A few months back, Europhysics News, the science journal that published the new study “On the Physics of High Rise Building Collapse”, by Jones et al (republished here on OffG), published an interesting range of follow up letters to the editor. Less widely publicised has been an announcement in the same edition from its editors that reads like a declaration of political censorship.
The small collection of “letters to the editor” published in a recent edition of Europhysics News as a follow-up to the Jones et al paper “On the Physics of High Rise Building Collapse” is revelatory on several levels. Not only for the range of views expressed, but also, and perhaps most significantly, as a statement on the level of censorship and self-censorhip currently deemed acceptable in academia.
The letter that received most attention in the alt media is from a “member of the NIST technical staff during the period 1997 – 2011,” and alleging “the more I investigated, the more apparent it became that NIST had reached a predetermined conclusion by ignoring, dismissing, and denying the evidence.” He calls on NIST to “openly share all evidence, data, models, computations, and other relevant information unless specific and compelling reasons are otherwise provided.” Which seems an eminently rational and reasonable demand.
Thoughts from a former NIST employee
I was a member of the NIST technical staff during the period 1997- 2011. I initially joined the High Performance Systems and Services Division and later became a member of what was, at the time, the Mathematical and Computational Sciences Division of the Information Technology Laboratory. My fellow NIST employees were among the finest and most intelligent people with whom I have ever worked.
I did not contribute to the NIST WTC investigation or reports. But in August of this year, I began to read some of those reports. As I then watched several documentaries challenging the findings of the NIST investigation, I quickly became furious. First, I was furious with myself. How could I have worked at NIST all those years and not have noticed this before? Second, I was furious with NIST. The NIST I knew was intellectually open, non-defensive, and willing to consider competing explanations.
The more I investigated, the more apparent it became that NIST had reached a predetermined conclusion by ignoring, dismissing, and denying the evidence. Among the most egregious examples is the explanation for the collapse of WTC 7 as an elaborate sequence of unlikely events culminating in the almost symmetrical total collapse of a steel-frame building into its own footprint at free-fall acceleration.
I could list all the reasons why the NIST WTC reports don’t add up, but others have already done so in extensive detail and there is little that I could add. What I can do, however, is share some thoughts based on common sense and experience from my fourteen years at NIST.
First, if NIST truly believes in the veracity of its WTC investigation, then it should openly share all evidence, data, models, computations, and other relevant information unless specific and compelling reasons are otherwise provided. For example, would the release of all files and calculations associated with the ANSYS collapse initiation mod- el jeopardize public safety to an extent that outweighs the competing need for accountability?
Second, in its reports, NIST makes a great show of details leading to collapse initiation and then stops short just when it becomes interesting. The remainder of the explanation is a perfunctory statement that total collapse is inevitable and obvious. It is easy to see through this tactic as avoid- ance of inconvenient evidence. In response to any challenges, NIST has provided curt explanations from its Public Affairs Office. There were many contributors to the NIST WTC investigation: Why not let them openly answer questions in their own voice with the depth of knowledge and level of detail that follows from the nuts and bolts of their research?
Lastly, awareness is growing of the disconnect between the NIST WTC reports and logical reasoning. The level of interest in “15 years later” is a good example. Due to the nature of communication in today’s world, that awareness may increase approximately exponentially. Why not NIST blow the whistle on itself now while there is still time?
Truth is where our healing lies.
Peter Michael Ketcham, USA
The 9/11 Truth community has, understandably, promoted the above letter as evidence for the crumbling of NIST’s official position on 9/11. But we think the following announcement is in many ways the most relevant to our current time. In the era of “propornot”, campus censorship and the promotion of “anti-free-speech” as the new badge of the Left, below is the official statement by the editors of Europhysics News itself (our emphasis):
The editors respond
It is the policy of EPN to publish by invitation. Prospective authors are suggested by members of our Editorial Advisory Board, who cover various disciplines and come from different countries.
This particular Feature article ‘On the physics of High Rise Building Collapses’, followed the same route. We expected this topic to be of wide interest to our readers and thus invited the suggested authors to submit their manuscript. EPN does not have a formal review/rejection policy for invited contributions.
In the present case we realized that the final manuscript contained some speculations and had a rather controversial conclusion. Therefore a ‘Note from the editors’ was added, stressing that the content is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not represent an official position of EPN.
Since some controversy remains, even among more competent people in the field, we considered that the correct scientific way to settle this debate was to publish the manuscript and possibly trigger an open discussion leading to an undisputable truth based on solid arguments. Therefore we asked NIST, as principal investigator of the WTC collapse, to send us a reaction to the article. Their response can be found elsewhere on these pages.
It is shocking that the published article is being used to support conspiracy theories related to the attacks on the WTC buildings. The Editors of EPN do not endorse or support these views.
In future, prospective authors will be asked to provide an abstract of the proposed article, as well as an indication of other related publications to allow the editors to better assess the content of the invited articles.
It’s hard to read this as anything but a wholesale rejection of its own decision to publish this “controversial” paper, and an announcement that all future papers will be vetted for political content as well as scientific validity, and that certain authors and/or dissenting opinions will be suppressed. Whatever your opinions on 9/11, and however you view the Jones et al paper, this must disturb you.
We did email Europhysics News to ask them for some clarification. We’ll let our readers know when/if they respond.
My analysis of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s recent statements on climate change, and the response to his statements.
Last week, there was a controversial interview of Scott Pruitt on CNBC. A sampling of the headlines reporting on his interview:
New Yorker : Scott Pruitt rejects climate change reality. A relatively thorough summary of the interview with Scott Pruitt.
Washington Post : On climate change, Scott Pruitt causes an uproar — and contradicts the EPA’s own website.
CNBC: Scott Pruitt’s climate denial is dangerous and out of step.
Guardian : EPA head Scott Pruitt denies that carbon dioxide causes global warming. Subtitle: Trump adviser shocks scientists and environmental advocates with statement that negates EPA policy and ‘overwhelmingly clear’ evidence on climate change
David Robert at Vox : Scott Pruitt denies basic climate science. But most of the outrage is missing the point. Subtitle: It’s not about Pruitt and it’s not about facts. Excerpt: The right’s refusal to accept the authority of climate science is of a piece with its rejection of mainstream media, academia, and government, the shared institutions and norms that bind us together and contain our political disputes.
A number of scientists have responded in various venues regarding their opinion on Scott Pruitt’s statements. Here I include the ‘official’ statement from the AGU:
AGU Responds to Statements from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on Climate Change. Excerpt: The position statement of the American Geophysical Union regarding climate change leaves no doubt that increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide resulting from human activity is the dominant source of climate change during the last several decades.
You may recall my concerns about the AGU policy statement on climate change [link]
What Scott Pruitt actually said
Listen to what Scott Pruitt actually said on CNBC and then compare it to the portrayal in the media. Here is the key text:
I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see. But we don’t know that yet. We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.
Can you square what Pruitt actually said with the distorted quotes and headlines about this? I can’t.
I think that these two statements made by Pruitt are absolutely correct:
I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact
We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.
The other two statements give slightly conflicting messages:
I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see. But we don’t know that yet.
The main statement of controversy is:
I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.
You can interpret this in two ways:
1.Pruitt is denying that CO2 is a primary contributor to recent global warming
2.Pruitt is saying that he does not accept as a ‘fact’ that CO2 is a primary contributor because we simply don’t know.
Since his subsequent statement is “But we don’t know that yet”, #2 is obviously the correct interpretation.
I think he is saying that he is not convinced that we know with certainty that humans have caused 100% of the recent warming (which is what some climate modelers are saying, see recent tweets from Gavin Schmidt), or that humans have caused ‘more than half’ of the recent warming (which was the conclusion from the IPCC AR5.
If I am interpreting Pruitt’s statements correctly, I do not find anything to disagree with in what he said: we don’t know how much of recent warming can be attributed to humans. In my opinion, this is correct and is a healthy position for both the science and policy debates.
Exactly what the Trump administration intends to do regarding funding climate science, energy policy and the Paris climate agreement presumably remain as subjects of debate within the administration. Looking at every little leak and quote out of context as a rationale for hysteria simply isn’t rational or useful.
The most interesting reaction to all this is David Robert’s Vox article:
The right’s refusal to accept the authority of climate science is of a piece with its rejection of mainstream media, academia, and government, the shared institutions and norms that bind us together and contain our political disputes.
The ‘problem’: a change of administration and party after 8 years, mainstream media no longer has a lock on the media’s message (given all of the new news sources on the internet), academia’s profoundly liberal bias is being challenged, and the consensus that has been negotiated and enforced by certain elite scientists is being challenged.
Three cheers for democracy, the internet and the scientific process.
The two minute hate redefined for the Facebook age
The “collision of opinion” so endorsed by enlightenment thinkers, is not currently encouraged. If someone says something stupid or blatantly false our first response is no longer to try to prove them wrong – it’s to silence them. To quote Jonathan Pie we focus on “stopping debates instead of winning them.” A good recent example of that is the bizarre trial-by-media of Polish right-wing MEP Janusz Korwin-Mikke.
Let’s be clear. JKM seems to hold a pretty reactionary and unpleasant set of views, about women and much else. Speaking as a woman, I’m not a fan of that. Here is the gentleman, talking about the gender pay gap, in the discourse that ignited the current eruption of outrage:
His English is broken, his reasoning shaky and his conclusions pretty flawed. He’s a self-created straw man, waiting to be knocked over by any reasonably intelligent or astute opponent. But what has the response in the media been?
Yes, that’s right, not a series of rational refutations, but a chorus of offended people hurling abuse and demanding the clown be censored.
Piers Morgan, who invited Korwin-Mikke on to Good Morning Britain did little more than exchange playground insults with the man. Korwin-Mikke says his opinions are based on “scientific studies”. Did Morgan bother to ask what these “studies” might be? Did he offer counter-evidence that proves the nonsense Korwin-Mikke is talking?
No. He just called him “stupid” and a “sexist pig”. Ok, maybe JKM is both those things, but that’s not the point. If he’s wrong he should be shown to be wrong, with rebuttal, not ad hominem. What Morgan did, and was lauded for, isn’t debate, it’s an ignorant brawl, or the two-minutes hate. The fact the hate-figure on this occasion is some man with unpleasant ideologies and dodgy data does not make it a great day for democracy.
The call is mounting for Korwin-Mikke to be “kicked out” of the European parliament. The Soros-funded fake grassroots group Avaaz is leading this campaign, and lying about him into the bargain, publishing photos of him doing a Nazi salute, without bothering to tell anyone he was, as the Independent grudgingly confirms in its text, doing this as a derogatory commentary on current German policies, and not as a tribute to Hitler (yes, it was still inappropriate, but that doesn’t justify a blatant falsehood being propagated in pursuance of a witch hunt). Avaaz’s campaign already has over 700,000 signatories. And indeed Korwin-Mikke is going to be dealt with by the EP itself, who have promised:
… a penalty commensurate with the gravity of the offence”
Offence? Is it actually illegal now to say untrue things about women? We’re going to punish this guy, not prove him wrong?
So, who cares, right? So, one misogynistic fool gets falsely maligned and hounded in the tabloids and maybe even “kicked out” of parliament, who is any the worse for it?
To which the obvious reply is – do you really think it will end there? Do you think the neoliberal press and toxic propagandists such as Avaaz are busy fostering this atmosphere of anti-intellectual intolerance just so they can deal with a handful of women-haters or other nasties?
The point is, once you have installed the culture of suppression, you can use it in any way you like.
The insidious new meme being developed in “progressive” places like the Guardian, and other neoliberal strongholds is that free speech is all very well, but has its limits. Not, you understand, the already established limits defined by law which make it clear free speech does not include the right to threaten, defame or incite violence. No, these are new and woolly limits that involve misty concepts like “hate” (not hate-speech, which is also defined by certain laws, but “hate”, which isn’t), and “consensus facts.” We are told that people who transgress these vague new limits need to be stopped – for the good of society. We are told we are living in a time of unprecedented “hate”, even though prosecutions for hate-crime are dropping. We are told we need to take a stand, “stamp out” this “hate” and make a statement of zero tolerance.
On the surface that’s a reasonable thing. No one sane wants to encourage hate or to be a “hater”. But what we may not notice is that the “progressives” advocating this approach never say exactly what they mean by “hater”. “Hater” of what exactly? Ethnic minorities? Women? Trans people? White men? Oligarchs? Israel? Corrupt politicians? The NSA? What if the corrupt politician is a woman? What if the NSA spokesman is black?
And exactly how far can we go to stamp out “hate”? Is it acceptable – for example – to rescind an elected representative’s right to sit in the European Parliament if he’s branded a “hater”? Who would be empowered to make this decision? The parliament itself? Oligarch-funded pressure groups with hordes of unverified signatories? What are the exact definitions? Where is the line drawn? We aren’t told, and that’s probably not an oversight.
“Denier” is another word like “hater.” “Deniers” are the boogeymen to sell us the idea that free speech is dangerous, not just for minorities, but also for the preservation of truth. The same people who talk about “haters” frequently ask how we can allow “deniers” to keep muddying the argument about [insert contentious issue here], when the world/human health/the future of the universe is at stake.
The starting point is always the fallacy that we can establish truth to a degree that makes further discussion of evidence unnecessary and doubt a sort of crime. Once we know the Truth, the argument goes, we don’t really need free speech any more. In fact free speech in a time of established Truth becomes a regressive force, since it will enable those who don’t believe the Truth, or who are paid to besmirch it, to lead the unwary from the path of certainty into darkness and doubt.
If that sounds like religious fundamentalism it’s because essentially that’s what it is. It’s the fundamentalism of a post-deist world. Just as anti-rational, just as anti-factual, just as atavistic as any other expression of certitude that requires unqualified acceptance as the first article of faith. But this particular “fundamentalism” is being used cynically as another way of levering public opinion away from real free speech and toward “modified” free speech, where the right to air your opinion is conditional upon a lot of poorly defined, and often faith-based ideas about public health and social responsibility.
Let’s pause for a moment and evaluate.
Why do so many of the same neoliberals who support environmental disasters such as global wars and nuclear energy, also swarm the issue of climate change, and so vocally agitate for the silencing or denigration of “deniers”? Why when the absolutely not “denialist” IPCC is openly admitting there can at present be no certainty about the extent or direction of longterm global temperatures, is any kind of demurring from the belief that manmade climate change is not only real but deadly, presented to us in the liberal media as something malign or insane that should not be given airtime?
If the IPCC’s 2013 report on everything from the net warming potential of C02 to the true extent of ice-loss in the Arctic, is a long list of best guesses ranging from “high probability” to “low probability”, with no mention of certainty, how do we even begin to justify dismissing and demonising people whose views of these probabilities may be different?
Note, I’m not saying “why do people believe in the reality of manmade climate change”? I absolutely understand why they do. It’s a very reasonable thing to believe. I’m asking specifically why we are being encouraged to consider doubt or even nuance is invalid and should be expunged, when the IPCC and scientists on both sides acknowledge that doubt and nuance of varying degrees, and indeed complete absence of knowledge, inevitably goes with the territory?
Is the demand for the exclusion of certain points of view based on a) the fear the public may get confused by conflicting viewpoints and accidentally let the planet burn up, or b) the recognition this is a nice thin end of a very thick wedge?
Just as no one sane wants to encourage hate, no one rational wants to destroy the planet. It’s a pretty easy sell to persuade us that we shouldn’t listen, or give air time, to lunatics or shills who apparently want to let the oceans swallow the land and the skies boil. I mean, I don’t want that to happen, do you? Faced with a stark alternative, where we either censor the bad guys or let them usher in the end of the world, which side are we going to pick? Green David versus Goliath the Oil Monster, is a no-brainer, add in George Monbiot, or someone, pointing to the undeniably egregious suppression of the connection between smoking and lung cancer as proof that narrow special interests can confuse arguments and hinder progress, and we’re sold. Let’s silence the pesky deniers and save the planet.
The argument is superficially persuasive because it’s partly true. Big Tobacco did use its clout to suppress inconvenient research and pay off scientists to lie or obfuscate, and this had a very negative impact on public health over many years. It’s reasonable to want to avoid that in future.
But let’s stop and think for a moment. How, in heaven’s name, is the fact Big Tobacco managed to suppress research and manipulate the debate an argument for censoring anyone? What this case proves is the need for more openness and debate, not less. It proves that good science will win out over false representation, when both sides are given equal opportunity to be heard. It was Big Tobacco’s big bucks that kept the truth from coming out, not the principle of free speech. Imagine, forty years ago, Philip Morris International had been able to not simply suppress and distort but to label its critics “tobacco deniers” and demand their voice be banned from the airwaves for the good of humanity?
Are we supposed to believe this kind of suppression is a step forward, just because right now the perceived “good guys” are doing it? Or that the new age of “consensus-driven”, Avaaz-sponsored grass-roots endorsed censorship would only be used by the weak against the strong, truth against lies? Are we supposed to believe, once we have set a precedent of denying the “deniers” and the “haters” their platform, the neoliberal media won’t pretty soon be labeling anyone their bosses don’t like a “denier” or a “hater” and demanding they be silenced or sent to jail? And, if we can be persuaded to stop listening to one side of this argument can’t we most likely be persuaded to stop listening to one side of any argument.
Are we supposed to overlook the fact that while Goliath the Oil Monster certainly does fund climate skeptics, “Green David” is backed by some of the richest and most influential people on the planet?
No, once again, I’m not saying manmade climate change isn’t real. I’m saying, quite specifically, that the current drive to politicise and censor this debate has nothing to do with protecting truth or saving the planet and everything to do with attacking the most important principle of freedom. I’m saying Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, George Soros, Richard Branson, Reid Hoffman, Tom Steyer, the UN, NASA, NOAA, the IPCC, the EU, the Democratic Party et al can probably compete on equal terms with Big Oil. I’m saying their message is getting across and the idea that manmade global warming is some underfunded grassroots campaign that needs special pleading to defend its corner is just another way of persuading people that censorship can be progressive. I’m saying let’s stop buying that schtick.
I’m saying we need to reassert the fact that truth doesn’t require to be defended by censorship, government prosecution, or simplistic one-sided arguments. Truth thrives in open debate and the exchange of ideas. It dies when one side is denied a voice because “If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”
And that is only more true when the truth may have a dozen billionaires and the entire neoliberal establishment advocating for it.
I’m saying that in a society of “believers” and “deniers” we all become Inquisitors, of each other and ourselves. We are currently encouraged by our betters to be Brown Shirts, dumb as a bag of hammers, zero-tolerant and proud of it, beating down unacceptable minority views with a big populist stick. We are urged, not to arrive at opinions through analysis, but to just know what’s true, because the right people say so, because our Facebook friends give it a lot of likes, because it just is ok? We don’t engage with different opinions we scream at them until they go away or get put down.
I’m saying that as a modern day Milgram experiment this push to get intelligent, caring people to act like Salem witch hunters is interesting, demonstrating that the smartest, sanest person can be enjoined to act against their deepest ideals and even common sense, if given the proper cues.
We’re forgetting that the point of free speech is it guarantees a voice to the weaker party, the oppressed, the otherwise disenfranchised. And in the age of the internet this principle can be put into practice to a degree unimaginable.
This is why the powerful and the wealthy are currently trying to persuade us to fear and distrust each other. To hate in the name of anti-hate, silence in the name of progress. Bit by bit. Voice by voice. Until the only sound left is the dispossessed lunatic scream.
PS: Just once again and to be quite sure any skim-readers get the message – No, I am still NOT saying man made climate change is a lie.
As a person who is neither a scientist nor well-versed in the minutia of climatology, it is interesting to survey the field of contentions over AGW, but in particular, how, on the one hand, the IPCC (sold to the public as a body of bona fide climate scientists solidly united in a singular consensus) publicly professes 95% certainty on the issue of AGW, while, on the other hand, measured observations and disagreements between highly credentialed climatologists belie both the professed ‘certitude’ of and the ‘consensus’ over ‘anthropogenic global warming.’
The imputations of deviousness leveled by the faithful of either side of the debate against the blasphemies of the other are also interesting: those who either deny or question AGW are accused of being in league with Big Oil or other such business interests. And those who ardently affirm the AGW hypothesis are accused of being extortionists who understand how to use fear to exact funds from terrified publics. Each side is right and each side is wrong, of course: some who deny AGW are indeed doing it at the behest of some political and business interests, but not all; and some who ardently affirm AGW as undeniably and catastrophically upon us are doing it also as cynical professionals intent upon eking out a comfortable living for themselves, but not all. Regardless of the side of the debate on which you stand, money is always a great temptation. And yet not everyone feels starved enough to compromise themselves in their honesty, whether in denying or affirming AGW to any degree of certitude. There are genuine holdouts: some climate specialists are skeptical of the AGW only because their method of approach to the data of climactic phenomena does not yield much support for the ‘attribution;’ other equally competent specialists, working from a different set of assumptions, ‘know’ that the data sets, properly understood, ‘must’ confirm AGW, and they ‘know’ this in all sincerity.
And then to add more muck to the embroilment, there is this propensity that we ‘all’ share, which is simply to talk one another into this or that consensus of opinion, rightly or wrongly. Everyone knows that consensus is not science, and yet it is both reasonable and possible for a group of people, collaborating in a spirit of critical thinking with one another, to come to a consensus of opinion on the basis of scientifically rigorous methods of analysis and investigation, as inherently dangerous and misleading as any kind of group consensus may be, scientific or otherwise.
Therefore, what sometimes appears to be bad faith, whether in an act of agreement or disagreement, is merely a manifestation of the ‘social’ nature of what ‘we’ are as humans in cultural terms, intellectually and cognitively. We cannot ‘think’ alone but under the discursive influence of others, many of whom with which on many things we come to agree, although we must at the same time, for the sake of finding our collective way forward to a more adequate understanding of ourselves and our world, be wary of deriving too much comfort from thinking too much as others do, that is to say, conventionally, however astute and sophisticated that general outlook or mindset might be.
If consensus is not science, the scientist cannot always avoid being under its sway and, moreover, if the ‘truth’ is eventually to win out over our collective cultural benightedness, it must eventually tempt and enthrall the reasoning assent of more than just a few and thereby itself become the basis of a consensus. If consensus is not science, science cannot for all that dispense with it.
The ‘global warming’ debate, then, is fractiously multidimensional in its appeals and interests. The political dimension itself bifurcates into at least two phyla or subspecies: the politics of competing for research funds and the politics of which business interests stand to gain or lose from policies that might be elaborated and instituted on the basis of the prognostications of ‘climate science.’ Most of what appears of the debate for broad public consumption is driven by these two highly politicized ferments.
On the one hand, scientific research must go begging for the resources it needs to further its inquiries, and it secures these resources to the degree that it can persuade prospective patrons or backers of the usefulness or necessity of its initiatives. Depending on who is being wooed as a prospective supporter, his understanding of the ‘usefulness or necessity’ of the initiatives being proposed can be very different from that of another, because different ‘interest groups’ do have different and often conflicting interests. What is ‘useful and necessary’ from a public policy standpoint is not always what is ‘useful and necessary’ from a business standpoint, and even between business interests, what may be an opportunity for one sector of the economy may portend catastrophe for another. One only has to think of the economic implications of serious curtailments of CO2 emissions for, on the one hand, hydrocarbon intensive industries and, on the other, the burgeoning ‘green technology’ business consortia. It is not to be wondered at that Big Oil and related business interests and foundations – assuming that reductions in emissions would negatively impact their bottom lines, which is not necessarily the case, as ‘climate alarmism’ can be turned to account by even these industries, if only by providing a pretext for creating conditions of ‘scarcity’ in hydrocarbon markets – will want to seek out and support ‘climate scientists’ skeptical or incredulous of the claim that CO2 is the main or sole driver of climate change. Likewise, ‘green technology’ interests will find their natural allies to be ‘climate scientists’ who are pushing the AGW line, sincerely or otherwise.
‘Climate scientists’ who manage to sell their theses to the wealthiest or politically most powerful patrons will receive the most by way of research dowries, but perhaps also more importantly, will be the ones whose ‘viewpoints’ will come to dominate public opinion, or at least appear to do so, since the uniformity of public opinion (through the mechanisms of the corporate media and universal education, tightly under the control of the dominant sources of funding in our society) is also a phenomenon under the sway of the wealthiest and most powerful patrons in our midst.
Consequently, the ‘truth’ or ‘untruth’ of the hypothesis of AGW has little to do with its dissemination and acceptance in a broad cultural sense. That dissemination and acceptance is predominantly determined by ‘political’ factors, by who control the main channels of information distribution. In our society, regardless of which position on the issue of ‘global warming’ becomes prominent, that control ultimately rests with the corporate capitalist cartels. One can therefore expect that irrespective of the scientific validity or invalidity of the AGW hypothesis, the version deemed most propitious to advancing both the short- and long-term interests of the ruling elite will also be perceived to be, whether in ‘fact’ or not, the dominant ‘scientific consensus.’
The ‘truth value’ of this politically generated ‘consensus,’ then, whatever it may be, is and will continue to be incidental, largely arbitrary and coincidental, in a word, an accident, like so much else that is characteristic of our age and era.
It remains, however, whether ‘global warming’ is actually happening, and if so, whether it is being driven by an anthropogenically induced accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Apparently, most climatologists agree that in the last 150 years or so, there has been a measurable increase in the mean global temperature. But to say that the increase in that mean is measurable is to say nothing about its magnitude or its actual relevance for determinate changes in climate.
NOAA estimates that the global mean temperature of the earth has increased by about 0.85ºC, allowing for a probable error of 0.2ºC. [NOAA] [Lindzen] But as Richard Lindzen observes, this measurable increase in the mean global temperature is actually so small as to be invisible in its effects in either local weather or climate events: it is simply impossible, given the extreme inherent variability of climate and weather events, to determine the impact of an increase of 0.85ºC in the mean global temperature in any one location or area on the surface of the planet. [Lindzen] If the effect of a measurable increase in the mean temperature of the earth is in any real sense inappreciable, it is as if it hasn’t happened. With confidence, climatologists can say that coinciding with the rise of industrialization and the exponential increase in CO2 emissions, a warming of the planet has indeed occurred. But it is so far very slight and remains well beneath instrumental notice in its actual local climactic effects.
But is CO2 a greenhouse gas? According to climate scientists on all sides of the debate, it is. Is the increase in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere for which we are responsible in the last 150 years or so the reason why the earth’s mean temperature has risen by roughly 0.85ºC? To my mind, this is highly improbable as well as unprovable. For to make that claim is by implication also to claim that over the last 150 years, in the absence of our CO2 emissions, the mean global temperature would have remained more or less stable. Is there a climatologist anywhere who claims as much and on what grounds? To confidently state as much would entail knowing all of the relevant cumulative factors terminating in the measure we call ‘the mean global temperature.’ Furthermore, it would entail knowing not only that the cumulative effects and interactions of these factors had to have been stable for the last 150 years, but all of the mechanics of that stability in detail. But this is simply impossible, not merely on account of the intractability of the complex interactions that go into generating climate and weather on our planet, but because many phenomena that we suspect implicate important weather generating mechanisms and climate effects have yet to be properly deciphered.
One such suspected phenomenon or correlation (and keeping in mind that it only takes one anomalous observation to falsify a theory) is the one being investigated by the teams of Henrik Svensmark and Jasper Kirkby: the apparent synchronicity between solar magnetic cycles and cycles of global warming and cooling. Svensmark has established that when the solar magnetic field peaks in strength, the surface temperatures of our planet tend to be markedly warmer; and when the solar magnetic field ebbs to its weakest, the surface temperatures of our planet tend to be markedly cooler.
Svensmark’s hypothesis for explaining these correlations is that cosmic rays raining down on our planet from disparate parts of the sky play a crucial role in building up the particulate aerosols necessary to the genesis of clouds. The denser the flux of cosmic rays raining down on us, the denser become the cloud forming aerosols in our atmosphere, and the more clouds we have overhead to counter our sun’s radiative heat emissions. And the density of the incoming cosmic flux, given its ionized and therefore electrically charged state, varies according to the intensity of the sun’s fluctuating magnetic field: the more intense the solar magnetic field, the more attenuated, because deflected, the cosmic flux will be, and conversely.
It remains for the Svensmark hypothesis pertaining to the influence of cosmic rays on aerosol formation to be confirmed or disproved. ‘The Cloud Experiment’ at CERN being conducted under the supervision of Jasper Kirkby intends to do just that.
Now consider that if Svensmark’s speculations find corroborative support from Kirkby’s experiments, climate and weather events on earth will be shown to be influenced by distant cosmic events. Such events lie beyond the scope of any reliable weather or climate forecasting methods we currently possess. If it is demonstrated that distant cosmological events and cycles are themselves a source of significant climactic ‘forcing,’ climate forecasting becomes at least in part dependent on being able to forecast astronomical events such as, for example, super novae, but not only that, but also on being able to predict or map the probable paths of interferences of the cosmic rays generated by those events. Suddenly, if Svensmark turns out to be right, a whole other layer of confounding complexities superimposes itself on an already incredibly complex system of energy redistributions. At this point, though we actually would have arrived at a better understanding of the “what and how” of weather and climate, forecasting climate on a scale measured in years would become what perhaps it currently is and will forever remain, little more than the occult reading of signs and auguries.
If experiments are being conducted to better determine the role of cosmic rays in cloud formation, it is clear that ‘climate science’ is not at an end or complete, and it cannot possibly be stated with any high degree of confidence as yet that, in the absence of anthropogenic CO2, the mean global temperature of our planet would not have increased by 0.85ºC over the last few hundred years. Svensmark’s theory about cloud formation is but one of what must surely be many examples of pivotal questions yet to be resolved by climate science.
I think, then, that it can reasonably be asserted with a certitude of 95% that ‘climate science’ remains a very long way off from being able to assert with 95% certainty that ‘global warming’ is already upon us and that its consequences will be nothing short of catastrophic, and that mankind and mankind alone will have been the cause of that catastrophe.
To my mind, because our world and its weather systems are so complex, and because our knowledge of those systems will always be a lot less than perfect, the most that we can aspire to in terms of understanding our planet’s climates is akin to what we can aspire to in terms of understanding the evolution of earthly life: though we have a pretty good grasp of the underlying mechanics, because the diversity of life on the planet is so sprawling, because the drivers of mutations are so numerous and random, our comprehension of evolution as a process, as profound as it may be, must remain for the most part spectatorial or contemplative. Mutations, inherently random as they are in and of themselves, and even more so in their heritability, cannot be predicted in terms of the actual diversity of species that they will surely generate in the future that remains to life on this planet. Likewise, because of its intractable complexities, though we may eventually understand a great deal more about them than we currently do, the emergence and distribution of climate patterns years into the future will remain largely beyond our measure, as is certain that they currently do.
The smartest people on the planet want to oppose Trump & the best they can come up with is a march in support of themselves? – Roger Pielke Jr
A mega March for Science has been planned for Earth Day (April 22) in Washington DC. The web site states:
The March for Science demonstrates our passion for science and sounds a call to support and safeguard the scientific community. Recent policy changes have caused heightened worry among scientists.
The mischaracterization of science as a partisan issue, which has given policymakers permission to reject overwhelming evidence, is a critical and urgent matter. It is time for people who support scientific research and evidence-based policies to take a public stand and be counted.
Of course, the poster child for partisan ‘mischaracterization of facts’ is statements by members of the Trump administration regarding uncertainty surrounding the causes of climate change. President Obama and his Call Out the Climate Deniers campaign apparently elicited no concerns about partisan mischaracterization of facts from the science establishment.
Scientists fear what ‘might’ happen under the Trump administration — they are working from rumors, leaks and a few public statements by individuals connected with Trump’s transition teams. These are the same scientists pushing for ‘evidence based’ policies — go figure.
The American Geophysical Union (AGU) – which is joining the March – had a blog post describing the positions on climate change and science of important individuals in the Trump administration: Mick Mulvaney, Rick Perry, Wilbur Ross, Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke. Read the blog post. To me, Trump’s team looks like it has a healthier attitude to science than did Obama’s team, who sought to scientize policy debates and politicize science debates.
The scientists’ big concern is ‘silencing of facts’. This concern apparently derives from their desire to have their negotiated ‘facts’ — such as the ‘consensus’ on climate change — dictate public policy. The scientists who are marching seem not very interested in science as a process based on continually evaluating evidence and reassessing conclusions through reasoning and impartial habits of mind.
The scientists are not just out to defend ‘facts’ — they fear funding cuts and limits to immigration. They also seem very attached to safeguarding the academic scientific community and the elite institutions that support it.
Some sentiments from scientists supporting the March:
Caroline Weinberg: “[I]t is not possible to ignore policy when it affects not just your jobs but the future of your field.” [link]
Dr Jacquelyn Gill: “A lot of scientists are realizing that the institutions that fund and support and science in this country . . .are under direct attack.” Trump, she said, “not only doesn’t value our institutions, he doesn’t seem to value evidence-based decision making at all. That is alarming to us.” [link]
Other scientists are very concerned about the March:
Professor Jim Gates, former adviser to Barack Obama, told journalists that the march appeared to lack an end goal – a prerequisite for political action – and would simply be perceived as “science against Trump”. “At least as far as I can detect, there is no theory of action behind this,” he said. “This bothers me tremendously. “To have science represented as this political force I think is just extraordinarily dangerous.” [link]
Robert Young wrote that the march would be perceived as a protest of President Trump and “trivialize and politicize the science we care so much about.” “Trying to recreate the pointedly political Women’s March will serve only to reinforce the narrative from skeptical conservatives that scientists are an interest group and politicize their data, research and findings for their own ends.” [link]
Tactics in want of a strategy
So, exactly what do scientists expect to accomplish with this March, and how do they plan to go about it? Well, I am still at a loss to understand what they expect to accomplish, but there have been some interesting suggestions on how they might go about it.
Jonathan Foley in the Scientific American on how to defeat those who are waging war on science: portray an inclusive vision; get political; don’t fall into the culture war trap; balance facts with meaningful stories; be forceful.
Roger Pielke Jr in the Guardian : To counter Trump’s administration, scientists need counter-propaganda, evidence-based alternative policies and political representation. The scientific community needs to eschew old habits that have manifested themselves in the march: calling for more funding and waging political battles through science.
Kristy Henschel in Science : hold webinar viewing parties; host science policy seminars; design a science advocacy workshop; organize a State Hill day; invite your government representatives for a lab tour; host a science cafe; share your voice on twitter.
The most provocative suggestion comes from an editorial in Nature : Researchers should reach beyond the science bubble. Excerpt: Scientists in the United States and elsewhere ought to address the needs and employment prospects of taxpayers who have seen little benefit from scientific advances. As they ponder their next move in response to the election of Trump, science organizations — universities, funders, supporters and the rest — should look harder at social problems and opportunities, and seek ways for science to help.
So far, the March for Science seems to be shaping up as a self-serving navel gazing exercise for scientists — sort of a ‘we don’t like Trump’ tantrum. The impression that this will have on policy makers and the public will be to cement scientists as a politicized special interest group, just like any other lobbying group. In short, I very much fear that this March will do more harm than good.
It’s not too late to turn this around. We need to rethink the contract between scientists and government, and develop a new model for the the 21st century. Here are some recommendations:
- Embrace science as a process, not a collection of ‘facts’; invite the public to engage in the process of science.
- The institutions of science need to reform themselves, and scientists need to get out of the ivory tower and engage with the real world [link]
- Universities need a new business model and incentive structure for faculty members that doesn’t rely on massive federal research grants but rewards faculty for educating students at all levels and serving the needs of society.
- Scientists need a much better understanding of the policy process, the role that science plays, and how complexity, pluralism and uncertainty in science is accommodated in the policy process. Evidence-based policy making is a good political slogan, but not a good description of the policy process. [link]
- Scientists need to stop using science to support desired political outcomes.
- Scientists need to do more than push back against flawed arguments and bad policy. We need to engage the public, and, even more, invite the public, across the political spectrum, to engage with science. [link]
Today’s fake news story comes from Greenpeace.
The supposed record comes from Esperanza. As Jim Steele at WUWT points out, Esperanza is at the northern tip of the Antarctic peninsula, at a latitude of 63.4S, just about as far outside the Antarctic Circle as you could get.
And as WUWT also points out, the temperature was purely the product of a fohn wind.
The temperature of 63.5F was actually set in March 2015, but has only just been officially confirmed by the WMO. As the Capital Weather Gang at the Washington Post noted at the time, the previous record of 62.8F was also set at Esperanza as far back as 1961.
The implication now is that “balmy” temperatures of 63F are unheard of Antarctica, which is clearly nonsense.
And as we can see, monthly average temperatures in March 2015 were not in the least unusual. Indeed, the hottest March was in 1965.
None of this information is mentioned by either Greenpeace, or media outlets such as MSN, who also carry the story.
But the really dishonest part is that photo of two poor penguins stranded at the top of a melting lump of snow.
As Joe has discovered, exactly the same photo appeared in December 2013, in an article by the International Science Times, which was about record cold temperatures in Antarctica. The picture is actually on Cape Denison, as the report makes clear:
When it’s late February and you’re complaining about the winter dragging endlessly on, take comfort in the fact that you’re not on the East Antarctic Plateau, where scientists have measured the coldest temperature on earth. At negative 135.8 degrees Fahrenheit, the August 10, 2010, temperature was “tens of degrees colder than anything ever seen in Alaska, Siberia or Greenland,” said Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., the group that made the discovery.
On 4 February, 2017 the Daily Mail published an article entitled: “World Leaders Duped by Manipulated Global Warming Data”.
“… The Mail on Sunday today reveals astonishing evidence that the organisation that is the world’s leading source of climate data rushed to publish a landmark paper that exaggerated global warming and was timed to influence the historic Paris Agreement on climate change.
A high-level whistleblower has told this newspaper that America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) breached its own rules on scientific integrity when it published the sensational but flawed report, aimed at making the maximum possible impact on world leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015.
The report claimed that the ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in global warming in the period since 1998 – revealed by UN scientists in 2013 – never existed, and that world temperatures had been rising faster than scientists expected. Launched by NOAA with a public relations fanfare, it was splashed across the world’s media, and cited repeatedly by politicians and policy makers.
Dr Bates accused the lead author of the paper, Thomas Karl, who was until last year director of the NOAA section that produces climate data – the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) – of ‘insisting on decisions and scientific choices that maximised warming and minimised documentation… in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming pause, rushed so that he could time publication to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy’.”
Eight years ago, the “Climategate” scandal enjoyed some brief exposure. A large cache of emails had been discovered (possibly hacked into) at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit.
The mails revealed that in 1997, in the run-up to the Kyoto Climate Change Conference, a similar manipulation of data had taken place relating to the 1995 global climate report from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). The original report contained statements from scientists to the effect that there was no risk of a CO2-caused climate catastrophe.
On the Jesse Ventura talk-show of 19.12.2009, Dr. Ben Santer, lead author of the IPCC reports, admitted that he had deleted from Chapter 8 of the 1995 report those sections which had explicitly denied the claim of human-caused climate change. On the show he was confronted by Lord Monckton (a leading so-called ‘climate denier’) about the changes he had made.
Monckton: “After scientists had submitted their finished draft, Santer came and rewrote parts of it – specifically where, in five different places, it had been explicitly stated that there is no provable human effect on global temperature. I have seen a copy – Santer went through the draft, deleted the relevant parts and wrote a new summary … which remained as the official conclusion”.
Santer: “Lord Monckton has pointed to cuts in this chapter … and there were cuts. In order to preserve harmony with the other chapters, we dropped the final summary”.
Because the original 1995 report had already been signed by more than 100 scientists, Santer had to quickly find new signatories for the amended (falsified) report. Santer was just then in a conference in Kassel, Germany and he had no chance of quickly finding another 100 scientists to sign the amended report. However, at that time Kassel University was the home of the Center for Environmental Systems Research. Its head, Professor Joseph Alcamo was responsible for looking after climate affairs in Germany on behalf of the UN, UNEP and the IPCC. On 9 October 1997, Prof. Alcamo sent an email to his assistants, who were waiting in Kyoto, telling him to secure the required new signatures for the falsified report. The email was discovered in November 2009 among thousands of other emails at the CRU Institute at the University of East Anglia. The key parts of the email are reproduced below:
“I am very strongly in favor of as wide and rapid a distribution as possible for endorsements. I think the only thing that counts is numbers. The media is going to say “1000 scientists signed” or “1500 signed”. No one is going to check if it is 600 with PhDs versus 2000 without. They will mention the prominent ones, but that is a different story.
If the report comes out only a few days before Kyoto I’m afraid that the delegates we want to influence won’t have any time to consider it. We should give them a couple of weeks to take note of it.”
Simultaneously, Greenpeace activists were also working to get signatures on a document of their own to influence the media, using a tried-and-tested technique for signature gathering: Don’t read the fine print — just sign! To showcase their campaign, Greenpeace was organizing a media event ahead of the Kyoto meeting to display the document signed by concerned “scientists.”
“If Greenpeace is having an event the week before, we should have it a week before them so that they and other NGOs can further spread the word about the Statement. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be so bad to release the Statement in the same week, but on a different day. The media might enjoy hearing the message from two very different directions”.
These two high-profile cases should surely raise some doubts about the truth of what has frequently been hyped as the ‘greatest threat humanity faces’ – the threat of runaway global warming. Are we dealing merely with a few minor ‘touch-ups’ to official reports and the views of a small minority of dissenting scientists – or is the whole story of global warming/climate change an enormous scam?
We are told ad nauseam that global warming is “settled science”; that there is an overwhelming consensus among scientists as to the reality of human-caused global warming. Figures such as “98% of scientists”, even 99.5% according to ex-president Obama, are routinely trotted out. Anyone who questions this “truth” is immediately vilified as a dangerous “climate denier” – one of the many derogatory accusations hurled at Donald Trump.
But President Trump was not always a ‘climate denier’. In December 2009, Trump and three of his children signed a letter to President Barack Obama (the letter was also signed by dozens of business leaders and was published as an ad in the New York Times), calling for a global climate deal:
“We support your effort to ensure meaningful and effective measures to control climate change, an immediate challenge facing the United States and the world today. If we fail to act now, it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet”. [Emphasis added].
The day after announcing his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination, Trump appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show (17 June, 2015), where he said that he is “not a believer in man-made” warming, adding:
When I hear Obama saying that climate change is the No. 1 problem, it is just madness”.
And in early December of that year he criticised the Paris climate summit, saying:
While the world is in turmoil and falling apart in so many different ways … our president is worried about global warming. What a ridiculous situation”.
(At the conference, President Obama urged world leaders to agree to an ambitious deal to combat global warming).
During a campaign speech at the end of December Trump said:
So Obama’s talking about all of this with the global warming and the – a lot of it’s a hoax, it’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a money-making industry, ok?”
In January 2016, after Bernie Sanders had criticised Trump for his earlier suggestion that global warming was a hoax invented by the Chinese, Trump expands on the idea that ‘climate change’ is a “money-making industry”:
I think that climate change is just a very, very expensive form of tax. A lot of people are making a lot of money …”.
And in September, some six or so weeks before the presidential election, but at a time when the contenders are already choosing their “transition teams”, word is leaked that Trump has chosen Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute to head the transition at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Ebell had previously accused climate scientists of “manipulating and falsifying the data”.
On the same day, Trump’s campaign manager tells The Huffington Post that Trump “believes [climate change] is naturally occurring and is not all man-made”.
What is the truth?
One of the most quoted percentages of scientists who support the IPCC’s claims is 97.4% – a remarkably precise figure.
We have to ask: 97.4% of what?
It cannot be 97.4% of all the scientists in the world – how could all of them have been canvassed? Perhaps 97.4% of ‘climate scientists’? But there are relatively few of these. Today’s “climate scientists” are primarily biologists and geologists and mathematicians and physicists who happen to have brought their varied scientific training to bear on the issues of weather and climate.
A figure that is not so often quoted (almost never, in fact – suggesting a deliberate suppression of unwelcome data) is that of the 31,487 scientists (more than 9,000 of them with a Ph.D.) who have signed the following petition letter to the US Congress:
“We urge the US government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997, and any other similar proposals.
The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.
There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of CO2, methane, or other greenhouse gases, is causing, or will in the foreseeable future cause, catastrophic heating of the earth’s atmosphere and/or the disruption of earth’s climate.
Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric CO2 produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the earth”. [Emphasis added]
The signatories support the Global Warming Petition Project. The website explains that:
The purpose of the Petition Project is to demonstrate that the claim of “settled science” and an overwhelming “consensus” in favor of the hypothesis of human-caused global warming and consequent climatological damage is wrong. No such consensus or settled science exists.”
It should be evident that 31,487 Americans with university degrees in science – including 9,029 PhDs – are not “a few.” These scientists are convinced that the human-caused global warming hypothesis is without scientific validity and that government action on the basis of this hypothesis would unnecessarily and counterproductively damage both human prosperity and the natural environment of the Earth.
To the 31,487 signatories of the Global Warming Petition Project we must add the 4000+ scientists (including 72 Nobel Prize winners) who have signed the “Heidelberg Appeal”: an appeal (issued to coincide with the opening of the UN-sponsored Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992) against “an irrational ideology which is opposed to scientific and industrial progress, and impedes economic and social development” and “against decisions which are supported by pseudo-scientific arguments or false and non-relevant data”. 
Another document urging caution was circulated among reputable scientists in the wake of the Kyoto Climate Conference. This document is known as the Leipzig Declaration on Global Climate Change. The document expressly states the following:
“As the debate unfolds, it has become increasingly clear that — contrary to the conventional wisdom — there does not exist today a general scientific consensus about the importance of greenhouse warming from rising levels of carbon dioxide. In fact, most climate specialists now agree that actual observations from both weather satellites and balloon-borne radiosondes (i.e. weather balloons) show no current warming whatsoever — in direct contradiction to computer model results.” [emphasis added].
Among the signatories of this declaration are scientists from NASA, the Max Planck Institute, one of the former Presidents of the National Academy of Sciences, and many members of the American Meteorological Society. These people are not lightweights in the field of science.
Clearly the so-called “consensus of scientists” so often referred to is not a consensus at all. But the many voices of dissenting scientists have been drowned out – at least until recently – by the constant repetition by politicians and the media of the ‘human-caused global warming’ myth, and by biased sources such as Wikipedia, which uses the “climate denier” slur to attack anyone who challenges the official myth.
If the 97.4% figure were correct, one could reasonably assume that the 31,487 scientists who have signed the petition must represent a large part of the 2.6% of scientists who, according to the 97.4% claim, oppose the consensus view. However, that immediately reveals a problem with the calculation. If 31,487 is 2.6% of the grand total of scientists who must be assumed to have expressed an opinion on the matter … then that grand total is in the order of 1,180,000 scientists.
Did someone really canvass nearly 1.2 million scientists worldwide? There is no evidence of that. It is, however, known that in 2009 a paper by Professor Peter Doran and graduate student Maggie Kendall Zimmermann of the University of Illinois in Chicago was published based on a survey Zimmermann had sent to 10,257 earth scientists, with two questions. Answering the questions was expected to take no more than two minutes:
- “When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?”
- “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”
[Note that the second question already presumes what was left open in the first question i.e. change. Note also that the second question is too vague to be scientific …. what does “a significant contributing factor” mean? Is a 1% or 2% contribution “significant”?].
3,146 of the scientists replied (a 30.7% response rate). Of those, 82% answered “yes” to question 2.
Only 77 of the scientists polled identified themselves as “climate scientists”. The student singled out the 75 of them who agreed that human activity was “a significant contributing factor” in changing global temperatures.
Coincidentally, 75 is precisely 97.4% of 77. But 75 out of the original 10,257 is a risible 0.73%!
As might be expected (for example, from its track record of routinely describing any challenge to suspect modern dogmas as “conspiracy theories”), Wikipedia reveals its bias in favour of the establishment’s “global warming” myth by claiming that the Doran and Zimmermann paper shows that “active climate researchers almost unanimously agree that humans have had a significant impact on the Earth’s climate” – when the original wording, as noted above, was that human activity was merely “a significant contributing factor”. Predictably, the article fails to mention the selection process involved – or the vastly higher number of dissenting scientists who signed the petition.
In a 2013 paper published by the Institute of Physic’s IOPScience and cited by NASA, University of Queensland climate communication fellow John Cook also stated that 97 percent of scientists who took a position on global warming agreed that humans were the primary cause. According to Cook and his co-authors:
Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW [anthropogenic global warming], 97.1% endorsed the consensus that humans are causing global warming”.
However, a peer review of Cook’s paper by David Legates (a former state climatologist and professor at the University of Delaware), published in the April 2015 issue of Science and Education, debunked the 97 percent consensus figure. Legates pointed out that only 41 of the 11,944 academic papers Cook examined in his meta-analysis (0.3%) explicitly stated that most of the global warming since 1950 was caused by human activity:
It is astonishing that any journal could have published a paper claiming a 97% climate consensus when in the authors’ own analysis the true consensus was well below 1%”.
Cook’s paper was also criticized by other scientists for what they said was a number of methodological errors. In a book published by the Heartland Institute and entitled Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming, its three authors stated:
Probably the most widely repeated claim in the debate over global warming is that “97% of scientists agree” that climate change is man-made and dangerous. This claim is not only false, but its presence in the debate is an insult to science.”
Despite the general media support for the IPCC’s claims, there have been notable exceptions – as shown by the Mail on Sunday quote with which I began. More than six years ago, on 13 October, 2012, the same paper published another surprising article with the headline: “Global warming stopped 16 years ago [i.e. around 1996] reveals Met Office report quietly released
“… The figures reveal that from the beginning of 1997 … there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures … This means that the ‘plateau’ or ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years. […] The new data, compiled from more than 3,000 measuring points on land and sea, was issued quietly on the internet, without any media fanfare, and, until today, it has not been reported.”
The article included a graph (see below) which charts the fluctuations in average global temperature between 1997 and 2012. There are peaks and troughs, but the significant finding is that the average global temperature in 2012 (just half a degree above the world average of 14C) was exactly the same as in 1997. That pattern has continued to the present, with warmer and colder years, but no average increase.
Graph provided by the Daily Mail in 2012
Even more surprisingly, on 11 December, 2016, another British newspaper – the Sunday Express – published another remarkable article with the startling headline: “World on BRINK of MINI ICE AGE: Fears sparked as solar activity reaches new low. SOLAR ACTIVITY has reached its lowest point since 2011, prompting fears the Sun has reached its solar minimum early.”
The writer explains:
“If the Sun has reached its solar minimum early, it could mean we could be in for a prolonged cold period. Images captured by NASA between November 14 and 18 shows that there are barely any sunspots. NASA says that solar activity has dwindled at a much faster rate than expected following a peak in 2014. The Sun follows cycles of roughly 11 years where it reaches the solar maximum and then the solar minimum.”
2014 was a year with record high temperatures. It was touted by the ‘climate change’ lobby as proof of man-made global warming. The Express article may well have puzzled many of its readers since it would have been the first time for many or most of them that global temperature had being linked to sunspot activity and sun cycles. But this was not a new suggestion. In 2002, an issue of the magazine Science included the editors’ “prognostications for next year’s hot research topics. Such as:
What is happening to the world’s store of ice?
What exactly is the sun-climate connection, now that “researchers are grudgingly taking the sun seriously as a factor in climate change” and in “triggering droughts and cold snaps.”
They could have added a whole bunch more, such as: Why is the atmosphere not warming appreciably in contrast to all model predictions? Why the disparity between temperature trends of the atmosphere and surface? What’s happening to CO2?”
Piers Corbyn is the older brother of Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the British Labour Party. He runs a very successful long-range weather forecasting business which has consistently proven to be more accurate than the ‘official’ meteorological offices such as the UK’s Met Office. Corbyn based his predictions on solar cycles and sunspot activity. He has been challenging the ‘global warming’ swindle since at least 2008. In September of that year he posted an “initial response” to the BBC’s “Climate Wars” programme, in which he stated:
“… This ‘Climate Wars’ production is a shameful and desperate effort from the BBC’s ‘green religion department’ to shore up the failing theory of CO2-driven Global Warming and Climate Change….”
“… The piece – and the Global Warmers camp in general – while pretending to be objective, skilfully avoid applying sound science and provide no answers to the mounting evidence which refutes the crumbling Global Warming theory. It puts lipstick on scientific fraud – but it remains fraud”.
The website’s ‘mission statement’ includes the following:
“WeatherAction supports True-Green-Policies to defend biodiversity and wildlife and reduce chemical and particulate pollution, and points out that CO2 is not a pollutant, but the ‘Gas of Life’ (plant food).
WeatherAction defends evidence-based science and policy-making. WeatherAction completely supports campaigns for geo-ethical accountability and CLEXIT (Exit from UN Climate Change Deals) and is against data fraud and the political manipulation of data and the so-called ‘scientific’ claims now dominating climate and environmental sciences. Evidence shows that man-made climate change does not exist and the arguments for it are not based on science, but on data fraud and a conspiracy theory of nature.”
If Corbyn and the many thousands of scientists now speaking out about the ‘climate change’ fraud are correct, how and why did a situation come about in which the world was told that it faced an imminent catastrophe if CO2 emissions were not drastically cut?
How many trillions of dollars, pounds, euros etc. have been spent promoting the urgent need to “reduce our carbon footprint”. And why would scientists and politicians lie on such a scale?
The origins of “the great climate fraud” will be examined in a further installment.
‘Alternative facts’ is a term in law to describe inconsistent sets of facts put forth in a court given that there is plausible evidence to support both alternatives. The term is also used to describe competing facts for the two sides of the case. – Wikipedia
So . . . what exactly is a ‘fact’? From the Wikipedia:
A fact is something that has occurred or is correct.
Facts may be checked by reason, experiment, personal experience, or may be argued from authority.
In the most basic sense, a scientific fact is an objective and verifiable observation, in contrast with a hypothesis or theory, which is intended to explain or interpret facts.
With this context, it is not surprising that there are competing ‘facts’ of which their proponents are equally certain. ‘Facts’ are being confused with hypotheses and theories, and too many ‘facts’ are being asserted by authority.
So . . . what’s wrong with ‘alternative facts?’
Nothing — absolutely nothing. Quite the opposite, really. Alternative facts are what we use to learn new things about the world around us. Science is the subject of using alternative facts to come to a better understanding. Discovering that there are alternative facts about something – even better, seemingly contradictory facts – is what points us to an area of study that promises the reward of new insights into the natural world.
Out in today’s world of U.S. Two-Party Politics – an Alice-in-Wonderland-esque landscape being repainted daily in the “news” and “social” media – a lot of ill-mannered, Queen-of-Hearts-style nonsense is being churned out by turning this perfectly good and useful idea – alternative facts – into a mockery of truth-finding — turning Truth into an one-word oxymoron.
Facts vs factoids
Much of what we know as facts, and much of what are presented to us as facts, are more correctly characterized as “factoids” – a word believed coined by Norman Mailer – which has two closely related meanings:
1) a piece of information that becomes accepted as a fact even though it is not actually true, or an invented fact believed to be true because it appears in print.
a piece of information that becomes accepted as a fact even though it is not actually or strictly true, or an invented fact either deliberately created or created by sloppy thinking, poor logic skills, lack of critical thinking or poor journalism believed to be true because it appears in print, in a journal article, in mainstream or social media, on a web site or has ‘gone viral’ on the Internet.
2) a brief or trivial item of news or information.
Factoids are often presented to us as numbers – which influence us to find them somehow truer or more believable – or are presented as impossibly simplistic assertions about complex topics. Factoids most often are used rhetorically [as in argument, debate, or propaganda] in opposition to other facts in a fact-vs-fiction construction, explicitly stated or implied – “Here are the facts!” – implying that all else is fiction, all other ‘facts’ are false.
Tied to the use of factoids is the principle of “Only One Fact”. This is the rampantly popular idea that for each subject there exists only one fact (or set of related facts) and, from that, it follows that all other statements on the subject are falsehoods, lies, or errors. We hear this in common speech: “The fact is…” and we see on single issue websites “The Facts are…”. This “Only One Fact” version of reality is a serious cognitive malfunction – and leads to serious critical thinking errors.
Climate science, and the never-ending debate about its implications, is particularly rife with Factoids and Alternative Factoids. Each side, mostly from the extreme edges of the field, sling factoids at one another in endless streams of numbers, graphs, trend-lines, echo-chamber talking-points (prepared by their own side’s experts) – spiced with a truly incredible number and variety of personal opinions presented as if they were facts.
Once we weed out the truly daft opinions, the obvious non-physical misunderstandings and the delicious-and-nutty fruit-cakery served up from the far edges of climate alarm and hard-core “its all a big hoax” skepticism alike, we are still left with a huge number of seemingly true statements, facts, that seem to contradict each other, sometimes apparently in direct opposition.
Competing ‘facts’ about the Amazon
How’s that, you ask? Let’s look at an example. It has long been considered a fact, and still is by almost all environmental movements, that:
[T]he Amazon forests are pristine forests, never touched by humans…. the rain forests of the Amazon were untouched by human hands before the arrival of European explorers in the 15th century. [The Amazon is] an old-growth forest — primary forest, virgin forest, primeval forest — is a forest that has attained great age without significant disturbance and thereby exhibits unique ecological features and might be classified as a climax community [a biological community of plants, animals, and fungi which, through the process of ecological succession the development of vegetation in an area over time, had reached a steady state].
Yet, reappearing again in the science press this week is the story of ancient earthworks deep in the Amazon forest:
Deep in the Amazon, the rain forest once covered ancient secrets. Spread across hundreds of thousands of acres are massive, geometric earthworks. The carvings stretch out in circles and squares that can be as big as a city block, with trenches up to 12 yards wide and 13 feet deep. They appear to have been built up to 2,000 years ago.” The study [ doi: 10.1073/pnas.1614359114 ] states “We reconstructed environmental evidence from the geoglyph region and found that earthworks were built within man-made forests that had been previously managed for millennia.
The existence of these earthworks, and their antiquity are facts – actualities, they really exist and strong, replicable evidence exists for the dates of creation.
The facts reported by Watling et al. (2017) in regard to the earthworks are not only alternative to our accepted facts [above] about the Amazon; they directly contradict long-standing, almost universally-accepted, facts. It is because they are contradictory that we can begin to develop a new and better understanding of the ecology of the Amazon rainforests, their history, their evolution and the South American nations within whose boundaries these forests exist, can create national policies based on this better understanding.
By combining the two sets of seemingly contradictory facts– alternative facts, we can see that while the Amazonian forests are certainly old-growth forests, having existed in their current states for hundreds, up to thousands, of years, they are not “virgin forest, primeval forest” at all but have actually been created by long-term interactions with the human civilizations that lived within them.
This is not a trivial example of “new discoveries lead to better understanding”, though it could be viewed that way. There has been a long constant stream of alternative facts to the background fact of a pristine, primeval Amazon. The investigation of a soil type named “Terra Preta” (Portuguese for “black soil”) began producing alternative facts in the 1960s and they have rolled out regularly since. Yet it was fact not long ago, despite these alternative facts, that the land of the Amazon was relatively useless for agriculture.
Now we see that there is very strong evidence that the Amazon is not being newly deforested but is apparently being re-cleared, re-claimed as arable land. It is land that in the past was cleared and used for agriculture, speculatively thought to be a sort of ancient perma-culture, and for the building of extensive towns and cities.
Example: climate science ‘alternative facts’
Consider the following statement:
“Earth’s average surface temperature has risen by about 0.8° Celsius since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.”
Well, we have a fact – “Earth’s average surface temperature has risen”; a number related to the magnitude of the temperature increase (which must be considered subject to some degree of factual uncertainty); and a time period. The statement can be considered, factual (subject to some caveats) or true. However, the statement implies causation — that the warming was caused by the Industrial Revolution–which makes it a factoid because the cause of the warming is a hypothesis.
Consider the following alternative statement:
“Earth’s average surface temperature has risen for the last several hundred years, since the depths of the Little Ice Age*, and by about 0.8° since the mid-19th century, which is the beginning of the instrumental temperature record.”
[* = “three particularly cold intervals: one beginning about 1650, another about 1770, and the last in 1850, all separated by intervals of slight warming.”]
This statement is equally true but again implies causation – “since the depths of the LIA”.
It is possible to construct a clear Fact about changes in global mean surface temperature changes and the associated uncertainties. However the IPCC’s mandate to focus on man-made climate change resulted in a conclusion dictated by their mandate that is arguably a factoid.
Not all alternative facts lead to a better understanding. Some just stand in opposition to one another until such time as new and better facts or evidence emerge from the confusion to help clarify the situation. Those new facts or evidence will be, at first, Alternative Facts – they should not necessarily be expected to match either of the preferred climate science factoids above.
As these new alternative facts emerge, they should be embraced and seriously considered by all sides and positions in the climate debate. Those new, alternative facts –those few that survive the fire of massive open public review– will lead to better understandings of the physical actualities of Earth’s climate which in turn will allow policy makers to make better climate policy.
Will Happer is an eminent physicist at Princeton who has chosen (along with his colleague Freeman Dyson) to plant a flag on the skeptic side of the climate debate. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Happer on a couple of occasions. Recently his name has been floated as a potential candidate for the position of Science Advisor to President Trump. (This is the position that has been held by eco-fanatic John Holdren during the Obama presidency.) Although it is not final, and others remain in the running, Happer has said that he will take the position if offered.
Yesterday Happer gave an interview to the Guardian newspaper. When it came to the issue of “climate change,” Happer didn’t pull any punches. Here is my favorite quote:
“There’s a whole area of climate so-called science that is really more like a cult,” Happer told the Guardian. “It’s like Hare Krishna or something like that. They’re glassy-eyed and they chant. It will potentially harm the image of all science.”
I would only comment that in my experience Hare Krishnas don’t takes tens of billions of dollars of government money for themselves, and don’t seek to impose energy poverty on everyone else while they themselves jet around on private jets. Other than that, Happer was spot on.
If you are still considering the question of whether what Happer calls “climate so-called science” is real science versus a cult, you may want to review a few articles from the New York Times about the recent California drought and its end. For example, from August 2015, we have an article headlined “California Drought Is Made Worse by Global Warming, Scientists Say.”
Global warming caused by human emissions has most likely intensified the drought in California by 15 to 20 percent, scientists said on Thursday, warning that future dry spells in the state are almost certain to be worse than this one as the world continues to heat up. . . . The paper provides new scientific support for political leaders, including President Obama and Gov. Jerry Brown of California, who have cited human emissions and the resulting global warming as a factor in the drought.
Or try this one from January 5, 2017 (just six weeks ago!), headlined “A Winery Battles Climate Change.”
After decades in the business, the Jacksons are sensitive to slight variations in the weather, and they are convinced of one thing: It is getting hotter and drier. . . . Climate change is forcing the Jacksons to confront questions both practical and existential: Can you make fine wine with less water? . . . Already, winemakers in the region are noticing distinct changes that signal a hotter, drier future.
And then, of course, things promptly turned around and the rains came — as they always do. Suddenly California is in the news because it has had so much rain that some of its dams are threatened with overflowing. Well, what caused that? You guessed it — climate change! From yesterday’s NYT, here is the lead headline from the National Section: “A Climate Change Warning for California’s Dams.” What, does “climate change” cause both wet and dry?
Scientists have said for years that a warming atmosphere should lead to more intense and frequent storms in many regions.
Now you tell us! As usual, climate change as the cause of everything is the classic unfalsifiable proposition. The word “cult” may be a little over the top, but whatever it is, it sure isn’t science.
If you were only to read the New York Times’ latest article on the most recent Climate Change scandal first reported by the Mail and the Daily Mail, you would never know that there was any scandal to speak of in the first place.
Headline: “No Data Manipulation in 2015 Climate Study, Researchers Say.” Well, not all researchers. The background of the data manipulation story revolves around accusations made by David Bates, a recently retired scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Among his several accusations is that NOAA “rushed to publish a landmark paper that exaggerated global warming and was timed to influence the historic Paris agreement on climate change,” a paper which would have been welcomed with open arms by the Obama administration. On February 4, Bates wrote a lengthy blog post at his website detailing the accusations. Here is a brief list of some of the charges:
1. Climate scientist, Tom Karl, failed to archive the land temperature data set and thus also failed to “follow the policy of his own Agency [and] the guidelines in Science magazine for dataset archival and documentation.”
2. The authors also chose to “use a 90% confidence threshold for evaluating the statistical significance of surface temperature trends, instead of the standard for significance of 95%,” and according to Bates, the authors failed to give a justification for this when pressed.
3. Karl routinely “had his ‘thumb on the scale’ — in the documentation, scientific choices, and release of datasets — in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming hiatus and rush to time the publication of the paper to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy.” Bates adds, “[a] NOAA NCEI supervisor remarked how it was eye-opening to watch Karl work the co-authors, mostly subtly but sometimes not, pushing choices to emphasize warming.”
4. Experimental datasets were used that were not run through operational readiness review (ORR) and were not archived.
To sum up, the “data manipulation,” as characterize by the Mail, consisted in not following proper protocols, selecting certain data sets which had not been properly analyzed, and manipulating scientific methodology with a political and not purely scientific end.
The Mail on Sunday today reveals astonishing evidence that the organisation that is the world’s leading source of climate data rushed to publish a landmark paper that exaggerated global warming and was timed to influence the historic Paris Agreement on climate change.
A high-level whistleblower has told this newspaper that America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) breached its own rules on scientific integrity when it published the sensational but flawed report, aimed at making the maximum possible impact on world leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015.
The report claimed that the ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in global warming in the period since 1998 – revealed by UN scientists in 2013 – never existed, and that world temperatures had been rising faster than scientists expected. Launched by NOAA with a public relations fanfare, it was splashed across the world’s media, and cited repeatedly by politicians and policy makers.
But the whistleblower, Dr John Bates, a top NOAA scientist with an impeccable reputation, has shown The Mail on Sunday irrefutable evidence that the paper was based on misleading, ‘unverified’ data.
It was never subjected to NOAA’s rigorous internal evaluation process – which Dr Bates devised.
His vehement objections to the publication of the faulty data were overridden by his NOAA superiors in what he describes as a ‘blatant attempt to intensify the impact’ of what became known as the Pausebuster paper.
His disclosures are likely to stiffen President Trump’s determination to enact his pledges to reverse his predecessor’s ‘green’ policies, and to withdraw from the Paris deal – so triggering an intense political row.
In an exclusive interview, Dr Bates accused the lead author of the paper, Thomas Karl, who was until last year director of the NOAA section that produces climate data – the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) – of ‘insisting on decisions and scientific choices that maximised warming and minimised documentation… in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming pause, rushed so that he could time publication to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy’.
Dr Bates was one of two Principal Scientists at NCEI, based in Asheville, North Carolina.
Official delegations from America, Britain and the EU were strongly influenced by the flawed NOAA study as they hammered out the Paris Agreement – and committed advanced nations to sweeping reductions in their use of fossil fuel and to spending £80 billion every year on new, climate-related aid projects.
The scandal has disturbing echoes of the ‘Climategate’ affair which broke shortly before the UN climate summit in 2009, when the leak of thousands of emails between climate scientists suggested they had manipulated and hidden data. Some were British experts at the influential Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.
NOAA’s 2015 ‘Pausebuster’ paper was based on two new temperature sets of data – one containing measurements of temperatures at the planet’s surface on land, the other at the surface of the seas.
Both datasets were flawed. This newspaper has learnt that NOAA has now decided that the sea dataset will have to be replaced and substantially revised just 18 months after it was issued, because it used unreliable methods which overstated the speed of warming. The revised data will show both lower temperatures and a slower rate in the recent warming trend.
The land temperature dataset used by the study was afflicted by devastating bugs in its software that rendered its findings ‘unstable’.
The paper relied on a preliminary, ‘alpha’ version of the data which was never approved or verified.
A final, approved version has still not been issued. None of the data on which the paper was based was properly ‘archived’ – a mandatory requirement meant to ensure that raw data and the software used to process it is accessible to other scientists, so they can verify NOAA results.
Dr Bates retired from NOAA at the end of last year after a 40-year career in meteorology and climate science. As recently as 2014, the Obama administration awarded him a special gold medal for his work in setting new, supposedly binding standards ‘to produce and preserve climate data records’.
Yet when it came to the paper timed to influence the Paris conference, Dr Bates said, these standards were flagrantly ignored.
The paper was published in June 2015 by the journal Science. Entitled ‘Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus’, the document said the widely reported ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ was a myth.
Less than two years earlier, a blockbuster report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which drew on the work of hundreds of scientists around the world, had found ‘a much smaller increasing trend over the past 15 years 1998-2012 than over the past 30 to 60 years’. Explaining the pause became a key issue for climate science. It was seized on by global warming sceptics, because the level of CO2 in the atmosphere had continued to rise.
Some scientists argued that the existence of the pause meant the world’s climate is less sensitive to greenhouse gases than previously thought, so that future warming would be slower. One of them, Professor Judith Curry, then head of climate science at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said it suggested that computer models used to project future warming were ‘running too hot’.
However, the Pausebuster paper said while the rate of global warming from 1950 to 1999 was 0.113C per decade, the rate from 2000 to 2014 was actually higher, at 0.116C per decade. The IPCC’s claim about the pause, it concluded, ‘was no longer valid’.
The impact was huge and lasting. On publication day, the BBC said the pause in global warming was ‘an illusion caused by inaccurate data’.
One American magazine described the paper as a ‘science bomb’ dropped on sceptics.
Its impact could be seen in this newspaper last month when, writing to launch his Ladybird book about climate change, Prince Charles stated baldly: ‘There isn’t a pause… it is hard to reject the facts on the basis of the evidence.’
Data changed to make the sea appear warmer
The sea dataset used by Thomas Karl and his colleagues – known as Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperatures version 4, or ERSSTv4, tripled the warming trend over the sea during the years 2000 to 2014 from just 0.036C per decade – as stated in version 3 – to 0.099C per decade. Individual measurements in some parts of the globe had increased by about 0.1C and this resulted in the dramatic increase of the overall global trend published by the Pausebuster paper. But Dr Bates said this increase in temperatures was achieved by dubious means. Its key error was an upwards ‘adjustment’ of readings from fixed and floating buoys, which are generally reliable, to bring them into line with readings from a much more doubtful source – water taken in by ships. This, Dr Bates explained, has long been known to be questionable: ships are themselves sources of heat, readings will vary from ship to ship, and the depth of water intake will vary according to how heavily a ship is laden – so affecting temperature readings.
Dr Bates said: ‘They had good data from buoys. And they threw it out and “corrected” it by using the bad data from ships. You never change good data to agree with bad, but that’s what they did – so as to make it look as if the sea was warmer.’
ERSSTv4 ‘adjusted’ buoy readings up by 0.12C. It also ignored data from satellites that measure the temperature of the lower atmosphere, which are also considered reliable. Dr Bates said he gave the paper’s co-authors ‘a hard time’ about this, ‘and they never really justified what they were doing.’
Now, some of those same authors have produced the pending, revised new version of the sea dataset – ERSSTv5. A draft of a document that explains the methods used to generate version 5, and which has been seen by this newspaper, indicates the new version will reverse the flaws in version 4, changing the buoy adjustments and including some satellite data and measurements from a special high-tech floating buoy network known as Argo. As a result, it is certain to show reductions in both absolute temperatures and recent global warming.
The second dataset used by the Pausebuster paper was a new version of NOAA’s land records, known as the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN), an analysis over time of temperature readings from about 4,000 weather stations spread across the globe.
This new version found past temperatures had been cooler than previously thought, and recent ones higher – so that the warming trend looked steeper. For the period 2000 to 2014, the paper increased the rate of warming on land from 0.15C to 0.164C per decade.
In the weeks after the Pausebuster paper was published, Dr Bates conducted a one-man investigation into this. His findings were extraordinary. Not only had Mr Karl and his colleagues failed to follow any of the formal procedures required to approve and archive their data, they had used a ‘highly experimental early run’ of a programme that tried to combine two previously separate sets of records.
This had undergone the critical process known as ‘pairwise homogeneity adjustment’, a method of spotting ‘rogue’ readings from individual weather stations by comparing them with others nearby.
However, this process requires extensive, careful checking which was only just beginning, so that the data was not ready for operational use. Now, more than two years after the Pausebuster paper was submitted to Science, the new version of GHCN is still undergoing testing.
Moreover, the GHCN software was afflicted by serious bugs. They caused it to become so ‘unstable’ that every time the raw temperature readings were run through the computer, it gave different results. The new, bug-free version of GHCN has still not been approved and issued. It is, Dr Bates said, ‘significantly different’ from that used by Mr Karl and his co-authors.
Dr Bates revealed that the failure to archive and make available fully documented data not only violated NOAA rules, but also those set down by Science. Before he retired last year, he continued to raise the issue internally. Then came the final bombshell. Dr Bates said: ‘I learned that the computer used to process the software had suffered a complete failure.’
The reason for the failure is unknown, but it means the Pausebuster paper can never be replicated or verified by other scientists.
The flawed conclusions of the Pausebuster paper were widely discussed by delegates at the Paris climate change conference. Mr Karl had a longstanding relationship with President Obama’s chief science adviser, John Holdren, giving him a hotline to the White House.
Mr Holdren was also a strong advocate of robust measures to curb emissions. Britain’s then Prime Minister David Cameron claimed at the conference that ‘97 per cent of scientists say climate change is urgent and man-made and must be addressed’ and called for ‘a binding legal mechanism’ to ensure the world got no more than 2C warmer than in pre-industrial times.
President Obama stressed his Clean Power Plan at the conference, which mandates American power stations to make big emissions cuts.
President Trump has since pledged he will scrap it, and to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
Whatever takes its place, said Dr Bates, ‘there needs to be a fundamental change to the way NOAA deals with data so that people can check and validate scientific results. I’m hoping that this will be a wake-up call to the climate science community – a signal that we have to put in place processes to make sure this kind of crap doesn’t happen again.
‘I want to address the systemic problems. I don’t care whether modifications to the datasets make temperatures go up or down. But I want the observations to speak for themselves, and for that, there needs to be a new emphasis that ethical standards must be maintained.’
He said he decided to speak out after seeing reports in papers including the Washington Post and Forbes magazine claiming that scientists feared the Trump administration would fail to maintain and preserve NOAA’s climate records.
Dr Bates said: ‘How ironic it is that there is now this idea that Trump is going to trash climate data, when key decisions were earlier taken by someone whose responsibility it was to maintain its integrity – and failed.’
NOAA not only failed, but it effectively mounted a cover-up when challenged over its data. After the paper was published, the US House of Representatives Science Committee launched an inquiry into its Pausebuster claims. NOAA refused to comply with subpoenas demanding internal emails from the committee chairman, the Texas Republican Lamar Smith, and falsely claimed that no one had raised concerns about the paper internally.
Last night Mr Smith thanked Dr Bates ‘for courageously stepping forward to tell the truth about NOAA’s senior officials playing fast and loose with the data in order to meet a politically predetermined conclusion’. He added: ‘The Karl study used flawed data, was rushed to publication in an effort to support the President’s climate change agenda, and ignored NOAA’s own standards for scientific study.’
Professor Curry, now the president of the Climate Forecast Applications Network, said last night: ‘Large adjustments to the raw data, and substantial changes in successive dataset versions, imply substantial uncertainties.’
It was time, she said, that politicians and policymakers took these uncertainties on board.
Last night Mr Karl admitted the data had not been archived when the paper was published. Asked why he had not waited, he said: ‘John Bates is talking about a formal process that takes a long time.’ He denied he was rushing to get the paper out in time for Paris, saying: ‘There was no discussion about Paris.’
They played fast and loose with the figures
He also admitted that the final, approved and ‘operational’ edition of the GHCN land data would be ‘different’ from that used in the paper’.
As for the ERSSTv4 sea dataset, he claimed it was other records – such as the UK Met Office’s – which were wrong, because they understated global warming and were ‘biased too low’. Jeremy Berg, Science’s editor-in-chief, said: ‘Dr Bates raises some serious concerns. After the results of any appropriate investigations… we will consider our options.’ He said that ‘could include retracting that paper’. NOAA declined to comment.
It’s not the first time we’ve exposed dodgy climate data, which is why we’ve dubbed it: Climate Gate 2
Dr John Bates’s disclosures about the manipulation of data behind the ‘Pausebuster’ paper is the biggest scientific scandal since ‘Climategate’ in 2009 when, as this paper reported, thousands of leaked emails revealed scientists were trying to block access to data, and using a ‘trick’ to conceal embarrassing flaws in their claims about global warming.
Both scandals suggest a lack of transparency and, according to Dr Bates, a failure to observe proper ethical standards.
Because of NOAA ’s failure to ‘archive’ data used in the paper, its results can never be verified.
Like Climategate, this scandal is likely to reverberate around the world, and reignite some of science’s most hotly contested debates.
Has there been an unexpected pause in global warming? If so, is the world less sensitive to carbon dioxide than climate computer models suggest?
And does this mean that truly dangerous global warming is less imminent, and that politicians’ repeated calls for immediate ‘urgent action’ to curb emissions are exaggerated?
Judith Curry has also blogged on the same story.
A look behind the curtain at NOAA’s climate data center.
I read with great irony recently that scientists are “frantically copying U.S. Climate data, fearing it might vanish under Trump” (e.g., Washington Post 13 December 2016). As a climate scientist formerly responsible for NOAA’s climate archive, the most critical issue in archival of climate data is actually scientists who are unwilling to formally archive and document their data. I spent the last decade cajoling climate scientists to archive their data and fully document the datasets. I established a climate data records program that was awarded a U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal in 2014 for visionary work in the acquisition, production, and preservation of climate data records (CDRs), which accurately describe the Earth’s changing environment.
The most serious example of a climate scientist not archiving or documenting a critical climate dataset was the study of Tom Karl et al. 2015 (hereafter referred to as the Karl study or K15), purporting to show no ‘hiatus’ in global warming in the 2000s (Federal scientists say there never was any global warming “pause”). The study drew criticism from other climate scientists, who disagreed with K15’s conclusion about the ‘hiatus.’ (Making sense of the early-2000s warming slowdown). The paper also drew the attention of the Chairman of the House Science Committee, Representative Lamar Smith, who questioned the timing of the report, which was issued just prior to the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan submission to the Paris Climate Conference in 2015.
In the following sections, I provide the details of how Mr. Karl failed to disclose critical information to NOAA, Science Magazine, and Chairman Smith regarding the datasets used in K15. I have extensive documentation that provides independent verification of the story below. I also provide my suggestions for how we might keep such a flagrant manipulation of scientific integrity guidelines and scientific publication standards from happening in the future. Finally, I provide some links to examples of what well documented CDRs look like that readers might contrast and compare with what Mr. Karl has provided.
In 2013, prior to the Karl study, the National Climatic Data Center [NCDC, now the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI)] had just adopted much improved processes for formal review of Climate Data Records, a process I formulated [link]. The land temperature dataset used in the Karl study had never been processed through the station adjustment software before, which led me to believe something was amiss. When I pressed the co-authors, they said they had decided not to archive the dataset, but did not defend the decision. One of the co-authors said there were ‘some decisions [he was] not happy with’. The data used in the K15 paper were only made available through a web site, not in digital form, and lacking proper versioning and any notice that they were research and not operational data. I was dumbstruck that Tom Karl, the NCEI Director in charge of NOAA’s climate data archive, would not follow the policy of his own Agency nor the guidelines in Science magazine for dataset archival and documentation.
I questioned another co-author about why they choose to use a 90% confidence threshold for evaluating the statistical significance of surface temperature trends, instead of the standard for significance of 95% — he also expressed reluctance and did not defend the decision. A NOAA NCEI supervisor remarked how it was eye-opening to watch Karl work the co-authors, mostly subtly but sometimes not, pushing choices to emphasize warming. Gradually, in the months after K15 came out, the evidence kept mounting that Tom Karl constantly had his ‘thumb on the scale’—in the documentation, scientific choices, and release of datasets—in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming hiatus and rush to time the publication of the paper to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy.
Defining an Operational Climate Data Record
For nearly two decades, I’ve advocated that if climate datasets are to be used in important policy decisions, they must be fully documented, subject to software engineering management and improvement processes, and be discoverable and accessible to the public with rigorous information preservation standards. I was able to implement such policies, with the help of many colleagues, through the NOAA Climate Data Record policies (CDR) [link].
Once the CDR program was funded, beginning in 2007, I was able to put together a team and pursue my goals of operational processing of important climate data records emphasizing the processes required to transition research datasets into operations (known as R2O). Figure 1 summarizes the steps required to accomplish this transition in the key elements of software code, documentation, and data.
Figure 1. Research to operations transition process methodology from Bates et al. 2016.
Unfortunately, the NCDC/NCEI surface temperature processing group was split on whether to adopt this process, with scientist Dr. Thomas C. Peterson (a co-author on K15, now retired from NOAA) vigorously opposing it. Tom Karl never required the surface temperature group to use the rigor of the CDR methodology, although a document was prepared identifying what parts of the surface temperature processing had to be improved to qualify as an operational CDR.
Tom Karl liked the maturity matrix so much, he modified the matrix categories so that he could claim a number of NCEI products were “Examples of “Gold” standard NCEI Products (Data Set Maturity Matrix Model Level 6).” See his NCEI overview presentation all NCEI employees [ncei-overview-2015nov-2 ] were told to use, even though there had never been any maturity assessment of any of the products.
NCDC/NCEI surface temperature processing and archival
In the fall of 2012, the monthly temperature products issued by NCDC were incorrect for 3 months in a row [link]. As a result, the press releases and datasets had to be withdrawn and reissued. Dr. Mary Kicza, then the NESDIS Associate Administrator (the parent organization of NCDC/NCEI in NOAA), noted that these repeated errors reflected poorly on NOAA and required NCDC/NCEI to improve its software management processes so that such mistakes would be minimized in the future. Over the next several years, NCDC/NCEI had an incident report conducted to trace these errors and recommend corrective actions.
Following those and other recommendations, NCDN/NCEI began to implement new software management and process management procedures, adopting some of the elements of the CDR R2O process. In 2014 a NCDC/NCEI Science Council was formed to review new science activities and to review and approve new science products for operational release. A draft operational readiness review (ORR) was prepared and used for approval of all operational product releases, which was finalized and formally adopted in January 2015. Along with this process, a contractor who had worked at the CMMI Institute (CMMI, Capability Maturity Model Integration, is a software engineering process level improvement training and appraisal program) was hired to improve software processes, with a focus on improvement and code rejuvenation of the surface temperature processing code, in particular the GHCN-M dataset.
The first NCDC/NCEI surface temperature software to be put through this rejuvenation was the pairwise homogeneity adjustment portion of processing for the GHCN-Mv4 beta release of October 2015. The incident report had found that there were unidentified coding errors in the GHCN-M processing that caused unpredictable results and different results every time code was run.
The generic flow of data used in processing of the NCDC/NCEI global temperature product suite is shown schematically in Figure 2. There are three steps to the processing, and two of the three steps are done separately for the ocean versus land data. Step 1 is the compilation of observations either from ocean sources or land stations. Step 2 involves applying various adjustments to the data, including bias adjustments, and provides as output the adjusted and unadjusted data on a standard grid. Step 3 involves application of a spatial analysis technique (empirical orthogonal teleconnections, EOTs) to merge and smooth the ocean and land surface temperature fields and provide these merged fields as anomaly fields for ocean, land and global temperatures. This is the product used in K15. Rigorous ORR for each of these steps in the global temperature processing began at NCDC in early 2014.Figure 2. Generic data flow for NCDC/NCEI surface temperature products.
In K15, the authors describe that the land surface air temperature dataset included the GHCN-M station data and also the new ISTI (Integrated Surface Temperature Initiative) data that was run through the then operational GHCN-M bias correction and gridding program (i.e., Step 2 of land air temperature processing in Figure 2). They further indicated that this processing and subsequent corrections were ‘essentially the same as those used in GHCN-Monthly version 3’. This may have been the case; however, doing so failed to follow the process that had been initiated to ensure the quality and integrity of datasets at NCDC/NCEI.
The GHCN-M V4 beta was put through an ORR in October 2015; the presentation made it clear that any GHCN-M version using the ISTI dataset should, and would, be called version 4. This is confirmed by parsing the file name actually used on the FTP site for the K15 dataset [link]; NOTE: placing a non-machine readable copy of a dataset on an FTP site does not constitute archiving a dataset). One file is named ‘box.12.adj.4.a.1.20150119’, where ‘adj’ indicates adjusted (passed through step 2 of the land processing) and ‘4.a.1’ means version 4 alpha run 1; the entire name indicating GHCN-M version 4a run 1. That is, the folks who did the processing for K15 and saved the file actually used the correct naming and versioning, but K15 did not disclose this. Clearly labeling the dataset would have indicated this was a highly experimental early GHCN-M version 4 run rather than a routine, operational update. As such, according to NOAA scientific integrity guidelines, it would have required a disclaimer not to use the dataset for routine monitoring.
In August 2014, in response to the continuing software problems with GHCNMv3.2.2 (version of August 2013), the NCDC Science Council was briefed about a proposal to subject the GHCNMv3 software, and particularly the pairwise homogeneity analysis portion, to a rigorous software rejuvenation effort to bring it up to CMMI level 2 standards and resolve the lingering software errors. All software has errors and it is not surprising there were some, but the magnitude of the problem was significant and a rigorous process of software improvement like the one proposed was needed. However, this effort was just beginning when the K15 paper was submitted, and so K15 must have used date with some experimental processing that combined aspects of V3 and V4 with known flaws. The GHCNMv3.X used in K15 did not go through any ORR process, and so what precisely was done is not documented. The ORR package for GHCNMv4 beta (in October 2015) uses the rejuvenated software and also includes two additional quality checks versus version 3.
Which version of the GHCN-M software K15 used is further confounded by the fact that GHCNMv3.3.0, the upgrade from version 3.2.2, only went through an ORR in April 2015 (i.e., after the K15 paper was submitted and revised). The GHCN-Mv3.3.0 ORR presentation demonstrated that the GHCN-M version changes between V3.2.2 and V3.3.0 had impacts on rankings of warmest years and trends. The data flow that was operational in June 2015 is shown in figure 3.
Figure 3. Data flow for surface temperature products described in K15 Science paper. Green indicates operational datasets having passed ORR and archived at time of publication. Red indicates experimental datasets never subject to ORR and never archived.
It is clear that the actual nearly-operational release of GHCN-Mv4 beta is significantly different from the version GHCNM3.X used in K15. Since the version GHCNM3.X never went through any ORR, the resulting dataset was also never archived, and it is virtually impossible to replicate the result in K15.
At the time of the publication of the K15, the final step in processing the NOAAGlobalTempV4 had been approved through an ORR, but not in the K15 configuration. It is significant that the current operational version of NOAAGlobalTempV4 uses GHCN-M V3.3.0 and does not include the ISTI dataset used in the Science paper. The K15 global merged dataset is also not archived nor is it available in machine-readable form. This is why the two boxes in figure 3 are colored red.
The lack of archival of the GHCN-M V3.X and the global merged product is also in violation of Science policy on making data available [link]. This policy states: “Climate data. Data should be archived in the NOAA climate repository or other public databases”. Did Karl et al. disclose to Science Magazine that they would not be following the NOAA archive policy, would not archive the data, and would only provide access to a non-machine readable version only on an FTP server?
For ocean temperatures, the ERSST version 4 is used in the K15 paper and represents a major update from the previous version. The bias correction procedure was changed and this resulted in different SST anomalies and different trends during the last 15+ years relative to ERSST version 3. ERSSTV4 beta, a pre-operational release, was briefed to the NCDC Science Council and approved on 30 September 2014.
The ORR for ERSSTV4, the operational release, took place in the NCDC Science Council on 15 January 2015. The ORR focused on process and questions about some of the controversial scientific choices made in the production of that dataset will be discussed in a separate post. The review went well and there was only one point of discussion on process. One slide in the presentation indicated that operational release was to be delayed to coincide with Karl et al. 2015 Science paper release. Several Science Council members objected to this, noting the K15 paper did not contain any further methodological information—all of that had already been published and thus there was no rationale to delay the dataset release. After discussion, the Science Council voted to approve the ERSSTv4 ORR and recommend immediate release.
The Science Council reported this recommendation to the NCDC Executive Council, the highest NCDC management board. In the NCDC Executive Council meeting, Tom Karl did not approve the release of ERSSTv4, noting that he wanted its release to coincide with the release of the next version of GHCNM (GHCNMv3.3.0) and NOAAGlobalTemp. Those products each went through an ORR at NCDC Science Council on 9 April 2015, and were used in operations in May. The ERSSTv4 dataset, however, was still not released. NCEI used these new analyses, including ERSSTv4, in its operational global analysis even though it was not being operationally archived. The operational version of ERSSTv4 was only released to the public following publication of the K15 paper. The withholding of the operational version of this important update came in the middle of a major ENSO event, thereby depriving the public of an important source of updated information, apparently for the sole purpose of Mr. Karl using the data in his paper before making the data available to the public.
So, in every aspect of the preparation and release of the datasets leading into K15, we find Tom Karl’s thumb on the scale pushing for, and often insisting on, decisions that maximize warming and minimize documentation. I finally decided to document what I had found using the climate data record maturity matrix approach. I did this and sent my concerns to the NCEI Science Council in early February 2016 and asked to be added to the agenda of an upcoming meeting. I was asked to turn my concerns into a more general presentation on requirements for publishing and archiving. Some on the Science Council, particularly the younger scientists, indicated they had not known of the Science requirement to archive data and were not aware of the open data movement. They promised to begin an archive request for the K15 datasets that were not archived; however I have not been able to confirm they have been archived. I later learned that the computer used to process the software had suffered a complete failure, leading to a tongue-in-cheek joke by some who had worked on it that the failure was deliberate to ensure the result could never be replicated.
Where do we go from here?
I have wrestled for a long time about what to do about this incident. I finally decided that there needs to be systemic change both in the operation of government data centers and in scientific publishing, and I have decided to become an advocate for such change. First, Congress should re-introduce and pass the OPEN Government Data Act. The Act states that federal datasets must be archived and made available in machine readable form, neither of which was done by K15. The Act was introduced in the last Congress and the Senate passed it unanimously in the lame duck session, but the House did not. This bodes well for re-introduction and passage in the new Congress.
However, the Act will be toothless without an enforcement mechanism. For that, there should be mandatory, independent certification of federal data centers. As I noted, the scientists working in the trenches would actually welcome this, as the problem has been one of upper management taking advantage of their position to thwart the existing executive orders and a lack of process adopted within Agencies at the upper levels. Only an independent, outside body can provide the needed oversight to ensure Agencies comply with the OPEN Government Data Act.
Similarly, scientific publishers have formed the Coalition on Publishing Data in the Earth and Space Sciences (COPDESS) with a signed statement of commitment to ensure open and documented datasets are part of the publication process. Unfortunately, they, too, lack any standard checklist that peer reviewers and editors can use to ensure the statement of commitment is actually enforced. In this case, and for assessing archives, I would advocate a metric such as the data maturity model that I and colleagues have developed. This model has now been adopted and adapted by several different groups, applied to hundreds of datasets across the geophysical sciences, and has been found useful for ensuring information preservation, discovery, and accessibility.
Finally, there needs to be a renewed effort by scientists and scientific societies to provide training and conduct more meetings on ethics. Ethics needs to be a regular topic at major scientific meetings, in graduate classrooms, and in continuing professional education. Respectful discussion of different points of view should be encouraged. Fortunately, there is initial progress to report here, as scientific societies are now coming to grips with the need for discussion of and guidelines for scientific ethics.
There is much to do in each of these areas. Although I have retired from the federal government, I have not retired from being a scientist. I now have the luxury of spending more time on these things that I am most passionate about. I also appreciate the opportunity to contribute to Climate Etc. and work with my colleague and friend Judy on these important issues.
A couple of examples of how the public can find and use CDR operational products, and what is lacking in a non-operational and non-archived product
- NOAA CDR of total solar irradiance – this is the highest level quality. Start at web site – https://data.nodc.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/iso?id=gov.noaa.ncdc:C00828
Here you will see a fully documented CDR. At the top, we have the general description and how to cite the data. Then below, you have a set of tabs with extensive information. Click each tab to see how it’s done. Note, for example, that in ‘documentation’ you have choices to get the general documentation, processing documents including source code, data flow diagram, and the algorithm theoretical basis document ATBD which includes all the info about how the product is generated, and then associated resources. This also includes a permanent digital object identifier (doi) to point uniquely to this dataset.
- NOAA CDR of mean layer temperature – RSS – one generation behind in documentation but still quite good – https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdr/fundamental/mean-layer-temperature-rss
Here on the left you will find the documents again that are required to pass the CDR operations and archival. Even though it’s a slight cut below TSI in example 1, a user has all they need to use and understand this.
- The Karl hiatus paper can be found on NCEI here – https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/news/recent-global-surface-warming-hiatus
If you follow the quick link ‘Download the Data via FTP’ you go here – ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/scpub201506/
The contents of this FTP site were entered into the NCEI archive following my complaint to the NCEI Science Council. However, the artifacts for full archival of an operational CDR are not included, so this is not compliant with archival standards.
John Bates received his Ph.D. in Meteorology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1986. Post Ph.D., he spent his entire career at NOAA, until his retirement in 2016. He spent the last 14 years of his career at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (now NCEI) as a Principal Scientist, where he served as a Supervisory Meteorologist until 2012.
Dr. Bates’ technical expertise lies in atmospheric sciences, and his interests include satellite observations of the global water and energy cycle, air-sea interactions, and climate variability. His most highly cited papers are in observational studies of long term variability and trends in atmospheric water vapor and clouds.
NOAA Administrator’s Award 2004 for “outstanding administration and leadership in developing a new division to meet the challenges to NOAA in the area of climate applications related to remotely sensed data”. He was awarded a U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal in 2014 for visionary work in the acquisition, production, and preservation of climate data records (CDRs). He has held elected positions at the American Geophysical Union (AGU), including Member of the AGU Council and Member of the AGU Board. He has played a leadership role in data management for the AGU.
He is currently President of John Bates Consulting Inc., which puts his recent experience and leadership in data management to use in helping clients improve data management to improve their preservation, discovery, and exploitation of their and others data. He has developed and applied techniques for assessing both organizational and individual data management and applications. These techniques help identify how data can be managed more cost effectively and discovered and applied by more users.
David Rose in the Mail on Sunday
David Rose of the UK Mail on Sunday is working on a comprehensive expose of this issue [link].
Here are the comments that I provided to David Rose, some of which were included in his article:
Here is what I think the broader implications are. Following ClimateGate, I made a public plea for greater transparency in climate data sets, including documentation. In the U.S., John Bates has led the charge in developing these data standards and implementing them. So it is very disturbing to see the institution that is the main U.S. custodian of climate data treat this issue so cavalierly, violating its own policy. The other concern that I raised following ClimateGate was overconfidence and inadequate assessments of uncertainty. Large adjustments to the raw data, and substantial changes in successive data set versions, imply substantial uncertainties. The magnitude of these uncertainties influences how we interpret observed temperature trends, ‘warmest year’ claims, and how we interpret differences between observations and climate model simulations. I also raised concerns about bias; here we apparently see Tom Karl’s thumb on the scale in terms of the methodologies and procedures used in this publication.
Apart from the above issues, how much difference do these issues make to our overall understanding of global temperature change? All of the global surface temperature data sets employ NOAA’s GHCN land surface temperatures. The NASA GISS data set also employs the ERSST datasets for ocean surface temperatures. There are global surface temperature datasets, such as Berkeley Earth and HadCRUT that are relatively independent of the NOAA data sets, that agree qualitatively with the new NOAA data set. However, there remain large, unexplained regional discrepancies between the NOAA land surface temperatures and the raw data. Further, there are some very large uncertainties in ocean sea surface temperatures, even in recent decades. Efforts by the global numerical weather prediction centers to produce global reanalyses such as the European Copernicus effort is probably the best way forward for the most recent decades.
Regarding uncertainty, ‘warmest year’, etc. there is a good article in the WSJ : Change would be healthy at U.S. climate agencies (hockeyshtick has reproduced the full article).
I also found this recent essay in phys.org to be very germane: Certainty in complex scientific research an unachievable goal. Researchers do a good job of estimating the size of errors in measurements but underestimate chance of large errors.
I have known John Bates for about 25 years, and he served on the Ph.D. committees of two of my graduate students. There is no one, anywhere, that is a greater champion for data integrity and transparency.
When I started Climate Etc., John was one of the few climate scientists that contacted me, sharing concerns about various ethical issues in our field.
Shortly after publication of K15, John and I began discussing our concerns about the paper. I encouraged him to come forward publicly with his concerns. Instead, he opted to try to work within the NOAA system to address the issues –to little effect. Upon his retirement from NOAA in November 2016, he decided to go public with his concerns.
He submitted an earlier, shorter version of this essay to the Washington Post, in response to the 13 December article (climate scientists frantically copying data). The WaPo rejected his op-ed, so he decided to publish at Climate Etc.
In the meantime, David Rose contacted me about a month ago, saying he would be in Atlanta covering a story about a person unjustly imprisoned [link]. He had an extra day in Atlanta, and wanted to get together. I told him I wasn’t in Atlanta, but put him in contact with John Bates. David Rose and his editor were excited about what John had to say.
I have to wonder how this would have played out if we had issued a press release in the U.S., or if this story was given to pretty much any U.S. journalist working for the mainstream media. Under the Obama administration, I suspect that it would have been very difficult for this story to get any traction. Under the Trump administration, I have every confidence that this will be investigated (but still not sure how the MSM will react).
Well, it will be interesting to see how this story evolves, and most importantly, what policies can be put in place to prevent something like this from happening again.
I will have another post on this topic in a few days.
Being retired sure is liberating . . .