Brass Tacts

Over at Climate Audit, there are a few comments in the “Lots of Station Data” post that get to the heart of the matter when it comes to the CRU Event:

For some CAers, it is proof of fraud:

For ex:

You’ve got to be kidding me. And we’re still trying to be nice and avoid using the “fraud” word? There is no other word for this kind of behavior that fits better.

and

Steve has done an extraordinary job of “auditing” this fraudulant activity. It seems that Steve is doing the job that should be done by the universities, granting agencies,government agencies providing and using data, IPCC, and so forth on an ongoing basis. It will be of great interest to observe the extent to which the “independent investigations” at East Anglia CRU and Penn. State are as thorough. The huge question that follows, of course, is how these data have been used in unquestioning fashion to produce their “independent” investigations of global warming?

The clear implication is that the emails are evidence of fraud that reaches right to the heart of the AGW paradigm.

A few voices (in the wilderness perhaps?) disagree:

East Anglia CRU is one of several top research stations. The withheld data has not been shown to dent the overall picture of increasing temperatures and impacts (such as melting ice). Even if it did, the effect on the other two hundred lines of evidence from other data sources and research stations could only be miniscule.

So — brass tacts on whether the CRU emails show proof of scientific fraud and whether they offer any proof that overturns the AGW paradigm:

  • The CRU emails reveal written statements that suggest – but don’t prove –  some questionable behavior on the part of some climate scientists.
  • None of the potentially questionable behavior overturns established climate science, or as I like to call it, the AGW dominant scientific paradigm.
  • The only thing that can possibly overturn the AGW dominant scientific paradigm is research that provides convincing evidence that some other agency than humans is responsible for observed warming.  The only evidence that would prove the AGW paradigm and its research is based on fraudulent data and theory is if all the data in all the various lines of evidence are shown to have been fraudulently changed to reflect warming that did not in fact occur.

That’s a heavy burden.

  1. To overturn the AGW paradigm as a whole, convincing alternative research evidence and theory must be provided that shows the existing paradigm is unable to account for observed warming as well as the alternative evidence.
  2. For proof of fraud / hoax, the data has to be shown to have been fraudulently changed – in other words, those who changed the data must be shown to have changed it knowing that the changes they were making were incorrect.
  3. That would require those who charge fraud to prove that in fact, there was no warming during the period in question as shown by the research that supports the AGW paradigm.

I don’t see much other than an attempt to question the scientist’s ethics, question the data, without showing that any of the questioning actually overturns any of the research, nor do I see any evidence that in fact, the earth is not warming nor that the warming is caused by some other agency than human GHG emissions.

When I see that, I will take note.

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About Policy Lass

Exploring skeptic tales.

8 Responses to “Brass Tacts”

  1. You make three numbered statements I would like to respond to:

    1. To overturn the AGW paradigm as a whole, convincing alternative research evidence and theory must be provided that shows the existing paradigm is unable to account for observed warming as well as the alternative evidence.

    Not exactly. The goal is to get the science right. Based on the physics, we would expect some warming from increased atmospheric CO2, but how much warming exactly after feedbacks? To overturn IPCC conclusions, all that is required is to show AGW will not be catastrophic. Without considering feedbacks, a doubling of atmospheric CO2 is expected to lead to 1C of warming. This is non-controversial. The controversy swirls around the extent and sign of the feedbacks. The earth has not warmed as much as expected and climate scientists are at a loss to explain why. In the CRU emails, Trenberth says it is a travesty they cannot explain the lack of warming. That comment alone should be enough to cause you to understand the level of uncertainty around the science.

    2. For proof of fraud / hoax, the data has to be shown to have been fraudulently changed – in other words, those who changed the data must be shown to have changed it knowing that the changes they were making were incorrect.

    Only a few scientists have had the word “fraud” thrown at them. Douglas Keenan leveled the charge at Professor Wei-Chyung Wang. See http://www.informath.org/

    I do not believe Steve McIntyre has ever used the term fraud in regards to Michael Mann, but most people would have. See http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/Climate_L.pdf

    And, of course, the CRU emails pointed out a few other examples: Phil Jones “hiding the decline” because it worked on “Mike’s Nature” article. Briffa admitting he thought the MWP was as warm as today even though none of his peer-reviewed papers or IPCC chapters say that, etc. People might claim these actions are not fraud, but they certainly are not honest either.

    3. That would require those who charge fraud to prove that in fact, there was no warming during the period in question as shown by the research that supports the AGW paradigm.

    Not true at all. To overthrow Catastrophic AGW (CAGW), it is only necessary to show the science is not quite correct. In other words, if 20th century warming was .20C less than currently thought, then that changes the estimates of climate sensitivity dramatically. Climate sensitivity is the Holy Grail of climate research. People want to know exactly how much the earth is going to warm when atmospheric CO2 has doubled from pre-industrial levels. Honestly, I do not think it is possible to predict because natural variation will swamp anthropogenic forcings. At least that is my view. Dr. Stephen Schwartz of Brookhaven National Lab published a paper in 2007 and update in 2008 which estimated climate sensitivity at 1.7C. If 20th century warming was .20C less than thought, then that reduces climate sensitivity to doubled CO2 to about 1C. In other words, positive and negative feedbacks are a net zero and CO2 will not be catastrophic.

    • A very substantive post with lots to think about Ron. I will take care to respond but it will be later.

      But at first glance, you are talking about CAGW when I am talking about AGW in general. I think CAGW is not universally accepted by AGW proponents. The thing with this uncertainty problem with existing climate science? It could mean far less warming than the models predict, but it could also mean more. That’s the problem with uncertainty. It’s just so damnable difficult to know which way the uncertainty lies.

    • 1. To overturn the AGW paradigm as a whole, convincing alternative research evidence and theory must be provided that shows the existing paradigm is unable to account for observed warming as well as the alternative evidence.

      Not exactly. The goal is to get the science right. Based on the physics, we would expect some warming from increased atmospheric CO2, but how much warming exactly after feedbacks? To overturn IPCC conclusions, all that is required is to show AGW will not be catastrophic.

      I’m reviewing the IPCC 2007 Summary for Policy Makers right now, specifically all the evidence presented for global warming. Nowhere do I see that the IPCC claims that warming will be catastrophic. It shows various climate models and a range of temperature increase projections, from 0.3 to 6.4 deg C and it does talk about levels of confidence associated with a certain level of change in temp, sea level, etc. I see no “catastrophic” warming in the text. I see no mention of “dangerous” warming in the text. I do find 26 mentions of “uncertain” and 10 of “uncertainties”. So I fail to see how the IPCC summary for policy makers — the people who will be making the policy decisions — predicts catastrophic warming. It just doesn’t. So, showing AGW will not be catastrophic will not overturn the IPCC conclusions.

      Now, I’ve downloaded the 2007 Synthesis Report:

      – 0 instances of ‘catastrophic’ warming used
      – 3 instances of ‘danger’ and 2 of ‘dangerous’, used in ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system’,
      – 47 instances of “confidence” and 1 instance of ‘confident’;
      – 112 instances of the words uncertain (57), uncertainty (27) and uncertainties (28).

      I see no predictions of “catastrophic anthropgenic global warming” in the report.

      I’ve read the TAR as well:

      TAR Summary for policy makers:

      – 1 instance of “catastrophic’ used to refer to storm damage but it is softened by reference to social and economic factors that can mitigate such damage.
      – 7 instances of ‘danger’ and 5 of ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference’ and 1 ‘dangerous levels’.
      – 75 instances indicating uncertainty: uncertainty (14), uncertain (38) and uncertainties (23).

      The controversy swirls around the extent and sign of the feedbacks. The earth has not warmed as much as expected and climate scientists are at a loss to explain why. In the CRU emails, Trenberth says it is a travesty they cannot explain the lack of warming. That comment alone should be enough to cause you to understand the level of uncertainty around the science.

      First, Trenberth is one scientist and if you look at the chain of emails, there were several scientists discussing the BBC report and not all agreed with him. Trenberth has one take, and the others have a different read.

      Second, from what I have read, Trenberth was referring to short term fluctuations in temperature, which are natural variations due to internal mechanisms like PDO and ENSO, and volcanoes, not longer term changes due to anthropogenic forcings. He is clearly in support of the research showing longer-term warming.

      It seems that he is saying that the models have to be improved so that they can model short term variability. Maybe I’m wrong.

      They were talking about the BBC article “What happened to global warming?”. That was the context of the comment — it was not an admission of failure on the part of the science in general but how the models are not able to predict very accurately short term variation.

      • You’re missing the point of Ron’s use of “catastrophic” global warming. The proposed solutions to “whatever you want to call it” AGW are based on a large rise in temperatures requiring the world to implement economically devastating responses to avoid it. If that’s not the definition of catastrophic, I don’t know what is. You’re chasing a strawman of your own making that is irrelevant to the point. Ron’s point is if the estimate of total warming is hugely overestimated, the behavioral response required, if any, mostly goes away.

      • Susann,
        Are you really trying to argue the IPCC does not think AGW will be catastrophic? Some of these people are saying AGW will cause the extinction of the human race. What word would be more suitable?

        Your word search of the SPM did not yield much, but take a look at all of the graphics. They all scream “catastrophe!” And read the UNEP press release. http://unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=499&ArticleID=5506&l=en

        Search the press release for words like “worsening,” “accelerating,” “disturbing,” “urgently.” You also see phrases like “uncertainties have been resolved,” “the level of confidence is much greater,” “very likely” and “very high confidence.”

        You might also want to focus your attention on Working Group II, which looks at “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.” Search for words like “extinction,” “adaptation,” “managed retreat” (relating to sea level rise and retreat from coast lands), “migration” and “population movement.” These are all terms required by a climate catastrophe.

        When communicating to policymakers and the public, the IPCC is alarmist. A 1C increase global temps will not cause a catastrophe or require “managed retreat” or “population movement.”

        • “Are you really trying to argue the IPCC does not think AGW will be catastrophic? Some of these people are saying AGW will cause the extinction of the human race. What word would be more suitable? ”

          Could you point out an IPCC scientist who says that? Make sure to cite your sources. I’m aware of a statement by James Lovelock that comes close (based on Gaia), but he’s not an IPCC contributor. The IPCC is very much a conservative estimate – usually a lowest common denominator (particularly with such effects like sea level rise, although based on recent studies, I expect their estimates to increase).

  2. Trenberth was not referring to short term fluctuations of climate. He is talking about the BBC article you linked which is discussing the fact 1998 is still the warmest year on record.

    In 2006, someone asked Gavin Schmidt how much time would have to go by without a new global surface temp record before he would begin to doubt AGW. Gavin replied that according to GISS 2005 was the warmest year on record, but he predicted CRU would show a new warm record very soon, probably 2006. And if it did not happen, he would begin to think AGW theory needed to be modified if we did not get a new global temp record within 10 years of the last one. So, essentially he was saying if there was no new record by 2008, AGW theory would need to be modified. Well, it happened and Gavin is not leading the charge to modify the theory to be less catastrophic.

    The fact you have to grasp, Susann, is that in the minds of people like Trenberth and Schmidt natural climate variation plays very little role. You will sometimes hear these people say things like “We know all the forcings.” No, they don’t. They do not understand natural climate variation and they do not understand what drives it. They do not understand clouds and they do not understand oceanic oscillations. But I digress. They cannot explain why they have not seen a new global surface temp record because the models do not allow for this to happen. According to the models, you have some minor variations from year to year due to natural climate variability. But in their models, which reflect the hypothesis and not nature, natural climate variability is too insignificant to hold off AGW for 10 years running.

    What these people are confronted with is the rude awakening that Mother Nature is not playing by their rules. And they do not like it. In their minds, it is a travesty and probably the result of having broken thermometers.

    Richard Feynmann used to say it does not matter how pretty your theory is, – if experiment or observation goes against it, your theory is wrong.

    Trenberth, Schmidt and the rest are still clinging to a theory that should have been falsified/modified based on their own words.

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