Mittwoch, Mai 16, 2007

A rising tide...

So, Greenpeace is grandstanding out on Mt. Ararat, where they are building an ark to highlight ... something or other. They are screaming at the top of their lungs "the sky is falling, the sky is falling": unless we all kowtow to them, "human misery on a scale not experienced in modern times" will be the result.

Meanwhile, others are coming to their senses and have become skeptics. Not the one or the other kooks, but rather this includes those who were instrumental at the start of the scare, as can be seen here.

Let's drop some names: Dr. Claude Allegre, Bruno Wiskel (he of "Kyoto House" fame), Dr. Nir Shaviv, Dr. David Evans (who spent 6 years running carbon models for the Australian government), Dr. Tad Murty, Dr. David Bellamy, Dr. Chris de Freitas, Dr. Reid Bryson, Hans H.J. Labohm, Tim Patterson, Dr. Zbigniew Jaworowski, Dr. Ian D. Clark and Dr. Jan Veizer.

These folks are being honest: one says that he profited personally from the whole global warming movement, another says he has lost grant money by becoming a skeptic, at least one is politically a socialist, another has seen environmental groups end their association with him, another is the most cited climatologist, another documents the suppression of evidence and another found that empirical evidence contradicted the theories.

And the attacks aren't coming from the right, but now from the left as well, as can be seen here. The key quote is this:

As with the arms-spending spiral powered by the cold war fearmongers, vast sums of money will be uselessly spent on programs that won't work against an enemy that doesn't exist. Meanwhile, real and curbable environmental perils are scanted. Hysteria rules the day, drowning useful initiatives such as environmental cleanup, while smoothing the way for the
nuclear industry to reap its global rewards.

Of course, Cockburn - not one of my favorite fellows - believes that the Merchants of Fear (his term) are not much other than shills for the nuclear industry, which is a rather bizarre - but typical - conclusion.

Now over at this web site, it appears that the core weakness of the global warming arguments is becoming clearer: poor statistics. Not so much that the underlying data is poor - it is, but that is another story entirely, one that in many ways does allow for statistical interpretation - but rather that you have specialists in one field using statistics to interpret patchy and spotty data, to interpolate and to create proxies, yet failing, miserably, to allow others to reproduce their efforts, claiming instead that the data, the raw data, belongs to them (despite the language of their grants placing the data collected in the public domain!) and refusing to release their raw, unprocessed and unmanipulated data so that others can reproduce their results.

There's more: how about using proxies that are really bad at actually being connected to what is claimed, skewing the results? Tree ring size sounds like a good proxy, but turns out to be a function not only of warmth, but also of solar influx, biological diversity and rainfall patterns. In other words, it's not a proxy for warming as such, but is specifically and deliberately used as such.

Now that's a problem. Consider this:

If a practising scientist selected a 1987 data set over more recent versions, failed to cite it correctly, altered the appearance of the data without a clear explanation and didn’t include the data from the last 20 years then I think we’d all be asking serious questions about their professionalism.

I think that this is exactly the question that needs to be asked.

We know the Hockey Stick has become thoroughly suspect (at best: I'd be happier seeing Mann et al exposed to the greater public as having falsified their data for political purposes.), but it seems that this is just the start.

The key is understanding the problem is that what has happened is something that always happens when scientists, however well meaning, overstep their boundaries, usually in the name of some utopian greater good. Good, peer-reviewed work from professional climatologists is not the problem: the problem is when climatologists then enter the world of politics and policy-making, where they should be viewed with about as much glee as they would view a professional psychologist who starts to do climatology.

There is also a fundamental problem with peer-reviewing that is not adressed by most analyses: when an analysis of troubled data - and climatology is filled with troubled data, as proper data acquisition starts only in the last century, which is *why* they use proxies in the first place - is based on methodology that is not vetted by a professional statistician: climatologists review the work, and the errors that Mann et al. show that while at least some professional climatologists think that they have their statistical methods down pat, this is not necessarily the opinion of professional statisticians that have reviewed the methodology (as the problems with the Hockey Stick paradigm have shown).

This means that the peers reviewing the work, while fully capable of professionally reviewing the climatological aspects of the analyses being reviewed, are apparently not capable of professionally reviewing how the underlying data was put together and whether it was put together properly, using proper statistical analysis that can be duplicated by others based on the problematical data set.

This is where peer review fails: if the data is not checked and verified that it has been put together properly, then the validity of the conclusions cannot be reviewed, only the methodology of the analysis ex-post the data set.

So while the science is increasingly being called into question, Greenpeace pulls publicity stunts.

That's ok, that's about all that they are good for anyway.

Keine Kommentare: