Global Warming: Got Data?

If you want to get data from climate scientists who are working on global climate change gooooood luck. Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick have taken a hard look at one of the pillars of the supporting the claim that man is having an affect on global climate, the “hocky stick” by Mann et. al [1998]. It turns out that there seems to be a number of problems not only with the data, but how the analysis was done. The short answer is that Mann et. al. [1998] used a method that “looks” for “hockey sticks” in the data. McIntyre and McKitrick’s paper can be found here.

What is perhaps more troubling than the lack of disclousure and problems in the Mann, et. al. [1998] paper is the lack of availability of data from the researchers working in this area. Yeah, that list is supposed to be funny, but it also seems to fit with reality all too often. McIntyre wanted the data from Cook et. al. [2004] and has basically been stonewalled. This is not how science is done. All the people involved with Cook et. al. [2004] should be ashamed of themselves for not archiving the data and allowing people access to it. An FTP site would do the trick nicely. Not only should the authors of Cook et. al. [2004] be ashamed of themselves Science has also managed to tarnish their reputation by not archiving the data as well. For all we know the data are of the same quality of Mann et. al. [1998] (and lets be clear on this Mann et. al. had to write a corrigendum over several of the probelms uncovered by McIntyre and McKitrick).

You might think that these two problems Mann et. al. [1998] and Cook et. al. [2004], are all there are but you would be wrong. There is also Crowley and Lowery [2000] where the data has been misplaced or never archived. What is fascinating about this particular instance is that Crowely, Lowery and a new author have some how managed to update the Crowley and Lowery [2000] temperature reconstruction in Crowley et. al [2004]. Makes one wonder if they found that data only to lose it again.

How many other studies that are finding their way into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC) have no data to back up the conclusions, the authors are unwilling to share (which raises the question of why not share…are they worried their results might be wrong…do they know their results are wrong?) and lets not forget things like source code for how these studies are done. The policy recommendations to deal with global warming/climate change could easily cost trillions of dollars over the next several decades if they are put in place. If it turns out that these policies were for nothing not only will all the scientists associated with the IPCC be tainted, but we will have wasted staggering amounts of money.

FILED UNDER: Science & Technology
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. jjens says:

    Every scientific theory has “the first people to get it” and “the last people to get it.”

    Surfing the web, it is painfully obvious that people with conservative political sites are determined to be “the last people to get” global warming.

    FWIW I’m a conservative, but like James Baker, I think enough evidence has piled up. We should be spending our mental energies on finding creative solutions, rather than spending our time cherry-picking news stories that might cause doubt.

    At this point, we should be advancing market-friendly solutions.




    0



    0
  2. ken says:

    Somebody better let the melting polar ice caps know that global warming is just a myth.




    0



    0
  3. Steve says:

    jjens,

    You need to get a freaking clue. For one thing, even if Mann et. al. turn out to be completely bogus and is thoroughly trashed it doesn’t mean that anthropogenic warming is NOT happening. The absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence.

    Further, at least making the data and source code available for those studies incorporated into the IPCC reports strikes me as not only reasonable but sane. Why are you opting for the insane solution?

    Ken,

    You are a complete and total idiot. Where is the claim in this post that I said there is no warming? Oh…nowhere. Get your head out of your ass.




    0



    0
  4. jjens says:

    Steve, I have a scientific degree (b.s. chemistry), and I am used to watching the ebb and flow of scientific opinion. On this, I started as a skeptic, but watched studies as they appeared over the last ten years. I think the scientific flow now favors anthropogenic warming.

    An emotional rant in opposition isn’t going to change that.

    What’s really sad here is that it has become a “conservative versus science” thing. Scientists generally agree, and (many) conservatives can’t deal with that.

    It makes me sad to be a scientifically educated) conservative.




    0



    0
  5. Steve says:

    jjens,

    While agreement in the sense that people hold the same beliefs on a scientific issue are to some degree important they aren’t the only thing, and are a side benefit if anything. What science is about is data and sound analysis. To that end sharing data and providing access to source code for statistical and numerical analysis is a necessary step towards both good science and agreement. Yet here you are hectoring “conservative” to “get with it” with out clearly understanding what I’ve written.

    I think the scientific flow now favors anthropogenic warming.

    I would tend to say there is alot of validity to this…if they were willing to share their data even with the naysayers. You are making no sense here. Fine the opponents of global warming are “conservative”, whatever that means, but that still does nothing to obviate the point of my post here.




    0



    0
  6. jjens says:

    You may be completely correct that they should share, and not lose, their data for the Hockey Stick.

    But I don’t think that is the big picture. I think the big picture is captured by this simple story: The IPCC came up with their study of global warming. The Bush adminstration wasn’t sure if they should trust it, so they asked the National Academy of Sciences to review it. The NAS ceratinly knows “what science is about is data and sound analysis.” The NAS agreed with the IPCC study.

    That is more than “some scientists” and that is why I think this is “conservatives” versus “science” itself.

    Sites like this one raise whatever point issues they think will continue the fight, rather than accept the NAS conclusions and talk about solutions.

    I think that amounts to a politically motivated rejection of science.




    0



    0
  7. John Anderson says:

    anthropogenic warming may or may not be occuring. I do think man has some effect – but not (generally) to the extent claimed. And the “hockey stick” has problems on the face of it – the Medieval Warm and the Little Ice Age do not show up (and they use data from 1900-2000 while oddly in the Seventies data from 1850-1968 [including the so-important 1940-1955 “warming”] was used to warn of a coming ice age). At first, this was defended as being because they were, supposedly, only European or North Atlantic phenomena, but later data from sites in South America, China, and elsewhere showed them too – begging the question, if the only data Mann and others had were “North Atlantic” how did they decide to ignore those periods as only “North Atlantic” without data?

    Anyhow, yes I think man affects the climate, but on a tiny scale. I’ll re-evaluate that belief when Mann and others explain how we are affecting Mars and several moons of the giants Saturn and Jupiter, which some astronomers say are warming “at an alarming rate” (circa early 2004).




    0



    0
  8. Steve says:

    But I don’t think that is the big picture. I think the big picture is captured by this simple story: The IPCC came up with their study of global warming. The Bush adminstration wasn’t sure if they should trust it, so they asked the National Academy of Sciences to review it. The NAS ceratinly knows “what science is about is data and sound analysis.” The NAS agreed with the IPCC study.

    First, this is beside the point of my article. Second, you have missed the implication here for your story. I’ll be really clear about this:

    The IPCC uses peer reviewed literature as the basis for the policy postions that come out of the IPCC. One of the biggest pieces of evidence is Mann et. al.’s “hockey stick”.

    Now do you see the problem? If Mann et. al. turns out to be bogus, and there is no global warming then Mann, Bradley and Hughes. should be flayed alive career-wise. If Mann et. al. turns out to be bogus and there is global warming then they should be flayed alive (again career-wise) for being such complete idiots. If Mann et. al. turns out to be valid they should still be willing to share their data, source code, etc. and not make such misleading statements in peer reviewed literature.

    Being misleading (lying?) is not usually a good thing in science. One way to minimize that is by sharing data, source code, etc.




    0



    0
  9. tc says:

    Mann’s data and methods are publicly available.

    ftp://holocene.evsc.virginia.edu/pub/sdr/temp/nature/MANNETAL98/




    0



    0
  10. jjens says:

    You are still handwaving, pointing here or there, rather than accepting the conclusions of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Do you have better science cred than the NAS?

    If so, maybe you better explain why.




    0



    0
  11. Steve says:

    Do you have better science cred than the NAS?

    If so, maybe you better explain why.

    The same problem applies to the NAS jjens. Don’t you get it. The problem is that the peer reviewed literature has a problem. I’m not saying that it is all wrong, but at least make the freaking data and source code available.

    And for the last damn time you are off topic. The issue here isn’t the validity of climate change itself, but the integrity of the research and the researchers. Right now, it isn’t looking to good.

    Stop smoking the straw from your strawman and get a clue.

    tc,

    Yeah, except that isn’t all of it. Oh…and note the dates there, and Mann’s public statments he wont give McIntyre and Mckitrik some of the code they’ve been asking for. Color me unimpressed.




    0



    0
  12. jjens says:

    I choose my topic, because I can see your agenda. Sites like yours like to cherry-pick arguments that you think will confuse the issue of global warming.

    That’s the reason you keep saying “The issue here isn’t the validity of climate change itself, but the integrity of the research and the researchers.”

    This is nothing but a dodge, so you DON’T have to talk about the validity of climate change itself.




    0



    0
  13. pascal says:

    How can people still write about “the lack of disclousure” when so much information and even raw data files are available online?

    A good start is: http://www.ipcc.ch/index.html

    And for people who want to see for themselves the data files, atmospheric measures of the past 50 years are available here:
    cdiac.ornl.gov/ftp/trends/co2/siple2.013
    cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/ftp/maunaloa-co2/maunaloa.co2

    and measures of the past 420,000 years through ice core analysis are here:
    cdiac.ornl.gov/pub/trends/co2/vostok.icecore.co2
    cdiac.ornl.gov/pub/trends/co2/lawdome.combined.dat

    and this is just the tip of the (melting;) iceberg…

    So please, before you write about scientific research, do your own (research)…




    0



    0