10 December 2009

Religious dispute over Darwin's data

Willis Eschenbach at the website " watts up with that" has opened up more serious doubts about the integrity of adjustments made to the raw surface temperature data record relied on by the IPCC.

The raw data on historical surface temperatures from weather stations around the globe is held on a database called the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN). This is basically the raw data used by the other two main global temperature research institutions, the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) for their definitive publications of adjusted historical surface temperatures. The IPCC has relied very heavily on the CRU and GISS publications in making its proclamations about the alarming warming in world temperatures in recent decades.

The contents of the Climategate emails from the CRU, that have recently come to light through unofficial sources, suggest that CRU's database could be seriously corrupted by errors, fudges and lost data on adjustments made to the underlying raw data. For some this may be disturbing but it is felt it does not undermine the fundamental global temperature shift picture painted by the IPCC, because even if the CRU has "lost" their records on why and where adjustments to the raw data were made, we still have the "homogenized" (adjusted) records and the underlying raw data, so there is still no real reason not to rely on what they are telling us.

OK, thought Mr Eschenbach, if that's so, let's compare the raw data with the "homogenized" numbers that the IPCC have published. He started with the first of the many thousands of weather stations used, Darwin Airport. He wanted to see if he could figure out from the raw data how GHCN and the IPCC made its adjustments (homogenised) to these raw numbers.

What Mr Eschenbach's article reveals is, that on a close examination of the GHCN's data of that one weather station in Northern Australia, and comparing that with what the IPCC has published about it, it seems the "adjusted" (homogenized) surface temperature data put out as the definitive temperature record from this weather station, appears to have been fudged to meet someone's pre-conceptions about global temperature increases.

The effect of the unexplained adjustments made to the historical raw temperature data from the Darwin Airport weather station looks pretty clear here. To my non-expert eye the main reason the red (homogenized) trend line slopes upwards, whilst the green (raw) trendline is flatter, corresponds pretty closely to the effects of the black line (the adjustments). That is the homogenised temperatures increase because they have been "adjusted" upwards. How can this be called science? I guess if we had some pretty convincing explanations for these adjustments you might allow it as a speculative kite, but even then you'd have to have very real doubts Read the piece.

If these kinds of adjustments are even partially repeated at a small percentage of the thousands of weather stations around the world that the GHCN rely on in publishing their "homogenised" historical temperature data, then their databases are corrupted and are unreliable. It certainly looks like, in defiance of good science and ethics, someone appears to have distorted the record to achieve the outcome they desired.

Is this just a species of 'confirmation bias' rather than deliberate dishonesty? Who knows? It's beside the point anyway. The point is that data can't be relied on.

And it is based on this "adjusted" data that our politicians are proposing to radically reallocate the whole world's economic resources at Copenhagen. Can that be a good idea?

I reckon Charles Darwin would have understood what is going on here. The IPCC is not publishing science. It is promoting propaganda that supports its religious conviction that man is wrongfully causing the Earth to heat up.

In Charles Darwin's case it was a long haul to persuade religious zealots that "The Theory of Natural Selection" was a better explanation for changes in the world we inhabit, than blind faith in the literal truth of the Bible. Some still haven't been persuaded. It is frightening to think that these modern day true believers, who adhere to the literal truth of their unnatural selection of temperature records, might take as long to be convinced that their pre-conceptions might be wrong, as the those that reject Darwin's theory of evolution.

The justifications we are beginning to hear for these apparent infelicitudes from climate scientists sound something like "look it might look like someone fudged it a bit, but since we know the climate is warming anyway, what's the fuss?"

You know, "it might be fake, but true nonetheless".

Now where have we heard that before ?

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