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Earth Science

Michael Mann Vindicated (Again) Over Climategate 961

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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  • by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:04PM (#37208354)

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

  • Infinite Recursion? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Toe, The ( 545098 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:08PM (#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.

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

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:11PM (#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?

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

    by GreyLurk ( 35139 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:16PM (#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.

  • Re:AGW (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:20PM (#37208724)

    Not only that, it's extremely easy to differentiate between inorganically sourced CO2 (volcanic) and organic. Organic CO2 will tend to have a bias against C-13, whereas volcanic will not.

  • Re:A little late (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <jmorris&beau,org> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:35PM (#37210054)

    > 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 from ten years ago that its creators published that accurately predicted the general climate of eight of the last ten years. If it existed the media would be trumpeting the 'conclusive evidence' of AGW even though the climate in the last ten years hasn't actually warmed all that much. But I'd agree it was significant because it would have demonstrated that climate modeling could predict the future with some skill and that we might want to look at what that model said about years 11-50 if it got 1-10 pretty accurate.

    Your team has several hurdles to get over.

    1. First you must PROVE the climate is getting warmer. Not that hard.

    2. Next you have to prove it will KEEP getting warmer, i.e. that it isn't a cyclical process at work. It has been much warmer than it is now in the not too distant past. The Romans grew grapes and exported wine from England when they ruled there.

    3. Then you have to prove it is the fault of our CO2 releases and not deforestation and other alterations man is making to the planet.

    4. Then you get to propose a solution, prove it will actually work and then justify the cost against the cost of mitigation. It might be less expensive to just relocate some coastal cities in a mile and enjoy the extra harvests from Canada and Siberia to feed our growing numbers.

    So far you haven't nailed #1 with the kind of extraordinary evidence needed to justify the solutions being proposed. But as for me I'm stuck on #2. Without reliable modeling you can't even attempt to prove whether it is a runaway process vs a natural cycle. Then add in some pretty obvious cases of outright fraud and it is no sale. I believe in science, I don't believe in climate scientists because they don't throw out proven frauds like Mr. Hockey Stick.

  • Re:AGW (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 25, 2011 @02:51PM (#37211170)

    the tl;dr version of the above post, you know, for the lazy people:

    1) "In the past a different set of predictions weren't accurate, and computer models have unknown uncertainty, so moving forward we should assume everything will be great forever no matter what we release into the atmosphere"
    2) In which the the word "science" is used as if it were synonymous with "indisputable correct answer"
    3) A very nice long list of insinuations, handwaving accusations, and conspiracy theories submitted to the reader based.

    It is also worth noting here that there's a powerful but mysterious group "them" controlling the entire debate.

  • Re:AGW (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @03:49PM (#37211994)

    Again, we honestly have no idea what's going on.

    I personally find that the deniers are the ones who are the most "certain" in their claims. There are stated mechanisms that could cause global warming. They are being measured and tested. You complain about them being funded, but how else do we find out what's going on without funding those who claim to have the ability to show us, if only they had one more year...? People speaking against global warming find plenty of funding and don't even pretend to follow science in their denials. The best they can do is point to possible confounds and say things like "see, they didn't account for pollen that year, so their findings are wrong, thus proving the opposite." I agree we don't know and it seems mostly silly, but the worst offenders seem to be those who complain loudest about the other side being the worst offenders. The deniers argue from ignorance, "if we don't know how or why it is happening, then that's proof it isn't happening and we should stop funding anyone who says otherwise." and other such illogical irrelevancies.

  • Re:A little late (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 25, 2011 @04:10PM (#37212314)

    Such a test can't be devised because AGW makes no testable predictions.

    You're either completely ignorant, or you're an asshole (that's not an exclusive or). There are many easily testable predictions that come from AGW. If you strain your little brain hard enough, you might come up with an idea. Not having one? Let me help you. How about whether the planet warms as much or more than the theory predicts? How about if atmospheric CO2 and temperatures correlate into the future as predicted? Still can't think of any?

    We need a wall between science and politics more than a wall between politics and religion.

    Ok, before I thought you might be stupid, but now I know you are. What do you propose would be the benefits of science if government were prohibited from acting upon it? How do you propose this wall without enacting more laws that you conservative types hate so much?

    One testable, repeatable result trumps any theory.

    That's true, but that doesn't mean a contrary result is possible. You aren't going to find evidence that gravity is repulsive, or that protons are in fact negatively charged.

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

    by tgibbs ( 83782 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @05:18PM (#37213134)

    Name one useful prediction of AGW theory. Now tell me how many attempts have been made to falsify it. Hint: zero because such a test can't be devised and wouldn't be funded if it could. Such a test can't be devised because AGW makes no testable predictions

    Wrong [bartonpaullevenson.com]

    The science is settled. Bullshit, and anyone saying that can't be a scientist or care one whit about it. Science is always one result away from a revolution. One testable, repeatable result trumps any theory.

    Sure, tomorrow we may find discover some object that is not affected by gravity, and have to switch to an "intelligent falling" theory. But it's not likely. So while there will almost invariably be some scientist, somewhere, willing to challenge any theory whatsoever (scientists being a contentious lot), some theories are about as close to settled as any science every gets. AGW certainly falls into that category, with over 95% of scientists actively publishing in the field agreeing that temperatures are rising as a result of human activity [uic.edu]

"Just think of a computer as hardware you can program." -- Nigel de la Tierre