Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"ClimateGate" II: The Media Snores

 Outside of the usual suspects, this seems to be the typical media response to the latest batch of emails stolen from CRU: its just scientists arguing things out, occasionally being mean to one another, but (as was the case with the first batch), nothing science-altering.  A couple of things to note.

1) I haven't read them all; just a selection provided at some of the denialist sites.  You can find the entire file here if you want to slog through all 180 meg or so, though given the (muted) media response so far there may be no point.  In any case, consensus among those who have seen the whole stash is that these new files were from the original CRU Hack in late 2009; there are no emails dated later than November of that year.  So they are, in short, the 2nd string stuff--the stuff that wasn't inflammatory enough to release in round one.

2) J. Bowers, frequent commenter at Real Climate, thinks that the introductory material supplied by the hackers means they are definitely not whistle-blowers from within CRU:

Things to note about the latest email set: Instead of using commas in 5,000 and 220,000, they use periods (5.000 and 2.000). That’s not an English speaking way of doing things. They also refer to themselves as “we”. What are the chances that the whistleblower at UEA/CRU would be more than one whistleblower, and they would also not have English as their first language?

Not that anyone really believed the "inside job" theory in the first place.

3) The Norfolk Police, assigned to solve the original CRU hack, haven't, let us just say, given it their all:

 I have been passed information stemming from an FoI request to Norfolk Police showing that over the past 12 months, they have spent precisely £5,649.09 on the investigation.

All of that was disbursed back in February; and all but £80.05 went on "invoices for work in the last six months".

In any case, I think the MSM response can be explained by the fact that they overreacted so wildly in the first go round. They've learned a valuable lesson:

PS.  There's now a searchable database of the new messages.  I'm actually in it!

24 comments:

Jerome Bastien said...

there's some useful stuff in there for skeptics if you know what to look for.

Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these further if necessary…

This one shows that the yet uncorrupted climate scientists view with deep suspicion the claims of the alarmist team. The tropical tropospheric temperatures are critical to identifying the water vapor feedback on which the whole catastrophic part of CAGW rests. And it's not there.

Also of particular interest is the way in which uncorrupted climate scientists view the "hockey stick" - as a complete and total scam.

These are two of the most important pillars of the CAGW theory: the notion that current temperatures are unprecedented and that any CO2 warming will be greatly amplified. Both as it turns out are not believed except by the "team", the small cabal of influential scientists who control the IPCC.

You're right though, the MSM will miss these important points, because to find them they would need at least a modicum of honesty and intelligence.

bigcitylib said...

You are making me very sleepy.

Jerome Bastien said...

yeah i understand. thinking about sciency stuff is hard.

you should go on to St. James park and OCCUPY!

John Prince said...

... As indicated earlier, like the big tobacco companies, Exxon, Mobil Corporation set out to plant doubt in the public's minds. The skeptics they employed, wrote Anderson, "didn't have to bother defending their position in the scientific community because the public was the target audience. They restricted their pugilism to the popular press rather than peer-reviewed scientific journals."

The American Petroleum Institute called for a campaign to recruit a cadre of scientists who share the industry's views on climate science and to train them in public relations so they can convince journalists, politicians and the public that the risk of global warming is too uncertain to justify.

If there is a significant difference between the PR efforts of the tobacco industry and the fossil-fuel industry, it is size. The oil, gas and coal sectors make Big Tobacco seem positively puny by comparison.

Has this campaign against climate change been successful? You bet. It may well go down as the most audacious, successful and cynical campaign in public relations history.

The result? The public is being misinformed on climate science by poor journalists that continue to tell both sides of the story even when there is no other side. The resultant political inaction might kill the planet.

Consider these numbers. A McAllister Opinion Research poll from the fall of last year showed that fully 50 percent of Canadians still believed that "most scietists disagreed with each other about whether global warming was happening." In the U.S., the numbers are even worse. An ABC News poll last year showed that 64 percent of Americans believed the majority of scientists are still arguing about whether or not global warming was even happening.

Mel Hurtig 'The Truth About Canada'

Is it any wonder that the media ignors this issue?

mauser98 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fred said...

The Seven Stages of Warmonger Denial


Stage 1: they aren’t real emails
Stage 2: they are real emails but they aren’t in context
Stage 3: they are in context, but that’s how scientists work
Stage 4: ok, this isn’t really science, but you guys stole the emails.
Stage 5: this is old stuff
Stage 6: this is nothing
Stage 7: look everyone! Winter storm! See, we have proof of our theories now.

Repeat as needed

John Cross said...

Jerome: I have dug out the e-mail you quote from and have the following comments.

This was a very early comment (2005) on a document that was to become the first draft (I believe they called it the zero draft).

While I did not have time to track down all the references it appears to refer the the radiosondes and satellite analysis of the atmospheric temperature (numerous references to Fu). If so then this is a some what moot point since it is now acknowledged by all involved that the UAH series was wrong and the atmosphere is actually warming as expected.

is that your interpretation of it? If so do you agree that the context adds valuable information. If not, what is your interpretation?

Regards,
John

dizzy said...

This bit was brought up in Realclimate discussion
Two-year old Turkey
Peter Thorne, "the yet uncorrupted climate scientist" who apparently wrote the comment, has an explanation
Comment # 79
// It seems that a couple of my mails have been highlighted by people wishing to take them out of context. Both related to a very early draft of the IPCC fourth assessment [...] //

sharonapple88 said...

The Seven Stages of Warmonger Denial

Actually, if you're interested in science denialism, here's a breakdown:

1. Conspiracy theories
2. Fake Experts
3. Cherry Picking
4. Impossible expectations of what research can deliver
5. Misrepresentation and logical fallacies.

The article the page links to is an interesting read.

John Cross said...

Jerome: Further comments. After some research I found the following:

The job of an IPCC reviewer at the ZOD stage is to make positive
suggestions to help the Strawman along and not to be too critical.


I take that to mean that the ZOD is meant to be a bit controversial to encourage people to read and comment.

Jerome Bastien said...

John Cross:

Thanks for your reply.

If so then this is a some what moot point since it is now acknowledged by all involved that the UAH series was wrong and the atmosphere is actually warming as expected.

If that is the case, that would be news to me. Are we really talking about the same thing here? The tropical mid-troposphere "hot spot"? Do you have a citation? Thanks.

As for your point concerning ZOD, Im not sure what ZOD is, but I gather that its some kind of early stage of writing the IPCC reports. But the email is what it is. It may have been that the author later changed his mind, or that he had overlooked something, but apparently, as recently as 2005, the author felt that "observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere". That's a factual statement which does not rely on context. Whether further observations proved him wrong or whether he overlooked something, I dont know.

John Cross said...

Jerome: Here is a good starting place. The first commentor (JShore) makes some good points.

In regards to the context, I was trying to show that the e-mail is not outside what was considered mainstream at the time. What the author was objecting to was a document meant to inspire comment - which it obviously did.

Regards,
John

Jerome Bastien said...

John Cross:

Hmmm, I was hoping for something a bit more authoritative than SS. Regardless, I went there, read their "intermediate" response for the hot spot, and then the "advanced" one. It's all stuff i've read before.

Surprisingly, I generally agree with most of the points they make. It's what they dont say that is more important.

They say the hotspot is hard to find but that if you increase the error bars or if you use wind shear as a proxy for temperature, the observations and models are "broadly consistent". Well great, I would still prefer having good old temperature measurements to show whether the hotspot really is there. Right now, the evidence is inconclusive at best.

But most importantly, is that they disingenuously suggest that the hotspot is not a signature of AGW, which is technically correct. They want to give the impression that if there is no hotspot, it's no big deal to the theory. Wrong!

The hotspot is the signature of the strong positive feedback which is supposed to turn the 1.2 deg C from CO2 doubling to upwards of 4-5 degrees. Hence my earlier point, "the tropical tropospheric temperatures are critical to identifying the water vapor feedback on which the whole catastrohpic part of CAGW rests."

No hotspot -> no strongly positive water vapor feedback -> no catastrophic climate change.

John Cross said...

Jerome: "something better than Skeptical Science" - humm. Having helped out at SS in its early days I will try not to be offended ;-) .

Have you read this one. If you are interested in water vapour feedback this looks at it directly. As you know, temperatures in the mid to upper troposhpere are problematic due to a number of issues (e.g. stratospheric cooling).

In your first post you say "the notion that current temperatures are unprecedented". Can you clarify and expand on this comment?

sharonapple88 said...

It may have been that the author later changed his mind, or that he had overlooked something, but apparently, as recently as 2005, the author felt that "observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere". That's a factual statement which does not rely on context.

From the real climate comment by Peter Thorne (the guy from the e-mail you quoted earlier) brought earlier by dizzy:

As to the tropical hotspot issue I raised it was correct … in 2005/6! Here’s some headline news (if a second email tranche release also constitutes news then the bar is set very very low) … science does not stand still.

On the hot spot issue

Also, to correct a mis-conception (zombie argument?) that the tropical upper-troposphere hotspot is somehow a unique signature of anthropogenic warming this is frankly baloney. The tropical troposphere is dominated by convective mixing processes. Although its not as simple as just a moist adiabatic lapse rate adjustment the net effect is that the tropical tropospheric column simply amplifies whatever changes occur at the surface. If it warms the troposphere warms with greater warming aloft. If it cools the troposphere cools at an increasing rate aloft. Models and observations concur on monthly to inter-annual timescales. So, a forcings run with a net +ve surface radiative effect will have a tropical hotspot and one with net -ve surface radiative effect will have a tropical coldspot. Single forcing model runs can easily verify this and show that the hotspot is no unique signature of CO2 forcing. It just doesn’t stack up physically. The unique anthropogenic signal is a warming troposphere / cooling stratosphere … something that we see very clearly.

sharonapple88 said...

As for your point concerning ZOD, Im not sure what ZOD is, but I gather that its some kind of early stage of writing the IPCC reports

ZOD: zero order draft. Informal review.

Jerome Bastien said...

In your first post you say "the notion that current temperatures are unprecedented". Can you clarify and expand on this comment?

That was an awkward reference to the hockey stick. Thanks for the Dessler paper I will check it out.

John Cross said...

Jerome: "That was an awkward reference to the hockey stick." Well, if you use that for global temperatures you can only say unprecedented for the last 600 years.

Everyone I know accepts that temperatures have been both warmer and cooler than they are now.

sharonapple88 said...

That was an awkward reference to the hockey stick.

To be fair, the graph deals with temperatures from 1000 AD forwards. Things were warmer during the time of the dinosaurs.

humm. Having helped out at SS in its early days I will try not to be offended ;-)

If it means anything, I like Skeptical Science. :)

Jerome Bastien said...

Having helped out at SS in its early days I will try not to be offended ;-)

Oh wow I hadnt caught that earlier. Dont be offended, its an impressive site which is very well designed. I disagree with their spin on things but I appreciate how they package their information, and how they dont rely on consensus or authority like so many warmists do.

But, its still spin. The term 'feedback' doesnt appear on the page discussing the missing hotspot. The hotspot argument is instead couched as an AGW argument, which is incorrect, as the missing hotspot indicates a mild or maybe even negative water vapor feedback.

I read Dessler 2010 and I trust its findings but it still focuses on specific humidity rather than temperature. I dont believe the state of the science allows us to declare authoritatively the extent to which feedbacks will amplify any forcings.

sharonapple88 said...

The hotspot argument is instead couched as an AGW argument, which is incorrect, as the missing hotspot indicates a mild or maybe even negative water vapor feedback.

Fear not, the damn hotspot was found. (If you find the blog too "biased" he links a number of paper discussing the situation.)

I read Dessler 2010 and I trust its findings but it still focuses on specific humidity rather than temperature

Well John Crosse may have got the impression you were interested in humidity because of this:

No hotspot -> no strongly positive water vapor feedback -> no catastrophic climate change

Dessler found that the feedback was in fact there after going through a number of papers.

In better news, temperature and humidity are related. Higher temperatures = higher humidity. I know you were looking for temperature readings, but an increase in humdity also shows something.

Jerome Bastien said...

In better news, temperature and humidity are related. Higher temperatures = higher humidity. I know you were looking for temperature readings, but an increase in humdity also shows something.

That's all very nice sharonapple88 but it's not determinative. Your insistence that it should be shows your true colors, you just believe whatever the greens tell you. That's fine, but dont pretend that you understand anything about anything.

Increased humidity could lead to increased precipitation and thus cooling. This is what sites like skeptical science wont tell you cause it doesnt help "the cause".

sharonapple88 said...

That's all very nice sharonapple88 but it's not determinative. Your insistence that it should be shows your true colors, you just believe whatever the greens tell you. That's fine, but dont pretend that you understand anything about anything.

Sorry for the delay, just remembered our previous discussion after big's update on Climate Hail 2. Anyway, I was hoping we could have fun and yet keep this a civil dicussion....

I'll admit that I didn't study earth sciences in school. I'm muddling through this as much as you are. I suppose earth science majors are laughing at both our efforts to understand the material.

The link on humidity was from a PhysicalGeorgraphy.net. It's a basic text book on earth sciences, not a "green" site. It deal with the fundamentals of humidity. Everything there jived with my basic understanding of physics and chemistry (I took courses in university).

You do bring up an interesting point of whether increased humidity leads to lower temperatues via precipitation....

Percipitation is linked to lower temperatures, sometimes because a temperature drop leads to water condensing out. (As far as I know, the link isn't a "green" site.) This is one reason on hot humid days there's no dew on the grass or mist, but there is after a cool night. Cooling can also lead to rainfall (cold front meets a warm front).

Anyway, increased rainfall doesn't necessarily equal lower temperatures. Check out Carins Australia. Its rainiest period is during its hottest months and cooler during its driest months.

Holly Stick said...

More about the hot spot:

"...The mistaken belief in “skeptic” circles is that the existence of anthropogenic warming somehow hinges on the existence of the tropospheric “hot spot”- it does not. Period. Tropospheric amplification of warming with altitude is the predicted response to increasing radiative forcing from natural sources, such as an increase in solar irradiance, as well. Stratospheric cooling is the real "fingerprint" of enhanced greenhouse vs. natural (e.g. increased solar) warming..."

http://www.skepticalscience.com/Dispelling-two-myths-about-the-tropospheric-hot-spot.html