UPDATE: 18 DEC 2009
While not the basics, there is a nice list of 100 things here:
With “Climategate” we must also add that the “scientists” involved have indulged in subornation of the Peer Review process and have used “fudge factors” in generating the data series that most of the “peer reviewed science” rests upon. They created global warmer where there was none. Basically, at this point, we don’t know which parts of the “science” done before has any value or truth in it, if any.
And finally, NOAA via the National Climatic Data Center or NCDC has “cooked the books” in the GHCN data set that is used by just about everyone from the Japanese (whom, I suspect, will be really peeved at the “loss of face” NCDC has handed to them…) to the NCDC GHCN “adjusted” set and GIStemp. Also, HadCRUT (from UEA / CRU ) in the leaked Climategate email state their data are substantially identical with GHCN.
So basically, all the major temperature series agree because they are built on the same “cooked books”:
I would summarise ‘the basics’ as:
1) The raw data is defective. There are many pages on WUWT about various thermometer errors (placement, urban heat island, changed paint type leading to higher readings, etc.) that bias the data to the high side.
2) The raw data is missing. There are several variations here, too. Stations come and go. Sometimes large numbers (when the USSR collapsed a very large percentage of total thermometers just went away, many in Siberia. At the same time the recorded temperature average went up…)
3) The raw data is from too short a period. We are looking at a system with at least 1500 year cycles in it (Google “Bond Event wiki” for details). To do that and not be fooled by a cyclical slope needs about 3000 years data. For satellite data we have 30 years or so. For land based thermometers, a couple of hundred. That couple of hundred just happens to start at the bottom of a cold period known as the Little Ice Age and is rising due to a normal cycle. It was warmer in the past (several times in history, more times demonstrable by archaeology like the ice man from under a glacier…) and No Bad Thing happened.
4) Sometimes the raw data is just made up. GISS, it seems, can fill in the arctic temperatures with guesses via computer. ANY US land station can have missing readings ‘estimated’ by the person filling in the form if they want. (Missed a day? Just make it up…).
5) Once the data are collected, they are subject to strange and wondrous changes and manipulations. The exact methods are more or less secret. The changes are conducted by people who often have their entire self worth and career vested in ‘global warming’. The results often seem disjoint from observed reality. (I have a particular gripe with the GISS method that involves adjusting past temperatures down based on present temperatures. I’d rather that my history didn’t keep changing under my feet, but I’m old fashioned that way.) Where there are details on the adjustment available, they can often be shown to be bogus. (Removal of urban heat island effect by reference to ‘nearby’ ‘rural’ thermometers that are in fact hundreds of miles away in different microclimates and sometimes in large urban area.)
6) Based on this flakey data, folks build castles in the sky. They do this with computer models. (I’m a ‘computer guy’ by trade and managed a Cray supercomputer site that did modeling for plastic flow so this one galls me.) The models are ‘not very good’ to put it charitably. The don’t match reality. Their predictions are regularly shown to be bogus. When you do get a little look at how they work, it is not convincing. They leave out major, perhaps even dominant, features of climate. (Cloud formation of all sorts, cosmic rays that lead to cloud formation, variation in the sun, many most or all of the various ocean oscillations and heat transfer anomalies ENSO, AMO, etc.) Oh, and we have a specific admission by at least one of the modelers that they deliberately made the model run fast for more dramatic effect. That 50 year doom? Even their model would say it’s 150 years away if not run on ‘juice’. We have public quotes from ‘scientists’ in the field saying they need to punch up the results to create stronger public responses…
7. Many of the assumptions and science in the models are based on errors of assumption. I can only list a couple of examples here (too many…). It is assumed that CO2 causes warming. All the archeological data show CO2 follows heating by 800 years. How does cause follow effect? All sorts of positive feedbacks are assumed, but negative ones are ignored (cloud cooling anyone?)
8. They simply can not model what they do not know. ANY computer model can only tell you things in the domain of your present understanding. If your understanding is broken, so is your model. They “know” that CO2 is causal (despite the data) and that is what they model, ergo what they find. The truth is that we really don’t know how weather and climate work completely, so any ‘model’ can at best be used to show places to do more research, not to make policy. They don’t predict, they inform of our ignorance.
9) The thing they are trying to model, 30 year weather, is chaotic. (That does not mean random, it means that the state jumps all over from trivial input changes.) Chaotic models are, at the present state of the art, worse than guessing (and may always be, the math behind it leads me to think maybe so…) The input data are very flawed.
10) Based on these models saying the world will end Real Soon Now, many other folks run off to show that they ought to get funding for their grant because it is related to this hot topic of global warming. When you look into the ‘thousands and thousands’ of papers endorsing the global warming thesis you find the vast majority are of the form “If we assume that the model run by [foo] is right, this is the bad thing that will happen in MY field.” There are in fact only a few centers doing the modeling (a half dozen?) and their ideas are very inbred. We are really basing world decisions on the work of about a half dozen.
11) Dissent is to be crushed, ruthlessly. Frankly, this is what got me started down the “What the…” trail. I’ve worked in forensics and law enforcement from time to time. Sets off my Madoff Alarm. (Used to be Ponzi…) If you’re so sure you are right, demonstrate (share) your data, models, et. al. and we’ll have a nice debate. No? OK, WHAT ARE YOU HIDING? One of the hallmarks of a shared delusion is the ruthless attack of anything that would threaten the delusion. It just smells of cult. And there are plenty of alternative theories, including the established one of ‘it is natural variation’. The science is not settled and the debate is not over, even if one side is paranoid about being challenged.
12) The major drivers of the process are not scientists, but political bodies with agendas for control and a history of corruption and deception. UN? You want me to trust a UN Political Committee? The IPCC is NOT a bunch of scientists, it’s a bunch of politicians. They consult scientists. They have at times re-written scientists work (without notice). Many scientists have now begun speaking out against the IPCC. See #11 for how they are treated.
13) Mr. Albert Gore. His ‘inconvenient truth’ is a nice propaganda piece. It is decidedly not science. Polar bears are aquatic, they swim hundreds of miles sometimes (one swam from Greenland to Iceland). He shows them drowning… Their numbers are rising, he shows them near extinction. The list goes on. When a politician starts blatantly propagandizing for central power and authority my ‘peace in our time’ buzzer goes off…
14) The ‘cure’. The proposed cure will result in terrible death and poverty. It will misallocate trillions of dollars (that would be much better spent improving other things: education world wide, malaria, cooking stoves in the 3rd world, food supplies, etc.) Mr. Gore and others stand to profit greatly from it (he has a ‘carbon credit’ company from which he buys his own indulgences…) Further, since China and India get a free pass, the only real result is to move most industry there and kill the western democracies. (Hmmm socialist western-hating UN proposing ‘solutions’ that hobble western democracies…) The rate of ‘ramp up’ in coal consumption in China assures that no ‘control’ of CO2 is possible. Why are we ‘curing’ what is not broken with a solution that will not work?
15) The whole ‘tipping point’ thesis is simply and demonstrably false. For most of the history of the planet, CO2 has been much much higher. 10 times or more. We are actually at historic low levels. (Plants respond to CO2 as they do to any nutrient that is lower than their ideal value, up to about a 1000 ppm value. This implies they evolved expecting that much, and that is what the geological record shows.) Why are we trying to reduce CO2 to levels that restrict plant growth? Why are we trying to make the planet colder when that reduces food production? The potential harm here is stupendous. Why have we never ‘tipped’ before?
16) We may be doing exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time. Google “pessimum’. Periodically these cold periods come along in our history. They result in the destruction of social order, starvation, disease, mass migrations. We are about to push in that direction. Why? Google ‘climate optimum’ and you find the Medieval Optimum, the Roman Optimum, etc. We are now in the Modern Optimum. Warm is good, cold is bad. Yet there is more. I can only briefly state that there are reasons to believe that the present optimum may be peaking (or maybe even ending). From the planetary theories of solar output modulation, to the simple calendar correlations, to observed physical oscillations like the PDO flip to a colder direction in the short run; some theory points to cooler. While there is not enough to show causality, there is enough to urge caution in pushing that particular direction really really hard right now.
I’m going to stop now, or this will not be ‘the basics’…
There is more, but you get the idea. It starts to be a bit more technical (Like why does a global average of all those temperatures mean anything? – it doesn’t; and that the temperatures gathered don’t contain enough information for sampling theory and control theory to allow anyone to know what to do even if warming were true and if we could do anything: we have a ‘hot shower’ with 30 years between turning the knobs and changed water temp out. The knobs are not labeled and non-linear. There are several toilets being flushed and dishwashers running. Keep the temperature at exactly the right temperature; and your thermometer is broken.)
I’m sure other folks will have their own ideas as to what are ‘the basics’ but I hope I’ve also shown that even 1/2 of ‘my basics’ are enough to say that we ought not be doing what we, as a country, are about to do…