CRUgate

The Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia is a leading research centre on climate change. They are known for the data that they provide, particularly their estimate of the annual, global mean surface air temperature since 1850 or so. One of their servers was hacked and some 1000 emails and 3000 documents were stolen, most of them 10 years old. These emails were posted on the web, and are now being scrutinised by every one who has a grudge against climate change or climate policy, and against people who harbour such grudges.

What has emerged? There is a lot of chit-chat, and bitching about colleagues (with perhaps ground for a defamation suit or two). There are attempts at blocking other people’s careers, but no signs of success. There are hints of data manipulation. None of this surprised me. There are also indications of a systematic obstruction of freedom of information requests.

What does this mean? Not much really, although some people may end up in jail for stealing data and others may lose their jobs for breaking legal and academic rules on transparency.

Doubt has been cast over the CRU data. Insiders never really trusted their data, and it is actually little used as an input to other climate research. The global mean temperature record is used for communication rather than research. Most of the temperature graphs you have seen in the newspaper are from the CRU, but independent research has corroborated their main findings. Statistical analyses similarly have used alternative data series, and the results are broadly the same.

Some people have portrayed the climate debate as noble scientists versus savage businessmen. That image is now shattered, but it was pretty naive anyway. There are bad apples on both sides of the debate.

So? Objectively, nothing has changed. Climate change is still real, and still a real problem. A carbon tax is still the right policy. Subjectively, things are different. It is harder to argue that wise scientists of impeccable standing recommend action. Proponents of climate policy have to make a real case. I do that here.

UPDATE (26 Nov)

This story keeps growing. The latest person to get entangled is John Holdren, the science and technology advisor of President Obama. While Holdren’s email contains nothing untoward (in fact, he’s remarkably patient and polite), it does demonstrate a closeness between Holdren and people who are tainted.

Another new development: One of the CRU emails has language that may be read as financial irregularity.

UPDATE (30 Nov)

CRU has belatedly agreed to open its data bases.

It appears that it deleted duplicate records. While that is fine for archiving reasons, combined with the poor documentation of CRU’s algorithms, it does imply that the CRU’s homogenized data cannot be reconstructed.

UPDATE (2 Dec)

Penn State U had already announced an internal inquiry into the conduct of Michael Mann, citing the results of an earlier inquiry (but omitting the results of another) in its press release.

U East Anglia has now also announced an internal investigation, and Phil Jones (whose mailbox was hacked) has temporarily stepped down as director.

My prediction that the mainstream media of Ireland will soon report on this matter, is unfounded.

130 thoughts on “CRUgate”

  1. If – world climate is trending toward a man-made temp peak – and who really has the answer to this conundrum, then reducing ALL world economic output by -1% per annum (compounding) would be useful. Might not arrest the trend, but its better than nothing. Big, big problem though – the Permagrowth economies would collapse – again!

    Bigger predicament is lurking in a darkened alcove around the corner – liquid fossil fuel production decline! Rumour also has it that global fresh water supply might also be a bit flakey!

    So, lets not concern ourselves about climate changes. Be a bit of a gas if we were reduced to 18 hrs electricity per day! No phones, no lights, no internet, no sewage pumps, no water pumps … … If the citizens of D4 cannot have a hot meal and chilled wine they won’t give a damn about climate change – until the Dodder starts lapping at their around their nethers, that is!

    The anti-global warmer brigade are going to go for the jugular on this one- you had better have statistically reliable (and verifiable) data to support any case you care to make. Good luck.

    B Peter

  2. I like your rebuttal against the onslaught of those who will seize on CRUgate as evidence against the reality of climate change. And the link to your work on VoxEU is also very interesting.

  3. @ Richard

    Do you have a link to a website which proves anthropogenic global warming?

    Also, if AGW is true and is so dangerous should there not be a carbon tax on all consumer goods imported from China & India and on beef from Brazil?

  4. In reality, CO2 is only part of the problem but reducing it solves other problems. When you reduce CO2 through combustion efficiencies or alternative generation of energy, more often than not you reduce PMx, NOx, SOx (and in the case of coal mercury and radio-isotopes plus mining effects like tailing reservoir breaks). It’s not just all about what the Republicans now like to call “tree food”.

  5. @Richard
    “Most of the temperature graphs you have seen in the newspaper are from the CRU, but independent research has corroborated their main findings.”
    I think this is where the problem lies. They produce some pictures and then everyone else finds evidence to ‘prove’ the pictures. Anything that doesn’t match the pictures is ridiculed or dismissed. If they had produced a different set of pictures, evidence would be found for them too.

    The problem with a wrong theory in a field subject to wide ranges of exactness, is that it promotes a wrong consensus. Where the wrong theory is intentionally wrong, this is incredibly damaging for the ‘science’ involved.

    I believe mankind has had an effect on the environment. I don’t see how this could be otherwise. But I like to be convinced by honest people. I’ve seen vast amounts of intellectual dishonesty from the Green Party in power (the alterations to car tax being one of the main ones that has affected my 11 year old diesel that still emits lower amounts of carbon/mile than most brand new cars on the road AND has 2/3s of its lifetime carbon loading sunk in its construction). It is hugely depressing to realise the venality and ego-tripping of some of those behind the ‘science’. And really, inverted commas are all that is appropriate until the distortions have been accounted for.

  6. @ BP wood,

    I say is that not a touch offside about the folks in D4? I would imagine it is the people in D4 who have the capital to invest in new start up enterprises in Renewable energy and so on etc etc.

    As for a decline in oil, well yes there is a question about oil field production rates in the middle east, however they are still finding new oil fields every year in other places around the world, notably Brazil.

    While I do agree that there is not a unlimited supply of oil on the planet, I would not rule out our ability to find more new sources of oil for the next few years.

    I do believe that the global warming problem will get to us first before peak oil. So regardless of what way you look at it would be prudent to progress to a more sustainable way of life sooner rather than later.

  7. @yoganmahew – regarding your car’s emissions, understand what you are saying but governments have got to work with the rules of the game and that forces them to make compromises. We import a lot of emissions through our lust for new cars but we only have to account for the fuel they use. (PS I too own an 11 year old diesel!)

  8. @George
    I understand that, so I would have thought that it makes sense to load up the taxes on the emissions producing bit – the fuel! I’m sure with a will, a way could be found to equalise duty north and south of the border. There’s no reason NI has to have the same duty rates as the rest of the UK (i.e. they could have higher rates).

    Anyway, back to more important matters. What colour is your 11 year old diesel? Mine’s a sort of muddy brown. Apart from a weird blue spot on the roof…

  9. @yoganmahew
    i believe our petrol will be more expensive that NI come the budget, difference in diesel price will be about 10c and surely getting close to the point where a little pressure on sterling would lead to the price difference becoming negligible. Euro interest rate rises might do the trick.
    the 11 year old is a lovely dark red colour. the speedomoter doesn’t work any more but everything else does. Avoiding penalty points using my hearing instead of my sight..

  10. @ Richard

    “Doubt has been cast over the CRU data. Insiders never really trusted their data, and it is actually little used as an input to other climate research.”

    If the CRU (Is that Premier Cru or Premier Crew) are outsiders who are the insiders. Al (I’m making a shed load of money out of this with Blood & Gore) Gore.

    Are you an insider? Obviously you are. You couldn’t describe the crew as such if you were not.

    When was the last time you documented the fact that you or other “insiders” never trusted the data of the CRU?

    The IPCC appear to “trust” the CRU.

    http://www.ipcc-data.org/obs/cru_climatologies.html

    “The anomaly time series were constructed using historic anomalies derived from the monthly data holdings of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and the Global Historic Climatology Network (GHCN).”

    Funny that, the IPCC only relies on two sources for the anomaly time series one of which is the CRU.

  11. @ George,

    You should be able to avoid penalty points tomorrow without using your hearing or your sight!!!

    But only for tomorrow!!

  12. “Rash action instead careful thinking may well run serious, international climate policy deep into the ground.”

    I agree,

    We can’t have people (or scientists) making things up can we?

    “From: Dave Schimel
    To: Shrikant Jagtap
    Subject: RE: CO2
    Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 09:21:35 -0600 (MDT)

    “I want to make one thing really clear. We ARE NOT supposed to be working
    with the assumption that these scenarios are realistic. They are
    scenarios-internally consistent (or so we thought) what-if storylines.
    You are in fact out of line to assume that these are in some sense
    realistic-this is in direct contradiction to the guidance on scenarios
    provided by the synthesis team.”

    No Richard we can’t.

    Obviously what we need is “what-if storylines” “provided by the synthesis team”

    No point in letting Science get in the way of a good storyline.

    I like this bit….

    “We ARE NOT supposed to be working with the assumption that these scenarios are realistic.”

    Wow he must have been pissed off when someone said this is not “realistic”.

    He even went to the trouble of capitalising “ARE NOT”.

    Would that be that anthropogenic global warming IS NOT realistic?

    Not being a global scientist or a partner in Blood & Gore I wouldn’t know.

  13. @ Richard

    I think Dr. Shrikant Jagtap of the University Of Florida has the right idea here.

    “Friends,

    I’m enjoying the current debate about CO2 levels. I feel that we are using
    the GCM scenarios, and we MUST use exactly those CO2 levels for crop model runs, so all data is consistent. So if we are wrong, we are uniformly wrong and adjust our explanations accordingly whenever we agree on things. Now to use different data will be hard to explain.”

    Nothing like “consistency” Richard. Things might be “hard to explain” without it.

    Oh. Bye the way, what are the “crop model runs”?

    Do you think the Citizens of Ireland should be told about them before they are carbon taxed to death?

  14. @ Richard

    Ben says this

    “Therefore for the ecological models we should use Dave’s original
    suggestion, because the models really did use a 1% increase in equivalent
    CO2, which approximates a 1% increase in CO2 alone. The point here is
    that this 1% increase is much higher than IS92a, but that might be because
    of the confusion between radiative forcing increase and concentration
    increase discussed above. In fact a 0.7% increase in equivalent CO2 might
    have been a more realistic assumption for IS92a, but the 1% increase in
    concentration is what was actually used in these earlier models.”

    “The CO2 concentrations used in the ecological model should correspond to those used in the GCMs, not to what we think they should be.

    Any other thoughts?

    Ben”

    Don’t you just love Science?

    Still. Al Gore is not a scientist is he?

    He just “won” a Nobel Prize for Peace. Funny thing is he shared that with the IPCC.

    That’s right Richard. They got the prize for PEACE not SCIENCE.

  15. @ Richard

    “One of their servers was hacked and some 1000 emails and 3000 documents were stolen, most of them 10 years old.”

    That’s interesting Richard. Unless you’re living in the year 2019 how do you account for this?

    “From: Kevin Trenberth
    To: Michael Mann
    Subject: Re: BBC U-turn on climate
    Date: Mon, 12 Oct 2009 08:57:37 -0600”

    “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. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.”

  16. @ Richard

    “ On Oct 12, 2009, at 2:32 AM, Stephen H Schneider wrote:

    Hi all. Any of you want to explain decadal natural variability and signal to noise and
    sampling errors to this new “IPCC Lead Author” from the BBC? As we enter an El Nino year
    and as soon, as the sunspots get over their temporary–presumed–vacation worth a few
    tenths of a Watt per meter squared reduced forcing, there will likely be another dramatic
    upward spike like 1992-2000. I heard someone–Mike Schlesinger maybe??–was willing to bet
    alot of money on it happening in next 5 years?? Meanwhile the past 10 years of global mean
    temperature trend stasis still saw what, 9 of the warmest in reconstructed 1000 year record
    and Greenland and the sea ice of the North in big retreat?? Some of you observational folks
    probably do need to straighten this out as my student suggests below. Such “fun”, Cheers,
    Steve
    Stephen H. Schneider
    Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies,”

    “Such fun” indeed.

    Would that be the same Stephen H. Schneider who predicted a NEW ICE AGE.

  17. @Greg
    The police suspects that the server was hacked. CRU is not the most harmonious of work places, so a leak is not inconceivable.

    As I wrote in my opening post, there are five independent, seculare records of the global mean temperature, each showing roughly the same trends. The CRU record is the one that is best known and used most because it is regularly updated.

    The CRU data have been criticised in private and in public, in their face and behind their back. As is common practice in academia, one cannot mount a challenge without providing an alternative. The CRU research is based on diligence, rather than inspiration or skill, so few are keen to take over their job, particularly as there is no reason to suspect that the result would change much.

  18. For me one of the biggest dangers of global warming (sorry, i mean climate change) is the threat of a rising tide of independent thinking which is causing the blogosphere to be contaminated with dangerous contrarian emissions. High time a denial tax was introduced so that a tranquil mainstream equilibrium can be restored. Credit to all those in the MSM who are campaigning tirelessly on our behalf (see: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100017451/climategate-how-the-msm-reported-the-greatest-scandal-in-modern-science/) to ensure that we don’t have to deal with the inconvenient truth.

  19. @ capsubsidy

    “1000 emails and 3000 documents and what you are presenting supposed to debunk ALL climate change research?”

    No. Not interested in debunking climate change research. Anyway I haven’t got the time.

    But I would like to know if the hypothesis of AGW has been proven.

  20. @Richard
    I suggest you re-read Popper too. It is not scientific to manipulate data to make the optics look good. Science takes a very dim view of this and with good reason. As I said above, benchmarks induce bias. Adjusted benchmarks are therefore pushing directional bias.

    The hockey stick is a key component of the current debate. It has been accepted. If it is falsified, we may be missing more important possibilities – what if AGW leads to a more chaotic system? With increasingly random weather events? Not warming, not cooling, just ‘bad’. This, to my mind, is a far more serious outcome (leaving aside some of the more extreme tipping point scenarios) as it is not something that can be prepared for. When I was a young man, this was indeed the predicted outcome of AGW. When did it change?

  21. @ Richard

    “Pls reread Popper. One cannot verify, only falsify. AGW has not been falsified, despite a million attempts.”

    Is AGW a Science or a Religion?

    If I hypothesise that 1,000 Gods exists (why limit myself to one) it cannot be “falsified”. It is merely a hypothesis in which I choose to believe.

    What is truth and what is belief.

    I’m all for freedom of Religion but I dislike the idea that those who believe in one or many gods have the right to tax me or introduce laws to change my behaviour.

    I can’t re-read Popper. I’ve never read him. Did he write the AGW bible?

    Either AGW is a physical science or it is not. I don’t mind if it is a social science. Economics is and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. So when some economist (a social scientist) theorises about taxing the Citizen the Citizen can disagree and argue the social science, or become politically active in opposition to the tax.

    You, it seems, would have me believe that AGW is true simply because you and others say that it is true.

    If AGW is a physical science there has been enough time, money and political capital expended already. It should not be too difficult to provide a proof.

    The stated aims of the IPCC are to assess scientific information relevant to:

    1. human-induced climate change,
    2. the impacts of human-induced climate change,
    3. options for adaptation and mitigation.

    That’s interesting. They made up their “collective mind” that AGW was true. No point in considering the big orange star that heats our planet.

  22. @Greg
    The IPCC has written four chapters reviewing the empirical evidence for human-induced climate change. This is all the public domain at http://www.ipcc.ch. This blog is not the place to review that material.

    The power of taxation rests with the Dail. Our advice for a carbon tax rests primarily on the arguments that carbon taxes are better for the economy than labour taxes; and that international policy demands that Ireland is seen doing something about greenhouse gas emissions.

    Popper is the first four hits on a google of “popper”.

  23. The whole subject boils down to the question:-
    Is the component of the increase in atmospheric mean temperature resulting from the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration (because of the increased absorption of infra red radiation by the carbon dioxide) sufficient to have any measureable effect on the global climate. The answer is “No” but it is not possible to prove (hard Karl Popper type of proof) that statement one way or the other bringing into the question of whether or not the whole thing can be called a science. If it isn’t falsifiable then it ain’t a science according to the Popper criteria. It is not a question of science, but one of control. Please don’t drag economics into it.

  24. Climate is one of the most complex, non-linear, chaotic systems known to man. therefore, by definition, it cannot be predicted. To ignore chaos is fraud. Claiming that extraordinary weather events are caused by a small increase of a trace gas in the atmosphere by man is fraud.

  25. This is a carelessly parsed synopisis Richard. Some of the things you left out:

    – Suggestons of criminal (yes) behaviour.
    – Strong suggestions that the “scientific case” assessed under Chapter 3 of AR4 was but an artefact of the 2 Coordinating Lead Authors with support from a coordinated academic cohort.
    – Two journal editors mentioned as targets for removal were in fact “relieved of duties”.
    – One journal editor was implied to be complicit in allowing “cheque kiting” in the peer review process.

    I understand your professional desire to believe that scientific justification for political policy on this particular issue is sound. But this whole debacle is about the dangers we court when we do not have proper governance processes in place.

    I think all academics digest this material thoughtfully and reflect.

  26. Richard,

    Could you please assit in stating specifically what the falsifiable test oft he Dangerous Anthropogenic Climate Change hypothesis is?

    Statistical failure of predictive models? Check.

  27. @Paddy/Greg/Geccko
    The test is whether the observed climate record can be explained without the enhanced greenhouse effect.

    The test result is “very unlikely”. There is no other physical phenomenon that can explain the warming, and it is extremely unlikely that internal dynamics would generate the observed pattern.

  28. Richard,

    To be completely fair befor eI respond further, I want to make sure I am interpreting you correctly.

    Are you stating that it is a SUFFICIENT test of the hypothesis to model PAST global mean temperatures?

  29. @Geckko
    I repeat: This incident exposes a few (but not all) bad apples. I am neither shocked nor surprised by the revelations (except the systematic denial of legitimate freedom of information requests), and I guess few insiders are. The CRU is at the periphery of climate research.

  30. @Geckko
    It’s necessary. There are no sufficient tests.

    It’s quite simple really. The earth has warmed 0.8 degrees Celsius since 1850. What can explain this? To date, all hypotheses but one are either wrong or very unlikely. That implies that we have to work with the assumption that the one remaining hypothesis is true.

    Note that we in fact observe a 5-D pattern of climate change (time, space (3D), parameters like temperature, precipitation, wind etc). Whatever hypothesis you want to put forward has to explain that 5-D pattern.

  31. Richard,

    If you believe ciminal behaviour is no big deal, then we will agree to disagree.

    If you believe there is no sufficient test for the hypothesis then by definition it can’t be proven (let alone falsified).

    if you believe that ex post data fitting provides any robust evidence, then I would love you to meet my old friend Dr Hendry.

  32. @Geckko
    On your first point, this is a matter for the authorities. There are tens of thousands of people involved in climate research and policy. One would expect a few criminals among them.

    On your second and third point, I’m not going to be lectured on the methodology or philosophy of science by an anonymous lizard.

  33. Richard

    In your VoxEU article you say:

    “If we want to compare the different impacts of climate change to each other and compare the impacts of climate change to the costs of greenhouse gas emission reduction, we need to express the impacts of climate change in money. This is a difficult and controversial, but necessary step.”

    As I understand it this kind of approach is fairly standard in economic analysis. But it also seems to assume a pretty extreme utilitarian morality: let’s say Bangladesh is wiped out by floods – but the money-value of the physical and human capital of Bangladesh is negligible compared to, say, one percent of lost GDP in America (or whatever). A bit like saying that slavery is OK if the slaveowner gains more than the slave loses.

    Am I missing something?

    And near the end:

    “Following the ethical preferences as revealed by insurance, charity, and savings, the recommended price of carbon is €3.5/tCO2.

    The current price of CO2 emission permits in Europe is €14/tCO2. That is, the EU is paying four times as much as it should.”

    Leaving aside time- and probability-related discounts, the assumption here is that the current charitable acts of Europeans are morally adequate.

  34. @James
    You interpretation is almost correct, but you overlook adaptation and compensation. If we were to save €3.50 for every tonne of carbon dioxide emitted, then we would have enough money to cover Bangladesh in dikes and Sub-Saharan Africa in bednets and still have enough money left to compensate any remaining damage.

    I don’t know whether the current investment and charity are morally adequate or not. I do know that it is inconsistent to say that we should worry about the impacts of climate change on Africa but not about the impacts of agricultural subsidies on Africa; or that we should invest in climate policy but not in education. Climate policy is one of many policies through which we express our concern about the future, about other people, and about risk. Such concerns should be consistent.

    Policies like education, pensions, insurance, and development aid have been around for a long time, and are thoroughly tested by our democratic institutions. I therefore think it is relatively safe to use these policies to measure how much we care about risk, the future, and other people.

  35. Richard,

    “On your second and third point, I’m not going to be lectured on the methodology or philosophy of science by an anonymous lizard.”

    I can only assume “lizard” is an epithet.

    Play the ball and not the man, lest you fall into a logical fallacy. Who knows, I might be some humble patents clerk.

    You claimed the Dangerous Anthropogenic CLimate Change hypothesis had not been falsified.
    [I am just assuming that you know that this is a statement that it has passed all NECESSARY test]

    I thne enquired about what was such a necessary test that might be falsified – something needed in all science and economics (a genuine question, because I can’t recall ever seeing one for this hypothesis)

    You replied with what appeared to be a NECESSARY test (i.e. “it is proven by…”) and I gave you an opportunity to clarify and disavow me of that.

    Then you claim there is now necessary test, which you must admit is directly contrary to your claim “it is proven”.

    My point being, and this should be bread and butter for any econometricians here, that only the proper testing of predictive ability of the modelled hypothesis using new (hence future) data will validate it. IN this area the hypothesis has performed very poorly, but I am willing to admit the jury is still out.

    Please cut the snide remarks, I have been treating you as an intellectual equal, please don’t make the mistake of treating someone who may want to comment, but need to maintain anonymity any differently.

  36. Richard,

    “Policies like education, pensions, insurance, and development aid have been around for a long time, and are thoroughly tested by our democratic institutions. I therefore think it is relatively safe to use these policies to measure how much we care about risk, the future, and other people.”

    I suppose my question is whether government’s should restrict themselves to policies that reflect “how much we care about risk, the future, and other people” rather than being more prudent/far-sighted/compassionate than the individuals they represent.

    If those individuals are inadequately prudent/far-sighted/compassionate (according to some value of “inadequate” obviously) then the answer would be no.

    Plus, preferences aren’t necessarily revealed by observed behaviour if there is some prisoners’ dilemmas/market failure/collective action problem type stuff going on.

  37. @Geckko
    I never used the word “proven” in relation to the word “hypothesis”. By the same token, one can only do all the tests necessary; no amount of tests is sufficient. I never restricted tests to the in-sample kind.

    We try to keep a high quality, unmoderated blog with serious discussion. We allow contributors to maintain their anonymity. Please cooperate. Please stop erecting and knocking down strawpeople. Please stop claiming credentials that cannot be verified. Please restrict your contributions to your areas of expertise.

  38. “Pensions, education, development aid are public policies.”

    True. I should have stuck with charity…

  39. One of the interesting things regarding climate change is the “consensus” that a slightly warming trend is bad for mankind and the planet (as detailed in the IPCC report).

    We know from the geological record that the climate was a lot cooler very recently -in fact Ireland and much of Europe was covered in Ice just 10K years ago – were it not for the gulf stream we could still be much of the year. so clearly ther has been a warming trend recently in the geological record.

    However if you had to make a choice between a warming trend and a cooling trend – the warming trend is by far the better option. why are polar bears so often pictured when we talk about Global warming – because there is not much else furry creatures living in arctic temperatures… compare that with the abundance in warmer climate zones.

    Add to that the fact that increased levels of CO2 lead to increased levels of plant growth and in general terms, the planet becomes a “livelier” place.

    My point is : it can be strongly argued that a slightly warming climate has on balance more upsides than downsides – whatever the cause.

    Does that warrant a Carbon Tax?

  40. @JeromeK
    Pls follow the link at the end of the original post.

    @James
    One should surely be careful when interpreting observed behaviour.

    My argument is one of consistency. Current EU policy on climate change shows a greater concern for the future than current policies on education and pensions.

  41. I don’t have the time to go through all the counter-arguments that Greg proposes. I trust the consensus that climate change is influenced by humans and that our western way of life is unsustainable even more so as it is followed by the BRIC countries and others.

  42. One completely different objection I would have to Richard’s VoxEU piece is the assertion that:

    “Climate change primarily affects poor people in faraway places…. This means that climate policy is not for our benefit, nor for the benefit of our children and grandchildren. Climate policy is for the benefit of the children and grandchildren of people in distant countries”

    What about second and third order effects eg the consequences of mass migration, geopolitical instability, resource squeezes etc.

    I suspect the reason people are more concerned about the long run when it comes to climate change than with pensions or education is that climate change appeals to the apocalyptic imagination.

  43. @James
    The people in Africa are already desparate to come to Europe. Few make it.

    There is no evidence that climate change would increase violent conflict. You would read that in the popular media, but not in the academic literature.

  44. @ Holbrook Fields

    A couple of quotes from the late Michael Crichton re scientific consensus:

    “Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.”

    “Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.”

    Try google “Al Gore” and “debate” and you will get a good idea of where Crichton is coming from.

  45. @Paddy
    Michael Crichton is a medical doctor. His book “State of Fear” clearly demonstrate his inability to grasp basic mathematics, let alone applied physics.

    Consensus is not a scientific argument. That said, most of us have neither the time nor the intellect to understand the whole body of scientific knowledge. In our areas of non-expertise, it is often safer to follow the experts than follow our own uninformed instincts.

  46. @ Richard
    Though I don’t deny that Crichton is no noble prize winning physicist, he is an astute observer of the politics of science. In many ways consensus is the enemy of scientific progress. I am not reassured by your blind faith in so called ‘experts’ many of whom have vested interests to perpetuate the consensus, AGW being a classic example. When i see Al Gore willing to engage in debate, my cynicism might subside.

  47. @Paddy
    Where did you get the impression that put “blind faith” in climate research? Al Gore is a politician, by the way, not an expert on climate change.

  48. @ Richard Sorry, didn’t mean to infer that Al G is an expert although he does speak with the certainty of one. If he is so certain then why is he scared of a debate? My ‘blind faith’ reference referred to your belief that:

    “most of us have neither the time nor the intellect to understand the whole body of scientific knowledge. In our areas of non-expertise, it is often safer to follow the experts than follow our own uninformed instincts”.

    I repeat, alot of vested interests and dodgy peer reviews going on (as evidenced by the CRUgate scandal) which temper my faith in so called ‘experts’, especially in the complex area of climate research!

  49. @Paddy
    Experts don’t speak with certainty. Priests do.

    As I’ve been arguing on this thread, CRU is peripheral to climate research. The crucial bits of data they’ve delivered have been independently corroborated.

    If you don’t trust my expertise, then you are welcome to check for yourself (1) where now-tainted CRU data has fed into other research and (2) where CRU data substantially differs from other sources.

  50. @ Richard.

    “Experts don’t speak with certainty. Priests do.” Nice quote, but have you never met an expert displaying signs of hubris, especially in the area of AGW (e.g. IPCC)?

  51. Richard,

    I see that you have recently joined the Academic Advisory Council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation think-tank, which has Nigel Lawson as its chairman.

    What is your opinion of the, generally sceptical, view of climate change that Lawson put forward in his book “An Appeal to Reason”?

  52. @Cormac
    I’ve not read Lawson’s book. I know his work for the House of Lords committee on the subject, which is very reasonable. Lawson’s main position, to me, is that we should carefully consider before spending hundreds of billions of euros on climate policy.

  53. “In many ways consensus is the enemy of scientific progress.”

    In many other ways, consensus is what scientific progress achieves before moving on to make more progress. There is a consensus about, say, the basic laws of physics. Or that the world is roughly spherical.

    I for one do not take such consensus as reason in itself to doubt these findings. Frankly I consider it mad to proceed on the opposite basis.

    With specific regard to climate change, I would have thought there are more obvious “vested interests” on the side of denying it than confirming it.

  54. @ James. Consensus about laws is fine once they are proven as such. Consensus about theories is not. The only reason we now believe that the world is spherical is because the flat-earth consensus was challenged. AGW vested interests: environmentalists, journalists, politicians/bureaucrats seeking pan-national governance (e.g. EU , UN), academics dependent on career progression &funding from government, left-wingers seeking power.

  55. As it happens I’m not sure how much of a flat-earth consensus there really was (I seem to recall hearing that was a bit of a myth) but I’ll leave that to someone who knows more about the history of science than I do.

    More importantly: as Richard Tol already pointed out there is strictly speaking no “proof” in science – only refutation. Scientific “laws” are just theories that haven’t been refuted (and which we can be confident we would have found a way to refute if they were false).

  56. @richard

    I don’t agree that the people implicated in these emails are as peripheral as you say. They include most of the originators of the totemic hockey stick, Michael Mann etc

    The implication is that these groups wanted to minimise the Medieval Warm Period and maximise the recent warming. In other words, to make a better political case, they set out to play down natural climate variability relative to a greenhouse warming trend.

    That may be clever PR. But that’s all.

  57. @Paddy
    There are in fact a number of “laws” in the science of climate change. That CO2 is a greenhouse gas has been known since 1827. This is an experimental fact, and follows from Bohr’s theory of the atom.

    Keeping everything else constant, more CO2 in the atmosphere therefore means a warmer planet.

    Everything else is not constant, but it would be quite surprising if the feedbacks exactly offset the initial effect. That calls LeibnitzSchindler’s naturalist fallacy to mind.

    In fact, basic physics would tell you that, to a first approximation, the feedback must to positive, rather than negative: A warmer atmosphere contains more water vapour, and water vapour is a greenhouse gas too.

  58. @bg
    These people are peripheral to the science. They are fairly central to the public image across the world, and to decision making in London and Brussels.

    Note that I’ve long argued that particularly the British media are completely over the top on climate change; and that EU climate policy is overly ambitious.

  59. @Richard

    Thanks for link to your EuVOX, and having scanned a few other contributions on your part and your critique of the Stern Review, I would say that your pragmatic and skeptical analysis is in contrast to many scaremongers including own Dept of Environment whose high profile and highly promoted site http://www.change.ie website claims that: “Climate change is the biggest challenge currently facing humanity.”

    I have read Nigel Lawson’s book who is like myself no expert on climate change. He does not deny climate change but also questions the Stern Review logic and recommendations. For example why should Western countries (ie us taxpayers) should spend so much now to mitigate against climate change when the impact on third world populations 100 years from now is that instead of being 10 times better off than today, they will only be 8 times better off ? This is assuming that the predictions regarding future climate temperature changes are correct (another big question).

    Getting back to your original point to suggest that the CRU data does not matter and there are many other “independent” data sources that prove it – Well it does for a couple of reasons:

    1. This CRU data was very important in earlier IPCC reports that spawned the infamous hockey stick and assured us that the data was fine. These got the funding rolling to do more research. What the emails show is that some of the leading “climate scientists” had an end-result in mind when they started doing their “tricks” (their language) with the data; One of the the big problems exposed is how they spliced instrument data with reconstucted/proxy data to get rid of trends that did not match their rising temperature (hockey stick) curve.

    2. If we are going to use scientific evidence to implement public policy then it is vital that the results are auditable, traceable and repeatable. Sorry but even the pro-AGW scientists admit that they are lacking in this area in both tools and methodology. (Was that not what the IPCC was supposed to do – well actually no. The IPCC reports have a lot of good research and detail but its many caveats are airbrushed out of the final presentation for policy makers. Why – to remove uncertainty and to ensure that the call to action was as loud as possible.)

    3. Citing other independent data sources is not convincing unless they comply with Point 2 above. The “Peer Review” process is limited in terms of historical statistical analysis (and frankly useless in terms of GCM models that attempt to predict the future climate).

    So getting back to economics 😉
    Having said all that, I agree with you in principle that a Carbon Tax that is revenue neutral could on balance be a good thing. However it has, even before being implemented, morphed into an extra/additional tax and that is definitely the last thing our ailing economy needs.

  60. @JeromeK
    All agreed. The public perception of climate science may well change because of this incident, particularly since George Monbiot turned against Phil Jones. (This is the first time in living memory that George and I agree.)

    I’d prefer a budget-neutral carbon tax. But if the total tax take is to increase, then a carbon tax is still less bad than higher labour taxes. There are no good policies at the moment; just bad and worse.

  61. @ Richard. Aside from the (disputed) ecological merits of a carbon tax for is it obvious that a carbon tax preferable to taxes on income (especially at the higher end). Given that unemployment rates are relatively high worldwide, and given that job security is at an all time low here, and given mortgage commitments, the disincentive effects of higher income taxes are likely to marginal (in every sense) are they not? And would not this be especially true if it is the case that public sector workers are making up an increasing proportion of those paying the higher rate. Furthermore, given that labour demand is so low, the incidence of the tax is not likely to fall on employers, unlike the incidence of the carbon tax. So would income taxes not be more employment friendly vis-a-vis carbon taxes? Haven’t given this much thought, but what do you think?

  62. @Paddy
    There is a series of ESRI publications on this, starting with Danny McCoyle‘s 1992 paper and ending with Thomas Conefrey’s 2009 paper. The message has been consistent, and perfectly in line with international evidence. Shifting the burden of taxation from labour to emissions is good for employment.

  63. I believe the paper below is pertinent to this discussion:

    http://www.fraserinstitute.org/researchandpublications/publications/6511.aspx

    Title : Check the Numbers: The Case for Due Diligence in Policy Formation

    Date Published: February 18, 2009

    Author(s): Ross McKitrick, Bruce McCullough

    Research Topic(s): Risk & Regulation

    Summary:

    Empirical research in academic journals is often cited as the basis for public policy decisions, in part because people think that the journals have checked the accuracy of the research. Yet such work is rarely subjected to independent checks for accuracy during the peer review process, and the data and computational methods are so seldom disclosed that post-publication verification is equally rare. This study argues that researchers and journals have allowed habits of secrecy to persist that severely inhibit independent replication. Non-disclosure of essential research materials may have deleterious scientific consequences, but our concern herein is something different: the possible negative effects on public policy formation. When a piece of academic research takes on a public role, such as becoming the basis for public policy decisions, practices that obstruct independent replication, such as refusal to disclose data, or the concealment of details about computational methods, prevent the proper functioning of the scientific process and can lead to poor public decision making. This study shows that such practices are surprisingly common, and that researchers, users of research, and the public need to consider ways to address the situation. We offer suggestions that journals, funding agencies, and policy makers can implement to improve the transparency of the publication process and enhance the replicability of the research that is published.

  64. @ Richard. Thanks for your reply re the carbon tax, I will have to look them up.

    With regards to the ‘laws’ of climate change, the following needs to be borne in mind:

    Now, as to the science, you state that the temperature has risen by 0.8 deg. C since 1830.

    We know thanks to Arrheinus that the absorption of energy by CO2 depends on an inverse logarithmic relationship. This means that a linear increase in temperature requires a geometric increase in CO2.

    So we can see that, as 120 ppm is required to cause a 0.74 deg C rise, the next 0.74 deg. C rise will require an increase of 240 ppm, taking the atmospheric CO2 level to 490 ppm.

    And the next 0.74 deg. C will thus require 480 ppm, giving us an atmospheric content of 970 ppm.

    So the next 0.74 deg, C will take 980 ppm, giving us 1700 ppm atmospheric concentration, to give a 2.22 deg. C temperature rise. In fact, the true rise would be somewhat less, we can calculate it using Boltzmann’s equations, but let’s not bother.

    This scenario is obviously highly unlikely to occur, current increases in CO2 running at around 2 ppm per annum – even allowing for some ramping up, such an increase would therefore take around 500 years, so the scientists had to postulate some other mechanism in order to get their scary figures such as 6 deg. C by the end of the 21st century.

    These mechanisms were supposed to be positive feedbacks caused by the small increase in temperature increasing the methane release from areas such as the Arctic tundra, and increases in the water vapour content in the atmosphere.

    That’s the theory, in a pretty simplified form, that the climate models are based on. All the models are dependent on the feedbacks to get the dangerous temperature rises that justify the large increases in energy taxation and reduction of personal freedom.

    So let’s look at the data.

    The temperature climbed from around the mid-1970s and by the 1990s was actually climbing nicely, much to the delight of the climate modellers and the control freak politicians.

    But then the climate ceased to cooperate. there is now plenty of published information as to the way that the temperature has plateaued since 1998. Some in these blogs (search for Latif), some elsewhere, including one of the leaked emails, which I will repost here:

    “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. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.”

    Attributed to Kevin Trenberth record number (1255352257).

    This plateau indicates that the feedbacks, so necessary for the credibility of the models, have totally failed to kick in.

    And now, we have the leaked data, the significance is of course contentious, but has undeniably cast doubt on the integrity of the whole AGW movement.

    Now, none of this disproves AGW, and it may be that in fact the AGW has merely paused and could restart any time, as is claimed by the scientists who, reluctantly, concur that the temperature has not risen significantly since 1999, and has actually cooled compared to 1998.

    But what these matters do prove is that the case for AGW is considerably weaker than it was a short time ago, and the much-vaunted “consensus” was based, at least partially, on poor or even fabricated scientific data, and given that the diversion of literally trillions of £, $ or whatever are dependent on this information being unquestionably accurate, and beyond any suspicion of chicanery, it will be necessary in order for confidence to be restored that an investigation is carried out by disinterested parties.

    Like I say, AGW has not been disproved, but the evidence for it has been called into question.

  65. @Paddy
    You forget that the Planet Earth really should be called Planet Water.

    It takes a good while to heat up the ocean. Current atmospheric warming lags behind its equilibrium warming because a large share of the energy is dissipated in the ocean.

  66. @ Richard. Granted. Temperature is driven by sun flux, ocean current flux, variability in cloud cover/ relative humidity reflectance and refraction and lastly to an irredeemably immeasurably small degree CO2 where the anthropogenic componenent is 20 ppm or 0.0002% of the atmoshphere (miniscule).

    A scientist’s model is irredeemably faulty – or invalid – when driven by what he/she believes is the independent variable (CO2) it fails to generate a dependant variable (temperature) which correlates with measured values.

    That’s what the IPCC team is struggling with; the AGW model doesn’t correlate with predicted or historical data

  67. @ Richard. Is there a model out there that shows that variation in the 0.0002% anthropogenic componenent of the atmosphere has been largely responsible for the 0.8 degree increase in global temperatures since 1830 and a subsequent fall over the last decade? If so could you direct me to it including source code (not originating from the CRU) as I was would be fascinated to see its specification, given that a priori such a model would seem rather unlikely. Pardon my skepticism!

  68. @Paddy
    The simplest model for is the Schneider-Thompson model, contained in DICE. See http://nordhaus.econ.yale.edu/

    This model does not give you variability. For that, you need complex ocean dynamics, which means hundreds of thousands of lines of fortran code.

    CRU, by the way, is not involved in modelling. They collate data.

  69. @Paddy
    This keeps growing indeed. Holdren is involved. NOAA will want to look at the finances. And suspicisions about malpractices at the IPCC have been confirmed in one of the emails.

    While initially one could have thought that this would be muddled up in the UK, the best prediction is now that this will be subject to the cold hard stare of the US legislative and perhaps judicial system.

    The best response is to suspend those involved and appoint an independent outsider to clean up the mess. There is no sign of this happening.

  70. @Paddy
    Copenhagen was doomed already.

    The carbon tax will be introduced for budget reasons.

    CRU indeed boasts on its website that it’s involved in climate modelling. However, the developers of these models (Sarah Raper and Tom Wigley) left a long time ago, and the models are now maintained at UCAR in Boulder, CO.

  71. @ Richard & Holbrook

    The models that you have suggested were either fully or partly designed by Schneider who in 1976 endorsed Lowell Ponte’s book The Cooling, in which Ponte declares, “This cooling has already killed hundreds of thousands of people. If it continues and no strong action is taken, it will cause world famine, world chaos and world war, and this could all come about before the year 2000.”
    Back in 1978,he declared, “There is a finite possibility that a serious worldwide cooling could befall the Earth within the next 100 years.”

    In 1971, Schneider claimed that an 800% increase in CO2 would be needed to raise global temperature by +2 deg. But by the late 1980s, he was promoting the UN view that a mere 100% increase in CO2 would be enough to raise temperature by +1.5 to +4 deg. Now, apparently, he’s promoting the notion that a 50% increase is sufficient to make it rise by +1.1 to +6.4 deg.

    He was also on record as telling Discover magazine back in 1989 that,

    “To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. This “double ethical bind” we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective, and being honest”

    Doesn’t really inspire much confidence in his models.

  72. @ Richard. It is reassuring to see those guardians of the truth at The Irish Pravda – sorry I mean Irish Times getting to the crux of the story: those nasty climate change-deniers up to their old tricks again! No hidden agendas there eh?

  73. @Paddy

    I have no opinion one way or the other about Schneider and his models. Because I just don’t have the expertise in the area. I’m sure there is a never ending debate about climate change and I have no real desire to become an expert in it. What i am interested in is policies that will bring about a more sustainable future in terms of energy and material resources usage, protection of ecosystems and equity amongst people. Having said all that the debate on this post will most likely prompt me to look at the AGW debate a little more closely but I doubt it will change my views on the need to develop alternatives to off fossil fuels and the need for green thinking etc.

    Holbrook

  74. @Holbrook

    While the issue of sustainable development and AGW are often lumped together, i believe you are right to distinguish between the two.

  75. This is all an attempt to arrive at a global tax to source a world government.

    Al Gore and the rest are making money off of bent science.

    The political use of such science started in the USSR.

    Solar output is dropping now and we can expect the weather of previous solar minima to apply: rain cold and a mini ice age across Europe. The Anthrax black death is unlikely as we no longer make such use of leather.

    Just be aware of the reality when it comes to voting for it. Still a good idea, just do not fall for the decptions therein.

  76. @ Neil
    Or should that be “Mann made global warming”, named after the Michael Mann the brains behind the now discredited “Hockey Stick” time series of global temperatures?

  77. @ Pat D.
    Come on Pat you conspiracy theorist! Next thing you’ll be telling me is that the MSM are in on this too. Mind you, if you’re right then Stalin, Hitler and Mao must be cursing themselves that they didn’t think of such an inoccuous scheme to gain control. I mean saving the planet, who could possibly object. And the fact that it transverses borders only adds to its appeal. Ingenious!

  78. “Holbrook Fields Says:

    November 24th, 2009 at 6:47 pm
    I don’t have the time to go through all the counter-arguments that Greg proposes. I trust the consensus that climate change is influenced by humans and that our western way of life is unsustainable even more so as it is followed by the BRIC countries and others.”

    @ Holbrook Fields

    “I don’t have the time to go through all the counter-arguments that Greg proposes”

    I thank you for considering (with the little time you have) to not consider my “counter-arguments”.

    You are most kind.

    So I will say this.

    Anthropogenic Global Warming is a lie.

    Now, Holbrook, you can take that at face value. Or you can dismiss it. I wish you luck in your AGW Religion.

    Richard Tol is a High Priest of your religion. Let us all hope that the High Priests don’t get to make human sacrifice any day soon.

    You Holbrook, might end up on a bonfire.

    I of course will suffer auto de fé.

    Nobody gets away with asking questions of the High Priest without the burning pain.

  79. @ Holbrook Fields

    “What i am interested in is policies that will bring about a more sustainable future in terms of energy and material resources usage, protection of ecosystems and equity amongst people.”

    You are a true champion of humanity.

    Now let’s make more bio-fuel from corn and starve Africa ….Again.

    But hey, Holbrook, as long as it is in the name of your AGW God you need not consider your conscience or Science.

    After all the AGW Religion is not unlike Scientology. Just make it up as you go along, take the money, they’re all stupid, they deserve to have their money taken from them.

    Join us. Be rich.

  80. @ Holbrook

    No need to thank me.

    Not a problem Holbrook.

    Just trying to help.

    [REMOVED: INSULTING]

    And if it helps (I don’t know but it might) there is life beyond AGW.

  81. @ Holbrook

    Maybe this will help you with your deprogramming. It’s a comment that your High Priest Richard Tol thought was ignorant. Maybe it is. But he decided not to answer. Instead he “moderated it”. You know, Holbrook, he deleted it, just like the CRU are busy doing right now. Nobody (or Human) gets to ask the High Priest questions the High Priest doesn’t want to answer.

    Oh, sorry, Holbrook, you’re new to your religion. Well, the way it works is this. If the Science doesn’t support your religion you make you “Statistics” (that is you corrupt truth) to fit your religion.

    Don’t you just love moderation and truth?

    So this is a comment that didn’t pass your High Priest’s view of truth. And there was I, just a simple peasant asking questions of the High Priest.

    Well, I don’t need to tell you Holbrook. I’ve learned my lesson.

    So here is what your High Priest doesn’t want mere peasants to ask.

    No doubt your High Priest will delete it again

  82. @ Holbrook

    @ Richard,

    “The test is whether the observed climate record can be explained without the enhanced greenhouse effect.”

    It’s a pretty big “ask” for those who wish proof of AGW if the Sun is left out of the analysis.

    Can the observed climate record be explained without the Sun?

    The climate changes. There was the Medieval Warm Period (800 to 1300?) and the Little Ice Age. Now if the Little Ice Age ended around 1850 and temperatures began to rise what does that say about the start date chosen by the CRU 1850 (?).

    Did man cause the MWP? Did man cause the Little Ice Age?

    But never mind that. The last full scale ice age ended (what) around 12 thousand years ago. Hardly worth counting in the study of planetary climate change. Scotland under a mile thick ice sheet.

    “The last glacial period was the most recent glacial period within the current ice age, occurring in the Pleistocene epoch. It began about 110,000 years ago and ended about 9,600 – 9,700 BC. During this period there were several changes between glacier advance and retreat.”

    Now that’s from Wikipedia so it’s probably not scientific.

    Did man cause that to end?

    I don’t think anyone questions whether the climate changes. I, and I’m sure many others, question whether humans have much influence on that change.

  83. I removed the initial post by Greg because this is a blog on the Irish economy. It’s not on climate science.

    I did not remove the second posting of the same material by Greg. I will not discuss it. This blog is not the place to take away people’s misconceptions about climate science.

    I did remove another posting by Greg whose understanding of the law is as under-developed as her understanding of climate science.

  84. I am a long time lurker on blogs that discuss the science and politics of climate science.-Real Climate,Climate Audit, Two etc. Why do all threads on this issue descend into mud slinging with neither side ( and there are clearly two polar opposites) conceding any ground at all to the other.In any subject this complex there has to be facts that are inconvenient to each side – this is never conceded. Reading the CRUgate emails and program code it seems even the scientists would rather hide inconvenient facts away than attempt to understand or (probably more accurately) explain the issues involved.

  85. @Old Fossil

    I like your comment. I think a lot of internet conversations descend into slagging matches. It’s an interesting facet of the web’s psychology. I’ve always taken AWG as a given not having the inclination to learn all the science myself. But even this morning on Tom Dunne on Newstalk they had a climate sceptic debunking climate change theory so I think unfortunately I’m going to have to make some effort to learn the issues. So far, I still have a long long way to go to being convinced by the sceptics.

  86. Richard,

    Enjoyed your post and keeping abreast of the updates. The decision to destroy the original data compounds the problem, don’t you think, in that it casts further doubt on CRU’s credibility?

    Right now, if I was a climate change scientist attached to the University of East Anglia, I’d be burrowing out an underground nest for myself and lining it with the print outs of those e-mails with a view to not emerging from my self-enforced hibernation until well into next spring.

    It’s disturbing too that the mainstream Irish media have paid so little attention to the CRU-emails scandal. Obviously, there’s no ‘local’ angle, at least none that has been revealed as yet. But more important that that may be the general Irish media and political consensus that a scientific consensus on climate change exists and is absolute. Therefore the worst case predictions of the IPCC reports, or their interpretation by fundamentalist climate change ideologues, can neither be validly critiqued nor challenged. It’s not much of a leap from that to signalling ‘game over’ on any policy issue that can be even remotely related to ‘climate change’ predictions. The added bonus is that anyone who raises a question may be condemned as a ‘climate change denier’ or sceptic, or both; and of course any event like CRUgate can be ignored

    I’m neither a denier nor a sceptic, as it happens. But I’m increasingly weary of a political environment where our political class, in a bid to replace their smashed-up, development- driven economy model, are producing elaborate competing blueprints for a ‘smart green economy’ model instead.

    It’s hard to see the wood for the trees, so to speak, when the various ‘smart green economy’ ( or is it ‘green smart economy’ (?)) models come embroidered with the promise of tens of thousands of much needed jobs. No such remarkable revolution in Irish development policy would be complete without a ‘hell and damnation’ clause; in this instance, putative legislation to criminalise Taoisigh or Ministers who fail to meet future climate change targets.

    If there’s anything to be taken from the CRU scandal in national policy terms, I think it may be that we should be careful about assigning credibility to any ideologically or environment NGO-inspired dire predictions about climate change. That’s not the same thing as stating that AGW is not soundly based. But in framing policy, whether industrial, planning and development, energy, and agriculture, we might do well to accord priority to local environmental factors and national economic interests ahead of fanciful endorsements of international consensus on climate change impacts.

    Breaking down the major long-term policy decisions we confront into their component parts and realistically debating a range of possible responses to each one on their respective merits, seems a more intelligent approach than foreclosing any and all discussion with a climate change mantra as tends to be the case at the moment.

    Raining on the present media and political ‘climate change’ parade would undoubtedly lead to floods of recrimination that might dwarf those inconvenient real floods in the west and midlands. The alternative, though, may be to risk heading off in the wrong policy direction on a range of fronts; and, in the process, making several big mistakes instead of the usual one or two big mistakes.

  87. @Veronica
    They destroyed duplicate data, so it is not as bad as it seems at first sight. It does doom to failure any attempt to reproduce their results. Reproducibility is the first principle of sound science.

    Mainstream media in Ireland are indeed quiet. (That may soon change.) So are the officialdom (EPA, SEI, Met Eireann).

  88. @Richard,

    Yes, the silence is intriguing. I’m not sure how the data feed from Ireland works, but I would have expected the media to have asked NUIM’s John Sweeney for a comment on what’s being going on at CRU at the very least.

    You suggest the level of media interest ‘may soon change’ by which I take you to mean that there’s some article in the pipeline on the implications of CRUgate for climate change policy?

  89. @ Veronica

    The mainstream media silence is really quite predictable once you realise their bias (see: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100017451/climategate-how-the-msm-reported-the-greatest-scandal-in-modern-science/). The Pravda Times have two op-ed columnists dedicated almost exclusively to propigating this pseudo-science (John Gibbons and the guy in today’s edition whose name escapes me). The intriguing question is why the bias? I hope you are close to experiencing your ephiphany re the MSM.

  90. @ Richard.
    That is very true Richard. However, in ClimateChangeland inputs are often not seeking expert outputs to begin with. Indeed, it may even be possible in some cases that money can obscure objectivity.

  91. @Paddy
    CRUgate indeed seems to have pushed a few senators to vote against the cap and trade bill.

    This underlines a point I’ve been making for years: To be successful, climate policy will need to last for decades. It therefore needs broad support. The secrecy and polarisation as practised by the likes of CRU is counterproductive.

  92. Veronica:

    “I’m neither a denier nor a sceptic, as it happens.”

    I note from an Irish Election thread the other day the following exchange:

    ****

    Comment by
    David Quinn
    Dec 4th, 2009 19:12
    Hi Veronica,
    Just to clarify -are you calling those of us who are sceptical about the degree of influence of human activity on changes in the climate that are being claimed by the IPCC “deniers”?

    Comment by
    Veronica
    Dec 4th, 2009 23:12
    David,

    No, I’m not. My reference, above, was specifically directed to extremists on either side.

    ****

    So, if you don’t agree with the existence of AGW, what are you exactly? (Apart from someone who has worked as a PR person for BNFL in the past, isn’t that right?)

Comments are closed.