So What Happened with ClimateGate?

Remember back in December, when the news was buzzing each day about the stolen emails from top climate researchers? They were described as “the final nail in the coffin of anthropogenic global warming”, or worse. Apparently, the scientists had written things that severely compromised the underpinnings for the idea that human activity was causing the Earth to warm. We could now all stop worrying and forget about cap-and-trade.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. There were no less than four independent investigations into the contents of these emails – conducted by scientists, universities, and governments, not general reporters rushing off a story about an area of science with which they were unfamiliar, and trying to make it sound interesting and controversial in the process.

So what did these investigations find? Is the Earth still warming? Are humans still responsible? Can we trust the scientific process any more, or should we throw peer-review out the window and practice Blog Science instead?

Actually, all four of the investigations concluded that absolutely no science was compromised by the contents of the emails. The CRU scientists weren’t as good as they should have been about making data easily accessible to others, but that was the only real criticism. These scientists are not frauds, although they are accused of it on a daily basis.

Pennsylvania State University, over a series of two reports, investigated the actions of their employee, Dr. Michael Mann, who is arguably at the top of the field of paleoclimatology. They found that, contrary to most accounts in the mainstream media, he did not hide or manipulate any data to exaggerate global warming, delete any emails that might seem suspicious and be subject to Freedom of Information requests, or unjustly suppress skeptical papers from publication. After a second investigation, following up on the catch-all accusation of “seriously deviating from accepted practices within the academic community”, Penn State exonerated Mann. They criticized him for occasionally sharing unpublished manuscripts with his colleagues without first obtaining the express permission of the authors, but besides that minor (and somewhat unrelated) reprimand, they found absolutely nothing wrong.

The British House of Commons investigated the actions of CRU director Phil Jones, and came to a similar conclusion. They found that his “actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community”, that he was “not part of a systematic attempt to mislead” or “subvert the peer review process”, and that “the focus on CRU….has been largely misplaced”. They criticized CRU’s lack of openness with their data, but said that the responsibility should lie with the University of East Anglia, which CRU is a part of. So these scientists should really catch up to the climate research team at NASA, for example, which publishes all of their raw data, methodologies, and computer codes online, with impeccable archives.

The University of East Anglia conducted their own investigation into the actions of CRU as a whole. They found no hint of tailoring results to a particular agenda”, and asserted thatallegations of deliberate misrepresentation and unjustified selection of data are not valid”. They also explored the lack of transparency in CRU, but were more sympathetic. “CRU accepts with hindsight”, they write, “that they should have devoted more attention in the past to archiving data and algorithms and recording exactly what they did. At the time the work was done, they had no idea that these data would assume the importance they have today and that the Unit would have to answer detailed inquiries on earlier work.” They also note that CRU should not have had to respond to Freedom of Information requests for data which they did not own (such as weather station records).

Just last week, the final investigation, headed by Sir Muir Russell on behalf of UEA, found that “their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt.” Is this starting to seem a bit repetitive? To illustrate their point, over the course of two days, they independently reconstructed the global temperature record using publicly available data, and came to the same conclusion as CRU. Again, there was the criticism that CRU was not as open as it should have been. They also noted that an obscure cover figure for a 1999 World Meteorological Organization report, constructed by Phil Jones, did not include enough caveats about what was proxy data and what was instrumental data. However, the more formally published, and much more iconic, graphs in Mann 98 and the IPCC TAR, were fine.

There have been some great comments on the results of these investigations since they were released, especially by scientists. Here are some samples:

[The CRU researchers] are honest, hardworking scientists whose reputations have been unjustifiably smeared by allegations of unscrupulous behaviour…I hope that the media will devote as much attention to this comprehensive dismissal of the allegations as it did to promoting the hysteria surrounding the email theft in the first place. Will the Daily Telegraph now retract its claim that the emails revealed “the greatest scientific scandal of our age” and apologize unreservedly to Phil Jones? Will there now be a public inquiry about the erroneous, shallow and repetitive nonsense promulgated in the media over this affair? If there is a scandal to be reported at all, it is this: the media stoked a controversy without properly investigating the issues, choosing to inflate trivialities to the level of an international scandal, without regard for the facts or individuals affected. This was a shameful chapter in the history of news reporting. -Raymond Bradley, director of the Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts

The call for greater transparency and openness among scientists and their institutions is necessary and welcomed, but certainly they aren’t the only ones who deserve that reminder. What institution on the planet would pass muster under such intense scrutiny? Certainly not the U.S. government agencies, which often deny or impede FOIA requests, or global corporations like BP, Massey Energy and Koch Industries, which seem to revel in hiding information from the public all the time. More transparency is needed everywhere, not just among scientists in lab coats. -Brendan DeMelle, freelance journalist, DeSmogBlog

[The Muir-Russell report] makes a number of recommendations for improvements in processes and practices at the CRU, and so can be taken as mildly critical, especially of CRU governance. But in so doing, it never really acknowledges the problems a small research unit (varying between 3.5 to 5 FTE staff over the last decade) would have in finding the resources and funding to be an early adopter in open data and public communication, while somehow managing to do cutting edge research in its area of expertise too. -Steve Easterbrook, computer science professor at the University of Toronto

I agree with these statements. I think that we are holding scientists in general, but especially climate scientists, to a far higher standard than any other group of people in the world. We need to relax a bit and realize that scientists make mistakes, and that innocent mistakes are not evidence of fraud that will bring a long-standing theory tumbling down. We need to realize that scientists are employees like any others, who don’t always follow ideal actions in every professional situation, especially when they are under intense pressure that includes death threats and accusations of criminal activity.

However, at the same time, we need to start holding other groups of people, especially journalists, to a higher standard. Why has the media been able to get away with perpetuating serious allegations without first investigating the what really happened, and without publishing explicit retractions and apologies when the people whose reputations they smeared are found innocent? Why haven’t there been four official investigations into who stole these emails, and why?

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36 thoughts on “So What Happened with ClimateGate?

  1. They may conclude that the Mann graph in 1998 is fine, but at RealClimate, Mann has admitted adding instrumental temperatures for the smoothing, just as people at ClimateAudit were claiming about Mike’s Nature Trick. RealClimate has also acknowledged that Phil Jones spliced instrumental temperatures to proxy data in the WMO chart. These were items very much in dispute, and in some quarters continue to be so.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/07/the-muir-russell-report/

    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=1853#comment-143623

    That was never a problem. They distinguished between proxy and instrumental data (expect for in the WMO graph), so there is nothing misleading or inaccurate about it. -Kate

  2. Perhaps it was never a problem, but the details of the smoothing were not revealed. ‘They distinguished between proxy and instrumental’ makes no sense.

  3. MikeN’s comment is emblematic of the whole problem that Kate was talking about. Some obscure random graphs by Michael Mann and Phil Jones are hyped up as the Mother of All Scandals, while climate inactivists can misrepresent, misinterpret, and fabricate data on an almost daily basis, and yet you don’t see MikeN complaining about those.

    frank

  4. The last sentence is the crux: “Why haven’t there been four official investigations into who stole these emails, and why?”

    These emails were stolen by pros over a period of months or years, were posted on a Russian server in the closed military city of Tomsk–the same server from which Russian spy agencies have launched several other cyber attacks against enemies of the Russian regime; the emails were carefully edited with out-of-context quotes selected for maximum damage, then they were thrown all over the Western press in very coordinated fashion just days before the biggest climate conference of all time, with several well-known industry shills leading the charge, in lockstep.

    Where is the investigation into THAT?

  5. I will add to what David wrote by asking:

    Why haven’t there been ANY investigations by those who claim CRU or Dr. Mann did wrong-doing?

    That won’t happen because the deniers aren’t interested in that. They can spread more doubt by just writing opinion pieces and criticizing the investigations that have already been done. This keeps people believing in stuff without having any kind of evidence. Business as usual.

    Besides, even if CRU or Dr. Mann never existed how would they explain the same conclusions from separate data sets obtained by other scientists around the world???

    It’d be more intelligent for the “deniers” to focus on real issues like, Can we even make a significant dent in curbing climate change? Is Cap And Trade a good start? Will any bioengineering solutions work? And how about possible consequences?

  6. What is particularly scandalous is that the statements and claims of the accusers are not scrutinised by the media and are just repeated as “balance”. Meanwhile, scientists’ statements are undermined by innuendo and smears. So much for “balance”.

    How many denier arguments would stand up to the same scrutiny as those of the climate scientists? Who many deniers have private e-mail stashes they would not like to see reprinted in the newspapers. I know I have!!

  7. MikeN, you know very well that there was no intent to deceive, as you need a magnifying glass to even see the difference between the different end-point handling methods in the smoothing. Back then nobody was paranoid enough, or crazy enough, to foresee magnifying glasses taking the place of the time-tested practice of independent replication (as demonstrated by Muir Russell!). Tiresome.

  8. Martin V., I think if you look at Mike N.’s most recent comment “‘They distinguished between proxy and instrumental’ makes no sense” you find the crux of his issues. It is apparent the difference between instrumental records (comprised of modern on-the-ground instrumentation augmented by the satellite record) and that of proxy sources is not clear in his mind.

    It is my understanding that both Mann and the IPCC used a figure which delineated this difference, but that a publication of the WMO (which has been conflated by the denialistas to Mann, and by extension, the IPCC) did not. This WMO attribution issue is addressed in the recent Muir Russell report absolving the CRU of wrongdoing.

    But then again, as you say, this is becoming tiresome. Cherry-picking, hair-splitting & repeating of memes heretofore rebunked ad nauseum.

    Thanks, Kate for this site!

    Back to the reality of a warming world,

    Daniel the Yooper

  9. Good post, Kate. Martin, in case David has left the building, below are some links to begin the process (you probably already knew the level of detail they provide). A Web search for ‘Tomsk CRU’ locates more/other info sites. Whether the info in these newspaper pieces is complete/shaded/accurate on the Russian front, who knows? Note that the Russian sources are presented as stating that the Russian gov’t wasn’t behind the hacks (at least “not officially,” one would imagine.) I’m not sure how much of a window that closes :) It’s hard to escape the feeling that denial persons/organizations are aiding/abetting/benefiting from acts of foreign agents for whom those denial persons/organizations probably would marshal torches and pitchforks in any other context.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/copenhagen-climate-change-confe/6746370/Climategate-was-Russian-secret-service-behind-email-hacking-plot.html

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1233562/Emails-rocked-climate-change-campaign-leaked-Siberian-closed-city-university-built-KGB.html

    (for this one, scroll down the page to the part by the picture of Tomsk):

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1235395/SPECIAL-INVESTIGATION-Climate-change-emails-row-deepens–Russians-admit-DID-send-them.html

  10. Hi all.

    This is totally off-topic but might be of interest. Kate you might like to post something on this.

    Lord Monckton has made a call on WUWT for people to email St Thomas University to have Prof John Abrahams rebuttal of one of Moncktons ‘talks’ taken down from their site and disciplinary procedings started against Abraham. Posters on WUWT are claiming that thay have started sending emails. A number of other sites have started a campaign of support for Abraham. ScepticalScience has a link to one of these in NZ.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Monckton-tries-to-censor-John-Abraham.html

    There is a white hat in St Paul, Minnesota who needs our support.

    Yes, the other blogs have been buzzing about that for a few days. I would find it amusing if I didn’t know that there were people in the world who actually take Monckton seriously. Please, everyone show your support for Prof Abraham. -Kate

  11. Moondoggy, thanks.

    The problem with the links you provide is that they are journalistic sources that have built up an extensive reputation for misrepresentation. Your last link especially has been exposed as a pack of lies by blogger DeepClimate. Now of course by some strange coincidence these articles might also contain truthful statements — but how would one know?

    The reason I asked is that there are reasons to assume that there are indeed foreign intelligence / terrorist / organised crime connections: the Norfolk police is being assisted by the top UK terrorist hunters. Reading Peter Sommer’s report:

    http://www.cce-review.org/evidence/Report%20on%20email%20extraction.pdf

    we see that their investigation of the full set of CRU emails was severely hampered by the security regime they had to work under, which can only be described as draconic.

    My theory (probably shared by lots of people!) is that the Russian mafia is behind this, on commission from “someone”, say a denialist think tank. One must understand that one important line of business for the mafia is stealing sensitive data from and then blackmailing western companies, who usually just pay up and hush it down. This would be just a variant on this. As you also know of course, in Russia the mafia, government and intelligence services are joined at the hip, and this may well have been ‘money by the side’ for some intelligence officer — corruption is the standard. In this case I would actually believe the assertion by the Russian govt that they are not involved; they may well find this embarrassing. I believe it was about greed, not politics (except for the denialist paymaster).

    The interesting thing here (as I’m sure also the police see it) is the possible money trail.

  12. Unrelated, but you’ve written about it before and have mentioned you don’t care which threads things like this show up in… but courtesy of Deep Climate, it’s come to my attention that the CanWest deal has come to a close, and the National Post (amongst others) are under new ownership. Similar leaders, but different financial backers. And, as DC notes, within days of the deal, an editor of their comment pages has penned a prominent op-ed… attacking climate-change deniers (his own words), in the wake of the PNAS study and the fallout from the climategate exonerations. He even lambasts the echo chambers and failure to understand credibility among those ideologically opposed to climate action. DC speculates that this might hint at the leanings of the new owners.

    I’m not sure I buy that completely (Kay has claimed to support climate science a few years ago, even as he repeatedly attacks climate economics and cites Bjorn Lomborg), but it is a tantalizing thought. If Lawrence Solomon or Lorne Gunter does a turnaround, that’ll be the lynchpin. Although personally, I suspect that if there’s a shift in editorial policy, it won’t be too severe – the Post has long been a cornerstone of Canadian conservatism, and I doubt the owners will want to alienate their already-loyal audience in a time of economic turmoil.

    Wow. Like Deep Climate, I wondered if it was some kind of April-Fool’s joke. I can’t believe the NP published something so correct about climate change! Then again, they’ll probably have something to “balance it” next week. -Kate

  13. It’s been said before, but a responsible media network would publicize the exonerations as much as they did the accusations … and I haven’t seen much of that.

    The underlying problem, though, is that the public in general doesn’t understand climate science well enough to evaluate what the MSM says. We need scientists that are better communicators and communicators that understand science.

  14. David R. has made an excellent point. Scientists are trained to communicate with other scientists, not how to frame their discoveries to journalists nor directly communicate these to the public. Some scientists are gifted natural communicators (whatever anyone may think of his politics, David Suzuki is an excellent communicator, and also a scientist).

    Some scientific organizations and professional scientific societies in the US are now offering guidance on how best to communicate climate change science to journalists and to the public, and others offer position statements written in language accessible to a wide audience, and also provide regualr news releases for journalists. For an example of the position statements, see the American Geophysical Union website here: http://www.agu.org/sci_pol/positions/

    AGU is one of the largest scientific societies in North America, and includes amongst its membership many of the climate scientists often quoted in both the science literature and main-stream media about climate change, including some climate change skeptics (I use the word ‘skeptic’ and not ‘denier’ here very deliberately; debating the science of AGW on the basis of scientific understanding is very much part of what AGU does; there is no attempt at censorship).

    Some of the simple guidance I have seen for scientists when communicating to journalists and the public is to:

    1) avoid jargon as much as possible, without ‘dumbing it down’;

    2) in the US, we’re often advised to use US measurement units (farenheit, feet etc.) rather than metric as Americans are often unfamiliar with metric – I find this advice is helpful in some areas of Canada as the degree of acceptance of metric varies between provinces and between city and rural;

    3) try and connect using examples that have local or regional relevance – talk as much as possible of effects that the audience have direct experience or knowledge of (no point discussing Australian problems to a US audience – too remote).

    Most professional scientific societies trhat I belong to have position statements, as noted above. Some also offer recommendations on how their membership should engage in helping a wider audience (i.e., the public) understand climate change and the depth of understanding behind this science – an educational role. An example is here from the Geological Society of America, the peak body that represents most geologists in the USA and many in Canada, mexico and other parts of the world: http://www.geosociety.org/positions/pos10_climate.pdf

    My contributing to Kate’s blog and to others like it (such as Scott Mandia’s) is my small contribution to this endeavour. Unfortunately, some people have attacked climate scientists like myself for taking on this task, accusing us of becoming propagandists. I am left flummoxed by this type of response; damned if you, damned if you don’t. As a scientist, I naively think that the facts will speak for themselves. But I have learned that I can’t explain colour to a blind man by referencing the spectrum of electomagnetic radiation.

    David G.

  15. [citations needed re: methods and biases of investigations]

    Sorry everyone – flagging this comment didn’t save properly the first time. -Kate

  16. ** I would find it amusing if I didn’t know that there were people in the world who actually take Monckton seriously. Please, everyone show your support for Prof Abraham. -Kate**
    Have you proven Monckton’s statements to be false?

  17. Christopher Monckton and other deniers get far more press coverage than they deserve. Journalistic false balance has caused the public to be confused on climate change – the greatest threat to humanity this century. Worse, these deniers have used mainstream media to attack climate science and the scientists who pursue the truth. Let us now turn the tables.

    Monckton has been exposed by Dr. John Abraham and instead of hiding his tail and whimpering away, Monckton has gone on the offensive by attacking Dr. Abraham and asking his followers to essentially “email bomb” Dr. Abraham’s university president. We need to alert the media to this story.

    I have assembled a list of 57 media contacts in the hopes that my readers will follow my lead and send letters asking for an investigation of Monckton and his attack on Abraham. I have placed mailto links that will make it easy to send letters to several contacts at once with a single click.

    In the thread comments, please suggest other contacts in the US and from abroad. This blog thread can then be used in the future to alert the media to denialist activity.

    http://profmandia.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/turn-the-tables-on-monckton/

  18. Gerald Machnee:

    Have you proven the Muir Russell report false? Have you interviewed Phil Jones or Keith Briffa or any of the other climate scientists? Have you interviewed Sir Muir Russell? No; you haven’t; all you have done is to lob conspiracy theories and unsubstantiated insinuations at the climate scientists and the investigative panels.

    * * *

    Martini Vermeer:

    In case you’re interested, I have drawn a diagram summarizing the main actions of the SwiftHacker(s).

    frank

  19. Re: Gerald Machnee @ July 17, 2010 @ 10:46 pm, who said:

    “Have you proven Monckton’s statements to be false?”

    Proven in a mathematical sense? Hardly. But in the sense of scientific discourse and logic? Demolished is a better word. You must’ve been busy when this came out:
    http://www.stthomas.edu/engineering/jpabraham/

    As far as your earlier (@ July 17, 2010 @ 10:43 pm) skepticism about:
    “The four so-called panels never interviewed people who submitted significant concerns.”

    Hmmm, have you READ the Muir Russell and the Penn State Investigational Reports YOURSELF? In case you missed them, too:
    http://www.cce-review.org/pdf/FINAL%20REPORT.pdf
    http://live.psu.edu/fullimg/userpics/10026/Final_Investigation_Report.pdf

    Due diligence reveals correspondences with McIntyre, McKitrick and Lindzen, among others. The Muir Russell commission even undertook the onerous task of replication of the CRU temperature record, which they accomplished in a mere 2 days. This effort was found to be straightforward and easily accomplished by any competent researcher (see p. 48 of the Muir Russell report, Gerald).

    Be transparent with us, Gerald. What’s your real beef? That every fact-based scientific analysis of AGW shows it is real and we are causing it? It’s OK to have healthy skepticism and questions, but your statements thus far, read objectively, veer dangerously across the Line of Skepticism into the scary Land of Denial.

    Please, share with us what your substantive questions and concerns are and I’m sure the knowledgeable people here will make every effort to aid you.

    Regards,

    Daniel “the Yooper” Bailey

  20. Perhaps I missed it, but I don’t think MikeN’s question (July 12) was answered: ” ‘They distinguished between proxy and instrumental’ makes no sense.”

    Instrumental record means direct measurements using devices such as barometers, thermometers etc., and so is only available for the historical period of such instruments, which varies across the world (but does include some records from China that precede the European record); proxy means some biochemical or geochemical process or other characteristic of fossils, other biological material, or rocks that is controlled by temperature or other climate feature. Using climate proxies allows climate scientists to extend the climate record many hundreds, thousands, and even millions of years back. For example, the ratio of 2 isotopes of oxygen, 12O and 13O, is a common proxy for temperature from marine shells, and has been used to reconstruct ocean surface temperatures to about 70 million years ago.

    There are 3 naturally occurring isotopes of oxygen: 16O, 17O, and 18O. The most abundant is 16O, with a small percentage of 18O and an even smaller percentage of 17O. The ratio of 18O to 16O ratio (δ18O as ‰) in a fossil shell yields information about the temperature at which the sample was formed. More 18O is taken up by the organism in calcium carbonate formation (the stuff shells are made of) as water cools. So shells with more 18O are from cooler water; the ratio is quite precise, so quite fine records of temperature are possible from marine sediments containing marine shells.

    There are many other ‘climate proxies’, such as the relative width of tree rings, the ratio of isotopes of carbon, the types of organisms found (e.g., crocodiles and palms are usually regarded as indicators of warm conditions).

    David G.

  21. This comes a no surprise, but will no doubt be refuted by some. The article is originally from ‘The Times’ newspaper in the UK, but was re-published today in the newspaper ‘The Australian’:

    “ONE of the world’s largest oil companies has broken its pledge to stop funding groups that promote scepticism about man-made climate change.

    ExxonMobil gave almost £stg 1 million ($1.75m) last year to organisations that campaigned against controls on greenhouse gas emissions.

    Several made outspoken attacks on climate scientists at the University of East Anglia and argued that their leaked emails showed the dangers of global warming had been grossly exaggerated.”

    To read the whole article, go here: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/exxon-still-aids-climate-sceptics/story-e6frg6so-1225894256861

    After Tim Lambert’s series “The Australian War on Science”, with articles in the double digits, I can’t say I’m too inclined to trust that paper…Worth looking into, though, thanks for the link. -Kate

  22. Hi Kate

    The same story about Exxon-Mobil is now ‘Top Story’ on DeSmog Blog (article by Brendan DeMelle).

    And I agree, ‘The Australian’ newspaper has been guilty of some terrible pieces on climate change. Its Rupert Murdoch’s main newspaper in Australia, and he is a long standing supporter of neo-conservatism in the US, Australia and UK, using his newspapers’ editors to advance his political agendas.

    David G.

  23. Gerald Machnee said
    July 20, 2010 @ 12:31 pm

    [citations needed re:”incompetency” of investigations]

    Citations from who?
    Just read the posts. They are self-explanatory.

  24. RE:***frank said
    July 18, 2010 @ 8:15 am

    Gerald Machnee:

    Have you proven the Muir Russell report false? Have you interviewed Phil Jones or Keith Briffa or any of the other climate scientists? Have you interviewed Sir Muir Russell? No; you haven’t; all you have done is to lob conspiracy theories and unsubstantiated insinuations at the climate scientists and the investigative panels.***
    If you take an unbiased approach and read Steve McIntyre’s comments on CA, you will note his statement on July 9,”If website documents are accurate (and they are supposed to be comprehensive), Muir Russell did not meet with Jones, Briffa or Osborn on any occasion subsequent to the press conference on Feb 11, 2010 unveiling the Muir Russell panel”.
    To answer your question, I could not interview Sir Muir and neither could almost anyone else as he was not interested. Steve made submissions, but was not contacted by any of the panels. That is significant.

  25. Re: David Greenwood comment @ July 18, 2010 @ 10:47 pm, in which he said:

    “For example, the ratio of 2 isotopes of oxygen, 12O and 13O, is a common proxy for temperature from marine shells, and has been used to reconstruct ocean surface temperatures to about 70 million years ago.

    There are 3 naturally occurring isotopes of oxygen: 16O, 17O, and 18O. The most abundant is 16O, with a small percentage of 18O and an even smaller percentage of 17O. The ratio of 18O to 16O ratio (δ18O as ‰) in a fossil shell yields information about the temperature at which the sample was formed. More 18O is taken up by the organism in calcium carbonate formation (the stuff shells are made of) as water cools. So shells with more 18O are from cooler water; the ratio is quite precise, so quite fine records of temperature are possible from marine sediments containing marine shells.”

    I am familiar with the latter stable oxygen isotope ratio (an example is from Sturm & Zhang 2010, available here: http://www.clim-past.net/6/115/2010/cp-6-115-2010.pdf )

    but I must confess, the reference David makes to the 12O and 13O oxygen isotope ratio as a marine shell temperature proxy kind of threw me. Unless I’ve completely skipped a section in my studies of proxy records, this is new to me. When I initially read David’s comment, my mind automatically translated the first part quoted above as “12C” and “13C”, which is a standard carbon isotope ratio used as a climate change dating proxy (example:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/how-do-we-know-that-recent-cosub2sub-increases-are-due-to-human-activities-updated/

    and the 2 Keeling Curves here:
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/keeling-curves )

    A closer re-read of David’s comment, however, leads me to ask for help. Can someone (David, Kate, Bueller…) point me in the right direction on this? I hate to ask for help when I can just go find the answer myself, but I’ve searched RealClimate, the IPCC, Wiki, Google Scholar & plain Google (and many other climate science sites as well) itself without a smoking gun for a result…I’m stumped & my regular work is piling up…

    Confused in Da UP

    Daniel “The Yooper” Bailey

    No, I hadn’t heard of that proxy either. David, can you enlighten us? -Kate

  26. Re: Gerald Machnee @ July 21, 2010 @ 7:34 pm

    Dude, you never answered Frank’s questions:
    “Have you proven the Muir Russell report false? Have you interviewed Phil Jones or Keith Briffa or any of the other climate scientists? Have you interviewed Sir Muir Russell?”

    (-crickets chirping-)

    You make me award the match to Frank by default:
    “…all you have done is to lob conspiracy theories and unsubstantiated insinuations at the climate scientists and the investigative panels.”

    I will score you a point for your involving McIntyre and his pseudo-audit of the CRU temperature record (which Steve never actually got around to doing despite having all the data…remember what the Muir Russell report had to say? “Any competent researcher” … “2 days” ring a bell?). Avoided the shutout at least.

    So I repeat my earlier question: Do you have any substantive questions and concerns?

    As of right now, you’ve given us nothing to work with. Which is too bad, because no one, AFAIK, wants AGW & it’s coming effects on us and our way of life, to be real. So help us & show us the way out. Because knowing what lies in store for humanity under our current scientific understanding really, REALLY sucks.

    We need you, dude.

    Daniel “The Yooper” Bailey

  27. Daniel “The Yooper” Bailey said
    July 21, 2010 @ 11:28 pm
    Re: Gerald Machnee @ July 21, 2010 @ 7:34 pm

    So I repeat my earlier question: Do you have any substantive questions and concerns?

    As of right now, you’ve given us nothing to work with. Which is too bad, because no one, AFAIK, wants AGW & it’s coming effects on us and our way of life, to be real. So help us & show us the way out. Because knowing what lies in store for humanity under our current scientific understanding really, REALLY sucks.

    We need you, dude.

    ——————-
    My questions got deleted as inflammatory or citations needed.

    Gerald

  28. Daniel “The Yooper” Bailey asks about my statement ’12O and 13O oxygen isotope ratio as a marine shell temperature proxy’. Its a typo. Sorry. They’re carbon isotopes; C does address temp., but its not generally used as a temp. proxy (see comment below). I was typing initially without my glasses on – my vision means I can’t distinguish Cs from Os without my glasses on. And yes, I know those letters are on different sides of the keyboard, but I’m a keyboard ‘pick and peck’ typist.

    The Oxygen isotopes (as I described) are the temperature proxies. Carbon isotopes are telling us different but related things, with temperature involved, but not their primary use (processes that C is a proxy for have a temperature component; a good example is photosynthesis, the type of biochemical pathway used by different plants changes the ratio, and which pathway is favoured is temperature dependent; so-called C3 plants are dominant in cooler climates, and C4 in hot climates).

    There is a good guide to oxygen isotopes here: http://www.ace.mmu.ac.uk/Resources/gcc/3-3-2-1.html

    This book chapter gives a very technical but nice overview of both Carbon and Oxygen isotope proxies: http://www.science.uwaterloo.ca/~jjgibson/mypdfs/Springer%20book%20chapter.pdf

    Sorry for the confusion.

    David G.

    David G.

  29. I must ask our host, Kate, for her forbearance in advance with me on this comment/Outreach message.

    Gerald, let me first apologize. When I first read your initial comment since snipped by our gracious moderator, I took you for the prototypical denialist troll wandering in from the likes of WUWT-land. My subsequent replies were colored by that presumption (snark comes easily to me…big shock, I know…sigh).

    But I must say, your persistence has made me re-evaluate you. On blogs like this, there is a presumed level of background information and training that is observable on and in the vast majority of the comments. The ones that stand out are those that typically exhibit vast quantities of what is known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

    Many people wander into forums such as this, daily, and never leave a residual presence via a comment. Moderators have a good sense of that traffic. But not all coming online have ever learned the process to develop critical thinking or have been exposed to the scientific method. Which is not necessarily their fault. But it leaves them at huge risk of being taken in by charlatans, frauds & fools and the nonsense those types espouse. Which fact they then reveal by their comments on blogs like this.

    How does one develop critical thinking if no one helps them learn it? Ah, a big Catch-22, there. Start here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_thinking

    Then there is the scientific method itself. Start here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

    Scientific theories that stand the test of time, AND the withering scrutiny of other scientists, are those that evaluate ALL the data related to the subject at hand. Then, based on ALL the data, a hypothesis is devised that BEST explains what the data seems to show. Experiments are then devised to test the hypothesis, which then gets revised. Repeat as necessary. Publish in a peer-reviewed journal for other readership to then replicate independently, and then offer up either affirmations or rebuttals. Takes time, but works OK.

    Which brings me to this: Your persistence in trying to prove your point, and your reference to the claims of McIntyre & his blog tell the reader much about you. Blogs like McIntyre’s or WUWT prey on individuals not trained in critical thinking or the scientific method. Through telling of partial truths, biased analysis or even outright lies (all presented as Gospel), many are led astray. And that is not necessarily their fault (I personally blame our public schools). But it is what it is.

    So, where do we go from here? I sense you are an intelligent and well-meaning individual rather than the troll I first took you to be. Not that it’s your fault, but you have been mis-trained and mis-lead. That is now in the past. Rather than parroting what you’ve read over at McAudit or possibly at WUWT, make up your own mind. Get a grounding in the basics of climate science. Develop some critical thinking skills (“Pour the coppers of your pockets into your mind and your mind will line your pockets with gold”). Read the foundational literature on climate science. Make bloggers pass the sniff test.

    In all honesty, you are wrong on the Muir Russell report, wrong on the CRU-gate, wrong on Mann & the hockey stick reconstructions (there are many). But don’t take my word, or any bloggers word, on it. Look into it for yourself. Use your mind. I know you have one. But don’t let the colorations of what you’ve been told form your opinions for you. Let your mind do that itself. After giving it enough information, it will.

    Here’s a synopsis of climate science for homework (understand this, you understand AGW; if you can disprove the physics of any of these, which are very well understood, you can disprove global warming):
    1. Increasing the level of a greenhouse gas in a planet’s atmosphere, all else being equal, will raise that planet’s surface temperature.
    2. CO2 is a greenhouse gas (Tyndall 1859).
    3. CO2 is rising (Keeling et al. 1958, 1960, etc.).
    4. Therefore (given 1-3 above) the Earth should be warming.
    5. From multiple converging lines of evidence, we know the Earth is warming (NASA GISS, Hadley Centre CRU, UAH MSU, RSS TLT, borehole results, melting glaciers and ice caps, etc., etc., etc.).
    6. The warming is moving in close correlation with the carbon dioxide (r = 0.874 for ln CO2 and dT 1880-2008).
    7. The new CO2 (as shown by its isotopic signature) is mainly from burning fossil fuels (Suess 1955, Revelle and Suess, 1958).
    8. Therefore the global warming currently occurring is anthropogenic (caused by mankind).

    PS: A little tact in composing responses goes a long way towards passing moderation.

    If you want good starting points to increase your knowledge, just ask. It’s all freely available online.

    Daniel “The Yooper” Bailey

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