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Michael Mann Vindicated (Again) Over Climategate 961

Posted by Soulskill
from the arguments-that-cannot-be-won dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Michael Mann, a climatologist at Pennsylvania State University, was one of the central figures involved in the 'Climategate' controversy, which saw many private email conversations between researchers posted publicly. Now, an investigation (PDF) by the National Science Foundation has found "no basis to conclude that the emails were evidence of research misconduct or that they pointed to such evidence." Phil Plait points out that other investigations have found similarly that claims of Mann's misconduct took his statements out of context. 'A big claim by the deniers is that researchers were using "tricks" to falsify conclusions about global warming, but the NSF report is pretty clear that's not true. The most damning thing the investigators could muster was that there was "some concern" over the statistical methods used, but that's not scandalous at all; there's always some argument in science over methodology. The vague language of the report there indicates to me this isn't a big deal, or else they would've been specific. The big point is that the data were not faked.'"
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Michael Mann Vindicated (Again) Over Climategate

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  • AGW (Score:3, Informative)

    by polar red (215081) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:54PM (#37208220)

    1:CO2 induces the greenhouse effect, TEST THIS YOURSELF.

        -->here is the wikipedia article on the greenhouse effect:

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

        -->and here are the youtube links showing HOW to do an experiment showing CO2 induces the greenhouse effect

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ge0jhYDcazY [youtube.com]

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeYfl45X1wo [youtube.com]

    2:Humans emit a LOT of CO2 (oil or coal + O2 + ... = energy + CO2 + soot + ...

    1+2 = default position is AGW, you need to provide proof of NOT-AGW

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kenboldt (1071456)

      You've got science backwards. AGW is the hypothesis, natural variation is the null hypothesis.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lgw (121541)

        Further, if we're tlaking science we should stop using the term "greenhouse effect". A greenhouse works by stopping convection; its effect on IR radiation actually cools the inside.

        The Earth's climate is mostly convection as well, with IR radiation from the surface a lesser form of surface cooling. As blackbody radiation goes with the forth power of temperature, and the upper atmosphere is pretty cold, it's not obvious why surface-emitted IR warming of the atmopshere would make make difference to surface

        • The Earth's climate is mostly convection as well, with IR radiation from the surface a lesser form of surface cooling.

          How does that warm air get cooled to space? Oh, wait -- radiation, right? So how much does air radiate, vs. how much does the surface radiate? (Bear in mind that the upper atmosphere is cold, and remember that T^4 rule.)

          Let's test this: if the atmosphere radiates heat at night and sinks to cool the ground, the air will cool more rapidly than the ground does. If, on the other hand, the ground cools by radiation at night the ground will be colder than the air. On an autumn morning when you first see fr

    • Re:AGW (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:03PM (#37208340)

      1: CO2 doesn't absorb as much IR as generally accepted theory states.
      2: Volcanoes emit more CO2 in one explosion than all of humanity in one year.

      There. That was easy. I think understand why people like to post these statements. It's so easy, you get to feel so smug, you don't need to read actual research papers or do real research..... Man, being ignorant is kinda cool. Maybe I can even make money off of it... although that field is awfully crowded right now.

      • " Man, being ignorant is kinda cool. Maybe I can even make money off of it... although that field is awfully crowded right now." I suspect there may be some additional openings next year if you can hold out.
      • Re:AGW (Score:5, Informative)

        by jdgeorge (18767) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:14PM (#37208568)

        CO2 released by human activity far outpaces volcanic CO2 release. [usgs.gov] Looking for a citation for a claim helps people avoid saying things that are easily proven to be incorrect.

        From the USGS article:
        "....not only does volcanic CO2 not dwarf that of human activity, it actually comprises less than 1 percent of that value. "

      • Re:AGW (Score:5, Informative)

        by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:14PM (#37208570) Homepage Journal

        "Volcanoes emit more CO2 in one explosion than all of humanity in one year."
        in the off chance you weren't kidding:
        Volcanoes 65 to 319 million tonnes of CO2 per year.
        Human 69 Billion tonnes per year.

        Fossil fuels emissions numbers are about 100 times larger than maximum volcanic CO2 fluxes.

      • Re:AGW (Score:4, Informative)

        by Swarley (1795754) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:20PM (#37208710)

        1. Considering CO2's IR absorbance is extremely easy to test and the information is vital to the accuracy of medical equipment used all over the world, I'm guessing that you read this somewhere and never fact checked it. Provide some primary sources.

        2. Humans produce 100 times as much CO2 per year as volcanic eruptions do. Volcanic eruptions have been shown over and over to usually result in net cooling of the climate from sulfer dioxide emissions.
        http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hazards/gas/climate.php [usgs.gov]

        It's ironic because I consider ignorance to include reading shit off a blog and not looking for primary sources or fact checking, which coincidentally seems to be exactly what you did.

      • 2: Volcanoes emit more CO2 in one explosion than all of humanity in one year.

        While this is possibly true (and I'm not saying it is or is not), it misses the point. The problem is balance, rate, and source. Without man made sources of CO2 the Earth ecosystem has to deal with naturally occurring CO2. If there are more producers than consumers of CO2, then ecosystems will shift over time to have more consumption of CO2. However man-made sources have increased it within the last 150 years. The rate of CO2 addition is far faster than ecosystems can consume.

        As an analogue, take oil s

    • by thynk (653762)

      By a LOT you mean about 3% of all CO2 found in the atmosphere? Which is like ~0.003675% of all the atmosphere?

      • 3%? Do you /really/ believe that?

        Current estimates is about 392 ppm (as of 2011). It was 335 ppm in 1985. So that's at 17% increase in just 26 years.

        I wonder how many "sceptics" will be fast and loose with the truth when responding to this article.
    • by msauve (701917)
      Now run those experiments, comparing CO2 levels of 300 ppm and 400 ppm, instead of 400 ppm and 1,000,000 ppm, and tell us how much of a difference you measure/see.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jmorris42 (1458) *

        > Now run those experiments,

        Yes, run the experiment..... oh yea, we can't because we don't have a couple of spare earths around.

        So everyone runs computer models and expects us to believe the results of that instead. But I have seen some of what passes for climate modeling and it is pathetic. And it has NEVER produced a testable result. There are ZERO predictions made by a 'reputable' climate scientist from 10 or twenty years ago that matched reality 10 or twenty years later. No model can predict the

        • Re:AGW (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Myopic (18616) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @03:35PM (#37210960)

          I work at a weather company. We are very good at predicting the weather a day out. More than ten days and it slips into random territory.

          Luckily for the climate scientists, that has absolutely nothing to do with their ability to predict the climate. You know how December is colder than July? That's climate. Trying to say we can't predict the climate is like saying that next December could be warmer than the following July. If you believe that, or if you pretend to believe that in order to make stupid points in internet forums, then you are a blockhead.

  • A little late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:57PM (#37208258)

    The "scientists are tricking us" motif is already well cemented in the minds of the GW deniers. Coming out with vindications this far from the initial story is like farting in the wind.

    • Re:A little late (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sockatume (732728) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:58PM (#37208282)

      If we assume cognative dissonance then it's safe to say that this will just be taken as additional proof that the establishment is self-serving/incompetent/oppressive.

    • Pretty much. The damage has been done. I suspect AGW won't be accepted again by the general public until the more overt effects begin being felt.

      • by Moryath (553296) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @04:56PM (#37212124)

        The problem is that the "more overt effects" have to be measured generationally over decades, rather than instantaneously, and most of the public - especially those retards who keep voting Republican - have an attention span less than that of a goldfish these days.

        Or as John Stewart has been saying lately in covering the Republican primaries and the media reactions... "Squirrel! [youtube.com]"

        Point out the long-term trend, and you get "but it was just cold yesterday" or "but we just had (insert record cold/hot day here)." Bah. Entire brain structures dedicated not to handling data and excising the bad from the good to avoid "garbage in, garbage out" but instead to deliberately destroying good data so that no matter what you put in, you get garbage out.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kenboldt (1071456)

      use of the term "deniers" is already well cemented in the minds of the warmers. Trying to convince them that we need to properly employ the scientific method is like farting in the wind.

      Science is NEVER settled, it is only through questioning and skepticism that science can progress.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by idontgno (624372)

        Trying to convince them that we need to properly employ the scientific method is like farting in the wind.

        OMG, don't do that! Methane is an even more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2! Fart into a bag and bury the bag deep in the earth! Fart sequestration!

      • Re:A little late (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:21PM (#37208732)

        No, but at some point the evidence is clear enough and compelling enough to take action on.The accuracy of the assumption that dumping huge amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is harmful is much better supported than the notion that we can dump whatever we like without consequence.

        Had we taken heed 30 years ago and done something about it, the cost would have been substantially lower and ultimately if we were wrong it would be dirt cheap to go back to our old ways.

        That being said, deniers need to come up with some actual credible science if they wish to engage in this debate.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jmorris42 (1458) *

          > That being said, deniers need to come up with some actual credible science if they wish to engage in this debate.

          Why? It is the warmers who want us to spend trillions and accept a greatly lowered standard of living because of their claims. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and to date the warmers have none.

          Computer models are not extraordinary evidence unless they can demonstrate an ability to predict the future with measurable skill. None yet exist. Show me the computer model run

          • Why? It is the warmers who want us to spend trillions and accept a greatly lowered standard of living because of their claims. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and to date the warmers have none.

            Interesting that you quote Sagan, who accepted climate science. There was consensus in the community by 1979, according to a NAS. Deniers just make a crap shoot of already discredited claims, and constantly shifting the bars of evidence. They are called deniers, because nothing will satisfy them. They cannot even make a coherent argument against what scientist say. It is all about having their way, and so far they have succeeded.

            Meanwhile, humanity is still engaged in a huge geographcial experiment. Talk

      • Re:A little late (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:25PM (#37208814) Journal

        This is nothing more than a clever restatement of epistemological nihilism. Basically restated it says, "Because we cannot produce a perfect theory, we can have no theory whose predictions we can have a high degree of certainty about,"

        It's a moronic position when you consider that the same basic fact that no theory is complete applies to all theories, including theories like Newtonian mechanics and Quantum mechanics, both of which despite obvious missing pieces and flaws are among the most successful theories ever developed.

        A theory does not need to be complete to have explanatory power. Maybe you should stop trying to defend oil company shills and inventing bullshit claims about how science works, and, you know, actually learn how science fucking works.

      • Re:A little late (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Myopic (18616) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @03:43PM (#37211066)

        Science is never theoretically settled, but I'm bored by people pretending that suddenly tomorrow gravity could become a repulsive force, or electrons could suddenly double their mass.

        No, dude, some science is settled. In fact, a lot of it is. AGW isn't quite one of those things, but it is above the threshold of reasonable denial, until a mountain of evidence appears to overturn it. Until then, there is only unreasonable denial.

      • by Alsee (515537)

        Science is NEVER settled

        Correct.
        The existence of atoms is merely a theory, one supported by enormous quantities of evidence.

        it is only through questioning and skepticism that science can progress.

        Correct. If and when contradictory evidence is found and some other theory better explains all of that evidence, then science will throw out atom theory.

        The standard in science is basically the same standard used in the courtroom... sufficient evidence to establish a case beyond a reasonable doubt.

        Anyone who doubts the existence of atoms, evolution, or global warming, is at best grossly uninformed, and most

    • by rwa2 (4391) *

      Yeah, really, the best thing we can do at this point is sell them all of the oceanfront property.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Raenex (947668)

      You have Phil Jones to blame. The graph he produced when talking about the "trick" was, in fact, deceitful, even if Mann's original graph wasn't. Phil Jones was also the one recorded in email saying that he'd rather delete data than release it, and also the one to ask other researchers to erase email.

      I don't think there's a vast conspiracy among climate scientists, but the science was definitely politicized and oversold.

  • How do we reduce CO2? What will it cost to do it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by riverat1 (1048260)

      Or alternatively: What will it cost not to reduce CO2?

      • by gfxguy (98788)
        The planet's got a fever and we need to get the average temperature back down to normal. Somebody please tell me what normal is so that we can plan accordingly.
      • by geekoid (135745)

        our lives. Really, there is a point where it isn't habitable by humans; how about we plan to avoid that, mkay'?

    • by RingDev (879105)

      What will it cost if we don't?

      -Rick

      • by Marble68 (746305)

        Well, we know plants frigging *LOVE* the stuff... so if we don't we can probably anticipate higher crop yields. Which isn't a bad thing considering the population growth on the planet.
        Curbing it will further restrict of things like vaccines, health-care, education, and advanced agricultural adoption in developing nations so that's a bad thing.

        CO2 may be a greenhouse gas, but we animals sort of, you know, *exhale* the stuff.

        Lots of people die and starve because they don't have access to GM crops and coal pow

    • by geekoid (135745)

      well.. we can trap it, but how do we store it?

      We can planet more trees, but that would not only mean immediately stopping the rain forest clearing, but also a regrowth plan.

      We could plant blackberry bushes and bambo in the non farming areas in the mid west. Can cattle graze on bambo and/or blackberry?

      But, right now? there isn't really much we can do about the CO2 that's in the atmosphere. we can move to reduce further emission.

      If we could find a cheap and easy way to bind CO2 to another elements and then s

    • What will it cost not do it? How much do you suppose it will cost to try to replace oil-based energy production once we've passed peak oil and suddenly reserves and production start to plummet.

      Think of it this way. Replacing the 20 year old roof on your house is expensive, but not nearly as expensive as replacing the 30 year old roof that's now leaking and destroying the underlying structure and all your worldly goods.

      • by ArsonSmith (13997)

        depends.
        1) replacing 20 year old roof at $3000 every 20 years =~ $15,000 every 100 years.
        2) replacing every 30 years $3000 + $1500 in additional damage =~ $13,500 every 100 years.
        3) replace every 50 years and patch as needed $3000 +$3000 in patching over the years =~ $12,000 every 100 years.

        citation:
        http://www.google.com/search?q=cost+of+roof+repairs [google.com]

    • Break It Down Now (Score:4, Interesting)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:11PM (#37208522) Journal

      How do we reduce CO2? What will it cost to do it?

      This is a fool's errand. Let's make this learning process more granular. Break it down into separate steps:

      1. Confirm global warming is occuring.
      2. Confirm that global warming is man-made.
      3. Decide how best to counter this effect.

      Given that climate scientists are constantly attacked by political witch hunts [slashdot.org] (and, no, there have been no formal charges of fraud against scientists claiming global warming is fake). The heart of the problem here is that the first two steps should be almost completely scientific endeavors free and devoid of any politics. Yes, the studies cost money but there's money to be had both ways (I would even say that there's more money to be had if your findings absolve polluters of any guilt).

      Once everyone is at step two, we can proceed with the clusterfuck that is world politics. I recognize the core problem is that some politicians cobble it together and go back to step two or -- god forbid it -- step one and then attack those. Instead of recognizing that we've already made ground, we go back and people mire everything up with "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." And then the witch hunts begin and we're not making any progress ... meanwhile the polluters are counting their money and protecting that profit margin by lobbying and funding "think tanks" and spreading lies.

      Can we all just scientifically get to step two and then we'll go from there? The climate scientists are the experts. You're not suddenly compelled to rip apart the latest Computer Science study as an armchair computer scientists because you haven't studied it. Why are people suddenly compelled to call climate scientists -- who are basically the same figureheads in academia that computer scientists are -- into question? When did everyone get PhDs in climate science? Why wasn't I given one? And why are all the major journals publishing and defending global warming studies only to be ignored?

      • by Kreigaffe (765218)

        There's been, in the past few years, evidence coming out that both ice core samples and tree ring samples are not NEARLY as reliable as we thought they were when it comes to recording the climate of the past -- in the case of ice core samples, it was discovered that there's gas migration, and that they are not the perfect records of the atmosphere of the past that we believed they were. in the case of the tree rings, it was discovered that sheep grazing nearby had a larger impact on the formation of rings

    • by bunratty (545641)

      Improve energy efficiency. That doesn't cost money -- it saves money. It's a no-brainer.

      To reduce carbon dioxide emissions dramatically, we'll also need to begin to switch away from fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) to alternative energy sources such as nuclear, solar, biofuels, and so on. How much it costs to do it will depend on how much we can improve energy efficiency, what mixtures of energy sources we use, how much research and development we put into alternative energy sources so that the tec

  • By the time any of this hits the "skeptic" crowd, if at all, it will be sanitized and spun like all the other inquiries.

    In other words, it will never be seen as evidence that Michael Mann isnt the perpetrator of the most sinister hoax/conspiracy in history to destroy conservatism and the US economy, it will be seen as evidence that the NSF is obviously corrupt - and any other issues they henceforth weigh in on will be seen as tainted.

    One can't help but have a little terrifying respect for just how w
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:01PM (#37208318) Homepage Journal

    issue from the beginning. It was never a big deal to be who work in scientific fields.

    It's what happens when a 'news' channel is a arm of a specific ideological group.

  • Fixed the headline for you

  • there was "some concern" over the statistical methods used, but that's not scandalous at all; there's always some argument in science over methodology

    Very true, but that doesn't really square with the claim that "the science is settled," does it? Many of the anti-AGW arguments are about methodology, yet the pro-AGW types often seem quick to dismiss (if not slander) anyone who questions their methodology.

  • Oblig XKCD (Score:2, Informative)

    by rwa2 (4391) *

    http://xkcd.com/808/ [xkcd.com]

    Are insurance companies selling flood insurance on coastal homes? If they are, are they making a killing on them? ^_^

    • Re:Oblig XKCD (Score:4, Interesting)

      by GreyLurk (35139) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:16PM (#37208626) Homepage Journal

      Insurance don't make a killing selling insurance polices that they know they're likely to pay out on. A more accurate measure would be whether costal flood insurance costs have been rising faster than other insurance premiums (Earthquake insurance might be a good reference point).

      That at least would be proof that Insurance companies are including AGW models into their actuarial tables.

  • Infinite Recursion? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Toe, The (545098) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:08PM (#37208430)

    To over-simplify it: the evidence that the data was faked was itself faked.

    So what's to stop the other side from coming back by saying that the analysis of the faked evidence of the faked data was in fact faked?

    Fake this noise.

    • Hahaha nice, I should try that, it would create a runaway reaction of infinite stupidity XD

      It will either end with epic lulz or form a stupidity singularity that will consume the planet. Fun times, either way.

    • by Daetrin (576516)
      Sooner or later one side or the other will remember to call "no fake-backs!"
  • Not Surprising (Score:5, Informative)

    by Layzej (1976930) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:18PM (#37208672)

    After the most recent exoneration, Fox was holding out on this NSF report as the last word on the issue: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/04/06/climate-gate-michael-mann/ [foxnews.com] They felt that the NSF was the "only independent government organization with the skill and tools to investigate effectively"

    Their findings are not surprising. Mann's research has been replicated using different methods time and time again. Here are just a few examples:

    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v3/n6/full/ngeo865.html

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/325/5945/1236.abstract

    http://www.leif.org/EOS/2009JD012603.pdf

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2010GL044771.shtml

    http://www.colorado.edu/news/r/9059018f4606597f20dc4965fa9c9104.html

  • by superwiz (655733) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:30PM (#37208912) Journal
    Only that the interpretation of the data was far fetched. That argument still stands. The "trick" that was the subject of the Climategate email was to splice 2 time series together and present them in the same context. In one of the contexts (presentation to the laymen) it was actually presented as one chart. What the conclusions of the "study" didn't mention is that one possible interpretation for discrepancy in the data is not an "error" (as they claimed) but that some of the variables in data collection were not accounted for. He was vindicated of the most brazen accusation. But the emails indicated the frame of mind of the scientists which is consistent with the accusation that they more than willing to overstate the certainty of their conclusions. What exacerbates this overstatement is their claim that peer-review is an adequate method for such fact finding. Peer review is only useful for repeatable experiments. Obviously, whether measurements are not repeatable. So peer review is wholly inadequate for this type of research. Fact finding based on non-repeatable events must be conducted through adversarial review. And that's precisely what they are trying to avoid.
    • by Arlet (29997) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:43PM (#37209142)

      Obviously, whether [sic] measurements are not repeatable.

      The weather itself is not repeatable, but the measurements around the world to establish the proxy record of that temperature is perfectly repeatable. You can still examine trees, coral, drill holes, and so on. In fact, since Mann's work, it has been repeated several times, confirming his original graph.

    • by Marble68 (746305)

      Ok, I'm was geniuenly surprised and I'm probably to the last person on earth to hear about this.

      Why does it take FOIA filings to get access to the documents related to Mann's paleoclimatology research? Are these relevant data or is someone just fishing? Does anybody know anything about this?

      Why is it necessary that people sue each other about this? Considering how important and visible this is, wouldn't it be better to just put everything out there?

      http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/08/univers [sciencemag.org]

  • by crunchygranola (1954152) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @02:44PM (#37210184)
    It is remarkable how many AGW deniers are posting here as Anonymous Coward today. I guess creating new sock puppet identities to shill for Big Oil and the anti-science right-wing is too obvious here, where their assigned number is a dead give-away.

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