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House of Commons Finds No Evidence of Tampering In Climate E-mails 650

Posted by timothy
from the this-won't-change-your-mind dept.
dwguenther writes "The first of several British investigations into the e-mails leaked from one of the world's leading climate research centers has largely vindicated the scientists involved. The House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee said Wednesday that they'd seen no evidence to support charges that the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit ... had tampered with data or perverted the peer review process to exaggerate the threat of global warming." According to the article, the head of committee which produced the report "said the lawmakers had been in a rush to publish something before Britain's next national election, which is widely expected in just over a month's time"; two further inquiries are to examine the issue more closely. The "e-mails appeared to show scientists berating skeptics in sometimes intensely personal attacks, discussing ways to shield their data from public records laws, and discussing ways to keep skeptics' research out of peer-reviewed journals," but the committee concluded that East Anglia researcher Phil Jones was not part of a conspiracy to hide evidence that weakens the case for global warming.
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House of Commons Finds No Evidence of Tampering In Climate E-mails

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  • by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @02:48PM (#31692164)

    No UK government investigation has found any evidence of any wrongdoing for anything in at least the last ten years - even when the previous six weeks have been wall-to-wall damning evidence reported in every UK newspaper, TV channel and website regardless of its usual political stance.

  • by ajaxlex (658555) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @02:50PM (#31692208)
    Well, if you bother to look at the evidence (including the 'most damning' elements held up by the 'skeptics'), you realize that a day of testimony is more than enough to put this witch hunt to rest. _There are very few sincere skeptics among AGW skeptics_
  • Re:Show me the data (Score:5, Informative)

    by CogDissident (951207) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @02:52PM (#31692226)
    Actually the data from weather research posts is freely available to the public. All you have to do is find the relevant website (I don't have it on hand at the moment). One of the weather-scientist associations provides access to it I believe. As part of a final project for my weather science class in college, we actually had to analyze data from four different stations around the world and correlate our findings with local geographical data. Almost every student in the class found evidence of the global temperatures rising over the last 80 year period.
  • Re:Very Strange (Score:5, Informative)

    by IICV (652597) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:00PM (#31692374)

    Oh, do you mean in this [bbc.co.uk] article, where he admitted that there has been no statistically significant evidence of warming since 1995?

    Being a man of integrity, he of course answered that question truthfully. Here's his full response:

    Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.

    It's funny, because whoever wrote that question did their homework; 1995 is the latest year at which, if you run the calculation, there's no statistically significant warming until 2009 - though I'm sure that'll change when we get the 2010 data. Of course, if you run the same calculation from 1994, you do get a statistically significant result at the 95% significance level. Further, if you decrease the significance level from 95% to something like 85%, the warming trend is again significant. The thing is that a mere fifteen years is just not enough time to do actual climate science. Generally, you have to look back at least thirty years to get reasonable statistical significance; the fact that there's such a strong signal even if you start in 1995 should be good evidence in itself.

  • by The Spoonman (634311) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:03PM (#31692420) Homepage
    Ah, the old "climate has changed before" mantra. I thought that one had long been explained to the deniers (I note the bias in the article calling these people "skeptics"). The climate changes you're referring to have to with Milankovitch cycles [wikipedia.org] which are predictable cycles. The problem with the "it's been hot before" hypothesis is that we're on the downward end of a Milankovitch, meaning temps should be going down, but instead they're going up.
  • Re:Show me the data (Score:2, Informative)

    by scottbell (114847) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:14PM (#31692586) Homepage

    Actually the data from weather research posts is freely available to the public.

    Professor Edward Acton, vice-chancellor of UEA, says it's not [bbc.co.uk]. The full quote:

    When challenged about the contents of one of the stolen e-mails in which Professor Jones told a critic of his work that he would not make information available because the data would only be used to undermine his findings, he admitted that he had written a number of "very awful e-mails". Professor Edward Acton, vice-chancellor of UEA, told the committee that it was not possible to make the entire international data set available because of a "commercial promise". He explained that a number of contributing nations - including Canada, Poland and Sweden - had refused to make their segments of data publicly available.

    I still think AGW is most likely true, but UEA had some pretty sloppy practices with data.

  • Re:Don't worry (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:17PM (#31692650)
    Weirdly, the atmosphere does not consist of layers of gasses sorted by their molecular weight. The stuff gets up there because their thermal motion overcomes gravitation largely, so there is no layering and the mixture is largely homogenous. Then, no one posits that the IR radiation is ONLY directed back to the surface. In fact, every models assumes an isotropic emission by CO2 - which, however, leads to a reduction in net energy flux to space, because PART of it is directed back to the ground. If those are your arguments in "science land", I'd suggest you actually travel to "science land" first yourself and acquaint yourself with the local customs.
  • by Cyberax (705495) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:33PM (#31692936)

    "While higher CO2 and temperatures might lead to higher crop yields in some regions"

    It won't. Higher CO2 concentration doesn't increase crop productivity (though it somewhat increases tolerance to extreme conditions).

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:50PM (#31693174) Journal

    How does working to increase efficiency and reduce pollution wreck the economy?

    That's a great idea. We should try it. Unfortunately, what was discussed at Copenhagen was payments from rich countries to poor countries. People have tried to hijack the global warming 'crisis' to push their own agendas.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:50PM (#31693184)

    As CogDissident said, the data's freely available to the public for download. You don't have to submit a request to CRU for the data.

    Interestingly enough, global warming deniers were inundating CRU with requests for information that could have easily downloaded instead. This kept the CRU researchers busy fulfilling information requests, instead of actually doing climate research -- essentially a DDOS. This is why the CRU researchers started turning down information requests, and I don't blame them.

  • Great post. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:52PM (#31693222)

    Thanks for the info.

    The whole global warming bugaboo has been one of the holes in my awareness. It became so utterly huge and confusing that I just stepped back and tuned it out figuring that when the dust settled, I'd wade back in and try to make sense of things. -That independent researchers who were smarter and more dedicated than me would be able to put the larger pieces together.

    I find it no surprise that greed and a war of social control are driving the Carbon Trading scheme, but I think there is something more also hidden beneath it all.

    Climate change is still with us; the weather is really peculiar. One theory which makes a lot of sense given numerous other big and weird things going on is that the whole bundle of confusion and corruption which is Climategate might be there simply to stop people from focusing on and asking what is really going on. What's up with the planet?

    -FL

  • by e2d2 (115622) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @04:06PM (#31693418)

    He was referring to the climate model software written by CRU, I cou;dn't find an actual name for it but I did find the read me and along with it a great write up on why "open source science" would've helped avoid this scandal:

    http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/columns/open_science_climategate_ipcc_cru_needs_take_leaf_out_cerns_book [freesoftwaremagazine.com]
    http://www.anenglishmanscastle.com/HARRY_READ_ME.txt [anenglishmanscastle.com]
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/8395514.stm [bbc.co.uk]

  • Re:Very Strange (Score:3, Informative)

    by Thomas Miconi (85282) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @04:08PM (#31693456)

    If he did it the standard way, then he simply took the data and calculated the probability of obtaining the same trend, or a more extreme one, if there was no warming - i.e. if temperatures really did follow a random walk. That's called a p-value. He found that if you only consider the last 14 data points, a completely unbiased process would have a bit more than 5% probability of producing a similar (or more extreme) increase. Ergo, the trend is not significant "at the 95% level" (the professor misspoke a bit here, people would rather say "at the p=0.05 level", but presumably that's what he meant).

    Of course, the doubters understood this as "Phil Jones sez warming has stopped OMG!", when what he really said was that the observed data had a bit more than 5% chance of occuring if there was no warming. Tellingly, the more educated "skeptics", who could easily have corrected this misperception, did not.

  • Re:Very Strange (Score:2, Informative)

    by Cyberax (705495) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @04:27PM (#31693682)

    We also check how predictions of models compare with reality.

    So far, their predictions are correct.

  • Re:Show me the data (Score:3, Informative)

    by pastafazou (648001) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @04:56PM (#31693996)
    No, actually, they weren't, and still aren't. CRU has admitted they "lost" the original data set. And they refused to release data requested under FOI requests, finding numerous ways to skirt or deny the requests. Please don't refer anyone to realclimate as a source of legitimate info, as the emails reveal a close (too close) relationship between the operators of the site and the climate scientists centrally involved in the entire "climategate" affair.
  • Re:Very Strange (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cyberax (705495) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @05:21PM (#31694304)

    "That meant we had to account for things like planet-shine and Earth albedo in our thermal control designs so that we didn't bake our electronics."

    ? Several percent of difference is not going to fry your electronics, probably.

    "That is, show me a model where I can input a historical data set that terminates in 1900 and have it accurately predict, to a statistically significant degree, most of the climate happenings up through 2000."

    http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/wesley/reanalysis2/ [noaa.gov] - you're welcome. Of course, you'll need to provide real data on CO2 concentration. If you predict climate for 20-th century based on 19-th century's CO2 concentration you're going to fail miserably.

  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary&yahoo,com> on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @05:24PM (#31694340) Journal

    You are absolutely full of shit, and provide nothing to back up your outrageous statements of opinion. You are also, apparently, an idiot who does not understand basic scientific concepts most of us learned in eighth grade.

    Climate and weather are two different things. If you do not understand that basic concept, there is no hope in debating you. Climate says "if you put a pot of water on a lit burner, it will eventually boil." Weather says, "The next bubble to break the surface will occur in .6 seconds, at a location 2 inches from the center of the pan." It is impossible to predict weather more than a few days in advance (like it is impossible to predict where the next bubble in a boiling pot will break the surface) but it is easy to predict climate years or decades in advance (like predicting when a pot with a given amount of water in it will start to boil, given a flame of a certain intensity. We can do that exactly, even if we can't tell you exactly where the first bubble will pop.)

    Reality agrees with our climate models. Our models say 'warmer' and it has gotten steadily warmer.

    Let me ask you, is CO2 a greenhouse gas?

    How much CO2 do natural processes put into the atmosphere?

    How much has mankind put into the atmosphere?

    Given that we have put in X amount extra of a known greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, how can you deny that we have increased the temperature? If you want to deny global climate change, you must either deny that CO2 is a greenhouse gas (laughably easy to disprove you there), or that the amount of CO2 we have put into the atmosphere is minuscule in comparison to the natural amounts going in (also laughably easy to disprove.)

    So, smart boy, what's your explanation for the known facts?

  • by careysub (976506) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @05:49PM (#31694620)

    Nice attitude. Doesn't matter that freon was never a problem to the environment. Coincidentally the patents were due to expire, and it was claimed that chlorine was bad for the ozone layer. Doesn't matter at all that we pour gallons of chlorine into the water cycle through laundry bleach, swimming pools, and municipal water.

    ...

    It's a hard battle. We not only have to fight against greedy politicians and corporate monsters, we have to fight against gullible over-emotional assholes like you.

    Ignorance? Check!

    Rambling conspiracy theory? Check!

    Abusiveness? Check!

    This makes the Slashdot crank trifecta.

    If you knew the slightest thing about the problem with ozone destroying chemicals, of which the chlorinated freons were prime culprits, you would know that they were a problem because they were supremely stable in the lower atmosphere (pure chlorine not so at all), and were able to transport chlorine to the ozone layer (unlike natural chlorine compounds), whereupon UV light broke them down, released the chlorine, starting a chain reaction destroying the ozone.

    An ocean of pure chlorine at sea level would have zero effect on the ozone layer, because it can't get up there.

    Worldwide bans on the worst ozone depleting chemicals has halted growth of ozone depletion, after years of worsening, and signs of recovery are expected to become statistically detectable in the next several years.

    And, BTW, the patents on the harmful freons had expired many years before the ozone destruction discovery.

    This is very thoroughly established science.

    The parallel between the science-bashing with the "ozone controversy" (and the "acid rain controversy") and what we are seeing today with an industry-supported noise machine is really quite striking. Not only was the science thoroughly vindicated, but the solutions imposed - bans on the most destructive chemicals - and "cap and trade" (very much favored by "free marketers" at the time as harnessing the power of markets) for acid emissions, proved quite effective.

  • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @06:26PM (#31695034) Homepage

    I say bullshit! There's evidence that Mars is also warming. No man made CO2 there-- so what does that say?

    Absolutely nothing.

    It says Heightened-Solar-Activity.

    Solar activity is already taken into account. How stupid do you think scientists are?

    In the 70s the scientists all said we were going to be freezing our asses off at this point in time.

    They weren't, thats pretty much a modern myth.

  • by smaddox (928261) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @06:34PM (#31695144)

    The earth's magnetic field protects us from charged particle radiation, not from electromagnetic waves (which are 99.9999% the cause of solar heating). Thus, your entire theory was just shot down in 1 sentence.

    The greenhouse effect is indisputable; earth would be at least 20C colder without it. The drastic increase in carbon dioxide (a major greenhouse gas) over the past 150 years is indisputable. You could possibly dispute mans effect on the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but my guess is that it has been studied and verified already (I am not a climatologist). Thus, if man has an effect on the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, man has an effect on the greenhouse effect, which has a major effect on the global average temperature.

    If we could stop wasting our time trying to convince all the people incapable of logical thought, maybe we could use our ability to control the global average temperature to our advantage.

  • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @06:39PM (#31695210) Homepage

    And they could not. In fact, the issue of the tree rings not cooperating calls into question using tree-ring data AT ALL. If it's not an accurate 'treemometer' how can you base historical climate on it?

    The story goes something like this: Back in the good old days happy little trees got bigger rings when it was warm and smaller rings when it was cold, so tree ring data correlated quite nicely with temperatures and provided data for several hundreds of years. But then came men with its industrialization and polluted the air. Trees in turn didn't like the pollution and got sick, but a sick tree makes smaller rings and thus smaller rings no longer correlate with temperature data, thus making the tree ring data useless for temperature measurements. But scientists aren't stupid and actually figured that out and thus where able to clean up the wrong data and replacing it with good data.

  • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:55PM (#31695980) Journal
    "you need to classify carbon as "pollution" for your argument to make sense. And carbon is "pollution" only if it significantly contributes to global warming, so your argument has to assume its conclusion!"

    Here let me free you from that infinite loop - RF = 5.35*ln(c2/c1) - Fourier 1824.

    I'm assuming you call yourself a skeptic so let me give you a skeptical analysis of your argument. It's assuming every physicist since Fourier has been wrong about the properties of CO2, it's also denying some basic findings of modern science such a the QM of photon absorbtion and the science behind spectral analyis.

    In otherwords accepting your infinite loop argument leads to the same sort of irrational conclusions as accepting creationist "science" does. Some examples; everything we know about the composition of the cosmos via spectral analysis is wrong; radiation such as the suns rays don't cause atoms to jiggle (heat); atoms do not spontaneously lose energy by emmitting photons. There are many more implications of refusing to acknowledge the well known properties of CO2 but I'm sure a genuine skeptic will get the idea. You are a genuine skeptic, right?
  • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @08:45PM (#31696316) Journal

    Are you smoking crack? The global oil industry is worth orders of magnitude more than climate science. Exxon alone have an income around 300 billion dollars per year, and that's just one company among many. What's the value of anyone who'd benefit from misleading people the other way? Er... solar panel and wind turbine manufacturers? Compared to the oil industry they're nothing.

    Exxon has a net profit of about $40 billion a year, not $300 billion. They pay about $120 billion in taxes and fees on that. And in terms of dollars of subsidies for resulting power, solar and wind earn about 23 TIMES the subsidy dollars that "Big Oil" gets.

  • Re:Show me the data (Score:4, Informative)

    by Cyberax (705495) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @09:03PM (#31696410)

    "I look in the raw data section and low and behold, there is no raw data linked to for the stratosphere. Damn. Guess I'll have to settle for processed data."

    http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadat/hadat2.html [metoffice.com] - go crazy.

    Etc.

    Raw data is easily obtainable. But I'm not going to jump through hoops to find you every single dataset. There are so many datasets that it's impossible to put them on a single page.

    Several major datasets are cataloged here:
    http://iridl.ldeo.columbia.edu/ [columbia.edu]
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/data/gridded/ [noaa.gov]

    Also, learn to read dataset names. 9641C_201003_RAW.MAX contains raw unadjusted monthly data. I.e. they are not adjusted for urbanization effects and broken sensors. Since it's a MONTHLY measurement made of multiple daily measurements, they must be averaged, thus the word 'mean'.

    You can ask NOAA for daily datasets for all weather stations, but they are huge and are not necessary for climate projections.

    You can grab them directly from here:
    ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ushcn/v2/monthly/ [noaa.gov]

    It even has a nice README: ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ushcn/v2/monthly/readme.txt [noaa.gov]

    So stop being an idiot and jumping at everything without even trying to assume that not every climate scientist is an idiot.

  • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Thursday April 01, 2010 @01:58AM (#31698000) Journal
    So how do you explain that when you remove the effect of my simplistic calculation from the observed record the warming trend dissapears? Science is about the best explaination, from what I can tell you don't have an explaination. Scientists have spent decades looking for alternative forcings and have come up empty handed.

    Hint: El-nino is not a forcing it's large scale turbulance.Your rant about El-nino is similar to saying the convection currents are what is causing the water to warm when I put a pot on the stove but that's what you get when you take creationist style arguments to their logical conclusion.

    RF = 5.35*ln(C2/C1), or 3.71 W/M^2 for a doubling of CO2.
    T = (3/3.71)*5.35*ln(387.5/280) = 1.41 degC since pre industrial times. Almost half of which we have not seen yet due to the massive thermal inertia of the oceans. If we burry our heads in the sand it will only take another 40yrs to turn 387.5 into 480, I will leave the calculation of that temprature increase as an exercise for you.

    Sure without looking at the facts it's possible to say that the increase could be masked by -ve feedbacks but basic physics says the 1.4DegC MUST be accounted for. If you actually do look at the feedbacks and compare them to gelogic records you will find it's much more likey fedbacks will ADD to the warming rather than mask it. You can expect to observe this in the N Hemisphere over the next decade or so since the melting of the Artic sea ice is a large +ve feedback that is occuring well before the "alarmists" predicted it would. The only way I can see of avoiding it would be to hope China and India vastly increase (and sustain) their output of smog so that the -ve forcing of the smog will mask the increase from CO2.

    Some things really are quite simple to grasp when you take the time to understand them. AGW on a global scale is as simple as looking at the radiation striking the Earth and comparing it to what is re-radiated back out into space, when these are not in equiblirium due to increasing GHG absorbing IR radiation then the planet will heat up. When there is less radiation striking the Earth due to Milankovich cycles the Earth will cool down.

    The only advise I can give people like you is to stop being a usefull idiot [wikipedia.org] for vested interests [sourcewatch.org] and crack open a text book on the subject.
  • Re:Don't worry (Score:3, Informative)

    by hkmwbz (531650) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @03:49AM (#31698464) Journal
    No data was hidden. No scientific integrity was compromised. No peer-review was stifled. At worst, all they did was to decide not to put up with the same old bullshit from a specific group of denialists anymore. This group had a history of FUD, lies, flooding and Denial of Service attacks.
  • by jcupitt65 (68879) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @06:10AM (#31698968)

    Here's a very simple physics argument for AGW.

    Imagine a sphere the size of the earth at the earth's distance from the sun with the earth's albedo (average reflectance). What will the surface temperature be due to solar radiation? Do the maths and you get a temperature about 33C lower than that we observe on the earth's surface today. In other words, the earth's atmosphere acts as a blanket trapping heat and raising the temperature by about 33C: the greenhouse effect.

    What parts of the atmosphere are responsible for this 33C increase? By far the most important is water. As a gas and in clouds, it is responsible for up to about 90% of the effect. The remaining warming is caused by the so-called greenhouse gasses: CO2, Methane, O3, NO, etc.

    If you examine the absorption spectra of these gasses and weight by atmospheric concentration, you'll find about 40% is due to CO2. So 40% of 10% of 33C is around 1C of warming due to atmospheric CO2. Atmospheric CO2 has gone up by roughly 40% since the industrial revolution, so we would expect about a 0.5C rise in global temperatures due to human CO2 output. We know that the observed CO2 increase is due to fossil fuel burning thanks to the radioisotope ratios we can see in the atmosphere today.

    Of course that's a very, very crude back-of-the-napkin calculation, but the result is approximately in line with the IPCC reports.

    Here's another version of the same calculation (but a bit more complex), with full references and some maths you can download and try out yourself:

    [realclimate.org]http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/04/water-vapour-feedback-or-forcing [realclimate.org]

    This suggests that AGW is a plausible explanation for the temperature and atmospheric changes we are observing. But is it correct?

    If human CO2 output is not responsible for the observed temperature rise, we need to find two things: a strong cooling effect to counter the increase that we know rising CO2 must be causing, and a second strong warming effect to be behind the observed temperature rise. This sounds unlikely (and as yet no one has been able to make a convincing case for what these alternatives might be in 40+ years of research), therefore it is probable that the temperature increases we are seeing are largely caused by fossil fuel use.

    (I think I posted this before, but I can't find it in my comment search history now, ah well)

  • by TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @07:00AM (#31699184)
    Great. So how much smaller are the rings..based on what calibration? Or that fact that other things affect growing rates as well... these effects are calibrated how?

    Now climate models are dependent on pollution data estimates, and other calibrations... What are the errors in these? what are the errors once put through the simulation.

    The answer is not as clear cut as you think.

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