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Earth Science

Climategate's Final Days 872

Posted by kdawson
from the miami-vice-violated-no-research-norms dept.
The Bad Astronomer writes "Climategate may be on its way out. An investigatory committee at Pennsylvania State University has formally cleared climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann of any scientific misconduct. Mann was central in the so-called Climategate scandal, where illegally leaked emails were purported to indicate examples of scientists trying to cover up any lack of global warming in their data. This finding by the committee (PDF) is another in a series of independent investigations that have all concluded that no misconduct has occurred."
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Climategate's Final Days

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  • We All Wish (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Friday July 02, 2010 @11:52AM (#32774296) Journal
    Yeah Right

    Climategate's Final Days

    Bullshit. If you think this means it's over, you're not familiar with the debate.

    Immediately following Climategate Nature [nature.com] released an editorial saying no controversy found in the e-mails. That didn't seem to matter at all.

    The more respected global warming papers have been published and accepted in peer reviewed journals. Point out any global warming denialist papers that have done the same. I think the most you'll find are papers that suggest global change could result in positive things in some areas. I don't know of any saying that climate change is not happening.

    Your fundamental problem in arguing with a person who denies global warming is that they use erroneous logic. They find one uncertainty or minor flaw in a study and suddenly volumes of studies -- even those unrelated -- can be thrown out and dismissed. If it isn't in Mann's research, if it isn't in the East Anglian e-mails, it's somewhere else. You just have to face that logic and move on past them. Oh, and for future articles, Bad Astronomer, using cute otter lolcats to fire back at your opponents [discovermagazine.com] isn't exactly the hallmark of a logically sound debate. It's little more than an ad hominem attack.

    If you think this is the 'final days' of this mess, you are sadly mistaken. Not until first world countries find it hard to get by will the majority of them step up and realize it. The election of Virginia State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli shows you got a whole state who would like to sweep this inconvenience under the rug and want you to stop trying to hinder their economy with your "research and science."

    • Re:We All Wish (Score:4, Insightful)

      by norminator (784674) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:09PM (#32774644)

      Your fundamental problem in arguing with a person who denies global warming is that they use erroneous logic. They find one uncertainty or minor flaw in a study and suddenly volumes of studies -- even those unrelated -- can be thrown out and dismissed.

      Not to mention you have right-wing pundits who don't understand*** the science, the statistics, or the processes involved, and when something like "Climategate" comes along, they don't understand the context or what the "scandal" really is. Suddenly everyone is a scientist and they can all understand things they've never even been interested in studying before.

      And the sad thing is, people who believe everything these people say (like my mom and several of my neighbors), go out and forcefully repeat it all anytime something tangentially related comes up in a conversation.

      ***Most likely, they could understand, but they choose not so they can deny the facts and get away with it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Not to mention you have right-wing pundits who don't understand*** the science, the statistics, or the processes involved, and when something like "Climategate" comes along, they don't understand the context or what the "scandal" really is. Suddenly everyone is a scientist and they can all understand things they've never even been interested in studying before.

        Absolutely! Not only that but you have left-wing pundits who don't understand the science, the statistics, or the processes involved, and ... Sudd

    • Re:We All Wish (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:11PM (#32774678) Journal
      I'm guessing that this will end "climategate" about as well as further scientific research has managed to shut up the mercury-militia/autism-antivaxers.

      This is to say, not at all.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In other news, BP's internal investigation turned up no evidence that BP was in any way at fault for the Deep Horizon oil spill.

    • Re:We All Wish (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Joce640k (829181) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:20PM (#32774846) Homepage

      I'm sure the newspapers and TV stations will be all over it. The headlines tomorrow will be nothing but apologies for dragging him through the mud for months on end and how the climatologists are right after all.

    • Re:We All Wish (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fermion (181285) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:28PM (#32775006) Homepage Journal
      These 'debates' end basically when the people who are used to profiting off the old ways die, and new stakeholders have the opportunity to recast their position in a new light. For instance, cigarette smoking was known to cause cancer in the late 1800's. It was relatively well established by the 1950's. The only reason the debate went on another generation or two was to give the corporations time to restructure the business model. Now smoking is bad, and some people still choose to do it.

      Go further back to the way blood circulates in the heart. In 1533 Michael Servetus published a paper saying the heart pumped the blood, as opposed to previous western belief that blood flowed like the tides, which some religious people put mythical significance to, and made part of their superstitions. If blood was pumped, then it would in some way continue to assert the superiority of science in furthering the human quality of life. By the early to mid 1600's William Harvery showed that the heart pumped blood. Here is the interesting debate. In the very early years of the Common Era, many philosophers though that the heart had an active role in pumping blood, but if you read the history, it seems like there never any consensus prior to Harvey, and that the tide theory was a valid conjecture.

      The point is that as advance as we think we are, we are only a few hundred years out of the supertitious muck in which we tortured and drowned little girls to prove they were not witches. In which we would not wash our hands to save children. Some us may see it as 500 years since Galileo saved us from the myths, but in practical terms it has not been nearly that long.

    • Re:We All Wish (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy.gmail@com> on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:28PM (#32775016)

      They find one uncertainty or minor flaw in a study and suddenly volumes of studies -- even those unrelated -- can be thrown out and dismissed.

      Tellingly, the same tactic is used by Creationists to try and discredit Evolution.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Feyshtey (1523799)
      [quote]The more respected global warming papers have been published and accepted in peer reviewed journals. Point out any global warming denialist papers that have done the same.[/quote] That's a brilliant circle of logic.

      There aren't any peer-reviewed publications because those who control the publications wont publish dissenting opinion, and you can prove there's no validity to the dissenting opinion by pointing to the lack of peer-reviewed publications....
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ashridah (72567)

        Right. Which is why we can totally find references to researchers blocking climate change skeptics from publishing in all of those emails that got leaked, amirite?

        Oh, wait. I'm not? There's no reference to them blocking things at all in their personal emails? You'd think you'd at least find some reference to it, wouldn't you... UNLESS THE RELEASE OF THE EMAILS WAS A CONSPIRACY DESIGNED TO HIDE ANOTHER CONSPIRACY!
        [dun-dun-dun!!!!!!!!]

        Or, you know, you could grow the fuck up. The fame one would gain from publ

    • by Crazy Taco (1083423) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:36PM (#32775172)

      I think the most you'll find are papers that suggest global change could result in positive things in some areas. I don't know of any saying that climate change is not happening.

      That's because that's not what the debate is about. The Earth's climate is ALWAYS changing, as everyone well knows. Examining ice cores, fossils, geologic record, etc, prove that the Earth's climate is never steady and has always been changing. In fact, it has been both much warmer and much colder than today at various times in history.

      The people you bash as "deniers" are actually not denying climate change, but are instead debating the following points that you seem to be ignoring. They argue that:

      1. Climate change is happening, but the primary source of the change is not necessarily human activity. A common argument is that the sun is the main driver of the change.
      2. Climate change is happening, but it may not longer be global warming. In other words, a lot of temperature data shows that we have flat-lined or cooled since 1998, though industrial output increased, especially in China. Some worry that with the absence of sunspots, we may be looking at the beginning of a new Maunder minimum, which could lead to another mini-ice age. I think a lot of people, including politicians, are starting to notice this point, because if you look at the late 90's the debate was all about the crisis of global warming, but now they've suddenly changed the name to "climate change" instead.
      3. Climate change is happening, but considering that the climate has always changed, it is no reason to shutter our industries and destroy our economies. And it is also not a reason to give the government more control of our lives.

      So you are right that the debate isn't over, but not for the reasons you describe. The debate will continue because people like you don't understand what the debate is about (you seem to think it's about whether or not climate change is happening), and because people like you are making a crisis out of nothing. If man-made global warming is happening, is that a crisis? It may be, if it can be proven that human activity is truly the primary cause. But is climate change in and of itself a crisis? Given that it always changes back and forth, I would say definitely not. Should we shut down our economies and destroy our industry just because the climate is changing, just like it always has? Definitely not! It's just something life has to adapt to. But as long as people like you continue to stick their heads in the sand and scream that change that always happens is "a crisis", and as long as you refuse to see what the debate is actually about, then people like me will keep fighting to educate you.

      Main Point: We don't argue that climate change isn't happening, and if that's what you think the debate is about then you are completely wrong.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dangitman (862676)

        The people you bash as "deniers" are actually not denying climate change, but are instead debating the following points that you seem to be ignoring.

        This is incorrect. Plenty of them still actually flat-out deny climate change as a phenomenon. The points you cite amount to little more than hand-waving attempts to distract from the real issues, and have only come up when they were confronted with undeniable evidence that climate change is happening at a rapid rate.

        The deniers are deniers of reality. That they change their arguments on a whim is standard practice for disingenuous people with an agenda. They are fully deserving of the title.

      • by coaxial (28297) on Friday July 02, 2010 @03:08PM (#32777992) Homepage

        Main Point: We don't argue that climate change isn't happening, and if that's what you think the debate is about then you are completely wrong.

        It's interesting that you brought that up, given the history of the climate change "debate." Because until about 10 years ago, saying global warming doesn't exist was the position of the deniers. The position was that global temperatures were not increasing. Then the position was changed to admitting that that temperatures were increasing, but no faster than historical rates, even though it's clearly exponential growth. (i.e. the hockey stick, and yes, even the "new" "refined" hockey stick) Even earlier this year you had conservatives mocking global warming because of a blizzard [politico.com].

        You're the one that doesn't understand the history of your own position.

        As a historical parallel, I suggest you read up on cancer and the tobacco lobby. "Doctors smoke Camels," but the tobacco industry knew they caused cancer [youtube.com]in nineteen-fifty-fucking-three [usatoday.com] , yet they denied it for 45 years. Even recently before Congress, the CEOs of the tobacco industry declared under oath, I believe that nicotine is not addictive [youtube.com], even though the American Heart Association (you know, doctors), have said "nicotine addiction has historically been one of the hardest addictions to break."

        No you're being played, but you don't realize that, because you're too "intelligent" and "independent" to realize it.

    • Re:We All Wish (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pilgrim23 (716938) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:42PM (#32775314)
      The emails the emails everyone is all over the emails. Look at the data and the CLISTS he uses to manipulate it. I did. I saw loops that went out and nab a separate file and shoot the numbers from it into the middle of a generated graph to "smooth" it. and that was the LEAST suspicious thing I noticed. To this day I have seen little if any discussion of the data files and code contained in FOIA2009.zip Everyone is so into tattler TV that they read the nasty things people say (emails). What about what they...DO??
    • Re:We All Wish (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jim Robinson Jr. (853390) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:48PM (#32775444)

      As someone who is not in favor of the chicken-little approach to climate change, I would like to comment on this. I speak for no one but myself and would be happy to find errors in logic.

      We *know* through geological records that this planet has undergone many changes in climate, including ice, flood, fire, drought, etc. Scientists *think* - based on the limited evidence available - that greenhouse gasses are the culprit. This time. Scientists also *know* that mankind, through industry and machinery, produces greenhouse gasses. Therefore mankind must be the cause. It's been a long time since I took logic, but as I see this as a questionable conclusion at best.

      Assuming the information I have read is correct, greenhouse gasses are caused by nature far more than man. I can't find the reference, but recall a study published last year that showed the bovine population - both dairy and meat - producing more greenhouse gasses than all of mankind. So... do we eat less beef and drink less milk?

      I believe that we have a responsibility to be good stewards of our environment, and as such should take reasonable precautions to protect our planet. However, let's not confuse that with the 'sky is falling' mantra. It may very well be, but when we speak in a geological time frame even as short as man's sojourn on this planet... there is simply insufficient evidence to be certain. That does not absolve us from responsibility as stewards, but it should temper our responses.

      My conclusions:

      1. Anyone who claims that the climate is not changing is lying to themselves.
      2. Anyone who claims that they can prove WHY the climate is changing is lying to the rest of us.
      3. Anyone who claims to have a solution is trying to sell you snake oil.

      Regarding the OP, I sincerely hope that this issue isn't over. This is a debate that should continue.

      Cheers

  • by Nimey (114278) on Friday July 02, 2010 @11:55AM (#32774340) Homepage Journal

    One can never satisfy a conspiracy theorist.

    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:03PM (#32774508) Journal

      Actually, you CAN, but it's something they are trying to cover up.

  • Uh... no issues? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:01PM (#32774464)
    I seem to recall that
    1.there were emails clearly indicating that they were politically involved, ie they'd exagerate to scare people. Hardly a scientific attitude
    2.there was some pretty perverted data analysis to get to "expected results"

    There's no denying there are climate changes going around. But
    1.calling it man-made is complete speculation at the current point(yes it is, there's correlation at best, no proof of causality)
    2.calling it warming is kind of fucked up since it's warming in some places, and cooling in others
    3.no proof either that anything we do can change anything about it.


    Oh and there is a non negligible part of the climate scientific community that *disagrees* with how things are being presented.
  • Climategate? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mr.Fork (633378) <edward DOT j DOT reddy AT gmail DOT com> on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:01PM (#32774476) Journal
    How about they study pollution and find a way to stop the billions of tonnes of garbage that still get dumped into our landfills and seas every year? Won't pollution and deforestation will kill and harm us a whole lot more than a few simple degree changes in our atmosphere?

    I'm sorry, but isn't getting sick with dieases like cancer from a contaminated environment deserving more funding for research than climate research? Why are they getting all that attention and research dollars? Are we being played into fools to keep on looking up at the sky at the weather instead of the ground we're standing on and the quality of air we breath?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by linumax (910946)
      Because we have too few researchers and can only focus on one area at a time?!
  • by ojintoad (1310811) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:02PM (#32774484)

    Nor will it stop the deniers at large. Expect the comments below to be filled with changing goalposts, poisoning of the well (something along the lines of "scientists shouldn’t be investigating scientists", even though what they were investigating was Dr. Mann’s scientific conduct), distractions, diversions, and just general noise — anything to bury the cold fact that the scientists involved with modeling global warming did not cheat, did not fake any data, and the bigger issue that climate change is real.

  • by maillemaker (924053) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:03PM (#32774514)

    As far as the lay public is concerned, the damage has already been done. They were already convinced that these were a bunch of self-serving interests promoting their cause, and the leaked emails affirmed it for them.

  • by Necron69 (35644) <jscott.farrow@NOSPam.gmail.com> on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:06PM (#32774580)

    You article author says this about himself:

    "Since Day 1 of this I have been calling it a non-event, a manufactured controversy by global warming denialists trying to make enough noise to drown out any real talk on this topic. "

    Hardly an unbiased observer. I, for one, really hope that there isn't anything to 'ClimateGate' but if you've read anything about it at all, you know that the problem wasn't the emails, but in the leaked data sets and source code. The emails show typical petty human behaviour. The data and source code suggest the possibility of cherry picking of data, and mathematical modeling to reach a predetermined conclusion. That is what worries me, but I admit I don't have the expertise to make a determination on my own.

    Sunshine and openness is only way to ever end this debate over global warming. All research, results, and data sets should be publicly available. Is that really too much to ask?

    Necron69

    • by amiga3D (567632) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:23PM (#32774922)
      Yes...openess will always allow dissent and that is not allowed. I believe that the earth is warming and also that man has contributed to the warming trend. Having said that I find the nutiness on the side of climate change to be as bad as that against. I find it strange that the "enlightened" believers in science can see the ridiculous behavior on the side of the deniers and ignore that same kind of behavior in their own camp. I've heard some of the most ridiculous claims by climate change advocates about how we're all going to be dead in a decade or two, how we'll see the oceans rise to cover almost all the land masses and other extreme nonsense. Yes the earth is warming, yes we should try to alter how we do things to reduce our contribution to the warming, No we don't have to destroy our entire way of life to do it. It's not the facts I reject, it's the extremism that says I have to give up my quality of life or we'll all die.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by IflyRC (956454)
      Apparently there is plenty of openness with Al Gore's zipper.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by uncadonna (85026)
      The "leaked source code" was a one-off diagnostic hack [blogspot.com]. Try not to make a federal case out of that, OK? How would you feel if a quick diagnostic hack of yours was posted on the internet as evidence of the criminal intentions of your organization?

      (Of course, I am assuming that you DO write code and that your organization ISN'T criminal. Otherwise disregard this.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Myopic (18616)

      Actually that's exactly what the leaked data and source code do not show. That's why all these investigations have found no wrongdoing. In science, cherrypicking or fabricating data is wrongdoing, whereas merely being a couple degrees shy of completely transparent is imperfect but forgivable.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:08PM (#32774618)

    News at 11.

    Hardly an independent panel. And really, they did say he was incorrect to not have real statisticians working on the results - which invalidates much of the published work.

    You can say he was cleared, but that's only of purposeful intent to mislead - what the report is basically dancing around is that he misled through poor application of scientific principals. And isn't that what really matters here, that the scientific method is carefully applied instead of fitting data to a pre-concieved conclusion?

    • by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:19PM (#32774822) Homepage

      Universities regularly find faculty guilty of various forms of misconduct. Check out the Ward Churchill case, for example. Or any number of the recent data falsification scandals in Physics.

      It's in the university's best interests to appear to support honest investigators. Not doing so reduces applications, donations, and ability to land grants.

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:08PM (#32774626)

    The VA State Attorney General still has his own investigation (which TFA mentions) which is supposed to root out Mann's monetary fraud when he was at UVa. Yet this is the same AG who claims his own anti-Healthcare lawsuit [timesdispatch.com] against the Federal government won't cost the state more than the $350 filing fee. Somehow I don't think that he gets the irony of this situation.

    And yes I do realize that this comment is more fitting for Craigslist than /.

  • by 2muchcoffeeman (573484) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:09PM (#32774640) Journal

    The story in The Sunday Times of London that kicked all this off has been fully retracted [newsweek.com] with several uses of the phrase "We apologise." The German newspaper that reported that the IPCC erred in its assessment of climate impact in Africa also retracted that story [wissenslogs.de].
     
    Speaking as a journalist, the most damning phrase I see in The Times' retraction is this one (boldfaced emphasis mine):

    A version of our article that had been checked with Dr Lewis underwent significant late editing and so did not give a fair or accurate account of his views on these points. We apologise for this.

    So what really happened there? It sounds suspiciously like somebody high up at The Times or News Corporation didn't like the point of view presented and changed it to fit his or her own worldview, facts be damned.

  • lol wut? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BobMcD (601576) on Friday July 02, 2010 @02:06PM (#32776868)

    From the PDF...

    On and about November 22, 2009, The Pennsylvania State University began to receive
    numerous communications (emails, phone calls and letters) accusing Dr. Michael E,
    Mann of having engaged in acts, beginning in approximately 1998, that included
    manipulating data, destroying records and colluding to hamper the progress of scientific
    discourse around the issue of anthropogenic global warming, These accusations were
    based on perceptions of the content of the emails stolen from a server at the Climatic
    Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in Great Britain as widely reported,

    Given the sheer volume of the communications to Penn State, the similarity of their
    content and the variety of sources, which included University alumni, federal and state
    politicians, and others, many of whom had had no relationship with Pel1l1 State, Dr. Eva J.
    Pell, then Senior Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School, was
    asked to examine the matter. The reason for having Dr. Pell examine the matter was that
    the accusations, when placed in an academic context, could be construed as allegations of
    research misconduct, which would constitute a violation of Penn State policy,

    Scientific hijinks!?!?! Somebody get me Penn State on the phone, NOW!!

    You'd think they might have mentioned that he worked there. But maybe that only amuses me...

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