Sun May 17 10:37:18 PDT 2015

What Happened to the Records...

This article was written in early 2010 and published by the now defunct Associated Content site. It seems that the issue of what happened to the original climate records managed by the UK Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia may never be addressed.

The Dog Ate My Homework or the Real Climategate Scandal

It has been interesting to read about the so called 'Climategate' scandal in the press. For those who have not heard, a hacker, or a whistle blower, posted many email messages, and software programs from the UK Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia on the internet in November 2009.

The messages show that the scientists massaged the charts in their papers (or used a 'trick' as they described it) to support their preferred conclusions, fought and applied peer pressure to insure that reviewers squelched dissenting voices from other workers, and systematically avoided providing their raw data to anyone including fellow researchers. The scientists even sent each other messages requesting that certain email exchanges be deleted, effectively recording that they were engaged in removing who knows what information from the permanent record.

The programs included in the released archive show that raw data was massaged in very arbitrary ways in order to support the warming trend hypothesis favored by these researchers.

There is even a lengthy document which describes attempts to reconstruct previously published temperature information. Unfortunately for the researchers, the lengthy saga described in this document reveals that it was not possible to recreate the data, because nothing of the original massaging had been documented, the original recipe had been lost or forgotten.

All of this was quite a surprise, given that everyone had assumed that the media reports of the general scientific acceptance of man made global warming were accurate.

All of these problems might well be just a few simple mistakes, made over the course of several dazzling careers of excellent scientific work, and nothing much to be concerned about. What is required is an independent check of the information which was maintained by the CRU.

However, it turns out that, just as in Watergate, important parts of the record are missing. Amazingly enough, despite the fact that the cost of computer storage has been rapidly declining, just as the earth has been (apparently) warming, the actual temperature measurements that one would presume that the CRU would jealously guard for the greater good of mankind have been 'lost'. They are no longer available to be generally reviewed. All that is left is the processed information, for which even the CRU employees cannot document the massaging (or 'value adding' as it was termed by the scientists).

The official excuse for this is that computer tapes were lost in an office move. Yet, as anyone with any computer experience will tell you, there is no need for computer tapes to be involved in the storage of important technical data. When originally gathered in the sixties, seventies, and eighties, perhaps measurements were indeed stored on tape. But with each new generation of computer, storage capacities have increased. What once required storage on tape, can now be permanently stored on disk. We have all seen this effect in our own lives. We once had important data on floppy disks. As our computers now possess larger hard disks these days we store that data on hard disk. For a period when we upgrade a computer, we run both of the machines in parallel and transfer the information to the new machines. We are not paid by tax payers to be the custodians of climate research and knowledge; we are just applying basic common sense to the storage of important information.

More than likely all of the original measurements would fit on a 4 GB USB stick. Losing this original record is equivalent to being put in charge of the output of the human genome project, and then accidentally deleting that information.

As we ordinary mortals are also aware, if information is important, we back it up. How would one define important? Perhaps if that information has been gathered at the expense of putting satellites into orbit and manning weather stations all around the world with tax payer's money, in order to generate vastly important raw scientific information, we would judge that as information as important and worth backing up.

Well, we are now being asked to believe, that the CRU experts thought that such precautions were beneath them. No, unfortunately, the original raw data is lost. The journalists and pundits much prefer the calamity message of man made global warming, and treat this lost information as entirely plausible and understandable. The mainstream media, unlike scientists, of course, are well aware that nothing is as valueless as yesterday's information.

Looking back at information rarely causes the reader or viewer to dwell on the latest set of adverts. Looking back at past newspapers, for example, would soon show that the dire climate change predictions of the 1980s did not come to pass. And the global cooling calamities of the 1970s are completely lost in pre-history. No newspaper should ever mention these old stories which used to fill so many column inches, for fear of devaluing today's scare stories.

So the media cannot be faulted in ignoring the accidental loss of the climate data. The scientific community, like a group of doctors unwilling to cast aspersions at one of their own who has killed one patient too many, are also silent. Politicians, never apt to waste a good crisis, are as always calibrating the chances of their maneuverings with respect to the interests of increasing governmental control, or gross capital transfer to the wealthy (depending on their hue) coming to light before the next election.

But people in general are beginning to have a sense of the potential problem. It is quite clear that the CRU 'team' have made mistakes. An organization set up to be the custodian of vital scientific information has lost and corrupted that information. And in the absence of openness and clarity it has opted for a 'The Dog Ate My Homework' excuse as a feeble attempt to avoid scrutiny. Such a phrase typically fails to impress good school teachers. However, the climate expert professors appear to hope that this will be sufficient to dupe the public and politicians.

Fortunately people in general are now able to find their own information and form their own opinions. The information leaked or hacked from the CRU is now freely available on the internet, where it should have been all along. (Just google for Have a look at the files, whether you are a climate change proponent, skeptic, or above such labels, you will see that the media reports are astonishingly trusting of the CRU and its scientists. You too will wonder where the original temperature measurement information is, and you too will be amazed to find that anyone could consider fobbing you off with 'The dog at my homework - but believe me anyway - I am a scientist'.

Seems a little convenient and cynical to me - and yet there seems to be a good chance that the CRU 'team' will get away with it. Now that is a real scandal.


Freakanomics Blog NY Times, 11-November, 2009:

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