« About that Democratc 'victory' in health care reform... |
Blog Home Page
| Those who 'strongly disapprove' of Obama performance equals Bush numbers »
December 22, 2009
What Michael Mann wanted to say in his WaPo op-ed
We have all seen him, The Masked Magician. He gives us a backstage view of what the magician is really doing to pull off his illusions. Friday, December 19, the Washington Post published an editorial by Michael "Hockey Stick" Mann. Reading the editorial, we get the audience view of Mann's thoughts. But what is going on backstage?
What follows is a parody of Mann's editorial. Just like with the performances by The Masked Magician, to fully appreciate the performance, you need to witness both viewpoints, what the audience sees, and what the stage hands see. First, he shows you the audience view, and you say to yourself, "Wow, he really made that sexy lady appear out of nowhere. Where do I get one of those magic boxes"? Then, he shows the backstage view, and you say, "Well, that was a clever trick, but he won't fool me again". So, for full effect, I recommend you get the audience view first by reading Mann's editorial. What follows is the view from backstage:
E-Mail Furor Doesn't Alter Mann's Non-Evidence For Global Warming
I condone most things that colleagues of mine wrote or requested in the e-mails recently leaked from a climate research unit at a British university. The e-mails show that my colleagues and I have undermined the scientific process. This was part of our plan. As a result, the scientific case for human-caused climate change is also undermined. This was not part of our plan.
The leaked e-mails have been mined for words and phrases that show the distortions and misrepresentations being made by us. This effort has paid off. There have been some misunderstandings. For example, in a Dec. 9 op-ed, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin mistakenly listed " 'hide the decline' in global temperature" as one of these distortions. However, the rest of the distortions and misrepresentations she addressed are accurate, and her mistake is understandable. After all, even though the decade 1999-2009 has been very warm, global temperature has been declining since 1998. Incidentally, over this same time period of declining global temperature, human-caused CO2 emissions have increased, but pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
In one e-mail, Professor Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia refers to a "trick" regarding temperature data that he attributes to an article that co-authors and I published in the journal Nature in 1998. On the same graph, we showed temperatures derived from thermometer measurements available after the invention of the thermometer and temperatures derived from our guesses for temperatures before invention of the thermometer going back to 1000 AD. We noted the different temperature pedigree on the graph. However, we allowed this difference in pedigree to keep a low (or nonexistent) profile in the public mind.
Incidentally, anyone can download the data we plotted on that graph. We just refuse to tell them exactly how we did our guesswork, which data we plotted out of all the available data, and why we selected the data we selected.
In science, the term "trick" can refer to a clever solution to a problem. As climate researchers, we had a problem. Our technique for guessing temperature before the thermometer was invented does not correctly predict temperatures after 1960. After 1960, thermometer readings showed an increase in temperature, and our techniques for guessing temperature showed a decrease. This decline casts doubt on the validity of all our guesswork going back to 1000 AD. Our careers and egos are founded on that guesswork. Because we, as climate researchers, have so much invested in that guesswork, this doubt is a serious problem in need of a clever solution. To solve this problem, we constructed what some of our peers called a data analysis procedure. The procedure simply eliminates the data points causing the problem. You see, if we do not graph the data points, then the problem goes away. We have honestly attempted to convince ourselves and others that this deceit is good science. Our careers and egos are that important to us. We have had some success with our deceit, and we are committed to continuing on this path.
I will now show you just how committed we are. In the same "trick" e-mail, Jones uses the phrase "hide the decline" in reference to work by tree-ring expert Keith Briffa. We want everyone to believe that tree ring information correlates well with temperature readings. That way, we can claim to know temperatures going back hundreds of years or more. Incidentally, this also allows us to create any pre-thermometer temperature profile we like by just changing our data analysis procedure. Climate research is a wonderful thing. Anyway, Briffa described a phenomenon in which the density of wood exhibits an enigmatic decline in response to temperature after about 1960. This decline was the focus of Briffa's original article, and Briffa was clear that these data should not be used to represent temperatures after 1960. By saying "hide the decline," Jones meant that a diagram he was producing was not to show those data during the unreliable post-1960 period.
We are so committed to our deception that we have even deceived ourselves. Jones thinks only the post-1960 data is unreliable and not "enigmatic". He does not see that tree-ring density is an unreliable temperature indicator. And I am here to tell you that questioning his judgment is a distortion and a misrepresentation. How's that for commitment?
The conspiracy theories about the e-mails are fueled in part by their criticisms of the quality of two papers regarding global warming and a suggestion that at least one of the papers be kept out of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. As it turns out, both papers were included in the IPCC's report. However, a conspiracy can exist even though it is not successful in all its endeavors. We have conspired. Our e-mail chains are evidence of conspiracy. If you do not believe me, just look up the definition of conspiracy in Black's Law Dictionary and compare our e-mail exchanges to that definition. An e-mail chain wherein one party asserts that e-mails subject to a Freedom of Information request have been deleted is evidence of illegal activity. That evidence has just not yet been substantiated and entered into a trial court proceeding. What I am saying is, a conspiracy has been asserted, there is evidence of a conspiracy, but we are committed to denial. So, prove it, sucka!
I am going to try and pick on Palin again. She is one of the few politicians to publicly note our distortions and misrepresentations, and those who pick on her get their editorials published. Palin wrote that Alaska's climate is changing but referred to "thawing permafrost and retreating sea ice" as "natural, cyclical environmental trends." Of course, such changes are among the effects anyone reading a thermometer would predict as temperatures increase. But as our e-mails show, we climate researchers are also magicians. It is time for the old replace-warmth-with-the-dreaded-CO2-greenhouse-effect trick.
Our goal is to fool everyone into thinking that CO2 creates a greenhouse effect. Never mind that a CO2 greenhouse effect cannot be developed from basic physics. And to maintain the illusion, I will distract your attention with various authoritative pronouncements regarding extent of warming, melting glaciers, sea levels, continental drought, and proprietary data analysis procedures (A.K.A., secret magic software models) predicting various levels of doom.
It is time now for the say-it-often-enough-and-people-will-believe-it trick. I am referring to that great umbrella we climate researchers call "scientific consensus". And under this great umbrella are huddled all my fellow climate researchers with careers and egos put on the line with this e-mail furor. I hope that this editorial will rally us to stay under the umbrella. As everyone knows, umbrellas cause clouds, which is exactly what we need to keep clouding the debate (that is over) and confusing the public.
And now you know.