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2005-04-10

Cooking the books of global warming

Friends, you're smarter than the average bear, else you wouldn't be here. You're hams, and other techies, so you've evinced the willingness to use your brains and to study. Please, give me, and your future, a few minutes, and read this text, then visit the sites linked, for it's becoming clear a key element of the scientific basis for a Global Warming problem is rapidly falling apart:

This discussion, BTW, was excerpted from Dr. Jerry Pournelle's blog:
One of the pillars of the case for man-made global warming is a graph nicknamed the hockey stick. It's a reconstruction of temperatures over the past 1,000 years based on records captured in tree rings, corals and other markers. The stick's shaft shows temperatures oscillating slightly over the ages. Then comes the blade: The mercury swings sharply upward in the 20th century.

The eye-catching image has had a big impact. Since it was published four years ago in a United Nations report, hundreds of environmentalists, scientists and policy makers have used the hockey stick in presentations and brochures to make the case that human activity in the industrial era is causing dangerous global warming.

But is the hockey stick true?

According to a semiretired Toronto minerals consultant, it's not. After spending two years and about $5,000 of his own money trying to double-check the influential graphic, Stephen McIntyre says he has found significant oversights and errors. He claims its lead author, climatologist Michael Mann of the University of Virginia, and
colleagues used flawed methods that yield meaningless results.

//snip//
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Then, discussion continues:
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Paul S. Linsay: The "hockey stick" has been controversial for a long time. One of the best analyses of it is at http://john-daly.com/hockey/hockey.htm, by the late John Daley. I think one of the most telling criticisms of the graph is that it is a concatenation of two types of data: thermometer data from 1900 to the present; and proxy data for earlier times. This is a big no-no, they have different accuracy, precision, and systematics. The only honest graph would use proxy data to reconstruct the temperature for all times. In particular, it means estimating modern temperatures using proxy data uncorrelated with the calibration data. I've seen one such reconstruction, can't lay my hands on the link, but it was pretty unimpressive, flat temperatures for all thousand years.

The other hole in all the global warming hoo-hah is the thermometer temperature record. It suffers from all sorts of problems which the believers won't acknowledge. It's data taken over 100 years without any sort of calibration or control from thousands of weather stations by many thousands of observers. Quality control is a bit problematic.

The most famous problem is the urban heat island effect which the believers claim to have solved. Hard to understand how that was done since there is no way to model the effect. How do you correctly account for highways, buildings, and parking lots built wily-nily over time? The data for the US, where they claim to have taken it all into account, shows the 1930's as the warmest decades of the 20th century. Throw in the third world and you get global warming.

JP: I understand; what confused me was that I had not known he kept the actual methods he used for combining different data a SECRET, as well as keeping SECRET some of the data he used. I thought I had some deficiency of understanding. That isn't science. You can 'prove' anything that way.

And I note his curve does NOT show the rapid change in temperatures from Viking times, but we have records of what happened to their dairy farms in Greenland.

If you can't mail it in a letter to a colleague so that he gets the same result you do, it isn't science.

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Neil McNabb: If you're looking for more info on the "hockey stick" or as the authors put it, "Critique of the Mann et al Northern Hemisphere Average Temperature Reconstruction" you might want to look at http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/trc.html. I'm not sure I have enough math to understand fully the process but it is interesting reading. Especially the section that suggests that it was warmer in the 1400s than it is now!

JP: The main thing I got from this was confirmation that Mann has not published his algorithms for producing his curves. How you can call something science when you have a computer program but no one else knows what the program does or how it does it is, I fear, beyond my ken.

Here's the actual link to the WSJ "hockey stick" article:

http://online.wsj.com/article_email/0,,SB110834031507653590-H9jg4NllaN4n5ysaICHaKmFm4,00.html

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Joe Hennessey: Prof. von Storch is director of the division of Systems Analysis and Modelling, Institute of Coastal Research, University of Hamburg. His web site is at http://w3g.gkss.de/G/Mitarbeiter/storch/ There is a link to the English translation of the Der Speigel story, A Climate of Staged Angst.

//snip//
One example of this is the discussion of the so-called "hockey stick," a temperature curve that allegedly depicts the development over the last 1000 years, and whose shape resembles that of a hockey stick. In 2001 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the committee of climate researchers appointed by UNO, rashly institutionalized this curve as the iconic symbol for anthropogenic climate change: At the end of a centuries-long period of stable temperatures, the upward-bent blade of the hockey stick represents the human influence.

In October 2004, we were able to demonstrate in the specialist journal "Science" that the methodological bases that led to this hockey-stick curve are mistaken. We wanted to reverse the spiral of exaggeration somewhat, without also relativizing the central message - that climate change caused by human activity does indeed exist. Prominent representatives of climate research, however, did not respond by taking issue with the facts. Instead, they worried that the noble cause of protecting the climate might have been done harm.

Other scientists lapse into a zeal reminiscent of nothing so much as the McCarthy era. For them, methodological criticism is the spawn of "conservative think tanks and propagandists for the oil and coal lobby," which they believe they must expose; dramatizing climate change, on the other hand, is defended as a sensible means of educating society.
//snip//

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James: Michael Crichton gave about a 40 minute talk, broadcast on CSPAN (I think) this past weekend, in which the Mann Report figured quite prominently. Crichton quoted a long list of problems with the data, one of which was that data some sets were repeated and in some instances, just plain wrong. But the most startling thing is that someone, (sorry, I didn't catch the name), took the Mann data sets and substituted a Monte Carlo set of numbers...and then did it again and again. ALL the data sets produced the same hockey stick graph. Crichton flashed a slide as part of the presentation, that showed at least a dozen different Monte Carlo generated numbers, and they all produced a hockey stick type graph.

One point Crichton did make that caught my attention, was to predict that soon such reports would be covered by "product liability" laws. He was maintaining that reports are "products" of the Information Age, just like any other manufactured product.

My only point is that somewhere, someone has already dismantled the Mann Report....

James....

PS: I can't find any mention of the program on the CSPAN site, so I may have that wrong, however, a summary of the presentation is here... http://www.intellectualconservative.com/article4131.html

JP: Yet the Mann Report is still in the official Canadian government data, and is still one of the major arguments used for the "Kyoto Concensus". One wonders how much consensus there would be if it were generally known that no one can repeat Mann's results because he doesn't give out his algorithm.

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Subject: DDT, Global (non)warming, Nuclear war survival (yes it's varied)

EAS: I like your site a lot, found it by accident a few years ago, and thought I would finally send something in. The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine has several interesting side sites. They cover things from NWSS to homeschooling, global warming, and DDT use. I found their site while searching for Kresson Kearny's Nuclear War Survival Skills book for the nuclear effects tables in the appendices, while looking for info on Project Orion, and it turned out to have lots of other helpful info also.

//snip//

http://www.oism.org/oism/s32p686.htm is a lecture on global non-warming. A review of the research literature concerning the environmental consequences of increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide leads to the conclusion that increases during the 20th Century have produced no deleterious effects upon global weather, climate, or temperature.

//snip//

JP: Oregon Institute is the successor chosen by Petr Beckmann to publish his Access to Energy. I have been a subscriber to Access to Energy since Beckmann founded it. I should say, worthy successor although no one will take Beckmann's place.


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