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Scientific Journal Nature Finds Nothing Notable In CRU Leak 736

Posted by Soulskill
from the nothing-to-see-here-move-along dept.
eldavojohn writes with an update to the CRU email leak story we've been following for the past two weeks. The peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature has published an article saying the emails do not demonstrate any sort of "scientific conspiracy," and that the journal doesn't intend to investigate earlier papers from CRU researchers without "substantive reasons for concern." The article notes, "Whatever the e-mail authors may have said to one another in (supposed) privacy, however, what matters is how they acted. And the fact is that, in the end, neither they nor the IPCC suppressed anything: when the assessment report was published in 2007 it referenced and discussed both papers." Reader lacaprup points out related news that a global warming skeptic plans to sue NASA under the Freedom of Information Act for failing to deliver climate data and correspondence of their own, which he thinks will be "highly damaging." Meanwhile, a United Nations panel will be conducting its own investigation of the CRU emails.
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Scientific Journal Nature Finds Nothing Notable In CRU Leak

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  • Nice try (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:21AM (#30334664) Journal

    The real smoking gun isn't the emails - it's the source code [oneutah.org].

    They keep talking about those emails in the hopes that no one will call them out on the "VERY ARTIFICAL correction for decline"s applied liberally to the raw data.

    Really take a look at the graphs in the link above. Plot that array yourself if you don't believe it. No amount of handwaving will explain away blatant lying.

    • Re:Nice try (Score:4, Insightful)

      by niiler (716140) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:32AM (#30334726) Journal

      The researchers did not use certain tree ring data post 1960 because it was not properly calibrated to instrumental data. There has been much hoo-hah about this "throwing out" of data when really it is the instrumental data that matters, not the proxy data. If temperature is what you are after, thermometers are the gold standard. Therefore the post 1960 results really aren't in question. Furthermore, many critics of Mann et al. have ignored the fact that this was a single line of data turning a blind eye to the numerous other data sets and proxies that support the same conclusions. I find it disingenuous to claim that all climatology is now in question due to this "trick". I will, however, admit that the researchers should have noted the issues with the tree-ring data in question.

      If one completely ignores any of the above data sets (whether they be direct measurements or proxies), there exist many disparate observations of global warming ranging from the rise in sea level which threatens various nations' lands to the melting of the arctic tundra to the loss of glaciation document global warming independently of these scientists' data. All the data seem to indicate is that the warming is happening on a scale that it has not before. By itself, this should indicate that the hockey stick curve is real. But is this warming due to humans?

      Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) critics seem to espouse ideas such as the solar cycle hypothesis or Milankovich hypothesis rather than admit that humans can change the atmosphere. On the BBC this morning I even heard a listener letter that explained how volcanoes were the cause of the increased CO2 in the atmosphere. This ignores some of the more obvious ways in which humans can change the atmosphere. This year, the Chinese government limited fossil fuel burning before the Olympics with apparently stunning results. When I was in Beijing for nearly a month 10 years ago, smog was a daily occurance. Even miles outside the city at Badaling (the Great Wall), it was hard to see for more than a mile. Smog is considered to be the third most important greenhouse gas by the IPCC. Evidence that we are changing our own atmosphere by fossil fuel emission is obvious just by looking.

      • Re:Nice try (Score:4, Insightful)

        by trickyD1ck (1313117) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:36AM (#30334748)
        "Evidence that we are changing our own atmosphere by fossil fuel emission is obvious just by looking." this nonetheless does not imply that such changes have a nontrivial impact on the climate. in other words, smog!=AGW. i would think this were obvious.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TapeCutter (624760) *
          The N20 componet of smog [wikipedia.org] is indeed the "the third most important greenhouse gas" as claimed in the GP's informative post. Note that the arosols contained in smog also has a significant cooling effect but I don't think we want to give any encouragement to the coal industry to resume killing "large numbers" of people with pea soupers [wikipedia.org]
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            And first most important greenhouse gas is water vapor. Regardless of the truth of AGW, it is not immediately obvious that smog in cities indicates or leads to a significant effect in the atmosphere. I believe in AGW but let's not claim the climate science is easy to understand or obvious. This is why I get angry when AGWers equate those that disbelieve in AGW with creationists; the principles behind evolution are much easier and more intuitive to understand than climate science is.

            • Re:Nice try (Score:4, Insightful)

              by bheerssen (534014) <bheerssen@gmail.com> on Saturday December 05, 2009 @02:54PM (#30337092)

              It is true that water vapor is the strongest greenhouse gas. However, that's certainly not the entire story. It is also true that it is carbon dioxide that is upsetting the balance in the Earth's ability to regulate itself. As humans pump more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere while simultaneously cutting down huge swaths of forest (and thereby harming the Earth's ability to scrub carbon dioxide), the Earth's ability to cool itself is significantly reduced. As this process accelerates, the ice caps melt, releasing more water vapor into the atmosphere via evaporation, further compounding the effect caused by unregulated carbon dioxide emissions.

              This all adds up to an accelerating snowball effect that by the end of the century could see average global temperatures increase by six degrees Celsius. That means no more year-round snow and ice on the polar ice caps, sea levels meters above "normal" and a whole host of problems for flora and fauna (us) alike. The science is in, and the denialists are endagering us all.

              This is a classic case of Pascal's Wager, except that in this case it is actually a good argument. If we do nothing and anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is real, we risk the end of civilization as we know it. If we take aggressive action and AGW turns out to be hogwash, then we'll have taken long steps toward cleaning up our environment: a net positive for many reasons unrelated to AGW, including reduced loss of habitat, healthier oceans (and fisheries), and fewer pollutants in our food and water. Why some people insist that we should continue to rape our planet as we've always done seems, in this light, grossly irresponsible and short-sighted.

              I should add that AGW denialists are in the same camp as creationists because they willfully disbelieve science they do not understand so that they can rationalize closely held, pig-headed beliefs which only serve to preserve the status quo. Change is often hard and uncomfortable; even costly. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't embrace it. Read some ACTUAL science instead of letting people with an agenda spoon-feed you lies.

              • Re:Nice try (Score:5, Insightful)

                by yndrd1984 (730475) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @04:46PM (#30338108)

                I liked your post, it was passionate and articulate, except for this bit of drivel you stuck in there:

                This is a classic case of Pascal's Wager, except that in this case it is actually a good argument.

                Pascal's wager is never a good argument. It's still a false dichotomy, and even without the usual issue of whether a person can simply choose to change their beliefs (like the original version), it allows the one proposing the wager to set up outcomes favorable to them while ignoring other possibilities.

                If we do nothing and anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is real, we risk the end of civilization as we know it.

                Even if AGW is completely real, it may be more mild that we expect and turn out to be a mere nuisance. Or it may be easy to geoengineer global cooling 60 years from now. Or it might be fairly cheap to build levees around cities, move and rebuild other bit of civilization, ect. Or there may be some other solution that I haven't thought of, or even that nobody has thought of yet.

                If we take aggressive action and AGW turns out to be hogwash, then we'll have taken long steps toward cleaning up our environment: a net positive for many reasons unrelated to AGW, including reduced loss of habitat, healthier oceans (and fisheries), and fewer pollutants in our food and water.

                If AGW isn't real, and we take aggressive action, we will have wasted trillions that could have been spent on cleaning up real pollution more effectively. And millions die in third-world nations because they aren't allowed to use their fossil fuels to industrialize. And dictators use the threat of AGW to get other countries to give them nuclear tech, which they use to make weapons. And many other things that could possibly go wrong.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Wonko the Sane (25252) *

        There has been much hoo-hah about this "throwing out" of data when really it is the instrumental data that matters, not the proxy data. If temperature is what you are after, thermometers are the gold standard

        You might have a point if the leaked file only demonstrated a single case of data tampering, but it's all over the place. Anyone with a copy of FOI2009.zip and grep can verify this.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jeremy Erwin (2054)

          grep? grep only works if you know what you're looking for.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by DMiax (915735)
            $ grep "blatant data tampering" highly_incriminating_file.txt # because conspiracies store their misdeeds in plaintext
        • Re:Nice try (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TapeCutter (624760) * on Saturday December 05, 2009 @01:04PM (#30335998) Journal
          "it's all over the place"

          So lets have some examples. Or are you just another hand waving "skeptic"?

          BTW: The single case you refer to has been explained numerous times as an attemp to DISPROVE a signal had been found. You seem unfamiliar with the concept of self-skepticisim so I can see how that might have escaped your notice. The fact remains that In the end the code was never used and the graph labeled VERY ARTIFICIAL was never published. I'm sure as hell that if I was fiddling data for a global conspiracy I would not put a label like that on the resulting graph, would you?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by toppavak (943659)

        This year, the Chinese government limited fossil fuel burning before the Olympics with apparently stunning results. When I was in Beijing for nearly a month 10 years ago, smog was a daily occurance. Even miles outside the city at Badaling (the Great Wall), it was hard to see for more than a mile. Smog is considered to be the third most important greenhouse gas by the IPCC. Evidence that we are changing our own atmosphere by fossil fuel emission is obvious just by looking.

        This kind of trend can be seen on a daily cycle in New Delhi. Overnight, the smog over the city disperses but returns over the course of the day (typically by 11am) only to dissipate again as the city slows down for the night.

      • Re:Nice try (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:51AM (#30334872)

        Nice try. The tree ring data was used as a proxy for temperature. The results of this proxy formula didn't match up with actual temperature readings past 1960, so to make their method look like it had more skill (accuracy) than it did, they simply grafted the actual temperature series to the end of the tree ring proxy temperature series. This is what was meant by "hide the decline".

        A real scientist would have investigated why the proxy failed to to reflect actual temperatures in recent times, and might have questioned if the methodology actually applied correctly to any time in the past. Instead, they grafted apples to oranges and then told everyone they had discovered something that they had not.

        Very bad science. If this happened in any other field, these clowns would be out of a job.

        • Re:Nice try (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:36AM (#30335236)

          A real scientist would have investigated why the proxy failed to to reflect actual temperatures in recent times, and might have questioned if the methodology actually applied correctly to any time in the past.

          Which is exactly what these guys did ten years ago. [nature.com] Answers: we don't know (trees are living beings, not thermometers), and yes it does.

          Notice the "Briffa" name in the author list? And the "University of East Anglia" in the list of institutions? Reminds you of something?

          • Re:Nice try (Score:5, Informative)

            by Troed (102527) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @12:11PM (#30335464) Homepage Journal

            ... and yet they continued to publish a dataset which they knew didn't hold up to scrutiny.

            Either the proxy isn't a good proxy, or the temperature record isn't a good record. You can have either, but not both.

            No researchers in this field have ever, to our knowledge, "grafted the thermometer record onto" any reconstrution. It is somewhat disappointing to find this specious claim (which we usually find originating from industry-funded climate disinformation websites) appearing in this forum. - Michael Mann

            http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=7810 [climateaudit.org]

        • Re:Nice try (Score:5, Informative)

          by Ambitwistor (1041236) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @05:34PM (#30338478)

          The graph was not a demonstration of the skill of their method, it was the cover graph for a report for policymakers. Their actual scientific publications show the proxy record directly. And they did not ignore the discrepancy between the two time series. The "divergence problem" is well known, well cited, and frequently discussed among dendroclimatologists. There are some reasons to believe that trees are now responding to non-climatic human influences which they previously were not subject to, such as changes in atmospheric aerosol loading, CO2 content, and pH of precipitation in some locations. You can debate whether these causes are legitimate or not, but in a graph for policymakers it's not inappropriate to drop the data where you suspect it's contaminated and switch to data you think is more trustworthy. Again, their actual publications indicate the decline which is the whole basis for the divergence problem literature in the first place. It's not like this is some huge secret that nobody knew about or the authors refused to acknowledge.

      • Re:Nice try (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DriedClexler (814907) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:02AM (#30334942)

        The researchers did not use certain tree ring data post 1960 because it was not properly calibrated to instrumental data. There has been much hoo-hah about this "throwing out" of data when really it is the instrumental data that matters, not the proxy data. If temperature is what you are after, thermometers are the gold standard. Therefore the post 1960 results really aren't in question

        Right, so the reasonable inference would be "this proxy can't event match the temperatures we know for sure -- it's no good, throw it out entirely". However, the scientists in question are so attached to their preordained conclusions that they don't even consider this. Instead, they throw out the data they don't like, and keep what matches the conclusion they want, instead of (at least *considering*) re-evaluating the conclusion to begin with.

        So they act like the proxy's correct precisely when they have less substantiation, and its failure to match the most solid data is just a problem they need to patch up later -- the so called "divergence problem". It should be called the, "Do we ever consider we might be wrong?" problem.

      • Re:Nice try (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sycodon (149926) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:08AM (#30335008)

        Wasn't it so inconsiderate of those trees to change the way the respond to temperature?

        I wonder why they don't include other tree ring data [wattsupwiththat.com] or the Finnish [worldclimatereport.com] data? Instead, they used bogus [cfact.eu] data.

        And "they" continue to hide [wattsupwiththat.com] other data.

        Of course I know the standard responses...I'm not a climate scientist so what do I know anything, Nature is "Dr. Jones Peer Reviewed", everyone else is paid by Exxon, blah blah blah.

        Fact is that this issue is now beyond science and is being fought in the public forum. Anyone who would have the world cripple itself economically needs to be 150% above board with all their data and methods. No hiding behind anything. Anyone with a reasonable background in science should be able to take their models apart, thoroughly understand what they are doing and why and be able to replicate their work, from the friggen hunk of wood to the final graph. Hire more people to fulfill FOI request if that's what it takes.

        If necessary, they should set aside a few months a year to do nothing but assist others in understanding their methods (never mind that if any other scientist had to help others replicate their work, it would be seen as a sign of fraud). Too important and busy to do that? Bullshit. Given what want everyone to do, they have an OBLIGATION to do that.

        And lastly...I'm sorry but if the friggin tree ring data is not valid for assessing temperature after 1960, then it is not valid assessing temperature before 1960.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by toppavak (943659)

          Anyone who would have the world cripple itself economically

          [Citation needed]
          Amory Lovins [youtube.com], Paul Krugman [nytimes.com] and many, many, many others would disagree with you on that point.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by coastwalker (307620)

          Greed as usual defines what we will support. But hang on a minute, in the west we have become blind to the economic model we live with. Producing something has become so cheap that it comprises less than 20% of what you as a consumer end up paying for it. If protecting the life of your offspring is going to increase the fundamental cost of a thing by 5% for a couple of decades then I think we should be looking at that 80% of the cost of a product to find the savings to pay for the change. Ask yourself if t

        • Re:Nice try (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Sparky McGruff (747313) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @06:23PM (#30338822)

          And lastly...I'm sorry but if the friggin tree ring data is not valid for assessing temperature after 1960, then it is not valid assessing temperature before 1960.

          There's about a million possible reasons why tree-ring observations don't seem to work for relatively recent data. It's possible that newly formed tree rings change somewhat in the 30 or 40 years after they are initially formed until they reach a "stable" form. It's possible that the substantial increases in CO2 in the atmosphere in recent years has altered the way that tree rings form.

          All measurement methods have their anomalies. MRI scans are a great way to look at the structure of the brain, but they have substantial distortions, that change from machine to machine. Some of these have to do with the type of machine, and some distortions are due to things like the earth's magnetic field or the building that houses the machine. Those have to be corrected for, and it's standard practice. And, scans of young children don't give the same results, because the brain structures haven't matured, so it's difficult if not impossible to distinguish many brain structures. That doesn't mean it's not a useful method, but one does need to keep the limitations and difficulties of each measuring methodology in mind.

          There are very accurate temperature measurements recorded for many places dating back to the late 1700s, recorded using a thermometer. If the tree rings for those areas match very well for the 150 years prior to 1960, but begin to diverge after that, it wouldn't be that outrageous to suggest that the inability to use them as a measurement proxy for recent times is just a limitation of the system.

          It would be nice to have perfect measurements for everything. However, for those of us in the real world, all measurements have errors and limitations, and we have to adapt for these. Simply dumping uncorrected, uncalibrated, or inaccurate measurements into the pool of data does not make things clearer.

      • Re:Nice try (Score:5, Informative)

        by Thomas Miconi (85282) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:29AM (#30335192)

        I will, however, admit that the researchers should have noted the issues with the tree-ring data in question.

        Good thing they did, then. [nature.com] Only ten years ago, mind you.

        Seriously, this whole "climategate" debacle tends to run like this:

        1- Deniers exhume some e-mail / piece of code which they don't understand, but assume is definite proof of evil scheming on the part of the great academic conspiracy ("Trick!" "Hide the decline!" OMGconspiracy send teh copz!!) .

        2- Scientists post explanation, [uea.ac.uk] showing the deniers' allegations to be baseless (The "hidden" decline in tree ring growth was published a decade ago - see Nature link above; in this very publication, it was shown to diverge from the actual instrumental record after 1960; so for the post-1960 period we basically replace tree rings with the actual instrumental data, because we trust thermometers more than tree rings when the two fail to agree; we cited the relevant articles in the caption for the graph just to be sure).

        3- Deniers completely ignore scientists' explanation, and keep fantasising about their glorious victory over evil scheming scientists. See GP for an illustration.

        Rinse. Repeat.

        To GP and all the folks who keep harping about this "VERY ARTIFICIAL" correction code: the code in question is a one-time code for temporarily re-calibrating the tree ring data. The reason, and the coefficients, are ultimately derived from the Nature article I linked to above. For an interesting hypothesis concerning the source of this code, see comment #147 and linked manuscript on this thread. [scienceblogs.com]

      • Re:Nice try (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Rockoon (1252108) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:35AM (#30335228)

        The researchers did not use certain tree ring data post 1960 because it was not properly calibrated to instrumental data.

        This has nothing to do with the data being 'properly calibrated' and everything to do with the faulty assumption that ring width strong correlates with temperature, which is the assumption they use for pre-1960 data. They sold you another lie to explain the first, my friend.

        Tree ring width correlates strongly with precipitation, not temperature. Plenty of REAL peer reviewed studies to back this up, along with validated experimental evidence (you know, that whole scientific method shit that Mann doesnt use)

        Furthermore, many critics of Mann et al. have ignored the fact that this was a single line of data turning a blind eye to the numerous other data sets and proxies that support the same conclusions.

        Which data sets are those? Seriously. Which? Show my a hockey stick that does not use Mann's or Briffa's data. Do it now.

    • Re:Nice try (Score:5, Informative)

      by mrsquid0 (1335303) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:42AM (#30334796) Homepage

      The source code is another thing that has been taken completely out of context. For example, the "Very ARTIFICIAL correction" in was computed, but the line where it was applied was commented out. This is clearly a case of someone playing around with the output to explore various effects and scenarios. They did the experiment, then commented it out to removed that effect from the production output. Does anyone really believe that a real attempt at fraud would be blatantly labeled in the code?

    • Re:Nice try (Score:5, Informative)

      by Rising Ape (1620461) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:42AM (#30334798)

      FFS, not this shit again. Frankly, given the number of times this has been pointed out, I can only assume that people still mentioning it are wilfully ignoring anything that contradicts them.

      However, one last time. It's commonplace to have multiple versions of analysis code with variations including "artificial" changes. I've done it lots of times, mostly for testing purposes - it's quite useful [1] to know how the output of your analysis depends on variations in the input. Only a small fraction of the code in existence was actually used to process the data "for real". Unless you have some evidence that a) arbitrary modifications were made to published data without explanation in the publication and b) any such modifications were not scientifically justified, please stop with this ridiculous and discredited point.

      [1] By which I mean "essential for any non-trivial analysis"

      • Re:Nice try (Score:4, Insightful)

        by arcticinfantry (1130171) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:57AM (#30335344)
        Really? When you're objectively trying to find something such as a temperature signal it's common to fudge this way and that? BTW, the decline is *still* in that tree ring data, but is not being shown because when tree ring data supports a fudged temperature set, it's worth reporting to the IPCC. When it doesn't, there is some unknown force burying the AGW signal. Who are the denialists again?
    • Re:Nice try (Score:5, Informative)

      by belthize (990217) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:47AM (#30334840)

      If you look at the actual code instead of some blog you'll see the reference to the adjusted value is commented out and never used in the plotting call.

      ;
      ; Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL correction for decline!!
      ;
      yrloc=[1400,findgen(19)*5.+1904]
      valadj=[0.,0.,0.,0.,0.,-0.1,-0.25,-0.3,0.,-0.1,0.3,0.8,1.2,1.7,2.5,2.6,2.6,$
          2.6,2.6,2.6]*0.75 ; fudge factor
      if n_elements(yrloc) ne n_elements(valadj) then message,'Oooops!'
      ;
      yearlyadj=interpol(valadj,yrloc,timey)
      ; ;filter_cru,5.,/nan,tsin=yyy+yearlyadj,tslow=tslow ;oplot,timey,tslow,thick=5,color=20
      ;
      filter_cru,5.,/nan,tsin=yyy,tslow=tslow
      oplot,timey,tslow,thick=5,color=21
      ;
      oplot,!x.crange,[0.,0.],linestyle=1
      ;
      plot,[0,1],/nodata,xstyle=4,ystyle=4

              Without revision control one can't say for certain but there's no evidence any adjusted data made it into a paper. There's only evidence that a single piece of code from the thousands of modeling sims had at one time an adjustment that was commented out.

      • Re:Nice try (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Doormouse (630550) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @12:39PM (#30335708)
        From looking at the files, this does not seem to be true in all instances. Even if it was uncommented everywhere, we still would not know if it actually made it into published results. Sounds like a job for someone of audit and figure out what actually happened and how outraged to be realistically. I wonder if they have learned their lesson and will actually cooperate instedd of stonewall.
      • Re:Nice try (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Alef (605149) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @01:15PM (#30336124)

        If anything, this code tells me that whoever wrote it was very careful not to use bad data. Why else would you mark the modification with a three line comment with big letters and double exclamation marks pointing out that the following lines are artificial? The only time I write comments like that is when I want to make sure nobody accidentally compiles the code with it still in there.

        This is the opposite of what I would expect from someone in a conspiracy.

    • Oh, come on. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Grendel Drago (41496) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:49AM (#30334854) Homepage

      The "VERY ARTIFICIAL correction" you describe is never actually used. It's commented out. [jgc.org] You can plot that array, but I'm not sure what you think you're demonstrating.

      • Re:Oh, come on. (Score:5, Informative)

        by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:14AM (#30335050) Homepage

        On that same blog you link to [jgc.org], there is an "Update": Read the comments below. It's been pointed out to me that there's a later version of code in the archive in which similar correction code is not commented out. Details and link below.

        • Re:Oh, come on. (Score:5, Informative)

          by mrsquid0 (1335303) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @12:19PM (#30335518) Homepage

          Which version was used to produce the plot that is in the Nature paper? It is easy enough to tell by looking at the Nature paper. Hint, the plot in the paper does not have this correction applied.

    • Re:Nice try (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TapeCutter (624760) * on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:50AM (#30334860) Journal
      Yeah right, the whole "house of cards" has crumbled due to one line of source code that was never published. How about doing a bit of homework and finding out why the unpublished graph was labelled VERY ARTIFICIAL?

      As for the so called "missing data" it seems the MET have noted the advice in the Nature editorial and are now petitioning 188 countries for permission to publish the remaining few percent of records still tied up in red tape.

      The sad irony here is that Jones has spent most of his carrer making the other 95% of those records easily accesible to the scientific community.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TapeCutter (624760) *
      "The real smoking gun.."

      Please study the propoganda you have been fed more carefully, it's not a smoking gun, it's a smoking iceberg [thedailymash.co.uk].
    • by catchblue22 (1004569) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @02:49PM (#30337058) Homepage

      On reading many of these posts that show up whenever climate change is mentioned, I am reminded of the following article, which I will quote below in its entirety. I found it in Scientific American [scientificamerican.com].

      War Is Peace: Can Science Fight Media Disinformation?
      In the 24/7 Internet world, people make lots of claims. Science provides a guide for testing them
      By Lawrence M. Krauss

      When I saw the statement repeated online that theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking of the University of Cambridge would be dead by now if he lived in the U.K. and had to depend on the National Health Service (he, of course, is alive and working in the U.K., where he always has), I reflected on something I had written a dozen years ago, in one of my first published commentaries:

      “The increasingly blatant nature of the nonsense uttered with impunity in public discourse is chilling. Our democratic society is imperiled as much by this as any other single threat, regardless of whether the origins of the nonsense are religious fanaticism, simple ignorance or personal gain.”

      As I listen to the manifest nonsense that has been promulgated by the likes of right-wing fanatic radio hosts and moronic ex-governors in response to the effort to bring the U.S. into alignment with other industrial countries in providing reasonable and affordable health care for all its citizens, it seems that things have only gotten worse in the years since I first wrote those words.

      English novelist George Orwell was remarkably prescient about many things, and one of the most disturbing aspects of his masterpiece 1984 involved the blatant perversion of objective reality, using constant repetition of propaganda by a militaristic government in control of all the media.

      Centrally coordinated and fully effective reinvention of reality has not yet come about in the U.S. (even though a White House aide in the past administration came chillingly close when he said to a New York Times reporter, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality”). I am concerned, however that something equally pernicious, at least to the free exercise of democracy, has.

      The rise of a ubiquitous Internet, along with 24-hour news channels has, in some sense, had the opposite effect from what many might have hoped such free and open access to information would have had. It has instead provided free and open access, without the traditional media filters, to a barrage of disinformation. Nonsense claims had more difficulty gaining traction in the days when print journalism held sway and newspaper editors had the final word on what made its way into homes and when television news consisted of a half-hour summary of what a trained producer thought were the most essential stories of the day.

      Now fabrications about “death panels” and oxymoronic claims that ”government needs to keep its hands off of Medicare” flow freely on the Internet, driving thousands of zombielike protesters to Washington to argue that access to health care will undermine their fundamental freedom to have their insurance canceled if they get sick. And 24-hour news channels, desperate to provide ”breaking” coverage at all hours, end up serving as public relations vehicles for any celebrity who happens to make an outrageous claim or, worse, decide that the competition for ratings requires them to be anything but ”fair and balanced” in their reporting.

      “Fair and balanced,” however, doesn’t mean putting all viewpoints, regardless of their underlying logic or validity, on an equal footing. Discerning the merits of competing claims is where the empirical basis of science should play a role. I cannot stress often enough that what science is all about is not proving things to be true but proving them to be false. What fails the test of empirical reality, as determined by

  • by Idiomatick (976696) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:22AM (#30334670)
    Same with newscientist [newscientist.com]
    I imagine all scientific journals will be quite clear on this point. A few suspect emails do not destroy millions of man hours of research.
    • by glueball (232492) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:27AM (#30334686)

      A few suspect emails do not destroy millions of man hours of research.
      They do destroy faithfulness of the research if the premise those millions of hours spent are false.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by aurispector (530273)

        Once thing that's certain: this, like all other climate research relating to AGW, will descend into a hyper-partisan he said-she said type argument. This guarantees it will be impossible for anyone unwilling or unable to validate and analyze the data themselves to come to a rational conclusion.

        One thing is crystal clear: these guys are biased in a way that is completely antithetical to true scientific research.

      • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:01AM (#30334938) Journal
        Personally I think the premise is so obviously false that this stunt will backfire on the coal industry as did similar "scientific" arguments by the tabcoo companies in the 80's.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:30AM (#30334708)

      "A few suspect emails do not destroy millions of man hours of research."

      Never mind the quality, feel the weight.

    • by hcpxvi (773888) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:35AM (#30334740)
      Both the Nature article mentioned in the summary and the NS article linked by Idiomatick are clear and sensible articles and well worth a read. I do not, of course, hold out any hope that they will prevent the oil company shills and SUV drivers from baying for blood.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by phantomfive (622387)
        I neither work for an oil company or drive an SUV, but I can tell you what I don't like about the emails (not that you have to believe any of that from an internet person).

        No one can deny that AGW is a highly politicized topic: you have affirmed this by talking about shills. Nonetheless, it would be hoped that scientists have managed to largely stay away from the politicization. These emails show they haven't. They show that even some of the top scientists in the field have been caught up in the politica
      • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @09:15PM (#30340078)
        Right, because the guys who got millions in grants because they said the "sky is falling" are so much more trustworthy? Dr. Phil Jones received grants in the 90s in the thousands of dollars, since 1998 the grants he has received have been in the millions of dollars.
    • by argStyopa (232550) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:17AM (#30335076) Journal

      "A few suspect emails do not destroy millions of man hours of research."

      Of course not. But when the main suppliers of that information to policy makers turn out to be advocates of a dogma with a vested interest in manipulating that data, in colluding to hide contrary information, in DISPOSING (whups! accident!) of the raw data sets that they've compiled, attacking critics, and generally behaving as if they have something to conceal, it IS possible for those individuals to taint that research and especially the conclusions drawn therefrom.

      Who Watches the Watchmen, indeed?

      It's a known psychological fact that very often the victims of a con will be the most vociferous defenders of the con artists - they are now defending their own reputation and self-image, no longer mere facts of 'does this snake oil work or not?'.

    • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:30AM (#30335198) Homepage

      A few suspect emails do not destroy millions of man hours of research.

      The Humanity in general and the Western civilization in particular were on trial. We are accused of "destroying Gaia" and facing the punishment of huge fines and severe drop in the quality of life (such as living with worms composting our garbage [metro.us]).

      So, guess what? When, suddenly, thanks to a whistle-blower (whom the prominent Illiberals in Congress want prosecuted [thehill.com], BTW), we learn of the massive prosecutorial misconduct (some of it, such as deleting files after receiving Freedom of Information requests, outright criminal), that affects a substantial amount of evidence against us, we move for the "court" to dismiss the entire case.

      Those "millions of man hours" are now tainted.

  • This video explains quite clearly how these leaks and the reactions on it should be placed in their correct context:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nnVQ2fROOg [youtube.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jeremy Erwin (2054)

      How do you people find the time to watch silly videos? Is there an accurate transcript? With still images? Perhaps a normal web page?

  • by Blappo (976408) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:32AM (#30334724) Journal
    And the apparent lack of transparency regarding the code, I submit that the researchers under fire be asked to use the code in question to reproduce their results under observation, explaining how they did it.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:38AM (#30334772) Journal
    Everyone seems to be focused on what is found in the emails and what is significant and what is not etc. But just look at what is NOT there. For years the skeptics side has been alleging a conspiracy, funded by communists, socialists, George Soros, Al Gore... Some global anti-American organization slyly orchestrating a campaign to emasculate America!

    What do you see in these mails? Remember these scientists think they are talking in private and never anticipated being found out. Are there mentions or references to dark projects? Some references to their agents and their handlers? Strong ideological opinions to destroy Capitalism and install a world Government?

    What happened is very simple. These scientists are used to one kind of debate and one kind of rules. Where "the conclusions reached by Kogen, et al [8] is not supported by the evidence presented by them [9],[10],[11]" would be considered a grave insult and might cause loss of reputation. In the question and answer session in a seminar someone saying, "But, Dr Kaplansky, with a sample size of 27, the correlation coefficient you have arrived at is less than experimental error" wouild result in a collective gasp and "ole!" from the assembled people, usually about 20 people who could actually understand the paper being presented.

    These scientists are encountering the rough and tumble world of popular journalism, spin meistering. They are clueless about how to handle it. They feel they are being gravely insulted and highly manipulated. They think they are being quote mined, quoted out of context. The journalists are giving totally irrelevant and completely debunked theorists equal time for balance. So they go about in their clueless ways to counter it. They over react, they try to be more guarded, they are trying to write sentences that could not be quote mined.

    Now that people have glimpse of the actual communications between the scientists, compare that to say, the hacked emails of Sarah Palin, See where you find more smoking guns.

    • by pitchpipe (708843) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:20AM (#30335112)
      The people who are trying to sow FUD against AGW know that it doesn't matter what was actually in those emails. What matters is the accusations that they can hurl about without anyone really challenging them.

      We thought that the media had grown a pair of proverbial balls after the Bush fiasco, but we were wrong. It almost seems to be going in the wrong direction, where they are less challenging than they were before for fear of *not* getting that interview.

  • by mbone (558574) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:42AM (#30334792)

    ... will be bamboozled. There is nothing new in that. It lies behind all political folly.

    The data that was adjusted was paleoclimate data, and what it was being adjusted to was temperature data (i.e., the more reliable modern temperature data). As far as I can tell, they neither could nor did adjust the measured temperature data.

    The OP did not quote the really important part of the Nature piece :

    Nothing in the e-mails undermines the scientific case that global warming is real — or that human activities are almost certainly the cause. That case is supported by multiple, robust lines of evidence, including several that are completely independent of the climate reconstructions debated in the e-mails.

    The evidence for this is literally all around us. Throw all of the CRU data out if you want. It won't change a thing.

    • by thule (9041) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @08:38PM (#30339852) Homepage
      I thought people have been questioning the modern temp data for a while due to land use and urban heat effect. Climate Audit has been tracking this aspect for a while now. We might be warming, but the warming is not universal and nothing more than what has happened in the past. In the context of 1000-1500 years, the warming that happene between 1950-2000 is nothing to be afraid of. To quote CRU:

      "The principal conclusion from these studies (summarized in IPCC AR4) is that the second half of the 20th century was very likely (90% probable) warmer than any other 50-year period in the last 500 years and likely (66% probable) the warmest in the past 1300 years."

      Before any of this email stuff, climateaudit caught NASA adjusting the output so that the 1940's blip was not more than the latter half of the century. I seem to recall it was a error in how the program was rounding the numbers. Climateaudit made a new graph with 1940's showing the warmest year. NASA reproduced the results and then later produced a new chart that showed the 1990's having the warming year with the 1940's the second warmest.

      To quote another post of this subject (a href="http://strata-sphere.com/blog/index.php/archives/11531">strata-sphere.com):

      "Well, the raw CRU data shows that the first half of the last century (1900-1960) was as warm or warmer than it is today. But even if it was not warmer, it was within the uncertainty of the processed data. But let’s assume this claim still holds water, so what if this was the warmest half century since the beginning of the Little Ice Age! We have only had 3 half centuries since the LIA ended! We all know the Earth has been thankfully warming since this bleak time in humanity’’s brief existence."
  • Worst case (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:01AM (#30334936)

    1) they're guilty of not properly responding to a FOIA request
    2) they've said nasty things about certain colleagues work (but still cited it)
    3) they've discarded some data for reasons they should have better explained (reasons that were valid -- it wasn't properly calibrated)

    Bad for them personally, but utterly irrelevant to the scientific issue, unless you think it's some kind of surprise that scientists are human and sometimes make mistakes. As the Nature article says, it's laughable. Where's the global conspiracy? Where's the outright fraud of substantial masses of crucial data? Nowhere.

    It's worth investigating for the possibility of misconduct, but, sheesh, the actual scientific impact is so overblown it's ridiculous. This is why you have many, many other scientists working on the same issues and completely independent ones: so that even if one of them makes an honest or a dishonest mistake, or one method yields incorrect results, the other people and techniques are likely to find the flaw and correct it.

    The only "trick" here is the propaganda trick climate-change denialists are using to divert attention from the actual data and results of the last few decades.

    Smoking gun? It's like they've (illegally) broken into the house owned by someone they've publicly accused of murder for a decade and found a plastic gun replica that shoots Nerf balls. Aha!! Gotcha!

  • by Saint Stephen (19450) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:13AM (#30335048) Homepage Journal

    If it's such god-damnned good science, why then are people saying "we must not have any more debate. Debate is closed. It's time to move on."

  • by DrXym (126579) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @12:17PM (#30335506)
    When you have gigabytes of private correspondence to sift through of course you can cherry pick / quote mine something to make it look like a conspiracy. That is all some anti-global warmer bloggers have done. They have engaged in the same sort of quotemining that creationists like to go in for which says a lot about the strength of their arguments.
  • Peer reviewed? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MSTCrow5429 (642744) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @02:19PM (#30336756)
    I'm sorry, but did someone at /. forget to mention that the CRU emails did have evidence of a conspiracy to blacklist opposing scientific viewpoints from peer reviewed publications? Did someone forget that Nature, for some years, has been itself criticized for such blacklisting?
  • the conspiracy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mr. Slippery (47854) <.ten.suomafni. .ta. .smt.> on Saturday December 05, 2009 @04:39PM (#30338052) Homepage

    Well, we all know that Nature, NASA, and the U.N. are prime players in the conspiracy. As are NOAA, the National Academy of Sciences, and the science academies of Brazil, China and India.

    I mean, either there's a massive conspiracy by climatologists all around the world, or a handful of corporate shills and religious true believers (including both fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist propertarians) have the media's ear and are quoting stuff out of context and flat-out inventing shit. And that's impossible [unreasonable.org], right?

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