Saturday, December 19, 2009

Can we take a clean page and start over?

I have worked in a branch of science/engineering where we talk almost all the time to each other about what we do, and share information with folk that ask for it. We also have argued about points, and have the luxury, if we doubt someone’s conclusions that we can try and repeat their experiment to see what else we can glean from the results. This is much harder to do in the disciplines that feed into the climate change debate, since there are many different facets to the overall situation, and there are very few folk that publish over more than small parts of the whole. Yet without some trust and honesty in the process of developing those small parts, the integrity of the whole is challenged. Increasingly it seems as though that trust has been misplaced.

The Big Meeting in Copenhagen is over, and with some final negotiation at the end, there is just enough “progress” from the various talks, that the issue of climate change will continue to dominate the policies of governments around the world over the next few years. Whether this meeting really did that much is still in question. However, while heat waves etc are just about always claimed as signs of climate change, the current cold spell in Europe is just localized bad weather, so we are told. Five trains broke down in the Channel Tunnel starting Friday and trapped 2,000 passengers for up to 16 hours in an “unprecedented” cold spell in Northern France.
"What was unprecedented was the weather conditions particularly in northern France with heavy snowfall and very, very cold temperatures outside of the tunnel."
The situation has not improved and trains have now been cancelled through Monday. The trains that shuttle cars through the tunnels were not apparently affected. And to think I always thought that trains were more reliable than planes or cars in that sort of bad weather! (Incidentally Washington D.C. just set a new record for snowfall in December. )

Those who have led the world’s opinion into the knowledge of Global Warming, are now increasingly on the defensive, as the questions arising from Climategate become more pointed. Newspapers who had not previously spent much time on it, now run headlines. Thus Michael Mann was given op-ed space in the Washington Post in which he sought to deflect questions about the seriousness of that case. Sadly he seemed to do this by misdirection and some mis-statements of fact. For example he says that there were no deletions of e-mails regarding the topic, yet in one of the e-mails that remains, Phil Jones comments about deleting “loads of e-mails.” One would hope that the two inquiries that are now proceeding in the UK and the US become thorough investigations and not whitewashes of those involved. (But I am not hopeful. There are too many who have too much invested in this and who control too many of the leverages of power and publication that will work against the truth ever coming out).

In that regard the story (via Climate Audit) of the control that some climate distorters have over the pages of Wikipedia, reported in the National Post should also start to cause legislators to worry. When the articles that cover a topic (and so far there are apparently some 5,428 of them relating to climate change) are manipulated by one individual, William Connolley in this case, to reflect his opinions, rather than scientific fact, and that this is not known by the general public, then there is something seriously wrong. Apparently the manipulation is most focused on the Medieval Warming Period, and the Little Ice Age. The site comments
Thus current evidence does not support globally synchronous periods of anomalous cold or warmth over this timeframe, and the conventional terms of "Little Ice Age" and "Medieval Warm Period" appear to have limited utility in describing trends in hemispheric or global mean temperature changes in past centuries... [Viewed] hemispherically, the "Little Ice Age" can only be considered as a modest cooling of the Northern Hemisphere during this period of less than 1°C relative to late 20th century levels.
Bear in mind that it was just this past week that the EPA did recognize the existence of the MWP, although still disinclined to read the evidence of the temperatures that then existed.

Evidence from the e-mails contained in the Climategate folders show that, in fact there was some agreement among them that the MWP existed, and was warmer than today, and I have commented a number of times on the hundreds of scientific papers that attest to the global extent of the Little Ice Age. But where there is one person with the power to deny that, as these articles do, and further to have the full support of the Wikipedia management in manipulating this information, then the integrity of the whole program is shown to be rotten, and the goals of the whole endeavor a masquerade hiding an attempt at manipulation.

It is tragic that this whole debate has long passed beyond seeking answers to the fundamental questions of what is truly going on with the climate. Politicians in under developed countries are now using the issue to demand recompense from the developed world and for payment to protect them from the fallouts of the global warming. Yet the results from the rising populations in those countries, and their need for rural electrification, is being hidden in the clamor to be given supportive dollars. Forget that the most effective power source in many of these countries comes from coal. There is a potential for Western money to be fed, perhaps via the UN, into the coffers of those countries – and sadly in many cases, I suspect, into the pockets of those clamoring loudest in the debate.

Droughts may threaten the water supply of places such as Las Vegas but as much of the problem is caused by creating a city in a desert, and having it steadily grow, as might be caused by a changes in the rainfall pattern. Although, if one goes back to the MWP these areas have a history of severe droughts, that should not have been unexpected. But there was no-one to blame (and pay) back in the MWP.


  1. It had been patent for some time that something was wrong with Climate articles at Wikipaedia, but something of this extent never crossed my mind. I thought it was simple fending between editors that pendend to the side with larger number of followers.

    This is a completely different matter. Wikipaedia has been used as a propaganda tool to spread the views of a single individual. The Wikimedia Foundation has to clean its act or else loose credibility.

  2. The voices complaining are much smaller in number, I suspect, than those cheering them on.