Sunday, December 6, 2009

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Climategate

All over the news last week the MSM was saying how stolen emails showed that “Global Warming” was actually a vast conspiracy.

If you are like me, and I know I am; you immediately started rummaging through your closet for your old ice skates and looked to book a flight to the South Caribbean to go ice skating on that huge ice ring known as the Atlantic Ocean, figuring that it was just a conspiracy that convinced you that the average world temperature is 57 degrees F, not the 67 degrees below zero that it must be because reporters are saying global warming is a fraud.

My plans for strapping on 60 lbs of hockey gear and taking a boat a mile off shore in the Caribbean so I could skate back were delayed as a little voice told me that maybe I should verify these reports before risking my life based on these reports.

If I hadn’t remembered that the very same reporters were reporting that in the 70’s scientists were predicting an ice age, which is why Harry Harrison didn’t write “Make Room, Make Room” back then, talking about Climate Change making the interior of the US uninhabitable, and it was never made into the movie “Solent Green” starring Charlton Heston. If it weren’t for that I would be skating on the frozen Caribbean right now.

I did my own investigation into what the stolen emails actually said. I came up with nothing. The full text of the stolen emails hasn’t been released only the supposedly damning sentences. The best analysis I found was this:

Basically the whole non-story is scientists used the word “fixed” in their climate modeling programs.

I worked as a programmer before the dot-com crash. I wrote a 250-page program for the mortgage industry, and I used to “fix” the data. I used SQL to access the customer database. SQL hates apostrophes, so while I was working on other things I made a quick fix by making the ‘ button on the keyboard type a *. From the beginning of the contact process until the last step before the mortgage papers were printed a customer might be called O*Reilly. That doesn’t mean Mr. & Mrs. O’Reilly’s loan didn’t exist it just meant that I used a fix to make the program work until I got around to modifying that part of the program. (Which I never did.)

So “fixing” data doesn’t necessarily invalidate the results. It’s just a term programmers use.

Dr. Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy talks about other ways scientists use the word “fix” in their models. Just like in my mortgage program using the word “fix” doesn’t mean those mortgages don’t exist. The fact that he used “fixed” data in his program for the Hubble doesn’t mean that the universe doesn’t exist.

The other part of the non-story was that researchers erased some of the data they used. Somehow, even though this data is part of the open record and many other scientists have the exact same data they should have treated it as preciously as if it were the original Apollo Moon Landing Data that could never be reproduced. Apollo 11 missing tapes.

Some of this Data was terabytes gathered in the 80s. Back then Data storage was expensive. Go to any Mac bashing site and you’ll see PC fans saying Apple should have put a harddrive on the original Mac. If those people actually used a computer in 1984 they would know that it would add an additional $1,000 to add a massive 4-megabyte harddrive back then (That’s not a typo that’s megabyte not gigabyte). Back then it was actually cheaper to store the paper print outs and hire someone (in the late 80s these people became known as Wang Inputting Experts based on the Wang PC’s data entry program) to manually re-enter data.

For Data that was used often they were stored on huge reels of magnetic tape that were only labeled with a 2” by 3” piece of white tape that fell off easily. So dumping Data, especially if it existed elsewhere was commonplace.

So it turns out the despite the reports in the MSM that Global Warming is a hoax, the Earth’s average temperature is still 57 degrees and the Atlantic Ocean is above freezing so putting on 60 lbs of hockey gear and jumping off a boat miles from shore so you can skate home is not a good idea.

So to all those people that point to stolen emails taken out of context as proof that Global Warming is a hoax I say either “Shut-up Stupid” or slap on 60 lbs of skating gear and I’ll drop up you a mile from shore. If you skate back I’ll believe you.


askcherlock said...

Well said! To use emails as a platform of proof that global warming does not exist is truly skating on thin ice, which has probably been warmed.

Stephanie B said...

I was going to talk this subject today myself. When dealing with diverse data taken from all over the world at different altitudes with different equipment and often using different units, "corrections" are par for the coarse in order to "normalize" them. Models are constantly being tweaked to converge with reality because that's what models are for - to reflect projected reality. If they don't match reality, it defeats the purpose.

I'm of the opinion that anyone who sees people discussing back and forth the steps to perform these tasks (normal background stuff) as a condemnation of global climate change (and nitpicks the terms used for emails no one really thought about being read by a large audience), really doesn't know anything about the creation and maintenance of large complex models. And, therefore, is in no position to challenge the results.

Jennifer Becker Landsberger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer Becker Landsberger said...

Intelligent argument....calling the other side "stupid."
I'm not saying I don't agree with you, but it's awful funny that the e-mail reports I found said a little bit more than "fixing" data, which I agree is a common term that doesn't mean that it was massaged into proving a certain point.
And no offense, but WTF? If the Atlantic isn't iced over, then global warming is proven? Since when is the "natural" temperature of the world (at this point in the ice age/warming cycle) below freezing?

Project Savior said...

"Since when is the "natural" temperature of the world below freezing?"

-67 degrees is the average temp for our little area of the solar system. Global Warming accounts for the rest. So yes Global Warming, the fact that CO2 lets visible light through but resists letting infrared back out and has kept our planet's surface over 100 degrees warmer than it would be otherwise , is proven.
So the people who say Global Warming is false are just plain wrong.
Global Warming is the first step of the chain (Wow badly mixed metaphor) that leads to the conclusion of Climate Change. I'll go into that more in my Temper Tantrum Tuesday post.

Project Savior said...

As far as my calling people stupid, I put my personal definition in my post "Clarifying Stupid" where I said, "I am using the term “Stupid”, for lack of a better term, for the total lack of Intellectual curiosity and the insistence to deny any and all facts that contradict their pre-conceived beliefs that these groups display." A pretty fair description of Global Warming deniers.
I have 11 other posts under the label "Shut-up Stupid Sunday" where I go after other groups (including Global Warming doomsayers) that display these qualities.

Stephanie B said...

It should be noted in the "food for thought" category that the solar system already provides a significant example of "greenhouse effect going wild" - see Venus at a toasty 740 degrees Kelvin or 467 degrees C or 872 degrees F. That's hot enough to melt lead.

Also, fyi, the same scientists accused of exaggeration and hyperbole still don't have a handle on why it's so hot. According to our models, it should never have become so hot, and yet, reality exists...

Smug superiority and righteous hysteria over what is "true" doesn't trump reality. We don't know what will happen if we don't curb our emissions, but there's at least one worst case scenario out there as a salutary lesson.

I am also not one of those advocates for calling "stupid" a dirty word. I don't have a better definition for the purposefully ignorant and it's an insult to all who think that we continue to get dragged down into not doing things to fix problems mindset because of the willfully stupid and readily manipulated apparent majority.