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Climate Unit Releases Virtually All Remaining Data 507

Posted by samzenpus
from the here's-the-rest-of-it dept.
mutube writes "The BBC is reporting that the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit, target of 'ClimateGate,' has released nearly all its remaining data on temperature measurements following a freedom of information bid. Most temperature data was already available, but critics of climate science want everything public. Following the latest release, raw data from virtually all of the world's 5,000-plus weather stations is freely available. Release of this dataset required The Met Office to secure approval from more than 1,500 weather stations around the world. The article notes that while Trinidad and Tobago refused permission, the Information Commissioner ruled that public interest in disclosure outweighed those considerations."
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Climate Unit Releases Virtually All Remaining Data

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  • Pesky critics (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Scareduck (177470)

    Demanding these heroes of the people show their work. What's next, letting actual statisticians vet their modeling?

    <runs in terror>

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Mashiki (184564)

      Hmm I seem to remember it taking a lot to get this information. Lawsuits, and the threat of cutting off funding. Nasty business that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Retron (577778)
        Part of that reasons is because the Met Office in the UK has a nice little sideline selling climate data - if it's all available for free they'll lose that income. It was a bit daft though, as there were cases of people who'd submitted data to the Met Office for years having to pay for their own data when they lost their local copy! Other European meteorological agencies have similar policies.

        It's a different culture in the US where all this data is freely available and interestingly the same applies to
  • Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by King_TJ (85913) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @08:04PM (#36902754) Journal

    IMHO, it's not even remotely reasonable to start making political decisions and implementing laws or policies based on climate information, if that information isn't freely available.

    Just because someone sold the numbers to someone else doesn't mean it's automatically part of a protected class of information the general public shouldn't be allowed to see. It only makes sense that the most interested parties would be the ones to foot the bill to get the initial information collected up and bundled for their use -- but this content can't be treated like a copyrighted work you can't redistribute without permission!

    This is good news (except for Poland, who for SOME reason is holding out on releasing their numbers).

    • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @08:24PM (#36902916)

      IMHO, it's not even remotely reasonable to start making political decisions and implementing laws or policies based on climate information, if that information isn't freely available.

      Information has been freely available for quite a while. Delaying only makes things worse. You say now "We need to at -LEAST- wait until this particular data set is available." What's the next reason to hold off going to be?

      We need to wait until EVERY researcher is on board, even these ones who are funded by BP.
      It's not reasonable to start changing things until we're -sure- temperatures are rising everywhere.
      We can't curb CO2 emissions until we are sure these rising temperatures are actually doing something bad.
      Well OBVIOUSLY we can't cut CO2 emissions now, we're in the middle of a recession!
      Why would we start now? These scientists are saying it can't -possibly- get hotter, all the damage has been done.

      It only makes sense that the most interested parties would be the ones to foot the bill to get the initial information collected up and bundled for their use

      I don't see the public clamoring for this data so they can check it with their own models at home. I see a few people who have vested interests in trying to prove this data wrong, and I see some people who don't want to believe hard times are ahead trying to shoot the messenger. Most of us see no reason to question the conclusions of the experts.

      • Re:Good! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Ruke (857276) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @08:43PM (#36903064)
        I'm in agreement here; waiting until we have perfect information before making decisions just means that you'll never make any decisions. You take the information available, and weigh all of the options available now with their costs and benefits.
        I'm of the opinion that the cost of doing nothing and being wrong far outweighs the cost of acting and being wrong. Worst case in one case is deepening the recession, where worst case in the other is unreversable catastrophic climate change.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Coolhand2120 (1001761)

        Most of us see no reason to question the conclusions of the experts.

        There's a name fore people like that.

        • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @08:51PM (#36903116)

          Questioning with ignorant questions isn't any more useful than failing to ask any questions at all, which is the problem. But in a competitive field like science where you can make a name for yourself disproving evolution or climate change, going with the majority conclusions is perfectly reasonable. It's not like there haven't been many people looking to shoot the ideas down.

        • Re:Good! (Score:4, Informative)

          by microbox (704317) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @09:18PM (#36903274)

          There's a name fore people like that.

          "Not paranoid" is two words, so I will stick with "sane".

          I bet you are incapable of sitting through this 10 minute [youtube.com] video, because you are too emotionally invested in your paranoid bizarro-world.

          I happen to personally know something about the science, and the academic debate on the issue has nothing to do with the laughably paranoid public "debate", which is really just a bunch of intransigent know-it-alls flogging one tired dead argument after another, without stopping to ever learn something about what they are saying.

      • Re:Good! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @09:54PM (#36903520)

        Idso, Singer, and Lindzen used to be the fossil fuel funded trilogy of dissenters, and their articles live on today.

        My favorite is Idso, who argued, in a quite plausibly conducted bit of research, that the radiation spectrum blocked by CO2 (thus causing the greenhouse effect) was saturated, so more CO2 would no more harm. In that bit if I recall there was actually a "well, screw it, we're screwed" acknowledgement of sorts.

        Then people who just hate science got involved, and we went from poor science to just stupid nonsense.

        Basics: does CO2 contribute to the greenhouse effect? Of course (seriously, everyone agrees). Does human activity result in more CO2? Of course (again, agreement). The real place for discussion is how the resulting effects impact humanity. "Global Warming" was such a poor name, I guess "Global Climatic Instability" does have the ring (or make a good TLA). But somewhere in there, we stumbled on some visceral refusal to meet with reality, some refusal to acknowledge that we could contribute to (adverse) change, or some "not in my lifetime" vein that caused a huge (mostly conservative politically) backlash.

        Without belaboring this post, I think the complications of explaining simple economics (such as the tragedy of the commons, p.s. don't hit me for picking an overly simplified example) resulted in a lopsided value calculation: immediate pain or "what the scientists say will happen." It was always a false choice (not just a Faustian one).

        Sometimes I hope Idso was right, so that we can reasonably absolve our selves of culpability in a collective sense. Like children. :(

      • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by salesgeek (263995) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @11:28PM (#36904036) Homepage

        I don't see the public clamoring for this data so they can check it with their own models at home.

        That was never the issue with climategate. The issue was that disclosed emails brought into question the motives of the leadership of the CRU who expressed an ends justifies the means philosophy. The CRUs opponents demanded to look at the data. When the CRU would not release data, that gave the anit-global warming movement PR ammunition leading to much of the public deciding that the CRU (and other climate researchers) were not to be trusted. As usual, the coverup is worse than the crime, and in this case the CRU's behavior set back public perception 5-10 years.

        • by IICV (652597)

          The issue was that disclosed emails brought into question the motives of the leadership of the CRU who expressed an ends justifies the means philosophy.

          Really? I don't remember seeing anything like that in the CRU e-mails. Since they're freely available, do you mind pointing out where that's stated?

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @08:28PM (#36902938) Journal

      This is good news (except for Poland, who for SOME reason is holding out on releasing their numbers).

      Isn't it obvious? Poland's numbers show that in twenty years, they're going to be the only ones on Earth with cold left. Siberia and Minnesota? Completely out of cold by 2031. Think of it. People will climb over themselves to get to the cold in Poland. China will buy cold pipeline through countries just to have access to it. Europe will be cast back into World War II-like conflict, you might even see England trade a piece of Poland back to the Ruskies just to end the conflict again. Barrels of crude cold will start trading at massively high prices. Ice cubes will be traded illegally on the street like crack until they've all melted. Obama's already foolishly dropped all of the United States' reserves to lessen the suffering during this heat wave--what are we going to do? Canada can easily blockade us from Alaska and claim what is left of the Inuit Cold for their own.

      You're probably saying "Oh, America will just do what it always does and get shitfaced instead of worrying about that." How? We won't have any cold for our drinks. What, you're going to drink room temperature wine? Sure and afterward be sure to stick your tannin coated tongue out so everyone knows you're French.

      Poland is trying to keep this strategic advantage hidden from the rest of the world. Gentlemen, I think the question here today is not how can we defer or lessen global warming but instead how quickly can we take Poland by surprise with unilateral action from land, air and sea. You might argue that we cannot afford a third war but I say that greedy selfish Poland has brought this upon themselves.

    • IMHO, it's not even remotely reasonable to start making political decisions and implementing laws or policies based on climate information, if that information isn't freely available.

      Out of curiosity, would you mind clarifying what "that information" is? I ask because I'm uncertain of what you expect as far as climate information goes. I also ask because I'm curious if you have the same standard for all sorts of other topics of similar scope. For example, I don't think I've seen much discussion about the

    • by ideonexus (1257332) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @09:51PM (#36903496) Homepage Journal

      Like the article says. Most of this data was already publicly available online:

      I took this data and plugged it into Cornell’s free data analysis software Eureka [cornell.edu] and it found a clear warming trend [ideonexus.com] in the data. I'm not statistician, so I was just playing around, but I have yet to see anyone use this data to argue for anything but a warming trend (Note: I have seen skeptics use parts of this data to show short-term cooling trends). My favorite email attacking the results the software gave me was that I had "manipulated" the data by copying-and-pasting it into Excel.

      I'm glad more data is being made publicly available, but, like someone else said, that just means it's time for the skeptics to move the goalposts again. Either put up a competing hypothesis that explains the data or shut up.

  • Refuse Permission? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Mighty Buzzard (878441) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @08:07PM (#36902776)

    The article notes that while Trinidad and Tobago refused permission...

    Wait, on what grounds? You can't copyright/patent/trademark facts. Why did they even bother asking?

    • by nuggz (69912)

      I think it is important that this information is released.

      However it sets a VERY scary precident that all researches should be afraid of.
      If someone grants linformation for a particular purpose, it should be only used for that purpose, and only released withthe consent of those providing the information.

      For someone to simply overrule that agreement suggests they aren't enforcable or even valid. Which means researchers can't guarantee confidentiality. Breaking nconfidentiality agreements should always be don

      • Seriously? I don't see any reason it should ever have been kept confidential. It's gathered data on temperatures and such not matters of national security and it's not ownable IP because it's just facts. I mean I could see an NDA being useful on things like product specs before you've officially released finalized specs but on temperature/humidity/wind speed? Seriously, WTF?

    • by abulafia (7826)

      You can't copyright/patent/trademark facts.

      In the U.S. You might notice that Trinidad and Tobago (and England, for that matter) happen to not yet be an official vassal of the empire, and is still a sovereign nation that makes its own rules.

      It isn't clear from the article what rules and agreements govern here, but it certainly isn't U.S. copyright.

      • Really? I thought we'd taken annexed them last year.

        Yes, my reply was asinine. I'm fine with that though since what I was replying to also was. Bare facts not being subject IP law is extremely common worldwide.

        • by riverat1 (1048260)

          We could if we wanted to. Their GDP was only $26.4 billion in 2010 according to Wikipedia. Hardly a rounding error in the current deficit limit discussion.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by artor3 (1344997)

      Give me your full name, your high school transcripts, every essay you've ever written, all emails from the past five years, and the names of every person you've ever slept with. After all, they're just facts. You can't trademark, copyright, or patent them. Therefore I should (by your bizzarro logic) be able to compel you to waste time complying with my every demand, even though you know I only want to info so I can find a way to harass you with it.

    • by Xyrus (755017) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @09:06PM (#36903220) Journal

      You pay for your credit scores. You pay your insurance premiums. There are numerous industries that generate information that is not available to the public because it is the product they sell.

      Not all climate and weather data is generated by government agencies. The government may buy it, but the government is subject to contracts just like everyone else. They may be able to distribute products based on the data, but they may not be free to distribute the data. Happens all the time.

  • I was under the assumption that the public already had this data. Certainly many people have trumpeted "Look at the raw data". Others still have claimed that the "raw data has been deleted" presumably a long time ago. Why wasn't the data released 5 years ago? So many questions, this just creates a dozen or so more.
    • I'm going to go with: Because an informed public is in no party's best interest.
    • Yes and no. The data that was already released was the "reanalysis" data which is the culmination of many, many, many observations from all around the world. These observations were all done at different time intervals, with different methods and different instruments. The raw data is nearly useless as it contains faulty data, biases and other effects that have to be accounted for. The work of those at CRU and other places have been to meticulously quality-control and analyze the raw observations down
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The CRU was the source of "climategate".

  • You probably shouldn't draw any conclusions from the work you do on it.
    Anyway, give this a try [metoffice.gov.uk]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I don't get the skepticism on slashdot. There is a worldwide scientific consensus that the Earth is heating up and humans are a major factor. It has been known since the 19th century that C02 in the atmosphere absorbs and emits infrared radiation back to the planet. It is also uncontroversial that humans have been putting ever increasing amounts of C02 in the atmosphere. And that it takes a century or two for that C02 to be taken out of the atmosphere. It is also known that glaciers and ice caps are melting

    • by hldn (1085833)

      There is a worldwide scientific consensus that the Earth is heating up..

      yes.

      and humans are a major factor.

      not so much.

    • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @10:29PM (#36903700) Journal

      I don't get the skepticism on slashdot.

      It's called the Scientific method [wikipedia.org]. It's founded on the principles of skepticism and independent confirmation. Without access to the full and complete set of data used originally, then you cannot provide that independent confirmation. And shouting down skeptics is, in fact, the opposite of the scientific method. Rather than shouting them down, they should be welcomed and addressed with all sincerity and substance as possible. For if your theory is correct - your proof in the face of skepticism will show it, unequivocally.

      • by RazorSharp (1418697) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @11:47PM (#36904146)

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority [wikipedia.org]

        An argument from authority is not a fallacy as long as the authority is a legitimate expert on the subject and there is a consensus among the majority. With the exception of the scientists working for BP, Exxon, and the like who don't really qualify as legitimate experts b/c they're paid to make a case rather than objectively obtain knowledge, there is a near consensus among the scientific community that humans have caused climate change which can have disastrous effects.

        I can make a skeptical case against the big bang, but being skeptical for the sake of being skeptical isn't logical. That leads to all sorts of conundrums such as being skeptical that one exists at all (hello insanity), or being skeptical of the structural integrity of the building you're in (hello paranoia).

        Did you independently confirm that your roof is structurally sound? If not, why are you sitting under it? Perhaps you logically assumed that the framers, carpenters, roofers, et al. did their jobs correctly and proficiently.

      • And shouting down skeptics is, in fact, the opposite of the scientific method. Rather than shouting them down, they should be welcomed and addressed with all sincerity and substance as possible. For if your theory is correct - your proof in the face of skepticism will show it, unequivocally.

        I agree, up to a point. Skeptics should be welcomed and engaged, as anyone trying to figure out the truth behind a complex subject should.

        But how many 'skeptics' in climate change debates are actually skeptics as opposed

      • by Boronx (228853)

        Shouting down skeptics doesn't sound great on its face, but shouting down idiots is a long standing and important tradition in science.

  • by Coolhand2120 (1001761) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @08:42PM (#36903050)
    From: Thomas S. Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions [google.com]

    One of the strongest, if still unwritten, rules of scientific life is the prohibition of appeals to heads of state or to the populace at large in matters scientific.

    Isn't the CRU constantly breaking "one of the strongest" rules of scientific life: appealing to the state and or populace when your science fails to convince? Science does not require the rule of "Might makes right" to persuade. Logic and strong correlation of data are all that is required. Thus far, in my opinion, CRU has shown themselves to be anything but scientific. They appeal to the head of state and to the public at large! This, more than anything proves that they are not scientists. What other respected branch of science reaches out for a "consensus" in the government or the populace to prove their theories? Science is not the blatant politicizing of science to overpower the paradigm group you disagree with.

    • by microbox (704317) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @09:26PM (#36903334)

      when your science fails to convince?

      But the science /does/ convince on its own merits. Nobody who actually knows anything about the science could possibly be a sceptic unless they were stark raving mad [youtube.com].

    • by Capsaicin (412918) *

      Isn't the CRU constantly breaking "one of the strongest" rules of scientific life: appealing to the state and or populace when your science fails to convince?

      No.

      The science is convincing on it own. The appeal to the state is for a policy response based on the imperatives revealed by this convincing science. The appeal to the public, such as it is, is an attempt by a few scientists to disabuse the victims of the disinformation industry.

      Logic and strong correlation of data are all that is required.

      It's

  • Tree ring widths are more affected by sheep than temperature. Much of the early concern regarding climate change was from the Mann (and later, Briffa and Jones) "hockey stick", which used a single bristlecone pine tree as the basis for temperature reconstructions.

    .
    Did that data set consider migratory patterns, or herding of local sheep/cows/yaks/whathaveyou? That alone could skew the results heavily one way or another. This is why you want to release ALL your data, because other scientists might find other causalities or variables in your data/models that you didn't originally anticipate.

    Rather than demand acceptance of a theory, it's best to provide the data, welcome the skeptics, and use ALL the data to show what you did, why you did it, and what conclusions you reached. Hiding data, or hiding your modeling/screening methods simply breaks the fundamental approach of the Scientific method. You're left with something that might be interesting, but by definition - it's not scientific.

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