The "climategate" virus spreads

I use the term "climategate" reluctantly because the stolen climatology email story has little in common with Watergate. Those who would deny the physical reality of climate change seem to have latched onto the meme, however, and it is my sad news to report that the essence of the meme, if not that particular label, is spreading further than I originally feared. The latest casualty is Canada's Globe and Mail.

Reporter Doug Saunders is no intellectual slouch. I've followed his work for a while now. He has proven his ability to cut through prevailing dogma -- replacing the myth that Ronald Reagan's policies helped bring down the Berlin Wall and hastened the end of Soviet communism with the more sensible theory that if anything Reagan delayed the inevitable -- but on the CRU hack story, his journalistic immune system failed to destroy the infection.

The story originally appeared on the Globe's website with the headline "Scandal shakes foundations of climate science," which completely misrepresents the essence of the story in favor of the climategate meme that the emails lifted from the University of East Anglia's server undermines the science of climate change. They don't.

I asked Saunders about the choice of headline, and he pointed out that print editions carried different versions, mostly "Breach in the global-warming bunker rattles climate science at the worst time," and this headline now leads the website story. This isn't much better. It's not climate science that is rattled. Climatologists and advocates for reducing carbon emissions are troubled by the way in which the story is being spun -- by the Globe and Mail, for example. But introducing the idea that the science is anything but as robust as it was before the incident is 180° off the mark. Also, the use of the term "bunker," is questionable. It's evocative of Judith Curry's concerns about the attitude among some climatologists, but hardly representative of the community's perspective in general.

Saunders pointed out to me (I'm only referring to his private email to me in terms of what his published story actually said) that elsewhere the piece asserts that when it comes to the science of anthropogenic global warming ,there is the "conclusion, still supported by the majority of atmospheric scientists, that most governments adopted as the basis of their carbon-emissions policy."

But then there's the next paragraph, which begins with

That consensus has been shaken by hundreds of pages of messages, apparently stolen from the lab's servers.

That's simply untrue.

And then there's Saunders' description of the story as a "data-fudging scandal," when it fact, there is not a single piece of evidence of manipulation of data found in the thousands of emails in the files. Only misinterpretations of a couple of emails hint at anything untoward. There may be something verging on unethical in Phil Jone's request
to colleagues to delete emails that might be subject to a freedom of information request, but that has nothing to with "data-fudging."

Saunders also calls Jones' email about "hiding" Mike's "trick" the most "contentious." It is very likely the most cited of the emails, but hardly the most contentious, as the true, innocuous, meaning of the email has been explained countless times. Sure, those who mischaracterize its meaning, deliberately or through ignorance, consider it "contentious." But since when do journalists turn to those witho expertise in a field to analyze something?

To Saunders' credit, most of the story deals with the possible political ramifications. He points out that the usual suspects are using false interpretations of the emails to oppose the movement toward a climate change deal at Copenhagen. And the suspects are usual because they've been saying the same things for years. The arrival of the once-private exchanges between harassed and frustrated climate researchers changes nothing. He does turn to Mike Hulme, a genuine member of the scientific establishment, for some critical remarks, but the quote that informs the rest of Saunders' reporting seems to me to suffer from a degree of confusion that hobbles much of Hulme's thinking on the subject:

"If people are arguing that science policy should flow seamlessly from the science, then science becomes a battleground, where people start saying that we must get the science on our side. We have lost an openness and a transparency that leads to good science."

I would think that no one is arguing that social, economic or political policy should flow "seamlessly" from science. But I can think of worse things that having science policy from from science. Regardless, what does that have to do with transparency and openness, which, one can easily argue, already characterizes climatology quite well?

The political ramifications are definitely interesting. But by using the language of the false meme that the science has been undermined, the damage is done.

More like this

I've been busy the past week with wrapping up the semester. As a consequence, I have not had the chance to post about continuing developments related to the stolen emails from servers at University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU). However, today is a convenient time to weigh in,…
What a wonderful way to begin the new year, with a responsible call for action on climate change that embraces the uncertainties rather than yet another stubborn refusal to act because of them. The New York Times' ever-reliable Andrew Revkin writes this morning of a new collective voice of…
Much is being made by those who really, really believe that there's a global conspiracy among climatologists of the emails and other documents stolen from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit. According to such bloggers, thousands of "embarrassing" pieces of correspondence between…
Logging the Onset of The Bottleneck YearsThis weekly posting is brought to you courtesy of H. E. Taylor. Happy reading, I ho8pe you enjoy this week's Global Warming news roundup skip to bottom Another week of Climate Disruption News December 6, 2009 Chuckle, Copenhagen, CPRS, SCAR, Ocean CO2…

Don't use the enemy's language.
And please talk to your tech support and ask why preview is broken.

"Climategate" exposed: Conservative media distort stolen emails in latest attack on global warming consensus

Since the reported theft of emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, conservative media figures have aggressively claimed that those emails undermine the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activities are causing climate change, dubbing the supposed scandal "Climategate." But these critics have largely rested their claims on outlandish distortions and misrepresentations of the contents of the stolen emails, greatly undermining their dubious smears.

More ...

http://mediamatters.org/research/200912010002

The IPCC is still refusing to release the raw temperature data. Why?

Because they're a review committee and don't have any data. Any other stupid questions?

The Watts piece is trash. Then again, everything posted at the Watts site is trash.

"everything posted at the Watts site is trash." Posted by: dhogaza

because.......... you said? The truth (and the REAL un-manipulated data) hurts sometimes don't it.

By dapigouza (not verified) on 11 Dec 2009 #permalink

Because I've read it. CO2 snow in antarctica? Watts publishing an abstract proving that CFCs don't cause ozone depletion, but rather halogenated compounds do?

The Willis fiasco over there now - made "sticky" to the top of the site - is just the last of many examples of sheer idiocy.

"The Willis fiasco over there now - made "sticky" to the top of the site - is just the last of many examples of sheer idiocy. Posted by: dhogaza"

Orly???......because??........the REAL data doesn't count? because YOU said? Don't understand 9th grade stats? Look in the mirror for some sheer idiocy

By dapigouza (not verified) on 12 Dec 2009 #permalink

CLIMATEGATE
THE LEBENSRAUM FALLACY
The Lebensraum doctrine of Green activists rests on three tenets they accept with an act of faith:
â¢We are running out of space. World population is already excessive on a limited planet and cannot grow without dire effects.
â¢We are running out of means. The planetâs non-renewable resources are being depleted by consumption at a rate that renders economic expansion unsustainable.
â¢We shall fry. Carbon dioxide emitted by human economic activity causes global warming that shall make the planet uninhabitable.
When such tenets are quantified, the contrast between true and false stands out sharply.
Is overpopulation a grave problem? The sum of urban areas of the United States is equivalent to 2% of the area of the country, and to 6% in densely inhabited countries such as England and Holland. And there is plenty of green in urban areas. If comparison is limited to land covered by buildings and pavements the occupied land in the whole world amounts to 0,04% of the terrestrial area of the planet. With 99.96% unoccupied the idea of an overcrowded planet is an exaggeration. Population forecasts are uncertain but the most accepted ones foresee stability of world population to be reached in the 21st century. According to some, world population may begin to decline at the end of this century. With so much elbowroom it is untenable that world population is excessive or shall ever become so.
Strictly speaking, no natural resource is non-renewable in a universe ruled by the Law of Conservation of Mass. In popular form it holds that âNothing is created, nothing is lost, all is transformed.â Human usage is not subtracted from the mass of the planet, and in theory all material used may be recycled. The possibility of doing so depends on availability and low cost of energy. When fusion energy becomes operative it will be available in practically unlimited quantities. The source is deuterium, a hydrogen isotope found in water, in a proportion of 0.03%. One cubic kilometer of seawater contains more energy than can be obtained from combustion of all known petroleum reserves of the world. Since oceans hold 3 billion cubic kilometers of water, energy will last longer than the human species.
There is no growing shortfall of resources signaled by rising prices. Since the middle of the 19th century The Economist publishes consistent indices of values of commodities and they have all declined, over the period, due to technological advances. The decline has been benign. The cost of feeding a human being was 8 times greater in 1850 than it is today. In 1950, less than half of a world population of 2 billion had an adequate diet, above 2000 calories per day. Today, 80% have the diet, and world population is three times greater.
There is a problem with the alleged global warming. It stopped in 1998, after having risen in the 23 previous years. It unleashed a scare over its effects. Since 1998 it has been followed by 11 years of declining temperatures, in a portent of a cold 21st century. This shows that there are natural forces shaping climate, more powerful than manmade carbon dioxide and anything mankind can do for or against world climate. The natural forces include cyclical oscillation of ocean temperatures, sunspot activity and the effect of magnetic activity of the sun on cosmic rays. All such cycles are foreseeable, but there is no general theory of climate with predictive capacity. What knowledge exists comes from one hundred fields, such as meteorology, oceanography, mathematics, physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, paleontology, biology, etc. with partial contributions to the understanding of climate.
Devoid of support of solid theory and empirical data, the mathematical models that underpin alarmist forecasts amount to speculative thought that reflects the assumptions fed into the models. Agenda driven computer simulations offer no rational basis for public policy that inhibits economic activity âto save the planetâ. And carbon dioxide is not a pollutant; it is the nutrient needed for photosynthesis that supports the food chain of all living beings of the planet. But carbon dioxide became a toxic-by-decree of the Obama administration, with an act that smells of rotten bananas of a comic opera republic.
Stories of doom circulate daily. Anything that happens on earth has been blamed on global warming: a Himalayan earthquake, a volcanic eruption, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, tribal wars in Africa, a dust storm in Australia, recent severe winters in North America, the hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico, known for five centuries, the collapse of a bridge in Minnesota. Evo Morales blames Americans for the summer floods in Bolivia.
Global warming is not a physical phenomenon; it is a political and journalistic phenomenon that finds parallel in the totalitarian doctrines that inebriated masses deceived by demagogues. As Chris Patten put it: âGreen politics at its worst amounts to a sort of Zen fascism; less extreme, it denounces growth and seeks to stop the world so that we can all get offâ. In the view of Professor Aaron Wildavsky global warming is the mother of all environmental scares. âWarming (and warming alone), through its primary antidote of withdrawing carbon from production and consumption, is capable of realizing the environmentalist's dream of an egalitarian society based on rejection of economic growth in favor of a smaller population's eating lower on the food chain, consuming a lot less, and sharing a much lower level of resources much more equally.â Their dream is the hippiesâ lifestyle of idleness, penury, long hair, unshaven face, blue jeans, sandals and vegetarian diet, imposed on the world by decree of Big Brother, and justified by the Lebensraum fallacy.

By a. n,ditchfield (not verified) on 12 Dec 2009 #permalink

Orly???......because??........the REAL data doesn't count? because YOU said? Don't understand 9th grade stats? Look in the mirror for some sheer idiocy

The thermometer moved. Think about it.

"The thermometer moved. Think about it"

Case after case it has been shown where the data sets and have been fraudulently and incompetently manipulated to hide coiling and gin up warming when none existed.("enhanced" "homogenized" "adjusted" "improved" choose your poison. And THEN, the "raw" data disappears. Quack Quack waddle waddle. Clearly it's not a duck in your world.

You should try NOT to think about it. You'll feel better in your happy place.

By dapigouza (not verified) on 14 Dec 2009 #permalink

OK. I actually went back and looked at how the wool was being pulled over our eyes, and I have to admit, I was a blind nutjob believer. I soooo needed some type of crisis to center my life around. I see now that the leaked CRU emails simply provide the context, but the actual falsification and blatant fraudlent manipulation of the data to create a false premise is just over the top, as I see it clearly now that I have actually looked.

Sorry for all the total B.S. I have been spewing.

----------------------
From: Tom Wigley
To: Phil Jones
Subject: HadCRUT2v
Date: Mon, 12 Dec 2005 15:16:28 -0700
Cc: Tim Osborn , Ben Santer

Phil,

Why is there so much missing data for the South Pole? The period Jan 75 thru Dec 90 is all missing except Dec 81, July & Dec 85, Apr 87, Apr & Sept 88, Apr 89. Also, from and including Aug 2003 is missing.

Also â more seriously but correctable. The S Pole is just represented by a single box at 87.5S (N Pole ditto I suspect). This screws up area averaging. It would be
better to put the S Pole value in ALL boxes at 87.5S.

I have had to do this in my code â but you really should fix the ârawâ gridded data.

For area averages, the difference is between having the S Pole represent the whole
region south of 85S, and having (as now) it represent one 72nd of this region. It is pretty obvious to me what is better.

"We are running out of means. The planetâs non-renewable resources are being depleted by consumption at a rate that renders economic expansion unsustainable."

It's ironic that the myth of limited resources is up-ended by the very solutions the Greens espouse. To wit: An LED light not only extends every joule of energy used for lighting by 10X or more over traditional lightbulbs, it reduces needs for tungsten, while at the same time increase demand for gallium. Likewise with other technologies - we squeeze more out of less. Just look at Moore's Law - we are putting 1000X the transistors on a slice of silicon than we were 2 decades ago.

When we run out of oil we have plenty of uranium. And when the uranium runs low, we will notice that our current once-through nuke cycles use up only 3% of the nuclear fuel's energy and we'll recycle (like the French do) to get the other 97% of the energy. And we can tap into wind too. So we'll never run out of energy. And with enough energy, any of the elements we need to get will be extractable for a price.

In short, economic expansion will continue to the extent that technology enables us to do more with less. The Malthusians were wrong before and are wrong now.

" The IPCC is still refusing to release the raw temperature data. Why?"
"Because they're a review committee and don't have any data."

WOW. They dont have any data. What's stupid is the IPCC making a bunch of important pronouncements, keying off the global governance of energy and economy on the basis of these reports, and finding out how hacked up the work really was behind the scenes (ie "hide the decline", dont want a messay chart to explain to the peons). It's sad that we are relying so much on a group that operates without really looking into the details and having the data on hand to back up what they are saying.

One example (of many) - IPCC screwed up on the Himalayas:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8387737.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8355837.stm