ClimateGate (Inadvertently) Explained

Via a link from InstaPundit, here is an eye-opening article from the current issue of Wired: “Accept Defeat – The Neuroscience of Screwing Up“:

Kevin Dunbar is a researcher who studies how scientists study things — how they fail and succeed. In the early 1990s, he began an unprecedented research project: observing four biochemistry labs at Stanford University.

… Dunbar brought tape recorders into meeting rooms and loitered in the hallway; he read grant proposals and the rough drafts of papers; he peeked at notebooks, attended lab meetings, and videotaped interview after interview. He spent four years analyzing the data. “I’m not sure I appreciated what I was getting myself into,” Dunbar says. “I asked for complete access, and I got it. But there was just so much to keep track of.”

Dunbar came away from his in vivo studies with an unsettling insight: Science is a deeply frustrating pursuit. Although the researchers were mostly using established techniques, more than 50 percent of their data was unexpected. (In some labs, the figure exceeded 75 percent.) “The scientists had these elaborate theories about what was supposed to happen,” Dunbar says. “But the results kept contradicting their theories. It wasn’t uncommon for someone to spend a month on a project and then just discard all their data because the data didn’t make sense.”

You really need to read the rest, because it provides a fascinating insight into the frustrations encountered by research scientists on a regular basis. I spent the better part of a decade working in a testing and analysis laboratory. We never did “pure research” — all of our work was based on well-known analysis methods and verified by standard quality control procedures. Still, we occasionally had to re-do entire sets of tests if our quality controls indicated errors. Researchers can sometimes trace unexplained results back to commonly encountered problems with laboratory equipment, reagents, or calibration standards, but many times there is no clear understanding of why the results of carefully planned experiments end up being “wrong.”

The Instapundit reader who emailed this story to Glenn Reynolds wryly noted, “Wired Magazine unknowingly explains Climategate.” How true. As I have previously noted, the ClimateGate scientists, most notably Michael Mann and Phil Jones, seem to have fallen prey to the temptations of celebrity recognition and unlimited research funding that are promised by those in power when scientific research seems to be producing the “right” answers. Mann, Jones, et. al. undoubtedly believed that they were on to something significant, but chose to disregard objectivity when confronted with the fact that much of their research data apparently resided in that damnable 50% – 75% category of errant or unexpected results.

Those data problems forced the AGW scientists into a “publish or perish” dilemma because so many people desperately needed their research to confirm the “truth” of AGW. In particular, leaders of Second and Third world nations, empowered by the UN and tired of perpetually lagging behind the West economically, needed AGW because it was their best hope for slowing down the economic growth of the West, thereby relatively increasing their own economic power.

Thus the AGW researchers were forced to find creative methods of fudging data in order to hide problems and produce the results that the UN expected to see. But it wasn’t just about politics — the “right” results would also guarantee a lifetime of unlimited research funding by those who stood to profit from cap and trade schemes, carbon credits, and other solutions aimed at “fixing” AGW. With so much at stake, fudging the data became the only logical option. They also took their deception a step further when they attempted to rig the peer review process in their favor by packing peer review boards and blackballing journals that published research that contradicted theirs.

The next time you hear someone claim that “the science is settled” with regard to climate change, ask them to explain how the climate change gurus dealt with the 50% to 75% of their data that was probably inexplicable or unusable. Their stunned response should be the only rebuttal you’ll need.

UPDATE 12-30-09: I did a bit of re-writing in order to clarify some thoughts and to include something I had inadvertently omitted, which was the corruption of the scientific peer review process by Mann, Jones, et. al.

You will also enjoy these related items:

“From Global Warming Believer To Skeptic”

Climategate jolted me into confronting the massive fraud and deception by top global warming scientists, who were in a position to twist the peer-review process in their favor, and did so shamelessly.

Yet still most media reports desperately minimize Climategate, saying that it doesn’t taint the massive research supporting global warming theory. To them I say, how do you know that? Have you investigated how much of that research was published due to the manipulation of these unethical and fraudulent scientists? Do you know how much research that goes against the global warming activist claims was unfairly suppressed?

Until all this is known, it’s not possible to say with any confidence how much of global warming theory will remain after all the fraud and deceit has been removed.


“The Climate Change Scam: A Concise Summary”

• Global temperature changes naturally all of the time, in both directions and at many scales of intensity.

• The warmest year in the U.S. in the last century was 1934, not 1998. The U.S. has the best and most extensive temperature records in the world.

• Global temperature peaked in 1998 on the current 60-80 year cycle, and has been episodically declining ever since. This cooling absolutely falsifies claims that human carbon dioxide emissions are a controlling factor in Earth temperature.

• Voluminous historic records demonstrate the Medieval Climate Optimum (MCO) was real and that the “hockey stick” graphic that attempted to deny that fact was at best bad science. The MCO was considerably warmer than the end of the 20th century.

• During the last 100 years, temperature has both risen and fallen, including the present cooling. All the changes in temperature of the last 100 years are in normal historic ranges, both in absolute value and, most importantly, rate of change.

You’ll want to make sure you read all of this one.

Shortlink:

Posted by on December 29, 2009.
Filed under Global Warming.
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  • 914

    You mean there’s all kinds of free taxpayer money to be appropriated as the eggheads see fit? And I thought Algore was in it for the good of humanity? Silly Me.

  • Anon Y. Mous

    The hide-the-decliners did not subconsciously engage in bad science; they did so deliberately.

  • bryanD
  • jim m

    I agree with #2.

    This was not a case of merely overlooking conflicting data. There has been a growing mountain of conflicting data and a growing clamor of dissent within the scientific community. The Climategate ‘scientists’ knew their data was flawed. If they did not know that the methods they were using to twist the data to support their political positions then they are not scientists at all because they have no understanding of the scientific method.

    The notion that they would conceal data because someone might find a fault in it militates against science and discovery the way it has worked for centuries.

    The bottom line is that these people knew exactly what they were doing. They knew they were wrong in doing it. They demonstrated this by attempting to cover their tracks.

    If they cannot be put in prison they should at least be run out of academia on a rail. (Unfortunately, academia has long since passed from being filled with people concerned about the pursuit of truth and is now filled with people who are consumed with pursuit of a political agenda)

  • Wayne

    Another thought is that most University laboratories are very controlled areas. Although as already stated sometimes that control is lost. The world environment is a very uncontrolled environment. Anyone that claim that a relative young science is settle, pretty much losses all credibility with me.

    I agree with some of the above post that many of these so call scientist are guilty of more than bad science or innocent mistakes but are guilty of willful dishonesty.

  • SCSIwuzzy

    I used to work in the computer lab at a college. This was back when professors had VT terminals in their offices (if they were in the right department), just before DARPA handed the internet off to the world.
    I can still remember one of the profs demanding to know why the simulations ran differently at 3 am on a Saturday than during the week when he was in the office.
    He forgot to account for other users in the system, and that we (the lab monkeys) put restrictions on users’ accounts to keep them from eating up CPU and DASD that were more stringent when there were more users on the mainframe.
    He had tied his program to count time rather than cycles, so different times of the day for the same simulation gave very different results. He caught the error over Christmas break, after an entire semester had passed. ANd had to run dozens of simulations again after we helped him rewrite his code.
    Very smart man. But he was also one of the users that made it a requirement for us to put a sign near the lab door proclaiming “Today’s Any Key is ____”, which rotated through the alphabet. Yes, we got students who walked up to the window to ask, and we had to answer the phones with “Computer Lab, today’s any key is ___, how can I help you?”. All because every terminal and PC at some point said “Press Any Key to Continue”…

  • Btok

    Climate science is a productive pursuit with Nobel Prizes, an Oscar, billions in research funding, massive tax grabs and wealth for exploiters. Continuation of these activities partly validated the claim the disclosed files from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) are of small consequence.

    As I wrote earlier the scandal at CRU (Climategate) is diverting from the real scandal, which is the claim CO2 is causing warming and climate change. Climategate is the greatest orchestrated fraud in scientific history, but claims about CO2 are the greatest fallacy. Climategate lets those who’ve known what was happening to avoid being ignored as conspiracy theorists.

    Everyone incorrectly talks about carbon when they mean CO2, which was the original focus of the claim human industrial activity was causing global warming. Theory assumed CO2 was a greenhouse gas that slowed heat escaping to space. As it increases temperature rises and it would because of increased industrial activity. This became fact immediately and challenging scientists were pushed aside. Mostly by nasty attacks from those who falsified records, rewrote historic records, distorted and misused science and statistics as the leaked CRU emails attest. Now they, their supporters, and all those benefiting, work to perpetuate the massive deception.

    Selected Data and False Findings
    Some of this article was presented in a 2008 piece, but the CRU revelations make a revisit important. The summary of work the IPCC represents is only that chosen by the IPCC to achieve their goal. Remember the email comments about including or excluding articles that supported their objective.

    Claims now proven false include;

    an increase in CO2 precedes a temperature increase;
    current atmospheric levels of CO2 are the highest on record;
    and pre-industrial levels of CO2 were approximately 100 parts ppm lower than the present 385 ppm.

    The last claim is basic to the argument that humans are causing warming and climate change by increasing the levels of atmospheric CO2.

    In a paper submitted to a US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing Professor Zbigniew Jaworowski explains,”The basis of most of the IPCC conclusions on anthropogenic causes and on projections of climatic change is the assumption of low level of CO2 in the pre-industrial atmosphere. This assumption, based on glaciological studies, is false.” This means more when you know that Tom Wigley, who is the heart of the CRU gang, introduced the 280 ppm number to the climate science community with a 1983 paper titled, “The pre-industrial carbon dioxide level.” (Climatic Change 5, 315-320). He based his work on studies by G. S. Callendar (1938) of thousands of direct measures of atmospheric CO2 beginning in 1812. Callendar rejected most of the records, including 69% of the 19th century records and only selected records that established 280 ppm as the pre-industrial level. Here’s a plot of the records with Callendar’s selections circled.

    Figure 1: Plot of 19th century CO2 levels
    Source: Jaworowski, NZCPR Research, 20 September 2008 p.20

    Selections changed the slope of the trend from declining to increasing. As Jaworowski notes, “The notion of low pre-industrial CO2 atmospheric level, based on such poor knowledge, became a widely accepted Holy Grail of climate warming models. The modelers ignored the evidence from direct measurements of CO2 in atmospheric air indicating that in 19th century its average concentration was 335 ppmv.”

    Ice cores provide the historic record and samples from Mauna Loa provide the recent record. Both are drastically smoothed thus eliminating variability. This was done to tie in with the pre-industrial levels. Ernst Beck confirmed Jaworowski’s research in a September 2008 article in Energy and Environment and validated all the 19th century records. In a devastating conclusion Beck writes,”Modern greenhouse hypothesis is based on the work of G.S. Callendar and C.D. Keeling, following S. Arrhenius, as latterly popularized by the IPCC. Review of available literature raise the question if these authors have systematically discarded a large number of valid technical papers and older atmospheric CO2 determinations because they did not fit their hypothesis? Obviously they use only a few carefully selected values from the older literature, invariably choosing results that are consistent with the hypothesis of an induced rise of CO2 in air caused by the burning of fossil fuel.”

    Pre-industrial levels were 50 ppm higher than those used in the IPCC computer models. Models also incorrectly assume uniform atmospheric distribution and virtually no variability from year to year. Beck found, “Since 1812, the CO2 concentration in northern hemispheric air has fluctuated exhibiting three high level maxima around 1825, 1857 and 1942 the latter showing more than 400 ppm.” Here is a plot from Beck comparing 19th century readings with ice core and Mauna Loa data.

    Figure 2: Beck’s blended graph.
    Source Energy and Environment, September 2008.

    Difference in variability of the 19th century measures, ice core records and Mauna Loa are apparent. Ice core records are subjected to a 70-year smoothing average eliminating a great deal of information. For example, the Mauna Loa record covers 50 years (1958 – 2009), not enough for even a single point. Elimination of high readings prior to the smoothing makes the loss even greater. As with all known records the temperature changes before the CO2, here by approximately 5 years.

    Elimination of data occurs with the Mauna Loa readings, which can vary up to 600 ppm in the course of a day. Beck explains how Charles Keeling established the Mauna Loa readings by using the lowest readings of the afternoon. He ignored natural sources, a practice that continues. Beck presumes Keeling decided to avoid these low level natural sources by establishing the station at 4000 meters up the volcano. As Beck notes “Mauna Loa does not represent the typical atmospheric CO2 on different global locations but is typical only for this volcano at a maritime location in about 4000 m altitude at that latitude.” (Beck, 2008, “50 Years of Continuous Measurement of CO2 on Mauna Loa” Energy and Environment, Vol 19, No.7.) Keeling’s son continues to operate the Mauna Loa facility and as Beck notes, “owns the global monopoly of calibration of all CO2 measurements.” Since Keeling is a co-author of the IPCC reports they accept Mauna Loa without question.

    The Ice Core record
    Jaworowski estimates the ice core readings are at least 20% low, which is reasonable given the CO2 levels for 600 millions years using geologic evidence.

    Figure 3: CO2 and Temperature levels for 600 million years
    Current level of 385 ppm on the right of the graph (Figure 3) is the lowest in the entire record only equaled by a period between 315 and 270 million years ago (mya).

    Further evidence of the effects of statistical smoothing and the artificially low ice core readings are provided by measurements of stomata. Stomata are the small openings on leaves that vary directly with the amount of atmospheric CO2. A comparison of a stomata record with the ice core record for a 2000-year period illustrates the issue.

    Figure 4: Ice core CO2 levels compared to Stomata over 2000 years.

    Stomata data on the right show higher readings and variability than excessively smoothed ice core record on the left. The stomata record aligns with the 19th century measurements as Jaworowski and Beck assert. A Danish stomata record shows levels of 333 ppm 9400 years ago and 348 ppm 9600 years ago.

    EPA declared CO2 a toxic substance and a pollutant. Governments prepare carbon taxes and draconian restrictions crippling economies for a completely non-existent problem. Failed predictions, discredited assumptions, incorrect data did not stop insane policies. Climategate revealed the extent of corruption so more people understand malfeasance and falsities only experts knew or suspected. More important, they are not rejected as conspiracy theorists. Credibility should have collapsed, but political control and insanity persists – at least for a little while longer.

  • Jim Addison

    As most other areas have been addressed already, I would like to discuss the argument that “the science is settled” because all the work has been “subject to peer review.”

    I would note that the very scientists who claimed this most loudly were constantly working behind the scenes to prevent scholarly journals from even considering articles which questioned their version of climate change theory. Articles which won’t be published aren’t subject to peer review (what would be the point), so the proponents can continue to make this spurious claim.

    As to the high standing given the “peer review” process by these advocates, one should examine its record of exposing fraud. It is not good. For one outrageous example of the entire peer review process’ functioning for years, read this article http://www.americanscientist.org/bookshelf/pub/physics-and-pixie-dust before you decide how much faith you should place in it.

  • Patty

    Not a scientist, nor do I play one on TV, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn last night, but… “throw out the data because it didn’t make sense”?????
    The data always makes sense, it IS the real part.
    If it doesn’t seem to make sense, you throw out your hypothesis and start again.
    What am I missing here?

  • Oyster

    The article was extremely informative and explains quite well what is going on. Might I also add that just like an editor who sets the tone and direction of a newspaper, those that head up science labs looking for a particular result can also push a narrow agenda; especially when vying for grant money. Scientists are not gods. They’re prone to human failing just like the rest of us. And sometimes when so much is at stake, like reputations and money, they’ll go to extremes.

  • Flu-Bird

    JAMES HANSEN should be entirely sacked as the head of NASA he is a 24 kerit phonie and a blabbering producer of HOT AIR just like AL GORE

  • http://www.sandiegoscienceworld.com Bradley J. Fikes

    Thank you for the link to my post, “From Global Warming Believer To Skeptic.” I have other related posts at http://www.sandiegoscienceworld.com

    One of the most compelling parts of Climategate is that anyone can look at the evidence. We can compare this to the media reports, such as from the Associated Press, and see for ourselves how much was left out or badly explained.

  • Speller

    “The scientists had these elaborate theories about what was supposed to happen,” Dunbar says. “But the results kept contradicting their theories. It wasn’t uncommon for someone to spend a month on a project and then just discard all their data because the data didn’t make sense.”

    You think it was frustrating for the A-holes that supported the Warming Cult?

    Imagine doing good science with an honest good faith approach, and after having your data actually fit your hypothesis these jerks at CRU kill your research and your paper never gets published because it goes against the position of their little cabal.

    How much actual real science do you think these bastids have suppressed or destroyed in the pursuit of their agenda?

  • John A. Jauregui

    Are you angry about this obvious RICO Act fraud and the national media’s complicity in the cover-up, misinformation, reframing and misdirection of the issue and the related “carbon derivatives” market Obama’s Administration is spinning up? Take responsibility and take action. STOP all donations to the political party(s) responsible for this fraud. STOP donations to all environmental groups which funded this Global Warming propaganda campaign with our money, especially The Environmental Defense Fund. They have violated the public trust. KEEP donations local, close to home. MAKE donations to Oklahoma’s Senator Inhofe, the only politician to stand firmly against this obvious government/media coordinated information operation (propaganda) targeted at its own people. People that government leaders and employees are sworn to protect. WRITE your state and federal representatives demanding wall to wall investigations of government sponsored propaganda campaigns and demand indictments of those responsible. WRITE your state and federal Attorneys General demanding Al Gore and others conducting Global Warming/Climate Change racketeering and mail fraud operations be brought to justice, indicted, tried, convicted and jailed. Carbon is the stuff of life. He (Obama) who controls carbon, especially CO2, controls the world. Think of the consequences if you do nothing! For one, the UK is becoming the poster child for George Orwell’s “1984″ and the US government’s sponsorship of this worldwide Global Warming propaganda campaign puts it in a class with the failed Soviet Union’s relentless violation of the basic human right to truthful government generated information. Given ClimateGate’s burgeoning revelations of outrageous government misconduct and massive covert misinformation, what are the chances that this Administration’s National Health Care sales campaign is anywhere near the truth?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bdneX1djD0