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CRU Hack: More context

Filed under: — gavin @ 2 December 2009

Continuation of the older threads. Please scan those (even briefly) to see whether your point has already been dealt with. Let me know if there is something worth pulling from the comments to the main post.

In the meantime, read about why peer-review is a necessary but not sufficient condition for science to be worth looking at. Also, before you conclude that the emails have any impact on the science, read about the six easy steps that mean that CO2 (and the other greenhouse gases) are indeed likely to be a problem, and think specifically how anything in the emails affect them.

Update: The piece by Peter Kelemen at Columbia in Popular Mechanics is quite sensible, even if I don’t agree in all particulars.

Further update: Nature’s editorial.

Further, further update: Ben Santer’s mail (click on quoted text), the Mike Hulme op-ed, and Kevin Trenberth.

1,285 Responses to “CRU Hack: More context”

  1. 201
    Schmert says:

    Somewhat off subject, but I’m curious about the rational of climate change deniers in the form of climate change is natural occurence, and no matter how much arguing about the truth about tree rings is happening, and who’s right and who’s wrong about percentage figures………..

    Would efforts and energy be better spent directed towards the admission there’s a problem and it’s a biggie, something needs to be done, and it must be both viable and do-able as a matter of urgency.

    As I mentioned previously, does the biblical prophecy and the meek shall inherit the Earth actually refer to Jellyfish, because it certainly looks like it’s going that way, irrelevant of who’s to blame…………

    and I strongly suspect Climate Change is no longer an issue of who’s loafers are going to get wet, hockey stick or no hockey stick…………………

  2. 202
    Hank Roberts says:

    Ya know, it’s probably not so much climatologists as programmers whose language is the problem here.

    I mean, how many people here _haven’t_ ever been elegantly flamed by a programmer or sysop for something?

    Deservedly, mind you.

    It’s a vernacular in which those good at it take great pride, and to which they’re mutually immunized.

    I was taught this back in the VAX/300 baud acoustic coupler days:

    “… people who get their feelings hurt when their newbie question gets them flamed don’t understand what an honor it is to be considered worth the effort of flaming. Getting even that much attention means someone thinks you may have some slight chance of being improved by the treatment. Your job is to recognize how, and improve.”

    Imagine some of Usenet appearing in the newspaper articles.

  3. 203
    Jesse says:

    @Timothy Chase (#195)

    Um, are you saying the world at large or climate scientists? She makes it pretty clear (assuming I hit the right link there) that she thinks the climate scientists involved did nothing wrong.

  4. 204
    SecularAnimist says:

    Walter Manny wrote: “.. any scientific assumption that man-made emissions are the primary cause of significant, damaging, alarming and potentially catastrophic changes to the climate. That’s the ‘settled science’ I am talking about …”

    Good of you to clarify what you are talking about.

    All of those so-called “assumptions” are, in fact, actual empirical observations, and are, in fact, “settled science”.

    Anthropogenic GHG emissions are, in fact, the cause of rapid and extreme warming of the planet which is in turn causing rapid and extreme changes to the climate, the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere and the biosphere. None of that is an “assumption”. None of that is a speculation or a mere hypothesis. It is actual, empirically observed fact.

    If you refuse to accept that, it’s not because there is any problem with the science. It’s because there is a problem with you. And the name of that problem is “denial” — a refusal to accept facts that you don’t like.

  5. 205
    David B. Benson says:

    Matthew L (197) — I encourage reading Mark Lynas’s “six Degrees”. Here is a review:

    For a more thorough expostion of the end Permian extinction warming, read Peter D. Ward’s “Under a Green Sky”.

  6. 206
    Bill says:

    Gavin, You have repeated on many occasions, that no data has been deleted or altered in any way. How can you be so sure bearing in mind the hugely decentralised data collection process. How is this sort of certainty derived from the ‘field’stations and into the data processing system.

    [Response: Because I know people who work at met services. Their whole business is to curate and deliver data and they are going to tremendous efforts to digitise older data, deal with inhomogeneities etc. Phil Jones has a 30 year commitment to providing the data to the community and it is completely out of the question that he deleted data that didn’t exist somewhere else. I absolutely trust his integrity and statements on this. – gavin]

  7. 207
    David Kane says:

    [All of the raw data is curated by the relevant Met. Services. – gavin]

    How can you know this is true without having access to a thorough audit trail of the data. (You can certainly hope it is true, but hope is not the same thing as direct knowledge.)

    Consider a specific number from CRU for June 30, 1956 — or pick another example, I don’t know CRU data. That number is 22. This number has been, via some mechanism that we are unsure of, derived from the raw data that, say, the Norwegian Met Office collected. Fine. But how do you know that the Norwegian Met Office still has an archive of that raw data. Files get lost. Tapes get erased. And so on.

    Now, needless to say, it is not CRU’s fault if the Norwegian Met Office has lost/deleted some data. But, unless you know for a fact that every piece of raw data that went into the calculation of the CRU derived data is still curated at the national met offices, you should not claim that it is.

    Is there anyone for us to know, specifically, what raw data from which stations went into an particular number at CRU?

    PS. Kudos to Gavin for taking so much time to answer these questions!

  8. 208
    Anand Rajan KD says:

    “On the AGW point, I am pretty much convinced on the science that CO2 is causing global warming,…”

    Truth is the daughter of time.

  9. 209
    ccpo says:

    Re: Comment by j gordon — 3 December 2009 @ 9:22 AM

    This is my only comment on a blog

    Thank god, because, really, does the world need another apologist for distortions and lies? I see nothing but a Trojan Horse Denialist in your post. To wit:

    1. Phil Jones is finished

    For wanting to keep bad science from being mixed with good? For wanting to keep people who are paid for their opinions out of a scientific inquiry by people who are paid for their science?

    And you come to this conclusion without knowing the full context. Emotion and intention is difficult to show in text. Was the context and tone one of hyperbole? Was it just a bad day at the office that quickly faded after a nice tea and forgotten altogether? Doesn’t the fact that both papers made it into the IPCC indicate to you that nothing rotten ever came of the rant? And further, are individual scientists not allowed opinions on how papers and authors should be treated?

    I, though not a scientist, would be completely comfortable with excluding Singer, for example, from any discussion of these issues because the data is irrefutable about his lack of scientific rigor (he doesn’t do any) and his biases (paid to dispute lung cancer/smoking connection, now paid to dispute anthropogenic GHG emissions and climate changes) show that he clearly does not belong at the table. Others mentioned in the e-mails are, in my opinion, on nearly as shaky ground.

    A hallmark of true scientific inquiry, particularly for a sceptic, should be that they do research and let the data speak for themselves. That a number of supposed sceptics do only anti-AGW “science” speaks volumes. If they were looking to simply understand the climate should there not be work in their histories that end up showing a mix of results, at worst? I mean, c’mon! With all the changes you can SEE AROUND YOU, how is it possible some of these people can on;y find evidence that says our eyes are lying to us? Why is it we should doubt the people who DO NOT have a conflict of interest and whose work is consistent with the observational record (our supposedly lying eyes)?

    2. The CRU data is finished…

    Why? Are we to allow illogic, infantile emotion-based reasoning and political gotcha!=ism to cause us to reject facts, truth and data? That you accept such a wrong-headed conclusion tells me that you are not much of a supporter of science or right vs. wrong. One should fight for what is right, not roll over and let good data be called a lie.

    “We threw away the raw data years ago…”

    Why repeat this lie? The raw data is still available, as responses here have clearly shown.

    …are none of your business”

    Who said this? The FOI request was rejected on the grounds that some of the data was proprietary. That said, if my e-mails were hacked and an old e-mail to an old girlfriend were then taken out of context and sent to my wife with the claim I was currently having an affair, how should I react? Should I then be asked a year later to make my e-mails available to the same person I know to have lied before about my e-mails?

    This is what you are advocating. McIntyre, Watts, et al, are not climate scientists, they do not do climate science, are not qualified, and have shown as singular willingness to be fast and loose with the issue of AGW science.

    It is insanity to trust these people with anything, let alone the fate of the world.

    3. I noticed that several of the sponsors of this web site received emails from Phil Jones. I am dismayed to not see a response

    Do you not read? I have seen more than one response in the several threads on this topic that make things unequivocably clear.

    I do not write to attack anyone

    And yet, you do.

    this story is about trust

    Indeed. As I said, Trojan Horse, imo.

  10. 210
    Bruce Williams says:


    I guess it is better to state the problem more specifically.
    Is it true that that some of the original data they started with was knowingly deleted? I.E. Someone made the conscious decision to destroy the original data knowing it was original data and once destroyed could not be verified that it was correct and unmodified?

    [Response: No. This is an insane suggestion. – gavin]

  11. 211
    Bill says:

    Re 206 & 207. David makes my point very well. Looking from the outside , its become clear that the data collection process and audit trail leaves much to be desired , and its not possible from your ‘central’ position, to provide assurances on the data without specific compliance information.

  12. 212
    ccpo says:

    As to the ’settled science’, I am happy to give it a rest, and I will assume for the sake of argument that by your objection you mean that RC has moved past any scientific assumption that man-made emissions are the primary cause of significant, damaging, alarming and potentially catastrophic changes to the climate. That’s the “settled science” I am talking about, the unchallenged assumption (though it may be true) that I live with in my little corner of the teaching world. I expect you are talking about a different unsettled science.

    Comment by Walter Manny — 3 December 2009 @ 1:34 PM

    Unethical, immoral response.

  13. 213
    Patrick M says:

    “My argument with him is that AGW is almost certainly true and that his level of doubt (skepticisim) should reflect the consensus.”

    This thinking is illogical. The level of doubt should reflect the level of evidence and has nothing to do with ‘consensus’. Skeptics are not going to be less skeptical due to either vitriol or appeals to authority and see some of the peer-reviewed evidence as tainted. These CRU emails have tarnished the credibility of the IPCC-related climate scientists who have been found trying to suppress dissenting papers and views, so any ‘consensus’ based on it is equally suspect.

    Further, the least important question about AGW is whether it is “true”. Quantification of impacts is the real question. If doubling CO2 will increase temperatures by 0.8C, that makes AGW ‘true’, correct? Congrats, you and Prof Lindzen of MIT, a known ‘skeptic’, now agree about AGW being ‘true’. The point of disagreements are the myriad details underneath.

    #146 nails it – “Governments have fallen on a lot less.” Trust is hard to gain back.
    Now is the time for increased skepticism and scrutiny on all sides – gut-check all assumptions and derivations and data, and let the chips fall where they may.

  14. 214
    Rob says:

    Your below answer fails to reach the inner parts of my brain. Could you please illustrate, in small chunks, by means of images, tables, graphs or whatever how this really works? Since I’m a “denialist”, I’m a bit hard to convince but once you convince me of this fabulous theory I will convert into an “alarmist”, worth a try isn’t it??

    Jokes aside, the fact is that this theory needs to be explain in layman terms since the common understanding is that CO2 is already doing 90% of the job it is capable of doing, adding magnitudes of more it would reach maybe 95%…you get the picture.

    [Response: Actually it’s pretty easy once you think about it. Water vapour is the main overlap, so let’s assume for arguments sake that at specific humidities that are typical of surface air completely saturate a particular frequency. Note that water vapour decreases rapidly with height. Now the surface water vapour will radiate at this frequency as well – some will go up, some will go down. The stuff that goes up will encounter less water vapour at each stage. By the time you get to the upper troposphere the water vapour level is down by 3 orders of magnitude – and will not be anywhere close to saturating the band. Thus there will always be a height somewhere below that where the CO2 absorption starts to kick in. Thus you are never going to be fully saturated in the whole atmosphere. The forcing values you read about (~4W/m2 for a doubling of CO2) takes that all into account. – gavin]

    [Response: Where did you get the idea that CO2 is doing 90% of what it can? CO2 forcing is logarithmic but that doesn’t converge – the more CO2 there is the more of an effect it will have. Look at Venus if you don’t believe me. The explanation I gave you is the reason why the water vapour overlap is a red herring. There is more discussion here. – gavin]

  15. 215
    Timothy Chase says:

    I had written in 195:

    Hopefully there is a book in the offing:

    Then I quoted Richard Littlemore on DesmogBlog:

    Canadian Green party leader Elizabeth May has done, here what most journalists have not: she read ALL the leaked emails and comments on the basis of primary sources.

    Her conclusion? We’ve been had.

    Elizabeth May: An Informed Look at the East Anglia Emails
    Richard Littlemore
    3 December 09

    Jesse responded in 203:

    @Timothy Chase (#195)

    Um, are you saying the world at large or climate scientists? She makes it pretty clear (assuming I hit the right link there) that she thinks the climate scientists involved did nothing wrong.

    Actually I was quoting Richard Littlemore at that point, and I believe that when he said, “Her conclusion? We’ve been had,” by “we” he is refering to all the reporters who did not read every one of those 3000 emails but had done little more than report on the break-in and parrot the propaganda of a well-oiled machine, and by extension, the media and the world.

    In any case, thank you for giving me the chance to clarify: I suspect that what she has to say may be of some importance.

  16. 216
    Bill says:

    Re #206 & 207. David is quite correct.To ensure the statements you make are correct, you will need to have field station compliance reports to ensure that all the data in the analysis, is complete and correct. In the real world, this is often not perfect,but the actual error rate is known and can be used to judge the value of conclusions drawn. Gavin, the more times we see the absolute statements of ‘trust’, the more difficulty we have with credibility.

  17. 217
    Timothy Chase says:


    The well-oiled machine to which I refer above may or may not have been responsible for the specific break-in (and they may very well have been responsible for encouraging the other break-in attempts), but in either case it found this break-in to be a great opportunity. Words that it could twist in order to practice character assassination of key individuals, and by extension of an entire profession and branch of science.

  18. 218
    Bruce Williams says:


    Apparently I am not stating this correctly.
    Is it true that the University started with a set of data that they had in their possession?
    Is THAT data available?
    I could care less about some fragmented data somewhere else!

    [Response: Huh? If I can call the bus station and get the schedule whenever I want, then what difference does it make if I lost the handout I picked up last time I was there? You have got it completely backwards – keeping multiple copies of duplicate data is a recipe for dataset drift and confusion – look at the variations in the GHCN data for stations that had been digitised at different times. It is not the CRU’s job to curate the raw datasets – that is the role of the National Met. Services. The fact that the data exists somewhere else is precisely the point. – gavin]

    I want to know about the data they actually working with when they started.
    “Transcription” errors are not unknown in science.

    [Response: Of course. That’s why it’s important that the long term trends are replicated by the other groups making different choices about how the stations are merged. If you want to verify that every station, at every month in the CRU (or GHCN) datasets is exactly the same as what was in the original data reports (usually hand written) and probably stored in basements across the world, you have your work cut out for you, but there is no reason why that wouldn’t be possible in theory. – gavin]

  19. 219
    Pat says:

    In times of doubt, I usually ask a ninja. His conclusions and solutions seem a lot more plausible than most of yours.

  20. 220
    Bill says:

    additional comment to #206/7 & 17, these comments refer equally to CRU and NOAA/GISS datasets,of course.

  21. 221
    Chris MCV says:

    I do feel bad for Gavin, I have no doubt he strongly feels he is right and that this is a tempest in a teapot. He has shown great fortitude for toughing out the comments here at RC. That being said, I posted here quite a long time ago warning that, true or not, allegations of data being hidden were a real threat to his postition. I was clear that I was a skeptic, but I had an open mind to things. That was enough for many hear to simply tell me I was an idiot because as a layman I should have just believed them and if I didn’t I was a fool. The very fact I was skeptical was proof I was a fool. (Not an exact quote, but that was the clear slant of the replies I got). I tried to tell people that if this AGW is true then they had the responsibility to nip these allegations in the bud by taking great efforts to be open and transparent, but I was pretty much told that it was a silly idea and not worth the effort.
    Unfortunately we now have a situation where, true or not, something has happened that could have been prevented. Yeah, some could have picked minor flaws in the the data/models/etc (if minor they were) and found fault, real or imagined, but now the press and the public is starting to have its doubts. A debate about methods and data confined to blogs is not what we now have. The court of public opinion is in session and you need new lawyers. If you are right about AGW, your belief that you could ignore the skeptics may have just killed us all. I am just a nobody, but I am one of many millions and millions of nobodies that vote. My attitude toward you know is even more skeptical and I tell people that fact. You might be right and all parties may be exonerated, but there is no denying that your position and clout has been reduced. If things are as critical as you say, you have harmed yourself as surely as if you had released these emails yourself.
    I would suggest letting your blog sit for a day or two, go have some wine and watch the sunset and think about things a bit. You may deny it to yourself, but you would be a fool to think this will just go away, or that if the investigations prove innocence then the issue is dead. It wont. If you really believe you are right about AGW, and that it all is as bad as you say, then if you do not do whatever it takes, distasteful as you find it, then you are no better then those you critisize. You cannot make your critics fly straight, but you know you are under a microscope, you must put every duck, macro duck, micro duck and even the nano ducks in a row and you need to do it fast. On the off hand chance there has been shady actions, come clean now. If they come out later, it will be even more damning and public opinion will start to swing against you (its probably fairly neutral at this point). If it truly swings against you, its all over no matter what the truth really is.
    If the books were cooked though, it is my deepest wish to see all the parties involved burn for it. Sorry, but if you have lied (and I don’t really believe you have), you deserve the very worst.

  22. 222
    Chris says:

    Where can I find a good argument for “runaway” climate change? Trying to educate myself. Thanks

    [Response: Our take was here. – gavin]

  23. 223
    Joe Hunkins says:

    Sure, the emails do little or nothing to undermine AGW as science but they do support McIntyre’s ongoing assertions that there is an unscientific type of obstruction going on.

    RealClimate folks don’t see it that way because you think you are “fighting the good fight” against his unreasonable attacks, but many of us in the peanut gallery would like to see his generally reasonable critiques of methods (e.g. the “upside down” Varve record) addressed in less oblique fashion. What’s the harm in that?

    [Response: Because the actual explanation is never accepted and still more insinuations and accusations follow. Stoat dealt with the Tjilander issue well and just repeating the same accusation over again when the answer isn’t going to change is foolish. Dialog is a two way street. – gavin]

  24. 224
    Woody says:

    Sorry, I wasn’t sure it went through!

    [Response: Apologies, but multiple posts with the same content and odd links are a sign of spammers. – gavin]

  25. 225
    peter martin says:

    A short interview about the CRU hack with science historian Spencer Weart at , Part Three at the bottom, about one quarter in.

  26. 226
    Bill says:

    Dont feel too bad for Gavin, he has taken a position freely without any pressure. As neither an AGW proponent nor a’denialst’, I am looking for some solid data on which to base some conclusions. I now understand that both major land temperature data-sets are derived from the same filed station data ( whether they both use all the stations is neither here nor there), and I have also understodd that the major satellite data-sets are ‘calibrated’ against these land stations data. Hence my repeated search for the compliance assurance of the field data raw numbers( missing data, errors, etc ).

    [Response: Satellite data are not calibrated against surface temperatures. They are indeed independent, as are the ocean temperatures, the snow cover records, the Arctic sea ice melt etc. – gavin]

  27. 227
    Bill says:

    but how do they turn satellite readings of some description into temperature data?

    [Response: Using the same radiative transfer theory that tells us that CO2 is part of the greenhouse effect. – gavin]

  28. 228
    Esmeralda Dangerfield says:

    this is a wonderfully well written continuation of
    Hulme’s piece, yesterday.

    this is Daniel Henninger in today’s WSJ.

    [Response: No it isn’t, this is the same self-congratulatory anti-science delusion that typifies the WSJ op-ed page. – gavin]

  29. 229
    manacker says:

    SecularAnimist (189) weighs in on a statement by Walter Manny:

    “… there appears still to be an insistence that AGW theory is settled science.”

    Yes, SA: As you point out, the greenhouse theory itself is “settled science” as is the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, that it has warmed around 0.6°C over the 20th century (assuming the temperature records are correct), that humans have emitted CO2 and that atmospheric CO2 concentration has increased since measurements started at Mauna Loa around 1957.

    What is also “settled science” is that it has not warmed since the end of the 20th century despite continued all-time record increase in CO2, but has cooled instead by around 0.1°C (same caveat on the temperature record as above).

    What is NOT “settled science”, however, are the projections of major warming (2° to 6°C) by year 2100 due to AGW principally from human CO2 emissions, resulting in a major threat to our society and environment, as IPCC claims.

    It is always best to keep these things well defined and separated to avoid confusion, as I am sure Gavin will agree.


  30. 230
    Hank Roberts says:

    Bill, care to tell us where you got your misinformation?

  31. 231
    dhogaza says:

    That being said, I posted here quite a long time ago warning that, true or not, allegations of data being hidden were a real threat to his postition.

    I think the operative phrase here is “true or not”. This is precisely why the CA and WUWT have been screaming “fraud” for years. Because people like you will come along and say “true or not” …

    As the old saying goes … when did you stop beating your wife? True or not … I’m skeptical that you’re a decent human being. That’s all it takes, isn’t it?

  32. 232
    MapleLeaf says:

    Gavin ” If you want to see uncontrolled anger, then you should see the email we are getting – it’s pretty appalling stuff. ”

    I believe it! Pity that you are too ethical to openly share those damning emails. That said, those in denial have now defined the rules of ‘debate’, so it is extremely difficult not to exchange the threatening emails that you have likely been sent. I for one would fully understand if you did. Then again, maybe the police already are in possession of said threatening emails.

  33. 233
    Bill says:

    Specifically for satellite data, how does instrument data from a satellite get converted into temperature without a calibration step somewhere? Your throwaway on radiative transfer theory doesn’t help me.

    [Response: Try the original papers on the subject (Spencer and Christy, 1990 for instance), or look at the RSS site. – gavin]

  34. 234
    Bruce Williams says:


    Each unanswered question just points to another problem.
    Is it true that the University started with a set of data that they had in their possession? Yes or No?

    [Response: Playing at socrates is a lot of fun, but just repeating questions that have already been answered and discussed is silly. You are determined to find some smoking gun that will allow you to get all hot and bothered, and I’m telling you that you are wasting your time. You clearly don’t trust me on that, so there is very little point in continuing this discussion. Go and read the CRU statements on the issue because I clearly can’t help you any further. – gavin]

  35. 235
    harry says:

    Thanks to Moira Kemp for taking the time to look for National Met Office data restrictions. Would you be able to comment on how these restrictions managed to be bypassed when Phil Jones supplied raw data to Georgia Tech’s Peter Webster? And why a subsequent FOI for exactly the same data supplied to Peter Webster was refused based on restrictions from NMOs?

  36. 236
    Bruce Williams says:


    Could you point me to the CRU statements?

  37. 237
    Bill says:

    Microwave sounding measurements need calibration against some measure of temperature, I believe !

  38. 238
    manacker says:

    Chris MCV (221) is correct in warning [IPCC and the climate scientists supporting the AGW premise of IPCC] that if there is an attempted cover-up now but “shady actions” “come out later, it will be even more damning and public opinion will start to swing against you”.

    This appears already to be happening based on a very recent US poll.

    “Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Americans say it’s at least somewhat likely that some scientists have falsified research data to support their own theories and beliefs about global warming. Thirty-five percent (35%) say it’s Very Likely. Just 26% say it’s not very or not at all likely that some scientists falsified data.”

    As has been said, “perception is reality”. The only way to reverse this tide (if it can be done at all) is to be 100% open and transparent now, as Chris MCV writes.


  39. 239
    Jim Bouldin says:

    The more I think about this episode, and dealing with AGW deniers in general, the more I think about Hank’s reference to the tar baby in a post a while back:

    Like a dysfunctional relationship based on control and manipulation, there’s no dealing with these people.

  40. 240
    AC says:

    Couple of thoughts about the “deletion” (or not) of the raw data:

    1) Surely collation itself has some value. Obviously the expense of collecting all the data in one place is significant. They may not have deleted the raw data, but they certainly destroyed significant effort, and something that an outside observer would have thought was absolutely critical to their current and future work.

    2) So they’ve now been collecting new raw data for ~30 years and adding it on to their transformed data pre-1980? This seems fraught with issues. How can you be confident the transformations applied to 1990 data match the transformations applied to 1960 data if you don’t have the original 1960 raw data? How can you confidently mix data transformed in different ways into a coherent single series?

  41. 241
    jonc says:

    Rob@214 – I came across a nice chart on page 69 of this that shows the concentration of H20 by altitude.

    The crossover point for CO2 and H2O seems to be about 9km. Above that the CO2 level concentration is about 100 times that of H2O.

    The post “a-saturated-gassy-argument” that Gavin cited in his reply to you is a too hand-waving and dismissive to be convincing, but the citations at the end of it may be more valuable. The basic point seems to be that while CO2 is very near the saturation point, the residual amount level is significant enough to cause a small increase in temperature, enough that would be harmful. In fact, if the CO2 filtering were not already nearly saturated, humans would have become extinct a few decades ago by the rise in CO2 over the industrial era.

  42. 242
    Joe says:

    Re: 183 Phil and 193 Barton:

    Thanks for the elaboration, both of you. As I said, my physics was a long time ago (although I was pretty OK at it) and needs brushing up if I want to pass comment on papers in the field. I’m well aware of my own limitations in that way :)

    My point was simply the risk of offering up ammunition to people who may not be aware of their own limits, nor be interested in expanding those limits. There seem to be plenty of such people on both sides at the moment and, as far as I’m concerned, the less random noise out there the better ;)

  43. 243
    Phil. Felton says:

    John MacQueen says:
    3 December 2009 at 10:30 AM
    Gavin, the real issue as I see it is this.

    The climate scientists involved are presenting “evidence” intended to drive human civilization into sweeping changes that impact every facet of our civilization to a degree not seen since the industrial revolution, if even then.

    And you have it completely backwards: The climate scientists involved are presenting “evidence” showing that we are conducting an experiment with the world’s climate that will drive human civilization into sweeping changes that impact every facet of our civilization to a degree not seen since the industrial revolution, if even then. They are further suggesting that we should stop doing so!

  44. 244
    Joe says:

    Oh, thanks Ray @ 168 as well – on the basis of that review, I may have to give it more than the cursory skim I have so far. If it really is that bad then I might even break my own rules and pass an opinion on something that I’m not fully conversant with!

  45. 245
    Brian Dodge says:

    @ John Cooknell — 3 December 2009 @ 9:35 AM
    “Brian but what trend?”
    “So is Climate Change indicated by an extremely wet summer causing summer flooding, or summer drought like 2003 caused by increasing numbers of heatwaves.”
    You are mistaken if you think that extreme rainfall events cannot occur during periods of drought. Here in central NC where I live we had the driest year on record(but barely getting into the technical definition of “Drought” because of the rain we had last fall), but the current news(on TV as I type this) is of flooding caused by an extreme rainfall event. We’re still behind our normal annual rainfall. Models predict this sort of anomalous (and expensive; flooding, crop damage by early drought and late excess rainfall) behavior. Observations confirm the models are correct.

  46. 246
    Bruce Williams says:


    Not sure if your one person or many, but I have searched the CRU site and cannot find any statement about the data they started their AGW research with, or if they presently have it.

    And this is not about playing, and I take affront to your attitude and arrogance. Especially about playing Socrates. He was a great man and should not be belittled by your inability to answer a proper question. I don’t know is a perfectly valid and understandable answer.

  47. 247
    Bruce Williams says:

    How critical is the original data that the research was done with. Put it this way. Nobody goes back and repeats the Michelson Morley Experiment to show that there is no ether each and every time they do basic research in astronomy. C is constant no matter which direction you face.

    Science works because one person finds one thing, then others build on that. If the first thing is wrong, then the next conclusion is also tainted, and the next, and the next. Each research conclusion depends on the previous being proper. If the original is wrong, the error is often not caught until many have a vested interest. I.E. Global Cooling in the 70’s.

    But then you and the CRU know this – don’t you.

  48. 248
    R Simmon says:

    Bruce (Re. #233): NASA’s remote sensing tutorial has a primer on how satellites measure temperature in the atmosphere, which might be easier to understand than the primary literature:

    Scroll down to “The 3-D Atmsophere: Atmospheric Sounders”:

    “Atmospheric sounders generally make passive measurements of the distribution of IR or microwave radiation emitted by the atmosphere, from which vertical profiles of temperature and humidity through the atmosphere may be obtained. Oxygen or carbon dioxide is usually used as a “tracer” for the estimation of temperature profiles since they are relatively uniformly distributed throughout the atmosphere, and hence atmospheric temperature sounders often measure radiation at wavelengths emitted by these gases.

  49. 249
    guthrie says:

    Bill #237 – why do you think that the satellites need calibration?

  50. 250
    Marcus says:

    “100% open and transparent now”

    But where does 100% open and transparent end? Perhaps every climate scientist should have a keytracker on their computers and a tap on their phones, continually transmitting data to the internet. And all scientific meetings should be held in one of those “Reality TV” houses so that no shady conversations in side-corridors will go unrecorded…