Monthly Archives: November 2009

Hacked CRU E-Mails Alter Conversation of Global Warming Debate

The New York Times headlines on Twitter displayed the following:  Hacked E-Mails Fuel Climate Change Skeptics

Apparently emails were hacked from a computer server at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia and have quickly made their rounds on the internet.

While skeptics are quickly verifying and shifting through the hundreds of email messages, the alarmists are franticly working to defuse the possible fall-out.  (I, on the other hand, have a nagging feeling that I’m being punked.)

The timing on the release of these emails is a little suspicious to me as it is so close to the Climate Conference in Copenhagen next month.  Then again, in a previous post, I questioned the timing of a re-release of the story that the snow cap on Mount Kilimanjaro is shrinking.

The blogosphere was rampant with commentary:

Raw Story:  Skeptics claim stolen emails prove global warming a hoax

“Now, however, those skeptics can barely contain their glee at the release of a cache of stolen emails that they believe prove global warming is nothing but a colossal hoax.”

I wouldn’t exactly call this feeling ‘glee’.  I actually feel outrage when I’ve been deceived.  The question I have for these alarmist websites, is why aren’t they outraged at the deception?  Instead they are turning it around and putting the skeptics on the defensive.

Wonk Room :  Think Progress – ClimateGate:  Hacked Emails Reveal Global Warming Deniers Are Crazed Conspiracy Theorists

“Global warming deniers are sifting through the illegally obtained letters of private correspondence for “proof” that the scientific consensus on climate change is actually a global conspiracy.”

Do I detect a hint of panic in the Wonk Room?  In this one sentence they include name-calling (‘deniers’), an accusation (‘illegally obtained letters …’), sarcasm (‘”proof”’) and mockery (‘a global conspiracy’).

Climate Progress – Hacked Hadley emails Hottest Decade on Record and the Oceans Planet keeps warming:

“Here’s what we know so far:  CRU’s emails were hacked, the 2000s will easily be the hottest decade on record, and the planet keeps warming thanks to us!

“The NY Times blows the story.”

How do you ‘know’ these things are true?  It appears that there has been deception and collusion in some of these studies.  Besides, even without these emails, there is sufficient evidence to debunk 3 different points in the Climate Progress sentence:  ‘the 2000s will easily be the hottest decade on record’, ‘the planet keeps warming’, and ‘thanks to us’.

Some highlights from the New York Times story:

In a 1999 e-mail exchange about charts showing climate patterns over the last two millennia, Phil Jones, a longtime climate researcher at the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, said he had used a “trick” employed by another scientist, Michael Mann, to “hide a decline” in temperatures.

Dr. Mann, a professor at Pennsylvania State, confirmed in an interview that the e-mail was real. He said the choice of words by his colleague was poor but noted that scientists often use the word “trick” to refer to a good way to solve a problem, “and not something secret.” “It sounds incriminating, but when you look at what you’re talking about, there’s nothing there,” Dr. Mann said.

Dr Mann’s explanation doesn’t really improve his case.  He is, in essence, saying that he was solving the problem of – hiding a decline in temperatures.  Not only are the alarmists cherry-picking the scientific data but they are hiding data that does not support their theories and hypotheses.

“The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t,” Dr. Trenberth wrote.

Other scientists went on to rebut him, saying that the fluctuations were not inconsistent with a continuing warming trend.

Dr. Trenberth said Friday that he was appalled at the release of the e-mails, which he said were private discussions.

But he added that he thought the revelations might backfire against climate skeptics. If anything, he said, he thought that the messages showed “the integrity of scientists.”

Here is the link to the e-mails in question:  Anelegantchos

Hacked E-Mails Fuel Climate Change Skeptics

New York Times

November 21, 2009

By ANDREW C. REVKIN

Hundreds of private e-mails and documents hacked from a computer server at a British university are causing a stir among global warming skeptics, who say they show that climate scientists conspired to overstate the case for a human influence on climate change.

The e-mails, attributed to prominent American and British climate researchers, include discussions of scientific data and whether it should be released, exchanges about how best to combat the arguments of skeptics, and casual comments — in some cases derisive — about specific people known for their skeptical views. Drafts of scientific papers and a photo collage that portrays climate skeptics on an ice floe were also among the hacked data, some of which dates back 13 years.

In one e-mail exchange, a scientist writes of using a statistical “trick” in a chart illustrating a recent sharp warming trend. In another, a scientist refers to climate skeptics as “idiots.”

Some skeptics asserted Friday that the correspondence revealed an effort to withhold scientific information. “This is not a smoking gun, this is a mushroom cloud,” said Patrick J. Michaels, a climatologist who has long faulted evidence pointing to human-driven warming and is criticized in the documents.

Portions of the correspondence portrays the scientists as feeling under siege by the skeptics’ camp and worried that any stray comment or data glitch could be turned against them.

The cache of e-mails also includes references to journalists, including this reporter, and queries from journalists related to articles they were reporting.

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. They added, however, that they could not confirm that all the material circulating on the Internet was authentic.

But several scientists and others contacted by the Times confirmed that they were the authors or recipients of specific e-mails included in the file.

The revelations are bound to inflame the public debate as hundreds of negotiators prepare to hammer out an international climate accord at meetings in Copenhagen next month, and at least one scientist speculated that the timing was not coincidental.

The documents will undoubtedly raise questions about the quality of research on some specific questions and the actions of some scientists. But the evidence pointing to a growing human contribution to global warming is so broad and deep that the hacked material is unlikely to erode the overall argument.

In several e-mail exchanges, Kevin Trenberth, a climatologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and other scientists discussed whether a string of recent years of relatively stable temperatures undermined scientific models that predict long-term warming.

“The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t,” Dr. Trenberth wrote.

Other scientists went on to rebut him, saying that the fluctuations were not inconsistent with a continuing warming trend.

Dr. Trenberth said Friday that he was appalled at the release of the e-mails, which he said were private discussions.

But he added that he thought the revelations might backfire against climate skeptics. If anything, he said, he thought that the messages showed “the integrity of scientists.”

Still, some of the comments might lend themselves to sinister interpretations.

In a 1999 e-mail exchange about charts showing climate patterns over the last two millennia, Phil Jones, a longtime climate researcher at the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, said he had used a “trick” employed by another scientist, Michael Mann, to “hide a decline” in temperatures.

Dr. Mann, a professor at Pennsylvania State, confirmed in an interview that the e-mail was real. He said the choice of words by his colleague was poor but noted that scientists often use the word “trick” to refer to a good way to solve a problem, “and not something secret.” “It sounds incriminating, but when you look at what you’re talking about, there’s nothing there,” Dr. Mann said.

Dr. Jones, writing in an e-mail, declined to be interviewed and pasted in the university’s statement.

Stephen McIntyre, a blogger who has for years been using his Web site, climateaudit.org, to challenge data used to chart climate patterns and came in for heated criticism in some e-mails, called the revelations “quite breathtaking.”

But several scientists whose names appear repeatedly in the e-mails said they merely revealed that scientists are human beings, and did nothing to undercut the body of research on global warming.

“Science doesn’t work because we’re all nice,” said Gavin A. Schmidt, a climatologist at NASA whose e-mail exchanges with colleagues over a variety of recent climate studies were included in the cache. “Newton may have been an ass, but the theory of gravity still works.”

He said the breach at the University of East Anglia was discovered after hackers who had gained access to the correspondence sought Tuesday to hack into a different server supporting realclimate.org, a blog unrelated to NASA that he runs with several other scientists pressing the case for global warming.

The intruders sought to create a mock blog post there and to upload the full batch of files from Britain – nearly 200 megabytes’ worth.

That effort was thwarted, Dr. Schmidt said, and scientists immediately notified colleagues at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit. Nearly all the material in the hacked files, which quickly spread to a variety of servers, originated with or was sent to climate scientists at the school.

The first posts that revealed details from the files appeared on Thursday at The Air Vent, a Web site devoted to skeptics’ arguments. Almost instantly readers there and elsewhere began posting excerpts that they felt illustrated scientific bias or dishonesty.

At first, said Dr. Michaels, the climatologist who has faulted some of the science undergirding the global warming consensus, his instinct was to ignore the correspondence as “just the way scientists talk.”

But on Friday, he said, after reading more deeply, he felt that some exchanges reflected a concerted effort to block the release of data for independent review.

He said that some e-mails mused about a way to discredit him by challenging the veracity of his doctoral dissertation at the University of Wisconsin by claiming he knew his research was wrong.

“This shows these are people willing to bend rules and go after other people’s reputations in very serious ways,” he said.

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Mount Kilimanjaro’s snow cap disappearing – Alarmists disagree over Global Warming’s involvement

The blame everything on Global Warming crowd is back.  The latest target is Mount Kilimanjaro.

According to scientists, Kilimanjaro has lost 85% of its snow cap since 1912 and has shrunk by 26% since 2000.

Of course scientists say the most likely culprit – Global Warming.

“The findings point to the rise in global temperatures as the most likely cause of the ice loss. Changes in cloudiness and precipitation may have also played a smaller, less role, especially in recent decades, they added”

Let’s first point out that in the mid 1970’s, the concern was that we were heading into another ice age.  Global cooling was highly discussed in the mainstream media including in Newsweek as well as the television program In Search Of.

While the earth was cooling, we must note that the snow caps were still shrinking on Kilimanjaro.

Before discussing the conflicting reports, let’s begin with the November, 2009 articles:

“The snows capping Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest peak, are shrinking rapidly and could vanish altogether in 20 years, most likely due to global warming, a US study published Monday said.”

One of the study’s producers was Ohio State University earth sciences professor, Lonnie Thompson.

“The fact that so many glaciers throughout the tropics and subtropics are showing similar responses suggests an underlying common cause,” Thompson said in a statement. “The increase of Earth’s near surface temperatures, coupled with even greater increases in the mid- to upper-tropical troposphere, as documented in recent decades, would at least partially explain” the observations.

Changes in cloudiness and snowfall may also be involved, though they appear less important, according to the study.

According to this study Kilimanjaro could be ice-free as early as 2022.

Clearly the ice has been thinning for decades, this study compared photographs from 1912 and 1953 as well as satellite images from 1976 and 1989.

A study comparing new measurements with those taken in 2000 show that a layer of Kilimanjaro ice between six and 17 feet thick has vanished since then.

What about the earlier photographs and satellite images?

Thompson cited five surveys of Kilimanjaro, from 1912, 1953, 1976, 1989 and 2000. From 1912 to 1953, global temperature rose 0.74ºF. Most scientists think this warming had mainly to do with the sun, and little from human activity, as the bulk of human greenhouse gas emissions took place in the second half of the last century, not the first.

Kilimanjaro’s glaciers lost 45 percent of their real extent in that era of non-human warming. If the glaciers had continued on their merry way at the pace established in that period, they would be gone by now.

This data was provided by Patrick Michaels from the Cato Institute.  Michaels points out that 21 percent of the coverage was reduced between 1953 and 1976.  This was during the period of global cooling.   According to Michaels:

Ohio State could have accurately written the following hype at that time: “Kilimanjaro’s glaciers will completely disappear by 2015 if this cooling trend continues”.

Interestingly, the slowest rate of decline occurred after 1976 when 12 percent of the ‘original mass disappeared.’

Admittedly, Michaels is a Global Warming skeptic, however it doesn’t take much effort to find contradicting studies from scientists who believe in the Global Warming threat yet disagree with Thompson’s assertion.

This from Kilimanjaro’s Shrinking Snow Not Sign of Warming (2007):

While the retreat of glaciers and mountaintop ice in the mid-latitudes — where much of the world’s human population lives — is definitely linked to global climate change, the same cannot be said of Kilimanjaro, the researchers wrote in the July-August edition of American Scientist magazine.

This 2007 study was produced by pro-Warmers Philip Mote and glaciologist Georg Kaser from the University of Innsbruck.

Most of the retreat occurred before 1953, nearly two decades before any conclusive evidence of atmospheric warming was available, they wrote.

“It is certainly possible that the icecap has come and gone many times over hundreds of thousands of years,” Mote, a climatologist, said in a statement.

“But for temperate glaciers, there is ample evidence that they are shrinking, in part because of warming from greenhouse gases.”

Unlike mid-latitude glaciers, which are warmed and melted by surrounding air in the summer, the disappearance of Kilimanjaro’s ice is driven by solar radiation, since the air around it is rarely above freezing, they wrote.

From NatureJobs.com:

“As director of the new Oregon Climate Change Research Institute in Corvallis, Mote will design a research agenda to help the state and private sector incorporate climate-change considerations into their policy and investment decisions”

Mote and Kaser believe that where glaciers are shrinking due to Global Warming, the same can not be said for those on Kilimanjaro.

Much of Kilimanjaro’s ice is vanishing by sublimation — where ice at very low temperatures converts straight to water vapor without going through a watery phase — rather than by melting, the scientists said.

Interestingly, an article from 2008 (Kilimanjaro could be snow-free by 2020: UN) opens as follows:

Some of Africa’s most famous landscapes such as snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro and Lake Chad are at risk of vanishing forever as a result of global warming, a new UN report warned.

Achin Steiner, executive director of the United Nations’ Environment Program (UNEP) said that ‘it was vital that the international community delivers a new climate agreement before the global convention.’  This 2008 report along with Thompson’s 2009 version of the same report puts the alarmist view on Kilimanjaro in advance of the convention.

The survey warned that Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, could be snow-free by 2020.

What I found interesting was the paragraph immediately preceding that statement.

Some of the startling revelations by the report include satellite images of Mount Kilimanjaro’s glaciers which have been disappearing since the beginning of the 20th century.

This, of course, brings us back to the question of how Kilimanjaro’s glaciers have been shrinking in the decades before Global Warming.

An article written by James M. Taylor for Junk Science (Kilimanjaro’s Snow Cap) from 2005 addressed the following:

The ice cap atop Central Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro has been slowly melting for decades, and perhaps even centuries, scientists report. Until recently, global warming was a prime suspect.

Scientists now agree, however, that the retreat of Kilimanjaro’s ice cap is due primarily to deforestation at the base of the mountain.

That conclusion has been reached by a wide variety of scientists and scientific publications. Nevertheless, the Reuters News Agency has teamed up with several extremist environmental activist groups to falsely report that global warming is causing a retreat of Kilimanjaro’s ice cap.

This is exactly what we’re seeing now.  Taylor links to numerous other studies that support his assertion that causes other than Global Warming can be attributed to the shrinking snow caps.

Dry Air:

“A drastic drop in atmospheric moisture at the end of the 19th century and the ensuing drier climatic conditions are likely forcing glacier retreat on Kilimanjaro.”

Temperature is NOT the driving force:

The underlying climatic forcing, however, merits further exploration, which was emphasized in the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [2001] in the context of global warming, since it has not been demonstrated that air temperature is the primary control of tropical glacier recession.

{snip}

On a regional scale the background of this study is twofold. First, it has been speculated that general global warming is directly driving the retreat of Kilimanjaro’s glaciers [e.g., Irion, 2001]. However, detailed analyses of glacier retreat in the global tropics uniformly reveal that changes in climate variables related to air humidity prevail in controlling the modern retreat

Deforestation:

“Although it’s tempting to blame the ice loss on global warming, researchers think that deforestation of the mountain’s foothills is the more likely culprit. Without the forests’ humidity, previously moisture-laden winds blew dry. No longer replenished with water, the ice is evaporating in the strong equatorial sunshine.”

There have been enough studies over the years to completely dispute Thompson’s (and others) claim that Global Warming is the root cause of the shrinking snow caps on Mount Kilimanjaro.  Regardless of which side of the Global Warming argument you belong, one thing is clear – Global Warming is not the culprit.

As a result, one can deduce that those who throw the claim around fall into one of two categories:

Those who cherry-picked the facts – intentionally ignoring all evidence that is contrary to the position they support.

Lazy scientists who refuse to do thorough research.  Instead of looking at all the facts – including previous studies and reports – they work to prove their hypothesis.

Either way, it is disingenuous.  What is worse was a simple Google search contradicts Thompson’s study by people who support the same pro-Global Warming position.  Since media outlets refuse to investigative research or have their own political agenda, it is easy to see how a incorrect study can be publicized in a story distributed by a major news outlet.

It is also shameless that AP would run this story – since it is essentially a reprint from June 2008 and right before the upcoming global convention in Copenhagen.

kilimanjaro 19127000

Kilimanjaro 1976 2006

Kilimanjaro 1976 and 2006

Kilimanjaro 1993 2000

Kilimanjaro 1993 and 2000

Sources used:

Snows of Kilimanjaro could vanish in 20 years: study –  02-NOV-2009

Current Kilimanjaro story

Snow cap disappearing from Mount Kilimanjaro –  2-NOV-2009

Kilimanjaro Snow May Vanish In 20 Years – 03-NOV-2009

Kilimanjaro could be snow-free by 2020: UN – 11-JUN-2008

Philip Mote & George Kaser’s position

Kilimanjaro’s Shrinking Snow Not Sign of Warming – 13-JUN-2007

Kilimanjaro snow decline ‘not due to global warming’ – 12-JUN-2007

Skeptic resources

The Snow Jobs of Kilimanjaro

Junk Science: Kilimanjaro’s Snow Cap – 01-MAY-2005

Links found through the Junk Science article:

Modern Glacier Retreat on Kilimanjaro as Evidence of Climate Change:  Observations and Facts – March 15, 2004

Journal of Geophysical Research August 25, 2004

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AP scoop: Statisticians decide – Alarmists right; Deniers wrong

One of the top stories on Yahoo this past week was the Seth Borenstein / AP article called AP IMPACT: Statisticians reject global cooling.’

My first thought was ‘oh, good. Statisticians are now overruling climatologists.’

Before I begin, I want to point something out. What you are reading now is a blog post. It is information I disseminate and then put my own particular spin on the writing style.

Borenstein is a writer for a ‘news’ organization. His job should be to disseminate information and present it in a objective way allowing the readers to reach their own conclusions.

That said – here’s how Borenstein’s article begins:

WASHINGTON – Have you heard that the world is now cooling instead of warming? You may have seen some news reports on the Internet or heard about it from a provocative new book. Only one problem: It’s not true, according to an analysis of the numbers done by several independent statisticians for The Associated Press.

borenstein

Seth Borenstein

Borenstein takes great pains to let us know just how objective and unbiased this AP research was yet they gave the story to one of their biggest alarmist reporters.

In a blind test, the AP gave temperature data to four independent statisticians and asked them to look for trends, without telling them what the numbers represented. The experts found no true temperature declines over time.

The statisticians examined two spreadsheets. One was an annual listing of global temperature changes from 1880 to 2009 using ground measurements provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The other was an annual listing ranging from 1979 to 2009 using atmospheric measurements by satellite provided by the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

“If you look at the data and sort of cherry-pick a micro-trend within a bigger trend, that technique is particularly suspect,” said John Grego, a professor of statistics at the University of South Carolina.

When first reading the previous paragraph, one really isn’t certain who Borenstein meant to indict. Clearly, the alarmists cherry-pick their research yet claim the skeptics do.

Don’t believe me? Here are a few examples.

Greenpeace and members of Congress publicly blame Global Warming for the 2009 California wildfires

They cherry-picked the facts to ignore the cooling temperatures in the Pacific actually cause California to be drier.

Katrina and other hurricanes are fiercer courtesy of Global Warming.

The fiercer hurricanes are actually limited to the last 3 decades. If they were a little more honest they would investigate the hurricane seasons from 1933.

Quick note: Notice that the storms all started west of 45W. There were no satellites back in 1933 so there is a good possibility that a decent number of storms were missed yet 1933 still had 21 named storms, 10 hurricanes.

Global warming skeptics base their claims on an unusually hot year in 1998. Since then, they say, temperatures have dropped — thus, a cooling trend. But it’s not that simple.

Since 1998, temperatures have dipped, soared, fallen again and are now rising once more. Records kept by the British meteorological office and satellite data used by climate skeptics still show 1998 as the hottest year. However, data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA show 2005 has topped 1998. Published peer-reviewed scientific research generally cites temperatures measured by ground sensors, which are from NOAA, NASA and the British, more than the satellite data.

This is a disingenuous argument by Borenstein. I don’t think one scientist believes that a trend means that for warming to exist temperatures must increase annually or for cooling to decrease annually.

Borenstein did discuss El Nino and La Nina but did not elaborate.  In the chart below, notice how El Nino, La Nina, volcanic cooling and aerosol content affects the temperature.  {hat tip to ICECAP}

MSUTemps

The recent Internet chatter about cooling led NOAA’s climate data center to re-examine its temperature data. It found no cooling trend.

“The last 10 years are the warmest 10-year period of the modern record,” said NOAA climate monitoring chief Deke Arndt. “Even if you analyze the trend during that 10 years, the trend is actually positive, which means warming.”

That’s as ridiculous as me saying – if I start at 150 pounds and gain 10 per year for the next 7 years before losing the 70 I put on and maintaining it for 2 years it doesn’t mean that I’ve lost weight. It means I’m fatter over the last 5 years than the first 5. {Doing the math: First 5 years of 150, 160, 170, 180. 190 = 850 pounds. Second 5 years: 200, 210, 220, 150, 150 = 930 pounds. Though for the second 5 years I am heavier, I still look good at 150 pounds which I have now maintained for 2 years.}

To be honest, you must look at the annual temperatures, not the average over a 10 year period. That would be – cherry-picking.

Then Borenstein had some subjective fun at the expense of the reader. He used perspectives from 2 skeptics showing a contradiction. Interestingly, he didn’t name the first skeptic unless his name is ‘One prominent skeptic.’

Next, he played 3-card monte with the starting dates for the downward trend. Borenstein points out that skeptics say the cooling trend begins after 1998. He then proceeds to discuss 1997 and later.

Skeptic experts don’t say to ignore the data prior to 1998. Including all the data supports the trend.

Borenstein uses strong subjective journalist practices by presenting the argument he wants to refute first in order to follow it up with his perspective. An example is when he discusses one quote from the book by Stephen J. Dubner, “Super Freakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance” and then follows it up with a ‘rebuke’ from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

How’s that for a name? As if only Global Warming Alarmist Scientists are concerned.

The rest of the article proceeded along the same path. Upon looking at an archive of Borenstein articles, it is immediately evident that he has a history of writing alarmist articles. He doesn’t only write about Global Warming, it’s just when he does, he proves he is an alarmist.

  • “’The Arctic is screaming’ — summer sea ice could be gone in five years” 12/11/2007
  • “Rising Seas Likely to Flood U.S. History” 9/22/2007
  • “New US climate report dire, but offers hope” 6/17/2009

To his credit, he does call those who disagree with him – skeptics. He doesn’t use name-calling techniques so for that – thank you.

bb gw3

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