Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I have been all over the internet reading about climeategate today and one thing has me puzzled. Here is a sample of what I found. One of the arguments, one of the more popular arguments anyway is that this is isolated and whatever happened East Anglia is only data that has been tested and verified by other scientists at other research centers. If this is the case then why the need to; a. hide data from FOI requests that would have been tested elsewhere and b. "hide the decline"? Was East Anglia the only research center that found a decline? If no other centers found declines then why not? If East Anglia had bad computer code, bad data or bad tests, why were they not concerned to cross check their results with other research centers. It just seems


Philip H. said...

I think that many of the pieces of the puzzle you are missing are in the parts of the hacked emails that haven't been released. My understanding is that the folsk that obtained them have not put the full collection out, and so we're missing key intersections. Basically, we're only listening to one side of the conversation here.

I also think that if you actually went through the published scientific literature, you'd see plenty of corss checking of the data. Scientists reevaluate other scientists conclusions all the time.

As to hiding the decline, what is menat there is not hiding an actual decline in pemperature, but "hiding" a decline in accuracy of the temperature data after 1960 that comes from tree rings. As you may have read, tree ring data is used (along with ice core data) as a proxy for temperature data from years before 1960. This is due to having fewer temperature stations world wide, and no international protocol for collecting temperatures so that data could be verified and QC'd. After 1960, those protocols were in place, so the tree ring data was "hidden" by real, actual temperature measurements which were more accurate and thus better at showing the trend.

I freely grant that "Hide" or any version thereof is a poor choice of words. Academic scienitsts are notorious ofr having politically tin ears - and these emails do reinforce that particular stereo type.

Elroy said...

Thanks for the comment and I do not doubt that emails where cherry picked from the 160 megs of data that was hacked. The problem has always been lack of willingness of AGW believers to engage in any debate. I think this has led to much of the suspicion that exists. In addition many proponents involved have vested interests in AGW being true from fortune 500 companies promoting smart grid technology to Al Gore's interest in a carbon credits company. I think that this exposure is good for the debate and if AGW is a threat in the end openness will strengthen support. I am trying not to rush to judegement based on these emails alone but I am a skeptic.

Philip H. said...

I suppose part of the issue hinges on what you (and others) mean by openness. "Debate" on the issue has occured within the scientific community since the late 1960', at least based on the publication record. And contrary papers have been published in peer-reviewed journals, only to be shot down whe their science is reviewed by others. I'd add that the cliamte scientists whose emails got hacked have no economic stake in AGW - they are university professors who will never make exhorbatant sums of money from anything they publish. And while many corporations do indeed talk about being more green - and making profits from that, most o fthe major players (by sector) are spending huge sums of money to lobby Congress NOT to change US laws relating to emissions - even though it will not put any o fthem out ofo business and does, indeed, represent an opportunity for innovation.

Elroy said...

Economic rewards are not the only motivation. The power and prestige of being able to shape policy are powerful enticements as well. The private sector has self interest but so does congress. Congress self interest regarding climate change is being re-elected. Re-election takes money. Passing legislation increasing regulation forces companies to lobby congress for favorable treatment providing money to congressmen for their re-election. In addition much of the regulation helps eliminate competition for the bigger companies. In short, climate change is not in and of itself the primary self interest of congress.

Profesors benefit also through funding from the government. This article in the WSJ has some details:

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