Tuesday, July 13, 2010

An Now, Another Look at "Climategate" and the NY Times

Like most people on the left, Paul Krugman is a True Believer in human-caused "global warming" and believes that the way to "save the planet" is for the government to order us to use inferior fuels like ethanol and unreliable windmills to create electricity. (Of course, one must manufacture these windmills, which uses energy, but Krugman discounts all that and, like a true Keynesian, believes that new windmills and other "alternative energy" projects are a "given.")

In this post, I compare two opinion pieces. The first is a recent editorial in the New York Times, which glosses over some recent "investigations" of "Climategate," and declares them to be perfectly legitimate. The second is a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Patrick Michaels that looks at the specifics of the "investigations" and their aftermath. Generally, people (including me) are going to be predisposed to a point of view, but as one who has read the NYT for many years, I do notice that the paper has a disturbing trend of ignoring the obvious whenever the paper's own points of view are being challenged.

I often use the infamous Duke Lacrosse Case as an example, because the NYT had such a dismal performance in that whole situation. This problem was not due to a lack of information that journalists could obtain. Indeed, the information was there and bloggers such as K.C. Johnson seized on it and had the story correct from the beginning.

The NYT, however, which probably had the most dismal record of any news publication in this case, twisting the facts in ways that made it obvious that the it was interested in only one result: trial and conviction of people who clearly were innocent. (The NYT's August 25, 2006, front-page article was so bad that even the paper itself was forced to distance itself from its own work after the North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dismissed the charges and declared the accused to be "innocent.")

I bring this up because the leadership of the NYT long ago decided that party politics and leftist ideology trump the facts. Thus, I hardly am surprised to read this editorial in the NYT about the "Climategate" investigations. In part, the editorial declares:
Perhaps now we can put the manufactured controversy known as Climategate behind us and turn to the task of actually doing something about global warming. On Wednesday, a panel in Britain concluded that scientists whose e-mail had been hacked late last year had not, as critics alleged, distorted scientific evidence to prove that global warming was occurring and that human beings were primarily responsible.

It was the fifth such review of hundreds of e-mail exchanges among some of the world’s most prominent climatologists. Some of the e-mail messages, purloined last November, were mean-spirited, others were dismissive of contrarian views, and others revealed a timid reluctance to share data. Climate skeptics pounced on them as evidence of a conspiracy to manipulate research to support predetermined ideas about global warming.

The panel found no such conspiracy. It complained mildly about one poorly explained temperature chart discussed in the e-mail, but otherwise found no reason to dispute the scientists’ “rigor and honesty.” Two earlier panels convened by Britain’s Royal Society and the House of Commons reached essentially the same verdict. And this month, a second panel at Penn State University exonerated Michael Mann, a prominent climatologist and faculty member, of scientific wrongdoing.

Dr. Mann, who was part of the e-mail exchange, had been accused of misusing data to prove that the rise in temperatures over the last century was directly linked to steadily rising levels of carbon dioxide. His findings, confirmed many times by others, are central to the argument that fossil fuels must be taxed or regulated.
Compare those words to what Prof. Michaels has written:
Now a supposedly independent review of the evidence says, in effect, "nothing to see here." Last week "The Independent Climate Change E-mails Review," commissioned and paid for by the University of East Anglia, exonerated the University of East Anglia. The review committee was chaired by Sir Muir Russell, former vice chancellor at the University of Glasgow.

Mr. Russell took pains to present his committee, which consisted of four other academics, as independent. He told the Times of London that "Given the nature of the allegations it is right that someone who has no links to either the university or the climate science community looks at the evidence and makes recommendations based on what they find."

No links? One of the panel's four members, Prof. Geoffrey Boulton, was on the faculty of East Anglia's School of Environmental Sciences for 18 years. At the beginning of his tenure, the Climatic Research Unit (CRU)—the source of the Climategate emails—was established in Mr. Boulton's school at East Anglia. Last December, Mr. Boulton signed a petition declaring that the scientists who established the global climate records at East Anglia "adhere to the highest levels of professional integrity."

This purportedly independent review comes on the heels of two others—one by the University of East Anglia itself and the other by Penn State University, both completed in the spring, concerning its own employee, Prof. Michael Mann. Mr. Mann was one of the Climategate principals who proposed a plan, which was clearly laid out in emails whose veracity Mr. Mann has not challenged, to destroy a scientific journal that dared to publish three papers with which he and his East Anglia friends disagreed. These two reviews also saw no evil. For example, Penn State "determined that Dr. Michael E. Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community."

Readers of both earlier reports need to know that both institutions receive tens of millions in federal global warming research funding (which can be confirmed by perusing the grant histories of Messrs. Jones or Mann, compiled from public sources, that are available online at freerepublic.com). Any admission of substantial scientific misbehavior would likely result in a significant loss of funding.
He further notes:
Then there's the problem of interference with peer review in the scientific literature. Here too Mr. Russell could find no wrong: "On the allegations that there was subversion of the peer review or editorial process, we find no evidence to substantiate this."

Really? Mr. Mann claims that temperatures roughly 800 years ago, in what has been referred to as the Medieval Warm Period, were not as warm as those measured recently. This is important because if modern temperatures are not unusual, it casts doubt on the fear that global warming is a serious threat. In 2003, Willie Soon of the Smithsonian Institution and Sallie Baliunas of Harvard published a paper in the journal Climate Research that took exception to Mr. Mann's work, work which also was at variance with a large number of independent studies of paleoclimate. So it would seem the Soon-Baliunas paper was just part of the normal to-and-fro of science.

But Mr. Jones wrote Mr. Mann on March 11, 2003, that "I'll be emailing the journal to tell them I'm having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor," Chris de Freitas of the University of Auckland. Mr. Mann responded to Mr. Jones on the same day: "I think we should stop considering 'Climate Research' as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues . . . to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also need to consider what we tell or request our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board."

Mr. Mann ultimately wrote to Mr. Jones on July 11, 2003, that "I think the community should . . . terminate its involvement with this journal at all levels . . . and leave it to wither away into oblivion and disrepute."

Climate Research and several other journals have stopped accepting anything that substantially challenges the received wisdom on global warming perpetuated by the CRU. I have had four perfectly good manuscripts rejected out of hand since the CRU shenanigans, and I'm hardly the only one. Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, has noted that it's becoming nearly impossible to publish anything on global warming that's nonalarmist in peer-reviewed journals.

Of course, Mr. Russell didn't look to see if the ugly pressure tactics discussed in the Climategate emails had any consequences. That's because they only interviewed CRU people, not the people whom they had trashed.
I can assure readers that had the situation been reversed, the NYT would have been all over it. Somehow, I am not surprised that Paul Krugman is employed by an outfit that believes that "truth" is whatever the NYT says it is.


vityok said...

Before having the post till the end, I would like to bring your attention to one more issue in the history of the New York Times — the Denial of Holodomor by Walter Duranty (a Pulitzer Prize winner and a long-time NYT journalist).

Some argue that the brutal lies on the pages of NYT played a crucial role for diplomatic recognition of the Soviet Union by FDR.

William L. Anderson said...

Absolutely. And the NYT still has Duranty's Pulitzer Prize picture in its lobby.

Don M said...

If they wanted to end foreign shipping bringing foreign manufctured goods into our country with a carbon footprint and dirty watet trail KRUGMAN might be right.

The following excerpt is from a Dec 2009 report for Congress about national legislation and ballast water.

“Although estimates of the costs of ballast treatment may be imprecise and vary from vessel to
vessel, there is some general agreement on average costs.14 For example, it may cost an estimated $400,000 per vessel for modification of container/bulk vessels to use onshore ballast water treatment facilities at California ports. More generally, the cost of retrofitting vessels to treat
ballast water has been estimated at between $200,000 and $310,000 per vessel for mechanical
treatment and around $300,000 for chemical treatment.15 Most of this expense will be borne by
foreign shipping companies, as the U.S. flag fleet is a small percentage of the global fleet,16 and
likely passed along to consumers of products imported on these ships.”

Although this type of legislation may hurt our current largest employers, in the long run it may even help produce jobs that will stay in America, if implemented fast enough. The longer we delay, we are allowing the foreign shipping industry to prepare for “change” while Americans are out of work. Currently the only work being done is another delay for a twenty year Coast Guard phase in with another study and some ships are going towards that direction now, because the life of their investment will be assured despite better technology? It is wrong to offer incentives to foreign ships bringing foreign made goods into our country while Americans are out of work, so they will keep our waters clean. We need legislation with
strict limits for human virus and bacterial pathogens counts, that concentrates on enforcement as the report for Congress states the cost will mostly be borne by foreign shipping.
If this continues on for another six years there will not be much hope for America ever again to become cost competitive manufactures.
Sadly the legislation we needed, for ballast water (H.R.2830) passed the house in 2008 for the change we needed, was killed by one Senator Boxer, over states rights while the three top officials in this administration were Senators. This could very well be America’s last chance, if this administration passes the Law of the Sea treaty before national ballast water legislation is passed, it will be next to impossible to ever have national legislation as we will be committing to the provissions for ballast water in the treaty , which will follow the International Maritime Organization. They are primarily made up of foreign economic interest as the report noted the percentage of American ships in the Global fleet to be small.
please fight never give up the history of our country long after we are gone will depend on it. Don Mitchel