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Penn State researcher and his CRU/IPCC colleague treated AGW like a religious "cause" despite warnings from peers

Anthropogenic global warming is a fascinating hypothesis that mankind may be able to systematically increase the Earth's temperature in the long term by burning deposits of hydrocarbon fuels.  But the key thing to note is that despite the intriguing premise, little definitive information has been determined in this field even as politicization runs rife.  In fact, researchers are still struggling to explain why warming has stalled in the last decade even as levels of carbon dioxide -- supposedly the most important greenhouse gas have rose.

I. Climatologists "Pull an Enron", Shred the Evidence

The recent University of California, Berkley "BEST" study -- perhaps the most comprehensive climate change investigation to date -- was blasted by AGW proponents.  They were upset that the study -- funded in part by the charity of a major oil entrepreneur -- highlighted the fact that temperatures had flat lined over the past decade, and were more upset still that the study suggested that other factors like sea currents could have driven the warming that occurred in the 1960s-1990s.

But newly reportedly leaked emails reveal that accusations of bias are perhaps a bit of projection.  The new emails include discussions that sound as shocking or more so as the infamous "Climategate" emails from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU).

The new emails revisit embattled climate researcher-cum-AGW evangelist Phil Jones, a scientist working with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In one email Professor Jones explains to researchers how to best hide their work to prevent anyone from being able to replicate it and find errors:

I've been told that IPCC is above national FOI [Freedom of Information] Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the process.  Any work we have done in the past is done on the back of the research grants we get – and has to be well hidden.  I've discussed this with the main funder (U.S. Dept of Energy) in the past and they are happy about not releasing the original station data.

Of course Phil Jones and his supporters will likely claim that the emails were taken out of context of some larger more appropriate discussion.  But as a researcher it's pretty damning to make comments that even would seem to imply that you were engaging in trying to suppress peer review of questionable data -- academic fraud.

Particularly trouble is the phrase "cover yourself", which suggest a conspiratorial, political undertone to what is supposed to be a transparent field of research.

The emails contain outright requests for the destruction of professional communications regarding research in an effort to cover up public scrutiny of public flaws.  The leaks add yet another humiliating scandal to Pennsylvania State University as they implicate prominent Penn State climatologist Michael Mann even more directly than the last release.  

Writes the Professor Jones to Professor Mann:

Mike, can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith [Briffa] re AR4 [UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 4th Assessment]?  Keith will do likewise. … We will be getting Caspar [Ammann] to do likewise. I see that CA [the Climate Audit Web site] claim they discovered the 1945 problem in the Nature paper!!

Michael Mann and Phil Jones
Michael Mann (left) and Phil Jones (right) appear to share tips on how to best destroy damaging climate evidence. [Image Sources: (left) PSU (right) Chris Bourchier / Rex Features]

Some professors and experts even tried to reach out to Professor Mann, warning him of the danger of turning science into religion by purposefully ignoring evidence.  Peter Thorne of the UK Met Office writes:

Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these further if necessary.  I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.

Even Tom Wigley, a scientist at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research who was implicated in the first CRU email scandal for suggesting the removal of an editor who allowed peer-reviewed skeptical studies to be published, seemed to agree on this extreme instance:

Mike, The Figure you sent is very deceptive … there have been a number of dishonest presentations of model results by individual authors and by IPCC.

The IPCC did eventually change the draft somewhat -- perhaps due to this feedback -- but critics say it still did far too much cherry picking of its sources.

II. Forget Science: You're Either For the Cause, Or You're Against It

In a later email, Professor Mann implies AGW advocacy is a political/pseudo-religious "cause" and that those who question it on scientific merits are enemies of the "cause".  He writes, "I gave up on [Georgia Institute of Technology climate professor] Judith Curry a while ago. I don’t know what she thinks she’s doing, but its not helping the cause."

Ironically, Professor Curry appears to be the only one behaving like a true scientist.  The emails neglect the forgotten truth that the distinguished Georgia Institute of Technology began as a believed in man-made global warming, publishing a notable 2005 study published in the prestigious Science journal investigating the potential correlation between hurricanes and man-made temperature increases.

The study earned scathing criticism from warming skeptics, but rather than treat her work as religious dogma, she carefully considered the criticism.  Supported by her co-author, she personally met with some prominent critics and considered their claims.  After all, she recalls in a Scientific American interview, "We were generally aware of these problems when we wrote the paper, but the critics argued that these issues were much more significant than we had acknowledged."

Soon she began to blog for AGW a skeptical blog run by Roger Pielke, Jr., a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, and Climate Audit, run by statistician Steve McIntyre.  She began blogging hoping to convince skeptics of the merits of AGW theory via an open discussion.  But in time she found herself increasingly troubled by the lack of transparency and conclusive evidence on such an important topic.  She singles out the IPCC as a particularly guilty party, accusing it of outright "corruption."

Given the released emails it's hard to argue with that assessment.  Writes Jonathan Overpeck, lead coordinating author of the IPCC's most recent climate assessment:

The trick may be to decide on the main message and use that to guid[e] what’s included and what is left out.

Aside from destroying evidence and ostracizing colleagues, the emails also reveal another sign of dogma and the antithesis of science -- ignorance.  In one email Phil Jones admits he has no idea how to perform the basic statistical analysis that forms the basis of one of his past claims, writing:

I keep on seeing people saying this same stupid thing. I'm not adept enough (totally inept) with excel to do this now as no-one who knows how to is here.
What you have to do is to take the numbers in column C (the years) and then those in D (the anomalies for each year), plot them and then work out the linear trend. The slope is upwards. I had someone do this in early 2006, and the trend was upwards then. It will be now. Trend won't be statistically significant, but the trend is up.

III. When in Doubt, Deny

Already AGW advocates are jumping to the defense of the researchers implicated in the scandal.  Writes Mother Jones' Kate Sheppard:

Rather than smearing scientists, reporters might want to try some actual reporting.

The new round of hacked emails from climate scientists floating around the internet hasn't generated the same buzz as the last iteration—at least not yet. But in certain circles, it's playing out much like the first batch of emails did in 2009. In addition to the tranche of emails, the poster included a list of "greatest hits"—short quotes from the emails taken out of their context that are intended to paint scientists as scheming or lying. The entire batch was quickly posted in searchable format on another site.

But such critical reports have thus far failed to actually provide virtually any such contextual explanations, despite their suggestion that they must exist.  Further, the critics of the email publication are ignoring the fact that there are certain types of things that researchers should know to never say -- such as making comments that even sound like suggesting the destruction of academic evidence.

The reports also ignore the fact that while it's easy to accuse the media, the oil industry, et al. for a mass conspiracy to silence anthropogenic global warming advocates, there's just as compelling a cause for AGW proponents to conspire to silence their critics in a dogmatic, non-scientific fashion.

Such an approach not only guarantees researchers lucrative research grants, it guarantees their political allies potential billions of dollars in windfalls in "carbon credits" and other AGW-inspired wealth redistribution schemes.  Al Gore in particular has made close to a billion dollars based on his evangelizing AGW in lectures, film; via carbon credit investments; and by pushing the government to funnel money to his high-risk "green energy" investments in the name of fighting AGW. 

Al Gore
AGW political proponents like Al Gore stand to make billions more if they can convince world governments to fully enact their wealth redistribution schemes under the auspice of "fighting warming". [Image Source: Associated Press]

You can download a torrent of the emails here.

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RE: Real science s about evidence
By phantom505 on 11/25/2011 6:57:26 PM , Rating: -1
Ever heard of error bars? Probably not. Let actual scientists interpret data. The wannabe scientists/hacks/IT trolls on this site can go ahead and cheer lead their favorite political topics.

RE: Real science s about evidence
By JKflipflop98 on 11/25/2011 9:02:49 PM , Rating: 1
Ever heard of the base rule "correlation does not equal causation"? Probably not.

RE: Real science s about evidence
By JasonMick on 11/27/2011 9:19:01 PM , Rating: 3
Hi guys,
I've read some of the commentary below with regards to the excerpted quotes and have written a followup. Please read here:

I agree that some of the quotes sound more damaging outside their full context, particularly some of the more egregious ones (e.g. Phil Jones writing "All the models are wrong."), which I don't include here.

That said, I think those who are hoping to brush this one under the rug would be wise to read the full email I print in the followup and consider the notion that those involved have created a problem for themselves by creating the APPEARANCE of impropriety.

I think you have to be in complete denial to think otherwise, although whether actual academic impropriety/misconduct occurred or it merely misleadingly appeared that way has absolutely NOT been established from what I've read/analyzed.

However, the suggestions of fighting transparency should be disturbing to any legitimate researcher.

You, of course, are free to disagree. But at least consider the full text before you dismiss it out of your own prejudices.

RE: Real science s about evidence
By ProScience on 12/3/2011 12:02:37 PM , Rating: 2
Wow. This is quite a collection of some of the worst inaccuracies and distortions I have seen culled together in one article.


Article: despite the intriguing premise [of global warming], little definitive information has been determined in this field even as politicization runs rife.

That is not what any reputable SCIENCE source says:
“Since 2007, no scientific body of national or international standing has maintained a dissenting opinion on global warming.”
see more here

Virtually all the top world renown science agencies have put out strong statements warning about the risks of global warming. These include the top science GENERAL agencies such as

Royal Society (United Kingdom)
National Academy of Sciences (United States of America)
Science Council of Japan
Russian Academy of Sciences
Australian Academy of Sciences
Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

in addition to the climate agencies such as (NASA, NOAA, NCAR, etc)

The American Association of Science (AAS) is typical

The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society. Accumulating data from across the globe reveal a wide array of effects: rapidly melting glaciers, destabilization of major ice sheets, increases in extreme weather, rising sea level, shifts in species ranges, and more. The pace of change and the evidence of harm have increased markedly over the last five years. The time to control greenhouse gas emissions is now. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, a critical greenhouse gas, is higher than it has been for at least 650,000 years.

The average temperature of the Earth is heading for levels not experienced for millions of years. Scientific predictions of the impacts of increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels and deforestation match observed changes. As expected, intensification of droughts, heat waves, floods, wildfires, and severe storms is occur Delaying action to address climate change will increase the environmental and societal consequences as well as the costs. The longer we wait to tackle climate change, the harder and more expensive the task will be.

In addition, 100% of the SCIENCE oriented general mainstream (Scientific American, Discover, Science, NewScientist, etc) says the facts are in for global warming.

New Scientist tackles some of the popular urban legends on global warming here.

This isn’t just climate scientists as this author suggests. And many of the top climatologists are on FIXED salaries paid by the government regardless of their findings.

So the “lucrative” grants statement is just another wildly inaccurate statement by this author, and shows the ideological based nature of it.

By ProScience on 12/3/2011 12:59:25 PM , Rating: 2
#2 No climatologist claims global warming is the ONLY variable affecting the increase in temperature – it is just the most significant.

The variables studied in the global warming models to make forecasts include:

(1) well mixed global warming gases (including Co2)
(2) solar variation
(3) aerosols (stratospheric and tropospheric)
(4) land use
(5) snow albedo
(6) black carbon
They also take into affect PDO cycles (that go up and then back down – ie a cycle)
There was an El Nino in 1998 causing a large hot spike. There was one relatively cool year in 2008 due to a La Nina.

**The decade of 2000-2010 was still the hottest decade on record since weather instrumentation records (going back to 1880) and satellite records -- both UAH and RSS (going back 30 years). **
And the decade of 1990-1999 was the hottest before that.
Here are the weather station temperature data == per NASA. And one can see the rise.

The satellite data shows the same trend (but only goes back to the 1970s); Same with weather balloons.

As for natural cycles – Milankovitch cycles would have predicted we should have been COOLING, not warming by now.

Interesting how this author leaves this all out and tries to cherrypick individual dates.

Since the TOTAL of the average global temperatures is clearly the highest in the last decade, I find it a completely inaccurate statement to claim as the author does, that warming has stalled.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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