sunnuntai 6. joulukuuta 2009

"Climategate" - tieteen vakava kriisi

Wall Street Journal

"Surely there must have been serious men and women in the hard sciences who at some point worried that their colleagues in the global warming movement were putting at risk the credibility of everyone in science. The nature of that risk has been twofold: First, that the claims of the climate scientists might buckle beneath the weight of their breathtaking complexity. Second, that the crudeness of modern politics, once in motion, would trample the traditions and culture of science to achieve its own policy goals. With the scandal at the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, both have happened at once"

10 kommenttia:

  1. Nature: Climatologists under pressure

    Stolen e-mails have revealed no scientific conspiracy, but do highlight ways in which climate researchers could be better supported in the face of public scrutiny.


    The e-mail archives stolen last month from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (UEA), UK, have been greeted by the climate-change-denialist fringe as a propaganda windfall. To these denialists, the scientists' scathing remarks about certain controversial palaeoclimate reconstructions qualify as the proverbial 'smoking gun': proof that mainstream climate researchers have systematically conspired to suppress evidence contradicting their doctrine that humans are warming the globe.

    This paranoid interpretation would be laughable were it not for the fact that obstructionist politicians in the US Senate will probably use it next year as an excuse to stiffen their opposition to the country's much needed climate bill. Nothing in the e-mails undermines the scientific case that global warming is real — or that human activities are almost certainly the cause. That case is supported by multiple, robust lines of evidence, including several that are completely independent of the climate reconstructions debated in the e-mails.

    First, Earth's cryosphere is changing as one would expect in a warming climate. These changes include glacier retreat, thinning and areal reduction of Arctic sea ice, reductions in permafrost and accelerated loss of mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Second, the global sea level is rising. The rise is caused in part by water pouring in from melting glaciers and ice sheets, but also by thermal expansion as the oceans warm. Third, decades of biological data on blooming dates and the like suggest that spring is arriving earlier each year.

    Denialists often maintain that these changes are just a symptom of natural climate variability. But when climate modellers test this assertion by running their simulations with greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide held fixed, the results bear little resemblance to the observed warming. The strong implication is that increased greenhouse-gas emissions have played an important part in recent warming, meaning that curbing the world's voracious appetite for carbon is essential.

    Mail trail

    A fair reading of the e-mails reveals nothing to support the denialists' conspiracy theories. In one of the more controversial exchanges, UEA scientists sharply criticized the quality of two papers that question the uniqueness of recent global warming (S. McIntyre and R. McKitrick Energy Environ. 14, 751–771; 2003 and W. Soon and S. Baliunas Clim. Res. 23, 89–110; 2003) and vowed to keep at least the first paper out of the upcoming Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Whatever the e-mail authors may have said to one another in (supposed) privacy, however, what matters is how they acted. And the fact is that, in the end, neither they nor the IPCC suppressed anything: when the assessment report was published in 2007 it referenced and discussed both papers.

    Tricky business

    The stolen e-mails have prompted queries about whether Nature will investigate some of the researchers' own papers. One e-mail talked of displaying the data using a 'trick' — slang for a clever (and legitimate) technique, but a word that denialists have used to accuse the researchers of fabricating their results. It is Nature's policy to investigate such matters if there are substantive reasons for concern, but nothing we have seen so far in the e-mails qualifies.


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  2. New Scientist: Why there's no sign of a climate conspiracy in hacked emails


    We can be 100 per cent sure the world is getting warmer

    Forget about the temperature records compiled by researchers such as those whose emails were hacked. Next spring, go out into your garden or the nearby countryside and note when the leaves unfold, when flowers bloom, when migrating birds arrive and so on. Compare your findings with historical records, where available, and you'll probably find spring is coming days, even weeks earlier than a few decades ago.

    You can't fake spring coming earlier, or trees growing higher up on mountains, or glaciers retreating for kilometres up valleys, or shrinking ice cover in the Arctic, or birds changing their migration times, or permafrost melting in Alaska, or the tropics expanding, or ice shelves on the Antarctic peninsula breaking up, or peak river flow occurring earlier in summer because of earlier snowmelt, or sea level rising faster and faster, or any of the thousands of similar examples.

    None of these observations by themselves prove the world is warming; they could simply be regional effects, for instance. But put all the data from around the world together, and you have overwhelming evidence of a long-term warming trend.

    We know greenhouse gases are the main cause of warming

    Direct measurements since the 1970s make it certain, for instance, that neither the sun's fluctuating brightness nor changes in the number of cosmic rays hitting Earth are responsible for the recent warming. Similarly, direct measurements over the past century show that the oceans have warmed dramatically. The planet as a whole is getting warmer.

    That leaves the rising levels of greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere – which have been directly measured – as the main suspects. Working out how these changes should affect the planet's temperature in theory is extremely complicated. The only way to do it is to plug all the detailed physics into computers – create computer models, in other words. The results show that the only factor that produces anything like the temperature rise seen is the observed increase in greenhouse gases.

    How do we know the models aren't wrong? From studies of past climate. To take one example, ice cores drilled from the Antarctic ice-sheet show a surprisingly close correlation between greenhouse gas levels and temperature over the past 800,000 years.

    Is it possible that tens of thousands of scientists have got it wrong? It is incredibly unlikely. The evidence that CO2 levels are rising is irrefutable, and the idea that rising levels lead to warming has withstood more than a century of genuine scientific scepticism.

    So why are scientists "fixing" the temperature data?

    Where possible, scientists should always look at their data in the context of other, comparable data. Such scrutiny can often reveal problems in the way one or other set of data was acquired, meaning it needs adjusting or discarding. Some apparent problems with the predictions of climate models, for example, have actually turned out to be due to problems with real-world data caused by the failure to correct for factors such as the gradual changes in orbits of satellites.

    The tricky question is where to draw the line. There is a continuum from corrections based on known problems (essential), to adjustments based on probable errors in the data (good practice as long as all assumptions are made clear), to adjustments done solely to make the data fit a hypothesis (distinctly dodgy).

    It remains to seen if any of the adjustments described in the hacked material fall into this last category. But the mere fact that the leaked material reveals climate researchers "fixing" data is not proof of fraud. Manipulating data is what scientists do.

  3. But what about that "trick" to "hide the decline"?

    One of the leaked emails refers the "trick" of adding the real temperatures, as recorded by thermometers, to reconstructions of past temperatures based on looking at things such as growth rings in trees.

    The problem is that some sets of tree-ring data suggest temperatures start falling towards the end of the 20th century, which direct temperature measurements show was not the case. So the researchers instead replaced the reconstructed temperature data for this period with the directly measured temperature data.

    Is this an unjustified "fix"? No, because some sets of tree-ring data can be compared with the direct records of local temperature for the past century. Up until the 1960s, there is a very close correlation between the density of growth rings in trees in northern latitudes and summer temperatures, but after this it starts to break down.

    But surely any attempt to block publication of sceptical scientific papers is indefensible?

    Some of the leaked emails reveal the climate researchers' unhappiness with the publication of scientific papers questioning the global warming consensus, and seem to indicate a desire to remove editors at journals they perceived as being sympathetic to global warming sceptics.

    This sounds horrifying to many non-scientists. But that is confusing two very different things: attempting to block publication in certain scientific journals and the suppression of information.

    Scientific journals are only supposed to publish papers that meet certain scientific standards. Researchers work for years on papers and then submit them to the top journals in their field. The editors select the ones they think are most important or noteworthy, and send them to a handful of reviewers - scientists working in the same areas. Each reviewer sends back a report suggesting acceptance, rejection or revisions, and the editor decides whether to publish based on these reports. Most papers sent to leading journals get rejected.

    This system of "peer review" has its critics, but is generally regarded as the least-worst system to ensure the quality of published scientific research. Researchers whose work is rejected can resubmit their papers to other, less high-profile journals. Failing that, anyone is free to publish their views on global warming online, or in books and newspapers if they can.

    Respected scientists have agreed that the papers mentioned in the emails had serious scientific flaws and possibly should not have been accepted by the journals in question. If this were the case, it would raise questions about the role of the editors at those journals. It is hardly outrageous behaviour to call for the replacement of people who are, in your personal view, not doing their jobs properly.

  4. What about apparent attempts to avoid freedom of information requests?

    In some emails, Jones – who has stepped down pending a review of what went on – discusses ways not to fulfil requests made under the UK's freedom of information laws. In one, he calls on other researchers to delete certain emails. While on the face of it that does not look good, whether they broke any laws or breached any university guidelines remains to be determined.

    In other cases, however, it is clear that researchers could not comply with freedom of information requests because they did not have the right to release all the data in question. There is also no doubt that climate change deniers have been using freedom of information requests to harass researchers and waste their time, with the CRU receiving more than 50 such requests in one week alone this year.

    What's more, individual researchers have little to gain from giving away data and software they have spent years working on. Scientific careers depend on how many papers you publish. If you keep data to yourself, no one else can publish papers based on it before you do.

    This does not mean researchers should be allowed to hold onto their data. It is undoubtedly in the public interest for there to be full disclosure of the measurements upon which climate scientists are basing their conclusions. In fact, much of it is already freely available. But the pressures climate researchers are under does help to explain why many are so reluctant to make all data public.

    Clearly the leaked emails have caused disquiet in some quarters. There's no doubt there are concerns about the content of some of the emails – even when you know the way science really works – as laid out above. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the University of East Anglia are now holding investigations to determine if anything unethical did go on. If these dispel uncertainty and restore the credibility of science, that can only be a good thing.


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  5. Blogin pitäjältä kaipaisin taas kommenttia.

  6. Mikä siinä on, että näiden ilmastonmuutoksen torjujen väittämät aina pohjautuvat siihen, että ilmaston pitäisi pysyä vakiolämpöisenä ja kuinka oman elinikänsä aikana ovat selvästi lämpimämmiksi muuttuneet talvet/keväät mitkälie?

    Mistä tahansa asiasta voi tehdä härkäsen, kun keskittyy sopivasti valittuun riittävän lyhyeen aikaväliin.

    No sähköposteista paljastuvia asioita selitellään yllä pilakuvan mukaisesti osoittelemalla juurikin aikaistunutta kevättä (Tämän vuoden kesäkuu oli yksi kylmimmistä jos nyt samalle tasolle haluaa vajota).

    Brittiläinen tutkimus kertoili 40% CO2 päästöjen vähennyksen kustantavan 700 euroa jokaista EU kansalaista kohden, 4 henkinen perhe siis jo tuosta yksin joutuisi maksamaan 2800 euroa vuodessa, jokainen voi kuvitella mitä tapahtuu jos tuohon lisätään vielä Kööpenhaminan sopimuksen varallisuuden siirto, yli 3000 euroa vuodessa lisää maksettavaa, sitä ei talous kestä, vaikka kuinka yrittäisi.

    Siinäpä esimerkkiä kuinka huomio käännetään pois.

    Onneksi puolueeton taho tulee tarkastamaan nuo sähköposteissa osallisena olevien tutkimukset ja datan oikeellisuuden, ehkä saadaan selvyys siihen kumpi taho on päätellyt postien sisällön oikein.

    Hullua menoa joka tapauksessa, kun edes puolta lämpenemisestä ei voida selittää CO2:n vaikutuksella tutkimuksien mukaan.

  7. "No sähköposteista paljastuvia asioita selitellään yllä pilakuvan mukaisesti osoittelemalla juurikin aikaistunutta kevättä (Tämän vuoden kesäkuu oli yksi kylmimmistä jos nyt samalle tasolle haluaa vajota)."

    Taisi jäädä Naturen ja New Scientistin artikkelit lukematta.

  8. Tänä vuonna toukokuu ja kesäkuu olivat kylmiä. Myös viime vuonna ne olivat. Lämpötila kävi alimmillaan nollan tienoilla vaikka sen ei "pitäisi".

    Hiilidioksidipitoisuuden muutosten ja lämpötilan muutosten välillä ei ole havaittu mitään korrelaatiota. Aikaisemmin oli ajanjaksoja jolloin hiilidioksidia oli enemmän kuin nyt mutta lämpötilat olivat kylmempiä kuin nyt.

    Minulle on jäänyt epäselväksi se minkälainen ilmaston pitäisi olla missäkin paikassa. Ilmasto ei ole vakio eikä muuttumaton. Ilmasto on erilainen joka paikassa ja ilmaston vaihtelut ja muutokset ovat joka paikassa erilaisia. Se menee niin kuin TV-mainoksen mukaan: säät vaihtelee, Weckman pysyy.

  9. Climate change: A guide for the perplexed

    So for those who are not sure what to believe, here is our round-up of the most common climate myths and misconceptions.


    1) Any cooling disproves global warming

    2) Global Warming stopped in 1998

    3) Antarctica is getting warmer, disproving global warming

    4) Polar bear numbers are increasing

    5) The lower atmosphere is cooling, not warming

    6) The oceans are cooling

    8) Human Emissions are too tiny to matter

    9) CO2 isn't the most important greenhouse gas

    10) Ice cores show CO2 rising

    13) We can't do anything about climate change

    14) Global warming is down to the Sun, not the humans

    15) It's all down to cosmic rays

    16) The 'hockey stick' graph has been proven wrong

    18) It was warmer during the medieval times

    25) Many leading scientists question climate change

    26) It's all a conspiracy


    Toivoisin blogin pitäjän ottavan kantaa kaikkiin yllä esitettyihin artikkeleihin. Pallo on nyt sinulla. Pystytkö antamaan järeämpiä perusteluja referenssien kera ilmstomyyttien puolesta?

    Eikö myytteihin uskominen, jos jokin, ole uskontoa parhaimmillaan ;)

  10. Kaikki ylläolevat ovat yhdestä lähteestä, myytiksi tuomitseminen yhden lähteen perusteella ei ole kovin vakuuttavaa.