Dirty cli­mate data

Cli­mate­gate emails prove that we must redo the sci­ence with data and a process that can be trusted

National Post (Latest Edition) - - FP COMMENT - LAWR ENCE SO LOMON

The data from the Cli­matic Re­search Unit at East Anglia Uni­ver­sity — head­quar­ters for Cli­mate­gate — is now dis­cred­ited. This dis­cred­its any find­ings by other re­search bodies that re­lied on the Cli­mate­gate data.

How much falls from Cli­mate­gate, whose par­tic­i­pants read like a Who’s Who at the UN’s In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change? Not much, says CRU’s disgraced di­rec­tor, Phil Jones, point­ing out that CRU’s data for global tem­per­a­tures is but one of sev­eral datasets, all in gen­eral agree­ment. Be­sides, many ar­gue, CRU was no linch­pin to the sci­ence. The IPCC re­lied on nu­mer­ous other sources. Throw CRU out, they say, and the IPCC’s con­clu­sions re­main un­shak­able.

In truth, if you throw CRU out, you’ve evis­cer­ated the find­ings of the IPCC’s Fourth As­sess­ment Re­port, the most re­cent and most def­i­nite opus from the UN. This is the re­port, re­ceived with uni­ver­sal ac­claim in 2007, which scar­ily stated: “The warm­ing of the cli­mate sys­tem is un­equiv­o­cal.”

The ar­gu­ment over global warm­ing re­quires ev­i­dence that the globe is warm­ing in danger­ous ways. This ev­i­dence the IPCC presents force­fully in its third chap­ter on sur­face and at­mo­spheric warm­ing, which rests over­whelm­ingly on the of­fi­cial global tem­per­a­ture record of the United Na­tions World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­ga­ni­za­tion, called the HADCRUT3 tem­per­a­ture dataset.

And who pro­duced the HADCRUT3 dataset for the World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­ga­ni­za­tion? The Hadley Cen­tre of the UK gov­ern­ment’s me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal of­fice (the HAD of HADCRUT3) and the Uni­ver­sity of East Anglia’s Cli­matic Re­search Unit (the CRU).

With HADCRUT3 in hand, the IPCC’s warm­ing chap­ter con­fi­dently pro­nounced that “The rate of warm­ing over the last 50 years is al­most dou­ble that over the last 100 years,” that “2005 was one of the two warmest years on record,” and that “Changes in ex­tremes of tem­per­a­ture are also con­sis­tent with warm­ing of the cli­mate.” With HADCRUT3, the co-au­thors of the IPCC warm­ing chap­ter could show the tem­per­a­tures go­ing up, up, up.

Who were the IPCC co-au­thors who de­cided to use the HADCRUT3 tem­per­a­ture data? None other than two of the most ques­tion­able char­ac­ters in the Cli­mate­gate cast: the head of CRU, Phil Jones him­self, and his cross-At­lantic cor­re­spon­dent, Kevin Tren­berth, a lead au­thor with the IPCC. Tren­berth in 2004 also had a star­ring role in an­other note­wor­thy IPCC episode, held in the swirl of an ac­tive U.S. hur­ri­cane sea­son. Not one to pass up an op­por­tu­nity to sway the pub­lic to the ur­gency of global warm­ing, Tren­berth called a press con­fer­ence to link global warm­ing with hur­ri­canes even though the IPCC’s own hur­ri­cane ex­pert, Christo­pher Land­sea, pleaded with Tren­berth not to — the link of hur­ri­canes and global warm­ing had no ba­sis in sci­ence.

If any chap­ter in the IPCC opus is more im­por­tant than the warm­ing chap­ter it is chap­ter nine, which con­cludes that man is the cul­prit “based on analy­ses of wide­spread tem­per­a­ture in­creases through­out the cli­mate sys­tem and changes in other cli­mate vari­ables.” The source for the tem­per­a­ture data? HADCRUT3.

The cen­tral­ity of HADCRUT3 data is no co­in­ci­dence. The two Bri­tish or­ga­ni­za­tions, Hadley and CRU, have worked hand-in-glove since the Hadley Cen­tre was cre­ated in 1989 by Mar­garet Thatcher. One year ear­lier, in a ma­jor ad­dress that es­tab­lished the UK’s early pro­mo­tion of the global warm­ing is­sue, Thatcher — a foe of the coal min­ing union and a fan of nu­clear power — had pledged to tackle the green­house ef­fect by re­plac­ing fos­sil fu­els with nu­clear power. She then pro­moted cli­mate change sci­ence with fund­ing and diplo­macy, plac­ing her peo­ple in se­nior po­si­tions at the nascent IPCC and else­where at the United Na­tions.

Hadley and CRU be­came ma­jor play­ers in ev­ery IPCC re­port, in the World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­ga­ni­za­tion, in the IPCC’s iconic hockey-stick graph and in the UK gov­ern­ment’s Stern Re­view that pre­dicted eco­nomic calamity. In the minds of many, the Hadley-CRU datasets are the most au­thor­i­ta­tive source of global tem­per­a­tures, both be­cause their tem­per­a­ture records date back to 1850 and be­cause they pro­duced the first-ever syn­the­sis of land and marine tem­per­a­ture data — the first truly global tem­per­a­ture record.

Ex­cept now we’re told that CRU dis­posed of the raw data some 20 years ago af­ter it was man­u­fac­tured into “ho­mog­e­nized” and “value added data.” The man­u­fac­turer 20 years ago? An­other Cli­mate­gate star, Tom Wigley, who was then the head of CRU.

But what of Phil Jones’s ar­gu­ment, that the Hadley and CRU datasets are noth­ing spe­cial. “Our global tem­per­a­ture se­ries tal­lies with those of other, com­pletely in­de­pen­dent, groups of sci­en­tists work­ing for NASA and the Na­tional Cli­mate Data Cen­tre in the United States, among oth­ers,” he says. “Even if you were to ig­nore our find­ings, theirs show the same re­sults. The facts speak for them­selves.”

The an­swer to Phil Jones comes from the Hadley Cen­tre it­self, through an­other fact that speaks for it­self. “The datasets are largely based on the same raw data,” the FAQ page at the Hadley Cen­tre web­site states, in ex­plain­ing that NASA, the Na­tional Cli­mate Data Cen­ter and HadleyCRU all use the same data. The dif­fer­ent re­sults th­ese or­ga­ni­za­tions some­times ob­tain, it elab­o­rates, stems not from the data but from its ab­sence — where the data is poor or non-ex­is­tent, the dif­fer­ent agen­cies em­ploy dif­fer­ent types of guess­work.

There is no unim­peach­able raw data in which we can have con­fi­dence. There is a large cast of im­peach­able char­ac­ters in the Cli­mate­gate drama with an ev­i­dent ap­petite for cook­ing the books.

And there are but two hon­est op­tions for our gov­ern­ments to now em­ploy. They can choose to redo the stud­ies, with data, sci­en­tists, and a peer-re­view process that can be trusted. Or they can rec­og­nize that the IPCC process has been politi­cized from the start, and that the prima fa­cie ev­i­dence for danger­ous global warm­ing does not meet the thresh­old re­quired to pro­long the sci­en­tific sham of the gen­er­a­tion.

Lawrence Solomon is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of En­ergy Probe and Ur­ban Re­nais­sance In­sti­tute and au­thor of The De­niers: The world-renowned sci­en­tists who stood up against global warm­ing hys­te­ria, po­lit­i­cal per­se­cu­tion, and fraud

Th­ese three re­ports — the IPCC 4th As­sess­ment Re­port, a World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­ga­ni­za­tion re­port and the Stern Re­view — are among dozens of of­fi­cial sci­ence doc­u­ments that have re­lied on the HADCRUT3 data.

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