Saturday, May 29, 2010

Would You Trust Truth Fudgers?

In conversations that I have with AGW supporters from time to they often try to use Scientific Authority over factual information to support their argument. Comments such as "The Royal Society supports it" or "NASA says.." or in a more local context "The scientists from the CSIRO support.."But is authority the be all and end all in proving your case? Many supporters of AGW would have you believe that it is and that it is not only foolish to doubt them but even morally questionable to do so. Yet these same supporters would often once quote the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia as "the" authoritative source of temperature measurement, yet since the unveiling of the Climategate emails and data the use of this authority is no longer used with any great regularity. So what then of the Royal Society, NASA and the CSIRO? They weren't involved in Climategate so there can't be any problems with what they say can there? These three articles may shed some light on recent changes or (very quiet) corrections that these three scientific pillars have recently made:

1. The Royal Society:

The UK's Royal Society is reviewing its public statements on climate change after 43 Fellows complained that it had oversimplified its messages.

They said the communications did not properly distinguish between what was widely agreed on climate science and what is not fully understood.

The society's ruling council has responded by setting up a panel to produce a consensus document.

...The review member said it might not be possible for the document to be agreed at all. "This is a very serious challenge to the way the society operates," I was told. "In the past we have been able to give advice to governments as a society without having to seek consensus of all the members.

...A Royal Society pamphlet Climate Change Controversies is the main focus of the criticism. A version of it is on the organisation's website. It was written in response to attacks on mainstream science which the Royal Society considered scurrilous.

It reads: "This is not intended to provide exhaustive answers to every contentious argument that has been put forward by those who seek to distort and undermine the science of climate change…"

One Fellow who said he was not absolutely convinced of the dangers of CO2 told me: "This appears to suggest that anyone who questions climate science is malicious. But in science everything is there to be questioned - that should be the very essence of the Royal Society. Some of us were very upset about that.

Whilst this is a relatively small change by the Royal Society it is as journalist Gerald Warner of the U.K. Telegraph puts it:

This development does not, of course, mean that the Royal Society is embracing climate scepticism. On the contrary, it is very reluctantly modifying its stance to accommodate some of its Fellows who take the very scientific position that a degree of agnosticism is good practice when hypotheses remain unproven. Yet this retreat from absolutist global warming orthodoxy will deeply dismay the AGW lobby. For years, there was no fiercer proponent of the AGW theory than the Royal Society. Its previous president Lord May notoriously stated: “The debate on climate change is over.”

But it is an admission on some level that the science is not settled and that the debate is far from over.

2. NASA:

NASA covered up for forty years proof that the greenhouse gas theory was bogus. But even worse, did the U.S. space agency fudge its numbers on Earth’s energy budget to cover up the facts?

As per my article this week, forty years ago the space agency, NASA, proved there was no such thing as a greenhouse gas effect because the ‘blackbody’ numbers supporting the theory didn’t add up in a 3-dimensional universe:

"During lunar day, the lunar regolith absorbs the radiation from the sun and transports it inward and is stored in a layer approximately 50cm contrast with a precipitous drop in temperature if it was a simple black body, the regolith then proceeds to transport the stored heat back onto the surface, thus warming it up significantly over the black body approximation..."

Thus, the ‘blackbody approximations' were proven to be as useful as a chocolate space helmet; the guesswork of using the Stefan-Boltzmann equations underpinning the man-made global warming theory was long ago debunked. If NASA had made known that Stefan-Boltzmann's numbers were an irrelevant red-herring then the taxpayers of the world would have been spared the $50 billion wasted on global warming research; because it would have removed the only credible scientific basis to support the theory that human emissions of carbon dioxide changed Earth’s climate.

But, until May 24, 2010 these facts remained swept under the carpet. For the Apollo missions NASA had successfully devised new calculations to safely put astronauts on the Moon-based on actual measured temperatures of the lunar surface. But no one appears to have told government climatologists who, to this day, insist their junk science is 'settled' based on their bogus ‘blackbody’ guesswork.

Again we find that the science isn't settled and that the debate is far from over and that the data may well have been disguised as it was inconvenient to the prevailing (unproven) theory on AGW. Which leads the author to conclude:

Thanks to Siddons and his co-authors of ‘A Greenhouse Effect on the Moon,’ the world now has scientific evidence to show the greenhouse gas theory (GHG) was junk all along.

As the truth now spreads, an increasing number of scientists refute the greenhouse gas theory, many have been prompted by the shocking revelations since the Climategate scandal. The public have also grown more aware of how a clique of government climatologists were deliberately ‘hiding the decline’ in the reliability of their proxy temperature data all along.

But NASA’s lunar temperature readings prove that behind that smoke was real fire. Some experts now boldly go so far as to say the entire global warming theory contravenes the established laws of physics.

How NASA responds to these astonishing revelations may well tell us how politicized the American space agency really is.


FEDERAL Treasury and the CSIRO are supposed to be among the most trusted institutions in Australia. They are both supposed to be founded in objective rationalism.

...From the CSIRO we need, very simply, good science. As its own strategic plan puts it: "We are committed to scientific excellence and working ethically and with integrity in everything we do."

Both have, in their separate ways, breached that trust. This is a very serious matter for the governance of Australia. If we can't trust Treasury to give us rational economics and we can't trust the CSIRO to give us good, or even just honest, science -- as in both cases they have generally done for a good three-quarters of a century or more -- we are adrift in a sea of irrationalism.

For that, indeed, is what links the two failures: in each case an apparent triumph of theology over reason. First the CSIRO.

In March, it joined with the Bureau of Meteorology to produce a "snapshot of the state of the climate to update Australians about how their climate has changed and what it means". Although the pamphlet had a neutral title, "State of the Climate", it was clearly designed to bring the great weight of the apparent credibility of these two organisations to bear against, and hopefully crush, those pesky climate change sceptics.

But as one of the peskier of them, Tom Quirk -- our version of Canada's even peskier Stephen McIntyre -- discovered, there was a very curious omission in one of the CSIRO graphs. It showed the rise and rise of concentrations in the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and its fellow greenhouse gas methane. It was an almost perfect replica of the infamous (Michael) Mann Hockey Stick. After being virtually stable for 900 years, concentrations of both CO2 and methane went almost vertical through the 20th century. But as the eagle-eyed Quirk noticed and wrote about on Quadrant Online, methane was plotted only up to 1990, while the plots for CO2 continued to 2000.Why so, when the CSIRO measures methane concentrations and has data up to last year?

Did the answer lie in the inconvenient truth that methane concentrations have plateaued since the mid-1990s? Yet here is the CSIRO, the organisation dedicated to scientific truth, pretending -- even stating -- that they're still going up, Climategate style. This is bad enough, but just as with Treasury, real policies are built on this sort of "analysis". The first version of the so-called carbon pollution reduction scheme included farming to address the methane question. But as Quirk has shown in a peer-reviewed paper, atmospheric methane is driven by a combination of volcanos, El Ninos and pipeline (mostly dodgy old Soviet) leakage.

A second curious, and even dodgier, thing happened after Quirk's Quadrant report. CSIRO "updated" its main graph to include the more recent methane data. No admission was made and the graph's scale made it all but invisible and did not show the plateauing. Further, the CSIRO published a more detailed second graph showing what has happened in the past 30 years, as opposed to the first graph's 1000 years. But only for CO2, despite the fact that it had exactly the same data for methane.

In short, the CSIRO is a fully signed-up member of the climate change club. It wanted to project the horror story of continually rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. So it simply disappeared inconvenient evidence to the contrary, in the process announcing it cannot be trusted ever again to deliver objective scientific evidence.

But it didn't end there. Tom Quirk in his article CSIRO Blame Game states:

P. Fraser, a senior CSIRO scientist, reveals how a major document branded by the organisation was published and promoted. Apparently, the final draft “State of the Climate” report was not reviewed by CSIRO or BOM scientists themselves, and when it is questioned others are blamed for the errors it contains and the confused dating of information.

Fraser makes the point that the CSIRO team were the first to report a rise in methane again towards the end of 2006 at the end of the omitted plateau. The work of the group in atmospheric measurements is first class and arguably occasionally better than some of their US colleagues but their over eager interpretation may lead them astray. The claim of rising methane is an example (Figure 1) as the latest published measurements suggest otherwise with a decreasing trend.

Figure 1: Recent measurements of atmospheric methane. Instantaneous growth rate for globally averaged atmospheric methane (solid line; dashed lines are ±1 standard deviation).

The IPCC does not understand or cannot explain the behaviour of atmospheric methane. The CSIRO has done no better. Only time for more measurements and a better understanding of the sources and sinks of methane will resolve this issue. The science is uncertain and not a basis for any policy making that has the potential to cripple a large part of the coal mining industry.

More transparency and less selective presentation would help.

Whilst none of these articles disprove the theory of AGW what they do show is the levels of uncertainty that are still out there on AGW. Also they show that the argument of "authority" is often nothing more than that. It is not a statement of "fact." As Dr. Richard Lindzen puts it when speaking about "scientific authority":

What we are seeing again is the tendency for any claims to be made once the basis for the claim need only be ‘authority.’ Interestingly, the ‘authority’ frequently doesn’t say what it is claimed to have said. However, advocates (especially when in high government position) can rest assured that some ‘authority’ will come along to assent.

His slide show on Deconstructing Global Warming can be seen here.