We’ve now seen the second report on the CRU leaked e-mails scandal, and guess what – it says much the same as the first one, and exactly what we’d predicted. Lord Oxburgh and his committee found that Phil Jones and his CRU colleagues had been disorganised and naïve, and had used unsophisticated statistical techniques, but that their conclusions were sound.
Anyone who has followed the Wattsupwiththat website on the urban heat island effect, or compared ground station results with satellite results, or followed the wholesale demolition of Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick Graph (perhaps the most discredited scientific artefact in history), may be rather surprised that the Oxburgh Committee endorses the CRU conclusions. (Recall that Phil Jones was very much part of the “Hockey Team” which proposed and sought to defend the Hockey Stick). It is apparently OK to graft together two totally unrelated data sets (proxy data and current terrestrial measurements) when you don’t like the direction in which the proxy data is heading, and you want to “hide the decline” (their words, not mine). And it’s OK to do so without explaining what you did, or why you did it.
Any fair-minded person reading the leaked e-mails would conclude that the CRU scientists had not sought to follow the data wherever they might lead, in a spirit of open-minded scientific enquiry. By no means. Rather, they had deliberately and selectively mined the data for any nuggets which might be presented as supporting their preconceived hypothesis. And that hypothesis was, of course, the Great Carbon Myth.
But then if you take a group of distinguished public figures, all of whom are themselves committed to the “consensus” view of global warming, and ask them to assess the CRU’s work, there is simply no possibility that they would reach any other conclusion.
I noticed that yesterday’s Daily Telegraph placed its report on the CRU scandal alongside another climate-related report, headlined “Wrap up for a return of 17th Century winters”, and illustrated with a contemporary painting of the Thames Frost Fair of 1684, which shows half a dozen carriages and thirty or so pavilions on the ice, along with hundreds of pedestrians. It seems that an “International Team of Scientists”, including Prof. Mike Lockwood, a space physicist from Reading University, has published a paper in the journal Environmental Research Letters arguing that low solar activity could lead to a period of exceptionally cold winters in Northern Europe, comparable to the well-known “Maunder Minimum” at the heart of the Little Ice Age.
I am not sure why this is considered news, or is worth publishing in a learned journal, because it has been commonplace amongst climate sceptics for years. There have been books published about it. Most climate sceptics believe that the Sun is far-and-away the greatest influence on the Earth’s climate, and that global temperatures correlate rather well with solar activity, and rather poorly with atmospheric CO2. Admittedly CO2 and temperature rose in lockstep over the last two decades of the twentieth century. But from 1945 to 1975, temperatures fell while CO2 rose, and since 1998 temperatures have levelled off and turned down, while CO2 has continued its inexorable rise (despite all the talk of limiting emissions). Professor Fred Singer of the University of Virginia argues that while atmospheric CO2 may have some marginal effect on climate, any signal from that effect is lost in the noise of other factors.
Prof. Lockwood fails to explain why a quiet sun would particularly affect Northern Europe: most scientists would argue that it would create cooling on a global scale. And he includes the ritual genuflection to orthodoxy: “Temperatures will not fall as low as they did in 1684, because of global warming”. But it is difficult to see governments and voters accepting the huge and damaging costs of climate mitigation policies while facing decades of bitter cold. Stock market tip: buy ski resorts.
Suggested further reading: “The Hockey Stick Illusion” by A.W. Montford. Stuart Clark: “The Sun Kings”. Christopher Booker: “The Real Global Warming Disaster”