Friday, November 27, 2009

ClimateGate (why it matters and doesn't)

When I first heard of the break-in by as of yet un-named individuals to the mail server at CRU of the University of East Anglia I must admit I brushed it off. I thought to myself, "what could anyone find?"

In this regard I was quite right and quite wrong. They didn't find anything other than the usual, scientists fighting over methods and practices. Its what you would expect to find.

The climate denier/delayer criminal cadre by careful parsing of words and snipping from context with very little trouble created a tempest in a teacup by creating the impression that a conspiracy existed. Having found all sorts of 'evil' in these emails, even then nothing is there, they are now spending column inches in print and the blogosphere barking about the 'conspiracy' where none exists.

In a weird way this reminds me of Richard Hoagland and the face on Mars. He went to extraordinary lengths to prove what he was interpreting from grainy imagery transmitted back. NASA gave him factual answers and factual information but has been to this day unable to convince Hoagland that what he thinks he is seeing isn't there.

My favorite line when dealing with a denier is "here's the data, prove me wrong!" It always takes them off guard when I click to a public website and pull up pile of research data.

One of their winning strategies is to put the opponent on the defensive but here is where it fails. Climate science is facts and data, no belief required. You may not want to swim in waters too deep, if you don't understand the data, in you don't know how to process the data, then maybe you should either get the skills or get out of the pool !

This is part of the reason why I carry around a pretty complete list of links to data sets and at least a handful of methods.

I've created a special posting with some of the data sources I use in context of my posts. has put up a very complete source data page.

I agree with the rest of the climate science community, transparency is good but getting lay people out of dictating science policy would be better.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Response (or having a battle of wits with an unarmed person)

We now boldly stride up to our ultra-fascist right wing wacka-doodle, ripping the gauntlet out of his hand and quickly striking him across the left side of the head.

The common tactic of the denier/delayer is to throw opinion pieces from news papers and magazines up on the wall and like spaghetti, see if it sticks. The opinion piece from the Western Voices World News is no different, let me show you how.

They start their piece with a staggering claim.
There's a big global warming scandal breaking out across the blogosphere. Earlier I saw Der Spiegel's, "Climatologists Baffled by Global Warming Time-Out."

The Der Spiegel article correctly quotes a recent statement from the British MET Office Hadley Centre which indicated that the upward trend in global temperatures has plateaued off.

Just a few weeks ago, Britain's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research added more fuel to the fire with its latest calculations of global average temperatures. According to the Hadley figures, the world grew warmer by 0.07 degrees Celsius from 1999 to 2008 and not by the 0.2 degrees Celsius assumed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And, say the British experts, when their figure is adjusted for two naturally occurring climate phenomena, El Niño and La Niña, the resulting temperature trend is reduced to 0.0 degrees Celsius -- in other words, a standstill.

They indicate how 'baffled' the climate science community is about the whole matter.
Climatologists are puzzled as to why average global temperatures have stopped rising over the last 10 years.

Fact is, no one is baffled by what were seeing, what makes data analysis and prediction difficult is that the current historically measured rate of temperature increase is about .2 degrees celsius per year where the annual seasonal variability is also .2 degrees celsius.

Because the signal is buried deep in the noise for the lay public to make grandiose comparisons between observations and the predictions of models is more than crazy making.

Der Spegiel does seem to soften their tone by reflecting on the difference between local weather and global climate.
The differences among individual regions of the world are considerable. In the Arctic, for example, temperatures rose by almost three degrees Celsius, which led to a dramatic melting of sea ice. At the same time, temperatures declined in large areas of North America, the western Pacific and the Arabian Peninsula. Europe, including Germany, remains slightly in positive warming territory.

Wow, this has got to be damaging, doesn't it? Actually, no for two reasons.

First, Der Spiegel apparently failed to read the complete statement of the Hadley Centre. Quoting from the summary.
Average global temperatures are now some 0.75 °C warmer than they were 100 years ago and since the mid-1970s average global temperatures have increased at a rate of more than 0.15 °C per decade. Yet over the last 10 years temperatures have risen more slowly, causing some to claim that global warming has stopped. Here we explain why this is not the case and explains that observed changes are entirely consistent with our understanding of natural fluctuations of the climate within a trend of continuing long-term warming. The evidence is very clear that global temperatures are rising and that humans are largely responsible.

Secondly, Der Spiegel played fast and loose with the simplest of facts from the Hadley statement. To quote Der Spiegel -
"According to the Hadley figures, the world grew warmer by 0.07 degrees Celsius from 1999 to 2008"

The problem here is pretty simple, the Hadley data graphs cover the period from 1850 to 2007, not extending to 2008. Where did 2008 come from and what's wrong with adding a year here or a year there? Nothing until you use it as the basis of your headline graphic to support a false premise. They further seem to complicate matters by quoting a number of 0.07 degrees which I could not find at Hadley, so I went digging through the data sets.

This is typically the point where I stop looking for whats wrong and try to find what might by chance be right - looking into the HADCrut3 data set myself I found the same problem I've seen before with the deniers and delayers; cherry picking.

For the interval 1999 to 2007, the HADCrut3 data set starts from 0.262 degrees in 1999, peaks at 0.479 in 2005 and drops to 0.403 in 2007. Here the flattening of the trend line is quite clear and its clear that Der Spegiel had the data in their hands because they then proceed to add 2008 where the temperature drops to 0.3120 degrees celsius.

Impressive? Not really as ten years of data alone make a poor trend. What Der Spegiel failed to do when creating their headline graphic is include the error bars. What is it with the error bars? The error bars show the confidence of the data and is used and carried forward in all calculations.

In the HADCrut3 data set the first two columns are the year and the temperature, columns three through twelve are the 95 percent certainty ranges based on how the data was analyzed.

Since they had the data in their hands they also failed to notice that currently HADCrut3 has pegged 2009 at 0.439 degrees above the baseline datum making the total delta T from 1999 to 2009 of 0.1770 degrees celsius, just under the .2 degree per decade we've been observing.

What Hadley did was revise their data set factoring in yearly or seasonal variability. Now there is likely to be an argument about how they processed their data and I would like to see the same transforms made against some of the other established data sets but until then I'll just enjoy watching the denier/delayers dig a deeper hole for themselves.

British MET Office Hadley Centre Climate Monitoring Data Sets

British MET Office Hadley Report "Global Warming Goes On" (Summary)

Image Credit : Der Spegiel Online

Facts and Data (where and how)

Because of the technical limits of there are simply some things I cannot do to make the presentations more comprehensive.

This entry is an evolving list of sources for both facts, data and for good measure, some of the out right lies of the denier/delayer crowd.

They will be cross referenced to the individual blog posts.

Question #1 (solar forcing vs. global temperature)

General - IPCC Third Assessment - WG1

Question #1 (solar forcing vs. global temperatures)

Anthropogenic global warming isn't a belief system, its facts and data. You may not agree with the facts or the data and if you don't its up to the observer to challenge those facts and data with either a competing hypothesis or evidence that the conclusions drawn are either not valid or having lesser validity to a competing hypothesis.

In the documentary "The Great Global Warming Swindle" (2007) the producers propose the hypothesis that global warming is connected to solar output using the enclosed graph. The graph suggestively supports the assertion that the activity of our sun is responsible for the heating of the earth.

Two things to note about the graph ...

First the temperature scale is bounded with both negative and positive values above or below a datum point. The datum point is commonly agreed as a specific mean temperature within a base period. The generally agreed base period is the interval of 1951 through 1980. So that sets our zero point for the temperature side of the graph.

Secondly, and much more problematic is the portion of the graph illustrating solar forcing. It has no units so you have to guess; it looks like total solar irradiance but the numbers are way out of range and further the numbers decline monotonically as you ascent the axis. They could be using the duration of solar cycles but these are two entirely different measures.

My question for the Witchfinder General is with the volumes of data available why do they stop the solar data in the late 1970's and the temperature data in the early 1980's ?

The Gauntlet Lowered ...

Queue the dramatic music !

The opposition party has 'manned up' and responded to my request for facts and data. We will let slide that the response is an opinion piece from the far-ultra-right-wing web site, Western Voices World News.

Like any opinion piece its jumps over the facts and avoids attribution altogether. You can see that this is meant not as a simple opinion piece but as propaganda, ready to use. All this aside, it will be fun to demonstrate how the denier/delayer crowd operates.

So hold you collective noses - here it comes, complete and unexpurgated.

Global Warming Hoax Breaks Wide Open As Hackers Spill The Beans

Environment; Posted on: 2009-11-26 15:00:17 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]

The liberal media barons are flummoxed by the following developments and like the 6 year old who finally realizes there is no Santa Claus, are in deep denial.

There's a big global warming scandal breaking out across the blogosphere. Earlier I saw Der Spiegel's, "Climatologists Baffled by Global Warming Time-Out."

I actually didn't pay that much attention to it, since the left's global-warming-media-industrial-complex continues to peddle lies and environmental disinformation; and frankly, President Obama's visit to China killed the prospects for the Copenhagen climate change accord.

But the news this morning is absolutely devastating. It turns out that hackers have exposed a massive conspiracy seeking to hide the scientific consensus that global warming is bunk. See, "Climategate: The Final Nail in the Coffin of 'Anthropogenic Global Warming'?" Read this whole entry, which posts the key e-mails. This one on the science community's campaign to drum out dissenters is just mind-boggling:

And, perhaps most reprehensibly, a long series of communications discussing how best to squeeze dissenting scientists out of the peer review process. How, in other words, to create a scientific climate in which anyone who disagrees with AGW can be written off as a crank, whose views do not have a scrap of authority.

“This was the danger of always criticising the skeptics for not publishing in the “peer-reviewed literature”. Obviously, they found a solution to that–take over a journal! So what do we do about this? I think we have to stop considering “Climate Research” as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board…What do others think?”

“I will be emailing the journal to tell them I’m having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor.”“It results from this journal having a number of editors. The responsible one for this is a well-known skeptic in NZ. He has let a few papers through by Michaels and Gray in the past. I’ve had words with Hans von Storch about this, but got nowhere. Another thing to discuss in Nice !”

Also, at the conclusion of the piece:

The world is currently cooling; electorates are increasingly reluctant to support eco-policies leading to more oppressive regulation, higher taxes and higher utility bills; the tide is turning against Al Gore’s Anthropogenic Global Warming theory. The so-called “sceptical” view is now also the majority view.

Plus, check out Hot Air as well, "Do Hacked E-Mails Show Global-Warming Fraud?" And, Michelle Malkin's title nails it, "The Global Warming Scandal of the Century." (And Michelle reminds us, "First things first: The alleged hackers need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.)

Australia's Andrew Bolt suggests the scandal "is one of the greatest in modern science."
More from the BBC, "Hackers Target Leading Climate Research Unit," and Memeorandum.

Update --

Despite all efforts to find otherwise I can't find another single bit of climate science in any of the Western Voices World News opinion piece.

The only one that got close was the article from Der Spegiel, James Delingpole over at the Telegraph spent time complimenting himself on his journalistic skill in unearthing the conspiracy but there were no facts there, no data, not even the conspiracy. Likewise Michelle Malkin was a big fat zero.

When you got past the link to Der Spegiel, suddenly it was all ultra-right-wing neo-con-bot echo chamber.

Very disappointing indeed !

Unleashing the dogs ...

Some events in ones life act as a catalyst for years, even decades of life experience resulting in the crystallization of new thought forms or actions. These can be profound transformative events.

Other times they can be simple annoyances like the fly you can't kill or unexpected noise in a circuit (ever tried banging on the side of the unit?)

Sadly the content of the following email regarding claims of a vast conspiracy regarding anthropogenic global warming based on stolen email from the CRU of the University of East Angliea was not one of them.

"Your Caught, just [redacted] admit it you whiny little [redacted.]"

Goodness, this poor fellow seems to have started his day with Carnation Instant Bitch! Undeterred by the temper of this response I leveled a simple challenge ...

"when you get done sifting through all those emails over on the Russian server

show me some PROOF of the CONSPIRACY ...."

I got the expected response

"Just can't admit your own [redacted] you hard can you? Whine whine whine thats what you best at."

At least the ratio of words redacted to the total is down a bit. My reply was simple

"again your the guy with no facts, no data"

I then sat down and volunteered to provide the Witchfinder General with at least twenty good questions to ask about anthropogenic global warming. The posts to come are those twenty and at least a few more that can be shaken out of the mouth of the poor diseased dog of the denier/delayer argument.

Who is the Witchfinder General ?

The year is 1645 - the middle of the English Civil War. Matthew Hopkins (Vincent Price), an opportunist and witchhunter, takes advantage of the breakdown in social order to impose a reign of terror on East Anglia. Hopkins and his assistant, John Stearne, visit village after village, brutally torturing confessions out of suspected witches. They charge the local magistrates for the work they carry out.

The real Matthew Hopkins (1620 - 1647) conducted witch trials in Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and other eastern English counties. Hopkins was never officially given the title of "Witchfinder General" officially but he claimed it was so. He used a combination of sleep deprivation, pricking and swimming to test for signs of witchcraft.

In the end he and his assistant John Stearne are responsible for nineteen hangings and four deaths during imprisonment.

Today's Witchfinder General is Senator James Inhofe (R-OK). Senator Inhofe has a reputation as a global warming "denier" and is quoted on the record for his declaration,
"the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American People"
It is here that our exploration begins for a short time ago someone hacked into the mail server of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. These emails were put up on a server in Russia and have since been as corn to the crows of the global warming denier/delayer community.

Senator Inhofe upon hearing of the revelations of 'conspiracy' and 'cooked' data has suggested that the GOP should mount an investigation into the claim that the data sets currently in use have been manipulated to support a great scientific fraud !

So here our journey begins as we sort through the claims, counter-claims and distortions of the global warming denier/delayer community.

Like any reasonable science blog I will stuff these pages with lots of notes, references and the occasional poke in the eye socket of some of my favorite cast of classless characters who stand on their porch and waving their hand in the air proclaim with religious vigor - "I do not believe in global warming !"

So pack plenty of food (at least 5000 calories per day in an arctic environ), hold tight to your ice ax and check your crampons. in this thought experiment we are in the test tube and if we are not careful we will discover directly how much you can heat up the pot before the frog dies.

Concerning Mr. Price - I have the greatest respect for Vincent Price. As an actor Price was frequently pigeon holed in horror films, but he had the capacity for tremendous range which he demonstrated frequently and was a man not unfamiliar with the world of the arts as seen by his donations to the arts both in works and financially. Two of my favorite films have to be The Song of Bernadette (1943) and The Raven (1963).

Image Credit : Metrodome DVD