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Scientists Cleared of Misusing Global Warming Data

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the not-that-skeptics-care dept.

Earth 541

Hugh Pickens writes writes "The NY Times reports that an inquiry by the Commerce Department's inspector general has found no evidence that NOAA scientists manipulated climate data (reg. may be required) to buttress evidence in support of global warming after climate change skeptics contended that e-mail messages between climate scientists that were stolen and circulated on the Internet in late 2009 showed that scientists were manipulating or withholding information to advance the theory that the earth is warming as a result of human activity. 'None of the investigations have found any evidence to question the ethics of our scientists or raise doubts about NOAA's understanding of climate change science,' says Mary Glackin, the agency's deputy undersecretary for operations. The inquiry, requested last May by Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, who has challenged the science underlying human-induced climate change, comes at a critical moment for NOAA, as some newly empowered Republican House members seek to rein in the EPA's plans to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, often contending that the science underpinning global warming is flawed. Inhofe says the report (PDF) was far from a clean bill of health for the agency, and that contrary to its executive summary, showed that the scientists 'engaged in data manipulation.'"

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541 comments

Help me out here (2, Insightful)

metrix007 (200091) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311376)

Is there enough statistically significant clear, objective data that is available to be verified that indicates anything with any amount of confidence?

Re:Help me out here (3, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311420)

No.

But common sense can tell us dumping huge amounts of a gas into the atmosphere that's poisonous to humans is a bad thing.

Re:Help me out here (2, Funny)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311494)

I guess we better stop watering lawns then. Dihydrogen monoxide happens to be both toxic to humans and a greenhouse gas!

Re:Help me out here (3, Informative)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311500)

Oxygen is also toxic to humans at high partial pressures.

Re:Help me out here (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311552)

Oxygen is one of the most highly reactive substances we run into in any quantity on a day to day basis.

Also (somewhat off topic) ask the Apollo 1 astronauts how awesome oxygen is!

Re:Help me out here (2)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311658)

Oxygen is also toxic to humans at high partial pressures.

True, but I once thought that oxygen was the world's first pollutant (I even wrote a node to that effect). However, I went to a talk this week by Nick Lane about the origin of life - and he says that it is not oxygen as such, but oxygen radicals. The context was that he was talking about why mitochondria evolved, and that it probably wasn't to protect organisms from the increase in oxygen concentrations caused by the invention of photosynthesis. Indeed, it is the mitochondria that make most of the oxygen radicals.

Anyway, the point still holds that even though a molecule (like O2) can be beneficial in some concentrations, it can be harmful at others. In the same way that you can die from drinking too much water, or eating too much salt. There do exist compounds that are toxic at all concentrations, but they are as rare as completely non-reactive substances (like gold).

Re:Help me out here (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 3 years ago | (#35312094)

Gold is not non-reactive - you can dissolve it in aqua regia to form chloroauric acid.

This is how gold was hidden from the Nazis during the war in certain chemistry labs. It was dissolved to form a yellow/straw solution and then precipitated out once the war was over and recast into its original form.

Re:Help me out here (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311762)

All I know is that we won't be safe until we can eliminate all the carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.

Re:Help me out here (1, Informative)

Mira One (1912328) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311890)

Are you aware that CO2 is required for photosynthesis in plants and without it they would die leaving us all without food?

Re:Help me out here (1)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311938)

Not to mention the fact that that we'd probably get another snowball earth [wikipedia.org] and all freeze to death. CO2 and greenhouse warming is needed to maintain our current temperatures. Just because too much of something is bad, that doesn't mean none of it is good.

Re:Help me out here (3)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35312024)

And a whoosh to you, good sir.

Re:Help me out here (0)

budgenator (254554) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311976)

I hope you realize that without any CO2 in the atmosphere, the planet would turn into a ball of ice.

Re:Help me out here (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311780)

First: I'd agree with stop watering laws. I don't water mine and it looks fine.
Second: There's a huge difference between spreading water around, that's already out in the environment, and releasing a gas that's been trapped in the earths crust for hundreds of millions of years.

Re:Help me out here (0)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35312032)

Second: There's a huge difference between spreading water around, that's already out in the environment, and releasing a gas that's been trapped in the earths crust for hundreds of millions of years.

The whole point of spreading toxic, dangerous dihydrogen monoxide is to increase the amount in the local environment. At least the evil carbon burners don't do it merely to increase the levels of a harmful chemical in the environment. And the toxic, dangerous carbon was already in the environment, which doesn't magically stop at the surface of the Earth.

Re:Help me out here (2, Insightful)

ballpoint (192660) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311504)

Last time I checked the atmosphere is not poisonous to humans :)

And even if we were to burn all obtainable carbon at once, the CO2 concentration would still be several times below poisonous levels.

Re:Help me out here (2, Insightful)

Draek (916851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311682)

Pity the same doesn't apply to all the *other* chemicals oil burning puts in the air, though.

Global Warming has almost been a Godsend to the oil-abusing crowd, as its focused the media's attention on the least harmful side-effect of using their beloved product. Who cares if the world's vegetation is dying in a rain of sulfur? there's not enough data to ascertain the world is getting warmer (and as long as they continue pushing government investigations on anyone that has some, there'll never be), so continuing to burn oil should be perfectly OK.

Re:Help me out here (2, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311906)

The presence of carbon dioxide is unbelievably important. "Huge amounts" is relative. Common sense isn't so common; a lot of common sense is fallacious.

For example, shove all those factories in the middle of a wildlife reserve, pumping their particulate and toxic gasses into the air in the middle of dense forests, separated by swaths of trees. When it rains, the particulate runs to the ground and becomes fertilizer; and the gasses are absorbed by the trees to make sugar. Dense opaque smog would be a problem, as would be high sulfur content; hence we should desulfate the fuels used, or scrub the sulfates from the exhaust.

See? The location suddenly matters. All that greenhouse gas emission means nothing in the midst of an ecology that thrives on it; but then we cite the specific needs of the ecology and find that a small subset of chemicals in the emissions cause wilting by chemical damage, or block out the sun and prevent photosynthesis.

So, should we start building up forests around our coal processing plants and oil burning power plants? We could bubble the exhaust through a water-channel airlock shaped such that the fluid flow caused mass turbulence to wash the exhaust, dropping out the particulates, capturing most of the acidic compounds like sulfates... dissolve lime in the water to neutralize the acids, then exhaust it into irrigation nearby. Now the emissions are helpful.

Re:Help me out here (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311498)

It's true. There isn't.

Re:Help me out here (4, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311580)

That depends on whether you're willing to invoke the True Scotsman fallacy. For sufficiently narrow confidence intervals, there is no valid data for anything.

Re:Help me out here (5, Insightful)

RogerWilco (99615) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311676)

I'm no climate scientist, but as I understand it, there is a lot of data that is showing the climate changing. As I understand well above the 95% confidence level.

The real issue is how much of that is man made. There it's more of an indirect relation, in the sense that the climate has been heating up at a rate that seems to be higher then ever before, since we started putting greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere in large quantities. There are also clues that there is a cause and effect relationship between the two, but as I understand that's less clear.

The actual climate change can be measured. The increase in greenhouse gasses can be measured. The link between them is a theory dependant on our imperfect understanding and ability to model the climate of the entire world. But there are many other influences as well, like solar cycles, volcanism besides the man made greenhouse emission.

In the end it boils down to if you want to find out if the theory is correct by waiting to see it happen, or if you dislike the future the theory predicts so much that you want to act now in the hope that if the theory is correct, the worst case scenarios can be avoided.

A pure experimental scientist would do nothing and see if his theory is right. But some of those guys also use themselves as a guinea pig to test how much G-forces the human body can withstand (John Stapp).
Sometimes it's not pleasant to see your predictions come true and you might want to try and avoid being able to prove your theory.

Re:Help me out here (2, Informative)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311774)

The man-made part has been well established, and indeed your "95% confidence level" makes you clearly no kind of gambler.

We'll agree that correlation != causation. And we can also agree that if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, craps like a duck, it's likely to be a duck.

So while you're enwrapped in the conjecture of your own tribulations, others of us are trying to warn people, change habits, and save a planet for our great grandchildren. Yeah, it's real, and it's man-made, not the cause of members of Congress' hot fucking air.

Re:Help me out here (3, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311912)

We'll agree that correlation != causation. And we can also agree that if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, craps like a duck, it's likely to be a duck.

Or you learn the lesson from dynamically typed computer languages: If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, craps like a duck, etc, it's close enough to treat exactly like a duck for all practical purposes.

Re:Help me out here (0)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311932)

I don't think that global warming is a man-made phenomena. I do think that Beijing is a travesty. We should look into cleaning some shit up just because clean air is more fun to breath.

Re:Help me out here (1, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#35312064)

In denying global weather change is man-made, you leave only women. That makes you misogynistic. The evidence is overwhelming. Yet you deny it.

Beyond particulate matter causing huge health problems, it's also plainly costly. The atmospheric greenhouse gases that we've launched are changing climate to where we're going to incapacitate our agriculture, and are causing the oceans to rise. Ask someone, in say, Kiribati.

Re:Help me out here (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311870)

Do not neglect the factor of what risks and costs taking action might entail. You phrase your scenario as "wait and see if you're wrong, or take action in case you're not." But in reality that last part might be "take action at great costs and potentially unexpected side-effects, in case you're wrong". Living your life as if everything that might go wrong will go wrong, will rapidly begin to negatively impact your life. Just commenting on the logic of your statement.

Re:Help me out here (3, Informative)

clonan (64380) | more than 3 years ago | (#35312014)

We really don't have a choice regardless. Oil IS running out. Wikileaks had some documents from Saudi Arabia showing that thier reserves are actually 40% smaller than publicly advertised. But even if they weren't, even if the oil reserves were infinite, Saudi Arabia is expected to become a net oil IMPORTER around 2040 or so.

There are only so many place you can drill for oil there and so they have a hard time increasing production while at the same time they are consuming more and more as they grow.

I read an article two days ago saying that if Algeria goes like Libya then oil will probably hit $220 a barrel by the end of the summer. Oil is no longer a stable energy source.

Now as the price goes up it will become economical to harvest more difficult sources like oil shale. However with the easy reserves we have right bnow it takes 1 barrell of oil to produce 4-5 barrells of final products. Easy oil shale sources are something like 1:1.5. This may improve a little with development but not by much.

We can recognize that climate change/global warming is a bad thing and that CO2 is a primary cause and gradually move to other sources OR we can not and be forced to move much more quickly causing much greater economic damage having had a extra 15-20 years of increasing prices.

What do you think is better?

Re:Help me out here (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311964)

"But there are many other influences as well, like solar cycles, volcanism besides the man made greenhouse emission."

And these are understood well enough to put these in.

Without the effect of CO2 (which is as exactly well known as the fluid dynamics used to show that planes fly and the laws of electron flow that allow your computer to work), these effects show a slight cooling trend, yet the data unequivocally show warming.

That warming trend CANNOT be explained without CO2's effects.

As to the anthropogenic cause, isotopic ratios show the fossil nature and even absent that, you can go to Saudi Arabia's balance sheet and see how much hydrocarbon they've sold to be burned.

One thing we CAN say with certainty (as certain as the sun rising in the east tomorrow) is that humans caused the supermajority of the warming and without CO2's effects included, the planet would otherwise be cooling.

Re:Help me out here (5, Insightful)

dachshund (300733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311998)

The actual climate change can be measured. The increase in greenhouse gasses can be measured. The link between them is a theory dependant on our imperfect understanding and ability to model the climate of the entire world. But there are many other influences as well, like solar cycles, volcanism besides the man made greenhouse emission.

While nobody's proven that the current extraordinary warming trend is man-made, scientists have been very successful in ruling out the other causes you mention (even in combination). The current warming is not caused by volcanism, changes in solar radiation levels, etc. Which means that it's either (a) man-made (a theory for which there is good evidence) or (b) it's due to some completely different force that we don't know about (aliens, the earth's core going out of alignment, mutating neutrinos, ok, I kid).

Either (a) or (b) should be a subject of concern for us. In fact, I think that if you're inclined to rule out (a) then you'd better be working damn hard on figuring out what (b) is.

But more importantly, while the theory begins with experimental science, it's now mostly an exercise in risk management. We know that there's a phenomenon occurring, we know that it may prove very --- if not catastrophically --- costly to our society, and we know that industrial waste emissions are probably (meaning, with some very reasonable probability) the cause of it.

So the question is: from a cost-benefit perspective, what's the best thing to do about emission levels today? Obviously the answer to that question depends on your evaluation of all the factors. However, given that the costs seem quite high (especially when you factor in the low-probability outcomes), you don't need anything approaching absolute proof to justify reducing GHG emissions --- even if there's only a moderate probability that it helps, you can justify it against the potential costs. I think that that the science is firm enough to justify pre-emptive GHG reduction.

Yes. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311690)

Yes.

Unless you're looking for 100% certainty.

80% of the warming since the pre-industrial age is due to greenhouse gas increases due to human activities. Even at the extreme lowball estimate, this makes humans a bigger cause of the warming than all other effects combined.

For the future, evidence shows that for each doubling of CO2 (or other equivalent warming effect) will raise global temperatures by 2-4.5C, whilst halving CO2 (or other equ8ivalent cooling effect) will lower global temperatures by 2-4.5C. These values being the 95% confidence limit, the lower limit being definitely over 1.5 and the upper limit rather less well defined but more than 6C per doubling highly unlikely without some unknown event coming in to play.

E.g. aliens.

Re:Help me out here (0, Flamebait)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311746)

"Is there enough statistically significant clear, objective data that is available to be verified that indicates anything with any amount of confidence?"

Yes, it's a statistical certainty that Senator James M. Inhofe is corrupt.

Re:Help me out here (2, Informative)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311756)

Yes, of course. To be blunt, the deniers at this stage are either tools or fools.

Re:Help me out here (4, Interesting)

Layzej (1976930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311784)

There really is no evidence of data 'fiddling'. NOAA makes the raw data available. They make the adjusted data available. The process they use to adjust the data (to account for relocation of weather stations/urban heat islands/etc) is also available and part of the peer reviewed literature.

A retired meteorologist named Anthony Watts did a great job of validating the robustness of the data. He (and a small army of volunteers) rated the weather stations based on how well they met requirements. Weather stations outside of urban areas and away from pavement were rated a 5. Poorly placed weather stations were rated a 1. He had hoped to find that poorly placed weather stations were responsible for the warming trend. In the end it was found that well placed weather stations actually record a greater warming trend. The reason for this may be that the warming trend of poorly placed weather stations is masked by the artificial heat in the area.

Most locations in the world are oversampled. We have high confidence in the results for those areas. Some locations such as Antarctica are under sampled. We have less confidence in the results for those areas.

Luckily we also have satellite data since 1979. The satellite data confirms the weather station data.

We have a very clear understanding of the global temperature. It's going up at a rate that is likely unprecedented over the last 1000 years.

Misrepresenting Anthony Watts... (3, Informative)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 3 years ago | (#35312078)

Wow, that's quite a misrepresentation of Anthony Watts website [wattsupwiththat.com] . Pretty much the opposite of his conclusions, in fact.

Articles on his blog (which sometimes reads more like a scientific journal) show that rural stations often show no warming at all - at least, until they have been appropriately "adjusted" (using methods that are generally not released). Meanwhile, the increasing temperatures of urban stations are not adjusted to eliminate the Urban Heat Island effect. Large parts of the arctic and antarctic are presumed to be warming, even though there are no weather stations within hundreds or thousands of miles.

Is the climate warming? He would agree with you that the climate warmed through (plus or minus) the year 2000 so, but possibly has now entered a cooling phase. Articles on his blog also show that (a) over decades, there is a warming/cooling cycle that very closely follows solar cycles, (b) that the overall warming trend of the past 200 years predates any significant human contribution to CO2 in the atmosphere, (c) the planet has in the past been warmer than today - in that sense, the recent warming is not "unprecedented", and finally (d) millions of years ago CO2 levels were much, much higher than today, so a higher CO2 level is also not unprecedented.

In short: the earth warms and cools. We do not understand all of the factors that influence these climate cycles, but CO2 is almost certainly not a precursor of increased temperatures. In any case, a warmer earth is in many ways preferable to a cooling earth. The entire panic about CO2 is politically driven, and many scientists have hooked their wagons to it, in order to get research funding.

My take is that Anthony Watts wants to present the objective truth - whatever that may be - and to discredit bad science and politically driven science.

Re:Help me out here (1)

jovius (974690) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311924)

Well, if you lived for example 200 years you would notice the changes. The measurements would support your perceptions.

The confidence would arise naturally.

Re:Help me out here (5, Insightful)

InsertCleverUsername (950130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311950)

Is there enough statistically significant clear, objective data that is available to be verified that indicates anything with any amount of confidence?

Yes. Anyone honestly interested in understanding this or any other scientific finding can start their education here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confidence_interval [wikipedia.org]

And once you understand the principles of statistical confidence, you can get some data and run the numbers:
http://rainbow.ldeo.columbia.edu/datasources.html [columbia.edu]

Or you could just trust in the scientific community that does this kind of research for a living to not be part some some enormous, X-files worthy conspiracy.

Sorry if this all sounds patronizing, but it really pains me when I see people trusting politicians more than scientists.

Re:Help me out here (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#35312044)

My take on this :

We have never been at this level of CO2 in the past 100 000 years.

We observe a raise of temperature that may be linked to it but other factors come into play and the influence of these is still debated.

There has probably been temperatures similar as the one registered today in the past.

We can't be sure of how the biosphere reacts to such a CO2 level as we never have observed it.

Most computer models anticipate a warming effect of a higher CO2 concentration. And by most, I mean "all that were used by the IPCC"

Personally, I find that the fact alone that we have never witnessed such a high CO2 concentration is a good enough reason to be more careful about emissions. And global warming or not, human-made or not, it is a good idea to be prepared for some radical climate changes. Nature by itself has enough means of influencing it (volcanoes, meteors...) and our margin is currently very small. I doubt the current global food stock could withstand a volcanic eruption of the scale that happens once in a century.

Re:Help me out here (1)

skids (119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#35312050)

Yes.

But it doesn't seem to matter. As long as there is someone out there to smear the research, there's a population of people just looking for an excuse to believe what is convenient for themselves.

Used to be that if you requested a report and it didn't say what you wanted it to, you had to settle for playing down the results, e.g. the Schaffer Commission. Inhofe is using the new model: request a report, then when it is completed, say that it says whatever you wanted to say, regardless of what is actually in the report.

Re:Help me out here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35312098)

There is a tremendous amount of data that is freely available for download that documents the rise in the global average temperature. You can download the raw observations, quality controlled observations and processed data from www.ncdc.noaa.gov. The measured temperature increase is significant at the 95% confidence interval.

It is funny to watch WUWT, Miloy, Morano, and their ilk squirm when you document how they lied. WUWT was caught in bald faced lie when he claimed Briffa would provide WUWT with the data Briffa used in his paper, when in point of fact WUWT ask and received the data from Briffa three years earlier. It's interesting that Christy continues to claim, only when he gives well paid talks to the deniers that global warming isn't happening yet he continues to publish papers in the journals that indicate that the warming is occurring at a faster rate than even what GISS/HADcruT/NOAA claim, and testified under oath that Hansen results are correct and possibly underestimated the rate of warming

Middle East (2)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311382)

Regardless of the validity of the data or their conclusions, I think the price of oil is going to reign in those pesky greenhouse gas emissions for us.

Re:Middle East (3, Informative)

CheeseTroll (696413) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311528)

Don't forget coal. Unless the citizens of Wyoming, Illinois, West Va, etc. rise up against their regimes, there's no shortage of that pollutant in the US for many years.

Re:Middle East (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311618)

Once gas prices get above ten bucks a gallon or so (pre-tax), it will be cost-effective to synthesize gasoline out of coal via the Fischer–Tropsch process.

Unfortunately, this will actually increase the amount of CO_2 released per gallon because some CO_2 is released during conversion.

But hey, after the ice caps melt, sea level can't get any higher, so we've got nothing to worry about, right? Just sell any land you own in Florida or the UK over the course of the next hundred years and buy up some in a new seaside location, like Nevada.

In a few hundred years we'll all look back on this and laugh, like we do now for the bubonic plague. Heh, those medieval Europeans and not knowing enough to keep diseased rats out of their cities.

Re:Middle East (0)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311764)

But hey, after the ice caps melt, sea level can't get any higher, so we've got nothing to worry about, right? Just sell any land you own in Florida or the UK over the course of the next hundred years and buy up some in a new seaside location, like Nevada.

The next few hundred years you mean.

In a few hundred years we'll all look back on this and laugh, like we do now for the bubonic plague. Heh, those medieval Europeans and not knowing enough to keep diseased rats out of their cities.

Ignoring, as we do now, that we have a civilization solely because of those people and the choices they made.

And would those people in the future be more pleased with us, if we just stopped human progress indefinitely and still ended up drowning Florida anyway? Not everyone will stop emitting carbon dioxide just because parts of the developed world want to commit collective suicide.

Re:Middle East (1)

bberens (965711) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311680)

Oil is generally not used for electricity production in the United States. Coal is +/- 50%. I know there's supposed to be some decent ways to make coal fuel, but it generally doesn't translate well and I'm not particularly confident we could ramp up coal production enough to quench our thirst. The only real solution imho is to migrate most commuter traffic to full electric. Then it doesn't matter where that electricity comes from: nuclear, coal, oil, wind, hydro, solar, etc. No matter how it goes, it's going to be crazy expensive.

Not really an accurate summary (-1, Troll)

DeathToBill (601486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311392)

Neither an accurate summary from Soulskill or NOAA. See http://climateaudit.org/2011/02/24/noaa-misrepresents-inspector-general-report/ [climateaudit.org]

At least one NOAA scientist directly lied to the investigation, assuming they wouldn't check, then was caught out when the IG actually asked for evidence.

Re:Not really an accurate summary (3, Insightful)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311514)

The discrepancy doesn't appear to pertain to any climate data or research. Kind of seems like grasping at straws if you want to refute the academic credibility of the entire field (or for that matter, even that one researcher).

Re:Not really an accurate summary (1)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311712)

I don't think it's a matter of discrediting an entire field. Climate change research is needed whether you believe man is the causation or not. We have to be prepared either way. It does bring into question credibility, objectivity, and ethics. The question is more knowing the kind of people involved and is the report trustworthy. I'm far more concerned that each and every country represented in the study seems to have conveniently cleared their researchers but each also seemed to bring up serious issues with ethics. It's like saying, "Sure this guy lies about a lot of things but I see no evidence he lied about this." Of course, my contention is getting the U.N. involved in any study is a waste of time anyway. They are by nature corrupt and I would always wonder, and do, how much it had to do with money.

Re:Not really an accurate summary (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311550)

Climate Audit is hardly accurately representing the situation itself (scientists conference call with attorney, misremember who actually gave what advice, are corrected by same attorney). The earth-shattering, agency-destroying advice of the report is:

"Given that federal agencies are legally obligated to publicly disclose records under FOIA, we recommend that NOAA carry out a proper search for the records sought in these FOIA requests and, as appropriate, reassess its response. Additionally, given the issues we identified in NOAA's handling ofthese particular FOIA requests, NOAA should consider whether these issues warrant an overall assessment ofthe sufficiency of its FOIA process.".

I'll just leave this here [doc.gov] .

Re:Not really an accurate summary (5, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311600)

To be clear, the "lie" in question is a discrepancy in one scientist's account of the origin of a piece of legal advice during an FOI request. It has nothing to do with the science itself.

Re:Not really an accurate summary (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311990)

That was enough to convict Scooter Libby of malfeasance in the eyes of a lot of Slashdotters whom will hypocritically give this guy a pass for just agreeing with them politically.

My take (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311768)

Don't use inflammatory comments in your e-mail and most of all, take this stuff off line, you can't afford to be caught expressing a view which clearly states you are not open to disagreement.

While many government sponsored investigations have cleared these guys of manipulating data none cleared them of misinterpreting it or better put, showing any desire to prove Falsifiability of their conclusions.

Speaking of CO2 (5, Funny)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311396)

I'm pretty sure you'd die of asphyxia if you tried to read that opening sentence aloud. Holy run-on sentence, copyeditman.

why has google taken our # 1 search ranking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311402)

it looks like a failure on our part to buy advertising. now, we don't show up at all, after 10 years at # 1? nothing gnu about that?

as far as climate change; look around. the 'debate' has ended.

It's amusing (0, Troll)

Kid Zero (4866) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311444)

It seems like scientists in this one field get angry if you challenge their conclusions. I'm not sure why they've adopted an Imperial "you dare challenge us, mortal?" attitude over this. I always assumed the more people who ask questions, the better chance you have of finding out problems.

Re:It's amusing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311478)

Where have they done this? All I saw as a result of that crap was scientists angry at being misquoted, misrepresented and generally lied about.

Re:It's amusing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311480)

But they're not just asking questions. They're denying well established science. It's akin to creationists, really. I don't think anyone here thinks that it's a good thing for creationists to deny science. I'm not sure why this is an exception.

Re:It's amusing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311520)

Because time is the single most important resource for scientists. Answering to those that won't even listen the answers consume time they could use more productively.

Re:It's amusing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311546)

1/ do this experiment for yourself (this is known for over a century) :
http://www.espere.net/Unitedkingdom/water/uk_watexpgreenhouse.htm [espere.net]
2/ can you prove me how humans don't increase CO2 in the atmosphere like this :
gas/oil/wood/coal/... + O2 --> CO2.

Re:It's amusing (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311560)

Human beings generally get angry when you accuse them of being involved in a massive global conspiracy to defraud with no evidence.

Climate skeptics don't ask honest questions, they use questions to imply wrong doing.

Re:It's amusing (5, Insightful)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311590)

They're not just asking questions though, they're saying things like "global warming is clearly a scam and politically motivated because look at all the snow we've had this year!"

Science doesn't mind (in fact, it thrives on) genuine critical appraisal of the work being done - it's how we learn and understand and develop more accurate theories.

What it doesn't support is the supposed "equal rebuttal" techniques used by the media and those with an agenda - you can say "I don't agree" if you like, but you had better have some supporting reason for that, and the distorted "facts" and data used (often not even any data, just opinion and 'common sense') used by those trying to discredit climate change really doesn't stand up to any scrutiny, and people get tired of being faced with "all your science is wrong because of ($easily_discredited_propaganda_talking_point)"

The trouble is, a lot of the population are easily convinced by ($easily_discredited_propaganda_talking_point), because soundbites and well-funded media talking heads and purchased senators are easier to understand than the often complex science, and the less-than-media-savvy scientists working in the field.

Re:It's amusing (0)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311626)

Even though they are scientists they are still human... They fall to the same problems that the rest of us mortals do.

1. When given too much power or we have a big enough voice we feel superior.
2. When there is a group willing to give you a big check expecting some results you find them those results.
3. When you are challenged your impulse is to Fight or Flight.
4. When everyone else treats you as much smarter then they are you begin to believed it.

Re:It's amusing (2)

Krau Ming (1620473) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311850)

regarding point #2: the scientists that generate the data (ie: PhD and MSc students) are typically flat broke.

Re:It's amusing (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311660)

The trouble is that they're the same questions that they've been answering for a decade. When the novel challenges to the concensus are things like the sun is made of iron [blogspot.com] , there's probably some pathological scepticism going on.

Re:It's amusing (2)

Draek (916851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311726)

If the questions are well-thought and made by an informed, educated person, sure.

The questions posed by the denialist crowd, however, seldom rise above the level of an user shouting "no, I don't want that nerdy, DOS-thingy on my PC, go back to the graphics!" when you open a terminal to debug his internet connection. The only thing it helps you find out is the threshold of your patience.

Re:It's amusing (2)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311812)

It seems like scientists in this one field get angry if you challenge their conclusions. I'm not sure why they've adopted an Imperial "you dare challenge us, mortal?" attitude over this. I always assumed the more people who ask questions, the better chance you have of finding out problems.

Well, a couple of reasons.

Firstly, there aren't many areas of Science where so many people make so many objections. There are relatively few Geocentrics [wikipedia.org] around nowadays, for example. One area that does have this is Evolution, and I can think of a few people *cough*dawkins*cough* who get unreasonably put out by critics. Granted, creationists can be annoying; but a very small subset of their arguments can be at least thought provoking (like "why is this not true?").

Secondly : politics. I'm sure you know what I mean.

Third is possibly that the scientists involved think that it is quite important to get it right. I know there are those that don't believe this, but I'm fairly certain that most climate scientists want to get the correct answer - whatever that is - not the answer they would prefer (see : politics). Questions that lead to a more accurate answer are always welcome; questions based on politics, fear, or anger generally are not so welcome

Political show (0, Troll)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311486)

If you think a Dept. of Commerce report under a President who has a vested interest in this climate change issue is going to be objective and fair, you're nuts. Personally, I think there are a lot of shenanigans going on on both sides of this issue. A lot of scientists are groupthinking and leeching onto grant money by exaggerating global warming and its effects. And a lot of right-wingers are lock-stepping to defend big business with the contention that dumping tons of shit into the atmosphere every day isn't having ANY effect.

Re:Political show (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311606)

I wouldn't go so far as to say it doesn't have any effects...but are the effects claimed by AGW proponents really what they're going to be?

I'm contending it's very bad science to say ANYTHING at the moment and the stuff that the proponents are claiming we need to do just simply shuffles the pollution we as a species are doing from one place to another with a net loss to the people doing it and a net economic gain to the others that simply don't give a shit.

All we know is the climate is changing. And it's all over the map and there's been some things that've happened within the last couple of years that've thrown a serious monkey wrench into the AGW theories and they need to be re-worked instead of us blindly accepting them. If you don't stop, regroup and rework, AGW isn't a scientific thing- and is more akin to religion.

Re:Political show (2)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311628)

Funny, because a similar report was released in the UK, under a government who is a lot more like the Repubs than the Dems with a "vested interest" (oh yes, and you think the the Republican administration that preceded it didn't have a "vested interest" in the results?)

Everyone has a "vested interest" in climate change because however it turns out, it is going to affect the human race enormously. We're not going to die out as a species because of it, but it has the potential to change the way we live, even if it is only to affect the nature of the seasons - becoming more extreme on both ends, is going to have an economic and social impact on how we live.

Re:Political show (3, Informative)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311652)

How does the president have a vested interest in this climate change issue? He doesn't stand to profit financially. Politically it's a tough issue that draws some people in and pushes others away.

Re:Political show (0)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311734)

Because environmentalists and their sympathizers are a key component of the Democrat party. Without the support of constituencies like environmentalists, unions, trial lawyers, gay rights supporters, civil libertarians, etc. he's not going to get reelected.

Also global warming and "green" technology are a huge party of his agenda (in technology, in creating jobs, in environmental regulation, etc.). If global warming were discredited, or even called into question, it would be *much* more than just an mere embarrassment for him.

Re:Political show (4, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311876)

Are you actually claiming that if his administration were to uncover fraud in climate science that he'd lose the vote of unions, trial lawyers, gay rights supporters, and civil libertarians? He'd lose the vote of just the few people for whom climate change is the biggest issue.

And if his agenda were based on fraud that his administration uncovered, he'd simply change his agenda. It's not an embarrassment if his assessments were based on a fraud that he himself uncovered.

I can not find any conflict of interest here. I think you're looking too hard for one.

Re:Political show (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35312002)

When the outcome of a Presidential election frequently comes down to an almost even 50-50 split of the electorate, neither side can afford to lose "just the few people."

And changing a huge chunk of the Presidential agenda isn't that easy. If global warming were suddenly discredited, the Republicans would have a field-day mocking President Obama as a gullible fool. To put it mildly, it would make him look like a jackass (and most certainly cost him any hope of reelection).

Re:Political show (0)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311788)

are you sure he doesn't stand to profit financially, have you ignored him getting in bed with GE?

Re:Political show (2)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311902)

Yes, I ignore statements by Rush Limbaugh. Having people from GE on an advisory panel does not profit Obama personally.

Re:Political show (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311664)

If you think a Dept. of Commerce report under a President who has a vested interest in this climate change issue is going to be objective and fair, you're nuts. [...] A lot of scientists are groupthinking and leeching onto grant money by exaggerating global warming and its effects.

You know, I'm not really surprised to see this kind of antiscientific bias and paranoia about a global scientific conspiracy where "they" are trying to keep "us" down... but I still am surprised, and very sad, to see it on Slashdot of all places.

It is well known that when any group has reached a sufficient amount of conviction that a certain claim is true, any conflicting evidence will not just be ignored but in fact used to strengthen that conviction by means of a suitable reinterpretation, but who would've thought that we, too, would fall prey to the same mechanism?

We rightfully laugh at, say, creationists who are making precisely these same claims and exhibiting this same behavior concerning evolutionary theory. But the joke is on us.

And we are too blind to even see it.

Re:Political show (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311804)

Comments like these bug the hell out of me, because they say nothing, and offer no proof, just a lot of conspiracy. Just because the conspiracy is balanced doesn't make it any better.

Re:Political show (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311816)

Actually, the Commerce Inspector General was appointed by President Bush. They are independent of the agency they cover, and serve for terms that overlap administrations.

Well that's clear (0, Troll)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311492)

Of course they would clear the fiddling of climate data, if they didn't, how do you think the Western governments could get away with screwing more money from taxpayers to prop up the crooked bankers and politicians?

Re:Well that's clear (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311656)

How do crooked bankers get propped up by something that is unquestionably bad for the economy? Sure the traders/exchanges/etc for carbon credit trading will like it. And some industries will like it (solar power, batteries, etc). But generic crooked bankers?

They want the economy to be growing as fast as possible, since that's how you make a fortune as a banker and it hides the crookedness too. It also helps when the government bails you out when it all comes tumbing down, but that's another issue.

Commerce Department's inspector general (1, Insightful)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311496)

Says it all, people more interested in business and money, over facts, no matter how distasteful.
Fox guarding the hen house? You bet.

From the article (3, Informative)

Crashmarik (635988) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311556)

“It also appears that one senior NOAA employee possibly thwarted the release of important federal scientific information for the public to assess and analyze,” he said, referring to an employee’s failure to provide material related to work for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a different body that compiles research, in response to a Freedom of Information request. " Mann's manipulation of data and failure to provide information about his research have been a long standing joke. http://www.technologyreview.com/Energy/13830/ [technologyreview.com] It was really no surprise that he wouldn't want to provide the information. What is a giant surprise is that he is still in a position of any responsibility. Well maybe not so much if you want trillions of dollars to be spent on changing the country's energy economy.

Re:From the article (1)

BVis (267028) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311696)

if you want trillions of dollars to be spent on changing the country's energy economy.

It'll need to happen sooner or later. Even if you don't believe in AGW at all (and you're an idiot IMHO if you don't) we're going to run out of fossil fuels eventually. We can spend trillions now or face total disaster. I say spend the damn money.

We've seen this before (0)

filekutter (617285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311568)

NOAA is exonerated, but Inhofe now says this is not clearing the charges and instead, will continue to issue charges and slander at the EPA during the now on-going attempts by Republicans to gut the organization. This is almost perfectly mirrored by Gov. Walker's moves to kill worker's abilities to legally negotiate and/or go on strike. Its not what the Government representatives are saying that is important, its what the goals are. For Wisconsin its a move to force employees to accept work contracts and any changes the company may deign to add, without an ability to challenge. For the EPA its the complete neutering of environmental safeguards and monitoring, thus enabling companies to reduce the monies spent to ensure their production has minimal if or no impact on our environment. Both situations are only being pursued by government representatives with the reduction of corporate responsibility and accountability. To finalize this argument I point to the "Prank" call to Walker; wherein you can infer cronyism, and a willfulness to forgo even a semblance of altruism in exchange for a quid pro quo with corporate interests and power.

Re:We've seen this before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35312028)

Going offtopic, but Wisconsin is about busting unions and their lucrative financial donations to Democratic campaigns. I'd be surprised if it ever really had anything to do with budgets. I can see a similar vein arising in the flow of money from groups who support climate change research to the campaigns of persons who in turn support their efforts. There might be some actual ideologues buried somewhere in there, but it wouldn't be such a huge issue if party Congressional seats weren't at stake.

Holy Shit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311586)

The fox says that the henhouse is fine? You don't say...

Misleading subject. (0, Flamebait)

rayvd (155635) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311596)

Hardly cleared. Sounds like further investigation [wattsupwiththat.com] is needed (and will be performed).

The positive out of all of this is that the "skeptic" side is finally being heard instead of being completely ignored as heretical by the clergy of the Church of Global warming. There's way too much money to be made in all this carbon/green stuff for it ever to completely go away, but at least now we may be more inclined to focus on immediate and concrete issues rather than a wild goose chase.

Re:Misleading subject. (1)

sarhjinian (94086) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311992)

The "skeptic side" has always had an audience.

Heck, they've retrenched their position several times now. Back when "skepticism" was the default and climate science was fighting to be heard, it used to be "Is it even happening?" and changed to "Well, it happening, but it's not people's fault". Now--especially that actions are being taken---the dialogue has gotten particularly shrill and it's either "Well, how can we trust the scientists when there's 'differences of opinion'" or "It's a conspiracy!". And while I'm sure that there's a few genuine skeptics out there, the bulk of the argument is carried by people better described as "denialists" who aren't skeptical of the science but do have a vested ideological or financial issue with changing our consumption patterns.

Very few "skeptics" don't think it's happening and are generally arguing about degree and detail. Denialists are taking that disagreement in much the same way Creationists take debate about the details of how evolution works and proxy it into "Not even the scientists are certain, so how can we be sure it's happening at all?"

No Surprise (1, Flamebait)

ScientiaPotentiaEst (1635927) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311614)

Had the exposed emails I read been from scientists working in some other discipline, I think there'd be no doubt cast on the accusations of manipulation. I suspect that the huge political and financial agenda behind the so called global warming movement (political control, taxation and the sale of carbon credits) is whitewashing what any reasonable person can read as blatant manipulation of data.

Re:No Surprise (1)

sarhjinian (94086) | more than 3 years ago | (#35312016)

And there's no "huge political agenda" opposing global warming? No entrenched mulit-billion dollar industries with long and deep ties to governments? Really?

Please. There's a few billion, if that, involved in pro-AGCC benefactors. There's trillions of dollars on the other side of the aisle.

Data Manipulation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311632)

Next thing you know they're going to be accusing scientists not only of manipulating data, but making guesses and interpreting data. Fucking bastards.

this is all unbelievable... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311644)

As a european, i really cant understand how anyone with a sane mind can challenge the idea of climate change.
It appears only right wing nuts and "scientists" bought of with corporate money are fear mongering about climate socialism etc.?

Are you all watching FOX News only or why do so many belief this FUD?

Hot air! (1)

jimwormold (1451913) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311646)

No I haven't RTFA'd but is this to do with the East Anglia University mail leak which is turn just shows that in order to make pretty graphs to justify your existence for large funding boards, you have to merge data from different data sets. IIRC there is anomalous tree ring data from the 1960s onwards, so it's more accurate to use actual temperature measurements but these don't match up perfectly with the pre 1960 tree ring data, so a small amount of "fudging" is required. Remember this was to create a graph of temperature over 4000 years for a high level overview - it is not part of the actual analysis.

That's right - put your heads back in the sand. The world is not getting warmer, and at least if it is, God would make sure that it didn't get too hot so as not to harm us. Damn those pesky scientists.

Re:Hot air! (0)

David Greene (463) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311828)

The world is not getting warmer, and at least if it is, God would make sure that it didn't get too hot so as not to harm us

You may joke, but there are people in power who actually believe this! [minnpost.com]

I am a Christian. Rep. Mike Beard's beliefs scare the crap out of me.

glowbull warmongering left out of equations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311700)

the loss of life is purposely uncounted, & the damage to what's left of our planet/atmosphere by constant use of oxygen depleting HEAVY equipment to control populations/further destroy our habitat, is absolutely in opposition to our purpose, as put forth in ALL of the manuals. see you (soon?) on the other side of it.

you can rest assured that the much maligned 'scientists' mean us no harm

Slashdot = idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311776)

All you warming fools go put yer money where your brain is and live without power generated by anything that you think causes global warming. Until then your just blowing smoke (pun intended).

Global warming is just a money grab.

easy to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311818)

look at pictures 30-40 years old of glaciers
now look at them

thats the start of your journey to enlightenment and away form faith based hokey pokey rich capitalists
whom want to get all the patents and copyrights to it all first then they will sell you the solutions

That sentence... (1)

famebait (450028) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311888)

...should be taken out and shot. Seriously:

The NY Times reports that an inquiry by the Commerce Department's inspector general has found no evidence that NOAA scientists manipulated climate data (reg. may be required) to buttress evidence in support of global warming after climate change skeptics contended that e-mail messages between climate scientists that were stolen and circulated on the Internet in late 2009 showed that scientists were manipulating or withholding information to advance the theory that the earth is warming as a result of human activity.

?

I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35311904)

Bill Nye, the self-proclaimed "science-guy" is not a scientist. He does science on TV. And, he has an engineering degree. What he has to say on science is interesting, but ultimately, he is not an authority on topics like biological evolution, physics, meteorology, climate science and so on.

Why is that relevant? Well, who actually reviewed the emails from a scientific perspective, and were they independent, objective reviewers? Of the 1000+ emails, what were the specific areas of concern regarding mis-conduct and how were those concerns resolved?

This is just a feel-good pronouncement from a government agency for those who are philosophically (dare I say religiously) committed to the idea that human activity is causing the climate to change in catastrophic ways.

Won't someone think of the homes with solar panels (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35311962)

If this had failed, think of all the people who bought solar panels and had done the ROI math based on state and federal credits, rebates, incentives.
Without the CO2 issue, this could have looked bad. With the expected rush over carbon reduction schemes, wow :)

everything proves global warming (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35312022)

record high temperatures in some areas = "man made global warming"
record cold temperatures in some areas = "man made global warming"

if you have decided the results you are going to get BEFORE you start your "scientific study" then something is probably wrong...

*duckandrun*and did the internal combustion engine cause previous "ice ages"? */duckandrun*

Dichotomy and Credibility (1)

BerretSO4 (934290) | more than 3 years ago | (#35312034)

IANAL, but it is interesting to me that in the court of law these emails would be inadmissible, according to NYT's assertion that the emails were stolen and circulated. Yet, in the 'court' of academia, information is king. It is nice to know, regardless of the outcome of these results or their scrutinies, that we as a people pay less attention to red tape or an irrelevant legal standard when the credibility of information gathering is at stake. Just a thought. While there are nay-sayers on either side of this investigation, I insist that there is nothing wrong with the objective scrutiny of any falsehoods in the realm of scientific research. The scientific community should expect it and embrace it. If they do not, this is what will create doubt. I would be more at ease with the NOAA if they had revealed the error displayed in DeathToBill's comment, wherein another reporter identifies a discrepancy not mentioned by the NYT. While I do not particularly fault NOAA for NYT's words, I doubt that NYT is responsible for the missing information. That, however, is also up for debate.
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