Sunday, February 28, 2010
Via my Facebook scroll, the memorandum submitted by the Institute of Physics (an organization reputed to have 36,000 members) to the Parliament of the United Kingdom addressing the "ClimateGate" email scandal. It is a breath of fresh air, and incorporates a broad demand that scientific data supporting any peer-reviewed publication be available in electronic form on the internet "to coincide with publication." Here's the heart of the indictment:
The CRU e-mails as published on the internet provide prima facie evidence of determined and co-ordinated refusals to comply with honourable scientific traditions and freedom of information law. The principle that scientists should be willing to expose their ideas and results to independent testing and replication by others, which requires the open exchange of data, procedures and materials, is vital. The lack of compliance has been confirmed by the findings of the Information Commissioner. This extends well beyond the CRU itself - most of the e-mails were exchanged with researchers in a number of other international institutions who are also involved in the formulation of the IPCC's conclusions on climate change.
Read the whole thing, which is a scientific punch in the nose.
In the words of a Facebook friend, "Physicists rarely get riled. But when they do it's like the Ents." Indeed, and Isengard is coming down.
Gore is a politician, not a scientist. His views are worth no more or less than those of any other interested layman.
Certainly all the raw data should be available on line. The world now has enough server space to support storage of vast amounts of raw data. (This should include all the research done by drug companies, for instance.)
As I understand it, the CRU only collected data from weather services world wide. Some of this data was held to be copyright by the services concerned. I'm not sure how the UK Parliament could compel, for instance, the Chinese government to post all its weather records for free access; but it certainly should be done.
There seem to be two major problems: the tree ring data doesn't make sense, and the Medieval warming may or may not have been global. Both of these need a lot more work.
As the decades pass, it will be more obvious to all whether or not there is global warming at an unprecedented speed. If not, we have to find out why the greenhouse effect is not operating as expected - the physics of the greenhouse effect is simple and well known. What could cause it to not happen?
One thing that urgently needs to be done is to improve the teaching of basic statitics in schools. How can the average voter make a judgement on these issues when he has no understanding of such terms as "significance"? Democracy reqires an educated electorate.
We have been narrowly saved from the liberty stealing statists, who tried to scare-monger the world into capitulation. It will be interesting now to watch the development of real Climate Science, as political advocates are expelled from the field.
The ENTS are coming!
Water vapor (clouds) is a big driver of climate patterns -- everyone agrees. Water vapor averages about 2 to 3% of what's in the air -- and so is 50,000 times the CO2 in the air. It's a so-called greenhouse gas, because it captures the energy in light.
The New York Times reported this in January:
Less Water Vapor May Slow Warming Trends
"A decrease in water vapor concentrations in parts of the middle atmosphere has contributed to a slowing of Earth’s warming, researchers are reporting."
"Why a decrease in water vapor has occurred in the last 10 years is still unknown." So sayeth The New York Times.
But physicists at CERN have developed a theory that explains this decrease in water vapor: Variations in sunspots affect the amount of cosmic rays that hit our oceans. Cosmic rays have very high energy and drive more water vapor into the atmosphere. So the amount of cosmic rays hitting our oceans means more or less water vapor in the air. Sunspot cycles fit with decades long cycles in Earth's warming and cooling. We're now in a period of relative cooling.
CERN physicists aren't the first to suggest sunspots as a culprit, but they've gone far in fleshing it out. See here:
Cosmic rays and climate
Ironically, the CERN sunspot theory also helps explains why we see peaks in climate change hysteria. We were told back in the 1970s that we would soon freeze to death ... 25 years later that Earth will boil over.
CERN has some of the best physicists around. They'd be the first to say their theory needs works, but looks promising. "Strong evidence for solar-climate variability, but no established mechanism. A cosmic ray influence on clouds is a leading candidate." Real scientists say things like that. They're working on lab experiments to establish the "mechanism."
Put differently, the CERN theory fits the data but correlation doesn't mean causation. Hence the need for more work.
You don't have to be a physicist to appreciate that slight relative variations in how the sun's energy hits Earth can have profound effects on our climate. Nor do you have to be a physicist to be skeptical that something like CO2 -- which is only 380 parts per billion in the air -- could be a big driver of climate. Further, if you don't fully understand the first ... how can you make scientifically valid claims about the second ? -- because the first can easily overwhelm the second. Further on this point: increased levels of CO2 in the air would be an expected lagging effect of the Earth getting warmer -- and thus an effect, not a cause. Ask any good high school chemistry student about the solubility of gases in water.
The IPCC report is just the end result of a political process. It has nothing to do with science. "Peer review" has nothing to do with the scientific method. Nor does "consensus." So focus on how many errors are in it doesn't advance understanding. There's a reason Al Gore got bad grades in "Earth Science for Football Linemen."
It's amazing how willfully ignorant warming alarmists and MSM have been and continue to be.
the one gentleman who mentioned water vapor as a potential source of greenhouse warming is probably close to the truth.
Our modern thermal imaging devices detect changes in heat signatures (Infra red radiation....aka...heat)and display the information on a CRT. Water vapor significantly downgrades tranmission of infrared radiation.
So instead of taxing Co2, perhaps we should tax the nefarious Dihodrogen monoxide.
To Don Cox, "allow me to retort."
"There seem to be two major problems: the tree ring data doesn't make sense, and the Medieval warming may or may not have been global. Both of these need a lot more work."
We may never be able to establish whether or not the Medieval warming was global -- certainly not by using the current methods of climate science. That's because proxies are just that -- you can't know what other effects can throw proxies off -- especially when you want to extrapolate conclusions from small measurement differences. E.g., tree rings don't even work for the latter 20th century and no one can explain why. Most rational folks would admit that they were going down a dead end with this approach -- and either give up or go at it differently.
Further, the Medieval warming is small beer in the context of a planet that we know goes through bigger cycles like Ice Ages.
"... we have to find out why the greenhouse effect is not operating as expected."
CERN is an example of a credible alternative explanation. This stuff has been out there, but ignored because it doesn't fit with the desired PC conclusion. ... or because the likes of Michael Mann can count tree rings but aren't smart enough to do thermodynamics.
"Democracy requires an educated electorate."
We also need educated politicians and journalists. Our President for one is willfully innumerate. So are the reporters who cover him.
Well, from "current" proxies we may not know the Medieval Warm (or the Little Ice Age) was worldwide. Although I have seen reports that proxies do show indications of these, from stalactite analysis to - yes - tree rings.
OTOH, to disappear these periods from the global record is compleyely unsupported - consider, to acknowledge that the entire Northern Hemisphere was warmer during the Medieval Warm yet claim the globe as a whole was cooler, it is necessary that the Southern Hemisphere have been considerably - several degrees - colder than the Northern. Mann et al make this assumption, yet do not even acknowledge they have done so let alone that it was done on no useable evidence, but apparently a desire to force a pre-determined result.
I don't think that the push to make us all climate change worshipers is over. In fact, this will be like the zombies in a horror film and global climate change will be back in our faces tomorrow.
When Congress repeals the light bulb laws and allows us freedom of choice concerning light bulbs I will agree that climate change has fallen and that it will rise no more.
"We also need educated politicians and journalists. Our President for one is willfully innumerate. "
I have often said that a presidential candidate in the 21C needs a good understanding of science and technology. Unfortunately, politicians mostly have backgrounds in the arts or business. I don't know how ignorant Obama is in particular.
(I also think a good knowledge of history is essential.)
"When Congress repeals the light bulb laws and allows us freedom of choice concerning light bulbs"
The light bulb manufacturers have done very well out of these laws.
But the really big business opportunity will be in nuclear power, which hopefully will soon mean fusion power. Whether or not global warming is a menace, there is no doubt that the OPEC states have far too much influence.
Going back to the original link, a better version of the story is here, on the NOAA site. It includes a good diagram.
The abstract of the paper in "Science" is here. Unfortunately you have to pay to view the whole paper. If FOI requests can compel people to release their raw data, shouldn't they also have to release the final results?
Don Cox. You are doing a stirling job of trying to keep the debate on an even keel or maybe a sinking ship afloat.
This HOTAIR entry Another American Media failure discusses the US media's lack of interest in the climate research scandal by showing how the UK media is reporting.
Of interest to this Tigerhawk post is the list of problems with the close knit climate research community. A list which should help mitigate the efforts of the community's supporters to downplay the seriousness of these issues.
University of East Anglia e-mails that exposed data destruction, attempts to hide contradictory data, and conspiracies to sabotage the work of skeptical scientists
The East Anglia CRU threw out their raw data, undermining any effort to check their work
NOAA/GHCN “homogenization” falsified climate declines into increases
East Anglia CRU’s below-standard computer modeling
No rise in atmospheric carbon fraction over the last 150 years: University of Bristol
IPCC withdraws claim that AGW will wipe out Himalayan glaciers by 2035
IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri knew Himalayan claim was bogus for months before exposure
Amazonian rainforest conclusions not based on scientific research but on advocacy group claims
Mountain glacier claims based on unsubstantiated student theses and anecdotes from climber magazine
Search of IPCC report footnotes exposes ten more student dissertations presented as peer-reviewed research
Medieval Warming Period temperatures may have been global, undermining entire AGW case
Measurements used for AGW case were influenced by urbanization, poor location, bad data sets
African-crop claims exposed as false
IPCC researchers excluded Southern Hemisphere data to exaggerate effects of warming on hurricanes
Hurricane claims further exposed as false by actual peer-reviewed research — including by some AGW researchers
Major scientific group concludes IPCC-linked researchers “complicit in the alleged scientific malpractices“
GOTO the HOTAIR article for links to each of the incidents.
With regard to "the Medieval warming period may or may not be global."
This Canada Free Press article "Obama’s Science Czar John Holdren involved in in unwinding “Climategate” scandal" shows how alternate research was suppressed.
"There is a multitude of small but frightening stories in the massive files,” Ball writes. “For example I’ve known solar physicists Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon for a long time. I’ve published articles with Willie and enjoyed extensive communication. I was on advisory committees with them when Sallie suddenly and politely withdrew from the fray. I don’t know if the following events were contributing factors but it is likely.
“Baliunas and Soon were authors of excellent work confirming the existence of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) from a multitude of sources. Their work challenged attempts to get rid of the MWP because it contradicted the claim by the proponents of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Several scientists challenged the claim that the latter part of the 20th century was the warmest ever. They knew the claim was false, many warmer periods occurred in the past. Michael Mann ‘got rid’ of the MWP with his production of the hockey stick, but Soon and Baliunas were problematic. What better than have a powerful academic destroy their credibility for you? Sadly, there are always people who will do the dirty work.”
"Indeed, Holdren’s emails show how sincere scientists would be made into raw “entertainment”."
Goto the article to read more.
If plants could only talk. They need CO2 like we need oxygen. Plants would tell us that CO2 levels are far, far less than what they were during the time of dinosaurs. CO2 is so scarce in the air today that plants are suffocating by comparison ... but us humans are complaining.
This isn't just academic.
The EPA has declared CO2 to be a pollutant and is poised to regulate any emitter bigger than a candy shop. But there's a bi-partisan effort in Congress to stop the EPA. Feb 25, 2010 press release : Skelton, Peterson, Emerson Introduce Bipartisan Joint Resolution to Halt EPA's Planned Regulation of Greenhouse Gases
Just before Climategate broke, the Second and Fifth Circuits had reversed lower court dismissals to find that private plaintiffs could sue big CO2 emitters on claims of nuisance, trespass, and negligence. The Ninth Circuit was expected by many to do the same. The Fifth Circuit case literally included potential damage claims by people who didn't get laid in the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina. But just last week, the Fifth Circuit said it would rehear the case using a larger en banc panel of its judges. Sanity may yet prevail, even in our courts.
Too many of those who've been screaming the loudest about AGW have a financial stake in promoting the panic.