Friday, December 11, 2009

My new take on Climate

There may really one set of modified temperature data, and a very small group of people who have seen this data and worked with it. I think Steve Hayward is probably on to something:

Michael Mann [Associate Professor at Pennsylvania State University] Phil Jones [head of Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia], and Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore seem indisputably to be the bad actors (it was Santer who said he was "very tempted" to "beat the crap out of" skeptic Pat Michaels). Others in their circle, such as Keith Briffa [Climatic Research Unit], Tom Wigley [University Corporation for Atmospheric Research], and Mike Hulme [Professor at UAE], appear much more scrupulous and restrained about handling the data, uncertainties, and conclusions they put into print. Kevin Trenberth, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and key IPCC contributor, comes out somewhere in the middle, writing recently, for example, "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment [since 1998], and it is a travesty that we can't." But Jones also suggests in one email that he and Trenberth will help keep contrarian climate research out of the IPCC process "even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"

They had an opportunity to create and develop a new science--the science of climate. Beginning from computer modelling, it would involve a lot of statistics, a bit of physics (interaction of fluids and gases, radiation), a bit of oceanography (ocean currents and sea level), a bit of polar studies (ice cores), a bit of geology/paleontology (fossils, changes in sediments and rocks over time), a bit of dendrology (tree rings), among others.The exciting prospect was to arrive at specific findings about the apparently chaotic set of processes called "climate," and ultimately, perhaps, suggest some actions and government policies that might make climate more supportive of human life than it is. Given this golden opportunity, they squandered it.

They seem to have carved out a field which does not proceed by normal scientific standards. They accept and endorse only work that supports their predetermined conclusions; they decide what counts as a refereed journal in their field, and who is recognized as a refereee. Their competence in any field of science--even statistics, where it is has been assumed they are somehow beyond question--can be questioned. Even if it is admitted that there is some doubt about the connection between temperature and man-made CO2, to say nothing of Arctic ice, remote glaciers, etc., it is usually claimed that at least the climate gurus have a temperature record--or even better, several independent records--going back centuries, that are beyond question, and therefore a kind of bedrock for their theory. It turns out that the supposedly independent records are highly dependent on each other, and all have been manipulated in ways that go beyond the expected corrections that are required by the circumstances in which temperatures are recorded. Most tellingly, they have fought with great resource and determination to hide their original data, and the statistical methods which they have used to arrive at their published results, including wonderfully simple graphs. To an incredible extent, people who should know better have taken their word on all this, and therefore let them get away with it.

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