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We’ve been fooled on climate research

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By The Staff

I read through Chick Keller’s defense of climate research (“Climate Research Lament,” Feb. 2) in the Monitor, because I know him personally and respect his broad scientific background and commitment to science. We have both worked in the energy/climate field, and although his credentials in climate science are much broader than mine, I have some credibility as a scientist and data analyst as well. Like Keller, I attach a great deal of credibility to peer-reviewed papers, respected journals and reputable scientists’ work.

He and I have been snookered.

While the “climategate” emails recently released to the public show the arrogance, disdain for the truth, blacklisting and perhaps outright fraud on the part of a few climate scientists, their real value may lie in forcing the original data used by climate researchers to be made available for public scrutiny.

Now, any researcher or journal that attempts to conceal their original data runs the risk of being “outed” and their research falsified. Any reputable journal that routinely blacklists certain scientists because of their skepticism, the very basis of the scientific method, mind you, runs the risk of losing what reputation they may have had. This blacklisting has seriously compromised the peer-review process and must be taken to cast serious doubt on the research published in some prestigious journals.

New research on now-public data is casting doubt on claims of rapid human-caused global warming. Some research suggests the world may not be warming much at all and that the earth may have been significantly warmer in the middle ages, casting doubt on human causation.

The data from thousands of weather stations around the world, which have been used to collect temperature data for roughly 150 years, have been seriously compromised by factors such as urbanization, changes in land use and by being relocated, according to John Christy, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a former lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The data from these stations were used to produce the famous “hockey stick” chart of rising global temperatures.

Dr. Christy states, “The story is the same for each one. The popular data sets show a lot of warming but the apparent temperature rise was actually caused by local factors affecting the weather stations, such as land development.”

Ross McKitrick, professor of economics at the University of Guelph (Canada), was invited by the IPCC to review its last report. He stated, “We concluded, with overwhelming statistical significance, that the IPCC’s climate data are contaminated with surface effects from industrialization and data quality problems.

These add up to a large warming bias.” This negative review received virtually no publicity, and the IPCC report was published as is.

And he is not alone. Terry Mills, professor of applied statistics and econometrics at Loughborough University (UK), looked at the data that formed the basis of the IPCC report.

He found that the warming trend reported over the past 30 years by the IPCC was just as likely to be due to random fluctuations as to the impacts of greenhouse gases. (Mills’s findings are soon to be published in Climatic Change, an environmental journal.)

Sloppy science in climate research, if not outright deceit, is apparently quite common at the highest levels.

Keller states near the end of his guest column, “In this short piece all I can say is the following: There is no fraud, no hiding of information as anyone who reads the scientific publications can verify.”

All I can say is this: if we rule out fraud, all we have left is scientific incompetence.

And we must not base trillion-dollar national and international economic policies on scientific incompetence.

Thomas J. Farish

White Rock

Editors note: Thomas J. Farish is a researcher in the Applied Engineering Technology Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory

 References are available upon request to the editor, roger@lamonitor.com