Sunday, December 13, 2009

Climategate Update 19: The Daily Mail Hits A Bullseye On Climategate; The AP Spins

The Daily Mail, in the first real news article I have seen in the MSM to actually dig into Climategate, exposes the AGW cabal's inner workings and answers why Climategate is of such monumental importance. For its part, the AP's Seth Bronstein, an AGW alarmist of the first order, also tells us that he has dug into Climategate, but there is nothing to see, so move along.

This from the Daily Mail:

The claim was both simple and terrifying: that temperatures on planet Earth are now ‘likely the highest in at least the past 1,300 years’.

As its authors from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) must have expected, it made headlines around the world.

Yet some of the scientists who helped to draft it, The Mail on Sunday can reveal, harboured uncomfortable doubts.

In the words of one, David Rind from the US space agency Nasa, it ‘looks like there were years around 1000AD that could have been just as warm’.

Keith Briffa from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU), which plays a key role in forming IPCC assessments, urged caution, warning that when it came to historical climate records, there was no new data, only the ‘same old evidence’ that had been around for years.

‘Let us not try to over-egg the pudding,’ he wrote in an email to an IPCC colleague in September 2006.

‘True, there have been many different techniques used to aggregate and scale data - but the efficacy of these is still far from established.’

But when the ‘warmest for 1,300 years’ claim was published in 2007 in the IPCC’s fourth report, the doubters kept silent.

It is only now that their concerns have started to emerge from the thousands of pages of ‘Warmergate’ emails leaked last month from the CRU’s computers, along with references to performing a ‘trick’ to ‘hide’ temperature decline and instructions to resist all efforts by the CRU’s critics to use the Freedom of Information Act to check the unit’s data and conclusions.

. . . Professor Trevor Davies, the university’s Pro-Vice Chancellor and a former CRU director, told me. ‘I am certain that the science is rock solid.’

He admitted that his CRU colleagues had sometimes used ‘injudicious phrases’, but that was because they kept on being ‘diverted’ from their work by those who wished to scrutinise it. ‘It’s understandable that sometimes people get frustrated,’ he said.

Sorry to break in here, but file that above statement away as Exhibit 1 in why what the AGW crowd has been practicing cannot be considered science. It is unfortunate that the author of this article did not rake the Professor over the coals on that one. But that really goes to the very crux of why AGW theory can only be considered illegitimate and unproven today. All of those "scientists" who held back their data, methodology and computer programs need to be stripped of their accreditation and booted out of academia.

The only lesson the affair had for him was that ‘we have got to get better in terms of explanation. Some scientists still find it quite it difficult to communicate with the public.’

Others, however, were less optimistic. Roger Pielke, Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado, could in no sense be described as a climate change sceptic, let alone a ‘denier’.

‘Human-caused climate change is real, and I’m a strong advocate for action,’ he said. ‘But I’m also a strong advocate for integrity in science.’

Pielke’s verdict on the scandal is damning.

‘These emails open up the possibility that big scientific questions we’ve regarded as settled may need another look.

'They reveal that some of these scientists saw themselves not as neutral investigators but as warriors engaged in battle with the so-called sceptics.

‘They have lost a lot of credibility and as far as their being leading spokespeople on this issue of huge public importance, there is no going back.’

. . . In fact, there is a large body of highly-respected academic experts who fiercely contest this thesis: people such as Richard Lindzen, Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a disillusioned former IPCC member, and Dr Tom Segalstad, head of geology at Oslo University, who has stated that ‘most leading geologists throughout the world know that the IPCC’s view of Earth processes are implausible if not impossible’.

These dissenters focus their criticisms on the IPCC’s analysis of the way the atmosphere works and the models it uses to predict the future.

However, Warmergate strikes at something more fundamental - the science that justifies the basic assumption that the present warming really is unprecedented, at least in the past few thousand years.

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

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

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

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

You can find Mr. McIntyre's analysis of the "trick" here, here and here. Explaining what the "trick" is establishes fraud by the climate scientists at the pinnacle of power in the AGW movement and conspiracy by the IPCC in furthering the fraud. The true "deniers" claim that the e-mail was taken out of context, but they never say what the context is. Thankfully, Mr. McIntyre has done so.

There is a widespread misconception that the ‘decline’ Jones was referring to is the fall in global temperatures from their peak in 1998, which probably was the hottest year for a long time. In fact, its subject was more technical - and much more significant.

It is true that, in Watson’s phrase, in the autumn of 1999 Jones and his colleagues were trying to ‘tweak’ a diagram. But it wasn’t just any old diagram.

It was the chart displayed on the first page of the ‘Summary for Policymakers’ of the 2001 IPCC report - the famous ‘hockey stick’ graph that has been endlessly reproduced in everything from newspapers to primary-school textbooks ever since, showing centuries of level or declining temperatures until a dizzying, almost vertical rise in the late 20th Century.

There could be no simpler or more dramatic representation of global warming, and if the origin of worldwide concern over climate change could be traced to a single image, it would be the hockey stick.

Drawing a diagram such as this is far from straightforward.

Gabriel Fahrenheit did not invent the mercury thermometer until 1724, so scientists who want to reconstruct earlier climate history have to use ‘proxy data’ - measurements derived from records such as ice cores, tree-rings and growing season dates.

However, different proxies give very different results.

For example, some suggest that the ‘medieval warm period’, the 350-year era that started around 1000, when red wine grapes flourished in southern England and the Vikings tilled now-frozen farms in Greenland, was considerably warmer than even 1998.

Of course, this is inconvenient to climate change believers because there were no cars or factories pumping out greenhouse gases in 1000AD - yet the Earth still warmed.

Some tree-ring data eliminates the medieval warmth altogether, while others reflect it. In September 1999, Jones’s IPCC colleague Michael Mann of Penn State University in America - who is now also the subject of an official investigation --was working with Jones on the hockey stick. As they debated which data to use, they discussed a long tree-ring analysis carried out by Keith Briffa.

Briffa knew exactly why they wanted it, writing in an email on September 22: ‘I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards “apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more”.’ But his conscience was troubled. ‘In reality the situation is not quite so simple - I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1,000 years ago.’

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

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

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

Three things of note here. To this day, no one outside the AGW crowd, beyond what was released in the CRU tranche, has access to the computer programs used to spit out what it is the AGW crowd wants us to believe. That is criminal. Two, we now know that the Yamal tree ring data was carefully cherry picked for its data. And lastly, of most relevance to the above, we also know that Briffa's data showing cooling in Yamal actually correlates with reality. The temperatures in that region in fact have cooled since 1960. So it is truly an open question what temperature readings they used graft onto the end of the Briffa data set.

This is the context in which, seven weeks later, Jones presented his ‘trick’ - as simple as it was deceptive.

All he had to do was cut off Briffa’s inconvenient data at the point where the decline started, in 1961, and replace it with actual temperature readings, which showed an increase.

On the hockey stick graph, his line is abruptly terminated - but the end of the line is obscured by the other lines.

‘Any scientist ought to know that you just can’t mix and match proxy and actual data,’ said Philip Stott, emeritus professor of biogeography at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

‘They’re apples and oranges. Yet that’s exactly what he did.’

Since Warmergate-broke, some of the CRU’s supporters have claimed that Jones and his colleagues made a ‘full disclosure’ of what they did to Briffa’s data in order to produce the hockey stick.

But as McIntyre points out, ‘contrary to claims by various climate scientists, the IPCC Third Assessment Report did not disclose the deletion of the post-1960 values’.

On the final diagram, the cut off was simply concealed by the other lines.

By 2007, when the IPCC produced its fourth report, McIntyre had become aware of the manipulation of the Briffa data and Briffa himself, as shown at the start of this article, continued to have serious qualms.

McIntyre by now was an IPCC ‘reviewer’ and he urged the IPCC not to delete the post-1961 data in its 2007 graph. ‘They refused,’ he said, ‘stating this would be “inappropriate”.’

Yet even this, Pielke told me, may not ultimately be the biggest consequence of Warmergate.

Some of the most controversial leaked emails concern attempts by Jones and his colleagues to avoid disclosure of the CRU’s temperature database - its vast library of readings from more than 1,000 weather stations around the world, the ultimate resource that records how temperatures have changed.

In one email from 2005, Jones warned Mann not to leave such data lying around on searchable websites, because ‘you never know who is trawling them’.

Critics such as McIntyre had been ‘after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone’.

Yesterday Davies said that, contrary to some reports, none of this data has in fact been deleted. But in the wake of the scandal, its reliability too is up for grabs.

The problem is that, just like tree rings or ice cores, readings from thermometers or electronic ‘thermistors’ are open to interpretation.

The sites of weather stations that were once open countryside become built up areas, so trapping heat, and the type of equipment used changes over time.

The result is what climate scientists call ‘inhomogeneities’ - anomalies between readings that need to be ‘adjusted’.

But can we trust the way such ‘adjustments’ are made?

That really is the crux of the whole matter. If we cannot trust the very basic data on which AGW science relies, then there is nothing about it that can be trusted. And as the Daily Mail points out, there is every reason to be sceptical:

Last week, an article posted on a popular climate sceptic website analysed the data from the past 130 years in Darwin, Australia.

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

This is the graphs that the author is referring to, showing how a level temperature becomes run-away proof of AGW after the AGW folk apply their "corrections."

In 2007, McIntyre examined records across America. He found that between 1999 and 2007, the US equivalent of the Met Office had changed the way it adjusted old data.

The result was to make the Thirties seem cooler, and the years since 1990 much warmer. Previously, the warmest year since records began in America had been 1934.

Now, in line with CRU and IPCC orthodoxy, it was 1998.

At the CRU, said Davies, some stations’ readings were adjusted by unit and in such cases, raw and adjusted data could be compared.

But in about 90 per cent of cases, the adjustment was carried out in the countries that collected the data, and the CRU would not know exactly how this had been done.
Davies said: ‘All I can say is that the process is careful and considered. To get the details, the best way would be to go the various national meteorological services.’

The consequences of that, Stott said, may be explosive. ‘If you take Darwin, the gap between the two just looks too big.

‘If that applies elsewhere, it’s going to get really interesting. It’s no longer going to be good enough for the Met Office and CRU to put the data out there.
‘To know we can trust it, we’ve got to know what adjustments have been made, and why.’

Last week, at the Copenhagen climate summit, the Met Office said that the Noughties have been the warmest decade in history. Depending on how the data has been adjusted, Stott said, that statement may not be true.

Pielke agreed. ‘After Climategate, the surface temperature record is being called into question.’ To experts such as McIntyre and Pielke, perhaps the most baffling thing has been the near-unanimity over global warming in the world’s mainstream media - a unanimity much greater than that found among scientists.

In part, this is the result of strongarm tactics.

For example, last year the BBC environment reporter Roger Harrabin made substantial changes to an article on the corporation website that asked why global warming seemed to have stalled since 1998 - caving in to direct pressure from a climate change activist, Jo Abbess.

‘Personally, I think it is highly irresponsible to play into the hands of the sceptics who continually promote the idea that “global warming finished in 1998” when that is so patently not true,’ she told him in an email.

After a brief exchange, he complied and sent a final note: ‘Have a look in ten minutes and tell me you are happier. We have changed headline and more.’

Afterwards, Abbess boasted on her website: ‘Climate Changers, Remember to challenge any piece of media that seems like it’s been subject to spin or scepticism. Here’s my go for today. The BBC actually changed an article I requested a correction for.’

Last week, Michael Schlesinger, Professor of Atmospheric Studies at the University of Illinois, sent a still cruder threat to Andrew Revkin of the New York Times, accusing him of ‘gutter reportage’, and warning: ‘The vibe that I am getting from here, there and everywhere is that your reportage is very worrisome to most climate scientists ... I sense that you are about to experience the “Big Cutoff” from those of us who believe we can no longer trust you, me included.’

But in the wake of Warmergate, such threats - and the readiness to bow to them - may become rarer.

‘A year ago, if a reporter called me, all I got was questions about why I’m trying to deny climate change and am threatening the future of the planet,’ said Professor Ross McKitrick of Guelph University near Toronto, a long-time collaborator with McIntyre.

‘Now, I’m getting questions about how they did the hockey stick and the problems with the data.

‘Maybe the emails have started to open people’s eyes.’

Let us hope they open up eyes before we, as sheep, transfer untold power to our government and authorize massive raids on our national wealth, consigning countless Americans to a much reduced quality of life.

The AP, for its part, also has an article out on Climategate. After an exhaustive analysis by their crack newsteam, they conclude that there is nothing to see, though their own words belie that proposition. In the interests of fair use for the purposes of commentary, here are the opening paragraphs of the AP article:

E-mails stolen from climate scientists show they stonewalled skeptics and discussed hiding data — but the messages don't support claims that the science of global warming was faked, according to an exhaustive review by The Associated Press.

The 1,073 e-mails examined by the AP show that scientists harbored private doubts, however slight and fleeting, even as they told the world they were certain about climate change. However, the exchanges don't undercut the vast body of evidence showing the world is warming because of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

The scientists were keenly aware of how their work would be viewed and used, and, just like politicians, went to great pains to shape their message. . . .

(emphasis added) Let's key in on that last bit. If science is a search for the truth, and the scientific method requires a scientist to make his work available so that it can be reviewed, verified and replicated, how does that have one single thing to do with "shap[ing] their message." Indeed, there is probably no greater indictment of senior AGW scientists and the IPCC and no greater indication of the lack of fundamnetal untrustworthiness of their work than the words the AP chooses to use to tell else that there is nothing to see. You can read the rest of the AP article here.

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


Paul_In_Houston said...

For any who might feel inclined to defend or disregard the adjustment of data, may I respectfully note that Obama and his nutcases got where they are because they appeared to have received more votes than their opponents.

How would you feel about "adjusting" THAT data?


OBloodyHell said...

> All of those "scientists" who held back their data, methodology and computer programs need to be stripped of their accreditation and booted out of academia.

With steel-toed boots. Really, really big ones.