Yamal, the northern Russian territory I discussed in yesterday's article
means 'The End of the World.' There's deep symbolism here for those on both sides of the global warming mud-slinging match. For AGW believers, Yamal buttresses their claims of speedily advancing global warming. For skeptics, it signifies the end of the scientific techniques used to create what they believe is an illusion--the global warming that never was.
For at least part of the argument (I do believe that human generated CO2 has caused some of the global warming we saw between 1976 and 1998, and may well do so in the future), I am with the skeptics. This needs to draw a line in the sand about how science is conducted and communicated going forward. We have already spent too much money and interfered with the lives of too many people based on what now looks like a botched lab experiment that a student is trying to hide in his locker, and the proposals being deliberated in the halls of the great and the mighty make our efforts to date look like peanuts.
A new age of scientific journals, journalism and scientific communication was born with the Internet. There was an explosion of new journals, new editors, new rules, new owners and new readers. A lot of rules got lost in the shuffle. Some of those rules need to come back. Some new rules are needed, as well.
Keith Briffa and his fellow scientists have published a series of articles in scientific publications since 2000, all of them saying that warming is occurring faster than predicted, and all of them misusing statistical analysis and referring to data that they have resisted making available to others who would like to check their work.
In the instance that is currently making waves in the climate world, Briffa refused to make data collected from Yamal for almost 10 years, before the Royal Society forced him to archive the data publicly after they published his article. Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit quickly showed why Briffa was reluctant to make his numbers public. New evidence emerging over the past 24 hours makes it very questionable that Briffa could have excluded data that undermined his chosen position by mistake.
For excellent narrative descriptions of what happened, I refer you to Bishop Hill's account and this article in the UK Register
. My focus is elsewhere, on the mainstream scientific publications that scandalously ignored their own data archiving policies because the scientists' findings matched well with their editorial leanings. They should not only be ashamed--they should be worrying about their reputations going forward. Editors have completely lost control of the peer-review process--as scientific knowledge grows exponentially, the number of qualified commenters on an individual sliver of science shrinks--in this case, the peer-reviewers for Briffa and the scientists working on similar papers were more or less each other, their mentors and their fellow bloggers at Real Climate.
The idea that Briffa and his team could select the data that matched their beliefs, rejecting the data that did not produce a Hockey Stick shape (that's over-simplifying--part of what they did in their analysis reduced older temperatures, making it look as if recent warming was more dramatic and unprecedented) does not match the best traditions of scientific endeavors and ideals.
It all needs to be tossed out, of course, and work needs to begin anew on reconstructing the temperature records. People, companies and even countries have been harmed by this mess, and lawyers will begin to circle.
This controversy threatens to obscure the fact that temperatures did rise in tandem with CO2 concentrations for 30 years, and could easily do so again. But that's not the worst of it. If climate science is impugned as these studies are discredited, science as a whole becomes less credible. And what will we make of it the next time scientists come to us with news of alarming developments and possibilities?
For skeptics and many Republicans here in the U.S., the boy has already cried wolf once too often. If even greater portions of the general public becomes anti-science as a result of this sorry disaster, we will have only these scientists and their lazy publishers to blame.
Source Link: examiner.com