Did I say a few days ago there would be more feature articles? Well already, here is another long professional article.
Don’t be put off by the start. The sympathetic treatment of Jones is faint praise, not unreasonable, and in the end, taking an impartial line means telling something of both sides of the story. Articles like this will help skeptics far more than they will help the Big Scare Campaign.
There is plenty of ammo, and punches are landed:
On balance, the entire profession has been seriously harmed by the scandal. “We are currently suffering a massive erosion of trust,” concludes German climatologist Hans von Storch. “Climate research has been corrupted by politicization, just as nuclear physics was in the pre-Chernobyl days, when we were led to believe that nuclear power plants were completely safe.”
That any reasonably unbiased view ends up being supportive of skeptics is, of course, just what you’d expect of a topic where skeptics have so much of that essential ingredient reality on their side. I found the whole article worth reading, and I expect Parts 3 & 4 are the most interesting to skeptics. It’s good to finally see the work of people like McIntyre and McKitrick making it into the realms of the mainstream media.
Journalists should have been knocking on their doors back in 2004.
McIntyre must be bemused to learn he apparently has supporters who know how to hack. I mean, I presume the hackers or whistle blowers were “supportive of McIntyre”, but it’s a tad rich to imply they were trying to help him. Could it just be that someone in the UK (or Canada, Australia, or the US, say) was a bit put out that entire national economies were being offered on a platter to bankers?
It’s not surprising that it took three writers to pull this together. They have managed to condense entire PhD’s on topics like hurricanes down to a paragraph or two. That’s no mean feat. I’m looking forward to seeing more of these in-depth articles, and expect that the effect of them will be significant.
By Marco Evers, Olaf Stampf and Gerald Traufetter
Plagued by reports of sloppy work, falsifications and exaggerations, climate research is facing a crisis of confidence. How reliable are the predictions about global warming and its consequences? And would it really be the end of the world if temperatures rose by more than the much-quoted limit of two degrees Celsius?
Most of all, however, Jones controlled the “smoking gun” of climatology: the Earth’s temperature curve. The temperature records dating back to the beginning of industrialization are intended to prove that the average global temperature has already increased by almost one degree Celsius since 1850.
The problem is that the quality of the raw data derived from weather services around the world differs considerably. At a number of weather stations, temperatures rose because houses and factories had been built around them. Elsewhere, stations were moved and, as a result, suddenly produced different readings. In all of these cases, Jones had to use statistical methods to correct the errors in the temperature readings, using an approach called “homogenization.”
Did Jones proceed correctly while homogenizing the data? Most climatologists still believe Jones’ contention that he did not intentionally manipulate the data. However, that belief will have to remain rooted in good faith. Under the pressure of McIntyre’s attacks, Jones had to admit something incredible: He had deleted his notes on how he performed the homogenization. This means that it is not possible to reconstruct how the raw data turned into his temperature curve.
‘One of the Biggest Sins’
For Peter Webster, a meteorologist at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, this course of events is “one of the biggest sins” a scientist can commit. “It’s as if a chef was no longer able to cook his dishes because he lost the recipes.”
The Jones team attributes another sudden jump in temperature readings to the decline in air pollution since the 1970s as a result of stricter emissions laws. Particles suspended in the air block solar radiation, so that temperatures rise when the air becomes cleaner. Air pollution in the south has always been much lower than in the north, because, as Webster explains, “there is less land and therefore less industry in the Southern Hemisphere.”
Oddly enough, however, the temperature increase in the south is just as strong as it is in the north. “That isn’t really possible,” says Webster.
On the Urban Heat Island Effect
Environmental economist Ross McKitrick, one of McIntyre’s associates, examined all rapidly growing countries, in which this urban heat effect was to be expected, and found a correlation between economic growth and temperature rise. He submitted his study in time for the last IPCC report.
Jones did everything he could to suppress the publication, which was critical of him. It proved advantageous to him that he had been one of the two main authors of the temperature chapter. In one of the hacked emails, he openly admitted that he wanted to keep this interfering publication out of the IPCC report at all costs, “even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”
Jones failed in the end, but he did manage to smuggle a devastating sentence into the IPCC report, which states that McKitrick’s findings were “statistically insignificant” — in other words, meaningless.
The full article (in English) starts here.