Climategate: Why We Can’t Trust the DataDecember 8, 2009
Peter Glover – European Associate Editor Energy Tribune – 12/7/09
Starting today, world leaders are beginning a two-week meeting in Copenhagen in a bid to change the entire direction of the global economy. They will do so, not on the basis of empirical scientific facts about global warming, but on alarmist computer-modelled predictions based on a swath of raw temperature data. Oh yes, and the scientific integrity of those doing the feeding and interpreting the results.
For years however, the data of the main players has been of keen interest to those who dissent in the climate debate. Not least, because those who hold the raw data* have been highly secretive with it. Then came an academic Exocet: Climategate.
Last month, somebody illegally hacked into the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) in the UK, subsequently publishing 1,079 emails and 72 documents on the Internet. However reprehensible an act of cyber-pilfering, the contents of the authenticated emails were both decidedly in the public interest, and carried within them the seeds of a major science scandal. What was particularly explosive was the unheralded insight it gave us into the world of some of the leading promoters of man-made Global Warming (GW) theory, a theory that is about to divert massive global economic resources into a science black hole. Reading the emails is a chilling experience when one realizes that some of these same individuals gave the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change the nerve to declare that the climate science is “settled.”
The UK Daily Telegraph’s James Delingpole sums up the contents: “Conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more.” Delingpole also suggests anyone with shares in alternative energy companies begin dumping them now.
I think he has a point. But decide for yourself.
Here’s an excerpt from the CRU’s Keith Briffa to the man behind the “hockey stick” graph, Michael Mann, in response to the latter’s support for his role in producing a report for the IPCC. “Your words are a real boost to me at the moment” says Briffa. “I found myself questioning the whole process and being often frustrated at the formulaic way things had to be done … I tried hard to balance the needs of the science and the IPCC, which were not always the same.”
Elsewhere we learn about the apparently regular manipulation of data evidence:
“I’ve just completed Mike’s [Mann] trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” Hide what decline, you might ask? Well the context is a discussion of the scientific fact that global temperatures have not warmed for a decade. But surely, for a scientist, facts are facts? Why hide facts? Then we learn of the private doubts of one of those responsible for alarmist warming theory: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement in 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data is surely wrong.”
Quite a few emails were also taken up with the embarrassment of the Medieval Warming Period, one suggesting “it would be nice to try to ‘contain’ the putative ‘MWP.’”
Next we have discussions of how best to squeeze dissenting scientists out of the peer review process entirely. In one email the CRU’s director, Phil Jones, (who has since temporarily resigned his position) writing to Mann, discusses two scientific papers that deny the link between human activity and global warming. He wants them kept out of an upcoming IPCC report. “Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to re-define what the peer-review literature is!” In another, Mann and Jones discuss pressurizing academic journals not to accept the work of skeptic scientists. Mann writes, “Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal?” Jones responds, “I will be emailing the journal to tell them I’m having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor.”
The visceral hatred – no other words is adequate – for climate skeptics is ubiquitous in these memos. When skeptic John Daly died in 2004, for CRU director Jones this was “cheering news.” Benjamin Santer, of the US Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, writing to the CRU about one dissenting climate scientist, states, “Next time I see Pat Michaels [a leading dissenting climatologist] at a scientific meeting, I’ll be tempted to beat the crap out of him.”
In the wake of the revelations, former Thatcher economist Lord Nigel Lawson was among the first to call for a public inquiry, one to be headed by a high court judge. By early December an inquiry was set up, by the university. But let’s get back to the data.
Implicit in the emails is a conspiracy to avoid submitting to any requests for data under the UK Freedom of Information Act. Belatedly, the CRU has admitted it dumped its raw climate data for the 1980s. It is now impossible to check the CRU’s data that underpins their claim for a consistent long-term rise in global temperatures over the past 150 years. As Roger Pielke Jr., a professor of environmental studies at Colorado University, says, “The CRU is basically saying ‘trust us.’ So much for settling questions and resolving debates in science.”
If one leaked document, above all, goes to the heart of Climategate, it is what The New York Times called an “executive summary,” and is taken from a file marked “HARRY_READ_ME.” It’s a log of a CRU computer expert, the reverberations from which should echo around the scientific and media world. Writing of his long struggle to make sense of a database of historical temperatures, Harry writes: “Aarrgggghhh! Oh [EXPLETIVE] this!” says Harry, “It’s Sunday evening, I’ve worked all weekend, and just when I thought it was done I’m hitting yet another problem that’s based on the hopeless state of our databases. There is no uniform data integrity …” Meanwhile, Harry’s colleagues are busy, based on the same databases, predicting planetary catastrophe.
Britain’s Viscount Monckton, a leading climate sceptic, has denounced the CRU and its partners as “not merely bad scientists – they are crooks. And crooks who have perpetrated their crimes at the expense of British and US taxpayers.” Even more chilling than the prospective cost of Copenhagen shenanigans, Monckton claims to have seen a draft Danish treaty proposal which, on the back of GW theory, will establish an embryonic one-world government. The proposal, Monckton says, expects to divert as much as 2% of the GDP of rich nations to third world countries, supposedly to compensate them for the environmental evils wrought by Western industrialization.
Even a GW alarmist like the UK’s George Monbiot admits to being badly shaken by the CRU revelations. Monbiot says the scientific data now needs “re-analysing.” Monbiot laments, “There’s no use pretending this isn’t a major blow. There appears to be evidence here of attempts to prevent scientific data from being released, and even to destroy material that was subject to a Freedom of Information request.” The green activist even called for CRU’s Phil Jones to resign. He wasn’t alone. The UN IPCC’s own Eduardo Zorita has declared that his colleagues “Michael Mann, Phil Jones and Stefan Rahmstorf should be barred from the IPCC process.” Even the University of East Anglia’s Mike Hulme, one of the ten most-quoted climate scientists in the world, states: “It is possible that climate science has become too partisan, too centralised.” He suggests that because of the IPCC’s “structural tendency to politicize climate change science” that “it is also possible the IPCC has run its course.” And now the US data is coming under the spotlight, too.
Up Next: NASA’s Data
British CRU staff work closely with US counterparts, those who compile the GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies)/NCDC dataset. For two years, the GISS data-keepers have been hiding data by dragging their feet on a request under the Freedom of Information Act from Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. This data that has already seen significant amendments forced on GISS staff. Horner has lately informed the NASA’s GISS that it has until the end of the year to comply or else he will sue to compel release.
While it’s the data itself Horner is seeking, he has also requested release of the chain of emails from scientists discussing anomalies pointed out to GISS staff in the past. Given the current British CRU furor, we might not expect GISS staff to be too willing to comply. But here’s the thing in all this – the NASA and CRU data collectively are the backbone of the consensus science behind the IPCC reports. And the caliber of those involved might be considered, to the say the least, “unscientific.” Senator James Inhofe, (R-OK) ranking member of the US Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, has called for a hearing to assess whether the UN IPCC “cooked the science.”
Obama’s White House has declared the leaked British emails are “irrelevant.” Nor are any enquiries likely to impact what Lord Monckton describes as the world’s “class politique.” Why? Because too many reputations, too many research grants, too much power-grubbing, is riding on the anthropogenic global warming horse. In early December, Paul Cheeser, special correspondent for the Heartland Institute, revealed that Michael Mann has received around $6 million for his various predictions, models and reconstructions.
In short there are way too many vested interests to admit that the real science just does not prove their case. But then, as Climategate reveals only too plainly, when it comes to unsound claims for GW, we are often not dealing with real scientists pursuing empirical truth, nor, sadly, with men of high integrity.
*By ‘raw data’ the reader should understand that the original and complete gathered data is meant, not the resulting interpretation of it that makes the headlines.