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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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:35PM (#31691928)

    The appalling quality of the software used to model the situation (not flagging errors, but carrying on regardless) makes any conclusion pretty much worth less than the paper on which it is written

    • Not just that... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Moryath (553296) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @04:51PM (#31693190)

      said the lawmakers had been in a rush to publish

      No kidding. A political body doing an "investigation" like this? The phrase "the fix is in" seems to apply here - if you are honest, you have to admit the conclusion was pretty much decided before any "investigation" by the body was done, regardless of whether you trust current climate science or not.

      • by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @08:35PM (#31695828)

        if you are honest, you have to admit your conclusion was pretty much decided before any "investigation" by the body was done,

        There, fixed that for you.

        Just because an investigation disagrees with your bias does not make the results null and void. In Westminsterian governments (Australia, UK, Canada) whilst political bodies (the parliament, senate or House of Commons) can order investigations they do not conduct them, the investigation is handed over to actual investigators like judges, lawyers and police (oh crap, these are government employee's too, thankfully I'm not a paranoid nutbag). Pollies have to accept the outcome of the investigation, not change them to whatever is more politically convenient, this may be a strange phenomena to you but it's quite a good thing(TM).

        If you bothered to read any information on the story you would have found out whilst no foul play was found, the commission slammed Jones and the University for it's hap hazard approach.

  • by XanC (644172) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:36PM (#31691946)

    Well if the House of Commons can't find it, it doesn't exist!

    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @04:03PM (#31692426) Journal

      Well if the House of Commons can't find it, it doesn't exist!

      "Lawmakers stressed that their report -- which was written after only a single day of oral testimony -- did not cover all the issues and would not be as in-depth as the two other inquiries into the e-mail scandal that are still pending."

      But still, the original hysteria and fingerpointing was based on a few e-mails out of 1,000+ distributed by an anonymous source. The lack of context, coupled with the public's general ignorance about science, provides a ready made tempest in a teapot.

      Let me put it another way: how many different investigations (and from whom) would be required to convince the doubters?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pluther (647209)

        The issue has become too much of a religion for the doubters to ever be convinced. (In many ways it has become intertwined with actual religion, as the Christian Right has taken up the banner to cease being good stewards of the Earth.)

        Even if the next two investigations by the House of Commons find nothing, all it will prove to most people who currently deny global warming is that the House of Commons can't be trusted to objectively evaluate the evidence. Just like the United Nations.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Spykk (823586)
          I wonder how you would react if the House of Commons were to say that the e-mails are undeniable proof that global warming is a scam. Would you suddenly change positions? Or would you write them off just like the people on the other side of the debate will.

          Both sides of this debate stopped caring about the facts a long time ago. Neither side will be convinced no matter what evidence is presented.
          • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @06:44PM (#31694546)

            To me the strong proponents of AWG seem more like religious nuts than those against it. It seems to have become their religion. What I mean is that they do not tolerate dissent, you are expected to believe everything they say AND all the policy they claim needs to be done because of that. Questioning, dissent, isn't tolerated. You are shouted down, called names, etc. It is their way or no way.

            To me, that seems very much like a hardcore religion, not how science is done.

            Now that isn't to say there aren't nuts on the other side. However to me it seems the far higher number of nuts are on the AGW side and they act far more zealous because it has become their religion.

            In particular I notice this in the demonization of the people who believe AGW is real, but dismiss the policies they propose. They aren't disagreeing with the premise of human caused warming, they are just saying that the proposed solutions either won't work, or are not worth the cost. For this they are hated even more than those that simply reject the theory overall.

            That does not to me look like a view informed by rational thought, it looks like a religious dogma, where all must be taken as truth or you are branded a heretic.

      • by GooberToo (74388) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @04:42PM (#31693060)

        I fall into an odd category. I believe GW exists. I don't believe there is evidence which supports man is the sole cause. Personally, I'm extremely perplexed by those who don't believe in GW, but I digress. According to the people who actually develop advanced climate computer simulations, their own models are flawed and still need lots of continued research, development, and new data. Every year, as new data comes out, they are forced to further adjust their entire models; which seemingly don't even correlate over decades, let alone centuries.

        Not the least of which, and extremely interesting to me, science has proved magnetic pole reversal is a real phenomenon here on Earth. More recent research, which was until fairly recently unknown, indicates as the poles continue to migrate away from their axial locations, the Earth's magnetosphere will continue to weaken. This is a historical fact that such things have repeatedly happened in the past. As the magnetosphere weakens, much more radiation reaches the Earth's surface. While its known it poses a risk to both life and artificial satellites, I've not heard of any research which attempts to correlate huge increases of radiation and significantly weakened magnetosphere protection with climate research. Oddly enough, I have repeatedly heard astrophysicists who claim only minor solar output changes can drastically affect climate change. In this case, seemingly, solar output need not change since the levels received are increasing because of a naturally occurring decrease in Earth's protection.

        Since the weakening of the magnetosphere and its inverse increase of radiation seems to mirror that of climate change, to which man is attributed, it seems to shout loudly that those who claim man is behind GW, are woefully ignorant. Especially since I'm not aware of any such research. And ultimately, that's the real problem. The more we learn, the more we learn we don't know or understand. We are constantly finding significant and new, first order variables which drive our climate. And yet while we know we don't understand how lots of lots of things work which directly drive our climate, people are more than willing to shout from the rooftop the sky is falling when in fact, we know we don't really know. Lastly, for every new first order variable discovered, all previous climate models are completely invalidated. And while we know for a fact the models have been completely invalidates at least three times, I've not heard any mumblings of such from the very people who directly benefit from continued grants.

        To me, this stinks to high heaven of some seriously bad pseudo-science. And not surprisingly, we're hearing more and more of exactly that. So while I'm not saying man isn't behind GW, I'm saying anyone who attempts to authoritatively state man is behind it, likely is up for more grant money; or ignorantly parroting accordingly. For all I know, man may be behind, but the science doesn't really provide that answer; at least not yet. To date, all research seems to indicate, we really don't have a fucking clue.

        • by smaddox (928261) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:34PM (#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 Zondar (32904) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:37PM (#31691960)

    Well, that's enough for me. I'm convinced!

  • Very Strange (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:37PM (#31691976)

    That is strange.

    Phil Jones admitted it.

    • Re:Very Strange (Score:5, Informative)

      by IICV (652597) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @04:00PM (#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.

      • Re:Very Strange (Score:5, Insightful)

        by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @04:38PM (#31693010) Journal
        I'll tell you my problem with the science behind global warming.

        Usually when I want to understand something in a science field that I am not an expert in, I can ask a real expert to explain it. For example, I might ask, "how do we know dark matter exists?" I am not an astrophysicist, and don't know all the details, but they can explain it. If I want to understand something at a deeper level, say, "how does lensing work?" they can explain it deeper. The more I dig, the more obvious the answer becomes. In some fields, the answer is, "we think X because Y, but we don't know yet."

        Global Warming on the other hand is being sold as something that "we must fix now, or disaster will occur!" So you start digging deeper, and ask, "what disaster? will oceans rise dramatically?" and the answer is, well, not really. Are glaciers going to melt and ruin the water-sources in India? Well, upon further investigation, no. Are global rain patterns going to change? Well, people are willing to predict, but if you dig deeper you find that no one actually has a clue.

        So then you go to what we do know, that temperatures have risen .12C a decade and ask, how much of that is due to CO2. If you dig into, for example, the IPCC report, you get the answer is that most of it is probably caused by CO2 (and other GHG). OK, fair enough, how do we know? Dig deeper into the IPCC report and it's based on climate models. OK, and how do we know the climate models are reliable? The answer is we don't, and if you keep digging, you will find that they aren't.

        So now we have this system, where there are massive unknowns, and people are preaching it like it's gospel truth. And then when you get to that point, people start using the same argument that they use to show God exists, "What if we do nothing and we are wrong?" [wikipedia.org]. That is not science, that is insanity.

        I am in favor of developing alternative energy sources, and if electric cars are like the Tesla, I really want one. But let's be sane about it. All this focus on CO2 is distracting from real problems [wikipedia.org] in places like India where they actually have sulphur in the air, which is 100% known to cause problems; it's not just some theoretical issue. Let's focus on real problems, and deal with global warming when we know what the actual problem is.
  • by feepness (543479) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:39PM (#31691994) Homepage
    Exxon-Mobil finds no evidence of danger in fossil fuel use.
  • Show me the data (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ATestR (1060586) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:43PM (#31692064) Homepage

    The problem with the whole Global Warming panic was not that these scientists were distorting the data. The real issue was that they didn't allow public scrutiny of the information. If another group of scientists can't reproduce these results, that the results are not science. Let other climate scientists have the raw data, and we'll see what they say. If you can get a whole bunch of people reproduce the same conclusion, then the study can be taken as credible. Until then, I reserve judgement.

    • Re:Show me the data (Score:5, Informative)

      by CogDissident (951207) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:52PM (#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.
      • by Rockoon (1252108) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @04:05PM (#31692466)
        I want the data actually used.. which means the data post-adjustment (because thats what climate scientists use) .. and then I want those adjustments explained and justified in detail, and the adjustments verified.. which means also having the data pre-adjustment.

        Until I have that, I cannot verify jack shit.
      • You mean this data? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Decide for yourself!
        http://www.heartland.org/books/PDFs/SurfaceStations.pdf [heartland.org]

        Major report by Anthony Watts on junk surface stations
        "Executive Summary: Global warming is one of the most serious issues of our times. Some experts claim the rise in temperature during the past century was "unprecedented" and proof that immediate action to reduce human greenhouse gas emissions must begin. Other experts say the warming was very modest and the case for action has yet to be made.

        The reliability of data used to documen

  • quid pro quo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:43PM (#31692066) Journal

    I heard about this yesterday and it seems like a deal was struck. Phil Jones steps down, and the house of commons declines to charge him. We'll never know, of course.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by EnglishTim (9662)

      That makes no sense. The House of Commons wouldn't get to charge him anyway. It's not a court; it's a legislative body.

  • by dfenstrate (202098) <dfenstrate@gm a i l .com> on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:44PM (#31692084)

    Global warming is used as a justification to tax (carbon taxes) and control (cap and trade, various environmental regulations.).

    There's nothing a government body wants more than money and control. Ergo, it's in the interests of the House of Commons to say 'yep, everything's legit here, and because it is, we're taking more of your money and restricting your lives & business even more. Gotta save the earth, ya know. It's for your own good.'

    (The astute reader can guess my position on the matter of anthropogenic global warming, but the above statement is independent of the scientific truth of the matter.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Is is accurate to say driving a car is used as a justification to tax (road maintenance) and control (traffic laws, requirement to own insurance)?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        and identify through licensing.

        It's wonderful, all these little back doors the powerseekers keep finding.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:48PM (#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.

  • What Bravery! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Maltheus (248271) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @04:37PM (#31693002)

    Wow, the government supports something that means more revenue for itself and more derivative trading schemes for their banker buddies? I would have expected the investigation to go the other way.

    I feel sorry for true AGW believers. If they're right, western governments and the IPCC sure seem to be doing their best to fuck it up lately. AGW may in fact be true, but it just looks like such a con job at this point that I can never be for upturning the economy over it. And of course, I'll take global warming over an (overdue) ice age any day, so I wouldn't recognize the urgency, even if it were true.

    Why not go back to fighting good old fashioned pollution? That's something everyone can get on board with. What about the disappearing honey bee and genetically modified foods? There are all sorts of environmental problems out there that have been ignored in favor of this (seemingly) manufactured issue.

  • by mschuyler (197441) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @05:15PM (#31693536) Homepage Journal

    I'm one of those people who downloaded the 40MB foia.zip file. I've read the emails. I've read the HARRYREADME file, and I've looked at the code examples. I get the impression from reading the comments here that most people have not actually done that. Oh, they'll say "The data proves" but they haven't actually LOOKED at the data. I would have thought that slashdot readers, being the objective technically-minded people they say they are, would have wanted to tear into that code and take a look.

    What you will find is really fascinating. It's not very good. Climate scientists, on the whole, aren't really very good programmers; and they are not good statisticians. Why should they be? You can't be expert in everything. So you have a situation where Michael Mann, for example, rather than use the statistical manipulation suite "R" instead used Fortran, sometimes. When you read through poor "Harry's" lament you find a kind of frustration only a programmer could feel. Missing data, bad data, programs that throw an error, don't tell you, and keep on going. Missing data sets for entire countries.

    Now, the essence of science is replicability, correct? If you're going to claim 'cold fusion' you publish your data and your methods and other scientists attempt to replicate your findings, or not. But the climate gate folks have steadfastly refused to release their methods, including their computer code, and the data they did release was not the data they used in their publications. Further, they 'lost' some data altogether.

    Let us turn to the most famous of the emails: "I've just used Mike's Nature trick to hide the decline." Jones says he used the word "trick" to mean a "clever thing to do." Let's look at his "cleverness." What he actually did is meld together the historical record, based on proxies like tree rings, and the more recent instrumental record. On the surface that looks like an okay thing to do, but why did he do it?

    The reason is that the tree ring data showed a warming since the early 1800's, and the instruments showed a warming since 1960 or so. Meld them together and you get warming! Global Warmimng! Yay! But why take out the tree ring data? Did it not continue and show warming into the nineties along with the instruments, thus verifying what these guys were saying?

    No, it did not, thus you have the problem of "divergence" which is a fancy way of saying the tree ring data wasn't cooperating and showed COOLING since 1960! Well, these Climategate guys decided it 'must be something else' so rather than include the tree ring signal, they CUT IT OFF to HIDE THE DECLINE it showed. Thus an 'inconvenient truth' was 'disappeared' in favor of not 'confusing' the issue. They were afraid that if they showed just this one tree-ring line in their spaghetti chart declining, they'd have to explain it.

    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? This is but one example of dozens and dozens of manipulations done by the Hockey Team as they attempt to salvage their careers and grants. It is simply not true that 'thousands of scientists' have replicated Global Warming. They have not. They have all used the same corrupted data sets in their calculations.

    The Himalayan glaciers are not disappearing. The rain foretss are not turning into grasslands. African crops are not failing. Arctic ice is normal in every respect. There were 2500 polar bears a couple of decades ago and now there are 15,000. The Antarctic has record ice. The Netherlands is not 50% below sea level and the sea levels are not rising any faster than they have since 1800. Hurricanes are not more frequent, nor are tornados. Forty years ago there were 6,000 surface-temperature measuring stations, but only 1,500 by 1990, which coincides with what global warming alarmists say was a record temperature increase. Most of the deleted stations were in colder regions. Geologists for Space

    • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:39PM (#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.

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