Climategate

4 Dec

I do not believe in man-made global warming.   I particularly dislike Al Gored-head, and I don’t appreciate the way this has been rammed down our throats.  Climate Skeptic sums it up well:

For years, with the media’s active participation, criticism of the mainstream scientific position on global warming has been painted as somehow outside the bounds of reasonable discourse.  Skeptics are called “deniers,” with the intent to equate them with those who deny the Holocaust.

Enter Climategate 2009.  Apparently somebody hacked into some computers at the Climate Research Unit (CRU) in Britain and posted a bunch of their emails and documents on the web.  It has caused quite an uproar.

First, the emails include a lot of suspicious comments, like using a “trick” to “hide the decline” (of global temps), and, “We can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t,” plus others.  But those scientists and their supporters have poo-pooed the outcry, claiming that the comments were taken out of context and though the wording was sometimes unfortunate, it was just some technical lingo that we non-scientists don’t understand.  Hum, sure, whatever you say, geeky science dudes.

Now, science was definitely NOT my favorite subject in school, but I do remember some of the basics.  Maybe you recall The Scientific Method for Dummies:

  1. You say, “Hey, look at that!  Wonder why that happens?”
  2. You say, “Hum, maybe it’s because of *fill in idea here*”
  3. You test out your idea and re-test over and over in different ways.
  4. If the results aren’t what you expected, your idea was stupid, you moron.
  5. If the results ARE what you expected, well, you might just be on to something!
  6. Then you get other folks much smarter than you to test it out and try their best to prove you wrong.
  7. If everybody keeps coming up with the same results, then you got yourself a bonafide Scientific Theory, woo-hoo!

Ok, here’s a more serious explanation,

Science works by one person making a claim, and backing it up with the data and methods that they used to make the claim. Other scientists then attack the claim by (among other things) trying to replicate the first scientist’s work. If they can’t replicate it, it doesn’t stand.

But, according to the emails, the folks at CRU weren’t too keen on having their findings reviewed or even questioned.  In fact, they tried to ostracize dissenters and even control what was published in peer review publications.  The emails also show a blatant attempt to deny access to the raw data and the analysis methods used in the CRU research.  Watts Up With That? contains a lengthy post detailing Willis Eschenbach’s attempts:

As far as I know, I am the person who made the original Freedom Of Information Act to CRU that started getting all this stirred up. I was trying to get access to the taxpayer funded raw data out of which they built the global temperature record. I was not representing anybody, or trying to prove a point. I am not funded by Mobil, I’m an amateur scientist with a lifelong interest in the weather and climate. I’m not “directed” by anyone, I’m not a member of a right-wing conspiracy. I’m just a guy trying to move science forwards.

The folks at CRU didn’t want to release this stuff, claiming their software codes were their own intellectual property.  They never released the actual raw data; they basically told Willis, here’s where we got the data, so go get it yourself if you want to.

Maybe they didn’t want the data nor their software files revealed, because it was all a bunch of crap. From The Toronto Sun,

I’ve been poring over one of many leaked computer files from the “climategate” scandal.  This document has the innocuous header “HARRY_READ_Me.txt.”  Reading “HARRY_READ_ME.txt” it’s clear the CRU’s files were a mess. The programmer laments huge gaps in data, bug-filled programs and worries about all the guesswork he’s doing. His comments suggest the problems go back years.

And likewise from The Devil’s Kitchen 

In other words, these (data files) are the guts of CRU’s actual computer models—the data, the code and the applications.  And they are, by all accounts, a total bloody mess.

So, how did these scientists get so terribly off track?  Perhaps, as Mr. Dolby says, they were blinded with science (click for video).

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