How Wide-Spread Is The Damage?

I’m certainly not familiar with the literature, but I’m sure that a lot of people out there are, and I hope that they’re starting to survey just how far-reaching the destruction of the recent revelations from East Anglia and Happy Valley are to the “settled science” of climate change. In theory, someone could put together a tree of citation dependencies, and see how much of the existing papers are dependent on what we now know to be bogus data and models, either directly or second or third generation. How much original research is there out there that isn’t either derivative from this flawed analysis, or was similarly “pushed” to match it through peer and other pressure?

Until we have the answer to this question, I’m not going to take seriously people who tell me that the vast majority of the work continues to confirm climatic disaster if we don’t immediately put into effect measures to wreck the global economy. And I hope that we can have an answer before Copenhagen. Not that any of the scientific illiterates at that meeting, including Carol Browner, will care.

[Update a few minutes later]

There’re a lot of similar thoughts in comments in a related post by Jonathan Adler.

One other thought, per those comments. I agree with this:

My own sense from reading the emails and the code is perhaps not so much that there was active fraud but rather that there was just a strong pressure to conform results to the desired output combined with a poor understanding of statistical and software methodology.

People will invariably fool themselves if they can. Actually most of the scientific method arguably is designed to prevent people from fooling themselves — from seeing spurious patterns in noisy data. People inexpert in modeling large systems or in the dangers of statistical modeling not only will always find spurious patterns, but will actually believe the patterns exist.

Here, once a certain fairly small critical mass of scientists citing one another’s papers and voting one another grant money is reached, it’s not realistic to expect them to see the problems with their data. Their computer code shows they are desperately trying to get answers they want and need, but they just don’t have the software skills, or statistics skills, or knowledge of large-scale data modeling to do it reliably. And they don’t really want to know either.

Was there some fraud involved? I’m not so sure this is fraud in the classical sense. I think it is more a set of institutional incentives that force researchers to publish or perish, to win grant money or leave academia: the researchers remaining have a certain mercurial stance, combined with a love of the topic but poor statistical analysis and software skills. It’s very easy to understand how they could come to believe they are seeing patterns that are not there.

I’ve called them charlatans, but that’s too harsh. I think they’re true believers in their new religion. But what angers me is when they and their defenders accuse me of being “anti-science” (even sometimes to the degree of lumping me and others in with creationists) when it is they who abandoned science, even if they don’t realize it.

[Sunday morning update]

Mann is going to be investigated by Penn State. As the blogger notes, will it be a real investigation, or a whitewash?

[Sunday evening update]

When you’ve lost the geeks, you’ve lost the war:

Along with a hoard of emails, some source code for the computer climate models was also hacked and released to the public — and the source code is an unusable mess. It doesn’t take expertise in climatology to look at source code and determine that the code is garbage. There are many more geeks with software expertise than with climate expertise, and the geek community will go through every line of code and likely conclude that the computer models are so flawed that any conclusions drawn on them are without merit.

Despite the liberal tendencies of many geeks, I believe that the source code evidence will be insurmountable for most. Some will continue to cling to AGW because of a devotion to left-wing politics, but the majority ofgeeks will abandon their belief, and that abandonment by geeks will truly spell the end for AGW.

I wonder how long it will be before we reach the tipping point at which no one will admit to having been fooled by this nonsense? After the war, it was hard to find a Frenchman who wasn’t in the resistance.

95 thoughts on “How Wide-Spread Is The Damage?

  1. willis

    “My own sense from reading the emails and the code is perhaps not so much that there was active fraud but rather that there was just a strong pressure to conform results to the desired output combined with a poor understanding of statistical and software methodology”

    Please, I guess we the non-believers just look stupid. They even documented in their code the intent to produce erroneous results. You call this just a poor understanding of statistical and software methodology?! I call it fraud.

  2. Dennis Wingo

    Regarding “solar constant” – as the Sun ages, it is getting brighter. Three billion years ago, the sun was at least 20% dimmer than currently – thus Venus was getting solar radiation equivalent to Earth today.

    Laf

    This math is worse than the CRU math!

    Today the solar constant at Venus is about 2950 watts/m2. At the Earth it is about 1366 watts/m2.

    A 20% reduction at Venus would only take that down to 2400 watts/m2 which is still over a kilowatt/m2 more than on the earth.

  3. Steve B

    Calling this travesty fraud is not too harsh. If these scientists had just made their alterations to the data and come to bad conclusions, you could make the argument that they were just misguided. However, the fact that they refused to release their starting data and then destroyed that data to avoid inspection refutes that interpretation. When someone goes to those lengths to cover up what he has done, it’s an indication that he knew that his actions were wrong. In this case, the cover up is a strong indication of fraud.

    Since these people were publicly funded, I think they should be prosecuted for fraud.

  4. newscaper

    for Dave Salt,

    Yes, the basic science is ‘settled’ for the infrared absorption of CO2 but the science is also ‘settled’ that H20 (water) vapor is actually the biggest greenhouse as of all, both in the larger portion of the IR spectrum it blocks, and its *much* larger presence in the atmosphere, as well as being a) fairly dynamic and b) for that reason poorly modeled (as some of the modelers will admit).

    Leaving water vapor off every newspapers ‘greenhouse gases’ list is the most dishonest bait and switch of them all — even most of your amateur AGW skeptics fall for the trick. It’s an inconvenient fact for the AGWers by its very existence, plus it can’t be blamed on man.

    While not at all ‘inconceivable’ as many skeptics incorrectly claim, it is *possible* that manmade CO2 could be the decisive factor, but that would require that everythng else is in this nice tidy. clockwork static equilibrium, which it manifestly is NOT. It’s as if every Green out there is stuck on the cartoonish “Balance of Nature” diagrams form theire 4th grade science textbook.

    The burden is squarely on the AGW crowd to prove why CO2 has a disporpotionate effect — end the emails, code and data show they have failed to do so.

  5. Chris Gerrib

    newscaper – your most recent post is wrong on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to start. But here’s a go (source = Scientific American):

    H20 – it’s not actually “left off” the models at all. The latest IPCC report notes ” water vapor may “approximately double the increase in the greenhouse effect due to the added CO2 alone.””

    Man-made CO2 increases. From the article “several sets of experimental measurements, including analyses of the shifting ratio of carbon isotopes in the air, further confirm that fossil-fuel burning and deforestation.”

    Chester White – nobody claims that “the dog ate my data.” The data have been and are freely available online. Yet another source to that is my link above (screen 4).

  6. Mike Puckett

    Chris,

    That SciAm piece is the same old warmist crap regugitated. Anyone who still believes the Hokey Stick is real and the Medeval Warming peroid and Little Ice Age were localized regional blips should be beaten with a real one.

    SciAm is still trying to sell us that dead Parrot of a graph in that piece of bilge you reference.

  7. Chris Gerrib

    Mike Puckett – except that it directly refutes newscaper and Chester’s claims of data being ignored. This is chiefly because data was not ignored – it was explicitly factored in. You and they may not agree with the conclusions reached, but the data was looked at.

  8. George

    Chris,

    I folowed the link provided to Scientific America and then I followed thier links to how the chart was made that they were referencing:

    “This image shows the instrumental record of global average temperatures as compiled by the NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The data set used follows the methodology outlined by Hansen et al. (2006). Following the common practice of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the zero on this figure is the mean temperature from 1961-1990.”

    http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/File:Instrumental_Temperature_Record_png

    The problem is that the “methodology” has been found to be flawed as well as some of the data provided by Hansen. Please show me a graph, data, facts that have no been tainted by CRU or Hansen.

  9. Chris Gerrib

    George – or you can read for free this book produced in 2006 by the National Research Council. Hansen didn’t write it, and the CRU didn’t help. They even provide the source code for the graph as an appendix.

    Your turn – show me some data from somebody that refutes global warming. Not “X’s data is wrong!” but “Here’s my data and it shows Y.”

    (multiple posts so as not to end up in comment-filter-purgatory)

  10. Chris Gerrib

    Waterhouse – then what the heck is this page aggregating raw climate data?

    This of course ignores how science is supposed to work, which is, “you go get your own data, in case mine is in error.”

    Bottom line – there is nothing in these emails or this thread that disproves global warming, unless you are already pre-disposed against the concept. This is why there’s not been much in the MSM about the issue.

  11. Bart

    H2O is not ignored. This much is true. However, it is posited that the increase in water evaporation due to increasing heat produces a positive feedback which amplifies the warming from CO2 alone. Without such positive feedback, CO2 by itself will not cause significant warming. Everyone who knows anything about the climate models agrees on this.

    What is the empirical evidence for such positive feedback? It is essentially non-existent. Some researchers, e.g., Lindzen and Choi, have claimed that overall feedback is negative, meaning rather than amplification, the combined effects of evaporation and cloud formation tend to mitigate, rather than amplify, any warming. They have been excoriated for having the temerity to make this claim, but nobody has demonstrated that they are wrong.

  12. Leland

    Your turn – show me some data from somebody that refutes global warming. Not “X’s data is wrong!” but “Here’s my data and it shows Y.”

    It’s colder where I live today than it was yesterday. Considering Gerrib’s level of proof is; “a ship sails below the horizon, therefore the earth is round.” I think I’ve met Gerrib’s scientific standard in proving global warming isn’t occurring.

    Alas, my point is simply: providing Gerrib with scientific evidence against global warming is like convincing a creationist to believe evolution. See Penn/Teller Bullshit! for reference.

  13. Dave Salt

    Chris Gerrib wrote: “Bottom line – there is nothing in these emails or this thread that disproves global warming”.

    Chris, you’re missing the key point here. Unless there’s real evidence for the dominance of positive feedbacks in the real-world system, the effect of doubling CO2 upon global temperatures is, essentially, trivial.

    The current AGW narrative, which threatens world-wide disaster unless we act now and in a major way (i.e. decarbonise the economy a.s.a.p), is justified entirely upon the “evidence” from the models.

    Don’t take my word for it. As a starting point, go read Chapter 1.3.1 of the IPCC TAR and see what it says about “the enhanced greenhouse effect”, then come back and tell if I’ve misinterpreted something.

  14. Waterhouse

    Waterhouse – then what the heck is this page aggregating raw climate data?

    I’ll tell you what it’s not – it’s not all the data, and not the list of sites used in CRU.

    Oh well. Who are we to criticize our giant-brained consensus-building superiors?

  15. Chris Gerrib

    Leland – if you want to argue the Earth is flat, be my guest.

    David Salt – yes, the 2001 report does assume feedback mechanisms. There is and remains a great deal of uncertainty regarding the level (if any) of feedback mechanisms. However, considering that their are several feedback mechanisms, including loss of ice / snow cover, methane release from hydrates and permafrost, and water vapor, a betting person would bet on some feedback effect.

    Waterhouse – criticize all you want. But if you don’t have facts to back up your position, don’t be surprised if you get ignored.

  16. Chris Gerrib

    David Salt – I should add that arguing about the size and impacts of global warming is perfectly legitimate. There is nothing “settled” about that.

    Arguing about whether global warming is happening and whether man is partially to blame? That ship sailed a long time ago.

  17. MfK

    “Your turn – show me some data from somebody that refutes global warming. Not “X’s data is wrong!” but “Here’s my data and it shows Y.”

    In the winter of 2005-2006, my swimming pool in Southern California froze 5 times in a 7 day period. It was the only time in the 11 years I lived in that house that such a thing happened.

    During that 7 day period, the air temperature never dropped below 37 F. What distinguished it from previous winters was that on those 5 nights, the sky was crystal clear and the air still. Accounting for the view factor, and neglecting any free convection, from the thickness of the ice it was clear that the pool was radiating to a 170 K sink. That’s colder than stratsospheric air. The pool was radiating to space. Such a thing could not take place if all of the IR were blocked in the manner proposed by the AGW types.

  18. Bart

    “…a betting person would bet on some feedback effect.”

    That’s like saying ” a betting person would either bet on heads or tails.” The feedback can be net positive or negative or zero. Unless it is significantly positive, there is no problem.

  19. Bill Maron

    “David Salt – I should add that arguing about the size and impacts of global warming is perfectly legitimate. There is nothing “settled” about that.”

    Did you catch Hansen’s comments today? Because what you said is not the argument being debated. The AGW crowd and by that I mean Hansen, Mann and Jones et. al. are saying if we don’t ruin the economies of most of the developed world by instituting massive changes in energy consumption and taxes to discourage consumption mankind will ruin the planet. So far, those that have proposed what you mentioned have been conspired against, defamed and marginalized by these very same people. So it’s settled for them and, evidently, for all the Copenhagen participants. That’s the point of all this. Their emails point to a cover-up( the delete emails exchange). The control the peer review process emails point to a fear of debate and now, we find out they can’t even replicate their own models because the original data are gone.

    If you were told by a doctor you had cancer and your leg needed to come off to stop it while citing studies that showed it was the only way, wouldn’t you want a little more information that just his say-so?

  20. George

    Chris said “Waterhouse – then what the heck is this page aggregating raw climate data?”

    I can read file dates and those files were put up on November 28. If this data has been around all these years why is it that it is just now becoming public? Hmmmm. Maybe because the “scientists” have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar?

  21. Mike G in Corvallis

    gs wrote:

    But what angers me is when they and their defenders accuse me of being “anti-science” (even sometimes to the degree of lumping me and others in with creationists) when it is they who abandoned science, even if they don’t realize it.

    Fair enough; in fact, I was going to comment about that very possibility. If I may say so, perhaps prudence warrants taking care not to do things like calling Frank Tipler a “real scientist” (in a previous post). I would no longer apply that label to the author of The Physics of Immortality, The Physics of Christianity and more, even though he earned serious scientific credentials early in his career.

    This is a red herring. We don’t need the pseudonymous “gs” to determine for the rest of us who is or is not a “real scientist” any more than we need some rich white left-winger to make pronouncements that Shelby Steele and Clarence Thomas are not “authentically black.”

    Was Fred Hoyle a “real scientist”? He espoused some pretty outlandish theories toward the end of his life — he rejected even the possibility of a natural origin of life, and he seriously contended that interstellar dust grains were sentient bacteria.

    Was James Clerk Maxwell a “real scientist”? Even before he graduated from Cambridge he converted to evangelical Christianity and rejected positivism.

    Was Friedrich Engels, the prophet of scientific socialism, a “real scientist”? To quote the old Soviet-era joke, “What a pity they didn’t experiment on dogs first, before trying it on us!”

    A “real scientist” is someone who does “real science” — someone who follows the scientific method while investigating the real world. You don’t need a degree or a credential, you just have to be clear-headed and play by the rules. But when you’re not doing that you’re not being a scientist, even if you have a Ph.D. and your own lab and a Nobel Prize. And then ten minutes later you might be a real scientist, if you start doing real science again.

    Was Frank Tipler playing by the rules of the scientific method when he wrote The Physics of Immortality or The Physics of Christianity? I haven’t read them, so I can’t pontificate, but from what I know of them I’d call them science-oriented speculations on the order of Moravec’s Pigs in Cyberspace. I don’t believe that engaging in such speculations somehow forever after disqualifies someone from being a “real scientist.”

    Whether Phil Jones and Michael Mann were credentialed scientists is irrelevant. I think it’s clear that in some of their work they weren’t playing by the rules, whether they thought they were or not.

  22. Mike G in Corvallis

    Odd — the formatting that worked in the preview didn’t work in the submission. “gs” wrote the second paragraph, someone else wrote the first.

  23. Nothing Doing

    Greg Q paraphrases Phillum/Phleagol, “I’ve been working on this for 25 years, and all you want to do is try to prove me wrong”… That’s way too kind. It would be more accurate to put it, “Phleagol works this 25 years, and all it wants to do is tell lies about the precious, my precious….”

  24. Dave Salt

    Chris Gerrib wrote: “a betting person would bet on some feedback effect” then “Arguing about whether global warming is happening and whether man is partially to blame? That ship sailed a long time ago”.

    Chris, for some reason you keep missing (or avoiding or are just not able to consider?) my point: if there’s no real-world evidence for the DOMINANCE of POSITIVE feed-backs, there is no catastrophic problem and the current AGW narrative simply collapses.

    No one said there weren’t positive feed-backs – there clearly are – but there are also negative feed-backs that can negate the positives and, if the balance is right, cancel or even reverse their effect. So, the real question relates to the level of this balance and the existence of real-world evidence for it.

    Simply saying that man is partly to blame for global warming is rather insufficient when what we really need to understand is just how much he is to blame. Similarly, simply stating that positive feed-backs exist is also insufficient when what we really want to know is how they balance out with the negatives in the real-world system.

    If you want to have a sensible discussion, think about what I’ve tried to say and come back with some thoughtful comments. Please don’t let your preconceived ideas blind you to the basic logic and facts that are at the heart of this issue.

  25. DaveP.

    Once again: if AGW is “a ship that has sailed”, why do its ‘scientific’ supporters feel the need to fake the evidence that it has left teh docks at all?

  26. Chris Gerrib

    Dave Salt – there is plenty of real-world evidence for the dominance of positive feedbacks. The argument is “how much will these positive feedbacks add to the process?” Regarding the man-made aspects, the carbon isotope studies show that the increase in CO2 is due to man’s activities.

  27. Leland

    Leland – if you want to argue the Earth is flat, be my guest.

    The earth is round, but not because a ship sailed over the horizon. The observation of a ship sailing over the horizon is a local phenomenom and thus proves nothing about the global look of the earth. Yet, Gerrib has already argued otherwise.

    So using Gerrib’s argument that a local observation is sufficient to conclusively prove a global condition, then we have some idea of the level of education he has in science. I believe if you click the link, we’ll find it is somewhere around a fifth grade level by his own admission.

    Now, more reasonable people may argue that I’m simply ridiculing Gerrib, and not bringing rationale discussion to the debate. Let me defend myself here.

    This thread is already over 75 comments. The Flat Earth thread is over 50, and the Betraying Science thead over 75 as well. In all those threads, Gerrib has continued to use arguments that he claims have scientific merit. Yet when anyone attempts to point out flaws, he resorts to ad homenim attacks. People have provided very simple explanations with supporting data when pointing out his flawed thinking. Others have even provided very detailed explanations.

    But lets look at Gerrib’s style of arguing by looking at his latest comment:

    Arguing about whether global warming is happening and whether man is partially to blame? That ship sailed a long time ago.

    A wikipedia link? That’s bad enough. But a link to Arrhenius? That’s Gerrib’s evidence that global warming is happening, man’s to blame, and the science is settled? I wonder what other conclusions Arrhenius made for which Gerrib agrees.

  28. Dave Salt

    Chris Gerrib wrote: “there is plenty of real-world evidence for the dominance of positive feedbacks. The argument is “how much will these positive feedbacks add to the process?”.

    Chris, your reply suggests you still don’t understand the issue but let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you wrote this in a hurry.

    Please point me to this real-world evidence for the dominance of positive feedbacks that you speak of. The only evidence the IPCC has is that the models “require” it in order to reproduce the historical climate trends, which is a fundamentally different thing from real-world measurements.

  29. Karl Hallowell

    Let us keep in mind that the negative feedback is always dominant. Higher stratospheric temperature means more heat radiated to space. Instead, Chris just needs to show a different but also difficult claim. Namely, that there exists positive feedback mechanisms that can trigger with a small rise in temperature beyond present and significantly raise the temperature further.

  30. Gris Cherrib

    A quick Google search turns up many AGW apologist sites. I also have some Wikipedia entries which prove that the AGW ship has sailed over the horizon. That’s enough to prove AGW. Also, these emails do nothing to disprove AGW, this is why there’s not been much in the MSM about the issue. It has nothing to do with the ideologies or loyalties of MSM journalists. Everyone knows they’re objective. A quick Google search proves that.

  31. Bart

    Of course, there are negative and positive feedbacks. That is a dumb argument. We know that the negative feedbacks are dominant, else we would not be here to say so. The question is, how dominant? More specifically, is the particular feedback from CO2 to water vapor and cloud formation overall positive or negative? Because the former amplifies CO2 induced warming, whereas the latter makes it less significant than it already is. Without that amplification, the CO2 alarmist warming conjecture has no merit.

    It is upon this slender thread that the whole ball of wax is suspended. Nobody knows for certain. The IPCC says so explicitly. But, there is compelling evidence from noted authorities that the feedback is overall negative.

    My own view is that the IPCC says that overall anthropogenic emissions of CO2 are a trifling 3% or less of total emissions. Variation in natural CO2 emissions from year to year are larger than this. If the planetary climate system were so sensitive, then I would argue that we were living on borrowed time already. Moreover, such marked sensitivity would express itself in other increasingly chaotic behavior which we simply do not observe. This, in and of itself confirms, the dominance of negative feedback in this specific pathway to my satisfaction.

  32. Bart

    Chris – you are incorrect. We can speak of the relative dominance of positive and negative feedback only in terms of subsystems, such as the CO2/water vapor/cloud subsystem. The overall system is inarguably dominated by negative feedback. A system dominated by positive feedback is unstable. We would never even have come to be under such circumstances.

  33. Dave Salt

    Chris Gerrib wrote: “a quick Google search on “climate change positive feedback” yields links like this one, which provides follow-on links to several different mechanisms.”

    Unfortunately, none of your links say anything about real-world evidence that indicates the positive feedbacks dominate.

    Chris, you’re obviously having a hard job squaring what I’m saying with what you’ve been told to date by people like Al Gore, so I can sort of sympathise with your dilemma — there must be quite a few young people in the same situation these days.

    Maybe I’m wrong and there is real-world evidence out there that you’ve just not yet found. In which case, you may be better off going and asking someone over at RealClimate to give you some pointers and then come back when you’re better prepared.

  34. Rand Simberg Post author

    I also have some Wikipedia entries which prove that the AGW ship has sailed over the horizon.

    Was that supposed to be a joke?

    That’s enough to prove AGW.

    Once again, Chris, you reveal your ignorance of the meaning of the word “prove.”

  35. DaveP.

    Chris, once again: if AGW is really fact, why did teh researchers have to massage the data and bury dissenting voices? Wouldn’t the data speak for itself? Instead they DID fake evidence, and conspire to stifle researchers who came to different conclusions (why were they so afraid? Is this what scientists do?)… and now we find out that they DESTROYED THE ORIGINAL DATA. Say it with me out loud, Chris: DESTROYED THE ORIGINAL DATA.
    Why?

    The Emperor realy has no clothes, Chris.
    And that thing you’re holding… isn’t a tie.

  36. Bart

    “Science” which seeks to obscure information, rather than share it to the utmost, is not Science. That really is all that needs to be said about the entire sorry episode. Even Wikipedia knows that.

  37. r4i

    I can’t imagine anyone posting anything more damaging to the global warmers than that. Even though it’s from fox news (can’t really stomach them much myself) this is not the first I’ve seen of this guy.

  38. Leland

    Was that supposed to be a joke?

    Yes, I think that particular one was. The one actually put up by Chris; I think that one was supposed to be serious.

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