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« Irony fail | Main | World government »
Friday
Mar162012

MSNBC on Climategate and the inquiries

There is a very interesting, if rather toe-curling, segment about Climategate and the inquiries on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC.

Although she kicks off with the normal straw man about hiding declines in global temperature, she soon moves on to something that is closer to the truth, explaining that hide the decline was about hiding the failure of the proxies to track temperatures in the period after 1960. This is good, but she then elides into an important piece of misinformation, by suggesting that this is an issue that only affects the post-1960 period. This is of course, not the case. Since nobody knows what causes the divergence, nobody knows whether it affects earlier periods or not, although of course there are strong suggestions that it does.

Maddow also looks at the Climategate inquiries, quoting Russell's conclusions that the CRU scientists are beyond reproach, but strangely not mentioning the fact his contradictory finding that hiding the decline was "misleading".

Maddow is clearly very political, sounding off several times about people who get their views only from the conservative media. Strange then that she hasn't noticed the conclusions of non-conservative writers such as Fred Pearce or the BBC's Roger Harrabin, both of whom have said that the inquiries into Climategate were inadequate.

There is an interview with Inhofe afterwards, which I haven't watched.

 Transcript:

 Welcome back. here is oklahoma senator james inhofe.

my point is, god's still up there, and this is the arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what he is doing in the climate is, to me, outrageous.

Senator james inhofe on global warming. this is one of those issues where if you participate in only conservative media and consult only conservative authorities, you have a totally different understanding about what's happening in the world than the rest of the world does. for example, take what they call "climate gate." in november 2009, someone, we still don't know who, somebody apparently leaked or stole a bunch of e-mails between scientists at the university of east anglia in england, this seemed like a huge scandal at the time. the senator inhofes of the world are right, the most damning snippets and excerpts of the e-mails made it seem like scientists were manipulating data and doing other shady things to convince us the earth is warming which the earth is not, in fact, warming. the most damning sna sentence is a letter from the director of east anglia. he wrote in this e-mail, "i just added in the real temps to each series from the last 20 years, and from 1961 for keates to hide the decline." there it is right there, see? those scientists are using tricks to hide the fact that the earth's temperature is actually declining.

Interviewer: these e-mails, if you read through them, they are pretty damaging. and i'm being gentle.

Interviewee: they are truly damaging. it's -- it's hard to say how damaging they are. i mean, you've got people saying we need to use that trick to hide the decline.

Interviewer: what they call mike's trick, i'm going to add certain temperatures on to other temperatures.

phil jones, the scientist who wrote that e-mail that's getting taken apart there, tried to speak up. he said the word "trick" was used as in a clever thing to do. it's ludicrous to suggest it means anything untored. yeah, right, you climate-hoaxing scientist. then again, the hide the decline part of this damning e-mail, turns out that wasn't about hiding declining temperatures. what they were hiding in the data was the fact that tree rings are less reliable as thermometers after 1960s. we don't exactly know why, but it is a documented thing that if you're using tree rings as a way to tell what temperature things are, that gets less accurate after 1960, so if you were using tree rings to show temperatures a long time ago, and that is the only way to tell temperatures from hundreds of thousands of years ago, it can be misleading to use tree rings for data that covers the last 50 years. luckily, in the last 50 years, we've got other ways of telling temperature. there are other temperature records around, so you can combine that recent data with the tree ring information, so as to make sure you're keeping the data on temperature accurate over time. scientists work like that. science sometimes works like that. the data has to be as accurate as possible, and since data doesn't come down from a mountain on a stone tablet, you have to work to keep the data accurate. using the word "trick" and "hide" in explaining how to keep the tree ring data accurate, makes it sound awful if you take it out of context and put it on fox news, right? but until these e-mails were stolen from scientists, these were scientists e-mailing each other in work and there's nothing weird about what they were saying. i know, i can hear you now, why believe maddow, why believe me? all right, how about this, the university paid an independent commission, they paid for an independent commission to investigate whether the scientists were being unethical, falsifying data, nobody on the review team was a part of the university. that investigation's 160-page report found, "their rigor and honesty as scientists are not in doubt, in addition, we do not believe they are data." they did find one thing, there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display the open degree of openness. that was the criticism. i know, though, this investigation was funded by this university, i know a global conspiracy when i see one, i don't believe that either. how about the british parliament, you think they are part of the conspiracy? the british parliament also investigated these scientists, e-mails, and university, they found the contents of the e-mails showed discussions in line with common practice. the phrases were colloquial terms used in private e-mails, not a systemic attempt to mislead. researchers from penn state also investigated the e-mails in climate gate, one of the professors whose e-mails were stolen was a penn state guy. they found no wrong doing. epa looked into it, they found no wrong doing. most of the world who has taken any time to figure out what happened here knows the gate should be removed from climate gate. there was no gate here, there was no real scandal, but this is where the rest of the world and the conservative world diverge, if you only trust conservatives with whom you already agree, the lesson here is that the whole global warming thing was disproven by that e-mail scandal, it's over now. senator james inhofe has just written a book about how it's all over now, and one of the chapters, chapter six, is called "climate gate." "climate gate equals vindication." that's the title of the chapter, vindication of his career-define career-definicareer-define career-defining crusade. even if it is happening, of course, global warming isn't that big a deal, and even if it is a big deal, as you heard at the top of the segment there, god will probably take care of if anyway and we shouldn't be so arrogant to think we could get in god's way of taking care of us.

...

 

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Reader Comments (22)

Should there be a decline? second graph.

I take it that there are empirical studies that show the 1960's decline in the tree ring proxy records are proven incorrect?

Mar 16, 2012 at 10:48 AM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Good question Lord Beaverbrook. I wonder what has happened to global temperatures since the 1960s?

Mar 16, 2012 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndyL

Cock-up, or cover-up?
It is difficult to tell with intellects such as Maddow's, not to mentions Jones'

Mar 16, 2012 at 11:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterKon Dealer

I think that you are being somewhat kind to the hide the decline issue.

What we know as FACT is that the tree ring proxies do not track temperature IF the instrument temperature record is accurate. This is not mere suspicion nor speculation but is FACT. That is a somewhat material fact.

The proxies were tuned for the period about 1905 to 1960 and when so tuned, they do not track temperatures post 1960. If they had been tuned to the period say 1960 to 1995 then they would not track temperatures for the period 1850 to 1960,

So we know as FACT, the following

(i) IF the instrument temperature record is correct, tree rings are not good proxies for temperature and cannot be relied upon; or
(ii) IF tree ring proxies are reliable indicators of temperature, the instrument record post 1960 is wrong and contains some warming bias (possibly due to UHI) and the warming in the post 1980 period is not as bad as we think and the globe is quite a bit cooler than we think and there has been no latter half of the 20th century CO2 warming; or
(iii) The divergence is due to a combination of unreliability of tree ring proxies and inaccuracies in the instrument temperature record.

The heralded hockey stick graph misrepresented the position not because of the graphing on of the post 1960 temperature record, but because it did not contain a bold CAVEAT stating that the pre 1850 temperature reconstruction is based upon proxy data which is known as fact to not well replicate tempertures. It is the handle of the stick that is unreliable, not the blade.

If that was made clear then people would have been less ready to expunge from discussions the LIA and MWP and there would be no reliable evidence for the unprecedented warming claim and the claim that the globe is warmer than it had been for more than a 1000 years.

The poster child was scientific misrepresentation at its most blatant.

Mar 16, 2012 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

No one watches MSNBC as a fan who has the intelligence to see through Rachel's fallacies.
Fortunately for the USA, the typical audience of MSNBC is trivially small.
Rachel Madow is sort of a parody of ignorant partisan mouthpiece, except that she is not acting.

Mar 16, 2012 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Alas Maddow or, as she is affectionately known, Madcow, has a hard time separating her political ideology from reality. This constrains her ability to think critically on most subjects.

Mar 16, 2012 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernie

That Chris Matthews, Ed Shultz, or Rachel would object to well funded PACs astonishes given that MSNBC itself is a well funded PAC. Even this partial liberal finds their rants hard to stomach.

Mar 16, 2012 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterj ferguson

I love the pre-interview. It's as if she has to plead her "side" and point out that everything we think we know we don't......and then she interviews Inhofe.

She is the ultimate liberal. A 6 minute " these aren't the droids you are looking for" intro and set's up the straw man she is about to interview. To be fair conservatives do this as well but she was so animated.

The Ministry of Truth has spoken! And now let's here what the guest will lie about next.

Mar 16, 2012 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterDude

I do not waste time with MSNBC. Why do you? Anyone who knows how to use "elides" correctly shouldn't. Please see my comments on Ad Hominem -- yes, I am human too. :)

Mar 16, 2012 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Don Pablo: "elides": a lovely word when used correctly, indeed. But consider: e and s are contiguous on a keyboard!

Mar 16, 2012 at 3:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Harvey

Jeremy Harvey

Are you telling me that Bishop, with his superior education and masterful command of the English language was not making a clever use of a word that means to "slide out" and instead slid his finger over?

Oh, my God, man! How could you imply such a demeaning thing! :)

Maybe he should be watching MSNBC.

Mar 16, 2012 at 4:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

"Nobody in that inquiry was a part of the university..." Maddow

Absolutely false. Professor Boulton was an employee of the University of East Anglia for 18 years, from 1968 to 1986. It was in the UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, the very institute under investigation, that Boulton established his academic career. The CRU is part of the School of Environmental Sciences.

Mar 16, 2012 at 5:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Maloney

If Maddow wants to bang on about how important it is to 'look after' data, shouldn't someone inform her that Phil Jones has actually lost most of it?

Mar 16, 2012 at 5:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterspence

I am more left than right (so feel qualified to say this without any political bias) that Maddow and others in the left-wing media have made total fools of themselves over their ill-judged allegiance to (and lack of any serious questioning of) the dishonest and dubious science upon which the AGW cause is founded. The pre-interview package was appallingly researched, and to be frank made me cringe: the 'independent' investigations; the splicing of the 'real' temperature onto the tree-ring data ("as that is what scientists do"); the old 97% statistic and so on.

I hope she doesn't call herself a journalist, she doesn't have a scoobie. Someone should send her the link to Lucy's pages on the Yamal temperatures for a start - http://www.greenworldtrust.org.uk/Science/Scientific/Arctic-Yamal1.htm .

Mar 16, 2012 at 6:40 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Rachel Madcow is the Michael Moore of journalism. Nothing she thinks is worthy of much interest except as a form of entertainment.

I do love her swipes at "conservative" media since her own MSNBC has all the reliability (in more ways than one) of "Pravda" in the old days.

Mar 16, 2012 at 8:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterSkiphil

Did Rachel Maddow really say tree ring records go back 'hundreds of thousands of years'?

Mar 16, 2012 at 10:39 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Oklahoma is in the heart of the bible belt.

Mar 16, 2012 at 10:42 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

God will probably take care of it! Apologies in advance but it's rather funny

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPzButIq-6c&feature=related

Mar 16, 2012 at 11:02 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

She so nearly gets there but utterly fails at the last hurdle of irrefutable logic .....if the tree ring data has been shown to be unreliable when it can be calibrated with better methods, then what does that say about its usage as a temperature proxy in the past ?

So sad that she so transparently demonstrates the lack of intellect to make that last logical connection.

Mar 17, 2012 at 5:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterImranCan

Rachel Maddow explains away the significance and true meaning of the emails by describing the damning statements, "Hide the decline" and " Mike's nature trick" as colloquial terms!
To quote Maddow
"they found the contents of the e-mails showed discussions in line with common practice. the phrases were colloquial terms used in private e-mails, not a systemic attempt to mislead. "

Similarly, Lawrence Souder and Furrah Qureshi of Drexel University, in your other post today use such "euphemisms" as "unfortunate choice of expression" and "conversational efficiency"!

What a curious way to justify such deceit

To quote Souder and Qureshi
"No one should be surprised that scientists, when among their closest colleagues, will let down their
guard in the interests perhaps of conversational efficiency and say things like "Mike's Nature trick" and
"to hide the decline" to refer to an acceptable method for combining different kinds of data sets
Subsequent investigations into this and other unfortunate choices of expression, in fact, have absolved the writers of any scientific wrongdoing."

Mar 17, 2012 at 4:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterHelen

If they make it sound worse, they can get more grant money to do more research. If they find nothing, the gravy train may end. This is why many people don't view climatologists as real scientists. They have a built in bias toward finding more disaster.

Mar 17, 2012 at 8:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterDanangel

I like to talk about stool.

Mar 19, 2012 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterFecal McStool

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