People keep saying “Yes, the Climategate scientists behaved badly. But that doesn’t mean the data is bad.” That’s the first line from this very detailed post at the excellent WattsUpWithThat blog. There are a lot of different problems with the climate alarmists’ arguments, but in the wake of Climategate, the main media talking point has been that never mind Climategate, the peer-reviewed science is still valid and we’re all in deep trouble if we don’t follow their prescription.
The Climategate emails weren’t about rude or politically incorrect language, they went to the heart of the practice (or subversion) of the scientific process by leading climate scientists. No one disagrees that the climate has changed over time. But at what rate has the earth been warming, when did it start, and how does it correlate to human carbon emission? There are a large number of stations that have been recording temperatures over the past several decades, some as far back the 1800s. The raw temperature data is not what’s used by the IPCC, however. They use a data set that was “adjusted” from the raw data. There are some cases where this was likely necessary, but the process of how and why you come up with this adjusted data should be open to peer review. It isn’t. Peer review, as I understand it, does not mean, “Ok I did such-and-such experiment, took these measurements, went away and did some magical hidden transformation, and came up with this result — just trust me, it’s right!” It doesn’t help if another joker has another magic box that produces the same thesis, but not the same actual results.
The above WattsUpWithThat post takes a look at the raw data from the Darwin Airport dating back to the 1800s. The raw data shows no significant increase in temperature, but the “adjusted” data magically shows the same increase they’ve been telling us has been going on worldwide. By itself this doesn’t prove anything, but it does illustrate the problem with using this “adjusted” data for the IPCC report, without this adjustment process itself being peer-reviewed.
If this were some esoteric argument over whether a particular dung-beetle had this ancestor or that ancestor, some scientists fudging data to make themselves seem right and get more research dollars would still be wrong, but when trillions of dollars are on the line, the science must be correct.