Additional thoughts on the Climategate scandal

Some interesting emails have come in responding to my Sunday Examiner column on the ClimateGate scandal.

From Frederick Bartlett:

I must begin by saying that I have no particular expertise, but do make my living as a computer programmer and have some mathematical knowledge. Certainly more than the typical journalist! (No offense, I hope.) And I'm sure you'll be hearing from others more knowledgeable than I.

Now, the biggest problem with the CRU data is that the raw data has been lost and we do not know precisely what algorithms were used to clean up the raw data. But it is definitely the case that raw data always needs to be 'doctored' — one needs to compensate for various differences among different types of thermometer, different placements, different microclimates, etc., etc. It cannot be emphasized enough that these compensations must be made public. That is, if you give me (and, again, I'm not a world-shaking programmer), or anyone else, the raw data and the algorithms, I should be able to produce the same final output. And, of course, every adjustment to the raw data must be rigorously justified.

It would, I think, strengthen the skeptical case if journalists acknowledged that the problems with the data are not quite as simple as a naive reading of the CRU emails would make it seem. Having said that, though, I must also say that the (notorious, at least among programmers) harry_read_me.txt file is a devastating blow to the cause of the global warmists. This poor, put-upon software geek (Ian 'Harry' Harris) was told to create a new version of the CRU software — but not even Harry was given the information he needed, so he had to produce an unending series of kludges (a technical term among us software geeks for an ugly 'trick' that manages to get the program one is writing over an otherwise insurmountable obstacle; kludges usually result — as in this case — from inadequate specifications or poor-quality metadata) in order to duplicate the already published simulations.

From a writer who wishes to remain anonymous:

I am a retired chemical engineer who understands the basic laws of thermodynamics and how to apply hem. My 32 year career was mostly in chemical process research. I have two concerns about the global warming frenzy on which I see no one reporting. The first is how long term temperature data is being reconciled so it can be placed on one chart showing 100+ years of trend. Yes, I have read about the tree rings, but didn't scientists accredit variation in tree ring sizes to wet vs. dry years in the past. We all know that the historic weather station data was taken with crude devices not calibrated to a standard and that at any given time 5+ degree variations exist across every urban center. If I were asked to measure the change in global temperature, which is actually asking about heat content or enthalpy changes of the atmosphere, then I would first need good comparative temperature readings for millions of points at ground level and in the atmosphere taken over a long period of time. Then the enthalpy of the air mass could be calculated and changes in heat content shown. Still, assumptions would have to be made such as gas mixture, water content, etc.

The second concern is why doesn't someone report actual experimental data on the effect of CO2 as a green house gas. A large chamber such as an enclosed sports arena could be charged with various concentrations of CO2 and an experiment conducted. Given my experience as a researcher I would predict that low level concentrations of CO2 would have minimal effect and you would see almost insignificant changes with an increase of the concentration. In the past every time someone on my staff offered a theory based on many assumptions I have always said let's get some data. Therefore all I see in the present global analysis is that a
vital step in the scientific method is missing.

From a real estate lawyer who blogs as Ironman:

I probably can't complete a foreclosure, since the judge won't have sufficient proof my client is the party actually owed the money and the loan is still outstanding.

Notice that in Kansas the MERS empire was humbled when they failed to properly document their interest in the mortgaged premises

It is truly remarkable then that the “climate change community” demands society commit trillions of dollars to their agenda, when their evidence probably would be deemed inadequate to compel a residential foreclosure.
 

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