The Contemplations, Rants & Reminiscences of DavidB327

Something Sensational To Read On The Train

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If you can’t stand the heat

I am finding this furore over the leaked Emails regarding the data manipulation at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit to be on the one hand amusing, but on the other frustrating, and intensely annoying. I don’t know enough about the data manipulation that is part of their statistical analysis to be able to express an opinion on its integrity. However as long as the methodology is explained and above board, then the conclusions that they draw from the results can be properly scrutinised.

All research published in scientific journals has to be peer reviewed, though as one might expect the quality of reviewing does vary from reviewer to reviewer, and from journal to journal. The better journals would always send articles to 2 peer reviewers.

What isn’t part of the review process is any kind of audit. A scientist could submit an article full of porkies, and the peer reviewers would only pick this up if the results & conclusions derived were in some way counter intuitive. Dishonesty is not exactly rife, but it is more common than one might imagine.

I know of one postgraduate from UMIST that made up some of his results when he was writing up his MSc. This was because he realised that there was an experiment he hadn’t done that he should have, so he just made up some results. I also know of one head of department that got a researcher to repeat an experiment again and again, until he came back with the results that the department head was after. All the other results were discarded. Not dishonesty, but there was also an example where (inadvertently) false results were being presented, because of a ‘bug’ in the software analysis. It did not make me popular at the University of Oxford when I pointed this out.

What is not generally appreciated is that the vast majority of scientists that ever lived are in fact still alive, and most of them (in the true meaning of the word) are mediocre. What they all have in common are that they have careers, climatologists included. I’m beginning to sound bitter and twisted again, but what the hell.

Any conclusions regarding climate change would not be derived from the results from one laboratory (at least I hope not), but rather from a consensus derived from multiple sources. What is clear is that climate change is occurring, as evidenced by 150 years of data supplied by the Met Office.

The fact that global temperatures have been rising can be shown (I assume), and that cabin dioxide is a greenhouse gas can be demonstrated in a laboratory. What is not clear cut is any kind of causal link between increased pollution & eradication of the world’s environment and rising global temperature. Whilst that might be a likely hypothesis, it is by no means certain, whatever Ed Mileband might say. Ed Mileband obviously does not understand science. Without a control sample (ie an unpolluted planet Earth with rainforests intact), the evidence for a causal link is shaky.

I can’t help wondering what might have resulted from a climate change conference at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Or even earlier, when the woods and forests through Europe disappeared, to make way for farmland, and sprawling towns and cities.

Would scaremongering climatologists have managed to halt ‘progress’? I guess in those days people would have been quite pleased for the world to get a bit hotter. It is pertinent to note that even before that, the world was eve hotter than it is now. If it hadn’t then the Vikings would never have been able to sail to North America.

As a postscript, on the topic of scientific observation. The speed of light, as measured by various eminent scientists during the Victorian era is slightly different to the results found during the 20th and 21st centuries. The difference is statistically significant. I would not dream of making any accusation against anyone on this, but it has not been explained.


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