`Owning’ the weather? PART VII
By Rahnuma Ahmed
The theory of global warming, a `theory’ which we know to be `real,’ according to which the temperature of the Earth’s near-surface air and that of its oceans has been rising since the middle of the last century, an increase caused by human activity, by burning fossil fuel and deforestation, one which is likely to cause sea levels to rise, deserts to expand, glaciers to retreat, an impending disaster of such magnitude that world leaders were compelled to agree to stabilise the climate by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, to draft and implement the Kyoto Protocol (2005), to meet yet again in Copenhagen last December to thrash out stricter emission controls, to try and resolve whether China and India should be given `a free ride’ as was enjoyed by the rich countries during their 150 years of industrialisation … well, serious doubts are now being raised about the scientific knowledge which underlies global warming theory. Scientists and researchers, it seems, have faked the data. It is a discovery that has led the unfolding scandal—dubbed Climategate a la Watergate by the western media—to be called `the greatest scientific fraud in human history’
The controversy is largely unknown in Bangladesh, except for scattered news items. I have not come across any commentary either, one which is both informative and reviews what is at stake. Given the significance for Bangladesh—on the `frontline’ of climate change, tops the list of `most vulnerable’ countries, and the predictions—one-third of Bangladesh likely to be inundated by a 3 feet rise in sea level in the next 50 years, 25 million-30 million people to be uprooted, surely, one would have assumed that news of Climategate, as it unfolded, would be one of the top public interest issues in Bangladesh? That researchers and activists working on climate change in Bangladesh would have felt obliged to inform the public?
On 19 November last year, thousands of emails and communications between some of the world’s leading climate scientists, over a 13-year period dating from 1996, totalling 61 MB, was stolen by hackers from servers at Britain’s University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU). The files were leaked, first on a Russian server, but soon enough these became viral, and spread worldwide. Climategate was quickly followed by a series of other gates: Glaciergate, Amazongate, Pachaurigate. According to intelligent guesses, the Russian secret service might well be behind the hacking.
The United Nation’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and world governments rely on four sets of temperature data of which the set maintained by professor Phil Jones, the director of CRU, at the University of East Anglia, is the most important . Climate scientists at the UK Met Office Hadley Centre, and at CRU, maintain the global climate record for the World Meterological Organization (WMO). Professor Jones data set, as Christopher Booker points out, is the most important “not least for their predictions that the world will warm to catastrophic levels unless trillions of dollars are spent to avert it” (Telegraph, 28 November 2009).
What do the hacked e-mails reveal? First, that top scientists conspired to falsify data when faced with declining global temperatures (yes, it seems that the world is cooling) in order to insist that rising temperatures are caused by human activity (Anthropogenic Global Warming, AGW). Second, they coordinated a campaign of ostracising climate skeptics to prevent dissenting work from being published in peer-reviewed journals. Third, they avoided compliance with Freedom of Information Act requests.
Instances of falsifying data: Professor Jones wrote, “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature [science journal] trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie, from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” Climate skeptics insist that `real’ temperatures mean what global warmers want them to be, that hiding the decline means evidence of cooling, whereas UEA authorities and “warmists” insist that `trick’ refers not to deception but to statistical measures to correct data divergence.
Another instance of data falsification, say climate skeptics, is provided by the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) controversy. One e-mail says, “We know the file starts at yr 440, but we want nothing till 1400.” This, say the skeptics, means that CRU has temperature data going back to 440 and 1070, but is using only the data after the Medieval Warm Period, so as not to undermine the global-warming-is-man-made hypothesis. Data fudging over the MWP gains credence when one looks at what Keith Briffa, deputy director, CRU wrote: “I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1000 years ago.”
The requests of climate change skeptics, also reputable scientists and climatologists, to CRU data, was repeatedly denied. In one set of e-mail exchanges, Professors Jones and Mann discuss how to circumvent US and UK Freedom Of Information Act requests. Jones writes: [McIntyre and McKitrick] have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom Of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone.” In his reply, Mann hints that he’ll claim intellectual property rights. Mann, whose full name is Michael E Mann (at Penn State University and director, Earth System Science Center), is famous for the hockey stick graph, so called because it depicts a slow cooling trend from 1000 to 1900 which looks like a long handle, and an upward warming curve from 1900 to 1999, which looks like the blade of a hockey stick. Both the MWP, and the Little Ice Age (LIA) which occurred 300 years ago, are major problems for the man-made/warmists. Mann’s hockey stick graph, by eliminating these, became the central icon of the entire man-made global warming movement.
While warmists have attempted to brush aside emails that celebrate as “cheering news” the death of a climate change skeptic, that wants to “beat the crap out of” all skeptics, by saying that scientists too, in their everyday lives, are normal people with normal emotions, it is difficult to extend the same logic to those emails which talk of preventing dissenting opinion from being published in peer-reviewed journals. “I think we have to stop considering “Climate Research” as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board…What do others think?” And, another: “I will be emailing the journal to tell them I’m having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor.”
Dissatisfaction with the peer review process does not seem to be confined to scientists at CRU only, but to extend to, and include, the IPCC. Dr Benjamin Santer, lead author of Chapter 8, 1995 IPCC Report, allegedly deleted the following passages which had been approved by the scientists, and should have been included in the supposedly peer-reviewed published version:
‘None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed [climate] changes to the specific cause of increases in greenhouse gases.’
‘No study to date has positively attributed all or part [of the climate change observed to date] to anthropogenic [man-made] causes.'”
Since the email leak, other disturbing news has come to light. An essentially flat temperature chart in both Australia and New Zealand was turned into a graph to show “temperatures steadily rising.” The manipulation in both cases, as Booker points out, was carried out under the influence of CRU. Whereas Russian climate data, according to a report of the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis, were probably tampered with. The Hadley Centre for Climate Change, it seems, used temperature data from only those Russian metereological stations which highlighted the global warming process.
Other `gates’ have occurred too, since. Glaciergate: the 2007 IPCC report had warned that the Himalayan glaciers would, in all likelihood, disappear by 2035 due to global warming. When this was challenged in an Indian government report, Dr Rajendra K Pachauri, chairman IPCC, had dismissed it as “voodoo science”. However, it now turns out that the IPCC’s projection was based not on peer-reviewed evidence but on a speculative comment made a decade ago by a glaciologist, who later began working in an Indian research group led by Dr Pachauri. Amazongate: according to another IPCC scare story, climate change could endanger 40% of the Amazon rain forest. This was based on a publication of WWF, an environmentalist pressure group, but it turns out that the original article (published in Nature) had dealt not with global warming, but logging.
If global warming is a scam, the biggest scientific fraud ever, the big question of course, is, why? What lies behind it?
[Concluding instalment, next week]Show