Physicists’ memo to Parliament blasts AGW “science”

posted at 10:40 am on February 27, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

The British Parliament has begun an investigation into the meaning of the East Anglia CRU e-mails, and part of that process is a form of peer review, in a sense.  Their Science and Technology committee has welcomed commentary from the scientific community, and among those members is the non-profit charity, the Institute of PhysicsIn their submission, the IoP says that the UEA CRU e-mails don’t just indict East Anglia, but the entire AGW industry — and that “science” wasn’t what they were doing at all (via Watts Up With That and Mike Ross, emphases mine):

What are the implications of the disclosures for the integrity of scientific research?

1. The Institute is concerned that, unless the disclosed e-mails are proved to be forgeries or adaptations, worrying implications arise for the integrity of scientific research in this field and for the credibility of the scientific method as practised in this context.

2. The CRU e-mails as published on the internet provide prima facie evidence of determined and co-ordinated refusals to comply with honourable scientific traditions and freedom of information law. The principle that scientists should be willing to expose their ideas and results to independent testing and replication by others, which requires the open exchange of data, procedures and materials, is vital. The lack of compliance has been confirmed by the findings of the Information Commissioner. This extends well beyond the CRU itself – most of the e-mails were exchanged with researchers in a number of other international institutions who are also involved in the formulation of the IPCC’s conclusions on climate change.

And as far as the science being settled, or even “science” as understood by the public as conclusory data, the IoP has issues with that characterization as well:

4. The second category relating to proxy reconstructions are the basis for the conclusion that 20th century warming is unprecedented. Published reconstructions may represent only a part of the raw data available and may be sensitive to the choices made and the statistical techniques used. Different choices, omissions or statistical processes may lead to different conclusions. This possibility was evidently the reason behind some of the (rejected) requests for further information.

5. The e-mails reveal doubts as to the reliability of some of the reconstructions and raise questions as to the way in which they have been represented; for example, the apparent suppression, in graphics widely used by the IPCC, of proxy results for recent decades that do not agree with contemporary instrumental temperature measurements.

In other words, the claims made by AGW advocates didn’t match the data available elsewhere.  When challenged on this, the AGW advocates refused to release the data to other scientists, and finally refused to release it under a Freedom of Information demand.  When it looked as though the government would get their hands on the data anyway, the CRU conspired to destroy the data, along with other AGW advocates around the world.

The IoP doesn’t trust East Anglia to restore confidence in the AGW movement’s claim to science, either, because the fraud went well beyond the boundaries of the University of East Anglia:

Are the terms of reference and scope of the Independent Review announced on 3 December 2009 by UEA adequate?

10. The scope of the UEA review is, not inappropriately, restricted to the allegations of scientific malpractice and evasion of the Freedom of Information Act at the CRU. However, most of the e-mails were exchanged with researchers in a number of other leading institutions involved in the formulation of the IPCC’s conclusions on climate change. In so far as those scientists were complicit in the alleged scientific malpractices, there is need for a wider inquiry into the integrity of the scientific process in this field.

11. The first of the review’s terms of reference is limited to: “…manipulation or suppression of data which is at odds with acceptable scientific practice…” The term ‘acceptable’ is not defined and might better be replaced with ‘objective’.

12. The second of the review’s terms of reference should extend beyond reviewing the CRU’s policies and practices to whether these have been breached by individuals, particularly in respect of other kinds of departure from objective scientific practice, for example, manipulation of the publication and peer review system or allowing pre-formed conclusions to override scientific objectivity.

This is a devastating critique from an objective scientific community.  It exposes as risible the notion that, as EPA Director Lisa Jackson attempted to insist, the UEA CRU e-mails only revealed a lack of interpersonal skills among AGW advocates.  As the IoP makes clear, the UEA CRU and its many partners in the AGW movement committed intellectual and scientific fraud — and their conclusions should be viewed as worthless.

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Comment pages: 1 2 3

The main unknowns are the various feedback mechanisms, and that leads to substantial uncertainties.

Oakland

But you’re asking us to pass legislation based on the findings BEFORE we pin down the feedback mechanisms. For all we know, human CO2 contribution will lead to cooling, via some process we have not yet uncovered. Or it has no effect at all. Until we have a definitive answer to that question, climate science is not at all settled.

hawksruleva on March 1, 2010 at 5:01 PM

Science isn’t supposed to work the way you’re suggesting here. You don’t come up with a theory, then hold it to be true because nobody has disproven it

I think you mis-understood my post. I was responding to an assertion that warming in previous ages has occurred and therefore there is no man-made component of global warming at present.

oakland on March 1, 2010 at 5:05 PM

So, if the earth has changed, ergo man can’t change it?

oakland on February 27, 2010 at 2:41 PM

Why does it matter if man changes it, or if it changes on its own?

hawksruleva on March 1, 2010 at 5:07 PM

I think you mis-understood my post. I was responding to an assertion that warming in previous ages has occurred and therefore there is no man-made component of global warming at present.

oakland on March 1, 2010 at 5:05 PM

No, I understood that. For AGW theory to hold up, science must prove there IS a man-made component of global warming. It’s not up to anything to disprove it. Scientists need to produce data showing temperature increases which can be definitively pegged to human contributions.

The presence of warming in previous times would indicate one sort of false positive for which AGW theory could be tested. But first, we need some data that shows human-caused temperature increases.

hawksruleva on March 1, 2010 at 5:11 PM

(1) the science — on AGW via CO2 from manual release of hydrocarbons into the atmosphere — is NOT “settled”. And

I never said it was. Please don’t confuse me or most members of the scientific community with Al Gore. In face, I think it would be helpful if we just forget about him totally in regards to AGW.

(2) there is proof of scientific fraud in the highest circles of the AGW lobby that includes conspiratorial e-mails between climate researchers, once-secret data manipulation algorithms and hard-codings that do not withstand scientific scrutiny, destruction of the raw data crucial to proving AGW claims (including proving that climate models are legitimate), and conspiring to rig the peer review process to give pro-AGW papers the imprimatur of legitimacy while foiling the presentation of evidence that falsifies AGW theory

There is some evidence of what you say. But, sweeping generalities are uncalled for.

I am sorry if you perceive a lack of respect on my part. I respect anyone who doesn’t resort to name calling and belittling comments, and who tries to engage in reasonable debate. I don’t think you read the entire set of comments in which the quote of mine you gave resides.

oakland on March 1, 2010 at 5:14 PM

correction : in fact….

oakland on March 1, 2010 at 5:15 PM

No, I understood that. For AGW theory to hold up, science must prove there IS a man-made component of global warming. It’s not up to anything to disprove it. Scientists need to produce data showing temperature increases which can be definitively pegged to human contributions

This cannot be “proven”. Science is not about proving anything. I don’t know what would qualify as “definitive” for you, but if you read scientific literature on the topic, you will see that many scientists see a significant correlation that suggests that one cannot discount an man-made component of AGW. Of course, there is much debate on the issue, and there are scientists who disagree as well.

oakland on March 1, 2010 at 5:20 PM

I don’t think you will find any scientist that is satisfied with the present models, which are, in part, constrained by the amount of computing power available to execute them.

oakland on February 27, 2010 at 1:48 PM
Er … the point about modeling the future evolution of complex, dynamical systems is that accurate predictions are not dependent merely on having more computing power availbale.

Something that is often missed about models is the fact that computers calculate - they don’t think. While this seems obvious in concept, in practice, it appears not so much.

About models, we often say, “garbage in – garbage out.” But this saying reflects our prejudice/expectation that the model itself is any good. How do we know this? We don’t, but we pretend these things are as good as the computer on the Starship Enterprise - at least that one has a reliable scriptwriter.

The simple fact is that all computers are calculators, nothing more. They do math. The present the results of the math as directed by the programmer. Everything you’re looking at on this screen, right now, is just math.

Computers require programmers to tell them in what framework the math will be done. This means that the programmer actually writes the model based on what he believes to be true and the model with make endless calculations per nano-second, creating an impressive output that is largely what the programmer expected. In a sense, a computer model is nothing more than the programmer’s prejudices calculated to so-many places behind the decimal and at warp 5.

Models work when we can verify their product and use that information to correct the model. After repeated iterations, we hope to have a useful model wherein the programmer’s prejudice and expectations have been beaten flat by experience and data. And, to that model we can now introduce new scenarios. Think Flight Simulator.

The AGW models are, by definition, unreliable. They are biased to programmers whims because mankind does not possess the skill to verify even the simplest scenarios run through the models. It’s all guesswork that looks authoritative because the powerpoints are awesome. But, in the end, being unverifiable, all the AGW models do is present bias and prejudice, not science.

And, who writes these models? The True Believers.

I bet you could plug in the winning Powerball lottery numbers for the last 20 years to one of these models and still get that hockey stick.

Cricket624 on March 1, 2010 at 5:23 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3