Have Hackers Unearthed Climate Change’s Real Inconvenient Truth?

It looks like some well publicized global warming evidence is the product of the books being cooked!

When people hear my opinions on human induced global warming they’re usually surprised… maybe shocked is a better word. I am a meteorologist with some training in climatology. I watched Al Gore present his global warming lecture as an invited guest in the White House. I’m a liberal. And yet I don’t believe we humans are changing our climate in a noticeable or troubling way.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for freeing ourselves from the grip of foreign oil, even if that’s painful in the short term. I’d like the air cleaner with less crap emitted by cars, trucks and industry. My goals are mostly the same as the goals of the global warming doomsayers.

Unfortunately, if you dissent on the issue of global warming you’re branded an idiot or heretic or maybe I’m in the pocket of big oil. The global warming theory proponents often have a religious-like fervor in their support. “How can you dismiss all the evidence,” they ask?

This is my blog. This isn’t the news. My level of fact checking is very low, but published reports say web servers at the England’s East Anglia Climate Research Unit have been hacked and some of the personal emails and data removed are damning!

It looks like some well publicized global warming evidence is the product of the books being cooked! It’s possible the loudest voices in this fight have been playing fast-and-loose with the truth when it doesn’t serve their purpose.

Even though I disagree with these people I am seriously shocked to hear this might be true. I expected the debate was educated and legitimate.

Here are two email snippets.

“I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” – Phil Jones

“The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.” – Kevin Trenberth

The problem is recent history has shown a halt to global warming over the last decade. Whatever the reason it doesn’t make sense to see this if the most well known theories are correct!

This is a story that’s just beginning to be written.

I don’t condone breaking into a computer, as these hackers allegedly did. I certainly don’t condone passing off lies as fact.

Quotes That Keep On Giving

“I hate this,” Fox protested. “There is no skill in making these predictions.”

Blogger’s note: As I re-read all of this, Abe Katz did take my words in their proper context. The blogger noted below is the one who twisted them to his purpose. Life goes on.

Abe Katz of the New Haven Register (and others including the Bristol Press) interviewed me a few days ago about the oncoming winter. The Climate Prediction Center has issued their somewhat broad projections.

“I hate this,” Fox protested. “There is no skill in making these predictions.”

OK–maybe that’s a little over-the-top, but there’s little benefit to the average person who lives day-to-day and not on a seasonal basis. Later in the article I talked about sunspots and the suspicion of a casual relationship between them and the Earth’s temperature.

Fox said he is intrigued by a possible link between solar activity and weather. Sunspot activity, believed to be caused by incredibly strong magnetic fields, peaked in about 2000, and has been in decline since then, into what is called a Maunder minimum.

Activity should be rising again. Space weather gurus at NASA expect another sunspot peak between 2010 and 2015.

Unfortunately, the relationship between solar activity and weather remains obscure.

“No one knows what one has to do with the other,” Fox said.

I later wrote Abe asking, “Am I that negative?” I thought I came off a little surly… and with all due respect, Abe has written this article before in years past. My answers are always fairly similar. I’m not a big long term guy.

This afternoon I got word my quote had been picked up in a blog.

Case in point: Geoff Fox, a meteorologist with WTNH-TV in Connecticut, stated in an interview with The Bristol Press, that “he is intrigued by a possible link between solar activity and weather.” Then, Fox went on to say, “No one knows what one has to do with the other.”

So, I wonder how Mr. Fox would answer the question, “What if the Sun went out tomorrow? Would that affect the weather?” or “What if the Sun started burning hotter by millions of degrees? Would that affect weather?” Most kids in kindergarten would probably say yes to both questions!

Save your breath. I have already called him an ass.

Thanks for taking an out-of-context quote and bringing it further out-of-context. The fact that I do not support Al Gore’s theories (I had the honor of being invited to see him present it at the White House and left unconvinced) doesn’t make you less of an ass for not finding the source of the quote and asking it be put in perspective.

Within context, I brought up sunspots because I do believe there is a possible cause/effect relationship between them and the Earth’s temperature. As far as I know there is nothing other than anecdotal evidence connecting them and no quantification of the relative importance of sunspots in global climatology.

I believe I’m relatively easy to find. You probably owed it to those who read this to seek me out before typing.

Geoff Fox

Whether my comment is published is up to the blog’s owner.

I’m With Al On This

Former Vice President Al Gore is on the stump, promoting his new book, “Assault on Reason.” One of his points, something I agree with&#185, is the marginalization of elections, treating them like horse races or beauty contests.

Here’s what TVNewser wrote about Gore’s appearance on Good Morning America.

After promising to “dig deeper” later, in an as-yet-unaired segment, Sawyer looked off-camera and said “to dig not very deep, at my peril here, I just want to say one more time. Donna Brazille, your former campaign manager, says ‘if he drops 25 to 30 pounds, he’s running.’ Lost any weight?”

Gore laughed heartily. “I think millions of Americans are in the same struggle I am on that one,” he responded. “But listen to your questions. The horserace, the cosmetic parts of this — look, that’s all understandable and natural. But while we’re focused on Britney and K-fed and Anna Nicole Smith and all this stuff, meanwhile, very quietly, our country has been making some very serious mistakes that could be avoided if we, the people, including the news media, are involved in a full and vigorous discussion of what our choices are.”

When I first wrote about this back in Janurary, I quoted Ann Coulter. Now Al Gore. Could there be stranger bedfellows? Yet they’re on the same page here.

Looking at polls, statistics and Al Gore’s weight are simple – but that’s not reporting. That’s not news. It’s really ‘newsroom helper’… a way to fill more space with less product. And, it’s a disservice to all of us.

No matter what the election, our decisions are important. There are matters of taxes, the environment, even war and peace.

The horse race element just takes our attention off the real issues and makes the whole thing superficial. It does us all a disservice.

&#185 – As you probably know, Al and I part company on An Inconvenient Truth.

Strange Bedfellows

I wrote about Al Gore’s energy consumption a few days ago. Now, the Wall Street Journal has taken a turn on their editorial page.

Mr. Gore is rich and fortunate enough to be able to afford the “carbon offset” for his energy indulgences. The middle-class parents who need a gas-guzzling SUV to haul the kids to soccer practice might not be so lucky. They might even settle for an unheated pool.

I am unaccustomed to agreeing with, or blazing the path for, the Journal’s editorial board. It’s arguably the most politically conservative daily editorial page in the country.

Of course that’s a large part of the problem with the whole human induced global warming debate. It has become a conservative vs. liberal bout – a political argument.

It’s really a scientific debate. Why has that been lost in all the noise?

Global Warming Backlash

Following his Oscar win for An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore has become a pretty large target by some global warming skeptics. Here’s what ABC News reported earlier today.

Armed with Gore’s utility bills for the last two years, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research charged Monday that the gas and electric bills for the former vice president’s 20-room home and pool house devoured nearly 221,000 kilowatt-hours in 2006, more than 20 times the national average of 10,656 kilowatt-hours.

“If this were any other person with $30,000-a-year in utility bills, I wouldn’t care,” says the Center’s 27-year-old president, Drew Johnson. “But he tells other people how to live and he’s not following his own rules.”

This isn’t a new tactic. Laurie David, wife of Larry David and green activist, was singled out after she called for environmental restraint while flying coast-to-coast by private jet!

I’m not a big fan of making examples of individuals. We all have feet of clay. Still, there is some food for thought here.

I drive an SUV. I live in a fairly large house. Am I going to have to hide that in the future? Do I get a pass for having a short drive to work?

As I’ve made clear here, I am very skeptical of dire predictions of large scale human induced climate change. I really don’t want to change my life if there will be no benefit. I certainly don’t want to cripple our nation’s industrial base.

Meanwhile, in order to maintain credibility, the loudest voices will have to walk the walk as they talk the talk.

Al Gore

I know he’s promoting his movie and all, but doesn’t it look like Al Gore is running for president again? There’s been lots of exposure and then Saturday Night Live last weekend as the fantasy president in the opening sketch.

History is full of analogs. I was thinking back to 1977, when Jimmy Carter replaced Gerald Ford. Carter was buoyed by an anti-Nixon backlash (even though Nixon was long gone by the election).

Carter was the ‘nicest,’ most morally driven president of my lifetime – the anti-Nixon, if you will. He was also, arguably, the least effective.

That’s it. I’m making no judgments. Just thinking aloud.

The Climatic Skeptic In Me

Wednesday morning on CNN, Miles O’Brien and meteorologist Chad Myers, chatting.

O’BRIEN: Let’s check the forecast now. Chad Myers, you’re a little bit of a skeptic on global warming, I know.

MYERS: No, I absolutely believe that CO2 is heating the atmosphere, but also, some of these thermometers that we’ve had out in the plains for years or in the cities for years are getting surrounded by more buildings. So you get more buildings, you get more asphalt, you get more heat, so the thermometers are different. The whole — metro areas are getting warmer, where, in fact, maybe you just see — if you put that same thermometer out in the middle of a cornfield in Nebraska, maybe it wouldn’t be too much different. We’ll have to see. You know, I know that this is happening; it’s just a matter of how much it is, that’s all.

O’BRIEN: So, there’s a little bit of global paving, too, along with global warming?

MYERS: Well, there you go.

Myers comments got a quick rebuke on Mediamatters.org and spilled over to a weathercaster bulletin board I often read.

Like Chad Myers, I’m “a little bit of a skeptic on global warming.”

Here’s what I posted in the conversation after someone said, “This is a scientific issue, not a political one.”:

That one sentence cuts to the core of this controversy. Of course it’s a political issue. If it were a scientific discussion, we’d be hearing positive as well as negative implications to warming. Even in dire global warming scenarios, there are many beneficiaries.

If this were a scientific discussion, not political, graphs of CO2 levels would start at 0 ppm, not 310 ppm&#185. Starting high on the graph makes the increase look much more severe.

It seems, based on my limited contact with colleagues, that operational forecasters tend to be skeptics on the long range implications of additional CO2 in the atmosphere. I first noticed it at the “Million Meteorologist March,” when many of us were invited to the White House (excellent baked goods) to hear Al Gore speak about global warming. Most of the operational mets I spoke with that day were skeptical.

If you forecast the weather on a daily basis, you’re likely skeptical about the worst of the global warming predictions, because you’ve been burned by models and then chastised by viewers. Research mets don’t get that dose of forecast reality.

Last year I flew to Florida to see my folks. The plane stopped in Tampa on the way to PBI. As I looked out the window, I noticed the sky covered in cirrus clouds. As I looked closer, I realized they were contrails which had become diaphanous. They just hadn’t mixed out under the very weak upper flow.

I picked up my cellphone and called a friend – my expert on NWP. How, I asked, are these man made clouds taken into account in the models? They aren’t.

In fact all our short range models and certainly the multidecadal climate models, make assumptions, guesses and estimates. There’s just not enough data to properly initialize everything.

Tonight, based on the 12z runs, the models will have over predicted much of Connecticut’s temperatures by 5-10 degrees. And that’s just a 24 hour forecast!

In the meantime, I’m sure tonight many people in Fairbanks are saying of global warming, “Bring it on.”

PAFA 270653Z 00000KT 1/4SM R01L/3500V4500FT FZFG FEW001 BKN004 M43/ A2981 RMK A02 SLP123 T1433

That’s -45f with .25 mile visibility in freezing fog.

&#185 – Here’s the graph I was talking about.

The Web’s Encyclopedia – Wikipedia

I’m going to write a little about the Wikipedia. If you would have told me about this idea, I would have said (without hesitation) it would never work! Wikipedia is the free-content encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

It’s just too strange. Anyone, without even signing in or giving their name, can add or edit any article of the over 500,000 articles. I know because I just added something to an article about Grover Cleveland.

Wikipedia currently has 517864 articles.

That number excludes discussion pages, image description pages, user profile pages, templates, help pages, articles without links to other articles, and pages about Wikipedia. Including these, we have 1465956 pages.

Users have made 13331279 edits since July 2002; an average of 9.09 edits per page.

In my last blog entry I cited Wikipedia’s article on Cleveland. After re-reading the Wikipedia entry, I realized there was one fact that was deficient.

Grover Cleveland lost an election with a majority of the popular vote. Wikipedia said that also happened to Al Gore. That’s true, but it also happened to Samuel Tilden in 1876 – one of the dirtiest, most questionable elections in U.S. history.

I went to Wikipedia, found the article, hit edit and -bing- it’s corrected.

The Cleveland article has been expanded and edited dozens of times since its original 13 word submission in 2001. I know because every change is documented and it’s possible to easily compare two versions of the same entry.

Here’s the weird part. The more I look at Wikipedia, the better its ‘research’ seems. Certainly there’s an inherent bias whenever any person writes. I would venture to guess the Al Gore comment came from a disgruntled Democrat.

Over the long run, with Wikipedia It makes little difference, as bias and errors seem to be quickly corrected. After all, I fixed the Cleveland article (which wasn’t wrong, just incomplete).

The Wikipedia community exhorts users to be bold in updating articles. Wikis develop faster when people fix problems, correct grammar, add facts, make sure the language is precise, and so on. It’s okay. It’s what everyone expects. Instead of asking, “Why aren’t these pages copyedited?”, you should fix the problems you see yourself. It does require some amount of politeness, but it works. You’ll see.

If someone writes an inferior, merely humorous article, article stub, or outright patent nonsense, don’t worry about their feelings. Correct it, add to it, and, if it’s a total waste of time, replace it with brilliant prose (and relegate the deletions to bad jokes and other deleted nonsense or the corresponding talk page). That’s the nature of a Wiki.

Try it yourself. Pick a subject you know and see how Wikipedia does. If it’s a good article, you’ll be hooked, as I am. If it’s bad, you can go away or fix it. I’m guessing you’ll be hooked.

All of this would be so much easier to explain if the name wasn’t so… well, if it wasn’t so ridiculous sounding. Wikipedia! Come on. Who thought of that?

It Could Happen Again

I am a math guy, so I spend time every day looking at the numbers in the presidential polls. This election is, among other things, fascinating by its mathematical complexity.

Most, not all, polls currently show President Bush with a small lead among likely voters. There’s some question how well the concept of ‘likely voters’ will hold up if this is an election with a very large turnout. Forget that for a moment.

Let’s just say the polls are right, and President Bush takes home a majority of the popular vote. I’m not sure he’ll win. In fact, it is conceivable that Senator Kerry could win the majority of electoral votes without a popular vote plurality.

That would be the Democrats accomplishing the unlikely feat that the Republicans pulled off four years ago. Probability has no memory. Rare events can happen back-to-back.

For the first time tonight, that fact (is fact the right word when all of this is really guesswork piled upon more guesswork?) is headlined on Slate.com&#185. Slate’s home page says:

If America Voted Today – Kerry 276, Bush 262

I’ve been seeing similar numbers when I view statewide polls. Florida is very close – probably too close. But, Pennsylvania looks to be ‘blue’ and now Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan are also leaning that way.

As a kid, I remember the Kennedy – Nixon election of 1960. We went to sleep late at night not knowing who won. It is my earliest remembrance of an election. I figured they’d all be that way, but none were… until 2000.

All night? Hell, we waited weeks to find out what was going on.

Remember hanging chads in Florida? People claimed they meant to vote for Al Gore, but voted for Patrick Buchannon by mistake.

I’m not sure how that was read by the rest of the world, but it probably didn’t show our best side. It could happen again.

In the meantime, watching national polls is now worthless. Watch the individual battleground states because that’s where the election will be won or lost. This is the site I go to most often. It might not be the best, but it’s got lots of numbers. I like numbers.

&#185 – I am saddened to see Slate use a photo of a smiling John Kerry next to a picture of a scowling George Bush. At this point, a news site should be even handed in every way. This is not.

Going to the Candidates Debate

I am poised for tonight’s presidential debate from Coral Gables. Like hurricane coverage that starts two days before the storm arrives, the TV pundits have run out of valuable things to say.

Here’s my point: Debates can affect elections.

As close as it was, Al Gore’s horrendously stiff show in the last election debates probably cost him the presidency. Remember ‘lock box,’ a phrase he obviously wanted to get in no matter what was asked?

There was Ronald Reagan’s “there you go again” to Walter Mondale, Gerald Ford’s premature freeing of Poland from communist rule, and Richard Nixon’s five o’clock shadow.

Tonight I hope it’s not a gaffe that eliminates one man from the presidency, but a realization by the voters of where they stand vis a vis the other.

I recently watched an entire George Bush campaign stop on ABC World Now. There was no commentary and no cut aways. Bush was masterful. I was extremely impressed at his warm, folksy style. To see it used so effectively was unexpected, to say the least. If he can pull that off in this debate (of course in a campaign appearance he never faces critical commentary or questions from his audience as he will tonight), Kerry might as well start wind surfing tomorrow.

On the other hand, for the first time, Kerry gets seen in context with the president. Will he look presidential, compared to the man who currently defines that role? If he does, that goes a long way to calming some fears.

How will he handle the charge of flip flop? If John Kerry changes that perception, Bush has a much tougher opponent for the next 33 or so days.

Will either candidate attack the other? If so, how will the voters react? It can be looked at as a sign of strength, or the trait of a desperate man, depending on how the attack is wielded.

This will be very interesting to watch. I’ll be glued to my seat.