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ClimateGate Follow Up

by Steven Novella, Jul 12 2010

I know this is already a bit of old news, but I am just returning from TAM8 (which was awesome, BTW) and am behind on my blogging. Recently the third of three independent reviews of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) e-mail scandal has been completed. All three reviews concluded that the CRU was not hiding, destroying, or manipulating data.

Last year I wrote about what has come to be called climategate – leaked e-mails from the CRU at the University of East Anglia which revealed some troubling statements and attitudes among the CRU scientists. At the time there were those who believed the e-mails to be the innocent chatter of scientists and others who thought it was the smoking gun of scientific fraud. At the time I wrote:

I don’t know what the lessons of climategate are yet – we need to see what actually happened first. But how people deal with climategate says a lot about their process. Those who are making bold claims based upon ambiguous, circumstantial, and out-of-context evidence, are not doing themselves or their side any favors.

In other words – let’s withhold final judgment until there has been time for investigations to discover what has actually been happening at the CRU. The e-mails were concerning, but not smoking gun evidence of anything – let’s wait and see. Well, now we have the results of several reviews of the evidence and therefore have something substantial upon which to based an informed opinion.

The BBC reports:

The review found nothing in the e-mails to undermine Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports.

It concludes that “their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt”.

However, it says “there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness”, notable over complying with Freedom of Information (FoI) requests.

So after a thorough review there is no evidence of any actual scientific fraud, but the scientists were not adequately complying with FOI requests. It seems the climate scientists at the CRU had developed a bit of a bunker mentality and felt justified in frustrating what they felt were frivolous and harassing FOI requests. This, in turn, seems to be a symptom of an obscure scientific discipline (climate science) being thrust in recent years into the middle of a raging world-wide political controversy. There was not a culture among these scientists of dealing with the politically controversial aspects of their science. Hopefully climategate will be a turning point in this regard.

This episode reminds us that scientists are human, and therefore science itself is a human endeavor and subject to all the foibles that plague any human activity. But in the end the transparent and self-corrective aspects of science allow for reliable conclusions to be achieved in the end. After independent review the panels found that no data was hidden, destroyed, or manipulated and therefore the conclusions of the IPCC not threatened by climategate. Specifically, there were charges that the CRU did not have backups of data they relied upon for their conclusions. But the CRU was never the primary source of this data – they simply aggregated and analyzed it. The primary data has always been available from the sources. As the BBC reports:

“We find that CRU was not in a position to withhold access to such data or tamper with it,” it says.

“We demonstrated that any independent researcher can download station data directly from primary sources and undertake their own temperature trend analysis”.


This important follow up to the climategate story does not seem to be getting as much attention as the original scandal – which is typical. I do think it reinforces my point that in many situations it is prudent to wait for a thorough analysis of a complex situation rather than jump to conclusions based upon preliminary information. Specifically, those who were claiming that climategate was evidence that all of climate change science was a fraud have been made to look rather foolish. None more than the DiscoTute, however, who were claiming rather hysterically that this episode is an indictment of all of science.

I am not expecting any retractions.

98 Responses to “ClimateGate Follow Up”

  1. Max says:

    Not surprisingly, the deniers call the investigations a whitewash. The deniers KNOW there was scientific fraud, so any investigation that disagrees must be a whitewash.

    Something must be done to prevent FOI requests from being used to harass scientists and waste their time (and perhaps taxpayers’ money).

    Here’s a reminder of what they were dealing with.

    Last year in July alone the unit received 60 FoI requests from across the world. With a staff of only 13 to cope with them, the demands were accumulating faster than they could be dealt with. “According to the rules,” says Jones, “you have to do 18 hours’ work on each one before you’re allowed to turn it down.” It meant that the scientists would have had a lot of their time diverted from research…
    He also suspected that the CRU was the target of a co-ordinated attempt to interfere with its work — a suspicion that hardened into certainty when, over a matter of days, it received 40 similar FoI requests. Each applicant asked for data from five different countries, 200 in all, which would have been a daunting task even for someone with nothing else to do.

    • Max says:

      Did you get that? 100 frivolous FOI requests, each requiring 18 hours of work, adds up to over 10 man-months of full-time work just to turn them down.

      • Archie Pittman says:

        My word. Why didn’t they tell us that on the news when they reported on this? The more I read, the more I’m getting the impression that most of society’s woes are caused by bad journalism.

  2. Alan says:

    Steve — I think you were overly kind toward AGW Deniers to begin with. This really wasn’t a case of “wait and see” as the fair approach is to assume innocence until guilt is proven. Even from the very start the “evidence” that Denier’s touted was suspect as it relied on highly convenient interpretations of merely a few lines in a few emails.

    AGW Denialism is like Creationism or 9/11 Truthism — it is a pseudo/anti-science ideological movement that has not yet provided anywhere near enough scientific basis for taking it seriously. Until it does treating it (even indirectly by giving its claims the benefit of the doubt) as equal with science does a disservice to all of us.

    • Jason M says:

      Alan, I don’t think Steven was only addressing the claims of AGW Deniers, but also people more in the mainstream who were wondering whether the hacked emails were evidence of scientific misdemeanor in this particular case. From what I understand, there were some legitimate concerns in this area, and not just in regard to FOI requests. See here for Fred Pearce’s discussion of his new book on the Climategate emails:

      • Alan says:

        Oh, I understand that he was discussing the subject in general. However, feeding the idea that there was something to “Climategate” plays right into the hands of AGW Deniers just as a similar event involving biologists would play into the hands of Creationists. It exaggerates what’s going on and makes the pseudo-science position look far more reasonable than it really is.

        That’s why I say that the proper reaction would have been to assume there is no wrong doing until an investigation states otherwise. We give AGW Denial (and any anti-science movement) the gift of legitimacy whenever we treat their accusations as being just as creditable the scientific establishment/method, even if we do so indirectly by giving the Denier position the benefit of the doubt (as Steve did in these postings concering Climategate, IMHO).

      • Alan – did you go back and read my original post? I thought I was pretty clear that the AGW denier position on climategate was premature, hysterical, denialism and harmful to their credibility. I said there does not appear to be anything to these e-mails, but I will await an investigation before forming my final opinion.

        My attitude was similar to saying – I don’t think there is anything to this new paranormal claim, but I will happily revise my opinion after empirical investigation.

      • Alan says:

        I see that you did warn Deniers not to take things too far, but I would still argue that is too lenient of an attitude.

        As future events showed, but which could have been predicted, Deniers as a group didn’t approach the issue of “Climategate” fairly or rationally. Instead, it became excuse number one for justifying their anti-scientific beliefs. If you go to most any denier site or read the comments of most any blog on the subject (pro or con) there are plenty of people who today — even when directly shown the results of the studies you talk about here — still embrace “Climategate” as final proof for AGW being a scam. Try to offer up the facts to refute these convenient beliefs and you just get cries of “cover-up!”

        That is why I say your approach — while completely rational for scientific discussions in general — was too lax as the only way to try to defuse the scandal was to be clear that nothing had been proven and that, given the track record of Deniers, there was every reason to think this was the proverbial tempest in a teapot. By giving them at least some benefit of the doubt you only encourage their beliefs. Your admonishments to take things carefully aren’t liable to work on a group that already assumes whatever interpretation fits their ideology must be correct — after all, they must have been “careful” since Climategate proved AGW to be a hoax, right?

        In other words, you can’t rely on them — even deniers within the Skeptic community — to respond to reason and evidence on this issue. As such, to make sure their pseudo-science gains as little traction as possible we have to give it as little benefit of the doubt as possible. Always allow for further developments, but be adamant that until then that AGW Denial is anti-scientific.

      • tmac57 says:

        Alan,I am sympathetic to your position to some degree, and I realize that a wait and see attitude is difficult to swallow when you know that the anti-AGW crowd will not be moved by the facts no matter what.But, there is a broader spectrum of opinions on this issue that are more open to rational debate. If Steve had taken a knee jerk reaction on this without leaving open the possibility that there might have been some wrong doing, then a couple of things could have gone wrong.One, there might really have been some kind of fraud involved.Two, taking a position that these issues shouldn’t be treated seriously would look like he the AGW believers weren’t interested in getting to the bottom of what the emails were about.That is the same kind of attitude that the other side has in reverse.

      • Alan says:

        I’m not talking about a “knee-jerk” reaction, but rather just a strong, confident one. That is, you allow for the slight possibility that there might be something to “Climategate” while making it clear that all evidence at present shows AGW Deniers to be anti-science.

        So, you could say something like, “While one must always hold out for the tiny possibility of a real problem here, given the track record of AGW Denialism and the mountain of evidence demonstrating that AGW is real until proven otherwise the only reasonable conclusion is that ‘Climategate’ is just another manufactured ‘scandal’ from Deniers meant to distract us from the actual facts.”

        You allow for an open mind while being clear that to date the AGW Denier arguments are bunk. Anything less gives Deniers more credit than they have yet earned. After all, just like Creationism or Truthism they rely on people coming to the wrong conclusion that their beliefs are more-or-less on the same factual level as those based on science.

  3. klem says:

    I think you folks have missed the point of Climategate. It was in no way an attempt to prove fraud going on at the CRU, it was not an attempt to show that the science was wrong, it was simply to bring up questions regarding the validity of climate science and to undermine the credibility of the IPCC and Copenhagen. It did all of those things. No one cares if the scientists are guilty of anything, no one cares if it’s a whitewash really, what was important was the public begin to question the validity of the claims. Remember, perception is reality. Copenhagen failed because of Climategate, and it opened the door for scientists to feel it was safe to criticize the IPCC’s AR4 report, which stood unchallenged for 3 full years. Now the public doubts climate alarmist claims, the public doubts the credibility of the IPCC. And now governments and citizens around the world doubt the whole AGW theory. Climategate has done it’s job.

  4. Beelzebud says:

    I’m curious to see if the resident deniers around here decide to chime in. They certainly had lots of fun here when these hacked stolen emails were cherry-picked and leaked.

  5. peter naegele says:

    What is sad in all of this is the damage done to scientific discourse. True skeptics [not shills] being referred to as “deniers” or “heretics”, tying dogma to a theory, cash payouts to disprove or prove said theory, the sending of threatening messages and suspicious packages from both sides to either camp, attempts to pass [and prevent the passage of] laws based on profitability, the overall subversion of the scientific method to promote one side over another.

    It’s most difficult to take a stance in the field of climate science because of the agendas behind either camp. If I say there is something to the theory of AGW, I am branded, if I say I am skeptical about AGW, I am branded as well.

    All science surrounding this debate went out the window long ago, it is now an “us” versus “them” mentality and battle. A sad state of affairs not only for skeptics, but the scientific method as a whole.

    • Beelzebud says:

      The science behind this “debate” went out the window, only if you choose to ignore it…

    • Max says:

      The scientific consensus supports the AGW theory, and the CRU passed three independent reviews. There may be dogmatic activists on both sides, but the science is on one side.

    • Alan says:

      Actually, it’s not “us vs. them”. By putting that way you fall into the trap that AGW Deniers have built as for them getting people to think that “both sides are just as bad” is just as good as somehow disproving AGW.

      The facts are that it is a gigantic mountain of science supporting AGW on one side and a cow-pie of ideology, anti-science, and trickery on the side of the Deniers.

      There is no equivalence in terms of facts or good behavior between them.

    • Tuffgong says:

      I could not have said it better myself.

      The actual scientific debate has devolved to political branding and assholes (like Max) who have to butt their nose into every single argument pro or con AGW regardless of severity.

      I’ll sit here and reasonably argue what I feel is the right answer with the evidence I think is important to bring up with my personal biases to consider but it’s goddamn pathetic to run around and yell “science is settled” or “AGW is a scam/conspiracy”.

  6. Mat says:

    Is AGW happening? Probably. But that isn’t the difficult part of the problem.

    How do we address it? Bring in laws that restrict economic growth? Limit people’s freedoms?

    Plunge developing (and other) countries into low carbon pre industrial societies?

    More disease, malnutrition, suffering and death could be caused around the globe by attacking AGW with too much zeal than doing nothing. (Not to mention the political problems of convincing populations of the dangers of doing nothing!)

    AGW is an engineering problem. We need to manage the problem, we may need to adapt to it – we need to engineer our way through it.

    Honestly, slapping down the AGW denier argument is way too easy. This is the hard part.

    • tmac57 says:

      “Honestly, slapping down the AGW denier argument is way too
      easy. ” Were you not aware of the large shift in public opinion against AGW after the ‘Climategate’ story? There is nothing “easy” about this issue. Scientists have been scrapping and clawing their way to get the public’s attention about this for over a decade, and this set things back a least 5 years.

      • Mat says:

        Well done for ignoring the thrust of my point. Compared to what comes after, winning the argument IS the easy part. What with the scientific consensus and all…

    • Kurt says:

      I agree that the “what to do about it part” is the hard part, and that’s why denial of AGW persists. Much of the resistance stems from a fear of the presumed solutions that will be imposed as a result.

      I used to be an AGW denier. Here’s a free tip to anyone talking to an AGW denier who isn’t a religious fundamentalist. Point out to them that at some point mankind will have technology sufficient to accidentally causes negative externalities in the climate. Concede to them that perhaps that hasn’t occurred yet. Then ask them how they think humanity will solve that problem when we get there. If they lean towards markets, they will say that the solution is property rights in air quality. To which you respond: OK, so, something like cap-and-trade then?

      Then give them a few months to think about it.

      Eventually they will realize that this issue is the same as any of the other policies that people debate. People can disagree about the solution without denying the problem.

      • tmac57 says:

        Did you ever come to a solution that you might be able to live with, and that could possibly solve the problem before it is too late?

      • Kurt says:

        Actually I do. I think the best way to do it is to recognize an individual right to an equal share of the atmosphere’s carbon balance. If you use less than that amount, you can sell your surplus. If you use more, you have to buy more or pay a carbon tax tied to, say, double the market rate for carbon credits. Then you allow people to pool their resources into carbon trusts (non-profits that encourage low carbon footprint and distribute the money earned from carbon trading to their members).

        This is basically cap-and-trade taken to a fully market oriented model. The problem with cap-and-trade is the “cap” part. Developing world countries are afraid that they will end up with caps that restrict their development. (A carbon tax has even worse disincentives for the developing world.) The goal with this system is that people in the developing world will have an incentive to set up carbon trusts regardless of how forward looking their governments are.

        If this system still results in lots of developed countries paying carbon taxes, then that will incentivize sequestration technologies. And, if the carbon emission limits turn out to be higher than we presently think, the price of carbon credits will automatically drop as supply increases. (I.e. if deniers are even half-right, this system automatically reduces the economic impact.)

      • Patrick says:

        Cap and trade is bad economically because it restricts new entrants into the economy and gives current players too much power.

        A carbon tax would be far less harmful and would still allow the economy to be dynamic. But to be fair, you got to drop all the other taxes on energy usage and gasoline.

      • Mat says:

        tmac57… define “too late”?

      • tmac57 says:

        I guess too late would be passing a threshold or tipping point that would result in widespread negative consequences such as famine,coastal
        flooding,mass dislocation of populations, drought,crop failures,unusually severe weather events,major loss of sea life,water shortages etc.

      • mat says:

        flooding,mass dislocation of populations, drought,crop failures,unusually severe weather events,major loss of sea life,water shortages etc.”

        …That sounds like business as usual to me, based on the last 10,000 years

  7. steelsheen11b says:

    I find it funny that warmist latch onto any whitewashed reports done by individuals, universities and corporations that have an invested economic interest in trying to carve out their niche in the alleged “green economy boom”(only “booming” (not really) becasue of government subsidizing the ethereal boom).

    See Max see how easy it is to be stupidly provocative just to be provocative. Using terms like “deniers” and “warmist” only make the user look like a paste eating, tin foil hat wearing conspiratarded Alex Jones listener.

    • Alan says:

      Not when “Denier” is the best word to describe AGW “Skeptics”.

      Science cannot offer any greater endorsement to an idea than to make it the consensus viewpoint — it is the gold standard, if you will. Thus, for the Denier view to be correct requires for our scientific system to have failed in the most extreme and fundamental way possible. That is, either science is incompetent and/or a giant conspiracy to defraud the rest of us.

      That is a HUGE accusation that requires extremely compelling evidence. Yet, all we see from Deniers are tired old pseudo-science arguments like “we can trust them because they are [group of choice]” or “This non-climate scientist pointed out this [claim] so therefore the consensus is wrong” or, in the case of Climategate, simple ad hominem.

      What else do you call a group whose beliefs require one assume that science is fundamentally wrong/untrustworthy (usually for petty reasons) besides “Denier?”

  8. The Saint says:

    Climatology is an accepted Science right? It’s not like homeopathy or chiropractic, right? If both those things are true, than people who do not have a degree in that field sound rather foolish trying to insert themselves in an academic debate in that field (one which is largely over).

    Mat… you make a lot of extraordinary claims. Chief among them is “More disease, malnutrition, suffering and death could be caused around the globe by attacking AGW with too much zeal than doing nothing. (Not to mention the political problems of convincing populations of the dangers of doing nothing!)”
    Any proof for those?

    “How do we address it? Bring in laws that restrict economic growth? Limit people’s freedoms?”
    Why does the economy need to constantally grow? Especially in the largest polluter in the world, which has a GDP per capita of $46,000. Is that not enough?
    Which freedoms, SPECIFICALLY, are going to be limited?

    • Mat says:

      The Saint… “Climatology is an accepted Science right?… etc”. To be clear, I said the AGW is probably a real phenomenon. I’ll go further, very probably. Any rational thinker has to respect scientific consensus…

      However, once the data is in, it is not the job of climatologists to dictate policy. We are now in the realm of opinion and value judgments. Everyone can then have an input and (in a democracy) elect the politicians to make the necessary decisions.

      The post industrial carbon economy has (probably) had a unwanted effect on climate. However, it has globally increased wealth, health and life expectancy. We only have to go back a few generations to see that life was (comparatively) “nasty, brutish and short” for the greater part of humanity.

      Continued economic development is crucial for smaller fragile third world countries. Limiting their future prosperity with heavy handed restrictions would cause significant misery. Some climate “alarmists” seem intent on stopping all development with scant regard for potential consequences.

      Specific freedoms under threat? …How about access to nutrition? Air travel? Or just driving a Range Rover? But remember, these are value judgements that climatologists have no more valid opinion on than anyone else.

      • Patrick says:

        Very true, pollution does hurt us but we also benefit greatly from it. By in large I think we have seen more benefits than negatives and things are only getting better.

    • Patrick says:


      Leading causes of death in America
      •Heart disease: 616,067
      •Cancer: 562,875
      •Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 135,952
      •Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 127,924
      •Accidents (unintentional injuries): 123,706
      •Alzheimer’s disease: 74,632
      •Diabetes: 71,382
      •Influenza and Pneumonia: 52,717
      •Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 46,448
      •Septicemia: 34,828

      You suggest we Americans have enough wealth…maybe we should stop growing to stop polluting? Well are you happy with this mortality rate? What about countries were life is clearly worse off? Between 1 million and 3 million women and children die every year from indoor smoke inhalation because their only source of energy is wood, coal and dung fires in their homes.

      Growing wealth grows our ability to improve human life, reduce mortality rates, improve education, and reduce poverty. And one day, with enough wealth and technological progress we will probably even eliminate death by old age as well as most all the other diseases and cancers that currently plague us. Would you be against that too?

  9. Besides the petty vindictiveness, what are some of the human foibles seen in the Climategate emails? Attempting to prevent criticism of your work by not complying with the law, attempting to conspire to delete evidence, creating an enemies list of scientists and journals not properly in line with your position and trying to manipulate peer review. The connection is now complete with all the fine qualities of Richard Nixon becoming the new standard of scientific inquiry.

    • Max says:

      The more I looked into this, the more evidence I found exonerating the climate scientists and damning the deniers. For example, see my post about the barrage of frivolous FOI requests.

      • In the spirit of friendship from denier to alarmist, here’s a little of what the Muir Russell review ( ) had to say.

        10.5 Findings

        27. Unhelpful responses. We found a tendency to answer the wrong question or to give a partial answer.

        28. Deliberate actions to avoid release. There seems clear incitement to delete emails, although we have seen no evidence of any attempt to delete information in respect of a request already made.

        32. The Review found an ethos of minimal compliance (and at times non-compliance) by the CRU with both the letter and the spirit of the FoIA and EIR. We believe that this must change and that leadership is required from the University‘s most senior staff in driving through a positive transformation of attitudes.

        10.6 Recommendations

        35. As a final comment we find that a fundamental lack of engagement by the CRU team with their obligations under FoIA/EIR, both prior to 2005 and subsequently, led to an overly defensive approach that set the stage for the subsequent mass of FoIA/EIR requests in July and August 2009.

      • Max says:

        When the requests are in good faith, they get good responses. When the requests are in bad faith, incoherent, vague, redundant, etc., they get bad responses. The deniers’ goal was to get some data and cry fraud. One denier, an economist, boasted that he contacted the FBI about what he thought was fraud.

        AGW deniers aren’t the only ones who engage in this kind of provocation. So do Creationists. See the Lenski affair.

  10. leo says:

    No big shock here….expected really. Sometimes you can understand why people believe stupid things, as they have good evidence……you might believe the earth was flat if you grew up in Kansas…..but that doesn’t explain all the other goofy things they seen to embrace.

  11. Tom Mullen says:

    I continue to be disappointed that a publication called “Skeptic” has capitulated completely to the global warming agenda. For 100 years, a large political faction has argued that private property and free enterprise would destroy society. When they were proven absolutely wrong, this same group of people suddenly became hysterically concerned with “the environment.” The only solution to saving the earth? The gradual abolition of private property and free enterprise. This doesn’t make anyone skeptical of their motives? Skeptic’s own Jared Diamond has documented an undisputed fact that I would think would be very troubling to the AGW thesis: the earth was far warmer in 1,000 CE than it has been since or is even predicted to get any time soon due to AGW. That’s why the Vikings were able to settle Greenland. I appreciate the attempt by Mr. Shermer to separate the facts from hysteria in the so-called “Climategate” scandal – and indeed his conclusions on that scandal may be correct. Overall, however, Mr. Shermer seems to have adopted a completely unskeptical mindset to AGW since his historic switch in 2006.

  12. Patrick says:

    Weren’t some of those “independent” investigations done by people with a stake in clearing the name of their former or current universities?

    • Max says:

      Which ones? The Muir report is called independent, Penn State’s investigation of Michael Mann is not. Whitewashing fraud isn’t a good way to clear a university’s name.

      • Patrick says:

        Was the Muir report the one bought and paid for by East Anglia or is that the other report?

      • Max says:

        UEA funded Muir Russell’s independent review, but the review team has no links to CRU or IPCC. They even had a BP guy on the team.
        Speaking of BP, contrast this to BP’s involvement in a probe of itself.

        Who should’ve funded the review? The government?
        Do you object to pharmaceutical companies funding the FDA review of their own drugs?

      • Patrick says:

        Who funds what doesn’t matter. The science and the methods are what matters. I just find it hard to believe they can find no wrong doing when you’ve got these guys telling each other to delete information and to not respond to FOIA requests (or whatever they have in England). At the very least they are guilty of bad judgment and or incompetence.

      • Patrick says:

        *caveat – who funds what matters if you want to call something “independent” 2 of these are most certainly NOT independent and the last one just might be – but that all depends on the contract.

        For example, the Nevada government hired Moody’s Analytics to do an independent report on recommended taxes to increase – essentially telling Moody’s what outcome they wanted to hear. That isn’t an independent report (there is a lot of that type of unscientific garbage floating around and Moody’s is a major violator).

  13. Patrick says:

    As for jumping to conclusions where is the blog about Toyota and driver error?

    • Max says:

      Waiting for the NHTSA report to be released instead of jumping to conclusions about it.

    • Max says:

      “The government said Wednesday it had not reached any conclusions about whether Toyota drivers may be to blame for their vehicles suddenly accelerating”

  14. Patrick says:

    And speaking of anti-science, I’ve noticed that environmentalists are keen to throw science out the window when it comes to solutions. Ideas like rail transit are not even effective at getting cars off the road – even in Europe where it is highly subsidized.$28Bxl$29.pdf

    Study above finds that to double the importance of European rail transit, it would cost $68 billion in taxpayer subsidies and $5.3 billion in auto related taxes and gain only $2.5 billion in reduced automobile externalities and reduce auto use by 5 percent. Not cost effective, not even a scientifically sound method of reducing auto use.

    Worse still, rail transit is known to be a bigger polluter than the automobile when you include the construction costs associated with the two. And while automobile fleets turn over every 20 years rail systems remain in place for 30-40 years which means over time the rail becomes less efficient compared to the automobile.

    • Max says:

      That one guy represents all science?

      • Patrick says:

        And what do you have? I can produce more if you like? Its generally understood that passenger rail transit will not reduce C02 levels to any significant degree. With most people driving by car, and transit having little impact on removing people from cars, the best things we can do is to 1) keep cars moving by removing barriers that cause congestion 2)build more road capacity 3) keep pushing more fuel and energy efficient automobiles 4) live the high life when alternative fuels go mainstream.

        Mass social engineering of society is NOT necessary.

      • Alan says:

        Mass social engineering of society is NOT necessary

        Ah, but the fact that it might be is NOT any sort of excuse for dismissing (or accepting for that matter) AGW.

        Maybe “massive social engineering” will be needed to sufficiently (e.g. a level that we can accept as a species) fix the effects of Climate Change. Maybe it won’t. What will tell us is the science. The question is whether or not we are willing to accept its conclusions.

        Either way, it is a fallacy to use the possible negative consequences of something being true to insist (or imply) it must therefore not be true.

      • Patrick says:

        Right now, the science is suggesting that most every public policy directed toward combating AWG is ineffective at best and at worst, makes other matters worse (losing money on projects like Solar and Wind power right now cost us jobs and wealth that could be used to produce other goods and services to improve the human condition in other ways).

        Finally, their are bigger threats to the human species than global warming.

        Btw, I don’t see a fallacy because I think you aren’t understanding what I’m saying.

        1) AWG is true
        2) Re-engineering society (subsidies for energy inefficient “green” projects, cramming people into “smart growth” corridors along “rail transit”) to combat AWG does not look like a promising solution
        3) Other options, like expanding highway capacity and energy efficieny of automobiles appear far less costly and more effective.
        4) Therefore we shouldn’t try re-engineering of society to combat AWG.

        There is no fallacy there.

      • Alan says:

        Your argument here is based on value judgments — such as your apparent belief that all present methods of combating global warming are worthless — that do not have a strong basis in fact. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that at least many methods will work to a useful extent. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have work to do and hard decisions to make, but this attitude of “We’re doomed to fail so why try?” is both awfully convenient and far more opinion than fact.

        I also find it interesting how Deniers (for all practical purposes denying there is nothing to be done to fix the problem is just as much denial as maintaining the problem doesn’t exist at all) who condemn those who support the science of AGW as being “alarmists” will turn right around and scream the “alarm” that any attempt to fix AGW will automatically be worthless or even counter-productive. Interesting that.

      • Max says:


        Alarmism over the solutions is often what drives the denial of the problem, so it’s not surprising. For example, antivaxxers’ alarmism over the risk of vaccines drives their denial of the risk of infectious disease.

      • Patrick says:

        No Alan, they are based on cost benefit analysis. How many studies will I need to provide you to prove that rail transit is ineffective at removing cars and very expensive?

        Lets think about this another way.

        Solution A: Removes 1 ton of CO2 at a cost of $5000
        Solution B: $500 per ton of C02
        Solution C: $50 per ton of C02
        Solution D: $5 per ton of C02

        Which would you choose? If you choose A, you increase pollution because of something called opportunity cost. You chose to remove 1 ton of C02 at a cost of $5000 per ton or the opportunity of removing 1,000 tons of C02

        Cost benefit analysis routinely shows that light rail and other rail schemes are VERY expensive solutions to removing C02 from the atmosphere. Some rail systems will never remove more C02 than they output (because of the expensive process dealing with laying down the track and building the rail cars which have to be replaced every 30-40 years).

      • Patrick says:

        Max, in my opinion, faith in the righteous cause of saving the planet blinds people and causes them to lose critical skepticism over the plans to save the planet.

  15. mat says:

    Be equally suspicious of the “alarmists” and the “deniers”. Studying history is sometimes the best way of predicting the future. We are a resourceful, adaptive species; I’d back us muddling through this.

    • Alan says:

      I have no doubt we will successfully “muddle” through as a species. I just wonder how many millions will die in the meantime when famine comes, sea levels rise, countries go to war over resources, etc.

      The world won’t end and neither will the human race (unless we react really badly and start throwing nukes around), but that doesn’t mean that “muddling” through won’t still be the worse disaster in human history — especially if we just have faith in our “species” and otherwise do nothing.

      We already have the knowledge and ability to handle the future so why don’t we go ahead and use it?

      • mat says:

        Ok Alan, what shall we do?

      • mat says:

        And where did I say “do nothing”?

      • Patrick says:

        Famine won’t be a problem if we still have capitalism and market forces producing food rather than government central direction. Rising sea levels, not a problem. If you seriously believe that millions of humans will die because sea levels rise 12-20 inches in the next 100 YEARS then you really have no understanding of human behavior, economics, construction science or a rational understanding of what is going on. (Sorry if that sounds rude, but come on).

      • Alan says:

        “No understanding of human behavior????” Are we talking about the same species? You know, the same one that has had wars killing hundreds of millions over the last hundred years, familines galore, cold wars, disputes over water rights, and all sorts of problems we were clearly not rational about?

        Dude, I think you need to read up on your history and psychology. If you think that the human race would deal with widespread famine, storms, freaky weather, and shoreline flooding in an utterly rational, “no-problem-here” manner (with or without capitalism) then clearly we all need to be smoking whatever you are as it must be some powerful stuff.

      • Mat says:

        So… What’s your plan?

      • Patrick says:


        Name one economically free country that has lost many people to famine.

        Though I believe human nature is mostly good, it is market forces that enable humans to efficiently transport goods and services to where they are needed most. No economically free country I can think of has lost many people to famine because market forces enable water, food and supplies to reach the people who need it, quickly.

        Countries that rely on central direction for goods and services or engage in price controls are the ones who face shortages and eventual starvation and death.

      • Alan says:

        We have people who go hungry in the US already even during our prosperous time. And, there was was widespread hunger during the Great Depression.

        Likewise, your assumption lies on the idea that capitalism always runs in the best of ways in the best of times (or, more accurately, you assume that if capitalism is present it will be the best of ways).

        Your definition likewise has more than a whiff of convenience where when something works it is “capitalism” and wherever it does not (even if the nation in question is generally capitalist) then it is not “real” capitalism. Thus, African nations that are technically capitalist, yet are also quite corrupt would, I suspect, not qualify as really “capitalist.” This is like when Christians dismiss anything bad done by a Christian or in the name of Christ by the glib assertion that since they acted badly they must therefore not be “true” Christians, QED.

        However, this argument is ultimately besides the point — whether or not a nation is sufficently “capitalist” there are going to be people starving. Telling them to become “captialists” won’t magically fix things nor will accusing them of deserving whatever they get since they aren’t sufficiently “capitalist” make leaving them to suffer morally acceptible.

        Most importantly, neither of those excuses will make them just sit there and take it as opposed to causing problems with their neighbors.

      • Alan says:

        So…what’s your plan?

        What does that matter? I’m not a climate scientist nor a politican. I’m not the guy who has to come up with a “plan”. Any choices I ultimately personally endorse will be those which come from the proper knowledgeable authorities and make the best sense to me in terms of cost/benefit.

      • Patrick says:

        Sorry Alan but the Federal government implemented widespread wage and price controls in the 1930s and 40s. I’ve already stated that centralized control over economies and wage and price controls lead to shortages (As most economists already agree).

        The market is, as far as we know now, the most efficient means of allocating scarce resources. Countries that allow the market to function (at least somewhat, France is considered a mostly free economy for example) your country won’t face severe life threatening shortages.

      • Patrick says:

        Alan you are also conflating issues. Capitalism is merely an economic system whereby capital is privately owned.

        You can have a capitalist economy where government still orders how capital is moved about and that won’t work. You can also have capitalism where the government colludes with capital owners (corporatism) and that tends to not work too well in the long run either.

        The other way is free market capitalism, where capital is privately owned and government provides little restraints on how capital is used (save to defend property, enforce contracts, punish fraud and other policies to ensure markets work – like regulating the commons).

    • Max says:

      Deniers are those who dogmatically reject the scientific consensus.
      What are alarmists? Those who are alarmed by the scientific consensus?

      • Patrick says:

        Alarmists are those people who worry so much they jump to support any policy that makes them feel better about the situation despite overwhelming evidence that the policy would have no effect and in some cases a negative effect. That is, alarmists are people who use climate change to scare people into left-wing political policies, ie watermelons (green on the outside, red on the inside).

      • Alan says:

        But, there is no “overwhelming” evidence that, in general, policies to combat AGW will be useless. Sure, some solutions will clearly be better than others, but most of the “it will ruin our economy” sorts of arguments are based on flimsy reasoning that rely on in effect assuming that all the money spent will just be thrown into a gigantic black hole rather than going toward a long term investment in infrastructure.

        For instance, if one sat down in 1910 and figured out the costs of putting in place all the necessary roads and infrastructure to support this newfangled contraption called a “car” it would be easy to make a superficially convincing case that the price of doing so would be ruinous.

        Of course, as we now know, the price was in fact a powerful investment in the future that has ultimately paid off handsomely. There is likewise good reasons to believe that “going green” would have similar economic benefits. At the very least just trying to scare people by throwing around large dollar amounts is at best premature and at worst deceptive.

      • Patrick says:

        The very same criticism can be thrown against (and in a more effective way) against the math and assumptions used to defend the policies to combat AGW.

        Btw, the American highway system was not completed until 1992 and at several times above the estimated cost…

      • Patrick says:

        Btw, we already have CO2 emissions data on public transit and I can point to over a dozen systems that are less efficient than Ford and Chevy pickup trucks and SUVs, even though they are sold to the public as ways to save the enviornment.

        I can point to econometric modeling that shows rail transit moves very, very few people out of cars at a very, very, very high cost. That is a black hole.

      • Patrick says:

        An average light truck emits 0.63 pounds of CO2 per passenger mile according to the US National Transit Database.

        The following urban public transits emit as much as or MORE pounds of CO2 as a light truck (pickup, SUV) – operation emissions ONLY…

        Washington, D.C.
        Providence, RI
        Norfolk, VA
        St. Louis
        St. Petersburg
        San Antonio
        San Jose
        Kansas City
        Riverside, CA
        Oklahoma City
        New Orleans

  16. GoneWithTheWind says:

    Interesting… This year is the coldest since 1998 and it is the 12th consecutive cold year in the latest cooling trend. So I’m not sure that AGW denier is as much an insult as you claim. It would apear that CO2, which continues to increase, is not making the earth warmer. Go figure. Does that make all the “Warmies” reality deniers???

    • Max says:

      All you have to do is look at a graph to see the trend.
      1998 was an exceptionally hot El Niño year.

      Global Warming deniers are to AGW deniers as Young Earth Creationists are to Intelligent Designists, and as no-planers are to 9-11 truthers.

      • Patrick says:

        or to anti-parental choice (voucher) opponents.

        I think there is actually more settled science on the positive effects of school vouchers than there is on AWG… (considering AWG science can’t run random control and treatment groups like you can with school vouchers). ;)

    • tmac57 says:

      GWTW-If you want to cherry pick, then read this bit from NOAA about 2010:”The combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for May, March-May (Northern Hemisphere spring-Southern Hemisphere autumn), and the period January-May according to NOAA. Worldwide average land surface temperature for May and March-May was the warmest on record while the global ocean surface temperatures for both May and March-May were second warmest on record, behind 1998.”
      Max’s reference shows the upward trend when put into context. Pulling out an anomalous year (1998) and citing that as a counter example is intellectually dishonest.

    • Alan says:

      It is “criticisms” like these that make it hard to take AGW Deniers seriously — and which justifies their categorization as deniers.

      The argument that we are in a cooling period lies entirely on a crude manipulation of the data. As Max shows 1998 was unusually hot due to the El Nino that year. Deniers just draw a line from the top of the graph at 1998 to a suitably lower extreme for a later year and declare “Look, it’s cooling!”

      Of course, what matters are the temperature averages over time — and those have been steadily rising. This “criticism” makes the fundamental error of confusing short term weather with long-term climate trends.

      What’s particularly damning is that is argument is easily disproven just by a quick Google search. The fact that deniers seem unwilling to do even that strongly suggests they have no interest in the actual facts, but are instead driven by some sort of preconceived belief system that evidence will not budge.

      Until AGW “Skeptics” start to care about the actual science of Climate Change rather than these disproven zombie arguments that return again and again they deserve to be called Deniers.

      • Mat says:

        Again, what shall we do?

      • tmac57 says:

        You can start by cutting back on your personal energy use, and using a renewable energy provider if possible.Try to limit or cut out eating meat.Buy more efficient cars and appliances when you need to replace them.Don’t waste water.These are things that most people can do now,and continue to follow the science and sort out what the best public policies should be for the future.

      • Mat says:

        tmac… Most of what you argue for is already starting to happen globally, indicating that the argument is already broadly won… I’m curious you would ration meat eating but no mention of air travel – perhaps a glimpse of a personal ideology? !-)

      • tmac57 says:

        I didn’t use the word “ration”.I think it is a good idea to voluntarily limit meat eating,but I am personally omnivorous (limited). Air travel is a problem, and I don’t fly that much,but I think that would fall into my general statement of “cutting back on your personal energy use”.I try to maintain a pragmatic sort of “personal ideology” as you put it.I go where the evidence leads me.

  17. GoneWithTheWind says:

    I’m not sure your claims of innocence and denial is the best way to present your case. Clearly the case for AGW is fraught with lies and fraud. You cannot even deny that with a straight face. But to try to act as though everything is fine lets just ignore those inconvenient truths that slipped out, move along, nothing happening here… is a mistake! I think the best path to salvage the AGW scam would be to admit mistakes were made and move on. Don’t try to defend this disaster. They lied about the data they fabricated results and made wild eyed predictions with nothing to back them up. This year is the coldest year since 1998 and part of the continuing 12 year cold cycle where the trend line is headed down. It is getting colder even while atmospheric CO2 continues to increase. Perhaps it’s time to reverse course and predict a coming ice age as the fear mongers did in the 70’s…

    • Patrick says:

      “Lies and fraud” is a serious accusation and I don’t think at all accurate. At best all you can really conclude is that modeling is difficult and imprecise because we humans have a limited understanding of how the world works at this point in time.

  18. Chris Howard says:

    Isn’t “Global Warming” a misnomer? I think it’s more accurate to call it Global Climate Change, in that some areas, that have traditionally been cooler, will get hotter, and vis a versa?
    I’m pretty sure that while it is the coldest year since 1998, the trend is still warming when you compare the data for the last hundred, or so, so while it is true to say that it’s cooler than 1998, it’s also true to say that it’s warmer, than the last hundred years, or so, since we’ve been recording climate data, no?

  19. GoneWithTheWind says:

    This is the 33rd warming cycle since the last ice age. It follows the 32nd cooling cycle which was known as the little ice age. The previous warming cycle (the 32nd one occured in the 11 & 12 century (known as the medieval warm period or MWP) was much warmer then this one. The MWP was the inconvenient fact that Michael Mann was trying to hide with his infamous Hockey Stick. Warming cycles are very beneficial to man and large animals and is probably mostly responsibe for 6.5 billion humans living today. Cooling cycles are much more stressful on large animals and will probably kil off most humans. The next cooling cycle (the 33rd since the last ice age) is due soon. That could mean next year, next century or that it has already begun. It is much easier to identify these changes well after the fact. We won’t be able to stop the 33rd natural cooling cycle any more then we could have stopped the 33rd natural warming cycle. But no doubt some enterprising pseudo-scientist will be tempted to claim we must and if you just all tax yourself into poverty and pass regressive laws we will pray (oops!) use science to solve this problem. I wonder… Will the high priests of AGC (Anthropogenic Global Cooling) be the very same people who pray (oops!) fabricate (oops!) study AGW???

  20. GoneWithTheWind says:

    To Patrick: Michael Mann’s hocky stick model was an intentional fraud. I worked in the computer field my entire life and I created computer models before Michael Mann was born. I know it is easy to create a biases model and it requires intent. But the hocky stick fraud is the tip of the iceberg (pun). The whole AGW scam is full of it. Let me give you and example:

    To tmac57. You think I was cherry picking and then you cited a quote from NOAA about 2010 “The combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for May, March-May”. THAT was cherry picking by NOAA. It may suprise you to discover that a “year” consists of 12 months. The “year” measured to conclude 2010 was the coldest is measured from Jul 2009 Jun 2010. Why would NOAA have left out most of the months and only cite the few warmer months???? I say it was intentional and fraudulent. And the method used to perpertrate the fraud was “cherry picking”.

    • tmac57 says:

      GWTW-Are you being intentionally obtuse? I (not NOAA) deliberately cherry picked that statistic to illustrate the same kind of thing that you were doing by citing 1998 as an artificial endpoint to conveniently fit your cooling scenario. But this chart showing the trend since 1880 shows a long term trend of warming
      Notice that there are up and downward swings from year to year, but what is the long term trend?

  21. GoneWithTheWind says:

    Does it make any difference if either you or NOAA was the one cherry picking?

    I did not “cherry pick”. Cherry picking would be if I merely said 1998 was the coldest year in a specific period of time. What I said was that beginning in 1998 we entered a long and sustained cooling period (oddly even while CO2 continued to rise) and that topping it off 2010 was the coldest year since 1998. If that is “cherry picking” it is a damned big cherry.

    However I take your point that picking a point in time to begin collecting/reporting data can indeed make it appear that there is a significant trend when in fact there is none. Such is the problem for both the warmies and the deniers. We do not know if this the 33rd naturally occurring warming cycle since the last ice age is coming to an end or merely displaying mormal minor cyclical variations. I do try to not jump on the bandwagon too soon so I won’t be guilty of the same sin that the Warmies have committed. But don’t forget I merely used actual data to prove the fraud of the NOAA press release.

    • Max says:

      You actually looked at the graph and can’t deny the obvious warming trend. Good, you’re ready to take the step from Global Warming denial to AGW denial.

  22. Andy Dent says:

    “Specifically, there were charges that the CRU did not have backups of data they relied upon for their conclusions. But the CRU was never the primary source of this data – they simply aggregated and analyzed it. The primary data has always been available from the sources”

    The CRU published summarised results from their own derived data, they were not simply republishing the primary data.

    If you are adding value to data by some processing steps and refuse to publish the intermediate data you are making it impossible for others to repeat your calculations and verify your summarised results.

    Repeatability is the heart and soul of scientific acceptance.