Global Warming Data Dumped as ClimateGate Intensifies (Guest Voice)

Global Warming Data \Dumped as ClimateGate Intensifies

by Jon Wells

The scandal surrounding a key university in global warming science continues to mushroom even further. Scientists at the East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU) were already on the defensive after a series of embarrassing internal e-mails was stolen by a hacker and released to the Internet, showcasing an effort to silence critics of their theories and suggesting data was being massaged to conform to a pre-ordained theory.

Now, the same group of scientists has been forced to admit that they no longer have the raw data upon which their computer models’ predictions of global warming are based. The data sets they do have were adjusted to account for other variables and homogenized, but the lack of the original raw data points means other researchers can’t verify the calculations made to come to a conclusion of anthropogenic global warming.

East Anglia is saying the data was dumped in the 80′s because it was taking up too much space and are busy asserting that the lack of the original data in no way invalidates the research based upon it. Unfortunately, one of the principles of the scientific method is repeatability, and without the original data to check, the calculations cannot be independently verified and East Anglia’s conclusions cannot be checked – conclusions, by the way, which were instrumental in the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) pronouncement of a “unanimous consensus” on man-made global warming and directly led to efforts at industry-killing carbon rationing like the cap-and-trade bill currently stalled in the Senate.

It’s all just a little too convenient for my taste. Not only has it become glaringly obvious that the pushers of man-made global warming made a strong effort to exclude conflicting opinions and data, but the complete lack of the original data means that any computer models based on it cannot be verified and are thus invalid. Likewise, any global effort to impose carbon taxes and energy cost hikes must be put on hold until something resembling a scientific deliberation can take place.

That would be the responsible thing to do. However, global warming has progressed from beyond a scientific debate into a political means for the implementation of an ideological agenda. In a sane world, the climate summit at Copenhagen can’t possibly come up with sweeping global agreements against this backdrop of controversy. But now that the emperor’s clothes are coming off, I have to wonder if the push will become even greater to come up with some sort of climate legislation before it’s shown to completely be a farce and the public outcry becomes too great.

In fact, that seems to be the modus operandi these days – hurry up and get it through before anyone has a chance to object. That’s not transparent or deliberate, and it’s not scientific by a long shot.

Jonathan Wells is a 28-year-old husband and father who lives in Ohio and has a day job in the microbiology field. He notes that he tends “be conservative in most of my views, but by no means do I bear blind allegiance to a political party.” He stresses that he is open-minded and encourages “any civil disagreement (or uncivil agreement) any of you would care to express.” He likes to make people think, and does so on his blog Wellsy’s World.

  

Author: Guest Voice

Share This Post On

30 Comments

  1. before it’s shown to completely be a farce

    No prejudging shown there eh? ;-)

    I believe this subject is important enough that we need to distinguish between the sort of human rancor (related to ego, personality, and yes – even ideology) and the science itself. Even if we abandon common sense when looking at climate change (a pursuit which seems popular enough in this new century) there is still a preponderance of weight on the side of AGW when it comes to evidence and the number of scientists who subscribe to the theory.

    For a more measured response to the hacked emails, here are a couple links:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2

    http://features.csmonitor.com/environment/2009/

    As for the data dump, since it occurred back in the eighties before AGW was quite the contentious issue it became before everybody and his brother developed an ideological attachment to it, I'm willing to give consideration to the possiblity that it wasn't necessarily a conspiracy and that there is a rational explanation for the loss of data… if indeed it is even totally “lost” – in which case AGW has hardly been proven to be a “farce”.

  2. JSpencer
    “As for the data dump, since it occurred back in the eighties before AGW was quite the contentious issue it became before everybody and his brother developed an ideological attachment to it,”

    No scientist worth his test tube throws away primary data. If this was a second-hand smoke theory, would you be so apt to cut the model the same slack if the primary data was trashed?

    If they had room for their “normalized” data, they sure as hell had room for the primary data. Didn't they have a good dot matrix printer back then? Were they out of paper? Don't let your assumptions lead you to rationalize a flimsy excuse.

  3. Let's just say I'm not in favor of jumping to conclusions, especially when much of our information is flavored for sensationalism and effect, rather than considered and reasonable consumption. It's interesting that opinion on AGW is so neatly divided down party lines don't you think? There's a good program on The Diane Rehm show right now (and will be available to listen after noon today) in which they are discussing this very topic. There is a LOT of bad information floating around out there and I expect we will find the information regarding this “data dump” is going to end up being equally “useful” once it is put into a more coherent perspective. One last point about science in general. Skepticism is a necessary part of the process, but contrarianism is a different matter entirely.

  4. In related news cigarettes do not cause cancer! They make you healthier don't ya know, all of the science we support says so and the other studies well they are all biased even though they did not have a result in mind when they began their research and we did due to our investment in the industry but you should pay no heed to that.

  5. HemmD: No scientist worth his test tube throws away primary data.

    LOL! This is one of the best ways I've ever heard it put. I always harp on my students about keeping data in a lab notebook, not to change anything, and so on. Of course, they argue and complain about me being so strict, but they quickly come around when they need to reproduce something that someone else did, and have only a notebook in front of them to do it. Primary data is paramount in science.

    I'm glad to see a discussion on this, considering many have looked at these hacked e-mails as “proof” that scientists are just a bunch of cult followers. Regarding this data dump, though, I'm not so sure that this is just a bit of BS:

    Refuting CEI’s claims of data-destruction, Jones said, “We haven’t destroyed anything. The data is still there — you can still get these stations from the [NOAA] National Climatic Data Center.”

    While I would always argue to leave primary data alone, from what I can tell, nothing was actually “dumped”. What these e-mails do show, however, is that there are quite a few incompetent folks who were in charge, and their arrogance has given the skeptics lots of ammunition. It wouldn't surprise me to see many of them fired. Regardless of what happens, with the upcoming Copenhagen meeting, it can't hurt to have people discussing this, at least in a rational way.

  6. Scientifically speaking…the lack of primary data and the inability to reproduce their results renders their research worthless. Most scientists backup the backups of their backup data. I am talking multiple hard drives, DVDs, usb sticks…no joke.

    Data is all you have.

    Repeatable results are the only results that count.

    The fact that their primary data is even in question is completely dumbfounding.

  7. I'm willing to bet that as this story evolves there will be a fair amount of debunking when it comes to the actual meaning of what the AGW detractors are so willing to pounce on as evidence for a conspiracy. Maybe this is all the result of living in a country that stopped putting enough emphasis on science and mathematics for so many years… or maybe it's just partisanship out of control.

  8. shannonlee: The fact that their primary data is even in question is completely dumbfounding.

    From my link above:

    CEI and Cato Institute senior fellow Patrick Michaels argued that the “destruction of [CRU's] raw data violates basic scientific norms regarding reproducibility, which are especially important in climatology.”

    Ben Santer, a climate scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, dismissed that argument. “Raw data were not secretly destroyed to avoid efforts by other scientists to replicate the CRU and Hadley Centre-based estimates of global-scale changes in near-surface temperature,” he wrote in comments to the advocacy group Climate Science Watch.

    Santer said CRU's major findings were replicated by other groups, including the NOAA climatic data center, the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and also in Russia.

    I agree completely with you about questionable data, but I also am a bit skeptical of questionable groups, and the CEI is by all accounts very questionable. See the link to LGF to see who funds them and why.

  9. Rudi

    quoting the defendants is not the same as disproving the charge.

    Mann et al selected certain data from the entire database and “extrapolated” data that never was actually measured. They have consistently “normalized” past temperatures lower and ongoing temps higher. I suggest you look at sites less committed to AGW.

    http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fpcomm

    I submit it's a little too simplistic to toss the data charge out. If I give you a dictionary, do I also give you everything ever written? The dictionary has all the words, it's how you manipulate them that produces books; both fact and fiction come from the same source.

  10. JSpencer: Maybe this is all the result of living in a country that stopped putting enough emphasis on science and mathematics for so many years…

    Agreed. But at least in terms of science policy, I think we finally have someone in office who's willing to go to bat. One initiative that's generating a lot of buzz within the American Chemical Society is National Lab Day. Today's Chemical & Engineering News has an article that should make anyone involved in science education happy.

    Strengthening U.S. Math and Science:

    Obama also announced plans to host an annual science fair at the White House where winners from national science and technology competitions will be honored. “We're going to show young people how cool science can be,” he stated.

    How cool is that? Maybe its just me being a geek, but how could you not get excited about going to a science fair at the White House?

  11. Jchem, that's certainly good news, and thanks for providing the link. We only stand to benefit as a nation by increasing our competitiveness and knowledge in these areas. Also, as mentioned in the article:

    But the campaign is about more than generating more scientists and engineers, Obama noted. “It's about an informed citizenry in an era where many of the problems we face as a nation are, at the root, scientific problems.”

    Heck, I'd love nothing more than to find that the warming we are experiencing is primarily due to “natural” cycles, and eating crow would be an easy price to pay for that discovery, but for me adopting that believe would require dispensing with objectivity.

    Btw, let's not forget, that regardless of how one comes down on AGW, all the things that would be done to combat it also combat serious problems that none of us are likely in dispute over, such as waste, pollution, etc.

  12. “Now, the same group of scientists has been forced to admit that they no longer have the raw data upon which their computer models’ predictions of global warming are based”
    ******
    Back in the 1400s scientists didn't have the raw data that bacteria existed either. And yet people were dropping like flies as a direct consequence of the fact that bacteria did exist after all. Who knew?…lol…

    The problem with erratic cooling trends during global warming can be attributed to the high specific heat of water, which of course makes up the ice sheets and our oceans. When an substance changes phases from a solid to a liquid and from a liquid to a gas, or a gas to a plasma, it draws in heat energy to do so. As the ice caps melt, they are absorbing heat and affecting climates thusly at erratic moments. Short cooling trends will be followed by a critical-mass where suddenly very large amounts of ice will begin to melt more rapidly.

    Just take an ice cube out of the freezer and set it on the countertop. Cup your hand around it and notice how as it melts the localized air around it feels much cooler. It will hang in there for awhile but you will suddenly notice a rise in temperature as the cube suddenly begins to melt more rapidly. It's bulk protects it for a time and fools you into thinking it's going to take longer than it will. Then suddenly you're staring at a puddle of water wondering how it got that way so fast.

    That's what is happening now. We're in the honeymoon phase of polar melting that will suddenly and rapidly be over. My advice: if you own real estate in a coastal zone, take the threat of global warming seriously right now and cash in before its too late.

  13. We're in the honeymoon phase of polar melting

    Nicely put.

  14. Studies show that the last Ice Age ended about 9,600 – 9,700 BC, so I guess we could call this the second “Man-Made” Global Warming. Wonder if they had some emmissions restrictions on all the fires those cavemen had going???

  15. This is really going off of the deep end. This data the original post refers to was not primary data the University had collected and then tossed. It was raw data freely available to anyone. If you want it there is a web site with links to all of it. Have fun!

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/

  16. This is a common talking point, so my guess is that you will keep repeating it on the next climate change post you come across through a Google Alert or whatever, but I will explain why it's a bogus talking point anyway.

    There is no claim by any reputable scientist that all changes in climate over the entire history of the earth are due to human activity. After all, most scientist don't believe hominids are older than about 5 million years anyway. The climate varies all the time, if you consider things on a geological timeframe. Everyone knows this; the same people who can tell you about the Ice Age are the ones predicting human-forced global warming now.

    The fallacy you are making is assuming that a claim that human activity can change the climate means that there's a claim that only human activity can change the climate. This is of course silly. There are multiple causes at work. My son often wakes me up in the morning. I can assert, therefore, that I am experiencing child-forced morning wake-ups. This does not mean that only my son can wake me up. An alarm clock can as well. The fact that I was woken up on Monday by an alarm clock does not mean my son does not wake me up to.

    What you should take from this is that I don't like getting up in the morning.

  17. Like jspencer, I'd love nothing more than for global warming to be false. My current home is projected to be under water in about 150 if it is not. Unfortunately, it's not looking that way.

    I hear that a lot of hay is being made about the word “trick”. If you are concerned about this word, it only shows that you aren't thinking clearly about how the word is used and nothing more. First, it's commonly used in scientific circles to indicate something clever and neat. I did some work a couple years ago in machine learning algorithms. There's a whole category of techniques called “kernel methods” or far more commonly “the kernel trick”. It has to do with changing the dimensions on data to make it more tractable and such. It's a clever set of techniques and that's all that's meant by the word “trick”. It's nothing sneaky. That's why it's taught in classes.

    The word's used in the same way in everyday use as well. Ever had something wacky going on with your computer and someone comes over and shows you how to get past it with a couple button presses? “Oh, that's a nice trick,” most of us can say there. We don't mean that the other person was devious and pulled something over on us. It just means it's clever.

  18. And the properties that can fool you related to the specific heat of the water molecule and how it relates to polar melting are no “trick”. They are verified and part of every chem 101 class in high school. You can hang your hat on the fact that as the polar caps [our vital air conditioners] melt, interim cooling trends will dangerously lull those ignorant of the physical properties of chemistry into a false sense of hope about the peril awaiting us.

    Do it. Put a pot of water on to boil or an ice cube out to melt. Get intimately familiar with the sneaky nature of phase changes of our dear friend the water molecule…

  19. Good graciousness! If ALL climate change science was based on this ONE study, the critics would have a point. Debunking ONE study of 100s doesn't mean you have debunked ALL climate change research. If you think it does, then you really are thinking like tobacco company 'scientists'.

  20. Thanks merkin, http://www.realclimate.org has tons of information for people who are genuinely interested in educating themselves about climate change. As was pointed out by mikkel in a different thread, there are differences between skepticism, ignorance, and denial. Denial folks have no use for science unless it fits their personal agenda or comfort zone. Skeptics are within their rights so long as their only goal is truth. Ignorance is curable… usually.

  21. Zzzzz — An excellent point, which has somehow been missed up until now. I was just going to post this comment from The American Meteorological Society:

    For climate change research, the body of research in the literature is very large and the dependence on any one set of research results to the comprehensive understanding of the climate system is very, very small. Even if some of the charges of improper behavior in this particular case turn out to be true — which is not yet clearly the case — the impact on the science of climate change would be very limited.

    Here's a link: http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/climatechangeclar

    The point, of course, is that while it would be quite scandalous and pretty crappy science if there has been a “data dump” of some sort, the amount of research that has gone into this subject is vast and huge compared to this one piece.

  22. First, as has been noted above, the data were not “raw” they were aggregated from worldwide measurements. Direct measurements are raw data.

    Second, is it such a great revelation that scientist are human?

  23. They (and many of you on this site) can be defensive, circle the wagons, attack the more rational who distinguish politics from science, and try to discount this embarrassment and disgrace, but that's what it is, and what they (and many of you) make it. Try to hide it, try to “explain” it away, but it remains a big scandal. (Not surprising that it happened, only remarkable in its extent and its boldness, even.)

  24. I think we'll be ok in MI for awhile dude. A longer mosquito season and milder winters. Not so good for the ski resorts. Longer growing season though. Make sure you have plenty of sunscreen. Ah well, at least you didn't refer to it as a religion. ;-)

  25. Thanks for the link to AMS. Seems this group also agrees to the global warming consensus. Their AGW statement is good, a statement for the average dummies…

  26. Let's see if this gets through –

    “I think we'll be ok in MI for awhile dude. A longer mosquito season and milder winters. Not so good for the ski resorts. Longer growing season though.”

    The Mitten, with its maritime influence (literally), is in ideal position to enjoy moderation as well as the best benefits of any warming, which would bring mainly benefits, not costs, to Michigan and other parts of northern North America (especially in the humid East).

    Most changes will be subtle.  There is no coming catastrophe, of course.  Overall:

    * More growing degree-days — more area under the (enlongated) curve.

    * The fruit belt should broaden (encompass land farther inland than before).  Summers still moderated.

    * Milder winters, indeed.  Ideally (unlikely, but…), the Lakes wouldn't freeze and it would stay mild all winter.

    * The deciduous forests (more than one kind are found in Michigan) will be shifted northward.

    None of that is any surprise to anybody who understands (and appreciates) climate basics and North America.

    * * *

    “Make sure you have plenty of sunscreen. Ah well, at least you didn't refer to it as a religion. ;-)”

    I'll leave the worship to the New Agers and to those who preceded me by centuries here.  The big diurnal variation and solar intensity with aridity and altitude is being rapidly “learned.” (I have to be as a cat — in winter, seek the sun, in summer, get ready to find shade.)  Overall, the East stands to do better than the West if and to what extent there is any future warming.  (Not only do I miss the deciduous forest and grass and trees in general, but drought will only get worse in the years to come, not even including what warming can and will bring to the Southwest.)

  27. The university involved is working on studies of the paleoclimate specializing in dendrochronolgy.

    If you believe this is a significant breach of scientific ethics then feel free to ignore all of the conclusions based on reading tree rings.

    While we are discussing ethics can someone please outline the standards the denialist study groups aspire to.

  28. “A longer mosquito season and milder winters. Not so good for the ski resorts. Longer growing season though.”

    Here.  (links below)  Be as pensive as you want to be.

    Obviously you'd do better than now (though any increase is far less than the crazies are convinced, made more moderate still by the maritime influence of the Lakes).  It's a net gain overall, of course; there is some hype about pests and diseases (part of the irresponsible scare-mongering; hypothermia is a much worse threat, as well as colder, poorer growth years, and heating-degree day reductions benefit us more than cooling-degree day reductions, given their current and conjectured future values), but overall the eastern US stands to gain, not to lose.

    Be as pensive as you want to be.  (What would any changes be?)

    http://www.ipm.msu.edu/landscapeipm/gddland.htm

  29. For those who are more pensive still, don't forget heat zone maps. (and future shift)

    Michigan is starting from such a cool, blue (nation) position, it has nothing to fear.

    http://www.gardeningplaces.com/heatzonemap/mich

    The heat zone map (by AHS) has selected the right threshold temperature for “heat” (hot), 86 degrees F. It's based on days with max temps above this level, rather than hours (which I'd prefer, analogous to chilling hours to meet requirements for deciduous fruits).

    http://www.gardeningplaces.com/heatzonemap/zone

    USA as a whole is here:

    http://www.ahs.org/pdfs/05_heat_map.pdf

    Australia (which is now known for having larger homes than in the US overall) is here

    http://www.diggers.com.au/pdf/I_HEATZ01.pdf

    And if you thought the USA has its warm spots, here is Mexico. Viva el pais tropical.

    http://redalyc.uaemex.mx/redalyc/pdf/609/609112

Submit a Comment