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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 rs1 on 11/25/2011 7:45:52 PM , Rating: 2
This is opposite of what the climate models based on the 'CO2 causes warming' hypothesis predicted. Those models predicted such a rise in CO2, up 26%, would lead to significant warming. That prediction failed. Is it time to question the theory and if not why not?

You left something out. An important something. The models predict that all other things being equal an increase in CO2 will cause a corresponding rise in average global temperature. So first you need to check on those variables (average solar intensity, atmospheric concentrations of other greenhouse gases, presence of various mitigating factors like cloud cover, etc.) and see how they changed during the past decade. And if and only if none of them have changed, then you can return to your assertion that the models are broken.

Nobody is claiming that more atmospheric CO2 should immediately trigger a jump in global temperatures, except for you with your childish oversimplification of climate models and global warming theory.

RE: Real science s about evidence
By retrospooty on 11/25/2011 8:50:01 PM , Rating: 1
or... Plants consume co2 and create oxygen. More co2, = more efficient plants, = more oxygen to balance the co2.

It is almost as if nature is a perfect system... Oh wait.... Its exactly as if it is =)

RE: Real science s about evidence
By StevoLincolnite on 11/25/2011 9:29:49 PM , Rating: 1
or... Plants consume co2 and create oxygen. More co2, = more efficient plants, = more oxygen to balance the co2.

That would work normally... Except we are destroying the plants that create the oxygen.

The Amazon forest, also known as the "Lungs of the Earth" probably won't be around forever at the rate it's being wiped out. -

Currently about 60,000 square kilometers (37,000 miles) of forest area is cut down per year around the world, to put that in perspective, that's about the size of Ireland each year. -

RE: Real science s about evidence
By dj LiTh on 11/25/11, Rating: 0
RE: Real science s about evidence
By ekv on 11/25/2011 10:08:52 PM , Rating: 2
Plants love a CO2-rich, warm environment. So you're implication is that AGW is therefore an incorrect theory? or perhaps humans ought to commit hara-kari in order to make things fairer for plants?

Or do I need to go do my part to help plants, i.e. fire up my V8 gas-guzzler, go drag racin' down in the old 'hood, turn all the lights on, stereo up, invite friends over, throw a few more shrimp (and cow) on the barbie... 8)

[Just fyi, I too consider Amazonian deforestation ignominious].

RE: Real science s about evidence
By FaaR on 11/27/2011 1:44:10 AM , Rating: 2
Plants don't "love" a CO2-rich environment just because they require it for their sustenance any more than humans "love" a water-rich environment just because an adult person needs several liters of the stuff per day.

Plants have evolved and adapted to a particular CO2-concentration in the atmosphere, so when that level changes it affects the plants in more ways than you might expect. It has been shown that while trees may grow faster at higher CO2-levels, the wood they produce also becomes less dense (ie: weaker.)

So you can't make a blanket statement that more CO2 = better for plantlife, because nature isn't that simple.

RE: Real science s about evidence
By ekv on 11/27/2011 3:19:47 AM , Rating: 1
any more than humans "love" a water-rich environment
Of course, if yer working yer butt off in, say, 114F degree weather, in the Sun, then a water-rich environment sounds pretty damn good 8) And the need to stay hydrated is something I can personally attest to.

I'll avoid the subject of clean water for drinking and personal hygiene and the amazing advances that has allowed for civilization. Though permit me to mention that few cultures / countries have gone about reclaiming desert, turning it into arable land. Israel comes to mind. The solution is not so technical as it is social (hint: a profit motive helps). Same thing for deforestation.
It has been shown that while trees may grow faster at higher CO2-levels, the wood they produce also becomes less dense
Granted, I'm no bio-chemist, but does density matter to the tree more or to a carpenter? From the human perspective, lower density would adversely effect load-bearing ability. With today's manufactured lumber however, not so much of a problem.
So you can't make a blanket statement that more CO2 = better for plantlife, because nature isn't that simple.
Ok, but if nature is not that simple, then the Solar System is not that simple, and the Sun is more a driving force than humans. [Let me also say, again, this would not abrogate our, i.e. Man's, responsibility to be good stewards of our natural resources, tax dollars included].

So ... can I throw a few more shrimp on the barbie for ya?

RE: Real science s about evidence
By ekv on 11/28/2011 10:13:43 PM , Rating: 2
So ... can I throw a few more shrimp on the barbie for ya?
I didn't add a smiley face ... and perhaps somebody took this the wrong way. It was intended to be a cheeky comment, not sarcastic.

RE: Real science s about evidence
By ShaolinSoccer on 11/26/2011 12:17:38 AM , Rating: 3
That would work normally... Except we are destroying the plants that create the oxygen. The Amazon forest, also known as the "Lungs of the Earth" probably won't be around forever at the rate it's being wiped out. -

Think about it. If people destroyed enough plants, that would mean less oxygen. Which would mean more people dying. That in turn would lead to plants making a comeback? The Earth will always be able to fix itself until the days when the Sun starts to die.

RE: Real science s about evidence
By OAKside24 on 11/26/2011 2:46:38 AM , Rating: 1
The Earth will always be able to fix itself until the days when the Sun starts to die.

I guess that depends on one's definition of "fix". There are too many things that can and will effect ( put it lightly) life on Earth before the Sun destroys it in 7-8 billion years.

I give humans a tiny fraction of that time. (The other 99% of life will certainly celebrate and thrive in our absence.)

RE: Real science s about evidence
By ekv on 11/26/2011 6:11:53 AM , Rating: 3
The other 99% of life will certainly celebrate and thrive in our absence.
You may well imagine those of us who value life would thrive in your absence. Before you accuse me of suggesting you "logout", as it were ... why is your nihilist world-view, or perspective-on-life, acceptable, even popular, and say, a non-secular world-view is not? Where does that come from? Does Scientific Rationalism inevitably lead to such a dark ethos?

RE: Real science s about evidence
By Kurz on 11/26/2011 9:49:28 AM , Rating: 2
Its probably just a self loathing individual that would post something like that. Though instead of trying to shift the blame on the rest of humanity for having wants and desires, he should instead look to him/herself to figure out whats wrong with them.

By ProScience on 12/3/2011 12:16:49 PM , Rating: 2
While it is true a greenhouse effect has a CO2 fertilization effect -- this is only true if there is enough rain and fertilizer to sustain the added growth. Turns out the real world doesn't work like a commercial greenhouse.

There are season cereals (Wheat, rye, triticale, oats, barley, and spelt) that grow in moderate weather but cease to grow in hot climates.

A study of the warming from this century has shown a very uneven distribution of rains –
And the warmer temperatures means more evaporation of moisture in the soil leading to MORE intense and larger drought areas

More important global warming has been estimated to harm the oceans. This has the greatest negative effect of all!

(i) Science studies have shown that as the surface water of the oceans warmed up, phytoplankton biomass declined -- which means that there will be less ocean plants to uptake this greenhouse gas and less food in the chain for ocean life.

(ii) Increased atmospheric CO2 increases the amount of CO2 dissolved in the oceans. Carbon dioxide gas dissolved in the ocean reacts with water to form carbonic acid, resulting in ocean acidification. This is already killing off the coral reefs and creating dead spots.

<<New study says oceans' chemistry changing rapidly

By Reclaimer77 on 11/25/2011 11:22:35 PM , Rating: 2
Nobody is claiming that more atmospheric CO2 should immediately trigger a jump in global temperatures

Umm that's not true. The "hockey stick" showed an exponential increase in temperatures directly related to increased C02 levels. This was the main hypothesis and supporting data used in dozens of studies by "climate experts" all over the world. Including Climategate.

So what do you mean "nobody" is claiming it? Lie. They ALL were.

RE: Real science s about evidence
By bug77 on 11/26/2011 7:33:52 AM , Rating: 3
I think you're on to something.

So, the temperature is determined by an awful lot of factors. So much so, that a 25% increase in the CO2 production can amount to zero increase in temperature. In this case, how is bending over backwards over CO2 production going to help?

RE: Real science s about evidence
By MZperX on 11/28/2011 1:38:01 PM , Rating: 2
This is a crucial aspect of the whole AGW issue. That is everyone seems to glide over the assumption that GW is bad for mankind (or Earth in a much broader sense), yet there are no credible answers as to why. Why would it be detrimental? There are all sorts of outlandish scenarios being painted without any scientific basis. In fact the Earth, and life on it, survived much higher temperatures lasting for eons well before human industrial activity. For every alarmist projection an opposite argument can be made, and in many cases more credible, that a warmer climate would actually be beneficial for humanity.

Even more neglected is the next required step if one aims to mandate drastic societal changes to attain a goal. A clear and unassailable case must be made that the proposed changes will in fact bring about the intended result AND that such result is a net benefit to mankind. The burden of proof rests on those who claim AGW is dangerous. Not a single AGW proponent ever endeavored to satisfy this requirement, but they all expect the rest of society to jump off the cliff with them, like lemmings, based on faith. "Let's reject the advances of modern civilization and industry, and return to the stone age to live in harmony with nature..." because they say so. These people are religious fanatics and need to be treated as such!

In summary the process for societal change on a massive scale must include the following steps at a minimum:
1) Recognize a potential problem.
2) Study the problem and document the findings.
3) Have solid, peer-reviewed, scientific data and analysis to make your case.
4) In specific, quantifiable terms, characterize the magnitude and effects of the problem if not addressed.
5) Develop the solution and prove it is worthwhile to take action (i.e. prove that the "cure" is not worse than the "disease")

AGW advocates are failing hard at 3), 4), and 5)

RE: Real science s about evidence
By phxfreddy on 11/26/2011 2:11:58 PM , Rating: 2
....or it could be he is totally correct and that Man Made Global Warming is a total fraud.

...go ahead and excoriate me. You can even excommunicate me.

Your over exertions just further the point that you "true believers" in MMGW is a religion and not a science.

RE: Real science s about evidence
By geezer117 on 12/2/2011 12:54:03 PM , Rating: 2
Replying to RS1

Since all the other factors you mention, and more, are the same natural, non-manmade factors that have caused all the thousands of climate change events throughout natural history, doesn't it follow from your argument that you have the burden of proving that these factors CANNOT account for today's climate changes before you can claim support for your novel AGW theory? That's how science works.

Instead, the AGW activists present their theory as proven unless definitive proof of its falsity can be presented to their satisfaction, and of course their satisfaction will never be granted.

When backed into a corner, AGW activists fall back on the position that manmade carbon dioxide certainly "contributes" to global warming. How can that be falsified, when "contributes" can be any number, however small? The AGW activists assert that they have no burden to prove that minimal claim, because it is obvious. They proceed to assert that this minimal claim justifies the demand that trillions of dollars be redistributed to smaller countries, and that our economy be forcibly disrupted by shrinking conventional energy before any renewable energy is remotely adequate to replace it.

AGW is now and always has been a purely political movement, with no scientific foundation in historical data or experimental results.

By ProScience on 12/3/2011 12:13:59 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. The author has put out a false premise (actually he has put out MANY false premises).

FACT: 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) **see note below

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 (goes back to 1950s)

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, no?

**Note: "When all the forcings noted above are included, "they show a good correlation to global temperature. There is still internal variability superimposed on the temperature record due to short term cycles like ENSO. The main discrepancy is a decade centered around 1940. This is thought to be due to a warming bias introduced by US ships measuring engine intake temperature.

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