I have been watching the whole climategate saga for a few weeks now. So far I have not blogged on it because I was hoping that it would either be shown to be such the stupid smokescreen that it really is, or that there would be some truth to it and there would be some form of outcome. However, as it stands at the moment both sides are claiming victory over a situation that has become very messy.
If you are not already up to play on the situation Wikipedia (as always) provides a good overview of the mess: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climatic_Research_Unit_e-mail_hacking_incident
In a nutshell: sometime in November (or earlier) the computers are the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia were hacked and a large amount of emails and other data were then selective leaked onto the internet. The right wingers/nutcases/conspiracy theorist/deniers claim that this stolen data shows collusion amongst climate researchers in deliberately trying to prove climate change is man made when the data shows a decline in global temperatures. Of course this is complete and utter nonsense, the content of the emails that have been leaked are damaging to the reputation of a few scientists. However, they completely fail to prove any worldwide conspiracy.
There are two great articles that have been produced dismissing the points that have attempted to be made by climategate. The first is from New Scientist:
We can be 100 per cent sure the world is getting warmer
Forget about the temperature records compiled by researchers such as those whose emails were hacked. Next spring, go out into your garden or the nearby countryside and note when the leaves unfold, when flowers bloom, when migrating birds arrive and so on. Compare your findings with historical records, where available, and you’ll probably find spring is coming days, even weeks earlier than a few decades ago.
You can’t fake spring coming earlier, or trees growing higher up on mountains, or glaciers retreating for kilometres up valleys, or shrinking ice cover in the Arctic, or birds changing their migration times, or permafrost melting in Alaska, or the tropics expanding, or ice shelves on the Antarctic peninsula breaking up, or peak river flow occurring earlier in summer because of earlier snowmelt, or sea level rising faster and faster, or any of the thousands of similar examples.
Is it possible that tens of thousands of scientists have got it wrong? It is incredibly unlikely. The evidence that CO2 levels are rising is irrefutable, and the idea that rising levels lead to warming has withstood more than a century of genuine scientific scepticism.
The second is from the academic journal Nature:
The e-mail archives stolen last month from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (UEA), UK, have been greeted by the climate-change-denialist fringe as a propaganda windfall (see page 551). To these denialists, the scientists’ scathing remarks about certain controversial palaeoclimate reconstructions qualify as the proverbial ‘smoking gun’: proof that mainstream climate researchers have systematically conspired to suppress evidence contradicting their doctrine that humans are warming the globe.
This paranoid interpretation would be laughable were it not for the fact that obstructionist politicians in the US Senate will probably use it next year as an excuse to stiffen their opposition to the country’s much needed climate bill. Nothing in the e-mails undermines the scientific case that global warming is real — or that human activities are almost certainly the cause. That case is supported by multiple, robust lines of evidence, including several that are completely independent of the climate reconstructions debated in the e-mails.
Back in New Zealand we have had our own little mini conspiracy theory with Ian Wishart among others trying to claim that NIWA have deliberately altered their data to artificially create a warming trend. The truth is they have deliberately altered their data but only to adjust changes in the physical locations of weather stations. NIWA has close to a 100 years of data and over time both the way in which you collect data and the instruments use change as a result the data collected by one method has to be adjusted to match up with the data collected through a different method. This is standard scientific practice. In fact if you didn’t do this any analysis done over time would be wrong! But because the scientists at NIWA have done the right thing the crazy climate change deniers are claiming a conspiracy.
So here we have NIWA with this plot of adjusted data:
and the deniers with this plot of unadjusted data:
The most interesting thing about both of these plots is in the end of both of them I can see an overall rise trending!
A few days ago NIWA responded to the nutcases who are claiming conspiracy everywhere by producing a plot of only the 11 weather stations that have not been moved or adjusted (see below) note that the rise is 1C and the P-Value (extremely small this an absolutely confirmed rise there is no arguing with it). Now the conspiracy crazies are claiming the graph should include all weather stations and thus a circle begins.
For more on the stupidity of Climategate there are some good blogs on Open Parachute:
- Climate Change Deniers Live In Glass Buildings
- New Zealand’s Climate Change Deniers Distortions Exposed
Finally I will leave the last word with Jon Stewart’s take on the whole saga: