Watch Sen. Barbara Boxer condemn JunkScience.com’s Carbon Criminal posters in her Dec. 14, 2009 press conference for her remarks on the COP-15 meeting in Copenhagen.
Archive for December, 2009
Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation in Congress on Monday to protect a million acres of the Mojave Desert in California by scuttling some 13 big solar plants and wind farms planned for the region.
So much for “clean energy”…
Bike-friendly Holland is having a hard time adjusting to the new government policy promoting electric/fuel efficient cars — dozens of Smart cars have been tossed into Amsterdam canals this year.
Dutch cyclist Govert de With told Climatewire that,
It’s better if there are no cars.”
Here’s the Copenhagen Accord.
The Financial Times blasted the non-agreement in today’s lead editorial, entitled “Dismal Outcome at Copenhagen Fiasco”:
An empty deal would be worse than no deal at all, said the White House before Mr Obama travelled to the Copenhagen summit. As the meeting ended, Barack Obama was calling the Copenhagen accord – the emptiest deal one could imagine, short of a fist fight – an “important breakthrough”. Mr Obama’s credibility at home and abroad is one casualty of this farcical outcome.
The agreement cobbled together by the US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa is merely an expression of aims. It recognises the scientific case for keeping the rise in global temperatures to 2°C. It calls on developed countries to provide $100bn a year in support of poor nations’ efforts by 2020, but without saying who pays what to whom. It appears to commit none of the signatories to anything.
Many developing countries were bitter about this result. Europe may wonder why it has been airbrushed out of the picture. The meeting as a whole could not bring itself to endorse this vacuous proclamation. It took note of it.
One wonders how a conference to conclude two years of detailed negotiations, building on more than a decade of previous talks, could have collapsed into such a shambles. It is as though no preparatory work had been done. Consensus on the most basic issues was lacking. Were countries there to negotiate binding limits on emissions or not? Nobody seemed to know.
From the start, the disarray was total. In this, at least, the attention to detail was impressive. The organisers invited more people to the event than could be accommodated, and were puzzled when they arrived. Delegates queued in the freezing cold for hours, a scene that summed it all up. The organisers had planned a celebration of a grand new global pact – but the party was a disaster and they forgot to bring the agreement.
Governments need to understand, even if they cannot say so, that Copenhagen was worse than useless. If you draw the world’s attention to an event of this kind, you have to deliver, otherwise the political impetus is lost. To declare what everybody knows to be a failure a success is feeble, and makes matters worse. Loss of momentum is now the danger. In future, governments must observe the golden rule of international co-operation: agree first, arrange celebrations and photo opportunities later…
New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin is moving to repair his relationship with alarmists after being stung by their expressed distrust.
In one of the notorious Climategate e-mails, hokey stick fabricator Michael Mann notes that Revkin is “not as predictable as we’d like.” Revkin moved to repair that breach of trust in his article today, co-authored with John Broder.
The article is below, annotated with our comments in bold.
December 7, 2009
In Face of Skeptics, Experts Affirm Climate Peril
By ANDREW C. REVKIN and JOHN M. BRODER
[We can’t even get past the title. In Sunday’s whitewash of Revkin’s Climategate reporting, Revkin told the Times‘ public editor, “Our coverage, looked at in toto, has never bought the catastrophe conclusion and always aimed to examine the potential for both overstatement and understatement.” Yet the title of today’s article “affirms” that the climate is in “peril.”]
Just two years ago, a United Nations panel that synthesizes the work of hundreds of climatologists around the world called the evidence for global warming “unequivocal.”
[And thousands of e-mails from two weeks ago show that the same UN panel has been cooking the books, destroying data and conspiring to silence opponents.]
But as representatives of about 200 nations converge in Copenhagen on Monday to begin talks on a new international climate accord, they do so against a background of renewed attacks on the basic science of climate change.
[The attack has been constant and has only intensified.]
The debate, set off by the circulation of several thousand files and e-mail messages stolen from one of the world’s foremost climate research institutes, has led some who oppose limits on greenhouse gas emissions, and at least one influential country, Saudi Arabia, to question the scientific basis for the <a title=”More articles about the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
[There is no evidence that the e-mails were stolen or hacked. Put together in response to a FOIA request, they were stored on a public server. No crime here.]
The uproar has threatened to complicate a multiyear diplomatic effort already ensnared in difficult political, technical and financial disputes that have caused leaders to abandon hopes of hammering out a binding international climate treaty this year.
In recent days, an array of scientists and policy makers have said that the correspondence and documents include references by prominent climate scientists to deleting potentially embarrassing e-mail messages, keeping papers by competing scientists from publication and making adjustments in research data undercuts decades of peer-reviewed science.
Yet the intensity of the response highlights that skepticism about global warming persists, even as many scientists thought the battle over the reality of human-driven climate change was finally behind them.
[There is no skepticism about “global warming.” There is skepticism that manmade emissions of greenhouse gases are having a discernible and negative effect.]
On dozens of Web sites and blogs, skeptics and foes of greenhouse gas restrictions at the scientific arguments for human-driven climate change. The stolen material was quickly seized upon for the questions it raised about the accessibility of raw data to outsiders and whether some data had been manipulated.
[Repeating that the e-mails were “stolen” does not make it so.]
An investigation into the stolen files is being conducted by the University of East Anglia, in England, where the computer breach occurred. Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has also said he will look into the matter. At the same time, polls in the United States and Britain suggest that the number of people who doubt that global warming is dangerous or caused by humans has grown in recent years.
[Everyone who believes that the IPCC will conduct a bona fide investigation of itself, please stand on your head.]
Politics, ideology and economic interests interlace the debate, and the stakes on both sides are high. If scientific predictions about global warming’s effects are correct, inaction will lead at best to rising social, economic and environmental disruption, at worst to a calamity far more severe. If the forecasts are wrong, nations could divert hundreds of billions of dollars to curb greenhouse gas emissions at a time when they are struggling to recover from a global recession.
Yet the case for human-driven warming, many scientists say, is far clearer now than a decade ago, when the skeptics included many people who now are convinced that climate change is a real and serious threat.
[A decade of global cooling validates global warming?]
Even some who remain skeptical about the extent or pace of global warming say that the premise underlying the Copenhagen talks is solid: that warming is to some extent driven by greenhouse gases spewing into the atmosphere from human activities like the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
Roger A. Pielke Sr., for example, a climate scientist at the University of Colorado who has been highly critical of the United Nations climate panel and who once branded many of the scientists now embroiled in the e-mail controversy part of a climate “oligarchy,” said that so many independent measures existed to show unusual warming taking place that there was no real dispute about it. Moreover, he said, “The role of added carbon dioxide as a major contributor in climate change has been firmly established.”
[Pielke actually says that the totality of human activities are important, not CO2 by itself.]
The Copenhagen conference itself reflects increasing acceptance of the scientific arguments: the negotiations leading to the talks were conducted by high-ranking officials of the world’s governments rather than the scientists and environment ministers who largely shaped the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Late last week,President Obama changed the date of his visit to Copenhagen to Dec. 18, the last day of the talks.
For many, a 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was a marker of a shift in the global warming debate. In it, the panel — a volunteer network of hundreds of scientists from many disciplines who meet periodically to review climate studies and translate the results into language useful to policy makers — concluded that no doubt remained that human-caused warming was under way and that, if unabated, it would pose rising risks.
[IPCC = Climategate]
Over the last several decades, other reviews, by the National Academy of Sciences and other institutions, have largely echoed the panel’s findings and said the remaining uncertainties should not be an excuse for inaction.
[Same “scientists,” different acronym.]
The panel’s report was built on two decades of intensive scientific study of climate patterns.
[“Study”? Or manipulation, fabrication, distortion, etc.?]
Greenhouse gases warm the planet by letting in sunlight and blocking the escape of some of the resulting heat. “The physics of the greenhouse effect is so basic that instead of asking whether it would happen, it makes more sense to ask what on earth could make it not happen,” said Spencer Weart, a physicist and historian. “So far, nobody has been able to come up with anything plausible in that line.”
[Is Revkin really trying to imply that skeptics are skeptical of the greenhouse effect?]
The atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases released by humans has risen rapidly in the last century, along with industrialization and electricity use. Carbon dioxide from burning of coal, oil and natural gas is the most potent of the greenhouse gases because it can persist in the atmosphere for a century or more.
Methane — from landfills, livestock and leaking pipes, tanks and wells — has recently been found to be a close second. And these gases not only have a heating effect, but also cause evaporation of water from sea and soil, producing water vapor, another powerful heat-trapping gas.
[The challenge for alarmists, however, is to show that human emissions drive or discernibly affect the climate, and that such change is necessarily for the worse. That has not been done.]
In reaching its conclusion, the climate panel relied only partly on temperature data like that collected by the scientists at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, whose circulated e-mail correspondence set off the current uproar. It also considered a wide range of data from other sources, including measurements showing the retreat of glaciers in mountain ranges around the world, changes in the length and character of the seasons, heating of the oceans and marked retreats of sea ice in the Arctic.
[LOL. The CRU data is extensively used and relied on by alarmists. The other climatic phenomena may or may not be occurring, but unless tied to human greenhouse gas emissions, the hypothesis of manmade climate change is a loser.]
Since 1979, satellites have provided another check on surface temperature measurements. Strong disagreements about how to interpret the satellite data were largely resolved after the Bush administration began a review in which competing research groups worked out some of their differences.
[Satellite data, which only shows very slight warming, does not validate that it was caused by man.]
Science is about probability, not certainty. And the persisting uncertainties in climate science leave room for argument. What is a realistic estimate of how much temperatures will rise? How severe will the effects be? Are there tipping points beyond which the changes are uncontrollable?
[Science is not about probability. It is a systematic process through which we learn about the natural world. Science is, in fact, about reaching certainty. No one went to the moon on a wing and a prayer.]
Even climate scientists disagree on many of these questions. But skeptics have been critical of the data assembled to show that warming is occurring and the analytic methods that climate scientists use, including mathematical models used to demonstrate a human cause for warming and project future trends.
[Skeptics are not critical of the fact of warming — only about to the degree, causes and effects.]
Both sides also have at times been criticized for overstatement in characterizing the scientific evidence. The contents of the stolen e-mail messages and documents have given fresh ammunition to the skeptics’ camp.
[Climategate equals vindication, not ammunition. Imagine if we could peek at all the alarmists’ e-mails.]
The Climatic Research Unit’s role as a central aggregator of temperature and other climate data has also made it a target.
[“Central aggregator” of data? Didn’t Revkin just say that the CRU wasn’t all that important?]
One widely discussed file extracted from the unit’s computers, presumed to be the log of a researcher named Ian Harris, recorded his years of frustration in trying to make sense of disparate data and described procedures — or “fudge factors,” as he called them — used by scientists to eliminate known sources of error.
The research in question concerned attempts to chart past temperature changes by studying tree rings and other indirect indicators, an area of research that has long been fraught with disputes. An influential study that drew in part on the British data was challenged in 2003. In 2006, a review by the National Academy of Sciences concluded, with some reservations, that “an array of evidence” supported the broad thrust of the research.
[As before, NAS = IPCC scientists under a different acronym.]
To skeptics, the purloined files suggest a conspiracy to foist an expensive policy agenda on the nations of the world and to keep inconsistent data from the public.
“If we were arguing about archaeology then people could hoard their data,” said Stephen McIntyre, a bloggerand retired Canadian mining consultant who since 2003 has investigated climate data, sometimes finding errors. “But I don’t think the public has any time for that” in the climate debate.
Many scientists, however, deny that any important data was held back and say that the e-mail messages and documents will in the end prove merely another manufactured controversy.
[Will the real “deniers” please stand up?]
“There will remain after the dust settles in this controversy a very strong scientific consensus on key characteristics of the problem,” John Holdren, President Obama’s science adviser, told a Congressional hearing last week. “Global climate is changing in highly unusual ways compared to long experienced and expected natural variations.”
[The concept of “consensus” has no role in science. In any event, how does the actual consensus of 32,000 skeptics compare to the alleged consensus of IPCC-Climategaters?]
Whichever view prevails, the questions will undoubtedly linger well after the negotiators who are trying to work out the complex issues that still stand in the way of an international climate treaty leave Copenhagen.
[I thought the “experts affirmed” that the climate was in “peril”? What questions can there still be, Andy?]
Andrew C. Revkin reported from New York, and John M. Broder from Washington.
[One of the few accuracies in this article.]
So Andrew the Apologist has atoned to the alarmists. Maybe Michael Mann will now welcome him back into the alarmist fold and give him back his 100%-alarmist rating.
BTW, global warming is Mann-made.
New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt responded to our request to examine the propriety of Andrew Revkin’s reporting on Climategate. Not only is Revkin part of the Climategate story (he’s mentioned in the e-mails) but he clearly has a special relationship with the Climategate actors that calls into question whether he can report on them without bias.
Here’s Hoyt’s whitewash of the issue, interrupted by our comments where warranted:
December 6, 2009
The Public Editor
Stolen E-Mail, Stoking the Climate Debate
By CLARK HOYT
AS world leaders prepare to meet tomorrow in Copenhagen to address global warming, skeptics are pointing to e-mail hacked from a computer server at a British university as evidence that the conference may be much ado about nothing. They say the e-mail messages show a conspiracy among scientists to overstate human influence on the climate — and some accuse The Times of mishandling the story.
[Not to get off-topic, but there is no evidence of any hacking or theft of the e-mails. They were collected in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and were then stored on a public server — inadvertently or not. Info stored on a public server is legally available to the public.]
Although The Times was among the first to report on the e-mail, in a front-page article late last month, and has continued to write about the issue almost daily in the paper or on its Web site, readers have raised a variety of complaints:
Some say Andrew Revkin, the veteran environmental reporter who is covering what skeptics have dubbed “Climategate,” has a conflict of interest because he wrote or is mentioned in some of the e-mail messages that the University of East Anglia says were stolen. Others wondered why The Times did not make the e-mail available on its Web site, and scoffed at an explanation by Revkin in a blog post that they contain “private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye.” What about the Pentagon Papers? they asked.
Others contended that The Times was playing down a story with global implications, coming as world leaders consider a treaty to limit the amount of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere from autos, power plants and other sources.
Luis Alvarez Jr. of Charlottesville, Va., was outraged that a front-page article on President Obama’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States had not a single mention of the e-mail, in which one scientist, for example, said he had used a “trick” to “hide” a recent decline in temperatures.
Richard Murphy of Fairfield, Conn., said, “Given that the hacked e-mails cast doubt on some of the critical research that underlies the entire global warming argument, I am astounded that The Times has treated the issue in such a cavalier fashion.”
Does Revkin have a conflict of interest, as Steven Milloy, the publisher of JunkScience.com, and others contended? Why didn’t The Times put the e-mail on its Web site? And, most important, is The Times being cavalier about a story that could change our understanding of global warming? Or, as The Times’s John Broder, who covers environmental issues in Washington, put it, “When does a story rise to three-alarm coverage?”
Erica Goode, the environment editor, said that as soon as she learned that Revkin was mentioned in the scientists’ e-mail, she consulted with Philip Corbett, the standards editor. She said she read the roughly one dozen messages containing Revkin’s name and decided they showed a reporter asking for information for news articles, with “no particular close relationship with the scientists other than the fact that he knew them.” Goode and Corbett said they agreed that Revkin did not have a significant conflict and was good to go, with an acknowledgment in the article that he and other journalists were named in the e-mail.
[The-emails also showed, as mentioned by Hoyt below, that Revkin was, to some extent, a “reliable” reporter for the Climategaters. More on this point later. In large part, Climategate is all about the credibility of Revkin’s long-time sources… and to no one’s surprise, he helped give them a clean bill of health.]
I read all the messages involving Revkin, and I did not see anything to keep him off the story. If anything, there was an indication that the scientists whom some readers accused Revkin of being too cozy with were wary of his independence. One, Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, warned a colleague, Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at East Anglia, to be careful what he shared with “Andy” because, “He’s not as predictable as we’d like.”
[Isn’t “not as predictable as we’d like” a giant red flag? The Climategaters, of course, would like a reporter to carry their water 100% of the time. So if Revkin was only 95% efficient for them, we can see where they would be 5% unhappy. But isn’t a reporter’s 95% pliability a problem? Has Revkin ever had a skeptical thought? ]
As for not posting the e-mail, Revkin said he should have used better language in his blog, Dot Earth, to explain the decision, which was driven by advice from a Times attorney. The lawyer, George Freeman, told me that there is a large legal distinction between government documents like the Pentagon Papers, which The Times published over the objections of the Nixon administration, and e-mail between private individuals, even if they may receive some government money for their work. He said the Constitution protects the publication of leaked government information, as long as it is newsworthy and the media did not obtain it illegally. But the purloined e-mail, he said, was covered by copyright law in the United States and Britain.
[As discussed above, the e-mail was not purloined. This paragraph, however, is simple distraction from the main issue — i.e., should Revkin have been the reporter on this story.]
I think that any notion that The Times was trying to avoid publishing the e-mail messages is a manufactured issue. On Freeman’s advice, the paper linked to them — on a skeptic’s Web site as it happens — and they were a click away for anyone who wanted to examine them.
The biggest question is what the messages amount to — an embarrassing revelation that scientists can be petty and defensive and even cheat around the edges, or a major scandal that undercuts the scientific premise for global warming. The former is a story. The latter is a huge story. And the answer is tied up in complex science that is difficult even for experts to understand, and in politics in which passionate sides have been taken, sometimes regardless of the facts.
[It’s a story that Andrew Revkin long ago made up his mind about — and that decision is evident in his Climategate reporting.]
John Tierney, a Times science columnist, explained in Science Times last week the most controversial revelation so far in the e-mail — Jones’s effort to “hide the decline” when preparing a graph for the cover of a report to be read by policy makers. The graph, showing sharply higher temperatures in the last several decades, relied in part on tree ring data, until the rings began to diverge from thermometer readings and show a decline in temperatures. Jones and his colleagues did not believe that data and removed it from the graph, substituting direct thermometer readings without explicitly acknowledging the switch.
“The story behind that graph certainly didn’t show that global warming was a hoax or a fraud, as some skeptics proclaimed,” Tierney wrote, “but it did illustrate another of their arguments: that the evidence for global warming is not as unequivocal as many scientists claim.”
[The most important revelation in the e-mails is IPCC muckety-muck Kevin Trenberth’s admission that he doesn’t understand energy flows in the atmosphere — which means that there’s no way he or anyone else can competently model the atmosphere. This is devastating.]
Revkin said last week on his blog that he was asking a variety of researchers if the e-mail changed our understanding of global warming. One, Roger Pielke Sr. of the University of Colorado, who has been critical of what he called “the climate oligarchy,” including some of the scientists involved in the e-mail, replied that it did not. Pielke has characterized some scientists in the field as inbred and wedded to their views, but he said that the temperature measurement by Jones’s group was only one of several showing a long-term warming trend, and that there was no doubt that carbon dioxide produced by humans was a major factor.
[Not precisely true. Pielke’s position is more that human activities in total are a major climate driver — not CO2 emissions alone.]
But Revkin and Tierney both told me that, after that broad understanding among scientists, there is sharp debate over how fast the earth is warming, how much human activity is contributing and how severe the impact will be.
[And just where does any of this uncertainty show up in Revkin’s articles? In Revkin’s initial Nov. 20 article about Climategate he wrote, “The evidence pointing to a growing human contribution to global warming is so widely accepted that the hacked material is unlikely to erode the overall argument.” ]
“Our coverage, looked at in toto, has never bought the catastrophe conclusion and always aimed to examine the potential for both overstatement and understatement,” Revkin said.
[On the eve of the Waxman-Markey vote, June 26, 2009, the New York Times lead editorial stated, “We also urge them to read the scientific analysis forecasting the catastrophic costs to the planet, this country’s security and its economy if global warming is left unchecked.” “Catastrophe” is also a favorite global warming adjective of the Time‘s columnists and op-ed writers, especially Paul Krugman. Does Revkin read his own paper? Does Revkin read his own articles? I did a Nexis search and found the word “catastrophe” in dozens of his climate articles dating back to 1997.]
Goode, his editor, said: “We here at The Times are not scientists. We don’t collect the data or analyze it, and so the best we can do is to give our readers a sense of what the prevailing scientific view is, based on interviews with scientists” and the expertise of reporters like Revkin.
[I guess it never occurred to Goode that Revkin and the Climategaters have so much personally invested in global warming hysteria that they could never walk back without great embarrassment the alarm that they’ve sown. They have no choice but to proceed with the hysteria. Moreover, the official policy of the New York Times is full-speed ahead with global warming hysteria. Every Times‘ news article and editorial/op-ed on climate is crafted to sow alarm and dismiss dissent. Goode is correct that Revkin is not a scientist — he is a climate activist masquerading as a reporter.]
So far, I think The Times has handled Climategate appropriately — a story, not a three-alarm story.
[They seem pretty upset in the UK — CRU chief Phil Jones has had to step down. Penn State has announced an investigation of Climategater Michael Mann. Sen. Inhofe has requested an congressional investigation. Obama changed his Copenhagen plans after Climategate broke. I dunno… sounds like at least a five-alarmer to me.]
The public editor can be reached by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.