wrong - but the behavior of their critics has been even worse
How about giving us some examples showing how the critics behaviour has been worse.
Global warming is real although relatively slight. It might be a good idea to do something about it* however there is a problem is assuming that things like cutting our carbon footprint will help. The most obvious problem being that the evidence that our production of CO2 is causing global warning is weak, as such the assumption that cutting that production will reverse the trend is even weaker. Before we can do something to reverse global warming we need to actually find out what is causing it, rather than blindly blunder ahead trying to prove that we are the cause.
Consider science to be like a police investigation. Old fashioned plod will decide who the culprit is and then go out to find the evidence to prove his case. Of course if he can't find the evidence then he ends up back at square one and with no suspect, but probably still believing his original suspect is the criminal. One would hope that a scientific approach would be to find *all* of the evidence and see where it points. Not to discard the evidence that doesn't fit the theory. It seems however that most climate scientists are like old fashioned coppers. They are just going to keep going on and on at us until we admit we done it, guv.
Remember it's not that long since scientists told us we were heading for a new ice age. They are now telling us that theory was wrong then so I don't propose to blindly trust them now.
* Although these climate scientists are going to feel pretty silly if global warming reverses all on it's own and in thirty years time the world is 2 degrees cooler than it is now.
I think that by acting like a bunch of lying, deceitful, word twisting pricks Jones et al may possibly have killed off the acceptance of evidence (if strong evidence for it being our fault exists) for a generation. Any scientist knows that for your analysis and conclusion to be accepted you need to provide the data and methodology used and defend it from criticism with sound, well reasoned arguments and not lies and deceit.
'Remember it's not that long since scientists told us we were heading for a new ice age. They are now telling us that theory was wrong then so I don't propose to blindly trust them now.'
No they weren't - this is a myth.
It was only ever a small minority of climate scientists who thought the Earth was due to enter a period of cooling before the onset of another glacial episode. A short lived period of relative cooling in the 1970s wasn't well understood, but there was a theory that interglacials (such as the one we're going through) lasted about 10k years, and we were about 10k years into the Holocene interglacial - so the only way for temperatures to go was down and this might be the first sign of a new glacial advance. We now know that there is no such thing as a fixed length interglacial - they are much more irregular and tend to be much longer lived - this has now been resolved thanks to deep ice cores. We are now also much more aware how local cooling in the Pacific ocean can bring about cooler weather conditions across the globe over a period of years.
The majority of scientists were already warning that carbon emissions were forcing temperatures higher. There was no year from 1965 onwards where cooling predictions were more common than warming ones and they pretty much all stopped by 1977. The best summary of the research at the time:
Peterson, Thomas C.; William M. Connolley, and John Fleck (2008). "The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus". Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 89 (9): 1325–1337
Not all of his critics, but a lot of them also engage in spreading conspiracy theories about the science, blowing every little typo into a scandal and misquoting scientists.
For example last year skeptics misquoted Phil Jones himself and claiming he said there had been no global warming since 1995 when he hadn't.
Do I recall reading somewhere that not only is methane potentially a much bigger potential cause, but that it would be comparatively easy to deal with when compared to the current fixation on carbon?
You're right though, plunging ahead and reducing carbon emissions isn't necessarily a good move until we can substantiate what the cause is. Sort of like trying to cure malaria by poisoning mosquitos and then wondering why all the bats are dying off!
@Mark - There's quite a good (but long) article on Seed Magazine about this sort of thing today (Scientists being paid to do research who then compromise their integrity). Was actually trying to find that famous quote (I forget half of it, or who said it) about a scientist without credibility. Worth a read though - http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/the_state_of_the_scientist/
"Before we can do something to reverse global warming we need to actually find out what is causing it, rather than blindly blunder ahead trying to prove that we are the cause.
Consider science to be like a police investigation."
I consider that to be the wrong way round. Our CO2 emissions are causing CO2 level in the atmosphere to rise at a rate unknown in Earth's entire history. We've already topped millions of year CO2 records and it's heading higher.
The current situation with our CO2 emissions should be treated like a pharmaceutical company releasing a new drug rather than a police investigation.
The burden of proof should be on proving it safe, not on proving it dangerous. If our science is too uncertain to prove to a sufficient level that the CO2 rise is safe that should be enough to put pressure on cutting emissions.
"You're right though, plunging ahead and reducing carbon emissions isn't necessarily a good move until we can substantiate what the cause is."
Here's the inverse: plunging ahead and elevating atmospheric CO2 to highs not seen for 15 million years is not necessarily a good move until we can substantiate what effect that will have.
Now why is your statement so much more prevalent? This isn't a dig I am just wondering why the view I provided is so often overlooked in favor of the one you provided. Even the IPCC is geared up to having to make the case for dangerous change.
Yet do we require not drugs companies to prove a drug is safe before release? We don't say that until society can prove it's dangerous they are free to sell whatever they want.
Part of the reason I suspect is because the significance of our impact on CO2 level is not widely appreciated. People don't realize that CO2 is currently rising faster than any known time in Earth's history.
"for your analysis and conclusion to be accepted you need to provide the data and methodology used "
I know I'm being picky, but it's method not methodology.
I entirely see your point, don't get me wrong, but when the changes being asked for/imposed have a real impact on peoples lives (whether financially or otherwise) are you at all surprised that the inertia of the status quo will win out?
I'm no fan of analogies, so I won't use one here! Given the following, what do you think most people will choose
Option a) Spend a fortune on new forms of power (turbines don't come cheap) and it's possible it may save the earth in the future (but we don't know for sure if it'll make the blindest bit of difference)
Option b) Save that money, at least until there is some credible evidence that harm is being done
That's why the likes of Jones have been so damaging. You could be right, CO2 could be absolutely terrible, but because they've completely undermined the credibility of the 'evidence' most people will go with Option b.
I'm personally of the view that where you aren't sure of the consequences of change, it's often wiser to stick with the status quo (which doesn't hold true for everything). There is a risk in leaving the status quo in place, but what if our efforts to reduce CO2 are in fact causing harm?
Your drugs company analysis is slightly flawed in comparison,The drugs company has not yet released the drug, wherehas we are already releasing CO2.
Consider in your scenario where 'benizac' is found to have some potential complications, but is also currently essential to a lot of people (can't think of a good illness, so let's call it benitoe!). Do you withdraw the drug completely, reduce the availability (knowing this will have a large impact on those who need it) or do you try to make people aware whilst doing in-depth research so that you can adequately explain why it needs to be withdrawn (and as evidence arises you can probably substantiate the need to start reducing levels).
The problem is at the moment we seem to be reducing, leading to wide scale impact - cost of power and fuel being obvious examples - without having any credible science to back up why it needs to happen.
You are still not providing any specifics, just generalities.
> blowing every little typo into a scandal and misquoting scientists.
Specific example please of blowing a little typo into a scandal.
> skeptics misquoted Phil Jones himself and claiming he said there had been no global warming since 1995 when he hadn't.
B - Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming
Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level.
Paraphrasing this into Phil Jones says there has been no significant warming since 1995 is perfectly legitimate.
Are seriously trying to equate a couple of nut jobs claiming "conspiracy" and legitimately paraphrasing a Q&A as being equivalent to:
1. Pressurising journals to sack editors who publish papers they disagree with.
2. Conspiring to avoid legitimate FOIA requests by removing emails.
3. Lying to avoid giving out data to those who disagree with you.
4. Excising data that doesn't agree with your theory.
5. Pressurising institutions into firing academics who do not agree with you.
All this, and much much more, is revealed in the 2 lots of climategate emails.
"Paraphrasing this into Phil Jones says there has been no significant warming since 1995 is perfectly legitimate."
No. They paraphrased it into "Phil Jones says there has been no warming since 1995" which is wrong.
"Specific example please of blowing a little typo into a scandal."
Among others: GISTEMP had an update error on a monthly update back in October 2008. Irrelevant error but it got turned into a scandal by those who make mountains out of molehills. Also there was a Y2K error in the same record that had the effect of switching two years by 0.02C but was made out to be some critical error that changed everything.
Searching google for ""Phil Jones says there has been no warming since 1995" returns 11 matches and 3 of those are videos.
> Among others: GISTEMP had an update error... turned into a scandal...by those who make mountains out of molehills.
Actually it was "those" who spotted the error in the first place. They didn't make a scandal of it, they simply called into the question the quality control procedures of those who complied it.
> Also there was a Y2K error in the same record that had the effect of switching two years by 0.02
The Y2k error affected every year from 1900 onwards. If promoted several years from the 1930s into the US top 10. But don't worry because they have made more adjustments since then and as a result the temperatures of past years have been lowered.
"Actually it was "those" who spotted the error in the first place. They didn't make a scandal of it, they simply called into the question the quality control procedures of those who complied it."
It went beyond that. They used it to claim the science was being done improperly and even to suggest that scientists had deliberately faked the warming.
There was even a lie circulated anyway that NASA had made a press release about October being the warmest on record before the error was caught.
In truth the error was never used in anything important and would have been spotted if it had. It's just that at that point no-one had needed to use the data.
> They used it to claim the science was being done improperly and even to suggest that scientists had deliberately faked the warming.
Who did this? Where did they do it? When did they do it? Your assertion that these things happened is not good enough. Please point to a source
> There was even a lie circulated anyway that NASA had made a press release about October being the warmest on record before the error was caught.
You seem to be using the examples of a few nut jobs to conclude there's a broad conspiracy against climate science.
If anyone is making mountains out of mole-hills it would appear to be you.
Releasing a new pharmaceutical is a change in the status quo; so is reducing CO2 emissions the way we're being told we have to so's not to fry the planet. If anything, you're arguing against yourself, especially since at least in the case of new drugs it's possible to *identify* the status quo -- something which in the case of climate change would, given the short span of uncertain data that's all we have to go on, appear to remain an open question for anyone interested in developing a sure understanding of where things stand.
Of course, if what you'd rather do is bellow tendentiously about how your side is shoulder-to-shoulder with the angels and the other side's funded by Satan incarnate, that's fine too, but don't get mixed up and think you're adding anything to the discussion other than waste heat.
"Releasing a new pharmaceutical is a change in the status quo; so is reducing CO2 emissions the way we're being told we have to so's not to fry the planet."
Raising CO2 levels to highs not seen for millions of years isn't a change in the status quo?
"but don't get mixed up and think you're adding anything to the discussion other than waste heat."
The fact you found it necessary to mount a defence against my point says it all.
No I am using the example of the behaviour of climate skeptics to conclude their behaviour is unethical
No, you are claiming climate skeptics behaviour is unethical without providing any evidence.
Your assertion that these things happened is not good enough. Please point to a source.
Does critical evaluation include looking at the raw temperature readings. Recently released readings include temperature of over 135 degrees celcius in the last ten years.
There was deffo gonna be a new ice age, and too many black people (of course the starving was caused by wars from post-colonial fall out, but who's counting).
This is why I'm cynical - dodgy science and scientists not behaving like scientists not withstanding.
with pointless academics, but as someone who was there when they were teaching it, you'll never brainwash me on this point. And yes, this was WELL before Sagan and nuclear winter came along.
until you submit to them. Nobody knows if the rate of carbon dioxide production is the highest is has been in earth's history because we don't have reliable records for that long. In point of fact, there's rather a good bit of evidence to the contrary. The total combined CO2 output of all industrial and developing countries is a small fraction of what a single volcanic eruption produces. Given that volcanic eruptions are not constant, I rather doubt CO2 is "increasing at the fastest rate in history." And it is the magnitude of some of those past eruptions that most makes me question the mantra of "runaway greenhouse effects" will turn us into a hothouse or Venus, or whatever other nonsense the mantra screamers are vomiting this week.
trying to hide behind a Reg Handle?
“many signs pointing to the possibility that the Earth may be headed for another ice age” (The New York Times, August 14, 1975), moving “toward extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciations” (Science, December 10, 1976) and facing “continued rapid cooling of the Earth” (Global Ecology, 1971) and “the approach of a full-blown 10,000-year ice age” (Science, March 1, 1975). [A] new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery” (International Wildlife, July 1975) and that “the world’s climatologists are agree” that we must “prepare for the next ice age” (Science Digest, February 1973). Newsweek reported (April 28, 1975) “ominous signs” that “the Earth’s climate seems to be cooling down” and meteorologists “are almost unanimous” that “the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century.”
'to highs not seen for 15 million years'
That period of time in the history of the earth is meaningless. I totally agree that we should attempt to understand what the increases in CO2 are doing, but levels have been substantially higher before and it didn't doom the entire planet. 15 million years is but a second in the timeline of the earth.
In the last few months and in the minds of the general public, the phrase "Climate Change" had become indistinguishable from "Global Warming" which itself was shorthand for "Anthropogenic Global Warming" (which is the IPCC usage). I suspect this is because of the amazing degree of synchronicity of the BBC's use of the phrase and the newspapers' need to abbreviate headlines.
Even if the terms are used inclusively, without pre-judging whether the change, whichever direction it is in, is influenced by humans, there is little agreement on whether the Earth is (a) cooling (b) warming (c) can't tell. Much of this argument stems from the choice of starting points and the averaging periods and would be present even if the data fraud were not to have been perpetrated. It's quite easy to construct dummy test data consisting of the summation of a small underlying trend (either up or down) plus a much larger random fluctuation. If you give that data, or part of it, to an Excel-phreak with a serious mission in life, or just for a bet or fun, they can easily generate curve-fits, smoothing, or data selection and truncation, that can illustrate warming/cooling/stasis at will, unconnected with the original source, even though the dummy data was created with a known up/down/zero trend. But if you can do that easily with dummy data with *known* properties, how can one have any confidence in any result that claims to find a "trend" in the real data. ?
"Our CO2 emissions are causing CO2 level in the atmosphere to rise at a rate unknown in Earth's entire history."
"In the last few months and in the minds of the general public, the phrase "Climate Change" had become indistinguishable from "Global Warming" which itself was shorthand for "Anthropogenic Global Warming" (which is the IPCC usage). I suspect this is because of the amazing degree of synchronicity of the BBC's use of the phrase and the newspapers' need to abbreviate headlines."
Employees of the BBC suffer from the same problems as most of the public. The first is that they don't realise that there is a difference between weather and climate. The second is that a little knowledge is indeed a dangerous thing. When Joe Public reads a newspaper article on a given subject he assumes that the article is 100% true and the sum of all human knowledge on the subject and that this means he knows everything there is to know about it. When a TV presenter does the same he can mislead millions of people, but the BBC still allow them to do it.
I think it was the Victorians who introduced the concept of "the balance of nature", the popular idea that everything in nature stays the same unless mankind interferes. My point here being that it's fairly easy to convince the public on AGW because of their belief in the balance of nature. Believers in the balance of nature think that if anything changes in nature it must be broken and that it must be the fault of mankind. Of course it may not be so easy to keep them believing. It's not so long since most people were AGW sceptics then we get warm weather for a few years and most people accept AGW. The last couple of winters made a lot of people start to doubt the whole concept of AGW. Which is when the media suddenly switch to using the phrase Climate Change again. You can't tell people we've had weeks of snow because of Global Warming. The result is complete confusion among the public.
"... public on AGW because of their belief in the balance of nature"
Yet tell them that the Greeks used to believe illnesses were caused by humors being out of balance and they'll laugh!
There's no balance, there's cause and effect but quite how anyone can picture nature as a seesaw is beyond me.
"Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?"
And this man has the nerve to call himself a scientist? If you're not willing to share your data and methods Mr Jones then you are not a scientist by any measure that matters.
I do kind of sympatise with him - he was getting ten or twenty FOI requests each week from the same people who didn't really know what they were asking for, and certainly didn't understand the amount of work in producing the data. There is no funding to fulfill FOI requests, so it had to be taken out of the time he had for real work - I'd flip out after a while if that happened to me.
As it happens, pretty much all of the raw data are available on the Internet, NASA, ECMRWF and the Met Office amongst others (look up the individual satellite's web sites), list the raw data. The problem is that you then need to make the raw data usable. It's the process of claibrating, normalising and generally mashing the data around which is time consuming and extremely complex.
I think the "Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?" came years before the FOI requests. He didn't like the researcher asking for the data he should have given it anyway.
So that'd be just 2-4 emails per day, then? Big whoop.
Also: he only had to dig out the information once! He could then trivially send the same ZIP file to each request, along with a standard form reply—a process that would have taken mere moments!
The whole point of science is that hypotheses and theories can be falsified! You are REQUIRED to show your working, including the raw data and the results of your processing. It's not optional. And, no, you don't get to pick and choose who does that. Not liking the cut of someone's jib is insufficient reason to deny them access to your data.
There really is no excuse for the UEA's behaviour in this affair. None. It's the very definition of "unscientific".
For what it's worth, I do agree that we should be reducing pollution in general, but I've always felt that way. And so do most good business owners: pollution = inefficiency = wasted money.
However, CO2 is not produced exclusively by humans. It is also emitted by any number of other processes. There must, therefore, be a "baseline" level we should be aiming for. What is it? And will we need to cull the burgeoning global population of humans to achieve it? (That's a question almost everyone seems to avoid, but it's a crucial one: there are 7 billion of us now. How many humans is "too many"?)
Ditto for methane and, of course, the #1 Most Wanted "Greenhouse Gas": "dihydrogen oxide vapour". (Yes: the gaseous form of that stuff covering 75% or so of our entire planet.)
Right now, nobody seems to know what the base levels of each gas' emissions should be, so how will we know when we've done enough to cancel out our own species' input into the various complex systems we're talking about?
"The problem is that you then need to make the raw data usable. It's the process of claibrating, normalising and generally mashing the data around which is time consuming and extremely complex."
You missed out apparently undocumented as well. In terms of data file structures, software command options, what options were used and what the processing chain was.
Which is quite important when the conclusion is roughly "The level of CO2 is far too high and we must spend *billions* of dollars to lower it, starting now."
The ability to *reproduce* results by following the same *complete* recipe is quite a big part of science.
Spend billions to lower the CO2? Try trillions of dollars.
"For what it's worth, I do agree that we should be reducing pollution in general, but I've always felt that way. And so do most good business owners: pollution = inefficiency = wasted money."
But since the whole hoo ha over CO2 began governments and businesses have neatly managed to sideline all sorts of pollution issues. If somebody spoke of "harmful emissions" from an industrial process they meant all of the emissions. These days of course they will be understood to be referring to CO2 and perhaps other greenhouse gases.
I'm not blaming the climate scientits for this - it is mainly the fault of spin doctors - however the climate scientits are naive if they do not realise they are contributing to this problem.
Sounds reasonable to me. After all the public sector are supposed to back up everything so backups should exist. Even quite old backup technology allows for the sort of searching required, but it might be a bit slow if you don't know the filename and the backups are on tape.
However when it comes to science backups are even more significant. If you can't find any data that has any bearing on your research then your research is invalid.
I don't doubt that we have global climate instability and I don't doubt that the actions of humans since the industrial revolution has contributed to that instability to some degree or another; What I have a problem with is the vast and overarching conspiracy that seeks and gathers money and power as a consequence of this. There is an entire academic, industrial and financial layer over us now whose sole purpose is to move said money and power away from "ordinary" people and into their control all in the name of another version of "Oh no! Won't somebody think of the children!"
The Emperor may not have any clothes but in this case it's the guy selling the fake binoculars at the parade that's making the money.
I don't believe any eco-mentalist stuff because you never know these days who is behind it and with what financial motive. Things seem to be getting warmer but given that we're only 93M miles from a gigantic unshielded fusion reactor the man-made argument is weak enough without all the money-grabbing spin-meister shilling going on increasing our cost of living almost daily, essentially because they can.
The lights are on but the curtains are drawn...
The climate lobby seem to have adopted the policies of Tony Blair:
1. If you're not with me then you're against me - Damned right I am, I'm against you until you start behaving like real scientists. Or in Blair's case it was always that I was against him until he started behaving like a real human being.
2. If you don't agree with us then you don't care about the planet - I *do* care about the planet, but that doesn't mean I have to believe what you and your bunch self confessed data fiddlers have to say. In Blair's case it was "If you criticize the war you are against our brave boys in uniform" or "If your criticize the NHS you are criticizing all those lovely nurses." TO which the answer was No Tony I'm against your reasons for going to war and the way *you* run the NHS.
This sort of spin is practiced more and more in todays world and the depressing thing is that most people seem to fall for it.
Watch Keremy Kyle, X-Factor, think microwaving a plastic tub of goo is 'cooking' and "read" The Sun or (worse) The Daily Fail.
It's called the lowest common denominator and there's a reason virtually all media and politicians pander to it when there's not more advantageous sectors for achieving their specific goal. It's also the demographic that is least able to think for itself, hence why they're happy for media/politics to instruct them on how to live their lives.
Harsh? But likely fair...
This concentration on emails is designed to deflect attention from the fact that the disputed data has long been available for anyone to analyse, and nobody has found any flaws in the CRA's conclusions.
Oh boy. It's people like you that demonstrate that climate change has become the new religion. Basically you are saying that anybody who argues with the conclusions must be wrong because they are arguing with the conclusions in which you believe.
The way the data was collected is every bit as important as the data itself and the conclusions drawn from it. When you experiment you have to carefully and accurately document the experimental method otherwise the data you gather is meaningless and so are the conclusions you draw. Science at its simplest is about postulating and proving that postulate through controlled experiment. Of course in this case we can't carry out controlled experiments such as pumping out exaclty 5% extra CO2 per year for 100 years and see what happens to the climate. As such scientists find themselves in a position where they have to deal with a lot of historic data. Adjusting historical temperature records simply isn't on. Either you rely on the historical data or you don't, if you start adjusting it you may as well make it up. And discarding inconvenient data or being selective which data you choose is even worse. Look at the data collected from trees. A handful of trees out of hundreds from one location and no data from other locations. Any reasonable person would be forgiven for assuming that the data had been carefully selected to fit the theory.
The conclusions from the data used may be reasonable, but the whole point about climategate is that there are reasonable suspicions that inconvenient data was discarded or adjusted - NASA for one were very open about adjusting "inaccurate" data. The fact that they didn't seem to see the problem with adjusting historical data is worrying.