The disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia - Science and Technology Committee Contents


Memorandum submitted by David Shaw (CRU 22)

1.  INTRODUCTION

  Firstly I would like to declare the reasons behind my interest and my quite natural sceptical viewpoint of something that I do not see as a done deal. I'm a consultant statistician in pharmaceutical research and just about everything about the climate change approach is just not scientific; the way it is rightly applied in my discipline. I have no vested interest apart from that truth be known.

  It is of course incredibly difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt that man has any sort of role in climate change. Correlations of temperature and CO2 are all there seems to be and lately that is not supported by the data (irrespective of their accuracy). Even if the correlation is positive and significant (I do not say it is) it does not infer a causal relationship, it could be the reverse causality (temperature increasing CO2), simply coincidental or that both are causally related to another unknown driving force. Whatever the relationships they are far too complex for any one man or group to comprehend.

  One has to agree given the consequences that if the man-made GW hypothesis is correct that one might be forgiven for relaxing the usual burden of proof. This is however not the case as far as I can see, there is very little evidence indeed. This is often referred to as the precautionary principle. I will deal with my claims that the evidence even in such a relaxed environment does not support the hypothesis to any relaxed degree in the next sections.

  It is their hypothesis therefore it is incumbent upon them to reach a level of proof (possibly relaxed from the normal levels) before we reject the null position of man not being mostly responsible. This is how it works in all walks of science apart from the widely frowned upon post-modern scientific approach. So we assume man did not do it and set about gathering evidence that he might be responsible. It is impossible to conduct randomised experimentation so observational studies are all that are possible. These types of study are strewn with confounding factors that should be rigorously investigated before concluding.

  We can study changes over time in temperatures but we cannot definitively attribute those to any one source and of course as already alluded to nobody actually knows what complex system is creating those changes. Nevertheless they have occurred since time began and often far more extreme without man's intervention, in the presence of levels of CO2 that today would quickly lead to a conclusion that contradicts the claimed CO2 effect.

  It is worth mentioning publication bias in the reporting of studies, journals are unlikely to print negative findings whilst the reverse is true of positive studies. By positive I mean that have a message rather than the null position. The peer review process, if it is at all biased may introduce further publication bias via pressure on the journals to publish what is "more" acceptable.

2.  THE DATA AND MODELS

  The response variables (y's) are the temperature measures themselves and the explanatory variables (x's) are factors that might force a change in the y's. The relationship can be simply put as F(y)=F(x's) + E; where F's are just functions of the respective variables and E the residual error unexplained by the model. These relationships may be simple (straight line) or complex non-linear relationships. The x's may covary in a very complex fashion so that over the range of say two variables the effect of one increases or diminishes the others effect on F(y). The predictive quality of any such model depends upon accurate data as well as the specifying of a reasonable model that contains important factors. This is difficult if those factors are either unknown which many must be or deliberately ill specified or omitted. As E increases relative to the overall variability in the system the model gets increasingly unable to accurately predict. Without data to estimate what must be thousands of parameters the coefficients must be estimated from peoples beliefs and worth just that. Without data and data integrity I'm afraid any fancy model is just that, fancy but useless in describing the real world and predicting its future.

  Of course if the temperature measurements are themselves not a true reflection of the real state, in some way contaminated by outside influences, then one has to ask the question what is it we are trying to predict at all. What use is there in trying to model something known contaminated by something unknown and potentially biasing? Possibly the contamination is changing over time as the need for bias becomes more and more.

  The problem is incredibly complex; any data manipulation itself may bring in errors that will make the interpretation even more difficult. Data manipulation is always very well documented as it can be seen as a way of affecting results in the wrong hands and reviewers are rightly sceptical. Inclusion/exclusion of data is manipulation and the size of the exclusion seen with the UEA CRU and NASA when they calculate global temperatures is vast. Why do they do this and what is perhaps conveniently left? The first question a reviewer at say the FDA would have is why, the second would be if I did it the opposite way would I get the same answer? It would not take the magnitude of the exclusions seen with the CRU or NASA to completely switch the interpretation of the data around. One naturally then might ask the question as to whether the manipulation is designed to get the result, following on what else is designed to get the result?

  Scientists are incredibly ambitious, I have worked in medical research for 25 years and have inevitably seen some quite ruthless scientists wishing to get to the top of their profession as soon as is humanly possible. That involves bending the rules if necessary.

3.  THE BURDEN OF PROOF

  In science the null position is assumed and studies indicating an alternative (man-made GW) must accrue until sufficient evidence is available to conclude in favour of the alternative. The level of evidence required is usually very high so that erroneous claims are minimised and new potentially unsafe or expensive practices are not adopted in error.

  It must seem to the uneducated in such matters that the roles of the null and alternative have been reversed with climate science. It is not incumbent upon those claiming mischief in the data and analysis process to prove their claims it is for the accused to support their data and analysis. If they cannot then as with the prosecution witness (the defendant being man-made GW here) who is found not telling the whole truth that his evidence is of questionable value, possibly all of it.

  This is the crux of the argument, any manipulation must be rigorously supported but we as yet see no evidence that their manipulation was supportable. I see no explanation, as a sceptical reviewer (as the FDA would be in drug research), apart from convenience. A reason based on "the data do not fit the hypothesis so must be wrong" is a circular one indeed, one that will always support the hypothesis.

  Peer review has also been questioned, it was almost a closed shop where heretics were frowned upon and potentially ostracised. This is not peer review as we scientists know it, that for all its faults is an honest endeavour to get the balance right. There has consequently been no balance in the debate or the governmental support so that now we have Mr Ed Miliband labelling we scientists as "dangerous" for questioning. A very dangerous stance for our government to take.

  Despite the FOI being intended to make research more open the UEA CRU have released in full 10 out of 105 requests.

4.  THE CASE REMAINING FOR MAN-MADE GW

  This is mostly based around a warming trend recorded by several academic institutions. One being the UEA CRU and another being NASA, both have been found involved in less than supportable data processing in cherry picking sensors, a process that might in all other spheres be considered a questionable practice. It is incumbent upon any data processor to explain why they have omitted even a single measurement yet NASA today only use 1,000 of the 6,000 sensors they used in 1970—with no explanation. Year on year the sample gets smaller, why? The UEA have been accused of similar practices in the former Soviet Union and in China and by their own words have suggested that currently there are no increased trends and that's a "travesty". Certain countries like Bolivia have no sensors that are used in the calculation, NASA choose to use those in neighbouring countries as proxies, the neighbouring countries are of course warmer than Bolivia. Hence a biased (upwards) estimate of that countries temperature must ensue. There are numerous such examples where the manipulation is likely to drive in the desired direction.

  Measurements of surface temperatures are affected by man, of that there is no doubt. One only has to watch the weather at this time of the year to see that central London temperatures are plus few degrees (or more) than the surrounds. Again this is not adequately handled, the CRU have refused FOI requests on their approach to this. Clearly a sensor next to a building that was once in a field are not comparable over time. Any potential trends in real temperature over time are confounded with urbanisation effects. It is also well documented in the US that some of the sensors in use live right next to building outlet vents. Satellite measures over the last few decades have shown little if any warming, they of course measure atmospheric values which are not open to contamination by man.

  So without being able to trust the data or data processing and not knowing what we are modelling, what value have any models no matter how complex? All of this does not implicate man anyway, if the world is warming then there are far more sensible candidates that correlate far better than the small contribution man makes to the CO2 level.

  Their models do not fit the observed situation. A real scientist would wish to search for an explanation that his understanding of the situation is furthered. Why his hypothesis was floundering, he would plan further research and modify his beliefs not religiously seek to support the unsupportable "travesty".

5.  ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE

  We have other sources of information that are released to the media therefore usurping the usual scientific peer review process. Endless reassessments of the likely scenario some years down the line with only more catastrophic scenarios possible it seems. No new data are proffered just a re-estimate based on a possible rethinking of how bad things might be. These are unhelpful to the scientific process and add to the publication bias effect. Newspapers rely on extreme stories to sell and the proponents of AGW seem only to willing to furnish them with them. Mostly one will find that the new releases of reassessments of doomsday coincide with inconvenient facts that question the man-made hypothesis.

  Sea levels are rising slowly and show no signs of acceleration. The worlds leading sea-level expert has been a vocal opponent of such scare stories. His research in the Maldives is very clear, he sees no effects and has written much about the limitations of studies claiming otherwise. I'm afraid once again this is all computer model guesswork. The main factor is the Antarctic ice mass and to a much lesser extent the Arctic. The Antarctic despite all the media hype is actually growing according to the University of Colorado Ice Tracking unit. Anecdotal stories from inhabitants of that part of the world would support the data that previously accessible areas are now not possible due to increased ice.

  Other scare stories apparently supporting the AGW theory that the CRU is a major player in, follow:

Glaciers

  Involving claims about receding glaciers (Himalayas in particular) made by the IPCC and until very recently they had denied. Of course millions in research has resulted from this blatant fakery, much of that going to the perpetrators institutions. Luckily for them the story did not unfold before Copenhagen although allegedly they were well aware of it breaking imminently. What you have to do for a peace prize these days no doubt. The 4th assessment report (AR4) was published in 2007 but it took until a few weeks ago for the IPCC to withdraw its erroneous claim and apologise. Is this another slant on peer review perhaps?

Coral reef degradation

  The Nobel winning report linked this to climate change but on closer scrutiny it appears the evidence is taken from an unsupported Greenpeace report "Pacific in Peril".

Hurricanes and Floods

  The IPCC AR4 claim is that global warming was leading to extreme weather events such as hurricanes and floods. This was again based on an unpublished report without any scientific scrutiny through peer review. It would seem the IPCC ignored advice not to rely on its claims.

Amazon forest

  The IPCC claimed that 40% of the Amazon forests could be replaced by tropical savannah's—their source a non peer reviewed piece of work by the WWF.

  One has to ask the question as to why the CRU, NASA, WWF, Greenpeace, IPCC and now our government are relentlessly pushing AGW and cutting corners that simply should not be cut? One can only conclude it is not in the interests of science which has taken a painful wrap for this pseudo-science that is being used in its name.

6.  THE WIDER PICTURE

  It is clear that current temperatures are not at all alarming, many anecdotal events are media over egged and cannot be compared over time as our exposure to news is not comparable with even just 30 years ago. Trends in data can easily be seen, you don't need a fancy model, and in statistical research you're best not to rely on them. Complex models have more assumptions and often when deviations from those assumptions are present they can completely nullify the usefulness of the modelling method. If you cannot see it with your own eyes it probably doesn't exist. The temperatures in the scheme of things (thousands of years of history) are not at all remarkable, yet we hear all the time they are. The apparent rise in temperatures between 1970 and 2000 was not remarkable one only has to go back to a similar period pre WW2 to see a very similar trend. Before that another similar period in the late 19th century, the weather is indeed cyclical as is the suns influence. The periodicity of those cycles is easy to pick up with passing ones eye over simple plots.

  Actual measurements of surface temperature began 150 or so years ago. Estimates before this period are proxies and cannot be compared directly. A proxy measurement is a guess based on a theoretical relationship and supported by present data supporting that relationship. Mann's hockey stick uses proxy data but when the relationship does not fit what is desired or expected real data are substituted resulting in the much acclaimed Hockey Stick. Of course the methodology is rather suspect, mixing real and proxy data as if they were as one is not usual. Other scientists looking into Mann's methodology have concluded they would get a hockey stick by sampling random numbers.

7.  THE FUTURE

  We must stop funding this worthless research, no matter if there is any grain of truth in any of the CO2 arguments. We are creating a CO2 dependent economy where people will make huge amounts of money whilst CO2 emissions continue inexorably upwards. That research money should be targeted on real issues facing our world. We need to ask some important questions, how the world will fair when there's 9 billion of us, half living in squalor and willing to fight hard for ever decreasing natural resources. Their land basically dust because of years of intensive farming that have reduced their future capacity to very little.

  We have wasted 25 years on this fiasco and we need to catch up with what could have been funded but for this semi-parasitic industry. Most real scientists are scratching their heads and thinking how on earth have these people got away with it for so long? How is there so very little evidence yet `All scientists agree' is all we hear. Let us move onto more productive projects such as alternative fuel programmes, alternative food schemes, addressing overpopulation hopefully without the claims of eugenic type monster stories.

8.  SUMMARY

  The University of East Anglia CRU is part of a tight knit community aimed at perpetuating their futures, pontificating what will happen if we do not fund them.

  There is little evidence for their alternative position and as seen by the efforts of the various protagonists any evidence is being seriously overstated.

  We need to tell our Government, and particularly the energy and climate change minister, that this is not a done deal and furtherance via scientific endeavour relies completely on scepticism. To be told that is a danger is incredibly naïve of Mr Miliband.

  Science has suffered, details that contradict the CRUs hypothesis were covered up, they systematically hushed up the counter opinion of `heretics' and usurped the peer review process, they did not let other scientists validate their work possibly breaking FOI laws. The CRU, NASA and the IPCC have all not followed the normal scientific process and so anything they produce is almost worthless.

  This is truly the Emperor's new clothes of the 21st century, a story of self interest and hubris unrivalled in modern times. I have not given the wealth of references in support of the above, they are there on the internet for all to see.

February 2010





 
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