Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Earth News Science

Scientists Cleared of Misusing Global Warming Data 541

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-that-skeptics-care dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "The NY Times reports that an inquiry by the Commerce Department's inspector general has found no evidence that NOAA scientists manipulated climate data (reg. may be required) to buttress evidence in support of global warming after climate change skeptics contended that e-mail messages between climate scientists that were stolen and circulated on the Internet in late 2009 showed that scientists were manipulating or withholding information to advance the theory that the earth is warming as a result of human activity. 'None of the investigations have found any evidence to question the ethics of our scientists or raise doubts about NOAA's understanding of climate change science,' says Mary Glackin, the agency's deputy undersecretary for operations. The inquiry, requested last May by Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, who has challenged the science underlying human-induced climate change, comes at a critical moment for NOAA, as some newly empowered Republican House members seek to rein in the EPA's plans to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, often contending that the science underpinning global warming is flawed. Inhofe says the report (PDF) was far from a clean bill of health for the agency, and that contrary to its executive summary, showed that the scientists 'engaged in data manipulation.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Scientists Cleared of Misusing Global Warming Data

Comments Filter:
  • Help me out here (Score:3, Insightful)

    by metrix007 (200091) on Friday February 25, 2011 @09:51AM (#35311376)
    Is there enough statistically significant clear, objective data that is available to be verified that indicates anything with any amount of confidence?
  • by zoomshorts (137587) on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:08AM (#35311496)

    Says it all, people more interested in business and money, over facts, no matter how distasteful.
    Fox guarding the hen house? You bet.

  • by ballpoint (192660) on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:10AM (#35311504)

    Last time I checked the atmosphere is not poisonous to humans :)

    And even if we were to burn all obtainable carbon at once, the CO2 concentration would still be several times below poisonous levels.

  • by Interoperable (1651953) on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:10AM (#35311514)
    The discrepancy doesn't appear to pertain to any climate data or research. Kind of seems like grasping at straws if you want to refute the academic credibility of the entire field (or for that matter, even that one researcher).
  • Re:It's amusing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:13AM (#35311560)

    Human beings generally get angry when you accuse them of being involved in a massive global conspiracy to defraud with no evidence.

    Climate skeptics don't ask honest questions, they use questions to imply wrong doing.

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:15AM (#35311580)

    That depends on whether you're willing to invoke the True Scotsman fallacy. For sufficiently narrow confidence intervals, there is no valid data for anything.

  • Re:It's amusing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jo_ham (604554) <joham999&gmail,com> on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:15AM (#35311590)

    They're not just asking questions though, they're saying things like "global warming is clearly a scam and politically motivated because look at all the snow we've had this year!"

    Science doesn't mind (in fact, it thrives on) genuine critical appraisal of the work being done - it's how we learn and understand and develop more accurate theories.

    What it doesn't support is the supposed "equal rebuttal" techniques used by the media and those with an agenda - you can say "I don't agree" if you like, but you had better have some supporting reason for that, and the distorted "facts" and data used (often not even any data, just opinion and 'common sense') used by those trying to discredit climate change really doesn't stand up to any scrutiny, and people get tired of being faced with "all your science is wrong because of ($easily_discredited_propaganda_talking_point)"

    The trouble is, a lot of the population are easily convinced by ($easily_discredited_propaganda_talking_point), because soundbites and well-funded media talking heads and purchased senators are easier to understand than the often complex science, and the less-than-media-savvy scientists working in the field.

  • by RogerWilco (99615) on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:23AM (#35311676) Homepage Journal

    I'm no climate scientist, but as I understand it, there is a lot of data that is showing the climate changing. As I understand well above the 95% confidence level.

    The real issue is how much of that is man made. There it's more of an indirect relation, in the sense that the climate has been heating up at a rate that seems to be higher then ever before, since we started putting greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere in large quantities. There are also clues that there is a cause and effect relationship between the two, but as I understand that's less clear.

    The actual climate change can be measured. The increase in greenhouse gasses can be measured. The link between them is a theory dependant on our imperfect understanding and ability to model the climate of the entire world. But there are many other influences as well, like solar cycles, volcanism besides the man made greenhouse emission.

    In the end it boils down to if you want to find out if the theory is correct by waiting to see it happen, or if you dislike the future the theory predicts so much that you want to act now in the hope that if the theory is correct, the worst case scenarios can be avoided.

    A pure experimental scientist would do nothing and see if his theory is right. But some of those guys also use themselves as a guinea pig to test how much G-forces the human body can withstand (John Stapp).
    Sometimes it's not pleasant to see your predictions come true and you might want to try and avoid being able to prove your theory.

  • by Draek (916851) on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:24AM (#35311682)

    Pity the same doesn't apply to all the *other* chemicals oil burning puts in the air, though.

    Global Warming has almost been a Godsend to the oil-abusing crowd, as its focused the media's attention on the least harmful side-effect of using their beloved product. Who cares if the world's vegetation is dying in a rain of sulfur? there's not enough data to ascertain the world is getting warmer (and as long as they continue pushing government investigations on anyone that has some, there'll never be), so continuing to burn oil should be perfectly OK.

  • Re:Political show (Score:5, Insightful)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:42AM (#35311876) Homepage Journal

    Are you actually claiming that if his administration were to uncover fraud in climate science that he'd lose the vote of unions, trial lawyers, gay rights supporters, and civil libertarians? He'd lose the vote of just the few people for whom climate change is the biggest issue.

    And if his agenda were based on fraud that his administration uncovered, he'd simply change his agenda. It's not an embarrassment if his assessments were based on a fraud that he himself uncovered.

    I can not find any conflict of interest here. I think you're looking too hard for one.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:46AM (#35311912) Homepage

    We'll agree that correlation != causation. And we can also agree that if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, craps like a duck, it's likely to be a duck.

    Or you learn the lesson from dynamically typed computer languages: If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, craps like a duck, etc, it's close enough to treat exactly like a duck for all practical purposes.

  • Is there enough statistically significant clear, objective data that is available to be verified that indicates anything with any amount of confidence?

    Yes. Anyone honestly interested in understanding this or any other scientific finding can start their education here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confidence_interval [wikipedia.org]

    And once you understand the principles of statistical confidence, you can get some data and run the numbers:
    http://rainbow.ldeo.columbia.edu/datasources.html [columbia.edu]

    Or you could just trust in the scientific community that does this kind of research for a living to not be part some some enormous, X-files worthy conspiracy.

    Sorry if this all sounds patronizing, but it really pains me when I see people trusting politicians more than scientists.

  • by dachshund (300733) on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:55AM (#35311998)

    The actual climate change can be measured. The increase in greenhouse gasses can be measured. The link between them is a theory dependant on our imperfect understanding and ability to model the climate of the entire world. But there are many other influences as well, like solar cycles, volcanism besides the man made greenhouse emission.

    While nobody's proven that the current extraordinary warming trend is man-made, scientists have been very successful in ruling out the other causes you mention (even in combination). The current warming is not caused by volcanism, changes in solar radiation levels, etc. Which means that it's either (a) man-made (a theory for which there is good evidence) or (b) it's due to some completely different force that we don't know about (aliens, the earth's core going out of alignment, mutating neutrinos, ok, I kid).

    Either (a) or (b) should be a subject of concern for us. In fact, I think that if you're inclined to rule out (a) then you'd better be working damn hard on figuring out what (b) is.

    But more importantly, while the theory begins with experimental science, it's now mostly an exercise in risk management. We know that there's a phenomenon occurring, we know that it may prove very --- if not catastrophically --- costly to our society, and we know that industrial waste emissions are probably (meaning, with some very reasonable probability) the cause of it.

    So the question is: from a cost-benefit perspective, what's the best thing to do about emission levels today? Obviously the answer to that question depends on your evaluation of all the factors. However, given that the costs seem quite high (especially when you factor in the low-probability outcomes), you don't need anything approaching absolute proof to justify reducing GHG emissions --- even if there's only a moderate probability that it helps, you can justify it against the potential costs. I think that that the science is firm enough to justify pre-emptive GHG reduction.

  • by postbigbang (761081) on Friday February 25, 2011 @11:01AM (#35312064)

    In denying global weather change is man-made, you leave only women. That makes you misogynistic. The evidence is overwhelming. Yet you deny it.

    Beyond particulate matter causing huge health problems, it's also plainly costly. The atmospheric greenhouse gases that we've launched are changing climate to where we're going to incapacitate our agriculture, and are causing the oceans to rise. Ask someone, in say, Kiribati.

  • by tgibbs (83782) on Friday February 25, 2011 @12:11PM (#35312798)

    Common sense is a poor guide to systems of any complexity. This includes the effects of CO2 on living organisms as well as on climate. CO2 is not poisonous at concentrations projected under any remotely plausible scenario, and CO2 in the atmosphere is essential to life on earth.

    On the other hand, there is a wealth of significant, clear, objective data that indicates that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere will result in global warming (and indeed, has already done so), and there is strong reason to believe that the increased warmth will lead to massive costs, both in terms of money and in terms of harming the well-being of huge numbers of people.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 25, 2011 @12:16PM (#35312852)

    "Who cares if the world's vegetation is dying in a rain of sulfur?"

    Did you somehow miss the introduction of very low sulphur fuels?

  • Re:Speaking of CO2 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Friday February 25, 2011 @12:39PM (#35313104) Homepage Journal

    Inhofe and his ilk feed off exactly the same kind of anti-intellectualism that leads people to react with bafflement or mockery to any sentence that's more than a few words long. When everything has to be a sound bite, serious debate becomes impossible.

  • by geekoid (135745) <(dadinportland) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Friday February 25, 2011 @12:54PM (#35313246) Homepage Journal

    You suffer from the delusion that other countries need to go through the same advancement order we did.

    There is no reason they can move to Solar, wind, and nuclear without having 100 years of burning coal and oil.

    I cal it the "Sid Meier's Civilization fallacy"

  • by rubycodez (864176) on Friday February 25, 2011 @01:43PM (#35313952)
    You use the word "denial" as a slur, proving your basis for belief is religious and ideology based. You assume your view is "science", that is dangerous. The real facts are that c02 is not the dominant greenhouse gas on earth, that the fossil record proves C02 levels have risen in response to warming rather than causing it, and that the certain properties of the Sun drive climate and precede climate change. But instead you follow the politically paid agenda of the "climatologists", accepting their dogma and closing your mind to rational discussion based on fact and cause and effect. Very dangerous, considering the trillions of dollars in wealth to be redirected on cap and trade scams by the wealthy elite with politicians and "climatologists" (not real scientists but fabricators of flawed models that don't predict or describe reality) in their pockets.
  • by Layzej (1976930) on Friday February 25, 2011 @03:12PM (#35315396)

    It is not true that satellites show cooling from 1980 to 2011. In fact, quite the opposite. They agree with land based measurements: http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/from:1980/to:2011/plot/rss/from:1980/to:2011/trend/plot/rss/from:1980/to:2011 [woodfortrees.org]

    It is also not true that O'Donnel found cooling in Antarctica in his critique of Steig 2009. He found warming. It is also not clear that O'Donnel's methods are better. Perhaps they are, but if so, this doesn't make the authors of Steig 2009 liars or incompetent. There will surely be a response to O'Donnel 2010 that further improves the results. This does not make the authors of O'Donnel 2010 liars or incompetent.

  • by tgibbs (83782) on Friday February 25, 2011 @04:22PM (#35316222)

    Except that the clear, objective data show the temperature rise LEADING the CO2 level increases.

    It is an elementary error to expect CO2 to necessarily lead temperature increases, as there is a mutual positive feedback between temperature and atmospheric CO2, and there are also other factors influencing temperature. Correct attribution of changes in global temperature requires accounting of all factors impacting temperature, including solar radiation, volcanic eruptions, and human particulate pollution as well as CO2 pollution. When this accounting is done, the data show that the modern rise in CO2 is responsible for most of the modern temperature increase. Citations may be found here [skepticalscience.com]

Nobody said computers were going to be polite.

Working...