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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Global Warming With the Lid Off

The Wall Street Journal
November 24, 2009

Global Warming With the Lid Off

'The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the U.K., I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone. . . . We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind."

So apparently wrote Phil Jones, director of the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU) and one of the world's leading climate scientists, in a 2005 email to "Mike." Judging by the email thread, this refers to Michael Mann, director of the Pennsylvania State University's Earth System Science Center. We found this nugget among the more than 3,000 emails and documents released last week after CRU's servers were hacked and messages among some of the world's most influential climatologists were published on the Internet.

The "two MMs" are almost certainly Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, two Canadians who have devoted years to seeking the raw data and codes used in climate graphs and models, then fact-checking the published conclusions—a painstaking task that strikes us as a public and scientific service. Mr. Jones did not return requests for comment and the university said it could not confirm that all the emails were authentic, though it acknowledged its servers were hacked.

Yet even a partial review of the emails is highly illuminating. In them, scientists appear to urge each other to present a "unified" view on the theory of man-made climate change while discussing the importance of the "common cause"; to advise each other on how to smooth over data so as not to compromise the favored hypothesis; to discuss ways to keep opposing views out of leading journals; and to give tips on how to "hide the decline" of temperature in certain inconvenient data.

Some of those mentioned in the emails have responded to our requests for comment by saying they must first chat with their lawyers. Others have offered legal threats and personal invective. Still others have said nothing at all. Those who have responded have insisted that the emails reveal nothing more than trivial data discrepancies and procedural debates.

Yet all of these nonresponses manage to underscore what may be the most revealing truth: That these scientists feel the public doesn't have a right to know the basis for their climate-change predictions, even as their governments prepare staggeringly expensive legislation in response to them.

Consider the following note that appears to have been sent by Mr. Jones to Mr. Mann in May 2008: "Mike, Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise. . . . Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same?" AR4 is shorthand for the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change's (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report, presented in 2007 as the consensus view on how bad man-made climate change has supposedly become.

In another email that seems to have been sent in September 2007 to Eugene Wahl of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Paleoclimatology Program and to Caspar Ammann of the National Center for Atmospheric Research's Climate and Global Dynamics Division, Mr. Jones writes: "[T]ry and change the Received date! Don't give those skeptics something to amuse themselves with."

When deleting, doctoring or withholding information didn't work, Mr. Jones suggested an alternative in an August 2008 email to Gavin Schmidt of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, copied to Mr. Mann. "The FOI [Freedom of Information] line we're all using is this," he wrote. "IPCC is exempt from any countries FOI—the skeptics have been told this. Even though we . . . possibly hold relevant info the IPCC is not part of our remit (mission statement, aims etc) therefore we don't have an obligation to pass it on."

It also seems Mr. Mann and his friends weren't averse to blacklisting scientists who disputed some of their contentions, or journals that published their work. "I think we have to stop considering 'Climate Research' as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal," goes one email, apparently written by Mr. Mann to several recipients in March 2003. "Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal."

Mr. Mann's main beef was that the journal had published several articles challenging aspects of the anthropogenic theory of global warming.

For the record, when we've asked Mr. Mann in the past about the charge that he and his colleagues suppress opposing views, he has said he "won't dignify that question with a response." Regarding our most recent queries about the hacked emails, he says he "did not manipulate any data in any conceivable way," but he otherwise refuses to answer specific questions. For the record, too, our purpose isn't to gainsay the probity of Mr. Mann's work, much less his right to remain silent.

However, we do now have hundreds of emails that give every appearance of testifying to concerted and coordinated efforts by leading climatologists to fit the data to their conclusions while attempting to silence and discredit their critics. In the department of inconvenient truths, this one surely deserves a closer look by the media, the U.S. Congress and other investigative bodies.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Settled Science

The Wall Street Journal
November 23, 2009

Settled Science?

Computer hackers reveal corruption behind the global-warming "consensus."

By JAMES TARANTO

"Officials at the University of East Anglia confirmed in a statement on Friday that files had been stolen from a university server and that the police had been brought in to investigate the breach," the New York Times reports. "They added, however, that they could not confirm that all the material circulating on the Internet was authentic." But some scientists have confirmed that their emails were quoted accurately.

The files--which can be downloaded here--surely have not been fully plumbed. The ZIP archive weighs in at just under 62 megabytes, or more than 157 MB when uncompressed. But bits that have already been analyzed, as the Washington Post reports, "reveal an intellectual circle that appears to feel very much under attack, and eager to punish its enemies":

In one e-mail, the center's director, Phil Jones, writes Pennsylvania State University's Michael E. Mann and questions whether the work of academics that question the link between human activities and global warming deserve to make it into the prestigious IPCC report, which represents the global consensus view on climate science.

"I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report," Jones writes. "Kevin and I will keep them out somehow--even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"
In another, Jones and Mann discuss how they can pressure an academic journal not to accept the work of climate skeptics with whom they disagree. "Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal," Mann writes. . . .

Mann, who directs Penn State's Earth System Science Center, said the e-mails reflected the sort of "vigorous debate" researchers engage in before reaching scientific conclusions. "We shouldn't expect the sort of refined statements that scientists make when they're speaking in public," he said.

This is downright Orwellian. What the Post describes is not a vigorous debate but an attempt to suppress debate--to politicize the process of scientific inquiry so that it yields a predetermined result. This does not, in itself, prove the global warmists wrong. But it raises a glaring question: If they have the facts on their side, why do they need to resort to tactics of suppression and intimidation?

It is hard to see how this is anything less than a definitive refutation of the popular press's contention that global warmism is settled science--a contention that both the Times and the Post repeat in their articles on the revelations: "The evidence pointing to a growing human contribution to global warming is so widely accepted that the hacked material is unlikely to erode the overall argument," the Times claims. The Post leads its story by observing that "few U.S. politicians bother to question whether humans are changing the world's climate," and that "nearly three years ago the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded the evidence was unequivocal." (As blogger Tom Maguire notes, this actually overstates even the IPCC's conclusions.)

The press's view on global warming rests on an appeal to authority: the consensus among scientists that it is real, dangerous and man-caused. But the authority of scientists rests on the integrity of the scientific process, and a "consensus" based on the suppression of alternative hypotheses is, quite simply, a fraudulent one.

Lawmakers Probe Climate Emails

The Wall Street Journal
November 23, 2009

Lawmakers Probe Climate Emails

By KEITH JOHNSON and GAUTAM NAIK

Congressional Republicans have started investigating climate scientists whose hacked emails suggest they tried to squelch dissenting views about global warming.

An aide to Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said investigators are studying the documents, which unknown hackers stole last week from the computer of a prominent British climate-research center.

Investigators are focusing on the correspondence of White House Science Adviser John Holdren, he said. Dr. Holdren, a point man for the Obama administration on climate change, sent one of the hacked emails. In the 2003 email, Dr. Holdren, then at the Woods Hole Research Center in Woods Hole, Mass., defended research by Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, a scientist who believes global warming is man-made and who also sent some of the hacked emails.
On Monday, Dr. Holden said: "I'm happy to stand by my contribution to this exchange. I think anybody who reads what I wrote in its entirety will find it a serious and balanced treatment of the question of 'burden of proof' in situations where science germane to public policy is in dispute."

The aide said investigators are also probing the contributions of dozens of climate scientists to reports published by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The Environmental Protection Agency, in its recent move to boost regulation of greenhouse gases, based its conclusions on IPCC reports.

The IPCC has said the climate is heating up and humans are almost certainly to blame. Those who disagree that the globe is warming, or on the cause or extent of any warming, complain that their views have been excluded.

The documents, hacked from the Climatic Research Unit at East Anglia University in the U.K., show that some climate researchers declined to share their data with fellow scientists, and sought to keep researchers with dissenting views from publishing in leading scientific journals.
Separately, Sen. James Inhofe (R., Okla.), an outspoken critic of the view that humans are causing global warming, said that in light of the emails, he will call for an investigation into the state of climate science if the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works doesn't act soon.

Amid the furor over the released documents, more than two dozen climate scientists will release a report Tuesday arguing that the effects of man-made global warming have intensified in recent years.

One of them is Dr. Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State. In a 2003 response to an email complaining about a paper in the journal "Climate Research" which questioned assertions that the 20th century was abnormally warm, Dr. Mann wrote, "I think we have to stop considering 'Climate Research' as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal."

Dr. Mann said Monday that he didn't think there was anything wrong in telling his colleagues that "we shouldn't be publishing in a journal that's activist."

Police in the U.K. are continuing to investigate the attack, and the university there said Monday that it is conducting its own review.

Hans von Storch, editor at the time of "Climate Research," had his own objections to the paper mentioned by Dr. Mann, and resigned shortly after it was published, citing a breakdown in the peer-review process. But Dr. von Storch, now at the University of Hamburg's Meteorological Institute, said Monday that the behavior outlined in the hacked emails went too far.

East Anglia researchers "violated a fundamental principle of science," he said, by refusing to share data with other researchers. "They built a group to do gatekeeping, which is also totally unacceptable," he added. "They play science as a power game."—Guy Chazan contributed to this article.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Revenge of the Climate Laymen

The Wall Street Journal
November 18, 2009

Revenge of the Climate Laymen

Global warming's most dangerous apostate speaks out about the state of climate change science.

By ANNE JOLIS

Barack Obama conceded over the weekend that no successor to the Kyoto Protocol would be signed in Copenhagen next month. With that out of the way, it may be too much to hope that the climate change movement take a moment to reflect on the state of the science that is supposedly driving us toward a carbon-neutral future.

But should a moment for self-reflection arise, campaigners against climate change could do worse than take a look at the work of Stephen McIntyre, who has emerged as one of the climate change gang's Most Dangerous Apostates. The reason for this distinction? He checked the facts.

The retired Canadian businessman, whose self-described "auditing" a few years ago prompted a Congressional review of climate science, has once again thrown EnviroLand into a tailspin. In September, he revealed that a famous graph using tree rings to show unprecedented 20th century warming relies on thin data. Since its publication in 2000, University of East Anglia professor Keith Briffa's much-celebrated image has made star appearances everywhere from U.N. policy papers to activists' posters. Like other so-called "hockey stick" temperature graphs, it's an easy sell—one look and it seems Gadzooks! We're burning ourselves up!

"It was the belle of the ball," Mr. McIntyre told me on a recent phone call from Ontario. "Its dance card was full."

At least until Mr. McIntyre reported that the modern portion of that graph, which shows temperatures appearing to skyrocket in the last 100 years, relies on just 12 tree cores in Russia's Yamal region. When Mr. McIntyre presented a second graph, adding data from 34 tree cores from a nearby site, the temperature spike disappears.

Mr. Briffa denounces Mr. McIntyre's work as "demonstrably biased" because it uses "a narrower area and range of sample sites." He says he and his colleagues have now built a new chronology using still more data. Here, as in similar graphs by other researchers, the spike soars once again. Mr. McIntyre's "work has little implication for our published work or any other work that uses it," Mr. Briffa concludes.

He and his colleagues may well ignore Mr. McIntyre, but the rest of us shouldn't. While Mr. McIntyre's image may use data from fewer sites, it still has nearly three times as many tree cores representing the modern era as Mr. Briffa's original.

Yet Mr. McIntyre is first to admit his work is no bullet aimed at the heart of the theory of man-made climate change. Rather, his work—chronicled in papers co-written with environmental economist Ross McKitrick and more than 7,000 posts on his Climateaudit.org Weblog—does something much more important: It illustrates the uncertainty of a science presented as so infallible as to justify huge new taxes on rich countries along with bribes to poor ones in order to halt their fossil-fueled climbs to prosperity. Mr. McIntyre offers what many in the field do not: rigor.

It all started in 2002 when—as many might given the time and Mr. McIntyre's mathematics background—he decided to verify for himself the case for action on climate change.
"It was like a big crossword puzzle," he told me. "Business was a bit slow at the time, so I started reading up."

Prior to the Briffa graph revelation, he had also caught a statistical error that undercut another exalted "hockey stick" graph prominently featured by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC, this one by Michael Mann, head of Pennsylvania State University's Earth System Science Center. Alerts about review boards' seemingly lax standards litter his blog, highlighting in particular the IPCC, which has used both the Mann and Briffa graphs in its reports. In 2007, Mr. McIntyre found a technical gaffe that forced NASA to correct itself and admit that 1934, not 1998, was the warmest year recorded in the continental U.S.

"At the beginning I innocently assumed there would be due diligence for all this stuff. … So often my mouth would drop, when I realized no one had really looked into it."

Even more innocently, he assumed the billion-dollar climate change industry would welcome his untrained but painstaking work. Instead, Mr. McIntyre is subjected to every kind of venom—that he must be funded by Big Oil, by Big Business, by Some Texan Somewhere. For the record, the 62-year-old declares himself "past my best-by date, operating on my own nickel."

James Hansen, the director of NASA's Goddard Institute, has dismissed him as a "court jester." Mr. Mann replied to an emailed query about Mr. McIntyre by decrying "every specious contrarian claim and innuendo against me, my colleagues, and the science of climate change itself."

Others are more thick-skinned: "You mention his name in my community, people just smile. It's a one-liner to get a laugh out of a group of climate scientists," affirms Stanford University's Stephen Schneider.

One wonders what is so funny, when it is not only the Canadian hobbyist fueling skepticism, but also figures from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center that now show thickening Arctic ice; from the U.K. Met (Meteorological) Office showing falling temperatures that contradict modeling predictions; and other studies that suggest natural factors in climate change are being dramatically underestimated.

Climatologists say they will only take Mr. McIntyre seriously if he creates his own temperature reconstructions and submits them for peer review. But the best science should stand up even to outside scrutiny. And if Mr. McIntyre has a credibility problem with climatologists, climatologists' predictions are increasingly viewed skeptically by the public.

A Pew report last month revealed that the number of Americans who believe humans are causing climate change has dropped 11 percentage points in the last 18 months to 36%; that the number who feel there is solid evidence that the earth is warming has fallen by 14 points to 57%; and that those who think the issue is "very serious" has sunk nine points to 35%.

Mr. McIntyre declares no interest in debunking The Theory in toto, nor in discouraging efficient energy use. His blog will disappoint those seeking anything more political than technical analyses.
In fairness, researchers are far from the loudest voices telling "skeptics" like Mr. McIntyre to sit down, shut up and surrender their lightbulbs without further question—that megaphone belongs to the politicians and activists pushing centrally-planned economies in the name of saving the Earth. Here, we see that contempt for laymen is not universal: Al Gore's ignorance is happily overlooked given his power to push billions in research funding. The same goes for Barack Obama, Leonardo DiCaprio, and everyone else declaring "the debate is over."

I asked 10 climatologists what they thought was the most reliable method of predicting climate, and got nearly as many answers. People in the field compare climate studies to health studies—another complex mechanism with uncontrollable factors, where best practices will always be debated.

Climate researchers know their prescriptions don't carry the certainty laymen assume from that which is labeled "science," yet most shy from a straightforward account of this uncertainty.
"Methods certainly need to be continually refined and improved. I doubt that anyone in the paleoclimate community would disagree with that," says Rob Wilson of the University of St. Andrews's School of Geography and Geosciences. "However, can the nuances of methodological developments be communicated to the laymen—and would they want to know? I do not think this would help."

Maybe not, but letting people feel duped by hyperbole is proving even more harmful to the warmers' cause.

"I never said I was proving or disproving anything…. I just don't think we should be thanking the people who make it harder to find out what's true," Mr. McIntyre says.

The climate establishment will probably never thank Mr. McIntyre, much less follow his example. The rest of us should do both.

Miss Jolis is an editorial page writer for The Wall Street Journal Europe.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Economic Uses of Al Gore

The Economic Uses of Al Gore

Sincerity is no substitute for disinterestedness.

By HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR.

Last spring Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn asked Al Gore during a House hearing if his investments in green energy meant he would benefit personally from cap and trade.
"If you believe that the reason I have been working on this issue for 30 years is because of greed, you don't know me," Mr. Gore responded (and, yes, according to two reporters present, he sighed).

Mr. Gore is quite right that his arguments should be judged on their merits, not on his investments. He's wrong to think his investments are irrelevant, and, even more, that sincerity is dispositive of anything. Sincerity is no substitute for disinterestedness.

Here are a couple questions: When so much of his position and prestige are invested in a predicted climate crisis, is Mr. Gore likely to be open to contrary evidence? Is he likely to be particularly fastidious about whether proposed steps will actually have an effect on global warming if they also happen to benefit his investments?

Ms. Blackburn's challenge was in a sense late. Mr. Gore long ago jumped over to the side where salesmanship, by whatever means, was the trumping priority. As far back as 1989, he insisted there was "no dispute worthy of recognition" about the danger of manmade climate change. By now, he titularly heads a vast establishment with a stake in one side of the argument.

Notice, for instance, after a decade in which the earth appears to have stopped warming and even cooled, that global warming advocates have rushed to embrace a computer simulation that predicts this cooling (in retrospect, of course) and allows for indefinite future cooling, even while assuring that the world is destined to face disastrous warming anyway. Isn't this what forecasters of doom have done since time immemorial when their deadlines for doom haven't been met?

Mr. Gore's own predictions of a climate catastrophe have not lessened, but every time he opens his mouth, the costs of meeting the emergency become easier and easier to swallow. They aren't even costs anymore; as he says in his new book, they are "profits."

All policy salesmanship naturally defaults toward the proposition of huge benefits and negligible costs (i.e., free lunchism). Isn't that where Al Gore is today?

Mr. Gore notes that he has poured his own money into two climate action nonprofits, but, whatever his self-felt motives, aren't these nonprofits functionally propaganda arms (i.e., advertising) that benefit his for-profit investments?

The truth is, evidence of man's impact on climate remains maddeningly elusive, in part because man's impact on climate is so small as to be hard to disentangle from natural variability. This is not Mr. Gore's position, of course. If anything, however, the case for action has become less closed since he pronounced it closed in 1989, if only because of the huge sums and manpower poured into the subject to little avail.

In retrospect, a significant moment was the falling apart or debunking of two key attempts seemingly well-suited to clinch matters for a scientifically literate public. One, the famous hockey stick graph, which suggested the temperature rise of the past 100 years was unprecedentedly steep, was convincingly challenged. The other, a mining of the geological record to show past episodes of warming were sharply coupled with rising CO2 levels, fell victim to a closer look that revealed that past warmings had preceded rather than followed higher CO2 levels.

These episodes from a decade ago testified to one important thing: Even climate activists recognized a need for evidence from the real world. The endless invocation of computer models wasn't cutting it. Yet today the same circles are more dependent than ever on predictions made by models, whose forecasts lie far enough in the future that those who rely on them to make policy prescriptions are in no danger of being held accountable for their reliability.

For a while the media could patch over the scientific shortfall by reporting evidence of warming as if it were evidence of what causes warming. Inconveniently, however, just as temperature-measuring has become more standardized and disciplined and less reliant on flaky records from the past (massaged to the Nth degree), the warming trend seems to have faded from the recent record.

We could go on. But from our first column on this subject, we have been convinced that the scientific questions are interesting and irrelevant, since it was never in the cards that Western societies (or Brazil or India or China) would sacrifice economic growth for the uncertain benefits of fighting climate change. Unable to do anything meaningful about climate change, policy would therefore default to satisfying the demand of organized interests for climate pork.
Isn't that, however much he may be distracted by feelings of sincerity, exactly the economic function of Mr. Gore today?

My Rant

The claim that climate change is direct result of man's energy consumption is simply unproven and politically motivated. While they propound lies that certain lightbulbs or cars will destroy the earth and raise ocean levels as much as 20 feet within the next century, fascists, like Al Gore, fly around in their Gulfstream jets and live in homes that use 22 times the energy of an average American's home! Their propaganda is outrageous and potentially catastrophic for the economies of United States, the developed world and developing world.

The proof of global warming or man's influence on climate change is not settled science. Just consider the source of the big lie: the proselytizing hypocritical high priest of the pagan environmental religion Al Gore or the other Kool-Aid drinking climateers from the left such as Learjet liberals, Hollywood high school drop-outs, billonaire elitists, the left-leaning mainstream media, the United Nations, academia, environmental radicals, socialists, other anti-capitalists and so called "researchers", "experts" and/or "scientists" whose paychecks depend upon the apparent existence of the "issue".

United States energy conservation and independence is a worthy goal that should be supported by Republicans, the Democrat Party, true Democrats, Independents and environmentalists. Energy independence is a major national security concern. However, lying to our people, implementing the cap & trade boondoggle which will crush our economy or doing anything that will cause the United States to transfer an portion of its sovereignty to the United Nations is idiotic. Not in my name!