I wish people would spend as much time reading my scientific papers as they do reading my e-mails. – Professor Phil Jones, CRU, University Of East Anglia, ‘BBC Q&A’, 13 Feb 2010
Over Christmas I had a frank discussion with two older relatives, both over 60, about Climate Change. They believe or pretend to believe that Climate Change is a crock for a number of spurious reasons typical of the anti-AGW denialist crowd. I see them as willing victims of popular media and popular political parties.
What makes them willing victims is their lifelong antipathy to the Green movement which has become an inaliable part of their identity. It is virtually impossible for these particular over-60’s to admit the Green’s might be correct about anything because to do so would force them to admit that they (the said over-60’s) were incorrect – which would be a massive affront to their pride, let alone their semi-religious belief in the superlative brilliance of the Capitalist economic system – which defeated the heretical Communist movement in the heroic good vs. evil struggle of the Cold War.
Admitting the Greens might be right is tantamount to admitting that their over-60’s Capitalist religion might be wrong. Which is unthinkable and undoable.
As I brilliantly summarized in another post, AGW is a death threat to Capitalism as a doctrinal system.
For those who have fully invested themselves into the belief that Capitalism is the best of all political systems, the possibility that it might be invalidated by any consideration is deeply emotionally and psychologically unsettling. That a Green cause, Climate Change, might be the proximate cause of the invalidation of Capitalism is, for the true believers, literally unthinkable, because Green Parties have always been regarded by them as hypocritical, irrational and unrealistic.
The death of Capitalism for so many represents a death of self, because of the intensity of their belief in the Capitalist system.
No-one wants to die.
So AGW must be denied
Both of my rels bought up the so-called East Anglia ClimateGate emails as proof of the unreliability of Climate Science. I cobbled together a short email of my own to refute their prejudices about the CRU which I now reproduce here.
My rebuttal material is fundamentally an extended plagiarism from the brilliant pro-AGW hypothesis web site Skeptical Science.
The East Anglia ‘ClimateGate’ emails were a beat up, pure and simple.
Quite simply there was nothing in the emails that contradicted or undermined the AGW hypothesis.
The emails and associated hysterical commentary were released to the public a few weeks before Copenhagen with the intention of derailing those talks. The emails were released publicly in conjunction with a coordinated media strategy on approx 20 November 2009. The Copenhagen Climate Conference commenced 6 December 2009.
The strategy of the Climategate/Anti-AGW crowd was to throw mud at the reputations of the climatologists associated with University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and thus run an argument against AGW/IPCC based on guilt-by-association of the entire climatological community.
The specific accusations against the climatologists located the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) are confected from quotes in the emails which are divorced of their context and then loaded with meanings not intended by the email authors.
Where The Heck Is Global Warming?
The Blog “New American” is typical of the tone.
For example, ‘New American’ quotes climatoligist Kevin Trenberth as writing
“I have my own article on where the heck is global warming? We are asking that here in Boulder… The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”
And goes on to claim that that Trenberth’s comments constitute an admission that Climatoligists know that AGW is not real.
In fact, Trenberth was commenting on the inability of the Climate Models to predict exactly how heat is transferred through the Earth’s major systems (Land, Sea and Atmosphere) i.e. the mechanism by which the Earth’s total heat energy is distributed.
Trenberth was NOT saying that AGW is not real, that the average global temperature of the Earth was declining, that the Climate Models don’t accurately predict global warming, that C02 does not produce long-term warming or anything else that would contradict the AGW hypothesis.
Hide The Decline
Another infamous assertion of the ClimateGate crew was that Climatologist Phillip Jones admitted to falsifying temperature trends.
In an email dated 16/11/1999, Jones wrote:
I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”
Jones was not hiding anything.
In this email Jones is referring to a temperature proxy record known as Maximum Latewood Density (MXD) in which Earth’s historic temperature is derived by examination of tree-rings. Up until 1961 MXD accurately trends to actual temperatures as measured by instrumental data (weather stations). After that it diverges (declines) from the instrumental record. This ‘decline’, known as ‘The Divergence Problem’ has been discussed openly in the Scientific Literature since at least 1998.
In 1999 Jones produced a graph for the World Meteorological Organisation in which he spliced post 1961 instrumental data onto the tree-ring proxy data up until 1961 to produce a composite graph which ‘hides the decline’. His audience of professional climatologists who read the graph knew exactly what he was doing, which Jones openly stated anyway.
‘New American’, Fox News, The Australian and others of their ilk did not even try to understand what Jones’s graph was for, who it was intended for or what it meant. Even though Jones 1999 graph was never used by the IPCC (it was for the WMO), they just reported ‘IPCC Scientist Hides Declining Temperature Data’ and that therefore IPCC findings are falsified and unreliable.
The blog ‘American Thinker’ offers a relatively sophisticated critique of ‘Hide The Decline’ from an anti-AGW perspective but uses the word ‘Gotcha’ over and over again, not realising the decline or divergence has been known all across the Climatology field for decades.
Noting the divergence post-1961 American Thinker says the MXD series should be completely abandoned as a proxy temperature series but may not realise that from 1980 Solar Output levels also decline or diverge from instrumental record data.
To be consistent American Thinker should also advocate that the IPCC abandon Solar Output as a predictor or proxy record of Earth temperature. Of course no-one in their right mind would do so. Plainly both series become bad predictors of temperature at different points for different reasons. For MXD it is probably air pollution, for Solar Output the most likely thing ( > 95% according to the IPCC) is that human-generated C02 is causing a greenhouse effect.
Perverting Peer Review.
A serious allegation of the anti=AGW crowd was that CRU and the IPCC generally pressure journals to drop anti-AGW articles so that only pro-AGW articles get printed in the scientific literature.
The oft-quoted example is the journal Climate Research which published a very weak paper in 2003 by Soon and Baliunas. Jones wrote:
“I will be emailing the journal to tell them I’m having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor, a well-known skeptic in NZ.”
So, say the anti-AGW crowd, this proves that anti-AGW views are silenced. What the anti-AGW crew do not say is that a number of Climate Research’s own editors resigned over the publication of the paper, that the journal’s publisher admitted that the journal should have requested appropriate revisions of the manuscript prior to publication and that the Editor in Chief resigned on being refused permission by the publisher to write an editorial about what he regarded as a failure of the peer review system in place at the journal.
The anti-AGW paper by Soon and Baliunas was substandard. It should never have been published.
A common charge against the IPCC and the CRU is that it destroyed or falsified temperature data. In fact this is impossible to do since the CRU does not own the temperature data. It collects its data from publicly available sources and anyone can get hold of it.
And as it turns out, the CRU temperature series, HadCRUT indicates one of the lowest global warming trends of any temperature series. Why falsify temperature data to make a lower than average assessment of climate change yet still argure Climate Change is a globally critical phenonemon demanding immediate action ?
We Could Continue
On a case-by-case basis every one of the attacks on the CRU can be shown to be absurd hyperbole. You can find a full rebuttal here
Unfortunately, the popular press is not very interested in Science, only controversy, and some papers such The Australian and some news outlets like Fox News are deliberately setting out to derail a sensible response to the problem of Climate Change. For ecample The Australian published no less than 85 stories about Climategate, but not one about the Muir Russell inquiry which cleared the CRU of any wrong doing.
So, Climategate is a beat up or, as Skeptical Science puts it, a ‘fake scandal’. Any reasonable consideration of the evidence shows that the CRU emails do not in any way undermine the AGW hypothesis.