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back to article Low sunspot activity linked to rivers freezing: Mini Ice Age on way?

A team of boffins in Germany say they have found a statistical link between periods of low solar activity and very cold winters in Europe. Some physicists believe that a long period of low solar activity - like the "Maunder Minimum" of the 17th and 18th centuries - could be on the cards in coming decades, so the new research …

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FAIL

News?

Haven't we known this for donkey's years? River Thames freezing over in periods of low sunspots, etc?

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Re: News?

Well, I thought so too.

I guess the issue here is that an eleven years cycle of sunspot activity has no net effect on a 30 year cycle of climate (I think that's the normal period that climate is measured over) as you will always have two full sunspot cycles in any given climate window.

But a 30 year long period of low sunspot activity could obviously have a very significant impact on something that is measured over the same span.

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Boffin

Re: News?

Statistics are a great way to get things wrong in a scientifically measurable way, especially when you ignore a cycle which period is not in sync with your model, and is longer than your actual sample frequency, even if it would be steady as a rock.

Which solar output, which actually drives the whole system, and of which sunspots are but one indicator, is not. Ignore at your own peril.

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Re: News?

The Thames certainly did freeze during that period and no longer does, but much of that is down to the manmade changes to the lower river. The old London bridge caused the river to pool upstream. When it was replaced, water could flow more freely and was less likely to freeze. Likewise, the construction of the two embankments confined the river to a narrower channel which prevents freezing.

This study has one shortcoming, they've chosen one river. If they can repeat the trial with another - such as the Danube or the Elbe then the results will be much more significant.

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Re: News?

No, this isn't news. No climatologist denies solar effects on climate. The worry is that the recent record low sunspot activity DIDN'T lead to another mini ice-age.

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"Climate scientists of the orthodox, alarmist tendency ... "

"Strawmen ..."

There. Fixed that for you.

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Nothing to see here

"Climate scientists of the orthodox, alarmist tendency say that variability in the Sun has minimal effects if any on the Earth's climate, but Sirocko - like some others - believes it is an important factor."

Actually, no, Climate scientists say that variability in the Sun has miniaml effects on the Earth's climate after the middle of the 20th century unless there are unknown feedbacks - http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch1s1-4-3.html

In other words, nothing to see here except Lewis Page's generic preconceptions rolled out in public yet again.

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FAIL

Re: Nothing to see here

Like those unknown feedbacks inherent in the lambda factor of the IPPC carbon based climate model you mean?

Sheesh. Its a bit rich when one group uses a modelling constant of arbitrary significance to get an answer it wants and then decries another group for doing the same thing.

http://www.clarewind.org.uk/events-1.php?event=39

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Re: Nothing to see here

No, that's not what I mean. Climate sensitivity is not a "modelling constant of arbitrary significance", and has very little if anything to do with the portion of the IPCC report I quoted.

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Paris Hilton

You can hear

The AGW crowd choking on organic decaff monkey friendly soya lattes as they read that one.

They just need to apply the UEA analysis method and simply delete all evidence of this data ;)

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Pint

Nice One

keep them coming Lewis

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"Climate is not ruled by one variable," argues the Professor-Doktor. "In fact, it has at least five or six variables..."

The variables are probably more in the thousands range...

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Anonymous Coward

"The variables are probably more in the thousands range..."

Still the wrong order of magnitude I think: More like needing to model the interactions between every particle in the Earth, the Solar system, cosmic radiation and the gravitational effects of the rest of the galaxy to get a properly accurate model. But meh, 5 or 6 variables is a high enough bar to getting a paper published.

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I can't tell if you're deliberately misunderstanding what the prof is saying, or genuinely don't know what it means to say that a system is ruled by a number of variables. He is not saying that a model needs to be simplistic, he is stating that there are a small number of critical parameters which have a dominant impact on the model. This is the case for pretty much any system you care to name, no matter how complicated. Some parameters are important. Some are less important. Some are so unimportant as to be negligible - although this is risky and always needs to be clearly stated. As you develop a model and compare it with observation, the relative importance of these parameters is adjusted. You might neglect some or re-introduce some. You might concentrate your finite computational and analytical resources on a different set of parameters. It's a thing we boffins call "the scientific method". This research - for all that Lewis desperately wants to cast it as an arrow in the eye of the scientific consensus - is simply a small step in that process.

tl;dr - can't tell if trolling or stoopid

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Ru

I suspect the missing qualifier was "significant". The number of major influences on global temperatures is probably not that big, and their influence will drown out that of less important factors.

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Anonymous Coward

"The variables are probably more in the thousands range"

Hmmm, or the ~7,000,000,000 range :)

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Coat

Are we lucky or what?

The peoples, societies & industries of the world have been blasting out CO2 & other pollutants pretty much non-stop, particularly in the last 50 years or so. Behaviour pretty much guaranteed to send the world's average temperature up a few degrees with much greater variation in weather.

And Nature, strange & undeservedly benevolent (fingers crossed) as she is, gives us signficantly lower levels of energy from the sun to...

A: Balance things out exactly. Damn, we're lucky barstewards.

B: Mitigate the effects of our own pollution. Damn, we're lucky barstewards.

C: Freeze our brass monkeys off because we didn't pollute enough. Damn, we're unlucky barstewards who didn't pollute enough

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Coat

Re: Are we lucky or what?

Don't worry, once the solar activity returns to combine with man made effects on the global climate we can look forward to some interesting weather.

Scorched earth, drought and famine anyone or perahps we can look forward to more extreme weather cycles?

Mine's the Stillsuit thanks ;)

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Drat!

I'll be snowed in at home, and they'll be no decent HF DX due to the low sunspot count. Never mind, snow cover, good ground conductivity, I'll have to concentrate on 40m then.

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Anonymous Coward

As a layman

As a layman does it not seem to be completely fucking obvious that the sun has an effect on climate. It being the source of most of the warmth on the surface of the Earth.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As a layman

I think Lewis' point is that we'll all freeze to death unless we burn more fossil fuels.

Or something.

It's hard to tell sometimes. Basically, he likes to pick sentences out of select articles that reinforce his world view, and then share them with everyone. I'm not quite sure why.

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Re: As a layman

Well the problem is that its actual heat output doesn't vary enough to cause more than a minor effect, and neither does orbital eccentricity etc etc. Of course carbon-dyed oxhide doesn't have enough effect on its own either, needing to be multiplied by 'unknown feedback factors' to get to the sort of scary predictions you need to sell crappy windmills to a gullible public.

So the focus has shifted to the suns magnetosphere and the solar wind which IS associated with sunspots, and the Svensmark proposition is that somehow solar wind interacts with galactic cosmic rays reducing or increasing the density of high energy muons in the lower atmosphere which can act to help cloud nucleation, and therefore increase cloud cover and overall albedo.

Or something. Its a complex model - far more complex than the CO2 model and therefore harder to sell to the gullible, but it does actually match the general shape of the actual climate (the unhockeysticked one) - right back to aeons ago as the solar system has crossed and recrossed various 'high cosmic ray' parts of the galaxy and these may well be associated with periods of global cooling.

The final conclusion of the relatively unbiased and rational is that actually no-one has a bloody clue. Hence the need to fudge the results and come up with 'definite consensuses on scary predictions if you want to sell product on the back of it.

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WTF?

Re: As a layman

Climate scientists most certainly do have a bloodly clue, unlike you. Claiming they fudge data without any proof whatsoever is just ridiculous. Scientists have no products to sell, they don't personally benefit from research grants whatever the outcome of their research. As scientists they simply look at the evidence, and there is plenty of it.

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Re: As a layman

Dear Wilco 1,

Thank you for your insight in the world of academia, it is truly enlightening.

Meanwhile may I humbly raise your attention to this lovely piece of natural real estate I can procure for you at a quite reasonable commission.

My cousin Prince Ahmed Kwazulu would also like to get in touch with you regarding a matter which would aid his ailing nation in freeing some wrongfully detained revolutionary capital.

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Re: As a layman

Thanks, it seems most people have no idea about how science is performed in general. Shame it doesn't pay as much as the oil companies pay bloggers to claim it is all a fraud without doing any research at all.

And you can keep that real estate you bought, I hope you enjoy it!

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Re: As a layman

>Scientists have no products to sell, they don't personally benefit from research grants

You try and become a successful scientist without exterior funding and see how far you get.

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Re: As a layman

What do you mean with "exterior funding"? Most research is funded by government, and funding is never directly to the scientists, but to the university. So there is no money flowing from a grant directly to the scientist's bank accounts.

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Re: As a layman

Hello. Sucessful scientist who never received any "exterior funding" here. What was it you wanted to ask?

(disclaimer: I did receive a lumping great dollop of "exterior funding" when I took my bag of science out into industry and used it to make actual products ... but that made me a successful entrepreneur rather than a successful scientist)

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JGT

Re: As a layman

"What do you mean with "exterior funding"?" Funding that comes to scientists from sources external to the university, like government grants.

"Most research is funded by government..." Agreed.

"...funding is never directly to the scientists, but to the university." Of course it is paid directly to the university. And the university turns right around and puts it an internal account for the research project.

"So there is no money flowing from a grant directly to the scientist's bank accounts." The implication is a scientist's personal bank accounts. This is a strawman argument. This is not the situation the previous poster was talking about. He was talking about the flow that you outlined.

However, since only the scientist that "landed" the grant, or his assignee's, can use the money, it is functionally a bank account.

No, that isn't right, the scientist has to justify every cent as used for the research project, something he doesn't have to do for his personal bank account.

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Re: As a layman

Correct, and that was my point. Scientists cannot just use the grant money as if it was their own money, so they can't just pay themselves a big salary from it. The typical claim from deniers is that climate researchers are just doing it to enrich themselves, which is as far from the truth as one can possibly be. The researchers I personally know are pretty badly paid, they do research because they love to do it. If they wanted to earn a lot of money, they would go work in the industry.

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Re: As a layman

Does clicking the downvote button on my post magically stop me from existing and providing a counterexample to the previous commentard's silly assertion? Golly.

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Coat

Re: As a layman

"... if you want to sell product on the back of it." Or, heaven forfend, even impose extra taxes on the back of it!

There's something a little scary about this article - coincidence or not(?) - I sem to remember that the Sirocco is actually a warm (or is it cold?) wind.

Yes, it's a windcheater.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As a layman

"They don't benefit personally from research grants." IOh, no? Iif they didn't get the research grants, perhaps they'd have to mug up on "the knowledge" in order to drive taxis, or they could also go burger flipping. Research labs can't employ people who don't bring in grants.

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FAIL

Repeat of the same article, this time the biased variant

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/08/23/sunspot_activity_and_rhine_freezing/

And the spin is just ridiculous, claiming we are entering an ice-age?!? I guess he hasn't seen the hockey stick graph - global temperatures are dramatically up, not down...

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Facepalm

Re: Repeat of the same article, this time the biased variant

Would this be the same hockey-stick graph that's been repeatedly shown to be purest bullshit?

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Re: Repeat of the same article, this time the biased variant

No, it's the hockey stick graph confirmed twice by sceptics in the BEST studies. Do you have any links to peer-reviewed research (ie. not your favorite denier blog) proving the hockey stick graph incorrect? I don't think so.

Noone sane can deny global temperatures aren't up dramatically over the last 50 years. And that despite the sun showing lower activity.

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Re: Repeat of the same article, this time the biased variant

BEST had NOTHING to do with the hockey stick graph. BEST covered the instrumentalist temperature record spanning the last 200 years or so. The hockey stick was about temperature proxies like tree rings for the last 1000 years or so.

The original hockey stick graph is incorrect. It contained statistical errors. Any reference to temperatures of the past 1000 years should rely on newer improved reconstructions.

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Re: Repeat of the same article, this time the biased variant

"instrumentalist" = typo

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Boffin

Re: Repeat of the same article, this time the biased variant

The BEST studies confirmed the last 200 years, which is the most important part of the hockey stick: dramatic increase in global temperature over the last 50 years. Reconstructions beyond the last 200 years are never perfect and inevitably have rather large error bars. However all proxies used show a rather flat temperature for the last 2000 years. That means the hockey stick graph is still correct.

http://www.skepticalscience.com/broken-hockey-stick.htm

"What the science says...

Since the hockey stick paper in 1998, there have been a number of proxy studies analysing a variety of different sources including corals, stalagmites, tree rings, boreholes and ice cores. They all confirm the original hockey stick conclusion: the 20th century is the warmest in the last 1000 years and that warming was most dramatic after 1920. "

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Mushroom

Re: Repeat of the same article, this time the biased variant

Just a couple of points Wilco

"200 years" - big deal, remind me again how old the planet is.....

As I look out of the window on the howling rain in the UK and the much cooler summer temperatures and reflect on the unseasonal flooding this year I ask myself, is this just not another one of the many blips in climate the planet has experienced over billions of years.

When I think of climate scientists why do I find myself thinking that scientists that try to hide data, delete emails and generally behave fruadulently are not worthy of the title scientist?

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Re: Repeat of the same article, this time the biased variant

"As I look out of the window on the howling rain in the UK and the much cooler summer temperatures and reflect on the unseasonal flooding this year I ask myself, is this just not another one of the many blips in climate the planet has experienced over billions of years."

Interesting question. Possibly we should abstain from burning coal and oil until we know for sure.

**Upon eating the strange mushroom I found in the woods I wondered if my increased heart rate and sense of dizziness was just another one of the many blips my body has experienced during my life. Meanwhile I reached for another mushroom...**

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Re: Repeat of the same article, this time the biased variant

Humanity has grown dependent on the current climate and the current sea level. If this changes drastically then many millions of people end up living in underwater cities or find their farmland is now an arid desert. Whether temperature was much higher or much lower many millions of years ago is irrelevant. Today CO2 concentration is higher than at any point in the last 500000 years. What matters to us is how that will change the climate over the next 50 years.

Yes, I certainly hope current UK weather turns out to be a one-off blip! However given global temperatures are increasing, there is far more energy in the atmosphere, so you'd expect more extreme weather events as a result. Whether what we are experiencing now in the UK is directly caused by AGW is not clear indeed, but if unusual and extreme weather continues then it might well be. For a more clear picture, if you look at arctic ice coverage, you can see a clear trend over the last 30 years:

http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/arctic.sea.ice.interactive.html

Note how the more recent years are colored in red and where they are?

The vast majority of scientists do not hide data, delete email or behave fraudulently. If you're thinking of "ClimateGate", those scientists were cleared of any wrongdoing by 3 separate investigations, and their data has been proven correct and reproduced by the sceptic BEST studies (graphs with both datasets overlaid are nearly identical). If you still believe there was any kind of fraud going on then you likely believe that all climate scientists are frauds and that the whole climage change concept is some kind of global conspiracy by the Illuminati...

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Re: Repeat of the same article, this time the biased variant

@Wilko

Did you read the Muir Russell Report?

"15. But we do find that there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display

the proper degree of openness, both on the part of the CRU scientists and on the

part of the UEA, who failed to recognise not only the significance of statutory

requirements but also the risk to the reputation of the University and, indeed, to

the credibility of UK climate science."

"23. On the allegation that the references in a specific e-mail to a „trick‟ and to

„hide the decline‟ in respect of a 1999 WMO report figure show evidence of

intent to paint a misleading picture, we find that, given its subsequent iconic

significance (not least the use of a similar figure in the IPCC Third

Assessment Report), the figure supplied for the WMO Report was

misleading. We do not find that it is misleading to curtail reconstructions at

some point per se, or to splice data, but we believe that both of these procedures

should have been made plain – ideally in the figure but certainly clearly

described in either the caption or the text."

"27. On the allegation that CRU does not appear to have acted in a way

consistent with the spirit and intent of the FoIA or EIR, we find that there

was unhelpfulness in responding to requests and evidence that e-mails

might have been deleted in order to make them unavailable should a

subsequent request be made for them. University senior management should

have accepted more responsibility for implementing the required processes for

FoIA and EIR compliance."

Do you trust scientists caught producing misleading information, deleting emails etc etc?

As the report highlighted, openess and probity are critical to credibility, ignore the first two and the latter is destroyed.

I am sure there are many very good and very honest climate scientists, but until they speak up and call for the removal of those that do mislead, delete and behave in a manner that brings science into disrepute they too have no credibility.

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Facepalm

Re: Repeat of the same article, this time the biased variant

Yes, but nothing in the report amounts to fraud or faking the results. What would you do when hounded by repeated FOC requests by a few persistent deniers whose only motive is trying to prove you are part of some sort of conspiracy? I'm not saying that deleting emails was a good call but it is perfectly understandable given the circumstances. But most importantly the underlying science has been proven to be correct and not fraudulent in any way. And one of the good things that came of it is that the datasets have now been made more generally available.

Claiming that all climate researchers have lost their credibility just because you don't like the behaviour of some is just ridiculous. I presume you find blogs funded by oil companies more credible somehow?

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Re: Repeat of the same article, this time the biased variant

Well, that didn't take long did it? You've already resorted to the 'blogs funded by oil companies' slur. It's interesting in the light of the recent rather laughable Lewandowsky paper, because it seems to me that in fact it's often the true believers that can't let go of the idea that there's this massive fossil fuel based conspiracy.

Despite there being no credible evidence of large scale donations to 'denier' blogs or NGOs. By large scale I mean anything that isn't dwarfed by government funding by at least a factor of 100, and probably closer to 1000 on a global scale...

Next, you'll be saying the Illuminati or the Masons are involved.

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Re: Repeat of the same article, this time the biased variant

Thats why its called "freedom of information", not selective release and the odd deletion.

Personally speaking I would have answered the requests as the law requires and I would not have deleted the material, but then I would not have been found guilty of providing misleading information to skew a viewpoint either, in short, unlike yourself honesty and probity are important to me.

Of course, just because I dont buy into your brand of kool aid doesnt mean I buy into the Oil companies mantra either, and given my late mother had a solar energy business in the UK in 1975 I have probably seen far more of the arguments, science and other stuff over the years than such learned individuals as your good self.

Anyone who thinks its in anyway reasonable to delete emails or other material on something as important as this has shown themselves to have absolutely no credibility.

You either deliberately misunderstood my last paragraph of your not the sharpest tool in the shed, I pointed out that there are undoubtedly many honest and upstanding climate scientiests but until they condemn the actions of the UEA researchers they themselves will suffer the same questions over credibility.

It comes down to a matter of ethics, the science should answer the question, not be used to fit an agenda.

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Re: Repeat of the same article, this time the biased variant

Freedom of information doesn't mean researchers should publish every private email or have every action minutely scrutinized. I'm not aware of any other field of research being bombarded by persistent FOI requests. Researchers should not need to waste their precious time on crackpots and conspiracy theorists. So as I said, it is regrettable but given the circumstances it is quite understandable. Maybe you would have acted differently, but you would have surely regretted it once you've experienced your private emails being publicly quoted out of context to prove some crazy conspiracy theory (and Phil Jones' comments and emails have been taken out of context exactly like that).

Given the above, I would not expect that other climate researches ever condemn the behaviour of the UAE researchers - almost all researchers (not just climate ones) would have done the same thing. However that doesn't in any way affect their credibility, or whether they have some sort of an agenda etc. Base your opinion of researchers on the quality of their published papers alone and nothing else. The emails (deleted or not) are not important, the science is.

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Re: Repeat of the same article, this time the biased variant

"The emails (deleted or not) are not important, the science is."

But the science-doubters don't have any science. That's the thing about science-doubters. The emails and the conspiracy theories and gravy trains are all they've got. They'll keep banging those dreary drums until somebody comes up with some science to justify their position. Or until the heat death of the universe - whichever comes sooner.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Repeat of the same article, this time the biased variant

Britain has weather, not climate!

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Re: Repeat of the same article, this time the biased variant

So its your position that the law of this land in terms of the Freedom of Information act should be selectively applicable?

The fact they used private emails to deliberately avoid obligations under the FOIA speaks volumes on both the morals and the ethics of these "scientists" regardless of how good the science is or isnt.

As Muir Russel pointed out, had the UEA actually met its obligations under FOIA they would not have been bombarded, they where bombarded because they refused to fulfil the obligations they had under the law.

Your broad brush comment that all researchers would behave the same way has no evidence to support it, in fact you have simply made it up to try and justify the actions of those you support. Rather ironic when trying to argue the credibility of something to simply pull something out of the arse of the magic elephant and claim it as a fact when its clearly nothing more than something you have fabricated.

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