The eery silence that is ClimateGate

This is a discussion on The eery silence that is ClimateGate within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; Just heard about this recently and wondered what some of your educated opinions were. Here is mine: Apart from believing/denying ...

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    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    The eery silence that is ClimateGate

    Just heard about this recently and wondered what some of your educated opinions were. Here is mine:

    Apart from believing/denying I'm a bit concerned that the media has not latched onto the leaked emails like they latch onto everything else. One would think they would run with this as fast and as far as they could. However it seems that FOX is the only major US news provider to actually air it. This sucks b/c it then becomes a partisan issue and I, for one, do not believe that leaked or hacked emails are a partisan issue. Also just because the means of acquiring the emails may not be on the up and up does not invalidate the content of said emails. In a US court of law they would be inadmissable since they were obtained illegaly but we are not in a courtroom here. Now if it is found that the emails are fraudulent then obviously that should be reported.

    So why the silence on this thing? Why did I have to find out most of my information from a Russian TV broadcast via YouTube? Is it one of those stories that is not legit and the news media is waiting for legitimacy before airing? And if this is true then why does the mass media seem to air every other story long before they know or care if it's legit? We've seen tons of stories that have been hyped or exaggerated and aired on every mass media market long before they were scrutinized. Why the sudden turnabout on this story?

    I also ask you to consider another situation and think about how the media would react to it. Let's turn the tables and say that thousands of emails were found that showed an attempt to hide the fact that the earth is warming. How would the media react then?

    Something's amiss. It would be my estimation that if an agency were merely reporting the news rather than manipulating it they would happily report either event and give them equal fervor and attention. In fact the leaked emails are so huge that one would think if you turn the news on right now they would have some type of extended report and/or a special news show devoted to it. However, this is not the case. And what if, just what if, these emails are not the result of a hacker...but of a silent whistleblower who conveniently left them in public view knowing full well what they were doing? Fact is we do not know but that is when the news steps in and asks a billion and one questions but they have become sadly silent on this issue. That's their job. They take a very small story, realize it's impact, and broadcast it in such a way as to generate curiousity, interest, and of course hype.

    So is this story real or is it similar to finding some of our 'work emails' and leaking them onto a public server? We all say things in emails we shouldn't and perhaps we all get a little to zealous about this or that in them which could be taken way out of context. So do you guys think these emails are being taken out of context to prove a point, which would explain the silence, or is there another reason? I'm genuinely interested to see what others think about this b/c I am a bit undecided. The only thing that really scares me about the whole thing is the way the Tea Parties were covered in the news. The coverage of them was clearly biased, on both sides, by all news outlets. The Tea Party coverage in the USA was a prime example of what news should not do. What if this is just another Tea Party coverage?

    In general I don't understand the rhetoric and idiocy surrounding the issue. It is clear we can probably generate just as many jobs by continuing to do things the way we do now in the energy sector as we could by finding new energy sources and new ways to generate power. I'm really not sure why either side debates this and the only reason I can see is that our technology is not yet up to the task. The way I see it is this:

    1. If we are warming, regardless of the cause, let's reduce emissions and find new sources of energy
    2. If we are not warming, regardless of the cause, let's reduce emissions and find new sources of energy.

    Heck I just saw the new Star Trek on DVD and I wouldn't mind if NASA came up with an alternate energy source that allowed us to do FTL. Who wouldn't sign up for that space program?
    I'm all for new stuff....let's just not destroy our economy in the process.

    In the end I think this hurts science's credibility which is very unfortunate b/c I believe many of the people involved are working extremely hard on both sides of the issue to come up with the right thing to do or not do.
    Last edited by VirtualAce; 11-29-2009 at 10:24 PM.

  2. #2
    Malum in se abachler's Avatar
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    The effect of human activity on the global climate is so negligible that anyone claiming otherwise is either a crackpot or a Luddite. Do you honestly think that the 5% of total CO2 emissions that humans are responsible for somehow are the cause of climate change? Given that vegetative absorption increases linearly with concentration up to concentrations of 10000ppm (the metabolic cap for C3 and C4 plants, some 20 times higher than current atmospheric concentrations and twice the limit of safe human respiration according to OSHA) the increase is insignificant to the global climate. Human emissions, being aseasonal, may in fact have an even lower impact since they are constant versus the seasonal upwelling of CO2 from natural sources which causes spikes in the atmospheric concentration. Human activity is quite literally nothing but background noise.
    Last edited by abachler; 11-30-2009 at 10:55 AM.
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    >> So do you guys think these emails are being taken out of context to prove a point, which would explain the silence? <<

    Yes. I think you hit on the true effect of the emails at the end of your post: "In the end I think this hurts science's credibility which is very unfortunate b/c I believe many of the people involved are working extremely hard on both sides of the issue to come up with the right thing to do or not do." The emails showed a disheartening lack of objectivity amongst the scientists involved. And while what I saw is very much human nature, I think a professional should be better than that.

    However, that's not really news. There was no real proof that any of the mountain of evidence that climate scientists have amassed was faked. Even global warming skeptics generally dispute the interpretation of the data rather than the data itself, so I find it highly unlikely that these emails really do anything to actually change the debate. Instead, they reinforce the skepticism of the skeptics about the motives of the climate scientists while the leaking of the emails and uproar from those skeptics just reinforces the perceptions among global warming believers that the skeptics don't care about the truth.

    Now, I don't think that the media's reporting would be the same if these emails showed this behavior on the other side, but I think it would be closer than you think. The mainstream media generally follows the conventional wisdom that man-made global warming is real and that prominent skeptics are generally motivated by personal interests. So evidence that was the case would probably get a little more play than the other way around. Still, I did see this story mentioned by major news outlets when it first happened, it's just that there wasn't much else to the story so it was dropped pretty quickly.

    And that's where it becomes partisan. There really is a partisan divide when it comes to who believes global warming is a problem and who doesn't. So after the initial reporting of the story, which I thought was pretty standard, it is the opinion shows that keep it going. It is obvious why Fox News' opinion shows would continue to talk about it, but other networks would let it drop. I'm sure if it was the other way around, the opinion shows on MSNBC would still be talking about it to some degree. It's unfortunate, but that's how these opinion shows work.

    I think my bottom lines are two things you said, reducing emissions and finding new sources of energy are good ideas regardless, and these emails hurt the credibility of all scientists. Beyond that, I'm not sure there is much of a story.

  4. #4
    Malum in se abachler's Avatar
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    I think it is bad form to leak the emails. We cannot have truly honest scientific inquiry if an individual scientist cannot take a possibly incorrect, or unpopular position and defend it against peer review to see if the viewpoint is valid or not without it ruining his reputation just because he didn't guess the correct position to take. The scientific method specifically requires trial and error. If you punish people for the error, eventually you will stop getting the trial. Then you are left not with people that make the correct decisions all the time, just a random sampling of people that happened to guess correctly up to that point.

    If you take 1024 people, and tell each of them to flip a coin and make it come up heads, after 10 rounds you will have someone who has flipped heads 10 times in a row, but that doesn't mean you have someone who is any more likely than someone else to flip heads on their 11th try. This is why most discoveries are made by a team of two or more people, because one guy takes one position and the other guy takes the other position, and they each take their position personally and argue and debate it until it becomes obvious what the correct view is. Then they both publish the results regardless of which of them took which point. The purpose of science is to find the truth, not to win the debate. That is the realm of primitive stone age belief systems like religion.
    Until you can build a working general purpose reprogrammable computer out of basic components from radio shack, you are not fit to call yourself a programmer in my presence. This is cwhizard, signing off.

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    One of the big issues was the NZ data being 'massaged' by the scientists. Looked bad that the early (pre 1920s) data had been upwardly adjusted nearly 1 C.

    Until you understood that the recording station was moved in the 1920s...(and that this had previously been explained to the same people now accusing the NZ scientists of deception).

    Quote Originally Posted by abachler View Post
    The effect of human activity on the global climate is so negligible that anyone claiming otherwise is either a crackpot or a Luddite.
    What happened to the temps in the US in the 3 days following 911 (while no airliners could fly)?

    I would call that a clearly measurable 'effect of human activity' on the climate.
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    Malum in se abachler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by novacain View Post
    What happened to the temps in the US in the 3 days following 911 (while no airliners could fly)?

    I would call that a clearly measurable 'effect of human activity' on the climate.
    A single exemplar does not a comprehensive training set make.
    Until you can build a working general purpose reprogrammable computer out of basic components from radio shack, you are not fit to call yourself a programmer in my presence. This is cwhizard, signing off.

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    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    There's also indirect human effect on the climate. I may have to find some source if you insist, but it seems the one major contribution by far to carbon dioxide on the atmosphere is livestock (and also the largest collective producer of methane).

    ...

    I do generally seat on the side who agrees we are increasing global warming. The total effect may be small in fact. We don't know for sure. But its dangerous nonetheless due to its cascading potential. That is, we may not need to do much for the climate to do the rest.

    But while I have swung in the past between discredit and full acceptance, I've settled down on some middle ground around the whole climate debate. This involves:

    - Realizing that never before in recorded human history, the scientific community behaved in such a fashion as to gather a general feeling of discredit, doubt or confusion as they have been doing for the past decade. This saddens me greatly.

    - The issue has political implications due to its economical effects. With that, the Climate Change Debate is hardly something that can be discussed dispassionately. And passion has been the greatest enemy of a general consensus in this area backed by hard data and rational thought. Scientists on both sides of the fence are no less permeable to political influence as the rest of us. Those that are, are becoming a rarity it seems... and aren't obviously been given a voice.

    - We haven't found yet one single source of alternative energy that can beat fossil fuels in their output vs. cost capacity. Not one. This has been leading to the single largest collective scientific effort in human history. I can't remember ever before in human history such a large number of countries and individuals working for the same goal. And while most of it is a race backed by business motivations at the private and public sectors rather than a competition or cooperation, it is still worth a mention. And I can only dream of the day we will get there.

    - Perhaps equally important, if not more, to alternative energies is increasing the efficiency of our current fossil fuel usage. While we already can get the nice curly lamp bulbs, that's far from what I think should be happening. If it is indeed true we cannot get any more efficiency from the internal combustion engine, then we will have to agree this >100 year old engine must be decommissioned and something new that uses fossil fuels needs to be devised somehow. Is there any work being done in this area?

    - I'm not concerned with reactions to Climate Change ruining our economy. For one, it seems they have been stimulating the economy, instead of halting it. There's a whole large scale market (complete with consumers, businesses, products and whatnot) out there, where before there was none. And all seems to indicate this market will keep growing. But mostly because we have to face the fact that if indeed somehow it was proven beyond any doubt we were walking down the suicide path, I doubt anyone would give the Economy a second thought. On the other hand, because it is becoming obvious no one will be able to prove the Climate Change, we will keep doing our Economy as we always did. That is, absorb any crazy idea as far-fetched as it may be, and make money of it.
    Last edited by Mario F.; 12-01-2009 at 08:35 AM.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
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    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

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    The entire issue is 100% about money, and enforcing more total control of the people at the bottom of the stack, myself being one of them.

    Anthropomorphic climate change? Yes... Very possible, indeed, likely. Due mostly to WATER VAPOR and Deforestation. It has absolutely nothing to do with Carbon. But now we can set up stock exchanges to trade made up 'Credits', with no basis behind them.

    Sounds like a global version of Derivatives to me.

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    Malum in se abachler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mario F. View Post
    There's also indirect human effect on the climate. I may have to find some source if you insist, but it seems the one major contribution by far to carbon dioxide on the atmosphere is livestock (and also the largest collective producer of methane).
    Yeah because the thousands of volcanoes in the world don't put out any carbon dioxide or methane whatsoever.

    Human activity includes livestock, and still doesn't make up more than 5% of total global emissions. I agree with rdrast, it's 100% about money, and making the common man feel less bad about having nothing while the top 1% have whatever they want.
    Until you can build a working general purpose reprogrammable computer out of basic components from radio shack, you are not fit to call yourself a programmer in my presence. This is cwhizard, signing off.

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    Quote Originally Posted by abachler View Post
    A single exemplar does not a comprehensive training set make.
    So it is not a valid example because you say it is not?

    Any chance you could provide data/studies/etc supporting your hypothesis that contrails do not effect temps? (rather than name calling and dismissing facts / arguments you don't like)

    Quote Originally Posted by abachler View Post
    Yeah because the thousands of volcanoes in the world don't put out any carbon dioxide or methane whatsoever.
    The worlds climate system is capable of capturing/fixing a limited amount of CO2.

    Any excess CO2 released but not removed from the atmosphere goes where?

    Quote Originally Posted by abachler View Post
    Human activity includes livestock, and still doesn't make up more than 5% of total global emissions.
    And the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased 38% above pre-industrial levels.

    Did volcanoes start producing more CO2 suddenly?

    Quote Originally Posted by abachler View Post
    I agree with rdrast, it's 100% about money,
    Do you think fossil fuels are going to get any cheaper, EVER?

    Factoring in the cost of pollution caused by fossil fuels to the end price, compared to renewable sources, is required to allow an accurate cost comparison and true competition in a free market.

    But that would require the US consumers to pay the real cost for energy.
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    Malum in se abachler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by novacain View Post
    So it is not a valid example because you say it is not?
    You cannot use a single data point to draw a conclusion.

    The worlds climate system is capable of capturing/fixing a limited amount of CO2.
    Technicalyl limited yes, but that is nto the same as a fixed amount adn no more. As the concentration increases so does the capacity to fix the co2.
    Any excess CO2 released but not removed from the atmosphere goes where?
    Man doesn't release enough CO2 to effect the atmospheric levels by any significant amount.

    And the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased 38% above pre-industrial levels.
    So has volcanic activity.

    Did volcanoes start producing more CO2 suddenly?
    Obviously that is one source. Other sources are increased biological activity due to the increased temperatures caused by increased sunspot activity. Higher temperatures also lead to higher rates of errosion, another major source of CO2.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ma...ansmission.png
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:So...ty_Proxies.png



    Do you think fossil fuels are going to get any cheaper, EVER?
    That is irrelevant and off topic, as is the rest of your argument.
    Last edited by abachler; 12-01-2009 at 10:54 PM.
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    I supplied an example, not a 'single point of data'.

    Solar radiation has increased less than 0.1% since Maunder Minimum and general scientific consensus is that is not having the effects you attribute to it.

    Also as much of solar radiation was not detectable with out satellites, so the science is open for much more interpretation than other data sources (as a few decades of data is meanigless in this context).

    I think this graph clearly shows that sunspot activity (which has been recorded for centuries) is not solely responsible for the increase in CO2 and temps.

    File:Temp-sunspot-co2.svg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [note how sun spots decrease this century but CO2 and temps increase.]

    It is taken from the same Wiki page as yours. The same page that states your idea (that solar activity is to blame for increases in CO2 and temps) is not supported by the data.


    The cost of fossil fuel has everything to do with this discussion. If the true cost of fossil fuels (inc pollution) was used, renewable energy sources would be much more attractive and would be better funded and utilized.

    Using a variant of Pascal's Wager, it is clearly in our best interests to move to a carbon trading economy (even if Global Warming is not the threat science considers it to be).



    EDIT: Please post a link showing a ~40% increase in volcanic activity, no data source I can find supports your statement.
    Last edited by novacain; 12-02-2009 at 01:00 AM.
    "Man alone suffers so excruciatingly in the world that he was compelled to invent laughter."
    Friedrich Nietzsche

    "I spent a lot of my money on booze, birds and fast cars......the rest I squandered."
    George Best

    "If you are going through hell....keep going."
    Winston Churchill

  13. #13
    Malum in se abachler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by novacain View Post
    I supplied an example, not a 'single point of data'.
    An == one == single. Learn to use a thesaurus.

    Also as much of solar radiation was not detectable with out satellites,
    You can't have it both ways. Either you can state fatually that solar radiation has only increased 0.1% or you cannot. If the instruments cannot detect the full spectrum then the results cannot be called accurate.

    I think this graph clearly shows that sunspot activity (which has been recorded for centuries) is not solely responsible for the increase in CO2 and temps.
    I never said any one cause was solely responsible.

    It is taken from the same Wiki page as yours.
    That's odd because I didn't post a page, only a link to the graphic.

    The same page that states your idea (that solar activity is to blame for increases in CO2 and temps) is not supported by the data.
    I never stated that increased radiation is responsible. I stated that increased temperatures are partly responsible for increases in CO2, and that increased volcanism is also a contributing factor.

    The cost of fossil fuel has everything to do with this discussion.
    No it doesn't. Whether a litre of petrol costs 1 yen or 1000 euros is irrelevant to the effect its combustion has on the environment. Do you somehow think that charging 1000 euro for a litre of petrol somehow makes it contain less carbon?

    The assertion that expensive fuel prices would decrease consumption of petroleum demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of both the actual consumption of petroleum and capitalism in general. In the last 10 years fuel prices have tripled and consumption has increased. Fuel accounts for a very low percentage of petroleum use. Most petroleum is used int he petrochemical industry to manufacture things like Ammonium Nitrate, do you suggest we stop using fertilizer and let half the world population starve to death? Because the US and Russia wont be the ones starving, it will be Europe, China, India, South America, Africa.

    In fact raising fuel prices will if anything increase consumption as it will increase profits and thus make previously uneconomical deposits worth developing. If you really wanted to decrease petroleum use, put a price cap on a barrel of oil. Ultimately, even assuming current speculation that fossil fuels are causing global warming, they will run out before they can cause any lasting damage to the environment so its a mute point. What isn't a mute point is that if we dismantle our industry we have a much lower chance of ever developing technologies that can replace fossil fuels. Sorry to break the news to you but most groundbreaking discoveries happen in some guys garage (figuratively speaking) where he spends his excess income on his hobby and finds something interesting. Less industry == less disposable income == less innovation. If you don't believe me map the standard of living over the last 40 years against the rate of new technologies. There hasn't been a single new technology invented in the last 40 years while our standard of living has plummeted.

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    Last edited by abachler; 12-02-2009 at 10:57 AM.
    Until you can build a working general purpose reprogrammable computer out of basic components from radio shack, you are not fit to call yourself a programmer in my presence. This is cwhizard, signing off.

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    Quote Originally Posted by abachler View Post
    You cannot use a single data point to draw a conclusion.
    The whole climate change debate is off topic in this thread, which is about the hacked emails and the media's coverage of them. But since we're there, I'd like to point out that this quote above is pretty silly. If a theory states that something never happens, and you have a single example of it happening, then you can fairly draw the conclusion that the theory is wrong. So of course you can draw conclusions from singular examples.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daved View Post
    The whole climate change debate is off topic in this thread, which is about the hacked emails and the media's coverage of them. But since we're there, I'd like to point out that this quote above is pretty silly. If a theory states that something never happens, and you have a single example of it happening, then you can fairly draw the conclusion that the theory is wrong. So of course you can draw conclusions from singular examples.
    Yes, but data can be erroneous. This is why repeatability is also a requirement of science.
    Code:
    //try
    //{
    	if (a) do { f( b); } while(1);
    	else   do { f(!b); } while(1);
    //}

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