Last week I was invited by the ABC to respond to Clive Hamilton and the Parliamentary Committee report on ClimateGate. It was published a couple of hours ago on the ABC Drum. (Or Try this link, who knows why the article moved? 14-4-09)
The issue of the ClimateGate emails leaked or hacked from the East Anglia CRU is not that complicated. The emails are damning because anyone who reads them understands that they show petty, unprofessional, and probably criminal behaviour. We know the guys who wrote them are not people we’d want to buy cars from. They are hiding information. We don’t need a committee to state the obvious.
The emails show some of the leading players in climate science talking about tricks to “hide declines”, they boast about manipulating the peer review process, and “getting” rid of papers they didn’t like from the IPCC reports. It’s clear the data wasn’t going the way they hoped, yet they screwed the results every way they could to milk the “right” conclusion. Above all else, they feared freedom of information requests, and did everything they could to avoid providing their data. ClimateGate shows these people were not practicing science, but advocacy and have been doing it for decades.
The House of Commons committee was surely supposed to be protecting the citizens of the UK from being deceived and defrauded, so what did they say when faced with obvious malpractice? Did they draw their swords and declare that honest taxpayers deserve better? Not at all. They whitewashed it.
On the accusations relating to Professor Jones’s refusal to share raw data and computer codes, the Committee considers that his actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community but that those practices need to change.
It’s the nice way of saying that Phil Jones really did hide the data, but everyone else in climate science fails the basic tenets of science too (so that’s alright then). Sure. Those practices need to “change”, not now, not tomorrow, but at some indeterminate time in the future. No rush boys. Yes, Jones should have his job back.
This is simple playground politics, not rocket science. Even preschoolers can come up with the Phil Jones defence: “But Mum. Everyone else does it.” The committee tries to defend Jones, and inadvertently damns the whole field of climate “science”.
From the mouth of Jones himself: no reviewer has ever asked to see the data. What exactly does the haloed peer review mean if you can just get a friend to “tick the box” without investigating the codes, data, adjustments and reasons? Remember that the next time you are unfortunate enough to read an IPCC report — they may have 2500 scientists on their books, but not one of them checked the original calculations for something as basic as global temperatures.
Indeed even today not one of them (not even Jones himself) could check them if they wanted too, because it’s been “lost”. The Met Centre says they’ll need three years to reassemble the data.
Independently Not Verified
So are the CRU’s graphs right or not? Who can say? Jones and the committee say that the graphs have been confirmed by other independent sources, which all sounds fine until you look closely. One independent source is the satellite records, but there weren’t too many satellites orbiting in 1850, and they don’t verify anything until 1979. And since 1979 there’s been an increasing divergence between the thermometers on the ground and those in the satellites. Those on the ground show more warming, and since it’s documented that they’re near airconditioning exhaust vents, concrete slabs, heated buildings and at airports, it seems likely that they’re in the wrong. Rather than verifying the surface records, satellites are suggesting the surface records exaggerate.
But what about the other “independent” verification? NASA has already admitted its data set is not as good as the flawed, bug ridden, missing one at the CRU in England, so that doesn’t look promising, and in any case, NASA doesn’t agree with NASA: as in, Hansen in 1981 shows a different global graph to Hansen 1987, or Hansen 2007. The twenty year period before satellites arrived has been adjusted and readjusted in nearly every decade since that period ended. Look at the red and blue lines in each of the graphs. These are global temperatures, and the seventies kept getting warmer for decades after the seventies! Again, the smell of advocacy.
This is supposed to be “verification”? Which graph independently confirms the CRU work? (Take your pick.) “Agreement” is not the same as verification. Just because two graphs agree doesn’t make them both right. In any case, these “independent” graphs are created from overlapping data sets, and by people who email each other their “tricks”.
(Graph references )
More excuses that don’t wash
Phil Jones is “in charge” of one of the three big global temperature sets, and he admits he’s lost the raw data. All he can offer is “adjusted” data. He admits he wrote those damning emails. He makes excuses that a “trick” is a clever way of doing something, which it might be, but when it’s a clever way to “hide a decline” it’s obviously deceptive. (And deception when money is involved, as it certainly is here on a massive scale, is fraud.)
He claims that the decline they carefully hid was reported in other graphs on other papers, so it wasn’t really “hidden”, but it’s like admitting that the stock prospectus graph was made up of two different company results and the poor ones were “hidden” in the fine print of an annual report 5 years ago.
The truth is that the decline he “hid” was a decline in tree-ring-temperatures that matches what the surface temperature records used to say was real. It’s another clue that the adjustments that have been made are questionable. Or it’s a clue that tree-rings themselves might not be good thermometers. Either way, it’s potentially important.
To cover up the devastating enormity of the East Anglia CRU’s unscientific failings, the committee report defends them with weasel words. All the data and methods ought to be available, instead, we’re supposed to settle for “most”.
The British Parliament apparently thinks “most” of an audit trail is OK. After all, no one would expect them to provide all their tax receipts come audit time, and no one would mind if “most” of the National Budget for the United Kingdom was online, (but the rest was lost).
Likewise, all the raw data ought to be available, but instead we’re supposed to settle for “adjusted” data. The committee asked for an assurance that none of the data had been destroyed, and seemed happy when the UAE dodged the question and replied: “none of the adjusted station data referred to in the emails that have been published has been destroyed.”
As it happens, before ClimateGate we already knew the raw data was unavailable. Phil Jones told Roger Pielke Jnr it was gone and he could not provide it. “Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites,”
If the committee really wanted to know the full story they would have made sure Steve McIntyre was there for the hearing. He was the man who the CRU team feared the most.
The bottom line
So what it boils down to is that the world is thinking of developing a two trillion dollar market to dramatically change your choices (and those of everyone you know). It will affect the food you buy, the holidays you take, the way you heat your house, the cost of your clothes… and their core reason for this is that climate models run by guys like Jones predict things will get warmer. Right now, we don’t even know if the temperature record fed into those models was accurate, and they’re asking us to go all the way with them, based on “trust” of guys who are essentially untrustworthy.
We’re supposed to “trust” that guys who wish harm on their opponents, who are hell-bent on finding support for their personal favourite hypothesis, who fear and thwart any effort to audit them, we’re supposed to believe these guys care about getting the research right?
If they were directors of a small publicly listed company that refused to give up “receipts” they would have been issued with a summons. But when the global economy hangs on their pronouncements, they don’t have to provide the data, we’ll forgive them, and they get to keep their jobs too. I say, put them in front of a jury. You don’t need to be a scientist to spot rampantly suspicious behaviour. The public is not fooled, and that’s why the Big Scare Campaign is running aground, and why pre-ordained whitewash committee reports won’t change anyone’s mind.
2. Hansen et al. (1981) Hansen, J., Johnson, D., Lacis, A., Lebedeff, S., Lee, P., Rind, D., and Russell, G. 1981: Climate impact of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Science, 213, 957-966, doi:10.1126/science.213.4511.957. http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/features/200711_temptracker/
3. Hansen, J. and S. Lebedeff (1987), Global Trends of Measured Surface Air Temperature, Jour. Geophys. Res., Vol.92,No.D11, pp13,345-13,372″
4. NASA graph adapted from Goddard Institute for Space Studies data. http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/features/200711_temptracker/