Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Canada The Courts The Media United Kingdom News Science

Climate Researchers Fight Back 641

Posted by Soulskill
from the best-defense-is-a-good-offense dept.
tomduck writes "The Guardian reports that climate researcher Andrew Weaver is suing the National Post newspaper in Canada in a libel action for publishing 'grossly irresponsible falsehoods.' The Post claimed he cherrypicked data to support his climate research, and tried to blame the 'evil fossil fuel' industry for break-ins at his office in 2008 to divert attention from mistakes in the 2007 IPCC report. This comes fast on the heels of another Guardian article describing lessons learned from the exoneration of UEA scientists involved in the so-called Climategate affair. Are climate scientists finally fighting back against their critics, who they were previously more inclined to ignore?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Climate Researchers Fight Back

Comments Filter:
  • For non-Canadians (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bullfish (858648) on Friday April 23, 2010 @04:14PM (#31960012)
    The National Post is Canada's newspaper equivalent to the US Fox TV news... We don't have an equivalent right-wing TV news. The Post has been bashing the notion of climate change (and other liberal facts they don't like) here for quite a while. I suspect this case won't really go anywhere, but it is interesting.
  • by mevets (322601) on Friday April 23, 2010 @04:21PM (#31960116)

    Said Canada's environment minister John Baird in 2006. He then proceeded to eviscerate all government funding for climate research.

  • Re:Ultimately (Score:5, Informative)

    by skids (119237) on Friday April 23, 2010 @04:33PM (#31960274) Homepage

    Good peer reviewed journal articles may determine the right from the wrong on the science.

    However, if you are an ordinary citizen, hack journalist, or politician, you don't read those. No, the headlines determine the "truth."

    Besides, there were allegations here that went beyond the meat of the science and into workplace ethics. If some rag says you sexually harassed your coworkers or embezzled money, and you didn't, you sue. That is what is happening here.

  • by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Friday April 23, 2010 @04:36PM (#31960308)

    Isn't this somewhat routine in libel cases?

  • That Old Tune? (Score:2, Informative)

    by e2d2 (115622) on Friday April 23, 2010 @04:44PM (#31960412)

    Anyone that's done a little research knows the scientists there really did some questionable stuff. They would also know that they've (CRU/IPCC) been taken to task by others in the scientific community for doing so. This suit is about bad journalism. But it does not change the facts about the shenanigans at the CRU.

  • by ryantmer (1748734) on Friday April 23, 2010 @04:48PM (#31960460) Homepage
    Not sure why this is modded Troll... Unfortunately, it's quite true. While not blatantly stupid as FOX News, the National Post does use its fair share of twisted facts. In addition, it's well-known as the more right-wing national newspaper in Canada (the Globe and Mail being more left wing), and would therefore be more inclined to present facts in a right-wing-friendly way. Got to love the "free" press.
  • by SiaFhir (686401) on Friday April 23, 2010 @04:56PM (#31960590)
    Let's not forget the National Post was created by Conrad Black. Nuff said.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:02PM (#31960674)

    I don't see the relevance... In climate data, that "suggests" global warming, and then the assumption that it is our doing.

    Either you're hopelessly biased or you don't understand science. Science is the process by which we hypothesize various things, then test to see which one has the most support, via a semi-formal method. Science never "proves" anything absolutely. It doesn't prove that gravity exists or how it works. It just very, very strongly suggests it.

    In order for a rational person to believe anthropogenic global warming is not happening they need to either reject science entirely or they need to have a competing theory with more support. You just hypothesized that the changing climate is the result of natural processes, but if you're being rational, you can't believe that until that theory has more scientific evidence than global warming being largely the result of human influence. That is simply not the consensus of the experimentation and modeling I've seen to date, by a huge margin.

    There is always room for an alternate model of global warming. Creating such a model and then creating falsifiable tests to see if it holds up has been a large endeavor among many very well funded scientists. The thing is, none of them have panned out or produced results that compare favorably to man-made global warming. For you to not accept that global warming is most likely strongly influenced by human actions you have to picking and choosing as to when you believe in the scientific method and when you don't.

  • Re:For non-Canadians (Score:4, Informative)

    by zz5555 (998945) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:10PM (#31960762)

    Most of the thousands of climate researchers are out of the public eye and, guess what? They get the same answers as the results from researchers in the public eye. The amazing thing is that you can throw away all the data that came from the climategate researchers and it doesn't change things at all. It's also amazing that there have been lots of people trying to refute the climate change theories over the last 100 or 150 years and they've never been successful. And after reading all those climategate they haven't been able to find any evidence of the researchers trying to skew the data.

    By the way, I know you changed your reference to IPCC later, but you're correct that the IPCC skewed the data that was presented. I know that at least in the data on the expected sea rise that they took more conservative values than are generally accepted, and then applied that a point before 2100 rather than take the rise all the way to 2100. They didn't want to be alarmist :).

  • Re:For non-Canadians (Score:3, Informative)

    by mevets (322601) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:12PM (#31960778)

    Nice try. Parry Sound didn't have electricity in the 80s, much less TV. I spent some time up north in those years, nothing but bikers, whores and hockey players. Staring stoned at your goldfish bowl is not TV, but is a bit more informative than Global.

  • Well, they're not going to say, "we lied", but news retractions are fairly common. A high profile case was CBS news retracting Dan Rather's statements. You can google [google.com] numerous other examples, large and small.
  • by chris mazuc (8017) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:32PM (#31961062)

    There was no way to prove if the data had been tampered with because the data was deleted. The only thing that was left was their "value added" data.

    You don't know what you're talking about [nytimes.com]

  • by zz5555 (998945) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:33PM (#31961088)

    Um, why don't you go to their website and download their data and models and do just that? Contrary to what you may have heard, they released all the data they were allowed to. There was data that was owned by various governments that it was illegal for them to release, but everything else was released. Sure, you won't understand it because you don't have the education, but when has that stopped you from commenting before? :)

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:43PM (#31961254) Journal

    If they're true, how are they libelous? The issue here is specific accusations which the person insists are fabrications and distortions intended to damage his reputation. If they're true, and the National Post can demonstrate it, then he doesn't have a leg to stand on. If they're false, then the National Post libeled him and needs to pay for that.

    If you throw some skeptic in my face and I turn up the fact that he's in the employ of a big energy company, or in the case of a few of the skeptics, are pretty much professional shills, then how is that libel?

    Take anyone associated with the Heartland Institute. It's a shill-for-hire organization. It's not libelous to point out that these guys started out being tobacco company shills, then turned to climate change skepticism.

  • by dmwst30 (463874) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:52PM (#31961382)

    One example can't be extended to all of 'em, logic fail. Please try again.

    Try climateaudit.org or http://bishophill.squarespace.com/ [squarespace.com] in general.

    Neither is in the pay of anyone, and have links to many, many more like themselves that are merely studying the science. This issue is big and important enough that it should be able to stand up in the full light of day.

    Or talk to Judith Curry, one of the few climate scientists that are willing to point out the flaws in the current process, e.g. here: http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/04/squeaky-clean.html?showComment=1271462868897#c1343322932444511542 [blogspot.com]

  • by schon (31600) on Friday April 23, 2010 @06:35PM (#31961908)

    Anyone who was alive during the 70s should see distinct similarities between this disinformation campaign and the once vehement claims that there was "no definitive link" between tobacco use and cancer.

    This isn't that surprising - the reason the similarities are so striking is because the oil companies are hiring the exact [wikipedia.org] same [sourcewatch.org] people [wikipedia.org] the tobacco industry used.

    I have to wonder though - wouldn't the oil companies know that their propaganda artists are the same ones who failed the tobacco lobby?

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday April 23, 2010 @06:36PM (#31961912)

    The biggest difficulty with this issue is that no "experimentation" has been performed, only modeling.

    Experiments don't have to be replicating a situation. For example, you can theorize that we'll find a mechanism by which genetic traits are passed on as an experiment to test the evolution of species. If one can show no such mechanism exists, the theory of the evolution of man is falsified. Making any prediction which would falsify a theory is an experiment. Whenever new data comes in the theory is supported or fails and has to be changed or support moves to a competing theory.

    This is the biggest difference between evolution and AGW; evolution has millions of final outcomes but AGW has zero.

    Not really. Much of the support for the evolution of man has been in the form of fossils we dig up and tests we perform on them. Likewise historical data we find about temperatures around the world from ice cores to tree rings. We have lots of data coming in that does fall in line with the predictions made and a small amount that is anomalous and requires further work on the theory.

  • Re:CRYSTAL BALL TIME (Score:2, Informative)

    by zz5555 (998945) on Friday April 23, 2010 @06:49PM (#31962056)

    As the article you linked to says, this has already been accounted for and it accounts for something less than 18% of the greenhouse effect. It's well known how effective each greenhouse gas is - that's just everyday physics and has been tested in labs and known for decades. CH4 is a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2, but there's much, much more CO2 in the atmosphere than CH4. So CO2 causes more warming than CH4. Now no one says that CH4 isn't a problem, it is. But CO2 is well known to be a bigger one.

  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday April 23, 2010 @07:08PM (#31962292)

    And, oh yes, the person at the center of the CRU meltdown, Phil Jones, now admits there has been NO GLOBAL WARMING FOR THE PAST 15 YEARS.

    Are you still on that? You might want to at least link to the actual interview where that quote is supposedly coming from, which is here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8511670.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    And here is the relevant quote in question:

    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.

    Quite a bit of a difference from what you and that ncpa article are claiming, isn't it? Like always, it pays to go to the source itself. Unless, of course, you have no interest in what's actually happening, and are merely interested in finding your present ideas confirmed.

  • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms@infa[ ]s.net ['mou' in gap]> on Friday April 23, 2010 @07:21PM (#31962424) Homepage

    And, oh yes, the person at the center of the CRU meltdown, Phil Jones, now admits there has been NO GLOBAL WARMING FOR THE PAST 15 YEARS.

    Which, when looking at a trend over 1,000 years, means diddlyshit. If you cherry-pick your start and end point in any data that moves up and down, you can find an increase, decrease, or whatever. (Did it not strike you that fifteen years is an odd length of time to pick?)

    "There's been no warming over the past three days of spring! Seasonal warming is a myth! In fact, today was cooler than yesterday! We must be headed into winter, not summer!"

    You might -- if you actually cared about the facts -- Google a little and see what Jones is actually saying [bbc.co.uk]:

    Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

    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.

    There are many reasons to doubt AGW as a legitimate climate change candidate. The shrillness of its proponents not being the least.

    The only "shrillness" I see is that of so-called "skeptics". Great Ghu, man, did you read the page to which you linked? Did you not notice your own SHOUTING IN ALL CAPS while misrepresenting Jones's position?

    Have you no sense of shame, sir? Or at least of irony?

  • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Friday April 23, 2010 @08:10PM (#31962894) Journal
    Here is the raw data [noaa.gov], now will you please stop linking tabloid hit pieces and repeating their propoganda?

    Note the raw data in the link has a few minor holes, this is due to the fact some national weather services (eg: France) will only release their data on condition you keep it private. If you intend to perform a reconstruction be aware the raw data is chock full of anaomolies such as undocumented station movements and typos. OTHOH Jones and his unit have spent the last couple of decades ferreting out and documenting these anomolies so you may want to consider using the more complete and more accurate HadCRUT data set [uea.ac.uk] or NASA's similarly painstakingly cleaned GISTemp [nasa.gov] data set.

    As you may or may not be aware historical temprature reconstructions are fairly insensitive to the holes and anomolies mentioned above, meaning that the raw data in the link is more than sufficient to reproduce any of the historical temprature reconstructions in the literature [google.com.au]. If this is still insuffitient to shake your faith in tabloid journalisim, you could try some of the other raw data [realclimate.org] and master [realclimate.org] repositiries.
  • Re:That Old Tune? (Score:3, Informative)

    by chrb (1083577) on Friday April 23, 2010 @08:21PM (#31963040)

    Anyone that's done a little research knows the scientists there really did some questionable stuff. They would also know that they've (CRU/IPCC) been taken to task by others in the scientific community for doing so.

    There was a small amount of criticism from the scientific community regarding small details, but the consensus was that the leaked emails did reveal a conspiracy, and did not alter any of the science. See: Nature [nature.com], Scientific American [scientificamerican.com] New Scientist [newscientist.com], the Royal Society [physicsworld.com].

  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday April 23, 2010 @08:35PM (#31963150)

    The Null Hypothesis is that what's happening is natural.

    Sigh. No. The Null hypothesis is that all the data that has been collected is the result of random processes and therefore indistinguishable from random noise.. Trying to make any other claim with any collected data needs theoretical and data support.

    I'm starting to understand why people can't get their head around the data that's been collected.

  • Re:For non-Canadians (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 23, 2010 @08:59PM (#31963336)

    Tell that to the dinosaurs. The "liberal" safety net didn't help them. In fact, the truth is that reality has a provable conservative bias

  • by hackiavelli (672464) on Friday April 23, 2010 @10:20PM (#31963834)

    "Sometimes scientific theories turn out wrong" is just as meaningless and empty a statement about global climate change as "sometimes scientific theories turn out to be right". I could say laypersons doubted heliocentrism, plate tectonics, and evolution too. Would that prove global warming is real?

    Certainly, your list of "scientific theories" is dubious at best. Flat earth and phrenology aren't scientific ideas by any standard and cold fusion and N-rays were discredited less than a year after they were publicized.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @12:49AM (#31964708)

    Unless, of course, you are a climate scientist who is employed by a big oil company

    The weird "thinktanks" and PR companies funded this way don't have any climate scientists and instead have odd failed journalist confidence tricksters such as Lord Monckton.
    Those oil funded climate scientists putting forward a contrary view that you say we should be listening to do not actually exist. You are pushing a fairy story.
    What all the deniers miss here is that if a climate scientist can prove it's all wrong they will have as much fame as Einstein - that's a pretty big incentive to prove it's wrong but no proof is forthcoming.

  • by riverat1 (1048260) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @01:33AM (#31964898)

    As I said above, the term "climate change" was an invention of Frank Luntz for the Bush administration, not something that climate scientists came up with. You can Google it.

  • Re:Ultimately (Score:2, Informative)

    by drewhk (1744562) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @04:24AM (#31965556)

    HERE IS YOUR FUCKING RAW DATA (because you are unvilling to search it for yourself -- and call yourself a skeptic...):

    ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ghcn/v2 [noaa.gov] [noaa.gov]
    ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ushcn/v2/monthly/ [noaa.gov] [noaa.gov]
    http://dss.ucar.edu/datasets/ds570.0/ [ucar.edu] [ucar.edu]
    http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/met/READER [antarctica.ac.uk] [antarctica.ac.uk]
    http://eca.knmi.nl/ [eca.knmi.nl] [eca.knmi.nl]
    http://www.zamg.ac.at/histalp/content/view/35/1 [zamg.ac.at] [zamg.ac.at]
    http://daac.gsfc.nasa.gov/atdd [nasa.gov] [nasa.gov]
    http://mirador.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/mirador/presentNavigation.pl?tree=project&project=SORCE [nasa.gov] [nasa.gov]
    http://amsu.cira.colostate.edu/ [colostate.edu] [colostate.edu]
    http://www.pol.ac.uk/ntslf/data.html [pol.ac.uk] [pol.ac.uk]
    http://www.geo.unizh.ch/wgms/dataexp.html [unizh.ch] [unizh.ch]
    http://www.marine.csiro.au/~ttchen/argo/gmap.htm [csiro.au] [csiro.au]
    http://icoads.noaa.gov/ [noaa.gov] [noaa.gov]

  • by Xyrus (755017) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @04:21PM (#31969086) Journal

    That's classic confirmation bias.

    No it isn't.

    If you have several proxy data sets that indicate warmer or cooler temperatures including the flora/fauna record and you have one that is out of sync, then in all probability that data set is suspect.

    Throwing out data when it doesn't match your preconceived notions (as evidence by data you collected previously) is cherry-picking.

    Oh yes, that is cherry picking. But that isn't what happened.

    The tree ring proxy data matched very well with all other proxy data sets UNTIL around the 1950's. At that point, the tree ring data started diverging significantly from the temperature record that WE as human beings were recording with THERMOMETERS. That is why the tree ring proxy data from that point forward was abandoned, because it did not accurately reflect the OBSERVED temperature record.

    If a proposed proxy doesn't match, it deserves further investigation.

    Indeed. In fact, it could be a lot more telling when a reliable proxy suddenly starts becoming unreliable. We have had significant impacts on our environment aside from CO2 so perhaps it's related.

    Furthermore, if a proposed proxy has a discontinuity (matching for a long time, then suddenly unmatching, like Briffa's tree-rings), you cannot just throw out the data from that series that you don't like - the whole series is suspect (and the fact that other proxies match it for historical periods may actually cast doubt on their accuracy).

    If there were only one other proxy, I would agree with you. If there no other findings or observations, I would agree with you. But that is not the case.

    In the case of tree rings, yes perhaps there was just a strong correlation with the other proxies by chance over the past thousands of years or so. Perhaps further research (which is ongoing) will show that tree rings really aren't that good and the whole set will be thrown out. But it is very unlikely that all the proxies are incorrect. That would be astounding for other reasons, and not many of them would be good ones.

    Even if, for the sake of argument, you threw out Briffa's work entirely. That still does not negate the thousands of other research papers, models, data sets, etc. that have nothing to do with tree rings.

    It's science. You may well be vindicated on further research. You may not. It may turn out that a skeptic will finally provide a model that shows adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere will not appreciably affect global temperatures. Maybe a brilliant climatologist will eventually show how the current warming trend can be easily explained by a coincidental matching of parameters and it ill go back to normal in 20 years. Maybe it will turn out that there really is a global Illuminati backed scheme that through climate scientists they are working to take over the world. Science, after all, is not perfect.

    However, until new research indicates otherwise (or less likely, irrefutable proof of a global conspiracy) I'm going to stick with the scientific consensus.

    ~X~

  • Re:What climagate ? (Score:3, Informative)

    by tgibbs (83782) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @09:55PM (#31970912)

    Quit focusing on "Fox News". The fact is, original data was destroyed, and the metadata has been manipulated.

    The actual fact is that the original data is still in the possession of the meteorological services that acquired it and own it. CRU never even had the original raw data, so they were never in a position to destroy it even if they wanted to. So who told you that CRU destroyed the data? Fox News maybe? Perhaps you should start getting your news from a more trustworthy source.

I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik

Working...