Saturday, December 12, 2009

Climategate Update 18: Ice Core Flicks, Long Term Climate, Anti-Scientific Method Then & Now, & Fraud or Confirmation Bias

(H/T Jo Nova)

Update: Iowahawk teaches you how to make sausage - or at least a Mannesque hockey stick graph - using "value added homogenized data." A fascinating post.

The starting point to assess whether our current "global warming" is unusual and thus, may in fact be related to mans actvities (as opposed to Mann's activities) is to look at the historical record. Watts Up With That kindly obliges with a video showing the temps derived from ice core data from Greenland. What it establishes is that we are in a prolonged period of global warming far predating the industrial period, and that during this period of global warming, temperatures have been both changing rapidly and have, on average, been higher than today.

This jives with Prof. David Bellamy's conclusions at PJM: "Over the past 5,000 years . . . [t]here was not just one, but three periods when it was warmer than today." The Prof. also points to evidence in the historic record showing a lack of any relationship between CO2 levels and rising temperatures: ". . . the data from the much-celebrated Vostok ice cores paints a very different picture: Up goes the temperature, followed by a rise in carbon dioxide." And then this:

We have had at least 75 major temperature swings in the past 4,500 years — all in great part explicable by solar cycles, volcanic activity, and those little rascals El Nino and La Nina. Those “warming” oceans? The recent trend is one of cooling, not the warming predicted by legions of modelers and their models. Since 2007, the Arctic ice cap has been increasing in area, heading back towards the norm again. Yes, the Northwest Passage was navigable this year — but it has been that way on a number of occasions, just since 1850. Thanks in great part to prevailing winds changing direction, as they are wont to do.

Jo Nova, an Australian journalist specializing in science, gives us this assessment:

ClimateGate doesn’t just bring down the scientists who wrote the emails, it brings down all the institutions and organizations that were supposed to have exacting standards and ought to have exposed the crimes years ago. The men whose work was so bogus, were lauded by the IPCC, published in Nature and Science, and defended by the National Academy of Science.

This evidence of collusion, falsification, hiding data, and consistent deceit blows away the infrastructures of the practice of science. It doesn’t hurt the scientific method, but it destroys the premise that the IPCC expert review means anything, that peer review is capable of even picking up outright fraud, and that the National Academy of Science is functional.

. . . Of the 26 names on the [IPCC's] Copenhagen Diagnosis, 12 are connected to the email scandal. It implicates almost half the lead team. The IPCC only had 60 reviewers of the one chapter that matters (Chapter Nine), and some of them reviewed their own work, many had vested interests, and now a significant number have been caught by the scandal.

When I call up the weather station to get the day's temp., they give me a single number. But is that accurate? And is it what our climate scientists are using for their calculations? Here is the rub - to both questions, the answer is "no". And moreover, the reality is that there is a range of temperatures at any given point, making fine precision in small warming or cooling trends subject near impossible - and it would seem, giving our less than honest climate scientists a golden opportunity to mix and match different results to get a desired outcome. This from a fine catch at EU Referendum:

Such stunning precision, however, is somewhat at odds with the diffident explanation of the provenance of the Absolute Surface Air Temperature (SAT) on Nasa's GISS website. It offers this narrative:

Q. What exactly do we mean by SAT?

A. I doubt that there is a general agreement how to answer this question. Even at the same location, the temperature near the ground may be very different from the temperature 5 ft above the ground and different again from 10 ft or 50 ft above the ground. Particularly in the presence of vegetation (say in a rain forest), the temperature above the vegetation may be very different from the temperature below the top of the vegetation. A reasonable suggestion might be to use the average temperature of the first 50 ft of air either above ground or above the top of the vegetation. To measure SAT we have to agree on what it is and, as far as I know, no such standard has been suggested or generally adopted. Even if the 50 ft standard were adopted, I cannot imagine that a weather station would build a 50 ft stack of thermometers to be able to find the true SAT at its location.

Q. What do we mean by daily mean SAT?

A. Again, there is no universally accepted correct answer. Should we note the temperature every 6 hours and report the mean, should we do it every 2 hours, hourly, have a machine record it every second, or simply take the average of the highest and lowest temperature of the day? On some days the various methods may lead to drastically different results.

Q. What SAT do the local media report?

A. The media report the reading of 1 particular thermometer of a nearby weather station. This temperature may be very different from the true SAT even at that location and has certainly nothing to do with the true regional SAT. To measure the true regional SAT, we would have to use many 50 ft stacks of thermometers distributed evenly over the whole region, an obvious practical impossibility.

Q. If the reported SATs are not the true SATs, why are they still useful?

A. The reported temperature is truly meaningful only to a person who happens to visit the weather station at the precise moment when the reported temperature is measured, in other words, to nobody. However, in addition to the SAT the reports usually also mention whether the current temperature is unusually high or unusually low, how much it differs from the normal temperature, and that information (the anomaly) is meaningful for the whole region. Also, if we hear a temperature (say 70F), we instinctively translate it into hot or cold, but our translation key depends on the season and region, the same temperature may be 'hot' in winter and 'cold' in July, since by 'hot' we always mean 'hotter than normal', i.e. we all translate absolute temperatures automatically into anomalies whether we are aware of it or not.

Q. If SATs cannot be measured, how are SAT maps created?

A. This can only be done with the help of computer models, the same models that are used to create the daily weather forecasts. We may start out the model with the few observed data that are available and fill in the rest with guesses (also called extrapolations) and then let the model run long enough so that the initial guesses no longer matter, but not too long in order to avoid that the inaccuracies of the model become relevant. This may be done starting from conditions from many years, so that the average (called a 'climatology') hopefully represents a typical map for the particular month or day of the year.

Q. What do I do if I need absolute SATs, not anomalies?

A. In 99.9% of the cases you'll find that anomalies are exactly what you need, not absolute temperatures. In the remaining cases, you have to pick one of the available climatologies and add the anomalies (with respect to the proper base period) to it. For the global mean, the most trusted models produce a value of roughly 14 Celsius, i.e. 57.2°F, but it may easily be anywhere between 56 and 58°F and regionally, let alone locally, the situation is even worse.

And the helpful person responsible for this explanation? Ah! NASA Official: James E Hansen.

But as we know, it is not just that climatology is inexact, and that the AGW "scientists" have been making great use of that, but that their actions are the very essence of corruption in science. I've blogged on the why, but here it is in the words of Ian Murray and Roger Abbott writing at PJM:

Specifically, the emails indicate that some of the world’s most prominent climate scientists have abandoned the basic scientific principle of subjecting empirical evidence, and the treatment of that evidence, to external scrutiny, so that findings can be verified and — when necessary — abandoned or revised.

The scientific method relies on the observation of empirical evidence in order to arrive at new truths. While some scientific “truths” may be considered true as a practical matter once they have undergone extensive scrutiny, the questions they address can never be considered closed and must always remain open to challenge. This means that empirical evidence marshaled by scientists must be made available for critical appraisal and that skeptics must be allowed to engage in honest debate without being subject to intimidation or smear. . . .

Compare the obfuscation and arrogance from CRU to the openness and humility of Albert Einstein. After the publication of “Gravitation and the Principle of Relativity” in 1918, Einstein insisted that his theory would only be valid after empirical testing. Even after Frank Dyson’s 1919 analysis of photographs of a solar eclipse satisfied the requirements of two of his three tests, Einstein still refused to accept his own theory until the third “red shift” test was met. “If it were proved that this effect does not exist in nature, then the whole theory would have to be abandoned.”

I think it fair to call the practice of our modern day AGW scientists the anti-scientific method. Richard Fernandez, also writing at PJM, takes up the proposition that the AGW theory of global warming may be wrong, but has been perpetuated and built upon by "confirmation bias" - i.e., the tinkering or deletion of scientific results that do not conform to the expected norm. This from Mr. Fernandez:

. . . Nature cannot be fooled, but man is capable of a great deal of self deception and politicians especially so. One commenter on Megan McArdle’s site unwittingly reiterated Feynman’s thesis. He argued that once the AGW money train began the danger of confirmation bias would rise almost unchecked. Like NASA’s Challenger a launch schedule for carbon amelioration had been publicly announced by the politicians, the activists and the UN. McCardle’s commenter wrote eloquently of the terrible pressure to assume that it had to be and the horrible cost of standing in the way.

. . . None of the scientists who have “come out” as climate skeptics allege a massive conspiracy by scientists, any more than there is a massive liberal conspiracy in Hollywood. What you have is a self-emergent, self-organizing bias. I hope I can illustrate it briefly.

I work in academic science (check my IP address if you wish). Scientists are, in general, uncompromising idealists for objective, physical truth. But occasionally, politics encroaches. Most of my work is funded by DoE, DoD, ONR, and a few big companies. We get the grants, because we are simply the best in the field. But we don’t work in isolation. We work as part of a department, which has equipment, lab space, and maintenance staff, IT, et cetera. We have a system for the strict partition of unclassified/classified research through collaboration with government labs. The department had set a research policy and infrastructure goal to attract defense funding, and it worked.

The same is true in climate science. Universities and departments have set policies to attract climate science funding. Climate science centers don’t spontaneously spring into existence – they were created, in increasingly rapid numbers, to partake in the funding bonanza that is AGW. This by itself is not political – currently, universities are scrambling to set up “clean energy” and “sustainable technology” centers. Before it was bio-tech and nanotechnology. But because AGW-funding is politically motivated, departments have adroitly set their research goals to match the political goals of their funding sources. Just look at the mission statements of these climate research institutes – they don’t seek to investigate the scientific validity or soundness of AGW-theory, they assume that it is true, and seek to research the implications or consequences of it.

This filters through every level. Having created such a department, they must fill it with faculty that will carry out their mission statement. The department will hire professors who already believe in AGW and conduct research based on that premise. Those professors will hire students that will conduct their research without much fuss about AGW. And honestly, if you know anything about my generation, we will do or say whatever it is we think we’re supposed to do or say. There is no conspiracy, just a slightly cozy, unthinking myopia. Don’t rock the boat.

The former editor of the New Scientist, Nigel Calder, said it best – if you want funding to study the feeding habits of squirrels, you won’t get it. If you wants to study the effects of climate change on the feeding habits of squirrels, you will. And so in these subtle ways, there is a gravitational pull towards the AGW monolith.

I think it the most damning evidence for this soft tyranny is in the work of climate scientists whose scientific integrity has led them to publish results that clearly contradict basic assumptions in AGW modeling. Yet, in their papers, they are very careful to skirt around the issue, keeping their heads down, describing their results in a way obfuscates the contradiction. They will describe their results as an individual case, with no greater implications, and issue reassuring boilerplate statements about how AGW is true anyways.

For the field as a whole, it’s not a conspiracy. It’s the unfortunate consequence of having a field totally dominated by politically-motivated, strings-attached money. In the case of the CRU email group, well, the emails speak for themselves. Call it whatever you want.

I think it likely that confirmation bias on a grand scale is a rot at the center of AGW. But, given that so many of the top scientists have stopped practicing science and refused to release their raw data, methodology and programs for scrutiny, there is also the outright stench of deliberate and knowing fraud, at least some of which should be actionable at law.

For example, Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit, in a long post, traces how the IPCC, Michael Mann, Phil Jones and others colluded to "hide the decline" in the IPCC assessments - they used graphs which showed only portions of the data which supported their meme, deleting other portions from the same findings which did not. That is not confirmation bias, it is deliberate fraud designed to induce the Western World, one, not to question AGW, and two, open their national purses and start transferring our national worth on a grand scale. Bring back the auto-de-fe is my knee jerk response.

Possibly the most insidious part of the whole AGW scam is how the left, by all accounts in control of our educational system, have brainwashed our children with it - as well as with much of the other "social justice" curriculum. Art Ball, a meteorologist, writes at PJM about how he has been blackballed from speaking at schools since he developed a program that points out the holes in AGW theory.

And I have written often that the socialists in AGW garb see AGW regulation as the ultimate accretion of power. With the ability to control carbon, there is literally no aspect of life that cannot be regulated. The latest ping on this radar screen - the UK government's Sustainable Development Commission's report on AGW diets for the
. It calls for "which calls for radical changes in patterns of consumption" in order to combat global warming. Topping the least is a stark reduction in meat and dairy products - which, as even the report notes, could lead to deficiencies in calcium and iron. True, these were merely suggestions - for now. But clearly, it is something within the provence of government to regulate if they have a mandate to regulate carbon. And if anyone does not see such regulations on the horizon, they are deeply naive, I think.

Likewise gone are the days of the old saying, "Keep the government out of my womb." Now the facists/socialists hiding under the banner of environmentalism want to start regulating the number of children that couples may have, a la China.

We'll give the final word on this update to Jonah Goldberg at NRO:

Jason and his Argonauts set out to find the fleece so they might place Jason on the throne of Iolcus. The original story is one of power-seeking in a noble cause.

It’s debatable whether the modern tale of Jackson and the Goregonauts is quite so noble. But it’s obvious they’re interested in power and hell-bent on fleecing.

Indeed, some of loudest voices have a weird habit of telegraphing their priorities. Tim Wirth, a former senator and now chairman of the United Nations Foundation, once said: “We’ve got to ride the global-warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing, in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.” New York Times columnist and prominent warm-monger Thomas Friedman has repeatedly said (most recently this week) that he doesn’t care if global warming is a “hoax” because, even if it is, the fear of it will force us to do what we need to do.

And it just so happens that with the exception of nuclear power — which most greens still won’t support — global warming fuels nearly every progressive ambition. Wealth transfers from rich to poor nations: Check. The rise of “global governance” and the decline of American sovereignty: Check. A secular fatwa not only to erode capitalism but to intrude on every aspect of our lives (Greenpeace offers a guide to carbon-neutral sex): Check. Weaning us off of oil (which, don’t let the Goregonauts fool you, was a priority back when we were still worried about global cooling): Check. The checks go on for as far as the eye can see, and we will be writing them for years to come.

Prior Posts:

- Climategate and Surrealism
- More Climategate Fallout
- Climategate Update 3
- Climategate Update 4: CRU Records Worthless
- Climategate Update 5: IPCC's Chairman Mao
- Climategate Update 6: Climategate In Video
- UNEP, Green Religion & Global Governance
- Climate Update 7: IPCC's Chairman Mao Plays The Obama Card, Peer Review Analyzed, Scientific Method Explained For Paul Krugman
- Climategate Update 8: The NYT Reports
- Climategate Update 9: CRU Head Phil Jones Steps Down During Investigation, An MIT Prof Explains The Holes In AGW Theory, And Climate Fraud Is Everywhere
- Climategate Update 10: Climategate Reverberates From The UK To Down Under
- Climategate Update 11: Finally An AGW Consensus, "Hockey Stick" Mann Attacks Jones, Gore Goes To Ground
- Climategate Update 12: The AGW Wall Starts To Crumble, The Smoking Code & The Tiger Woods Index
- Clmategate Update 13: Hack Job Alert - Washington Post Leads With Climategate and A Complete Defense Of Global Warming
- Climate Update 14: A Tale of 4 Graphs & An Influential Tree, Hide The Decline Explained, Corrupt Measurements, Goebbelswarming at Copenhagen
- Climategate Update 15: Copenhagen, EPA Makes Final Finding On CO2, Courts & Clean Air
- Climategate Update 16: Copenhagen'$ Goal$, Palin Weighs In, As Do Scientists Obama Holds American Economy Hostage Over Cap and Trade
- Climategate Updage 17: What Greenland's Ice Core Tells Us, The EPA's Reliance On The IPCC, & The Left's War On Coal
- Gorebbelswarming
- Krauthammer On The New Socialism & The EPA's Power Grab


OBloodyHell said...

> The Prof. also points to evidence in the historic record showing a lack of any relationship between CO2 levels and rising temperatures: ". . . the data from the much-celebrated Vostok ice cores paints a very different picture: Up goes the temperature, followed by a rise in carbon dioxide."

This actually makes some sense if you are familiar with clathrates, as well as other forms of natural carbon sequestering which involve permafrost. If it warms up, some percentage of the clathrates would be destroyed, releasing trapped carbon gases (notably methane). If we assume that there is a natural process by which excess methane gets broken down (all sorts of possibilities here) then CO2 is a likely byproduct of that breakdown, and an increase in CO2 is likely and expected.

The inverse of this is often used as a sky-is-falling justification for the idea of it as a positive feedback mechanism (and we all know how much nature loves positive feedback mechanisms, right? You can't throw a stick in nature without finding some natural process that's inherently oscillating out of control. Oh, wait, that's liberal hysteria that keeps getting hit by thrown sticks.... **Never mind**.)

To wit: Warming releases clathrate and other permafrost-sequestered CO2, leading to still more CO2-derived warming. Everything follows from that -- fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

OBloodyHell said...

> And honestly, if you know anything about my generation, we will do or say whatever it is we think we’re supposed to do or say.

Reminds me of a Bongo-oriented strip from Matt Groening's Life In Hell, back in 1983.

Bongo (the one-eared child rabbit) is sitting in class, listening to the teacher blather on.


Teacher: Now, class, can who can tell me the purpose of what we have learned today?

Teacher: Anyone?

Bongo: (in succession, thought, not spoken)

To be dull, obedient little sheep.

To knuckle under to petty authority.

To avoid all fundamental criticism of the Powers That Be.

To regard those who are different with suspicion and contempt.

To go along with every prevailing belief.

Teacher: I'm waiting.

Bongo: (again, in succession, thought, not spoken)

To fill our brains with facts without stimulating mental activity.

To make us get used to meaningless busywork in preparation for our boring adult jobs.

To keep us off the streets until we're eighteen.

Well, here goes (raising hand).

Teacher: Yes, you, there, in the back.

Bongo: Today we learned the importance of good citizenship, civic pride, and keeping our desks tidy.

Teacher: Thank you, that was very good.

Bongo: (again, in thought, not spoken)

And to be devious little weasels.


Pretty much describes the modern school experience, doesn't it?

OBloodyHell said...

From the Hot Air link:
> (A few months later, Ted Turner rounded off the meme by insisting that we might eventually resort to a tastier form of population control.)

Well, that sounds rather Swift.