Commentary Magazine


Topic: University of East Anglia

Flotsam and Jetsam

Howard Fineman gives credit where credit is due: “In a city obsessed with visibility and celebrity, it largely goes overlooked that the plodding, unglamorous [Mitch] McConnell is Obama’s most powerful foe—the man he must outmaneuver, or at least neutralize, if he wants to reach the sunny uplands of (bipartisan) legislative accomplishment, not to mention a second term in 2012. It will not be easy.”

CONTENTIONS’s Pete Wehner writes: “Republican officeholders and candidates need to make specific, detailed criticisms of Obama’s agenda without being personally nasty toward or disrespectful of Obama himself. … To the GOP’s credit, much of this is already going on. We’ve seen it in the campaigns run by Bob McDonnell in Virginia and Scott Brown in Massachusetts, which will be models for others to follow; in the governing record of Indiana’s Mitch Daniels; and in the health care and budget plans put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.” The Left keeps rooting for that GOP “civil war” to break out, but so far no luck.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon on J Street: “The thing that troubles me is that they don’t present themselves as to what they really are. They should not call themselves pro-Israeli.” Actually, even the J Street gang is nervous about the “pro-Israeli” label.

CNN’s latest: “According to the poll, 44 percent of registered voters say Obama deserves re-election, with 52 percent saying the president does not deserve a second term in office. The survey also indicates that 49 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama’s doing as president, with half of the public disapproving of his job in the White House.” Congress does worse: “Fifty-six percent of people questioned in the survey say that most Democrats in Congress do not deserve to be re-elected. An equal amount also say that most congressional Republicans don’t deserve re-election.” Republicans lead in the generic polling in this survey, 47 to 45 percent, an eight-point swing their way since November.

More bad polling news the Obami will no doubt ignore: “In a brutal assessment of the Democratically authored healthcare reform bills pending in Congress and the party’s approach to healthcare, more than half of the respondents to a new Zogby International-University of Texas Health Science Center poll said that lawmakers should start from scratch.”

A fine idea that conservatives should embrace: “The Obama administration, advancing nuclear power use to help cut greenhouse gas emissions, will announce on Tuesday an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to help Southern Co. build two reactors, a government official told Reuters.” Now if we can agree on domestic oil and gas development, there could be a real bipartisan energy policy.

Even California is less Blue than it used to be: “Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman now runs dead even with likely Democratic nominee Jerry Brown in California’s gubernatorial contest.”

Hispanics aren’t thrilled with the Democrats either. Almost like there’s a wave building.

Not even Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal wants Obama’s help — in Connecticut. Well, if he doesn’t help in Massachusetts, you can understand.

James Taranto relays that Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, “admits that the periods 1860-80 and 1910-40 saw global warming on a similar scale to the 1975-98 period, that there has been no significant warming since 1995, and that the so-called Medieval Warm Period calls into question whether the currently observed warming is unprecedented. … So ‘the vast majority of climate scientists’ don’t think the debate is over? Someone had better tell the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee and most of our colleagues in the media, who have long been insisting otherwise–and indeed, who continue to do so.”

Howard Fineman gives credit where credit is due: “In a city obsessed with visibility and celebrity, it largely goes overlooked that the plodding, unglamorous [Mitch] McConnell is Obama’s most powerful foe—the man he must outmaneuver, or at least neutralize, if he wants to reach the sunny uplands of (bipartisan) legislative accomplishment, not to mention a second term in 2012. It will not be easy.”

CONTENTIONS’s Pete Wehner writes: “Republican officeholders and candidates need to make specific, detailed criticisms of Obama’s agenda without being personally nasty toward or disrespectful of Obama himself. … To the GOP’s credit, much of this is already going on. We’ve seen it in the campaigns run by Bob McDonnell in Virginia and Scott Brown in Massachusetts, which will be models for others to follow; in the governing record of Indiana’s Mitch Daniels; and in the health care and budget plans put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.” The Left keeps rooting for that GOP “civil war” to break out, but so far no luck.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon on J Street: “The thing that troubles me is that they don’t present themselves as to what they really are. They should not call themselves pro-Israeli.” Actually, even the J Street gang is nervous about the “pro-Israeli” label.

CNN’s latest: “According to the poll, 44 percent of registered voters say Obama deserves re-election, with 52 percent saying the president does not deserve a second term in office. The survey also indicates that 49 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama’s doing as president, with half of the public disapproving of his job in the White House.” Congress does worse: “Fifty-six percent of people questioned in the survey say that most Democrats in Congress do not deserve to be re-elected. An equal amount also say that most congressional Republicans don’t deserve re-election.” Republicans lead in the generic polling in this survey, 47 to 45 percent, an eight-point swing their way since November.

More bad polling news the Obami will no doubt ignore: “In a brutal assessment of the Democratically authored healthcare reform bills pending in Congress and the party’s approach to healthcare, more than half of the respondents to a new Zogby International-University of Texas Health Science Center poll said that lawmakers should start from scratch.”

A fine idea that conservatives should embrace: “The Obama administration, advancing nuclear power use to help cut greenhouse gas emissions, will announce on Tuesday an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to help Southern Co. build two reactors, a government official told Reuters.” Now if we can agree on domestic oil and gas development, there could be a real bipartisan energy policy.

Even California is less Blue than it used to be: “Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman now runs dead even with likely Democratic nominee Jerry Brown in California’s gubernatorial contest.”

Hispanics aren’t thrilled with the Democrats either. Almost like there’s a wave building.

Not even Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal wants Obama’s help — in Connecticut. Well, if he doesn’t help in Massachusetts, you can understand.

James Taranto relays that Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, “admits that the periods 1860-80 and 1910-40 saw global warming on a similar scale to the 1975-98 period, that there has been no significant warming since 1995, and that the so-called Medieval Warm Period calls into question whether the currently observed warming is unprecedented. … So ‘the vast majority of climate scientists’ don’t think the debate is over? Someone had better tell the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee and most of our colleagues in the media, who have long been insisting otherwise–and indeed, who continue to do so.”

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UN Panel Admits the Glaciers Won’t Disappear

Earlier this week, we noted in Contentions the revelation that another one of the standard scare stories of the global-warming “consensus” had been debunked when it was revealed that the assertion that the Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2030, made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007, was completely unfounded. Today comes news that the panel (which shared a bogus Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2007) has itself admitted that its widely quoted assertion was not substantiated. MIT’s Technology Review reports that in the face of evidence that shows there was no data to back up the claim, the UN group has now backed down and publicly admitted that they were at fault.

According to Technology Review, “The disappearance of the glaciers would require temperatures far higher than those predicted in even the most dire global warming scenarios, says Georg Kaser, professor at the Institut für Geographie der Universität, Innsbruck. The Himalayas would have to heat up by 18 degrees Celsius and stay there for the highest glaciers to melt—most climate change scenarios expect only a few degrees of warming over the next century. The mistake has called into question the credibility of the IPCC, which has been considered an authoritative source for information about climate change.”

Like the equally embattled Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia that produced the “Climategate” e-mail scandal, the reputation of the UN panel was supposedly impeccable because of its devotion to the practice of peer-reviewed studies. But in this case, the notorious assertion about the glaciers was based not on critical research but on what the panel now says is “grey literature,” a theory that is not based on peer-reviewed sources.

The point here is not just that another instance of global-warming hysteria has been debunked. It is that the sources of the now widely accepted theory that the planet is “melting” and that this is the result of human activity are themselves deeply compromised. As the Climategate e-mails illustrated, the scientists involved in these assertions are so blinded by their ideological fervor that they are willing to falsify information, dissemble about their research, and suppress informed dissent. Under these circumstances, the refrain that the “science” behind global warming is settled is nothing more than an attempt to stifle the growing chorus of skepticism about this “scientific consensus.”

As it happens, Technology Review admits that they had also publicized the now discredited claim about the glaciers in their own pages in an article about efforts to combat climate change. The article about the panel’s admission of error includes a link to their own correction.

Earlier this week, we noted in Contentions the revelation that another one of the standard scare stories of the global-warming “consensus” had been debunked when it was revealed that the assertion that the Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2030, made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007, was completely unfounded. Today comes news that the panel (which shared a bogus Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2007) has itself admitted that its widely quoted assertion was not substantiated. MIT’s Technology Review reports that in the face of evidence that shows there was no data to back up the claim, the UN group has now backed down and publicly admitted that they were at fault.

According to Technology Review, “The disappearance of the glaciers would require temperatures far higher than those predicted in even the most dire global warming scenarios, says Georg Kaser, professor at the Institut für Geographie der Universität, Innsbruck. The Himalayas would have to heat up by 18 degrees Celsius and stay there for the highest glaciers to melt—most climate change scenarios expect only a few degrees of warming over the next century. The mistake has called into question the credibility of the IPCC, which has been considered an authoritative source for information about climate change.”

Like the equally embattled Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia that produced the “Climategate” e-mail scandal, the reputation of the UN panel was supposedly impeccable because of its devotion to the practice of peer-reviewed studies. But in this case, the notorious assertion about the glaciers was based not on critical research but on what the panel now says is “grey literature,” a theory that is not based on peer-reviewed sources.

The point here is not just that another instance of global-warming hysteria has been debunked. It is that the sources of the now widely accepted theory that the planet is “melting” and that this is the result of human activity are themselves deeply compromised. As the Climategate e-mails illustrated, the scientists involved in these assertions are so blinded by their ideological fervor that they are willing to falsify information, dissemble about their research, and suppress informed dissent. Under these circumstances, the refrain that the “science” behind global warming is settled is nothing more than an attempt to stifle the growing chorus of skepticism about this “scientific consensus.”

As it happens, Technology Review admits that they had also publicized the now discredited claim about the glaciers in their own pages in an article about efforts to combat climate change. The article about the panel’s admission of error includes a link to their own correction.

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Oops, They Forgot to Include Siberia

First it was the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia playing fast and loose with scientific data, manipulating it to produce desired results while discarding much of the raw data. Now, according to a report in Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, the Hadley Center for Climate Change, part of the government’s British Meteorological Office, did some data-cooking as well, leaving out temperature records for about 40 percent of the Russian landmass in calculating recent temperature trends.

Since Russia constitutes 12.5 percent of the world’s landmass, much of that a byword for brutal winters, that is no small omission. And the data from weather stations that were omitted do not show substantial global warming in recent decades.

Climategate is beginning to seem more and more like its namesake, Watergate. Those around in those days remember how, day after day after day, new revelations came out and ever more desperate attempts to minimize their significance or to explain them away were made. (One of my all-time favorite Herblock cartoons, from June 1973, as Watergate was just beginning to expand, shows a press conference in the East Room. In the background is a very large, very dead whale labeled “Nixon Scandals,” inadequately hidden beneath a small rug. The spokesman holding the press conference says, “I am authorized to say, ‘What whale?’ “)

The constant water drip of revelations and Nixon’s attempts to explain them and prevent further ones from leaking slowly but surely destroyed the Nixon presidency. The chronology of Watergate as it evolved over a year and a half is a fascinating window into the greatest scandal in American history as it slowly reached critical mass.

Climategate bids fair to be equally interesting, and it seems that we are getting nearer and nearer to that critical mass. I suspect that Al Gore, flying around in his private jet telling everyone else to walk, is not too happy right now.

First it was the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia playing fast and loose with scientific data, manipulating it to produce desired results while discarding much of the raw data. Now, according to a report in Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, the Hadley Center for Climate Change, part of the government’s British Meteorological Office, did some data-cooking as well, leaving out temperature records for about 40 percent of the Russian landmass in calculating recent temperature trends.

Since Russia constitutes 12.5 percent of the world’s landmass, much of that a byword for brutal winters, that is no small omission. And the data from weather stations that were omitted do not show substantial global warming in recent decades.

Climategate is beginning to seem more and more like its namesake, Watergate. Those around in those days remember how, day after day after day, new revelations came out and ever more desperate attempts to minimize their significance or to explain them away were made. (One of my all-time favorite Herblock cartoons, from June 1973, as Watergate was just beginning to expand, shows a press conference in the East Room. In the background is a very large, very dead whale labeled “Nixon Scandals,” inadequately hidden beneath a small rug. The spokesman holding the press conference says, “I am authorized to say, ‘What whale?’ “)

The constant water drip of revelations and Nixon’s attempts to explain them and prevent further ones from leaking slowly but surely destroyed the Nixon presidency. The chronology of Watergate as it evolved over a year and a half is a fascinating window into the greatest scandal in American history as it slowly reached critical mass.

Climategate bids fair to be equally interesting, and it seems that we are getting nearer and nearer to that critical mass. I suspect that Al Gore, flying around in his private jet telling everyone else to walk, is not too happy right now.

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Heads Begin to Roll

Climategate has claimed its first casualty. The AP is reporting that Phil Jones, the head of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, is stepping down ”pending an investigation into allegations that he overstated the case for man-made climate change.”

Meanwhile, Michael Mann, another major player, is under investigation at Pennsylvania State University.

The White House, however, is deep in nothing-has-changed mode. That perhaps is inevitable given that the president and 70 other heads of state and government will be arriving in Copenhagen next week to hold a conference on limiting greenhouse gases to stop global warming. But the whole idea of global warming is predicated entirely on the validity of the data that Climategate now brings into very serious question. I reiterate my suggestion that the 70 heads of state forget the conference and just enjoy Copenhagen.

The cap-and-trade bill that passed the House and is now stalled in the Senate is still on the president’s legislative agenda. But it’s hard to see why any senator would take a political risk voting for it now. It is politically a lot easier — not to mention a lot wiser — to insist on getting to the bottom of all this first. When wisdom and political expediency coincide, politicians can be counted on to be wise.

So the White House might want to consider shifting over to get-real mode. Why? Well, one reason is that “Climategate,” a word that did not even exist two weeks ago, now gets 1,270,000 hits on Google.

Climategate has claimed its first casualty. The AP is reporting that Phil Jones, the head of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, is stepping down ”pending an investigation into allegations that he overstated the case for man-made climate change.”

Meanwhile, Michael Mann, another major player, is under investigation at Pennsylvania State University.

The White House, however, is deep in nothing-has-changed mode. That perhaps is inevitable given that the president and 70 other heads of state and government will be arriving in Copenhagen next week to hold a conference on limiting greenhouse gases to stop global warming. But the whole idea of global warming is predicated entirely on the validity of the data that Climategate now brings into very serious question. I reiterate my suggestion that the 70 heads of state forget the conference and just enjoy Copenhagen.

The cap-and-trade bill that passed the House and is now stalled in the Senate is still on the president’s legislative agenda. But it’s hard to see why any senator would take a political risk voting for it now. It is politically a lot easier — not to mention a lot wiser — to insist on getting to the bottom of all this first. When wisdom and political expediency coincide, politicians can be counted on to be wise.

So the White House might want to consider shifting over to get-real mode. Why? Well, one reason is that “Climategate,” a word that did not even exist two weeks ago, now gets 1,270,000 hits on Google.

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Tivoli Gardens, Anyone?

That whooshing sound you hear in the distance is the air coming out of the balloon called Anthropogenic Global Warming.

It began with the hacking of a computer network at the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit, one of the premier climate-research centers in the world, on November 17. The hacking (or perhaps it was a whistleblower leak — as far as I know, it is not yet clear which) resulted in the posting of more than a 1,000 e-mail messages among scientists at the very center of the AGW alarm. They were, to put it mildly, embarrassing, revealing narrow-mindedness, the deliberate attempt to suppress the publication in the peer-reviewed literature of articles that did not fit the AGW agenda, and attempts to keep dissenting scientists from seeing the basis of their conclusions. A good summary of events up to now can be found here.

But these e-mails , however damaging, were not a smoking gun, just evidence of bad behavior. Scientists, of course, can be careless with word choice, nasty, vindictive, and driven to win the argument at all costs, just like the rest of us.

But today the Times of London has published a revelation that, if not a smoking gun, is pretty close. The University of East Anglia scientists had refused numerous attempts by other scientists they regarded as unfriendly to see the raw data. But when confronted with a freedom-of-information-act request (Britain now has a FOIA, too), they were forced to admit that they had thrown away much of the raw data upon which their conclusions regarding global warming over the past 150 years had been based.

In order to make such data consistent, it needs to be adjusted in various ways, and there is nothing nefarious about that. (The adjustment might be as simple as converting Fahrenheit to Celsius. Or say a weather station that had been located out in a potato field when it was installed in 1927 now finds itself behind a strip mall in a densely populated suburb. The data over the past 82 years would obviously need to be adjusted to take into account the fact that a suburban strip mall is inherently more heat-producing than a potato field.)

But without the raw data, it is impossible to check the work, and checking each other’s work lies at the very heart of the scientific method. Without the raw data, the adjusted data is useless. So if the destruction of the raw data was accidental, it was inexcusable. If it was deliberate, it was a scientific felony. If the data is now irretrievably lost, it is a tragedy.

Roger Simon suggests calling off the meeting  in Copenhagen scheduled for December 7, as the delegates really have nothing to discuss. That would be a blow to Copenhagen, to be sure, as the delegations from 192 countries will be spending a lot of money. But, as Roger points out, Copenhagen is a city with many charms, and Tivoli Gardens is well worth a visit on its own. Better they enjoy those charms at our expense than cost the world trillions in foregone economic growth for no good reason.

That whooshing sound you hear in the distance is the air coming out of the balloon called Anthropogenic Global Warming.

It began with the hacking of a computer network at the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit, one of the premier climate-research centers in the world, on November 17. The hacking (or perhaps it was a whistleblower leak — as far as I know, it is not yet clear which) resulted in the posting of more than a 1,000 e-mail messages among scientists at the very center of the AGW alarm. They were, to put it mildly, embarrassing, revealing narrow-mindedness, the deliberate attempt to suppress the publication in the peer-reviewed literature of articles that did not fit the AGW agenda, and attempts to keep dissenting scientists from seeing the basis of their conclusions. A good summary of events up to now can be found here.

But these e-mails , however damaging, were not a smoking gun, just evidence of bad behavior. Scientists, of course, can be careless with word choice, nasty, vindictive, and driven to win the argument at all costs, just like the rest of us.

But today the Times of London has published a revelation that, if not a smoking gun, is pretty close. The University of East Anglia scientists had refused numerous attempts by other scientists they regarded as unfriendly to see the raw data. But when confronted with a freedom-of-information-act request (Britain now has a FOIA, too), they were forced to admit that they had thrown away much of the raw data upon which their conclusions regarding global warming over the past 150 years had been based.

In order to make such data consistent, it needs to be adjusted in various ways, and there is nothing nefarious about that. (The adjustment might be as simple as converting Fahrenheit to Celsius. Or say a weather station that had been located out in a potato field when it was installed in 1927 now finds itself behind a strip mall in a densely populated suburb. The data over the past 82 years would obviously need to be adjusted to take into account the fact that a suburban strip mall is inherently more heat-producing than a potato field.)

But without the raw data, it is impossible to check the work, and checking each other’s work lies at the very heart of the scientific method. Without the raw data, the adjusted data is useless. So if the destruction of the raw data was accidental, it was inexcusable. If it was deliberate, it was a scientific felony. If the data is now irretrievably lost, it is a tragedy.

Roger Simon suggests calling off the meeting  in Copenhagen scheduled for December 7, as the delegates really have nothing to discuss. That would be a blow to Copenhagen, to be sure, as the delegations from 192 countries will be spending a lot of money. But, as Roger points out, Copenhagen is a city with many charms, and Tivoli Gardens is well worth a visit on its own. Better they enjoy those charms at our expense than cost the world trillions in foregone economic growth for no good reason.

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