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Letter to the editor: Climate research seen as flawed

This November will mark the 10th anniversary of Climategate, when emails between Phil Jones at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit in the U.K. and Michael Mann at Penn State University were hacked. The significance to this hacking is that it exposed the fraudulent side to the uncompromised objectivity of science. Michael E. Mann is known by all interested in climatology, whether you be an alarmist or a denier, from one with a mere budding interest to a Ph.D. whose life work in research has made them globally recognized. When we hear that this is the warmest year, of the warmest decade, of the warmest century in the last millennium, it comes from the Mann et al. hockey stick.
Michael E. Mann, Raymond S. Bradley, and Malcolm K. Hughes published their first (Nature, vol. 392, pps. 779-787, 1998) of several related papers in the prestigious scientific journal Nature, of James Watson and Francis Crick and Linus Pauling fame. Temperature proxy data obtained from the tree rings of California bristle cone pines and Canadian cedars from the Gaspé Peninsula was combined with actual thermometer data for the most recent 40 years. The result was a graph resembling a long straight handle with a sharp up turned hockey blade. Both the Third (2001) and Fourth (2007) Assessment Reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is due to human activity. The IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore, the latter having used the hockey stick graph in his 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” This prize was given because of their efforts to disseminate the knowledge of man-made climate change and for laying the foundation required to counteract these anthropogenic changes.
But there was a major problem. Both the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) from A.D. 950 to 1250 and the Little Ice Age from A.D. 1645 to 1715 were eliminated by incorrect, faulty statistical analyses. One could not make the claim that mankind was responsible for this recent increase in temperature unless one controlled the past by eliminating data variability. And since temperatures during the MWP were over twice that during the 1990s, the magnitude of these temperature increases needed to be suppressed. This scandal in the scientific community was largely exposed through the work of Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, beginning in 2003. Mann was not forthcoming in sharing his raw data and algorithms used in the statistical analyses. He also deleted data, emails (because of fear of imminent FOIA requests), and ultimately sued multiple individuals who had made their criticisms of Mann’s work publicly known.
But this is not the only way the narrative for anthropogenic climate change has been controlled. Today, it is being touted throughout the media that there is a 97 percent consensus among the world’s scientists who believe that climate change is caused mostly by man from the burning of fossil fuels. Further, this situation must be corrected with governmental intervention, regardless of the financial impact to the USA for what we are ethically required to repair on a global scale. Climate activist Bill McKibben and Sen. Bernie Sanders have each told us that this is the truth, and that the consensus is in.
In a 2008 online survey conducted by graduate student Margaret Zimmerman, two questions were asked of earth scientists in academic and governmental institutions. Out of 10,257, there were 3,146 respondents. Of these, 79 individuals were selected who had listed climate science as their area of expertise and who had published greater than 50 percent of their peer-reviewed papers on climate change. Of these, 76 of 79 or 96.2 percent answered “risen” to the first question: “When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant.” And 75 of 77 or 97.4 percent answered “yes” to the second question: “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?” One does not need to be a scientist to see the problems statistically with this method and with the conclusion.
Dan Monger
New Haven

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