My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The climategate papers....

Here's a tremendous history of what the e-mails from Climategate show...
Throughout the Climategate emails, in addition to a few possible smoking guns, we get smoking tempers, scientific and political disagreements and arguments, larger-than-life personality clashes, intercontinental rivalries, global politics and personal drama, not to mention individual notes that seem to have been taken from an old John le Carré novel. The Russian role in the emails, and that of Mr. Shiyatov, becomes crucial later in the story. But in that first email, Mr. Shiyatov writes: “Of course, we are in need of additional money” to carry out their vital collection of remote Siberian tree-ring samples. “It is important for us if you can transfer the ADVANCE money on the personal accounts... Not more than 10,000 USD [in any one day]. Only in this case can we avoid big taxes and use the money for our work.”

The context for all this, much of it conducted over the Internet between sometimes warring camps in Britain and the United States, is the greatest scientific research story ever told, an attempt to accomplish two main objectives under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN agency set up in 1988 to orchestrate global reaction to the perceived threat of man-made global warming.

The 13-year email exchange, while often chaotic and disjointed, follows two main tracks that, in the end, must somehow converge. The first is to develop a convincing history of global temperature going back over thousands of years. The second is to develop models and scenarios that allow the scientists and the IPCC to forecast climate change to 2100 and beyond.

I have not read all the emails. But I have read hundreds of them, including every word of the first five years. Only by plodding through them in chronological order, I believe, is it possible to get a sense of them as a vast and genuine documentary record. One immediate observation is that the early years — from 1996 to maybe 2000 — seem have been organized and whittled down to eliminate the long trails of redundancy that pile up in email communication. The emails in the later years remain cluttered and at times impossible to follow — as if whoever was collecting them ran out of time or had not finished the assembly work before they hit the Internet, whether by chance or by choice. It also seems possible that the emails were culled from more than one source, not just the CRU at the University of East Anglia.

By my reading, the emails contain many disquieting revelations about the state of climate science and the process. Other readers, investigators, scientists and activists on all sides of the climate issue will of course make up their own minds on this. But as the email story unfolds over the years, it is clear that the history of climate and temperature change over the past 10,000 years remains mostly speculative and largely unknown. The emails also imply that, in part because the past is so unknown, any attempt at long-range forecasts is, at best, uncertain.

Also clear is that the official science on climate change as we know it today, looking backward and forward, has been developed and controlled by the relatively small collection of scientists who wrote most of the emails. Working directly or indirectly for the IPCC, the scientists seem to have become captive of that organization’s objectives, which was to find “the hand of man” in climate records to justify plans to change the climate in future. The scientists, in other words, became engaged in the all-too-familiar business of decision-based evidence making.

Whatever the source of the emails, they are a dynamic record of how scientists sought to plot the past and predict the future of climate. In 1996, the first year of the emails, there is clear internal skepticism among these official IPCC-linked scientists over what would turn out to be one of the greatest sources of conflict, the role of paleoclimatology — the science of reconstructing world climate history over tens of thousands of years. More specifically, doubts existed especially over dendrochronology, the use of tree rings as a way to measure and document climate history. “I support the continued collection of such data, but I am disturbed by how some people in the paleo community try to oversell their products,” Tom Wigley, previous director of CRU and now at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), in Boulder, Colo., wrote in August of 1996.

In Mr. Wigley’s view at the time, ice cores were unreliable and “correlate very poorly with temperature.” He said the link between ice core and temperature variation was “close to zero” and tree rings were less than 50% reliable. “The main external candidate is solar, and more work is required to improve the ‘paleo’ solar forcing record.” Another U.S. scientist, Gary Funkhauser of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona, was also cool to the idea of tree rings as indicators of past temperatures. He wrote in September, 1996, that he tried “every trick out of my sleeve” to get meaningful climate records out of certain tree ring records collected by Russian scientist Stephan Shiyatov.

Over in Britain, however, scientists had other ideas. Tree rings could be the answer to the paleoclimate problem. Keith Briffa at CRU, among others, believed that tree-ring science could be the magic bullet that would prove what the IPCC wanted — evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” of a “discernible human influence on global climate.”

In October, 1996, Mr. Briffa told a journalist that there were signs that recent warming in Siberian Russia was setting records. “The trend seems to be accelerating. We are getting reports back from Stephan (Shiyatov), our man in the Urals, that it is warmer this spring on the Yamal peninsula there than ever before... It is a major warming, like nothing seen there for a thousand years.”

Soon, however, problems emerged over Russian data. What with sampling issues, missing data and other problems, by November of 1997 Mr. Briffa is struggling with results. While the Russian tree rings produce seemingly good results for past climate, results for the 20th century are a problem. On Nov. 3, he writes to Tom Wigley: “Equally important though is the leveling off of carbon uptake in the later 20th century.” The density of the tree rings also declines, a finding inconsistent with carbon-induced warming. “I have been agonizing for months that these results are not some statistical artifact of the analysis method, but I cannot see how.”

Another U.S. scientist, Gordon Jacoby, a tree-ring specialist at Columbia University, writes about another tree-ring scientist, Fritz Schweingruber, and his work in Russia. “He should not represent his data as definitive... His opinions are influential, but there is an accumulating body of ring-width data that clearly shows him to be missing important information with his style of sampling.” This kind of skepticism runs through the emails.
But, read the whole thing...and this is just part one...


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