ClimateGate Reaction Part 1: The Point
“To be controlled in our economic pursuits means to be controlled in everything.” Fredrich Hayek
We should not be giving away our freedom to national and international authorities, who wish to regulate “every aspect of our life“, to solve an ill-defined “crisis” that has not been irrefutably proven to be caused by man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) output. With the release of the CRU emails and source code, I’d say we are very far from being beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have a looming preventable man-made crisis that requires radical freedom-limiting government action.
This puts it succinctly:
This is really, really, really, really bad stuff, because the entire case for regulatory intervention turns on the predictive power of these models. If the data that is their basis and the the programming itself has been manipulated in any way, shape or form to drive a result intended to influence policy, then all the scientific papers that derive from these models or rely on them in any way ought to be withdrawn.
Global Warming conventional wisdom (aka “the consensus”) in 10 easy steps:
1) According to the global warming alarmists, we have a warming trend that is “virtually certain” over the next 100 years.
2) This warming is man-made, specifically from economic activity that generates carbon dioxide. This, we are told is THE primary cause of the observed warming with no other causes being discovered or given any credence (including that very bright star that we orbit).
3) This warming will achieve a crisis level. The “crisis” is defined in some variation of the following dire circumstances: global ice caps melting and dramatically raising sea levels, water shortages, rich agricultural sources drying up (these last two resulting in mass starvation) and energy resources being depleted. (And in the media’s attempt to beat the drums of a crisis, we have a ridiculous list of seemingly unrelated items that are blamed on whatever global warming has already occurred)
4) These predictions are based on climate models built by a myriad of scientists who have taken the last 150 years of temperature records, modified them for some form of normalization, and ran them out for the next century or two. It is these models that the predicted crisis is dependent upon. The code quality of these models are deemed to be sound, never mind the questions around raw data inputs and the lack of any public software audit.
5) A scientific consensus, and more importantly a political consensus, has formed (or has been manufactured) behind this theory of man-made, or anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and the accuracy of the predictions from these computer models.
6) This consensus has branded anyone who questions the consensus as heretics skeptics and sometimes “deniers” (with the association with Holocaust denial being completely intentional). Leaving the name calling aside, this consensus points to a dearth of peer reviewed work from the skeptical scientists in order to discredit the quality of their conclusions.
7) This consensus, whose chief spokesman declared the science as settled and beyond debate, and having declared a irreversible crisis unless something is done, have produced varied policy proposals at various national and international levels. All of these proposals would result in more government and multi-government control over economic activity (in more extreme examples, also control over population growth).
8) The primary authority of these proposals rest on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body of the United Nations that manages research into the question of global warming and climate “change”. The IPCC’s primary purpose is to issue summary evidence for policy makers who will be in charge of “doing something.” The IPCC report is a political exercise that uses science to reach a political consensus (don’t believe its political at its heart? Just look at the name again: intergovernmental). More specifically, it uses the scientific research as the authority for its political recommendations.
9) The IPCC uses a historical temperature map known as the “hockey stick” as a key piece of evidence of the dramatic warming of the 20th century. It also uses specific climate models to predict that the trend will continue and that this will result in the various dire circumstances listed in point #3.
10) The “hockey stick” and the primary climate models used for predictive purposes are produced or peer reviewed by scientists who work for or are affiliated with the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University in the United Kingdom. The raw data, the full body of research and the source code to the climate models have never been made publically available for additional scientific review, despite numerous requests to do so. The CRU’s mission is overtly policy oriented as opposed to pure science and are intimately involved in the IPCC.
And what is the scandal being called ClimateGate, by some, and Climaquiddick by others? Someone has hacked/downloaded/stolen the source code to the climate models and the email history from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University in the UK. The e-mails are between key scientists involved in or the authors of the hockey stick graph and the climate models used by the IPCC.
So, what if the foundation for their conclusions of a climate crisis are based on computer models that are poorly sourced (in fact much of the raw data is gone!), inexplicably manipulated, lacking good documentation and quality control, and do not seem to reflect the raw data that purport to represent the spike in global temperatures? What if the scientists who are key advisers and authors of the IPCC report used their political clout to prevent access to peer review processes for scientists who reach different conclusions, all the while claiming that the lack of peer review for skeptical papers is why skeptics cannot be trusted? What if these very scientists have at least hinted at manipulating data to reach a desired conclusion and attempted to ignore observable trends that run counter to their predicted trends? What if these scientists refused to share their data and correspondence so vehemently that they plotted to delete information vital to an official Freedom of Information Act request?
It calls into question the ethics of researchers at the heart of the global warming industry (see point #9), and, most importantly, it damages the credibility of their computer models (see points #4 and #10). That would be the same computer models that the policy makers who will be gathering in Copenhagen shortly to agree on what to do about the “crisis” these models predict (See point #7). These policy makers propose regulatory schemes that most economists believe will restrict current economic activity and ultimately economic prosperity. These policy makers don’t see this as a bad thing. After all, what do you think they mean by their constant refrain on sustainability? So, how are they going to convince the common plebes that we should voluntarily limit growth? By convincing them that unless we take drastic government enforced measures, we are going to heat the globe to crisis levels. Without the science, without the predicted crisis, these policies would be unnecessary.
Therefore all policy proposals beyond voluntary individual action and existing clean air guidelines should be placed permanently on hold until all the data has been reanalyzed and all research, all methodology, all computer code, and all coding standards are publicly available and put through a true democratic investigation if they are to be used to dictate public policy. Furthermore, the computer models must be set to some standards of predictive accuracy within a limited term time horizon (not less than 10 years) and must be able to accurately predict, within a reasonable margin of error, agreed upon global climate criteria as well the impact of large weather events. This must occur before any policy proposals are put into place. If this is too complex and too high a threshold to meet, then perhaps, we should stop pretending that AGW is a proven fact, that we have settled the question of man’s impact on the global climate and that we must limit economic prosperity to prevent a crisis whose scope we cannot accurately predict.