backtop


Print 95 comment(s) - last by Robert Murphy.. on Dec 5 at 8:55 AM

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.


Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Fraud and deception, indeed
By Robert Murphy on 12/5/2011 8:55:53 AM , Rating: 1
Is there a reason you spliced two emails together and pretended they were one? You posted this:

" 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."

The bold text was from May 13th, 2009 (email 2440), the italicized from July 28th, 2009 (email 1577). In the first Jones is talking specifically about FOIA requests for emails that were from scientist to scientist in discussing what was to be included in what chapters in IPCC reports. He does not think these are covered by FOIA and that the release of such emails would stifle the free discussion of the science among the participants as they worked on the reports. It was not about holding back data. The second snippet was from an email where Jones was lamenting the time and resources used to fulfill the FOIA request for data:

quote:
"Dear All, Here are a few other thoughts. From looking at Climate Audit every few days, these people are not doing what I would call academic research. Also from looking they will not stop with the data, but will continue to ask for the original unadjusted data (which we don't have) and then move onto the software used to produce the gridded datasets (the ones we do release).
CRU is considered by the climate community as a data centre, but we don't have any resources to undertake this work. 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 (US Dept of Energy) in the past and they are happy about not releasing the original station data. We are currently trying to do some more work with other datasets, which will get released (as gridded datasets) through the British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC). This will involve more than just station temperature data. Perhaps we should consider setting up something like this agreement below http://badc.nerc.ac.uk/data/surface/met ... ement.html
I just want these orchestrated requests to stop. I also don't want to give away years of hard effort within CRU. Many of the agreements were made in the late 1980s and early 1990s and I don't have copies to hand. I also don't want to waste my time looking for them. Even if I were to find them all, it is likely that the people we dealt with are no longer in the same positions. These requests over the last 2.5 years have wasted much time for me, others in CRU and for Dave and Michael. Some of you may not know, but the dataset has been sent by someone at the Met Office to McIntyre. The Met Office are trying to find out who did this. I've ascertained it most likely came from there, as I'm the only one who knows where the files are here. See you all later. Phil"


They don't have the resources to do all these data searches, so they are done "on the back of the research grants" they get. This extra work has to be hidden, not the data!

It's astounding that the people who are accusing scientists of hoaxes and fraud so nonchalantly engage in the most blatant deception themselves. You have the audacity to state,

"Of course Phil Jones and his supporters will likely claim that the emails were taken out of context of some larger more appropriate discussion"

This from someone who spliced together two emails separated by over two months. Yeah, I think that qualifies as taking the emails out of context. Don't you?

Then you post a snippet of what you say is an email from Peter Thorne where he lists some criticisms of a first draft of an IPCC chapter and you claim this is an attack on Mike Mann:

quote:
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.


Again, you splice two distinct emails together, this time the first section in bold is from email 1939 and was written on Feb 20th 2005, and the second italicized sentence was from email 3066 and was written two weeks earlier on Feb 4th 2005. Is there a reason you did this?

And it is quite clear that Thorne was not speaking to Mann. This should have been obvious even in the small excerpt you used since Thorne says, "Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these further if necessary." And of course, they did discuss it and Thorne's concerns were addressed as Thorne himself has verified in the last few weeks. And Thorne's concerns over the sat data was based in large part on UAH's erroneous analysis, an analysis that was corrected later in the same year this email occurred (2005).

Farther down you go after Mann again, and miss just as badly:

"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:

quote:
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 figure in question was not something from Mann but from Gavin Schmidt at RealClimate, written in response to an egregiously bad argument made by Christoper Monckton. Schmidt stands by the figure he used. Your next sentence was, "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." The above had nothing to do with any draft of either a paper or an IPCC report. It was a figure in a post on a blog.

You write:

"Writes Jonathan Overpeck, lead coordinating author of the IPCC's most recent climate assessment:

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


If you actually read the email it would be obvious he wasn't talking about any specific scientific/political message. He was simply talking about winnowing down a very long draft into half a page of information, because that's all the space they had for that section.

From email 4755:

quote:
Hi Ricardo - good to hear from you. Thanks too for the interesting figure. I have some comments on this section (6.5.4) and also for the others' you're helping to lead. Regarding 6.5.4 - I hope Dick and Keith will have jump in to help you lead, and I can too. I think the hardest, yet most important part, is to boil the section down to 0.5 pages. In looking over your good outline, sent back on Oct. 17 (my delay is due to fatherdom just after this time), you cover ALOT. The trick may be to decide on the main message and use that to guid what's included and what is left out. For the IPCC, we need to know what is relevant and useful for assessing recent and future climate change. Moreover, we have to have solid data - not inconclusive information.


Would it have killed you to have shown enough skepticism to have actually read the emails? Or are you only interested in how you can misquote them? For shame.




"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki