Junk Science

A fascinating insight into the world of scientists who are advocates of the theory of man-made global warming was given by hackers who stole a huge amount of data and e-mails from the  Climactic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in England.  To my complete non-surprise, in many of their e-mails the scientists seem to be much more concerned about advocating the “party line” of the reality of man-made global warming instead of engaging in disinterested science.  John  Hinderaker at Powerline has a fascinating look at some of the e-mails here.  Ed Morrissey at Hot Air is on top of the story.  A good overview is here.

Many global warming advocates have always struck me as more akin to advocates of a religion or partisans in a political campaign than people who simply observe data and produce scientific theories based on their observations.  Science is an area of human endeavor to be highly respected, but like all areas of human activity it is subject to being misused by con men and snakeoil salesmen.  The fallout from all of this should be amusing to behold in the days to come.

Update:  Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has a good follow up post here.

38 Responses to Junk Science

  • Tito Edwards says:

    What is also surprising to me, is that they are losing credibility day by day. That is a pleasant surprise.

    As the evidence continues to grow of the farce of mand-made global warming it’s one less thing we can worry about as time goes by.

  • Todd says:

    The undeniable facts are these:
    - The world has been getting warmer for the past 500 years.
    - The warming has accelerated over the past century.
    - External processes (Solar radiation, the galatic environment, or some alteration in the Earth’s radiation belts) can’t account for the acceleration of warming.
    - Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have increased measurably since industrialization.

    We know that political people were denying warming trends as late as ten years ago. The evidence is clearly all against them, so now a common fallback position is that it’s not our fault.

    That might be, but no serious scientist has uncovered a plausible mechanism for the acceleration of warming trends. It seems to coincide exactly with the emission of industrial byproducts into the atmosphere.

    Hacking into e-mails is enjoyable enough as an adolescent prank or as criminal behavior, but it doesn’t change the facts. The science of climate change has been debated within the scientific community among climatologists, astronomers, physicists, and other experts. The consensus is a reality.

    That some business interests see this news as a threat to profits and power is also undeniable. But, you know, things change. New markets open up. Other people get a chance tomake money in new businesses. That those businesses might be wind turbines, solar power cells, and local agriculture, and not Middle Eastern oil or over-sized cars or maybe not even corn-based ethanol is just the way it is. We’re not talking junk science as much as we’re talking junk economics.

    Climate change skeptics, if they are insistent and incurious, may well be targets of ridicule. I don’t sympathize.

  • I’d add one more fact. Greenhouse gases, including carbon emissions have a global warming effect. We can argue about the extent of the warming, the extent to which carbon emissions contribute to it, and what to do about it but deniers usually go too far and deny the basic facts. Too often I hear, “It’s cold today, therefore global warming is a farce.” Talk about unscientific!

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    It’s a good idea to switch to clean energy and less consumption regardless of whether or not human activity is the primary cause of global warming.

    What we don’t need is to be told how to run our lives by Al Gore. These people couldn’t care less that millions of unborn children are killed through abortion.

    We should remember that the Church has much to say about environmental issues. In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict writes,

    “But it should also be stressed that it is contrary to authentic development to view nature as something more important than the human person. This position leads to attitudes of neo-paganism or a new pantheism — human salvation cannot come from nature alone, understood in a purely naturalistic sense. This having been said, it is also necessary to reject the opposite position, which aims at total technical dominion over nature, because the natural environment is more than raw material to be manipulated at our pleasure; it is a wondrous work of the Creator containing a “grammar” which sets forth ends and criteria for its wise use, not its reckless exploitation.”

    Sounds like a good starting point for me.

  • Art Deco says:

    The undeniable facts are these:
    - The world has been getting warmer for the past 500 years.
    - The warming has accelerated over the past century.

    The ‘undeniable facts’ are disputed by, among others, this fellow:

    http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/archive/pr0310.html

    .

    I believe the recorded increase in global temperatures over the last century or so has been on the order of 0.6 F, with a period of decline during the period from 1945 to 1980 (during which Carl Sagan and others began to push global cooling scenarios). Got other stuff on my mind, Todd.

  • Rick Lugari says:

    Too often I hear, “It’s cold today, therefore global warming is a farce.” Talk about unscientific!

    Indeed! Just as ridiculous is to say this decade or this century or this millennium is warmer and man must be making it so, therefore man can and must reverse it.

    As silly as it would be to measure the temperature of two particular days and draw a conclusion about the climate trend in a century, that would still be more accurate than measuring mean temperatures in two centuries and drawing a conclusion about the climate trend over 5 billion years. Given what we know about the cycles of the earth’s climate, I think it would be insane to expect the climate to remain static across centuries. None of this is to say that’s it’s not possible that our activities can’t effect climate to some degree, however, a change in climate does not mean that it must be man’s activities causing it.

  • Todd says:

    Art, regarding, “The ‘undeniable facts’ are disputed by, among others, this fellow …”

    I didn’t see anything in his piece that wasn’t a surprise when I took GEO204, Climatology.

    The problem with warming trends, as the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age show, but that melt from Greenland alters the Gulf Stream and plunges Europe into another Little Ice Age. My real concern would be an alteration of monsoon patterns for South Asia. Nothing like famine and ensuing political instability for one to two billion Asians.

    ” … a change in climate does not mean that it must be man’s activities causing it.”

    Well, ok … But nobody has come up with another reason for it.

  • foxfier says:

    Wait, you’re worried about something that might happen, so we’ve got to beggar the first world, oppress the third world out of ever advancing to a decent level of life (because that would have too big of a carbon foot-print) and put in power a whole ton of folks who view humans as pests? Sounds like the probable cure is worse than the theorized disease.

    Well, ok … But nobody has come up with another reason for it.

    Yes they have– solar cycles. Which matches up with warming on other planets, plus the lack of sun spots matches up with the recent lack of heating.

    If you’re really interested in disputations on your information, Todd, I’ve got a post here that is basically a grab-bag of refutations, quibbles, ignored information and such.

  • foxfier says:

    (Side note: every time folks feel the need to point out that there’s nothing wrong with trying to live more efficiently, use less and such, I can practically hear my grandfather saying something to the effect of:
    “Wait. You are working on making it cheaper to heat and cool someone’s home, you want to lower their power bill and make it so that they can help people who are starving or in other trouble live better lives, and the only way you can talk them into doing it is to tell them the world will end if they don’t? Son, you need to hire a salesman– you couldn’t sell ice in Death Valley.”)

  • Todd says:

    “Wait, you’re worried about something that might happen, so we’ve got to beggar the first world ….”

    Wait, I thought this post was about computer hijinx. Who said anything about poverty? Are we totally dependent on Dick Cheney and the Saudis or do we have freedom to explore new business opportunities?

    “Yes they have– solar cycles. Which matches up with warming on other planets, plus the lack of sun spots matches up with the recent lack of heating.”

    All disproven. Solar cycle changes do not affect climate in the way that atmospheric greenhouse gases do. Likewise warming on other planets and on Earth is a myth. The world is getting warmer. Get used to it.

  • foxfier says:

    Wait, I thought this post was about computer hijinx.

    It was, until you changed the subject to science.

    Does that mean you want to go back to the emails on how these folks are falsifying science, and plotting to cover it up?

    Are we totally dependent on Dick Cheney and the Saudis or do we have freedom to explore new business opportunities?

    Guess that means you just want to change the subject again, to a non-siquitor. You might want to look into the “solutions” folks are offering for global warming– uniformly, they consist of stopping business, retarding advancement and taking money by force.

    All disproven.

    BS. I’ve got links to well-supported articles, you’ve got only your own assertions– got any support?

    Solar cycle changes do not affect climate in the way that atmospheric greenhouse gases do.

    Very true. The solar effects can be shown, and actually match up with historical cycles– in a manner of speaking, they can predict the past. (This is different from other computer models.)

    Likewise warming on other planets and on Earth is a myth.

    I’m afraid you’re mistaken, as this is the top response to “global warming mars” on google. And NatGeo believes in AGW/CC.

  • Todd says:

    In a logical world, climate change is about science. Not politics.

    I read over the Spiegel piece, and it’s not convincing. The uptick in global temperatures is real. If you want to draw a line from 1998 to 2008 you’re going from a warm year to a slightly cooler year. Try a statistical trend dating back to the 16th century.

    Statisticians were given the temperature data without knowing what it was. They all agreed there’s an increase and it’s not leveling off or dipping. Ships are still sailing the Arctic Ocean, and the Northwest Passage is now a reality.

    Personally, I care little for the particular solutions politicians are offering. It has yet to be seen if human beings can reverse the warming trend. What I’m choosing to attack here is the mindless meme that either the warming trend is non-existent or that human industrialization is the main cause for an acceleration not seen in centuries.

    I respect Donald and others for their tenacity and their intellect on other issues. But I’m sorry to say, guys, you’re heading for an F in science and math. Better stick to the culture wars. It’s what you do best.

  • foxfier says:

    Not the Northwest Passage thing again. That’s been hammered on for the last decade, and not very accurately.

    To quote:
    Here is a photo of the St. Roch. It’s a wooden ship, not some massive, metallic icebreaker. According to the Vancouver Maritime Museum web site, this 104 foot wooden ship sailed through the Northwest Passage from 1940 to 1942, that was from west to east. In 1944 it did it again from from east to west. King George VI awarded Captain Henry Larsen, and the crew, the Polar Medal for making the 1944 voyage

    You say:
    But I’m sorry to say, guys, you’re heading for an F in science and math.
    While failing, massively, at basic research– guess you need to stick to personal attacks, eh?

  • Todd says:

    Look, this is the way it goes here: hackers stole some e-mails and suddenly climate change is discredited? Hardly.

    The world is getting warmer. I read the science behind it in books, scientific publications, and I talk to real scientists at real universities.

    Donald and others quote the Guardian and Der Spiegel. It’s like a seeker getting her or his information on Catholicism from Time or Newsweek. If you want the facts, go to the source.

    I don’t know if any fencesitters are still following this discussion, but if you have doubts, don’t trust anybody here–even me. Just find the scientists who can communicate the facts.

    What’s to do on the political front is still up in the air. Take with a grain of salt anybody who uses the but-we’ll-go-broke argument to deny climate change. With that, I leave this discussion to anyone else that can insert more sense into it.

  • Art Deco says:

    Look, this is the way it goes here: hackers stole some e-mails and suddenly climate change is discredited? Hardly.

    Among the e-mails is a set of exchanges on a non-esoteric topic: a discussion of the means of arranging for the dismissal of the editor of Geophysical Research Letters for the offense of publishing a paper by Dr. Willie Soon et al. of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center. People tend to lose some of the authority with which they speak when they are exposed as crappy institutional politicians. If that bothers you, tough.

  • foxfier says:

    Look, this is the way it goes here: hackers stole some e-mails and suddenly climate change is discredited? Hardly.

    No, this is the way it goes:
    Someone supposedly hacked into a AGW supporting group’s email and released evidence they were cooking the books. (There is a lot of suspicion that it might be a leak, rather than an actual hack.)

    This indicates that the supporters of global warming realize it can’t stand on its own.

    That, needless to say, gives more weight to the information already out that points towards anthropogenic climate change being discredited.

    Just find the scientists who can communicate the facts.

    My blog post up above is a good place to start– has a wide range of scientists represented, along with specific points where AGW supporting scientists have been shown to be questionable.

    I read the science behind it in books, scientific publications, and I talk to real scientists at real universities.

    And yet you ignore scientists to quote an AP story that basically says “I selected data, removed all identifying information, and sent it to statisticians– see, it proves global warming!”

    It’s insanely easy to see how that could be innocently warped– what years did he send? Where did he get his measurements? Where did those he got his measurements from get their information, since many city measurements have been shown to be tainted by inappropriate placing. (Such as putting a thermometer by an AC exhaust.)

    How about responding to the actual content of the information you dismiss?

    You haven’t responded to the information on the Northwest Passage (sailed over a century ago) to the information on “global warming” on Mars (not a myth, counter to your claim) the effects of solar variation (which can actually be shown, correctly, via computer model) or the weakness of AGW climate models. (which can’t manage to accurately predict the past– a pretty simple test of a model, since all the information is there)

  • Blackadder says:

    Someone supposedly hacked into a AGW supporting group’s email and released evidence they were cooking the books.

    If they have been “cooking the book” then why does their data show an absence of warming over the last decade? Are they just really stupid in addition to being really evil?

  • foxfier says:

    If they have been “cooking the book” then why does their data show an absence of warming over the last decade?

    More complicated than that is the short answer.

    Some information on book-cooking here, but here’s a snippet:
    The story began when Steve McIntyre, the same researcher who was largely responsible for destroying Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” graph purporting to show unprecedented warming in the 20th century, turned his attention to a famous article published by Keith Briffa of East Anglia’s CRU in 2000. This article analyzed the diameters of tree rings, including rings from an area called Yamal in Siberia, and conveniently generated another hockey-stick shaped graph. You can read an account of the ensuing controversy here. McIntyre’s work appeared to show that Briffa had cherry-picked trees in order to get the result he was looking for. One fact that this story highlights is that global warming alarmists publish their results in scientific journals, but refuse to make the underlying data publicly available so that the validity of their analyses can be checked.

  • foxfier says:

    Example:
    From: Phil Jones
    To: ray bradley ,mann@virginia.edu, mhughes@ltrr.arizona.edu
    Subject: Diagram for WMO Statement
    Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15 +0000
    Cc: k.briffa@uea.ac.uk,t.osborn@uea.ac.uk

    Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm,
    Once Tim’s got a diagram here we’ll send that either later today or first thing tomorrow. I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline. Mike’s series got the annual land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999 for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998. Thanks for the comments, Ray.

    Cheers
    Phil

    Prof. Phil Jones
    Climatic Research Unit Telephone +44 (0) 1603 592090
    School of Environmental Sciences Fax +44 (0) 1603 507784
    University of East Anglia
    Norwich Email p.jones@uea.ac.uk
    NR4 7TJ
    UK

  • Anono says:

    Blackadder –

    They’re “cooking the books” not in the sense of inventing data out of thin air (in which case you’d have a valid point), but in the less thrilling but still extremely damaging sense that they have now been shown to have: 1) strained to come up with statistical models that help prove what they already “knew” to be true; 2) privately confessed to less certainty than they ever showed in public; 3) schemed to block articles from being published that would disprove their work.

  • Anono says:

    Oh, and on top of that, they schemed to destroy emails and data so as not to have to answer FOIA requests. Now you’re a lawyer . . . if a whistleblower lets you know that the defense is scheming to destroy a bunch of evidence so that you can’t find it in discovery, what are you going to ask the judge to infer about the contents of the evidence?

  • Blackadder says:

    Anono,

    Do you have any evidence that this was the result of a”whistleblower” as opposed to a hacker as it being reported?

    I don’t deny that there is some pretty damaging stuff in the emails, but it seems an exaggeration to say that the emails prove global warming is a hoax.

  • foxfier says:

    Well, his link does make an argument that if it is a hacker, it’s a rather odd one; no bragging, only two very quiet attempts to get the information out… “disgruntled employee” would fit the facts as well as “strange hacker.”

  • American Knight says:

    Where I come from gobal climate change has a simpler name:

    Seasons.

    We need to be mindful of our home not worship it. Additionally, try as we might, we do not get to destroy the world. God made it and He will end it.

    In the meantime, enjoy the warming. You people that are always crying about man made global warming are the same ones usually bitching about being cold. So what is it, too warm or too cold? Eat a hamburger, put on a sweater and quit crying.

    If you leave the rest of us alone to drive SUVs and crank the A/C and drink American beer; then we’ll let you worship all the trees and ants you want, drink your wheatgrass lunches and beat your tribal drums in your Birkenstocks while not showering (just don’t stand too close). Then we can let evolution take its course and see which ‘species’ survives. ;)

  • Anono says:

    Do you have any evidence that this was the result of a”whistleblower” as opposed to a hacker as it being reported?

    What’s the evidence that it’s an actual hacker, would be the first question.

  • Blackadder says:

    Anono,

    The University says that they were hacked. You said that “[i]ndications are that this was a whistleblower, not an outside hacker.” My question is what indications you were referring to?

  • Anono says:

    Well, you could try reading the link I posted with that remark. And also try thinking about whether some random outside hacker would know which emails to target out of probably hundreds of thousands over the past decade.

    Anyway, that’s beside the point (which you’re studiously avoiding). Hacker or not, this whistleblower has done an immense public service in showing how the great scientists’ feet are made of clay. And how they seem to act as if they have something to hide. (Now why would genuine scientists whose data analysis is on the up-and-up need to threaten deletion as soon as someone wants to see their data? Hmmm.)

    Check out the posts here: http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/ for some interesting posts. E.g., http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/11/22/steve-mcintyres-at-it-again/

  • Donna V. says:

    Blackadder: what you are missing is that this particular group of scientists have had a very great influence on media and public perceptions of AGW. Mann, of course, is the guy who developed the famous “hockey stick” Al Gore made prominent use of in his film. So this isn’t about some obscure group of geology students engaging in a little jiggery-pokery to get A’s from their professors. It’s about deception and fraud among scientists whose work is being used as rationale to restructure the global economy.

    If you actually read the emails (link provided at Powerline) you will see they admit to massaging the data, and also discuss targeting skeptical scientists. If AGW is “settled science,” why does the data need to be massaged?

    Todd and restrained radical: you both seem to operate under the assumption that only people who work for evil capitalist organizations and industries can be corrupted. Scientists who get many millions in grant money from the government are apparently pure in heart and are never tempted to falsify data or suppress evidence in order to produce the results they desire (the ones which will bring them even more grant money). Do you think that human greed will vanish if capitalism does? Some survivors of the old USSR would like to have a word with you.

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