Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Transparency in climate science

Climate change denialism has three basic roots. The first is the massive campaign of disinformation funded by the fossil fuel industry, notably the Koch brothers, but Exxon Mobile and others have also contributed. The second is just tribalism. If you identify as a Republican and a conservative, you have to be a denialist because it's part of the brand. The third is ideological: if anthropogenic climate change is real, the Free Market™ doesn't make everything paradisaical after all and government intervention is required. That can't be true because Ayn Rand said so.

Denialists make many false claims but one of them is that the conspirators -- consisting of thousands of scientists and government agencies all over the world -- are keeping the data that supposedly support their hoax a secret. This is so preposterously false it isn't even laughable.

Gavin Schmidt discusses transparency and reproducibility in climate science here, with links to all of the data you could possibly want. As Schmidt writes:

A small selection of climate data sources is given on our (cleverly named) “Data Sources” page and these and others are enormously rich repositories of useful stuff that climate scientists and the interested public have been diving into for years. Claims that have persisted for decades that “data” aren’t available are mostly bogus (to save the commenters the trouble of angrily demanding it, here is a link for data from the original hockey stick paper. You’re welcome!).
He goes on to discuss some of the challenges in replicability and reproducibility, which in the case of climate modeling have to do with technical limits of computing power more than anything else. However, it is the fact that models are in broad agreement and the historical fact of climate change is absolutely proven. NASA's GISTEMP data is publicly available here. They'll even give you software to analyze the data yourself! Have at it! Also here!

Of course, denialists don't actually understand anything about the subject and can't legitimately or honestly critique the work of scientists who do actually know what they are doing. So they just spout bullshit out of ignorance. And make fools of themselves.


Mark said...

I was going to make many of the same points you make here in a reply to Anonymous's comment in the previous post. When replying to denialists's ignorant parroting of the Fox News line, I sometimes refer them to Richard Muller, who, I assume, is the California scientist you refer to. I knew that he had to have some outside funding to do the work he did, but I didn't realize he was funded by the Kochs.

When I talk about global warming, I also make the distinction between global warming and climate change. Global warming is an observed fact. Climate change is what is happening because of global warming. People often confuse the two when they talk about modeling difficulties. Modeling has little or nothing to do with the observations of global warming.

Anonymous said...

What *I* commented on was the tactics of the alarmists of making wild predictions and also the data keepers' ability to continually revise their findings to stampede the public. The mantra seems to be "the end justifies the means". But what they're actually doing is shooting themselves in the foot at every turn.

A few examples:

“If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but 11 degrees colder by the year 2000,” claimed ecology professor Kenneth E.F. Watt at the University of California in 1970. “This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age.”

In 1988, James Hansen, for instance, who headed NASA’s Goddard Institute for three dec­ades before taking a post at Columbia University was asked by journalist and author Rob Reiss how the “greenhouse effect” would affect the neighborhood outside his window within 20 years (by 2008). “The West Side Highway [which runs along the Hudson River] will be under water

In March 2000, for example, “senior research scientist” David Viner, working at the time for the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, told the U.K. Independent that within “a few years,” snowfall would become “a very rare and exciting event” in Britain. “

Princeton professor and lead UN IPCC author Michael Oppenheimer, made some dramatic predictions in 1990 while working as “chief scientist” for the Environmental Defense Fund. By 1995, he said then, the “greenhouse effect” would be “desolating the heartlands of North America and Eurasia with horrific drought, causing crop failures and food riots.” By 1996, he added, the Platte River of Nebraska “would be dry, while a continent-wide black blizzard of prairie topsoil will stop traffic on interstates, strip paint from houses and shut down computers.” The situation would get so bad that “Mexican police will round up illegal American migrants surging into Mexico seeking work as field hands.”

Al Gore: ...“the entire North Polarized [sic] cap will disappear in five years.” “Five years,” Gore said again, in case anybody missed it the first time, is “the period of time during which it is now expected to disappear.”

The list is too long to go on.

Don Quixote said...

"Anonymous" is so blind and deaf it's hilarious! Even after the authoritative post of today ...

Mark said...

" ... the data keepers' ability to continually revise their findings to stampede the public."

When I read things like this, I immediately classify the writer in the same category as the flat-Earthers. Facts have no effect on them.