Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Explaining Away Climategate - 3

Climategate was triggered by the release of thousands of emails and computer programs from the UK Climactic Research Unit (CRU) late in 2009. See the video attempt at Explaining Away Climategate for a defence of the Warmists. This is the third of my series. See Part 1 and part 2.

Even the IPCC has admitted the truth of the Medieval Warming Period (MWP). See the image above that appeared in their 1990 report, indicating that temperatures between 1100 and 1300 were higher than the most recent decades. [I added the red annotation - more about that below.]

Contemporary documents that report unusual warming exist for the period between the years 800 and 1400. In addition to this historical evidence, tree ring and other proxy data from scientific research proves the case.

That it was a worldwide phenomena is shown by this Interactive Webpage. [Click the link to open a new window with a world map. Each red ball represents a location where scientific evidence of warming exists. Roll your cursor over any of the small graphs to expand it and show the link to the original source.]

As expected, the warming did not appear at exactly the same time in every location all over the Earth. Some areas experienced the warming earlier and some later. In some locations the warming lasted for 200 years, in others for longer periods.

Skeptics about human-caused Global Warming have pointed to the MWP as proof the Earth was warmer prior to the industrial age, so human activities cannot be responsible for most of the Global Warming experienced in the past century.


By late in the 1990's, climate researchers wanted to demonstrate that it had never been warmer in the past 1,000 years. That made the MWP a problem!

Keith Briffa, the Deputy Director of the CRU, and a tree-ring proxy expert, was pressured to come up with "a nice tidy story" that would make the MWP go away. He wrote an email complaining about:

“… pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards ‘apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more in the proxy data’… I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1,000 years ago.”

The problem was that the tree-ring proxy data did not match the instrumental (thermometer) records for the entire 150 year period for which they exist. In particular, the last 20 to 40 years of the proxy data curved downwards while the instrumental record went the other way!

Michael Mann, a climate researcher at Penn State, published a paper in the prestigious journal Nature that made the MWP disappear. Phil Jones, Director of the CRU, used "Mike's Nature trick" to "hide the decline" and achieve "a nice tidy story".


The figure below shows the result, first published in Nature in 1999 and then in the IPCC 2001 report.

[Click the graphic for a larger version. The base diagram is from Wikipedia. The box at the lower right says that the Blue and Black data is from "tree rings, corals, ice cores, and historical records". I have added the Brown Hockey Stick and the Red words.] Notice that, like the rabbit in the hat trick, the MWP is gone! Compare the above to the IPCC 1990 figure for the same years:

Pretty neat work wouldn't you say? But, would you call it science?

Ira Glickstein
PS: According to the UK Telegraph "Climategate: the corruption of Wikipedia", "...one man, a Cambridge-based scientist and Green Party activist named William Connolley. ... took control of all things climate in the most used information source the world has ever known – Wikipedia. ... He rewrote Wikipedia’s articles on global warming, on the greenhouse effect, on the instrumental temperature record, on the urban heat island, on climate models, on global cooling. On Feb. 14, he began to erase the Little Ice Age; on Aug.11, the Medieval Warm Period. In October, he turned his attention to the hockey stick graph. He rewrote articles on the politics of global warming and on the scientists who were skeptical of the band. ...

"All told, Connolley created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles. His control over Wikipedia was greater still, however, through the role he obtained at Wikipedia as a website administrator, which allowed him to act with virtual impunity. When Connolley didn’t like the subject of a certain article, he removed it — more than 500 articles of various descriptions disappeared at his hand. When he disapproved of the arguments that others were making, he often had them barred — over 2,000 Wikipedia contributors who ran afoul of him found themselves blocked from making further contributions. ..."


CentralCoastRick said...

Ira: Though the 'trick' you show 'smoothing out' the MWP is impressive and accurate as I recall, the trick referred to in the 'whistleblower' release(1) has several places been related to truncating data one wishes not to explain. This is discussed in one place at: {a "href=http://climateaudit.org/2009/12/10/ipcc-and-the-trick/"}IPCC and the "Trick" at Climate Audit{/a}

This reference was dated Dec 10, 09 so it might have been overcome by later revelations.

Both "tricks" fall below the standard that taxpayer-funded scientists should meet in my opinion.

CentralCoastRick said...

2nd try with the link:

{a href="http://climateaudit.org/2009/12/10/ipcc-and-the-trick/"}IPCC and the 'Trick' at Climate Audit{/a}

Also the (1) reference I failed to include was a proposed way to reference the source of the emails and files. Our local press insists on using AP releases which always refers to them as either 'hacked' or 'stolen.' Since whistleblower actions may be legal Great Britian (apparently qualifying depends on the view of the adjudicator) I'd rather refer to them NOT as hacked or stolen.

There was an analysis on the web some weeks ago with evidence that they were most likely released by a frustrated insider. (Technically, this might still make them 'stolen' - I don't know British law at all.)

Ira Glickstein said...

Rick, here is your link clickable:
IPCC and the 'Trick' at Climate Audit.

You needed to use "<" and ">" instead of "{" and "}" to make the html work.

Also, I agree and always refer to the Climategate files as "released" rather than "hacked" or "stolen". This work was done using taxpayer money and is clearly not covered by military security considerations, so, by the Freedom of Information Act, they are public property.

Back to your first comment. Yes, the UK CRU seems to have simply truncated the 20 to 40 years of tree-ring proxy data that did not conform to their pre-ordained conclusions. I say "seems" because some of the released computer programs simply truncate while another uses a vector of 20 numbers (that the surprisingly honest programmer calls a "fudge factor") and interpolates it with two other vectors, see here.

It is not clear what Michael Mann at Penn State actually did to generate "Mike's Nature trick" because his methods have not, to my knowledge, been revealed (yet :^). Any more whistleblowers out there?

Howard Pattee said...

I’m not disputing that “not good” science was exhibited by a few members of the CRU.

However, I suggest that Ira’s sources are not good science either. The link to “CO2 Science” clearly has its own agenda. It states: “ Tired of alarmist global warming propaganda? Learn what science really has to say about the issue. Purchase your copies of our documentaries today.”

Their interactive map has only 40 graphs, and their sources are not clear. Only 28 papers are referenced in the link to publications. These have clearly been cherry-picked.

The scientific papers on climate change numbers in the tens of thousands. The picture is obviously full of uncertainties, but I’m not persuaded that Ira’s analysis carries more weight than opinions of thousands of other scientists.

CentralCoastRick said...

Ira - thanks for the correction on links - btw I cut and pasted your previous instructions but it might have been an html trick that converted the original less than and greater than symbols into braces.

Can you provide a link to other editing rules - or info on embedding graphics? I'd like to get some reaction to a 1 page response I'm writing for a local astronomer that is scaring the local students with talk of acid seas killing all coral and that we should all use the local farmer's markets to reduce footprints (both of which run counter to the evidence that I'm aware of). For this one page item I'd like to use a couple of graphics.


Ira Glickstein said...

Thanks Howard for joining this thread. The historical existence of a Medieval Warming Period (MWP) around the year 1000, at least in Europe, Greenland, and North America, was not at all in doubt or controversial in 1990 when the first graphic was included in the IPCC 1990 report. Are you suggesting otherwise?

The interactive map I linked to shows evidence it was worldwide based on scientific study of proxy data. You counted 28 published papers which all showed great warming around the year 1000, plus or minus a couple centuries. Perhaps they were "cherry-picked" but where are the published papers that contradict them?

Even the CRU Deputy Director, Keith Briffa, a tree-ring expert, wrote of pressure he was feeling from his CRU Director Phil Jones to force-fit the proxy data into a "nice tidy story" that it is currently warmer than ever in the past 1000 years. Then Briffa writes that he believes it was as warm 1000 years ago as it was then (1990's)!

Yes, the scientific papers on climate change do number in the thousands. How many of them discount the MWP?

All the thousands of papers show is the significant 20th century warming which the skeptics do not deny. As I have said before, neither I nor any reasonable person denies the recent warming. Nor do we deny that human-released carbon gasses have a role in the warming.

All we question is the primary cause. If it was as warm, or warmer, 1000 years ago, prior to the industrial age, that proves that natural causes are capable of causing great warmth. And also great cooling as in the "Little Ice Age" that also appears in my first graphic.

The UK CRU group and Michael Mann and other Alarmists in the US were intent on showing the opposite - that human activities were the major cause of the recent warming. The MWP complicated their story line so they had to eliminate it. Hence, the trick.

Ira Glickstein

Ira Glickstein said...

Rick, all you need to know about HTML for writing comments is:

Clickable link:

{a href="http://climateaudit.org/2009/12/10/ipcc-and-the-trick/"}IPCC and the 'Trick' at Climate Audit{/a}

Italics: {i}text{/i}

Bold: {b}text{/b}

BUT REMEMBER TO SUBSTITUTE "<" for "{" and ">" for "}" in the above examples.

If you want to write a new Topic, the Google Blogger editor allows you to insert photos from your computer and to make text bold, italic, different colors, sizes and so on without using HTML.

If you post a new Topic on this Blog, and if it needs editing or addition of clip art, I will do so for you after you post it.

If you would like to send me a copy of your response to the acid seas guy for my comment and perhaps some HTML editing, please email it to ira@techie.com and I will do so.

There are many Basic HTML tutorials online, such as this one.

Good luck,


Howard Pattee said...

Ira, all I was suggesting is that the "CO2 SCience" source you linked appears to me to be biased. Do you think this would be a professionally acceptable scientific source?

Wiki quotes the IPCC Third Assessment Report from 2001 which says, "... current evidence does not support globally synchronous periods of anomalous cold or warmth over this time frame, and the conventional terms of 'Little Ice Age' and 'Medieval Warm Period' appear to have limited utility in describing trends in hemispheric or global mean temperature changes in past centuries". Global temperature records taken from ice cores, tree rings, and lake deposits, have shown that, taken globally, the Earth may have been slightly cooler (by 0.03 degrees Celsius) during the 'Medieval Warm Period' than in the early and mid-20th century.”

As I say, the answer is uncertain, and I doubt that arguing on one side or the other will make it more certain.

Ira Glickstein said...

At first Howard, I did not know what you meant when you referred to my link to "CO2 Science" that is selling DVD documentaries. Double-checking, I found their logo and a link at the bottom of the Interactive Webpage. I followed the link and they seem to be a non-profit registered in Arizona with an address and phone number: Center for the Study of
Carbon Dioxide and Global Change
P.O. Box 25697, Tempe, AZ 85285-5697, USA, 480-966-3719. I don't find it unusual for a non-profit to produce and sell DVDs to support their work, do you? I cannot vouch for their scientific credentials nor for the papers they reference.

You quote Wikipedia regarding the IPCC 2001 report downplaying the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and Little Ice Age (LIA). What happened between the IPCC 1990 report, where the MWP and LIA were featured in the graphic and the 2001 report? Well, for one thing, the 1999 publication of "Mike's Nature trick" paper.

We now know, thanks to the Climategate emails of CRU Director Phil Jones, how that "trick" is accomplished. Just truncate or "fudge factor" adjust the tree-ring proxy data!

As for Wikipedia, I generally trust them as a source, but my faith has been shaken recently by the revelation (see UK Telegraph) that a Cambridge-based scientist and Green Party activist named William Connolley has, since 2003, been erasing MWP and LIA references, rewriting or creating over 5000 articles, disappearing 500 and banning 2000 Wikipedia contributors.

But no one can erase the historical fact that Greenland was colonized by the Norse between the year 1000 and 1400. According to Wikipedia (!) "Interpretation of ice core data suggests that between 800 and 1300 AD the regions around the fjords of southern Greenland experienced a mild climate, with trees and herbaceous plants growing and livestock being farmed. Barley was grown as a crop ..." The Norse settlements died off during the Little Ice Age when the mild climate turned colder.

Ira Glickstein

Howard Pattee said...

The warming of Greenland is not disputed. The issue is whether it is relevant for global warming. This is uncertain because there is not enough data. I’m not arguing for the warmers or the skeptics. When the data are so uncertain a scientist should remain detached. Arguments alone without more data will only produce more politicization with the increasingly useless polarization we are seeing. What does that solve? It just corrupts both science and politics.

The ideal of science is objectivity, which means that your wishes one way or the other should be irrelevant. “If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinions for or against anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is [unscientific] ― a disease of the mind.” [Zen teaching]

A February 2007 survey found that 95% of the 41 Congressional Democrats surveyed agreed "it's been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Earth is warming because of man-made problems" while only 13% of the 31 Republicans surveyed agreed.

Since the same (inadequate)information is available to both parties, this huge discrepancy must be “a disease of the mind” or what is known as politicization. The situation is now hopeless. Both science and politics are important, but mixing them resultin bad science and bad politics.

Ira Glickstein said...

Of course I agree, Howard, that mixing bad science with politics is a disaster. However, is there anything wrong with good science informing policy? I think it is absolutely necessary. The problem comes when bad politics drives science (e.g., awarding grants only for science research that politicos know will support the party line.)

As for the survey you reported, even I would answer yes to the question as framed: "it's been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Earth is warming because of man-made problems". Yes, it is beyond reasonable doubt that man-made CO2 and land use are causing part of the warming. I think it is around 10%.

A fair question would have asked: "it's been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Earth is warming primarily because of man-made problems".

The latest IPCC report holds the above to be true. Do you think it is true that man-made problems are responsible for over 50% of the warming? Beyond reasonable doubt?

Ira Glickstein

PS: This morning, there was a thin sheet of ice covering our koi pond and a slab of ice on the compost bin cover. A good example of "global warming" here in Florida!

CentralCoastRick said...

Your survey of Democrats / Republicans gives me an opening to ask another question.
I'm writing a short 'other side' page in response to a local scientist. I had a chance to hear this presentation at the local Democratic club recently. One of his slides had the following (from notes - & dark room so may be some slight errors):
Is mankind primarily responsible for climate change?

a) General public ~50%
b) Scientists: 90%
c) Climate Scientists: 97%

So there's the consensus!

The closest I have found to this is a fairly recent (2008) survey:

Doran and Zimmerman in Climate Change

In this study, 97.4% (75 of 77)replied "Yes" to the following question: 2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures? (Emphasis is mine)

Dang - wish it had been worded differently. The word 'Significance' is either a dubious or very clever choice. Webster says things such as: "having effect," "measurably large," "Important" but ALSO "something other than mere chance!"

I might have answered 'yes' to question 2 myself. From Physics experiments, if I was looking for an effect and I found one of say 5x or 10X my experimental error, I'd be a happy camper! Even if it was just a 5% effect! I'd even say that met the definition of 'Statistical Significance.'

But if question 2 had instead been worded: "Importent enough for governments to invest trillions to attempt to offset it" I'd answer 'No.' or at least 'No, not until we know more about the problem and the impact of proposed solutions.'

Can someone else provide either a better attribution for the numbers cited by my presenter - or better yet, any survey that might be more specific about AGW's impact?

Ira Glickstein said...

Rick, you reported on what the local scientist at your Democratic club said (based on your notes in a dark room):

Is mankind primarily responsible for climate change?

a) General public ~50%
b) Scientists: 90%
c) Climate Scientists: 97%

I would answer "no" to the question as stated because I interpret PRIMARILY as 50%+ and I believe the true percentage for human activities is only around 10%

I searched for a study and found this.

Here are the questions:

1) "Have mean global temperatures risen compared to pre-1800s levels ...

2) "... has human activity been a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures?"

I would answer "yes" to both because it is indisputable temperatures have risen since the 1800s and I think humans are responsible for around 10% and I consider 10% to be SIGNIFICANT.

According to the linked study, of over 3000 scientists, 90% agreed with (1) and 82% with (2). I would guess the reason 10% and 18% did not agree was due to interpretation. Is less than a degree rise within the margin of error? Is 10% responsibility "significant"?

Acording to the study, "climatologists who are active in climate research" agreed 97%.

On the other hand, "meteorologists" were at 64% and "petroleum geologists" at 47%.

The linked story does not report the percentage of the general public on these questions.

BOTTOM LINE: Given that the latest IPCC 2007 report claims human acivities are mainly responsible, which I count as 50%+, the only valid question to ask scientists is: "Are human activities responsible for the MAJORITY of the warming since the 1800s?"

"Significant", the word used in the question as you heard it, has no specific meaning. It could be anywhere from 1% to 51%.


CentralCoastRick said...

Ira: The CNN news story is the same one I provided the paper link to in Climate Science. (Interesting that the CNN story has the same date as the journal date!)

I can't say if my notes correctly caught the speaker's comments, but his comments were surely more 'positive' about AGW than the questionnaire you (and I) found.

In that report, ~58% of the general public answered 'yes' to the second question.

I still hold that the question was carefully crafted to yield a misleading result.