Streetwise Professor

February 5, 2017

Those Who Control the Past Control the Future, Climate Data Edition

Filed under: Climate Change,Politics — The Professor @ 10:33 pm

Advocates of the anthropogenic climate change hypothesis excoriate anyone who expresses skepticism as being anti-science. One of the hallmarks of true science is uncompromising commitment to the integrity of data. Ironically, this is a norm that warmists repeatedly transgress.

Case in point: the influential paper by Thomas Karl and coauthors which purports to show that the 15+ year pause in warming was chimerical. But a former NOAA scientist who was the primary steward for temperature data, and the designer of climate data protocols, has blown the whistle on this article. Dr. John Bates asserts that the data was fundamentally flawed, that the basic protocols were not followed, that Karl et al repeatedly made choices that biased their results in favor of finding warming, and that they failed to submit the data for review. To give just one example of their dubious choices, these “scientists” forced the more reliable buoy sea surface temperature data to conform with less reliable data collected the old fashioned way by ships.

But it gets better. And by better, I mean worse: “the computer used to process the software had suffered a complete failure,”  which means the study cannot be replicated. (What?!? No backup?!? How is that possible?)

Replication is another bedrock principle of science. Since Karl et al cannot be replicated, for all intents and purposes the article does not exist. The journal that published it–Science–should withdraw the paper, especially since Karl et al violated the journal’s policies involving data archiving and documentation. Indeed, Science should repudiate it. It should be removed from all citation indices, and any journal that published a paper that cites it should carry an errata listing all of these articles. Further, the conduct of the researchers should be evaluated in order to determine whether any federal funding supporting the research should be returned.

Would that this were a one-off. Alas, basic temperature data has been manipulated in a perfect illustration of Orwell’s dictum: “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”  Those who control the data in the present have “adjusted” historical temperature records repeatedly, and almost uniformly in a way that shows more rapid warming. This has involved, for instance, reducing recorded temperatures from decades ago–most notably from the 1930s, which was a very warm period in the original, unadjusted data. By making the past cooler, these manipulations have increased the estimated rate of temperature increase, thereby advancing the warming narrative, and exerting control over current and future policy. The adjustments have not been done transparently, and they cannot be reviewed or replicated. God only knows if the original data has been retained with its integrity intact.

But even that Orwellian fiddling with the past was not enough to eliminate all anomalous evidence: the pause was flatly inconsistent with the predictions of the climate models, and in an effort redolent of “hiding the decline” of Climategate infamy, Bates makes a compelling argument that Karl tortured the data in order to “bust” the pause. And before anyone could check, checking became impossible.

It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that the data have been raped, by Karl in the present instance, and by many others who are actually allegedly the stewards of the basic records. This is profoundly unscientific, which makes the arrogant posturing of individuals like Karl, who presume to judge those who disagree with them as being anti-science, all the more insufferable. It also makes one wonder what they are afraid of, if the evidence regarding warming is so overwhelming and incontrovertible.

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  1. @Professor
    Dr Roy Spencer at NASA is responsible for interpreting the satellite data each month and calculating the global temperature. This requires a lot of processing but Spencer is a man of scientific integrity and continues to try to remove measurement and processing biases. His latest refinement is Version 6 and the results from 1979 forward are shown at-

    If V6 data is extrapolated (if you look at the data then extrapolation certainly raises questions) Spencer finds the trend as .11 degrees C/decade and this compares with .25-.5 degrees C/decade from the notorious AGW models. He attributes this possible trend in the satellite data to natural variation.

    Spencer points out that his satellite data still reads high for the Tibetan plateau and other high elevations. Funny that the scientist actually collecting and processing the data says natural variation but then users of his data find AGW catastrophe coming up fast.

    Now how other people torture his data after his release is a different matter.

    Comment by pahoben — February 6, 2017 @ 12:05 pm

  2. A Daily Mail article? Really?

    Comment by tegla — February 6, 2017 @ 12:07 pm

  3. @tegla. Yeah. Really.

    And that actually shows how absurd this all becomes. US media will not touch it with a ten foot pole. Nor will the establishment press in the UK.

    I am perfectly familiar with this bullshit game. The establishment press fails to cover something because it contradicts its flagrant biases. When somebody outside the establishment dares to break this blockade, they–and you, apparently–sniff: “well, they are outside the mainstream so what they say is not to be trusted.” It’s a classic way of suppressing challenges to the received paradigm. It also is the embodiment of a logical fallacy–appeal to authority. In this case, self-appointed authorities.

    I would also note that it is exactly this sort of insularity that has caused the media and political establishments to be blindsided by Brexit and Trump.

    I also linked to Bates’ extended paper on the subject that was carried on Judith Curry’s blog. Curry is obviously enormously credible. Bates is as well. But judge on the basis of what Bates says. Do you have any basis to dispute the facts that he alleges? If you can disprove what he says, be my guest.

    I would also note that as a UK publication, the Daily Mail is well aware of the risk of a libel suit by Karl and therefore would not publish these allegations lightly.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 6, 2017 @ 3:21 pm

  4. I’m still puzzled how sailors on ships 100 years ago could have taken readings with analog thermometers to .15 or even .1 (as sometimes claimed) degree accuracy (under greatly varying conditions, I might add). I’ve seen photos of those old thermometers and I believe a careful sailor could easily achieve .5 degree; perhaps even close to .25 degree if he was careful and the conditions were perfect. But when you consider countless sailors, countless thermometers in varying states of calibration, and truly unknown conditions (remember many of the reading are in the North Atlantic, in winter!!), I suspect the manually recorded data prior to automated buoys is actually next to useless.

    And like the professor, I doubt the unaltered original data still exists. From a scientific point of view, all that data has to be suspect and treated as hearsay.

    Comment by WeNeedThomasJefferson — February 6, 2017 @ 7:01 pm

  5. All I know is it is going be 70 in St Louis tomorrow.

    Comment by Websterman — February 6, 2017 @ 10:32 pm

  6. Have you actually looked at AR5? The warmists were debunked, called-out as pseudoscientists.

    The current scientific consensus (as established by the IPCC) can be summed up as ‘what’s greatly alarming isn’t credible, and what’s credible isn’t greatly alarming’. The IPCC says (quite plausibly) that we’re headed for less than 1 degree of warming, and that the only negative consequences of that amount of warming are impacts on biodiversity. It also says that doing too much to avert what is not catastrophic is actually genocidally racist.

    Of course the unholy alliance of Holocaust deniers and assorted racists who produce these bunkum papers haven’t given up, but they’re not included in the scientific mainstream. The real question here is why Science and similar are not displaying the same critical discrimination as e.g. history journals do when the same sorts submit papers using ‘historical revisisonism’ to ‘prove’ that there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz.

    Let’s not forget that the Warmer-in-Chief, Michael Mann, does not dare set foot in Germany these days because he faces charges of Holocaust denial.

    Comment by Dave — February 7, 2017 @ 5:19 am

  7. I read some comments by another scientist-name escapes me-. She said it’s pretty clear we are warming. What’s not clear is that it is man made. (Think she just resigned from Ga Tech)

    Comment by @pointsnfigures — February 7, 2017 @ 7:27 am

  8. ” In October 2015, Smith’s committee issued subpoenas for the documents; NOAA released some technical papers but not the requested correspondence, arguing that taxpayer-paid scientists don’t have to disclose their emails with other taxpayer-paid scientists about a taxpayer-paid study.”

    This is very telling. The culture of “transparency” exists in name only!

    Comment by Surya — February 7, 2017 @ 7:41 am

  9. There is a rebuttal from one of the scientists involved in the Tom Karl study:

    “5. [the SST increase] ‘was achieved by dubious means’

    The fact that SST measurements from ships and buoys disagree with buoys cooler on average is well established in the literature. See IPCC AR5 WG1 Chapter 2 SST section for a selection of references by a range of groups all confirming this finding. ERSSTv4 is an anomaly product. What matters for an anomaly product is relative homogeneity of sources and not absolute precision. Whether the ships are matched to buoys or buoys matched to ships will not affect the trend. What will affect the trend is doing so (v4) or not (v3b). It would be perverse to know of a data issue and not correct for it in constructing a long-term climate data record.

    6. ‘They had good data from buoys. And they threw it out […]’

    v4 actually makes preferential use of buoys over ships (they are weighted almost 7 times in favour) as documented in the ERSSTv4 paper. The assertion that buoy data were thrown away as made in the article is demonstrably incorrect.”

    Basically what is worrying is the lack of documentation and non adherence to standards in NOAA studies.

    Comment by Surya — February 7, 2017 @ 9:52 am

  10. @pointsnfigures–Judith Curry. The Bates piece ran on her blog.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 7, 2017 @ 10:09 am

  11. The Daily Mail is biased insofar as what stories it chooses to run, but it is rarely found to be wrong on those stories it does run. Unlike the NYT, WaPo, Guardian, etc.

    Comment by Tim Newman — February 8, 2017 @ 12:31 am

  12. @Websterman
    The all time record high in St Louis for February was February 1st 1911 and it reached 84 degrees.

    The only study I can find shows urban heat island effect for St Louis is about +4 degrees. That is inside St Louis averages 4 degrees warmer than the surrounding rural areas.

    Comment by pahoben — February 8, 2017 @ 2:04 pm

  13. The power of science comes from the fact that, when done properly of course, observation displaces the authority of the scientist. We have to take St. Matthew’s (and some of his contemporaries’) word for it that the tomb was empty, but Galileo’s laws of motion can be tested by anybody. The Mythbusters crew have a real scientific attitude; the AGW cabal does not. When nobody can duplicate the data set, the keepers of the data acquire an authority that is decidedly non-science.

    We see this in the social sciences as well. When collecting unbiased data is expensive, those who control the purse strings control the science. For example, studying the behavior and impact of homosexuals, who are thinly scattered across the larger population, is notoriously expensive to do right, since you have to send out 20,000 surveys to get 1000 responses, of which about 15 are in your group of interest. Anything less than that is too small for statistical significance, and cheaper, self-reported data skews toward higher socioeconomic status. Add to that the fact that the people footing the bill are often more interested in grinding some ideological ax than doing good science, and the end result is a bunch of studies claiming to tell us more then the underlying data can justify.

    Comment by M. Rad. — February 8, 2017 @ 5:14 pm

  14. @Tegla

    “A Daily Mail article? Really?”

    U mean Hillary LOST!?!?! REALLY!?!? But the #MSM didn’t predict that!

    VP VVP

    Comment by Vlad — February 8, 2017 @ 5:33 pm

  15. Liberals have a hell of a time with computers.

    Comment by Howard Roark — February 8, 2017 @ 9:47 pm

  16. Feminist PhD Candidate: Science Is Sexist Because It’s Not Subjective:

    The apocalypse is near…

    Comment by WeNeedThomasJefferson — February 9, 2017 @ 3:59 pm

  17. @WeNeed
    Oh My God

    Comment by pahoben — February 10, 2017 @ 7:30 am

  18. “Dr. John Bates asserts that the data was fundamentally flawed”

    This is completely unsubstantiated from what Bates wrote at Curry’s blog, as he has himself clarified by now in interviews with E&E and sciencemag:

    “The issue here is not an issue of tampering with data, but rather really of timing of a release of a paper that had not properly disclosed everything it was,” he said.

    But it was important for this conversation about data integrity to happen, he says. “That’s where I came down after a lot of soul searching. I knew people would misuse this. But you can’t control other people,” he says.

    The Professor has thus been duped by fakenews from Daily Mail. A correction of the blog post would be in order.

    Comment by mahmoud — February 11, 2017 @ 8:38 pm

  19. The following link is an introduction to the problems with siting of land stations and as I remember maybe 10% of the sites included in the NOAA data set meet all the NOAA requirements for proper siting.

    Great photo of the official temperature station for Marysville CA that shows clear temperature rise since 1920 (located in an asphalt parking lot and air conditioner vents next to station) and the Orland CA station that is properly sited and this station shows stable or decreasing temps over this same period. You don’t have to tamper with data that already includes a bias to show the result you wish to provide when the bias is in the direction you wish to demonstrate.

    If you use data from temperature stations that do not meet NOAA requirements then no different in effect to tampering with the data.

    Comment by pahoben — February 13, 2017 @ 6:54 am

  20. Funniest was the site that showed temperature spikes that corresponded to local firefighters operating their BBQ grill adjacent to the weather station.

    Comment by pahoben — February 13, 2017 @ 7:04 am

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