Thursday, July 08, 2010

A Circle of Wagons

Britain's University of East Anglia hired some experts to examine possible scientific misconduct by scientists employed at Britain's University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit. The investigation was mounted when a slew of internal emails cast doubt on the scientists' theories and characters.

What is not in question: The University of East Anglia CRU scientists had consistently refused to share their data or methods, had arranged for computer programs to be written to manipulate that data in ways favorable to their predetermined conclusions, had conspired to prevent alternate views from publication and, thereby, had generally dismissed the scientific method.

Nonetheless, the experts hired by the University of East Anglia to examine the practices of the scientists hired by the University of East Anglia reported that the core of global-warming research conducted by the scientists was on the up-and-up:

The issue involved an effort to reconstruct the climate history of the past several thousand years using indirect indicators like the size of tree rings and the growth rate of corals. The C.R.U. researchers, leaders in that type of work, were trying in 1999 to produce a long-term temperature chart that could be used in a United Nations publication. [The very IPCC publication whose errors become increasingly rife with age.]

But they were dogged by a problem: Since around 1960, for mysterious reasons, trees have stopped responding to temperature increases in the same way they apparently did in previous centuries. If plotted on a chart, tree rings from 1960 forward appear to show declining temperatures, something that scientists know from thermometer readings is not accurate.

Most scientific papers have dealt with this problem by ending their charts in 1960 or by grafting modern thermometer measurements onto the historical reconstructions.
It is true that most scientific papers followed that dogma. The authors of "most" papers were, of course, kowtowing to the East Anglia potentates and the funding thereby determined. 

CRU gurus were not mystified by trees that suddenly "stopped responding to temperature increases in the same way they apparently did in previous centuries" because the "science was settled."  They didn't wonder why their best guesses about global temperatures circa 1100AD - extrapolated from the width of growth rings in half-a-dozen tree fossils from Siberia - failed to agree with modern metrics.  If the data did not fit the theory, the data was the problem.  They just changed it.  The comments in the computer programs are definitive.

The East Anglia scientists said "Hide the decline," and the review panel agreed.   In the former case it was about climate models.  In the latter, about the integrity of science.

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