Hacker reveals climatic research fraud

But, but, they aren’t using the new rage sexy software development methodologies! How could they possibly produce good code?!

Brute force from the sound of it.


Yes, this.

Someone in Inhofe’s press office has to hate him to upload a video that makes him look like an imbecile.

I think he’s just glad it’s being covered someplace other then Fox News.

Potholer gives his analysis on ClimateGate:

So weaselly: “this has nothing to do whether the earth has been warming since the mid 1970s, or whether carbon dioxide is a green house gas.”

But he says it with a British accent, so I guess he’s right!

For the quote he mentioned, this is absolutely true.

But, well, yeah. I would like him to expand on Climate gate a bit more… Because it’s not settled and there isn’t consensus, even among the people who say they support consensus publically. In a lot of the e-mails they’re expressing private opinions that just the opposite is true. But, they decided that creating a unified front for the sake of environmentalism was more important than getting the facts out to the public. So, it’s not just the one quote about “We can’t explain the cooling”. There were a ton of others. He says “either these are the most egregious examples of fraud, or the only ones”. They’re not, and they’re not. They’re just the most sound-bite-able ones. Because the worst stuff would mean either going into the whole peer review process, or worse yet discussing source code.

That he can give context for the two quotes that are being heavily re-aired is all well and good if all you’re interested in doing is scoring zingers against Republican figureheads. But, they just aren’t the important part. The really important stuff is the perversion of peer review. The arbitrary manipulation and falsification of data. The arbitrary re-scaling and manipulation of data in the process of creating the “value-added” data. As well as the attempts to hide the original, un-manipulated data from others.

The basic issue with the grafting trick is that it’s fundamentally dishonest to arbitrarily ignore part of a data set. If the post-1960 temperature decline in that set of data from tree rings means that that data set is untrustworthy, then you can’t trust any data from that data set. You don’t just pick the years that support your preconceived conclusion, then either delete the rest of the data (as lots of people did), or use the “grafting trick” to massage it away.

For someone who claims to be a rationalist, you have quite a proclivity for irrationalism. It’s like libertarians turn to denialism when the only solution to a problem is government intervention. Intellectual dishonesty is just so adorable, like a red panda.

AB’s post that you quoted seemed reasonable enough to me. Without dragging in a bunch of other posts, could you highlight where he’s being irrational?

I too am interested in hearing you explain yourself.

In other words, the really important part is the part that is mythical.


What this particular institute did is reprehensible from any point of view. Regardless of what you believe about climate change, what they did here was obfuscate the data to make their argument more politically tenable. It might very well be that the short term warming data can be explained in the context of a long-term warming trend, but you don’t massage the data to make a more effective political argument. That’s some Discovery Institute level buggery right there.

Okay, so the issue is that the tree ring data from the last 50 years indicates cooling, but the actual temperature measurements indicates warming?

I’m with anti-bunny. You should stop using the tree ring data until you find out the “why” and can account for it.

What part of this is my primate brain failing to comprehend?

What does this even mean? The emails are mythical now?

Just that the things you identified as “the really important part” did not happen. The e-mails, when you understand the context, do not in any way support these sweeping conclusions.

I just saw Bill Nye arguing with some jerk off on CNN about whether or not climate change is real. What hath God wrought?

Actually, refusal to release data, and talking about destroying it rather than releasing it IS prima facie evidence that they have something shady to hide, in the context of scientific inquiry. Some of the e-mails deal with how to avoid letting anyone see the raw data involved and a discussion of using an IP Rights argument in order to refuse a british FOI request. Science used to influence public policy should be as open as possible, IMHO. In fact, science IN GENERAL needs to be open. We’re not talking about the Colonel’s Secret Recipe that makes a product sell. Even when you have classified science projects, you have teams swapping data and ensuring that they can repeat each other’s findings and conclusions. That’s how science works. You tell me that you found X and Y when you did A and B with C and D, and I’m able to find the same thing in the same conditions. The only difference in principle between this stuff and experimental science is that instead of sharing procedural instructions for an experiment, you’re sharing procedural steps for gathering and analyzing a data set.

“Back off man, I’m a scientist”, as cool as it sounds when Bill Murray says it, is not a solid replacement for repeatability and transparency, especially when there’s evidence that the people saying “trust us, we know what we’re doing” have engaged in unethical behavior with regard to both the Peer Review process in journals, and with regard to FOI requests to share the data they should be sharing anyway.

The tree ring cooling starts showing up in 1960, but as far as I can tell, no one knows why this is and there isn’t particular interest in finding out… The only important thing is that the data set from tree rings shows warming until then, and so we should take that part of the data and ignore the rest.

The CRU data is the black line that shoots way up at the end of the graph… This is the ‘hockey stick’.

I’m going to get awfully wordy here here and probably state a lot of stuff that’s obvious to anyone paying attention to the debate, but I think it needs to be said by me anyway just so people can stop imagining me as some kind of global warming denier or whatever:

Global climate change is a non-trivial threat. The emails do not show climate change to be an elaborate hoax. It should be part of public policy to spend billions on dispassionate research on the subject. Anyone who yells at Bill Nye can blow me. God damn you Jimmy Gibbs Jr!

That said, the massaging of the data and the sort of shenanigans that are on display with the CRU hack has cast a seriously dark cloud over these models. We shouldn’t take any drastic economy-influencing action or allow ourselves to be frightened or pressured into action until we can re-assess and verify the accuracy of the models. The CRU data isn’t the only data set out there, nor do the CRU e-mails implicate every climate scientist in unethical conduct. But the dataset is one that was central to the IPCC reports and the creation of the “imminent threat, dramatic action is needed now” consensus.

The IPCC reports, which to-date have been the primary “scientific consensus” documents, need to be re-examined. The CRU data IS only one dataset, so it’s not like ALL CLIMATE SCIENCE IS BAD JUST TRUST IN JESUS. But it was used heavily to produce other datasets, to produce the IPCC reports, etc, etc.

The overall cooling has been going on for the past ten years or so. The overall trend IS upward, if you look across the time period for which we have direct data, and possibly upward for longer, depending on the accuracy of the proxy data, the extrapolations, computer models, and other indirect methods. But, the past ten years of cooling has been generally ignored publicly. To the skeptic side, the important thing is that this shows that the data and the models is divergent and so the accuracy and reliability of the models being used are questionable.

To explain the recent cooling, decreased solar activity is a proposed explanation. That’s not to say that explanation is universally accepted, thus the scientist saying that “let’s be honest, we really can’t account for it”. So they’ve ignored it when presenting arguments publicly, such as when preparing the IPCC reports.

The other argument, from the people who DO choose to disagree with that, is that it’s short term anyway and ten years of cooling trend can be safely ignored in favor of the two centuries or so of warming trend they have proxy data for and extrapolations to come up with temperatures… The counter-argument to that is that we don’t actually have 200 years of data, only proxy data. we have ROUGH instrumental data for global temp data from about 1850, and detailed instrumental data from about the 50s onward. So, 60 years of hard data, 160 or so years of medium-ish data, and everything before that is based on indirect measurement and computer modeling.

Of course, the question isn’t ‘has the earth been warming?’, because the earth obviously has been. The question is ‘is the warming outside natural parameters?’. Global temperature isn’t static, you don’t just have ice ages, you have warm periods too (duh), such as the medieval warm period between 1000 and 1200 AD. For all the “the planet has a fever” rhetoric, it doesn’t actually have any set of complementary corrective processes like homeostasis in a living organism. The question of whether it is “unnaturally” fast, or “unnaturally” high/hot is what really makes the difference between natural variation and human-caused global warming. Again, this not me saying that human-caused global warming is a hoax. I just want to fucking know accurately the extent of the effect.

Solar cycle - Wikipedia presents a decent summary of arguments for ignoring or minimizing solar activity. The problem with this argument is that if you accept it, you then have very little to go on for arguing why the earth’s been cooling for the past decade or so. This doesn’t keep some people from trying to have their cake and eat it to, saying “The past ten years of cooling are due to decreased solar activity, and solar activity is so small compared to the effects of human warming that it’s totally overshadowed and has no real effect on the planet”.

And now I’m going to go ahead and reserve the use of the best image on GIS for this topic:

The fact that you would say that, “outside natural parameters,” shows what’s wrong with your position. Natural parameters have nothing to do with this. Yes, the earth has been warmer than it is now. Warmer than it will be even if we keep polluting! That doesn’t matter. The question is “Is warming going to fuck us over?” If the answer is yes, (hint: it is) the question is “How do we stop it?” If global warming isn’t anthropogenic, that’s worse. That’s way fucking worse, because it’s less likely we can do something about it.

If warming is going to fuck us over, the question of whether it is anthropogenic or not is critically important, since it has serious implications for what approaches to preventing or mitigating the problem will work. For example, if CO2 emissions are not having a significant impact on global temperatures, then reducing emissions is a waste of time and energy better spent on something that will actually do some good.

(The above should not be considered an argument for or against anthropogenic climate change or the role of CO2 emissions in such.)