Climategate revisited

Three reviews release their findings this week

By Rick Jelliffe
July 8, 2010 | Comments: 4

It is now eight months since my blog on Climategate (and its follow-ups Climategate and XML and Climate wars: Global Warming, ClimateGate, Web 2.0 and Grey Power —The Revenge of the Codgers?) and this week there have been a couple of stories that are a good coda.

Three of the various enquiries set up to look into the scientists behaviour and method (not their scientific results) have just (July 2010) made their reports.

  • In the UK, the Russell independent review (instigated by the University involved) found (according to the link) that the rigour and honesty of the scientists at the centre ... is not at doubt and The scientists did not misuse the process by which the key international body on climate change prepares its reports on the impacts of global warming for governments. However, The CRU was unhelpful and defensive in response to reasonable requests for information about the weather stations it used to gather the temperature records: however the raw data frequently requested by sceptics from which global land temperatures were calculated was directly available from other sources and the "code" to make the calculations could be worked out independently.

    [UPDATE: They make an interesting distinction on the 'trick' in the cover art they supplied:

    The figure supplied for the WMO Report was misleading in not describing that one of the series was truncated post 1960 for the figure, and in not being clear on the fact that proxy and instrumental data were spliced together. We do not find that it is misleading to curtail reconstructions at some point per se, or to splice data.]

  • In the US, in a University review into Prof Michael Mann (according to the link) has been cleared of manipulating his research findings. A related review found he had not falsified, suppressed or destroyed data, or deviated from accepted research practices.

  • In the UK, the Information Commissioner's findingsthey find that the University did not respond to requests within the 20 day deadline for three requests (two had no reply at all.) However, the breach is of the Environmental Information Regulations (which the University did not believe applied in this case) not the Freedom Of Information Act (the Commissioner does not find that the University was wrong in its belief that there were valid exemptions under the FOI Act, such as for copyright reasons.) However the Commissioner has considerable concern that some requests for information were considered an imposition, that attempts to circumvent the legislation were considered and that the ethos of openness and transparency the legislation seeks to promote were not universally accepted.

So: unhelpful and defensive. Nothing remotely close to fraudulent or incompetent, or the other lurid allegations. Yet people with no training in the area felt outraged enough to drive poor Prof Jones to the point where he contemplated suicide, relying on half-baked FUD. Shame on them.

One of the interesting reports on this comes from the Washington Post. In the interest of balance, it gives space to an organization called the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Who are they? The page at says they published a book claiming that dioxin is good for you—I have not read it. (I grew up in a rural valley polluted by dioxins: farmers could not sell cattle for beef from it.) You can get an idea of the position CEI takes, and the industries which would like those positions, from this position paper that is part of the UCSF Legacy Tobacco Library.

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Question: What are the chances an infinitesimal (.04%) trace gas (CO2), essential to photosynthesis and therefore life on this planet, is responsible for runaway Global Warming?

Answer: Infinitesimal

The IPCC now agrees. See the IPCC Technical Report section entitled Global Warming Potential (GWP). And the GWP for CO2? Just 1, (one), unity, the lowest of all green house gases (GHG). What’s more, trace gases which include GHG constitute less than 1% of the atmosphere. Of that 1%, water vapor, the most powerful GHG, makes ups 40% of the total. Carbon dioxide is 1/10th of that amount, an insignificant .04%. If carbon dioxide levels were cut in half to 200PPM, all plant growth would stop according to agricultural scientists. It's no accident that commercial green house owner/operators invest heavily in CO2 generators to increase production, revenues and profits. Prof. Michael Mann's Bristle cone tree proxy data (Hockey stick) proves nothing has done more to GREEN (verb) the planet over the past few decades than moderate sun-driven warming (see solar inertial motion) together with elevated levels of CO2, regardless of the source. None of these facts have been reported in the national media. Why?

John: Runaway climate warming? The reports talk about gradual climate change: a whole lot of effects of which warming is only one. The average may be warmer, but at particular locations could even get colder. Climate *change*.

I looked at the IPCC report to see if I could locate your claim. It seems to say the opposite: did you actually look at it? If you give me the exact reference, I am happy to re-think.

What I did find was the section that mention Global Warming Potential, at

It says:

The understanding of anthropogenic warming and cooling influences on climate has improved since the TAR, leading to very high confidence that the effect of human activities since 1750 has been a net positive forcing of +1.6 [+0.6 to +2.4] W m–2.

The LLGHGs (long-lived greenhouse gases) together contribute +2.63 ± 0.26 W m–2, which is the dominant radiative forcing term and has the highest level of scientific understanding.

I don't understand what the point about commercial greenhouses has to do with anything. Is it supposed to undermine the science in some way? Or are you saying that somehow things can only be all good or all bad, rather than having a range of uses and effects which need to traded off against each other?

Back in the 1970's we were going to run out oil and freeze to death. Now we're using too much oil and we're going to boil.

So, within my lifetime we've gone from one manufactured scare to another. I guarantee you that by 2040 or thereabouts we'll be back to running out of oil and freezing to death. Oh, and bell-bottoms will be back in fashion.

IMHO, the whole global warming/climate change/whatever it is today panic is a huge scam.

Patrick: Science has also alerted us to to plenty of "scares" that were true that our communities have been able to respond to: the connection with cancer and smoking, and the hole in ozone layer being two prominent successes. Which parts of science do you want to throw out: just the parts that deal with carbon and hydrogen, or are there other elements too?

To deny something just because it is scary is pretty dumb and unmanly, don't you think? Every national academy of science in the world has OKed the basic science: it is not just one or two crackpots here.

Some places will get hotter, some may even get colder, some will stay the same; many more places will get more extreme weather events, we are told. I am not panicked, and I don't see that active concern about human impact on the environment and how we manage it can fairly be characterized as either panic or a scam.

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