Monday, January 11, 2010

"Climategate" Explained

Climategate is the most important scandal of our time. For decades now, a small group of scientists have dominated the debate on global warming. Based on their “research,” governments around the world have begun spending billions of dollars and doing trillions of dollars of damage to their economies, all in the name of stopping a problem that this group tells us could destroy our planet. They lied.

Good Science v. Bad Science
Before we delve into the fraud exposed by Climategate, let’s begin with a quick background on how science works. Scientists work by observing facts, creating theories about what causes those facts, and then trying to prove their theories and disprove all alternative theories. The global warming crowd didn’t do that. They created a theory and then set about trying to find facts that fit into that theory. That’s not science, that confirming your prejudices.

Think of it this way. A scientist who sees an elephant standing on a pond and wants to understand why the elephant doesn't sink, would observe relevant facts, like the depth of the water, would create theories, like elephant-buoyancy, and would devise tests to confirm or disprove those theories until they come up with the only possible explanation. The global warming crowd is more like a scientist who assumes elephants can walk on water and then spans the globe looking for evidence to support that theory.

Even worse, they have manufactured evidence where they couldn’t find any and they’ve zealously demonized all who disagree with them. For example, in 2008, NASA’s James Hansen called for trying global warming skeptics for “high crimes against humanity.” Robert F. Kennedy declared of warming skeptics: “This is treason and we need to start treating them as traitors.” He also called for sending coal company CEOs to “jail for all of eternity.” Former Clinton Administration official Joe Romm warned warming skeptics: “An entire generation will soon be ready to strangle you and your kids while you sleep in your beds.” The Nazis had nothing on these creatures.
What is Climategate?
Climategate began when a hacker took computer code and several thousand e-mails from the computers of the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit ("CRU") in England and uploaded them to a Russian website for all the world to see. Those e-mails and comments made in the computer code revealed that researchers at the CRU and other locations have been lying and manipulating data to give the impression that the earth is warming.
Why is the CRU important?
The CRU is important because it is one of a handful of centers around the world that collects and disseminates global temperature data. Indeed, the CRU is the biggest feeder unit for UN climate data used by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change ("IPCC"), the main UN group addressing “climate change.”

This is an important point because one of the defenses that warmists have raised in response to Climategate is that whatever the CRU may have done, they are just one of thousands of scientists monitoring global warming and, thus, this scandal is irrelevant. But in reality, (1) there are only a handful of sites monitoring temperature data, and problems have now been exposed at other sites as well (NASA, New Zealand and Australia), and (2) most all of these thousands of supposedly independent researchers obtain their warming data from the CRU.
So what was exposed?
Climategate exposed three types of misconduct: (1) the stifling of opposing views, (2) collusion to hide or destroy evidence, and (3) the manipulation or manufacturing of data to create a warming trend.
Misconduct: Stifling Opponents
The first misconduct exposed was the concerted efforts by warmists to stifle dissenting views. Not only did this include a good deal of hateful comments, like CRU director Phil Jones “cheering” the death of a skeptic or talking about being tempted to “beat the crap” out of opponents, but, more importantly, this demonstrated their efforts to keep their opponents from getting published in scientific journals.

Why was this important? Because they would then cite the lack of articles by their opponents as proof that the scientific community unanimously agreed with the warmists' views. They would also attack individual skeptics for not having published any work in such “peer-review” journals.

For example, Michael Mann of Penn State told the New York Times that Stephen McIntyre, founder of the website Climate Audit and one of the most important skeptics, “operate[s] entirely outside of this system [and is] not to be trusted.”

How did they achieve this? First, people like Mann and Jones controlled the peer-review process and would reject any view which did not support their own. At one point, they even changed the rules for publication midstream to prevent opposing views from being published. Climategate e-mails also showed them discussing which scientists could be trusted to sit on the peer-review committees and which should be excluded because they were not “predictable.” And if journals nevertheless considered printing such views, they would blackball the journal.
Who is Mann?
Mann, a climatologist from Penn State, is the warmist who created the infamous hockey stick diagram that Algore used in his movie. The hockey stick diagram purports to show that global temperatures remained flat or declined until 1900, and then began to rise steadily, shooting up most recently. This results in a diagram that looks like a hockey stick turned on its side, with the blade facing upwards in the current years. This graph was used by Algore and others to argue that warming had to be caused by mankind and industrialization.

However, in 2003, Stephen McIntyre pointed out that the hockey stick failed to account for a medieval warming period, which could not have been caused by mankind or industrialization. McIntyre then demolished the hockey stick diagram entirely by showing that the mathematical model Mann used to create it would cause a hockey stick formation to appear no matter what numbers were inserted into the model. This was later backed up by eminent US statistician Professor Edward Wegman.
Misconduct: Colluding To Hide And Destroy Evidence
The second misconduct exposed was the warmists' attempts to prevent anyone they did not trust from verifying their work. This involved attempts to illegal avoid responding to FOIA requests and to destroy incriminating evidence.

For example, in a series of e-mails, Phil Jones of the CRU is caught stating that he has “managed to persuade [East Anglia] to ignore all further FOIA requests if the people have anything to do with Climate Audit.” In another e-mail, David Jones of Australia’s version of the CRU states that they will ignore FOIA requests from known skeptics. In another, Jones asks Mann to delete e-mails between Mann and certain others.

All in all, in these e-mails, various warmists admit deleting data, hiding source code, manipulating data to make it more difficult to use, and flat out refusing to comply with the law whenever skeptics sought information.

In his defense, Jones now admits that “some of the published emails do not read well” but he notes that “some were clearly written in the heat of the moment.” As if that was a valid defense.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has noted similar problems with NASA, noting that NASA has ignored most of their FOIA requests. NASA claims to be working on their requests. . . for years now.

NASA, by the way, has been caught repeatedly massaging their data. For example, McIntyre caught James Hansen of NASA manipulating his data to increase current temperatures. It has also recently been revealed that NASA was inserting data from warmer months into colder months to raise the temperatures. NASA has even been forced to recalculate its data as a result of criticism.

At one point, CRU “admitted” (claimed) that they had thrown away the raw temperature data upon which their predictions of global warming are based. This would have prevented anyone from verifying their data. But this now appears to have been a lie as they have recently promised to release the data.

This is important because the only data CRU has ever agreed to make available is what they call “value-added data.” What is value-added data? Value-added data is the temperature data they use after it’s been subject to scaling and adjustments by the CRU. Why is that important? Because those adjustments account for more than 80% of the rise in temperatures that the CRU is calling global warming. Read that again: 80% of the case for global warming was added by the CRU as a fudge factor to the temperatures that were actually recorded.

Consider the following. US Historical Climate Network reports for the lower 48 states show a temperature increase of 0.6 degrees Celsius since 1940. But 0.5 of those degrees are the result of adjustments or fudge factors -- only 0.1 of those degrees were actually recorded. This data comes from the NOAA’s own webpage.

Take a look at the following chart (again from the NOAA’s own webpage). The chart shows the difference between the recorded temperature and the “adjusted” temperature by year. Notice that until the 1940s, this data was barely manipulated. Indeed, if anything, the adjustments lowered the temperature. But since then, the warmists have been adding more and more to the adjustments each year.

Misconduct: Manipulation/Manufacturing of Data To Create Warming Trend
The misconduct that has received the most notice involves the manipulation of data to create warming where none otherwise exists. The e-mail that really hit the headlines was one from Jones in which he writes about using the “trick of adding in the real temps” to get the data to show that warming was occurring. Jones tried to claim he did not mean anything deceptive by the word “trick,” that he only meant “a clever way,” but that’s not what really happened, nor is that the only damning evidence.

Once again, we turn to Stephen McIntyre who explains the trick. What Jones was doing was averaging each data point with surrounding data points to create a smooth curve. This makes the data appear more consistent and definite. But when one reaches the end of the data points, there are no further data points that can be used to smooth the curve. The “trick” involved using temperature records to provide additional data that could be used to smooth the curve.

That sound esoteric and seems minor, but McIntyre has been kind enough to show us the effect of this in a series of graphs. Take a look at this first graph. This shows the data as prepared by Jones and crew. The various colored lines represent different ways in which temperature has been measured, e.g. ice core samples or tree ring size. Notice the dramatic upswing. This is similar to the hockey stick graph.

Now take a look at the last few decades in isolation. Pay particular attention to the sudden drops that each of the temperature lines experiences -- see the orange arrow. Notice also, that despite that drop, the temperatures turn around again and shoot up.

That’s the trick. If the trick is removed and the date is simply shown without the trick, the temperatures actually continue to fall. Here is a chart of what the data would have looked like without this supposedly harmless trick:

And that’s not the only evidence to show that CRU was faking its data. Another of Jones’s e-mails reads: “I would like to see the climate change happen so the science could be proved right.” In other words, there is no proof to support their claims, even though they were producing studies that purported to show such proof.

Moreover, an examination of the comments within their software code reveal a system that is either hopelessly dysfunctional and/or was intentionally manipulated to achieve the desired result. Here are some of the comments that were found within the code itself:
• One warmist admits manufacturing the result he wanted: “What the hell is supposed to happen here? Oh yeah -- there is no ‘supposed’, I can make it up. So I have :-)”

• Another complains that the Australian weather reporting stations (among others) are a mess and “this renders the station data meaningless.” He then adds, “of course, it’s too late for me to fix this.” Thus, admitting the use of flawed data.

• Various warmists warn repeatedly not to incorporate data from prior to 1960 because this would create a cooling trend

• Another notes that recent cooling trend data has been removed from the database, but complains that the data will still be too accurate: “NOTE: recent decline in tree-ring density has been ARTIFICIALLY REMOVED to facilitate calibration. THEREFORE, post-1960 values will be much closer to observed temperatures than they should be”

• Another complains: “OH FUCK THIS. It’s Sunday evening, I’ve worked all weekend, and just when I thought it was done I’m hitting yet another problem that’s based on the hopeless state of our databases. There is no uniform data integrity, it’s just a catalogue of issues that continues to grow as they’re found.”
That’s why Climategate matters. It’s shown that the handful of people who created the entire global warming industry have lied, manipulated data, manufactured evidence, suppressed countervailing evidence, and waged a dirty war against anyone who disagreed with them.

This doesn’t necessarily disprove global warming (that’s for another post), but it does show that the evidence upon which it is based is false.


Tennessee Jed said...

This article is scientific evidence of why you are the best conservative blogger. You pick great issues, research them and put them out there in an easily digestable format.

I have to ask, though: "why did they do it?" Did leftist strategists recruit these people? Do we think the scientific community tends to be inordinantly populated with tree huggers? It makes me curious.

StanH said...

Global warming is the culmination of our enviroweenies forty plus years of “man bad, delta smelt good!” We have allowed these people a sainted soapbox from which they can preach their anti-free market tripe for decades. Now it would appear their soapbox is beginning to rot, and Owlgore’s fat ass could finally hit the ground.

This doesn’t mean that I’m an advocate for polluting, I love nature, there’s nothing better than a pristine national forest, but like was stated in the Northwest logging wars you can’t wipe your butt with a Spotted Owl.

Can we use the word conspiracy yet?

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Jed! :-)

It's not entirely clear, but I suspect the real reason has to do with climate science not being a hard science like physics or chemistry. It's a fuzzy science like economics or behavioral studies. I would suspect that kind of science tends to attract more people who are looking for causes rather than looking to be scientists.

Also, I think the field was invaded by the left. When the left realized that people didn't like leftist ideas, they stopped trying to speak for the poor or the workers and instead tried to find a cause that couldn't talk back -- environmentalism was perfect. So they took over environmentalism with the intent of pushing socialism by deceit. That means that the only people who get money and attention in the environmental movement are leftists.

That's my guess.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, Go ahead and call it this one a conspiracy! LOL!

I agree with you. I'm not a fan of polluting at all and I believe we need a strong, but reasonable environmental policy that keeps people from dumping their externalities onto others.

But this war on carbon is entirely fraudulent and it's motivated by a desire to remake the world along socialist lines, not by any genuine environmental concerns. Climategate has helped to expose the deceit that been going on in this movement.

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - it is true, we can't really know, but your postulations as to why make as good sense as anything else I can think of.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, It would be interesting to find out from them what motivated them, wouldn't it? Maybe someone will write an insider's book some day?

Writer X said...

Great post! The most detailed and clearest explanation on this hypocrisy that I've read.

Andrew, do you foresee any legal action taken in all of this? Is there already any in process? This is the equivalent of "cooking the books" in the corporate world. CEO heads would roll. I'm particularly troubled by NASA's role, especially being a taxpayer-funded organization.

This is exactly the type of thing where politicians should be demanding investigative hearings. Instead, the voices are characteristically silent.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, Thanks!

The Democrats have flat out refused to investigate, even though the Republicans have been calling for hearings. If we win back the House in 2010, then I expect things to change. Otherwise, it will be largely ignored by the political process.

In terms of legal action, I doubt that officialdom will take any action. They will let the institutions do their own investigations (read: cover ups) of these matters and then conclude that they did nothing wrong.

One possible avenue that may gain legs was mentioned the other day -- qui tam suits. That could result in civil fraud charges being brought against these individuals and/or their institutions, but there are issues with that -- basically, you need to be aware of information of fraud or false claims that has not been made public.

In the end, I doubt this will result in much if any legal action, but it has done incredible damage to their cause.

Mjolnir said...

Even Scientific Theory has changed some...

The new standard is to prove all theories incorrect, and only begrudgingly accept ones that survive that process...

Which makes all of this SO interesting...because it smacks seriously of lack of integrity...

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: Excellent and exhaustive analysis. I would only add that part of the zeal is that the lefties rejected all traditional concepts of God and religion, and now pursue this agenda as a secular religion. And it's a militant religion at that. They can't burn anyone at the stake, but they can destroy and distort opposition research, ruin careers, and marginalize as crazy anyone who disagrees with them. Their messianic zeal has been well demonstrated in the arsons conducted by the Earth Liberation Society, their worship of their false messiah Obama, and adherence to the prophecies of their substitute John the Baptist--Al Gore. When science ceases being "proven, unproven, or yet to be proven," and becomes "right or wrong," you have a religion.

You produced scientific evidence that the theory is grossly flawed. A true scientist who subscribes to the other view would argue the facts and produce genuine science to refute you. Instead, you will be called a "global warming/climate change denier" which is the junk science version of "heretic" and "sinner." The more things change, the more they stay the same. Welcome to The Inquisition.

AndrewPrice said...

You're right Mjolnir, there is a lack of integrity here. I have known a lot of scientists and engineers in my life and they have always tended to be curious/inquisitive, interested but not biased, and problem solvers. This whole global warming crowd isn't like that -- they are advocates, with a problem in search of a solution.

BevfromNYC said...

Writer X: I agree with you, but we should be clear about what "the cause" is.

For me the cause is that scientific evidence should be based on facts and sound scientific research and observation. If we cannot trust scientists to be honest about their research and findings, we cannot trust anyone. As I see it, there is no difference between the Algore-ites and 16th Century Catholic Church doctrine that condemned Galileo!

For me the cause is NOT about Climate change and our effects on the environment. I am a child of Ecology movement of the '60's and believe we need to be good stewards of our planet and it's bountiful resources. We need to find alternate sources of energy because our supply of oil is finite, but we need to do it deliberately and scientifically.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, You're right, this has taken on many traits of a religion. And you're right, they don't act like scientists -- they don't produce evidence to refute countervailing evidence, they attack the person who points to that evidence as if they were a heretic.

Real scientists don't do that.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I agree with you. There is no doubt that climates change, that we can do damaging things and that resources are limited. So we should encourage people to be wise in their use of the planet and we should use science to help us make good decisions.

But the current global warming debate isn't about that. They've abandoned science for ideology and reason for belief, and the scientific method for advocacy.

And I agree entirely with your comparison to the 16th Century Catholic Church. It's the same thing. If you don't subscribe to the orthodoxy, no matter what the evidence, then you are a heretic and must be dealt with accordingly. That was wrong then and it's wrong now.

MegaTroll said...

I hope you don't mind, I put a link to this at Big Government today in their Climategate article.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Mega!

ArmChairGeneral said...

Very good article. I might reference this at my non-wargamer blog.

ArmChairGeneral said...

I can see clearly now the acid rain has gone :)

Seriously good research into this article Andrew. I particularly enjoyed the graphs and the comments left in the code by the programmers. I'll call this Fraud but as always these kinds of things are very difficult to prove when a group is investigating itself. If you do some more research I bet you can trace this socialism climate change back to the socialists and communists that started it back in the flower power movement.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks ACG! I'm glad you liked it.

DaveR said...

I would also include in the cover up, the thousands of wiki pages edited and/or deleted so that web searches couldn't find anything against this. All by ONE person. (sorry, can't remember the name of the guy)

AndrewPrice said...

DaveR, Good point! If I remember correctly, his name is William Connolley, and he's been busy keeping out and getting rid of anything that doesn't support the warmists' cause.

LawHawkSF said...

DaveR: You're right one the money. See: Encyclopedia Updatica.

JB1000 said...

To me, there seems to have been a change in the environmental movement over the years. It used to be about convincing people to do the 'right' thing, use less power, buy more fuel efficient cars, be more frugal.

More recently, the environmental movement seems to be all about making the government force people to do the right thing. Instead of convincing people to buy more fuel efficient cars, have the government force car makers to only make more fuel efficient cars. Instead of convincing people to use less power, drive up the cost of power so people will have to use less.

Instead of convincing people to be more frugal, have the government take money so people must be more frugal.

I am not sure this is all an attempt at socialist re-engineering, though. The recent meeting in Copenhagen makes me think they are more interested in some sort of Neo-feudalism. We must drive less, we must fly less, we must pay more for everything but they can still fly private, ride in limos and have other people pay for it.

AndrewPrice said...

JB1000, You just put your finger on a dirty little secret that people don't like to talk about -- the environmental movement (which was taken over by socialists) is alligned with snobs, totalitarians and massive numbers of interest groups.

The biggest supporter of cap and trade is. . . the nuclear industry. Why? Not because they believe the science, but because it means massive numbers of new plants. Many other industries have made the same dirty deal.

In terms of the feudalism, keep in mind that the left is totalitarian by nature -- they want to tell people what to do, and what could be more satisfying that forcing people to live their daily lives in the way these people envision?

Finally, look at Algore for the perfect example of "do as I say peasant, and don't you dare do as I do and infest my elite club."

Individualist said...


Is there any discussion in those emails about fhe other hockey stick graph regarding the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. The tests from the Antartic Ice Cores supposedly show the levels from 1950 at 280 ppm to 365 ppm today. They predict a level of 900 ppm by around 2030 sometime.

I have always felt there were issues with how that data is presented. There is very little discusion of this side of it yet it is the root cause. The IP?CC report to the congress by thr cambridge press devotes only 1/4 page of a 196 page document.

I am interested if any of the emails discuss this.

Individualist said...

By the way thank you very much for addressing this. Very good article.

AndrewPrice said...

Individualist, You're welcome!

The e-mails don't discuss the hockey stick graph as far as I know -- but I haven't actually seen all of the e-mails.

But very knowledgeable people have been going through the e-mails very thoroughly, so I have to assume that if there was something incriminating about that graph in the e-mail or the notes, it would have been mentioned. Indeed, despite McIntyre exposing the hockey stick graph, Mann and others continue to defend it. So I'm pretty sure that anything that poked holes in their defense would have been exposed.

All that said, there was a report recently that showed that the amount of carbon retained in the atmosphere has not increased like the warmists claim. That really drives a dagger through the heart of their warming theory, which is premised on the amount of carbon building up over time.

Individualist said...


That is interesting. Do you remember if the article stated what scientific experiment was the basis for the belief CO2 levels had not risen.

From what I read the bases for the 900 ppm projection is solely the Antartic Ice Core. They core Greenland as well but it does not agree so they attribute it to volcanic activity which could be true. My problem is that when you look for something that foes into the depth of that study there is so little information.

The main question I have is "Do the projections of CO2 levels taken in future years hold match the prior year. In other words do the CO2 levels in the last year's core hold true when retaken as a sample in five years time or do they fluctuate. I suspect how many days Antartica was below -78 degrees C in a year would force fluctuations since that is the condensation point of CO2. Not seeing the explanation for this or documenting how they adjusted the data to account for this bothers me. I don't know.

AndrewPrice said...

Individualist, Here is the link to the article about the carbon dioxide study. I haven't fully digested it yet (no pun intended), but if I read it correctly, they've found that the atmosphere is not absorbing more carbon.

That wipes out their theory about global warming, so now they're switching to the idea that the carbon is ending up in the oceans, causing them to turn acidic.

Here's the link.

Individualist said...

Wow thanks Andrew

I reaaly wish these articles were longer and explained the details of the science behind them.

My theory is that excess CO2 in water would end up as limestone depposits. Oddly enough according to the wiki article as the temperature of water increases limestone becomes less soluble in water. The planet has to have a process that deals with excess CO2 because if it did not large CO2 outlets from volcanoes would threaten the existence of life. How much CO2 was released by the three Supervolcanic explosions in Yellowstone which is a Caldera miles in diameter. I really hate the fact that questions are never addressed or asked in public because enforcing the propaganda is deemed more important.

Anyways thanks for the link, It confirms some of my suspicions about the Antartic Ice Cores.

AndrewPrice said...

You're welcome Indi. That's an interesting theory and would explain something that they are fighting about right now -- whether or not the ocean will become acid. The warmists claim that CO2 will turn the oceans to acid, but (of course) that doesn't seem to be happening. Your limestone theory may explain where the CO2 goes.

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