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Climate science vindicated for umpteenth time

By Joe Romm on February 25, 2011 at 2:19 pm

"Climate science vindicated for umpteenth time"

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Deniers still demand Inquisition

Inspector General’s Review of Stolen Emails Confirms No Evidence of Wrong-Doing by NOAA Climate Scientists

Report is the latest independent analysis to clear climate scientists of allegations of mishandling of climate information

Another day, another independent review finds that emails of climate science do nothing to undermine the overwhelming data-driven understanding that humans are changing the climate and that if we keep listening to the deniers, unrestricted emissions of greenhouse gases will bring multiple catastrophes to countless future generations.

What a surprise (see “The first rule of vindicating climate scientists is you do not talk about vindicating climate scientists“).

The headlines are from the NOAA release, which continues:

At the request of U.S. Sen. Inhofe, the Department of Commerce Inspector General conducted an independent review of the emails stolen in November 2009 from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, and found no evidence of impropriety or reason to doubt NOAA’s handling of its climate data. The Inspector General was asked to look into how NOAA reacted to the leak and to determine if there was evidence of improper manipulation of data, failure to adhere to appropriate peer review procedures, or failure to comply with Information Quality Act and Freedom of Information Act guidelines.

“We welcome the Inspector General’s report, which is the latest independent analysis to clear climate scientists of allegations of mishandling of climate information,” said Mary Glackin, NOAA’s deputy under secretary for operations. “None of the investigations have found any evidence to question the ethics of our scientists or raise doubts about NOAA’s understanding of climate change science.”

The Inspector General’s report states specifically:

  • “We found no evidence in the CRU emails that NOAA inappropriately manipulated data comprising the [Global Historical Climatology Network - monthly] GHCN-M dataset.” (Page 11)
  • “We found no evidence in the CRU emails to suggest that NOAA failed to adhere to its peer review procedures prior to its dissemination of information.” (Page 11)
  • “We found no evidence in the CRU emails to suggest that NOAA violated its obligations under the IQA.” (Page 12)
  • “We found no evidence in the CRU emails to suggest that NOAA violated its obligations under the Shelby Amendment.” (Page 16)

The report notes a careful review of eight e-mails that it said “warranted further examination to clarify any possible issues involving the scientific integrity of particular NOAA scientists or NOAA’s data,” that was completed and did not reveal reason to doubt the scientific integrity of NOAA scientists or data.

The report questions the way NOAA handled a response to four FOIA requests in 2007. The FOIA requests sought documents related to the review and comments of part of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. NOAA scientists were given legal advice that IPCC work done by scientists were records of the IPCC, not NOAA. The requesters were directed to the IPCC, which subsequently made available the review, comments and responses which are online at IPCC and www.hcl.harvard.edu.

“The NOAA scientists responded in good faith to the FOIA requests based on their understanding of the request and in accordance with the legal guidance provided in 2007,” Glackin said. “NOAA’s policies, practices, and the integrity and commitment of our scientists have resulted in NOAA’s climate records being the gold-standard that our nation and the world has come to rely on for authoritative information about the climate.”

The findings in the Inspector General’s investigation are similar to the conclusions reached in a number of other independent investigations into climate data stewardship and research that were conducted by the UK House of Commons, Penn State University, the InterAcademy Council, and the National Research Council, after the release of the stolen emails All of the reports exonerated climate scientists from allegations of wrong-doing.

The report also asks NOAA to review two instances in which it transferred funds to CRU. NOAA is conducting a review of funding to the University of East Anglia and as recommended by Mr. Zinser’s letter, will be providing a report to his office. NOAA’s review to date indicates that the funding supported workshops in 2002 and 2003 that helped the governments of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam improve their climate forecasting abilities.

The report further provides information about the review NOAA undertook of the emails, and notes that NOAA did not conduct a review of its data set as a result of the emails because it too determined that the emails did not indicated any impropriety and because its data sets and techniques are already regularly reviewed as part of ongoing quality control measures and are subject to formal peer review.

NOAA’s national and global climate data are available to the public in raw and adjusted form. The algorithms used to adjust the data sets to ensure high quality, useful records, are peer-reviewed and available to the public.

NOAA is committed to quality, scientific excellence and transparency and strives to provide the most authoritative and accurate information about the Earth’s climate, oceanic and atmospheric conditions. In the face of ongoing climate variability and climate change, this information is critical to businesses and people in all industries and communities as they plan for the future. NOAA is working to provide ever-improving regional and industry-specific climate information to meet the growing demand for this information.

The Inspector General report is available online.

Even Revkin headlines this, “Slim Pickings For Climate Science Critics in Inspector General Report.”  The IG report didn’t stop Inhofe and the deniers from demanding more investigations and inquisitions, of course.

This is a travel day for me, so I’ll just repost the commentary by Tobis on this, “Climategate”: Yet More Bupkis (with Monty Python video):

Update: McIntyre’s take on all this:

NOAA scientists were given legal advice that IPCC work done by scientists were records of the IPCC, not NOAA.” was not supported by the report. “The Inspector General said that there was a divergence between Solomon’s evidence and the evidence of the NOAA attorneys, the latter denied giving “legal advice that IPCC work done by scientists were records of the IPCC, not NOAA”, with Susan Solomon unable to provide any documentation of ever receiving such evidence.

So NOAA attorneys don’t recall such advice. Or Solomon misremembers. Or there was a misunderstanding. Some sort of miscommunication about emails about who gets to see which emails about emails about the highly secret hiding a decline that wasn’t a decline that was never hidden. Ho hum. Hardly worth a footnote?

If you think not, you don’t know McIntyre and his acolytes. But you are an amateur who can hardly even make a mountain out of a molehill. They can make the whole Himalayan range out of a trough.

To them, this is clearly part of the Grand Conspiracy to Willfully and With Malice Aforethought Commit Acts of Science. Or something. Anyway, something worthy of Congressional Investigation. Or Worse. (cue Ominous Trumpets)

Related Post:

Second Place. The claim that the “Climategate” emails meant that global warming was a hoax, or was criminal, as Senator Inhofe tried to argue. In fact, it was none of these things (though the British police are still investigating the illegal hacking of a British university’s computer system and the theft of the emails).

Global warming deniers used out-of-context texts from the stolen emails to claim that global warming was a hoax or that scientists had manipulated data or were hiding evidence that climate change wasn’t happening. These claims are all B.S. A series of independent scientific and academic investigations in the U.S. and the U.K. unanimously concluded that nothing in the stolen emails made any difference to the remarkable strength of climate science (see, for example, the Penn State vindication, the Independent Muir Russell and Lord Oxburgh reviews, a British Parliamentary Panel review, and other assessments). Unfortunately, the media gave far more attention to the accusations than to the resounding vindications, and climate deniers continue to spread B.S. about this case.

The bottom line of “Climategate?” As a letter in Science magazine signed by 255 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences said in May 2010: “there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change.”

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44 Responses to Climate science vindicated for umpteenth time

  1. Heraclitus says:

    Inhofe must be dsappointed that the Inspector General did not prove to be more witchfindery.

  2. Scrooge says:

    Since the GOP has proved to be spineless and is now just part of the birch society, this just gives them more reason to shoot the messenger and try to gut the NOAA.

  3. Sou says:

    I think someone in the IG’s office has a sense of mischief, describing the ‘marooned’ photo for us all to chuckle at :)

  4. Dennis says:

    It is fascinating to see how WUWT plays this one. Watts quotes extensively from Inhofe’s press release but doesn’t even provide a link to the official report. Yet he writes “As usual, the mainstream media reads and reports only the summary page …” Pot, meet kettle!

  5. Jim says:

    This was another fossil-fuel funded Swift Boat attack. The real questions are:

    Who stole the emails?

    Who was responsible for their orchestrated release just prior to Copenhagen?

    Why isn’t the stolen email crime the subject of as intense an investigation as there was of the climate scientists?

  6. Leif says:

    Years of investigating Climate Science has produced a dry well. Perhaps an investigation of the accusing faction is in order?

  7. caerbannog says:

    What is so incredible about this whole farce is that anyone with some programming skills and the ability to RTFM can easily perform his/her own independent verification of NASA’s and NOAA’s global temperature calculations. If NASA/NOAA were “manipulating” the data to fake/exaggerate a warming trend, anyone with lower-division college-undergraduate technical skills could expose NASA/NOAA with just a few days’ worth of programming/analysis effort.

    Anyone who has any doubts about the NASA/NOAA global temperature calculations is perfectly free to download *all* of the raw data used to compute the global-average temperatures and code up *his/her own* global temperature calculation software (using freely available software development tools) to perform his/her own completely independent “sanity check” of NASA’s and NOAA’s results.

    I did exactly that — in just a bit more than a weekend of my spare time, I coded up a simple gridding/averaging routine and used it to generate these results from *raw* GHCN temperature data: http://img219.imageshack.us/img219/9994/landstationindexnosmoot.jpg

    Note: I didn’t even *peek* at any of the NASA/NOAA source-code before taking on this project — I wanted to see what would happen if I coded up my own completely independent (and rudimentary) implementation of the NASA/NOAA global temperature anomaly procedure.

    My results are left *unsmoothed* so that you can see how closely my results track NASA’s official “Meteorological Stations” results, not only with respect to the long-term trend, but also with respect to short-term (year-to-year) variations!

    Incompetent, lazy deniers have been accusing NASA and NOAA of temperature data fraud for *years* without performing even the most rudimentary data analysis to back up their accusations. This is beyond outrageous, because the amount of time required to perform data analysis sufficient to confirm or refute NASA/NOAA’s results can be measured in *days*.

  8. Mike Roddy says:

    “Climategate” was never anything more than a soundbite developed by oil company burglars and fed to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. The coverage of it in mainstream media, and subsequent so-what reporting of vindications like this one, really showed how bad our media has become.

    We need a new online national newspaper to replace the New York Times. Huffpo and similar rags are not up to the task. This paper would contain the kind of stories featured here on CP, but applied to all fields.

    It’s not only climate information that is managed. I can’t get forest mortality rates out of the PNW USG research station, something they listed in tables for years in my prior rounds of research. If both scientific data and important news continue to be managed, we won’t get out of this mess.

  9. Zetetic says:

    @ Heraclitus #1:
    Next stop for the Republicans….

    Stack the Inspector General (or similar agency) with paid cronies and then try again until they get the results they want.

  10. Barry says:

    I think the GOP are in for a rough week when the Inspector General reports on the other controversies they tasked him with:

    – “earth still round”
    – “moon not made of cheese”
    – “human’s didn’t live with dinosaurs”
    – “numbers on highway signs aren’t part of UN plot to take over USA”

  11. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    Obviously, they got to the Inspector General too. Is there anything this cabal of conspirators can’t corrupt?

  12. These tactics are working well at securing profits, sustaining business models and killing the future of all humans.

    Deny, Distract, Delay – no substantive change means business as usual. In a world of “change or die” – the decision is not with change.

  13. tcarlson says:

    I guess Jim Hansen must love his grandchildren after all. Surprise!

  14. MapleLeaf says:

    caerbannog @7,

    Way to go. Just shows you that not only are the “skeptics” ignorant on the science, they are lazy too. But I suspect that they know the NOAA records (and others) are just fine, but they have to manufacture doubt and fabricate debate (or as Richard above noted Deny, distract and delay), and this is how they (Inhofe et al.) do it by making false accusations.

    Joe,

    Now when is someone finally going to slap Inhofe with a suite for libeling and harassment of government scientists? Really, are there absolutely no consequences for Inhofe’s despicable, behaviour and abuse of his position? Why doe he get a free pass Joe?

  15. Sou says:

    Inhofe’s press release states that: “this report shows that some NOAA employees potentially violated federal contract law and engaged in data manipulation

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=597ab372-802a-23ad-468b-765a651134b0&Region_id=&Issue_id=

    I did not read either into the IG’s report. I presume the ‘federal contract law’ refers to the contracts between NOAA and CRU referred to in the report, although I did not read any suggestion that NOAA has violated federal contract law. I have no idea what the ‘engaged in data manipulation’ refers to.

    If even after yet another ‘vindication’, Inhofe still makes these allegations, he himself should be brought to account.

  16. John Mason says:

    Talking of which, on a slightly related note, the Daily Mailers are at it – warning – head-vises at the ready!

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1260191/Science-Museum-change-new-climate-change-museum.html

    It really is endless, isn’t it!

    Cheers – John

  17. caerbannog says:

    MapleLeaf says:
    February 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    caerbannog @7,

    Way to go. Just shows you that not only are the “skeptics” ignorant on the science, they are lazy too.

    And one more thing — I was able to do all that without submitting a single FOI request. Go figure!

  18. MapleLeaf says:

    Caerbannog,

    “And one more thing — I was able to do all that without submitting a single FOI request. Go figure!”

    Insert smiley here.

  19. MapleLeaf says:

    Sou @15,

    Would could a NOAA scientists possible file a suite against Inhofe, or even better NOAA itself?

    I cannot for the life of me believe that Inhofe insists on slandering the scientists (even in the face of much evidence tot he contrary) without repercussions. That is wholly unacceptable and a gross abuse of his position. I cannot believe that the ethics code of practice for members of congress would permit such behaviour.

  20. Turboblocke says:

    John @ 16: that Daily Mail story is from last year.

  21. MarkB says:

    I’m not aware of any specific allegations directed at NOAA regarding the CRU hack, so this was clearly just a taxpayer-wasting PR stunt. The repeated talk of investigations and very generalized accusations has its propaganda benefits.

  22. paulm says:

    The risk factor is just not being taken in to account by not only the public, but policy makers. This is just an unreal situation.

    Prudent Risk
    http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=202075659818127&id=139434822741700

    In their recent letter to US Congress, a group of “skeptic” scientists argued that based on what they deemed the “modest warming” so far, and that the consequences of that warming have thus far been manageable, the “prudent path” forward involves continuing with business-as-usual. However, as the first Prudent Path Week post noted, we’re primarily concerned about the warming and climate change that are yet to come.

  23. John Mason says:

    Turbo #20,

    Oops! It arrived in the daily batch of climate articles from Skeptical Science – I just assumed it was recent! My bad!

    Still appalling garbage, whatever the date!

    Cheers – John

  24. Chris says:

    Does skep sci or climate progress (or another source) have a nice running list in one place of the various exonerations / investigations? Bonus points if it has the 7 (8…9…10???) independent temp reconstructions at the same place :)

  25. Chris Winter says:

    Satiric headline:

    “Climate change is still happening —
    Scientists still doing good science”

    In other news, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.

  26. MapleLeaf says:

    Chris @26,

    Brilliant, and too true.

    I dare you to post that at ClimateFraudit and Curry’s place ;)

  27. Prokaryotes says:

    “Inspector General’s Review of Stolen Emails Confirms No Evidence of Wrong-Doing by NOAA Climate Scientists”

    I’m sooooo surprised (not) … lol?

  28. PSU Grad says:

    Sou @16:

    “Inhofe’s press release states that: “this report shows that some NOAA employees potentially violated federal contract law and engaged in data manipulation””

    Technically, Inhofe may be correct about the data manipulation (please….bear with me, you’ll enjoy this).

    Here’s one definition I found of the verb “manipulate”:

    “to handle or use, esp with some skill, in a process or action: to manipulate a pair of scissors”

    So yeah, I guess the climate scientists were handling the data with some skill. Inhofe is absolutely correct.

    That’s probably exactly what he meant, too.

  29. MapleLeaf says:

    PSUGrad,

    I can vouch for that, researchers sometimes refer to “manipulating” the data in the context of processing it or applying mathematical or statistical formulae to the data– for example, calculating the mean or standard deviation.

    For obvious reasons, I no longer used that terminology, too easy to misinterpret.

    When you said “That’s probably exactly what he meant, too.” I think you forgot to add one of these ;)

  30. Tim says:

    To those wondering why Inhofe gets away with slander (for a person speaking as a senator, it would be libel), the margins by which he has bested his opponents in his four senate elections might provide a clue:

    1994: 15%
    1996: 17%
    2002: 21%
    2008: 18%

    You don’t really think these guys give a damn about anything else do you? Do you think Obama’s justice department would actually prosecute such as case? I mean, they gave the Bushies a pass on torture!

    The other Oklahoma senator, Tom Coburn, is in many ways even more insane that Inhofe. (Coburn thought Shindler’s List (!) was a sexploitation film, and described its airing as “irresponsible sexual behavior… I cringe when I realize that there were children all across this nation watching this program.”)

  31. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Over at The ABC’s The Drum they have a couple of climate science threads going, and the moderator bias is as plain as ever. The denialists are there in swarms, spreading really ludicrous lies as ever, with ‘Climategate’ a popular favourite. We have to face the fact that the Rightwing MSM, of which the ABC is an integral part in this country, is stacked with Rightwing ideologues, and the bias is because certain opinions concur with their own. Denialism is now an essential part of the ideological armour that a proper Rightwinger must display at all times. I think that we are living through a process of auto-genocide, driven by the worst specimens of our species, that explains the ‘silentium universi’ that has intrigued thinkers for decades.

  32. David B. Benson says:

    Does Senator Inhofe have any children? Grandchildren?

  33. Colorado Bob says:

    I would remind everyone that everything was “stable” in North Africa 6 weeks ago, then a fruit vendor set himself on fire, and the world changed.

  34. Colorado Bob says:

    Learn this guy”s name -

    To many Tunisians, Mohammed Bouazizi has become both a martyr and a symbol of the fight for freedom, after his death sparked the protests in Tunisia – protests which have since spread across the Arab world.

    Mohammed was a 26 year-old fruit seller who set himself on fire after the police confiscated his vegetable cart.

    He died 19 days later in hospital.

    Five thousand people attended his funeral, chanting political slogans calling for revenge for his suicide.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/programmes/2011/02/110224_outlook_tunisia_protests_mohammed_bouazizi.shtml

  35. Prokaryotes says:

    Virginia residents donated more than $2 million to U.S. Navy Vets, an organization under investigation in at least six states for defrauding donors, the Office of Consumer Affairs within the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Forestry reported this week.

    The organization was headed up by a man using the name Bobby Thompson who donated $55,000 to the political campaign of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. http://augustafreepress.com/2011/02/23/dems-use-report-to-repeat-criticisms-of-cuccinelli/

  36. Prokaryotes says:

    One might expect that his efforts would find support among climate-change contrarians, the small but vocal community of scientists and independent researchers who aggressively challenge the mainstream consensus that emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide threaten to dangerously warm the planet.

    But in reporting the story, I found the opposite to be true: as it turns out, even many of Dr. Mann’s chief scientific foes are strongly opposed to Mr. Cuccinelli’s fraud investigation. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/23/ken-cuccinelli-v-climate-skeptics/?partner=rss&emc=rss

    Cuccinelli now i get it with the spanish inquestion, lol …

  37. jyyh says:

    Someone could say to Inhofe it’s not wise, or even allowed, to drive wearing mirror sunglasses the wrong way.

  38. Zetetic says:

    @ David Benson #33:
    He’d probably eat them alive if he’d benefit from it and could find to justify it as being good for the fossil fuel companies.

  39. Joan Savage says:

    @ David Benson #33:

    I suspect your question was rhetorical.

    In early 2010, Inhofe’s grandchildren helped him build an igloo in Washington DC, and dubbed it Al Gore’s New Home.

    The Oklahoma Senator’s notion that a snowy winter disproved the evidence for climate change was rebutted this winter on ABC News by the simple message that warmer air carries more water, so expect more precipitation.

  40. Joan Savage says:

    Climate science has been vindicated, but public education on earth science still needs a boost.

    Several voices seem to be catching on to the need to start at very basic levels of knowledge.

    Warm air holds more moisture than cold air.
    Chill the warm air and the moisture falls out.
    Either heat or cold can make air move from one place to another.

    It takes a bit to work up from those to looking at the perturbations in the NASH (the “Bermuda High”), but we have to start somewhere.

  41. Peter M says:

    A climate-change activist prepares for the worst

    something of interest from the Washington Post

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/25/AR2011022503176.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

  42. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Joan Savage #40, 41, I take your point, but I’m afraid you and I inhabit the rational universe of cause and effect, whereas the denialist rabble, who all have a vote thanks to the glories of ‘demoncracy’, inhabit a universe of divinely ordained magical thinking, where reality is simply a matter of opinion. If your God, whether He be a perverted image of your own ego projected onto the universe, or the ideological demiurge that is the Kochtopus, tells you that revealed truth is that the planet is cooling, all climate scientists and ‘greenies’ are watermelon, hidden Communists,and Al Gore is fat, then you MUST believe, or be cast into outer darkness. As the truth becomes plainer and ever more dire, the denialists will simply become more deranged and demented and more determined, convinced that God is simply ‘testing their faith’.

  43. realist says:

    There needs to be a public outcry for investigating the hacking. The climate scientists (although in the underrepresented minority) should insist on investigative journalism to uncover the perpetrators of this criminal act (the stealing of these emails and their edited release). My guess is that this whole fiasco was initiated by the Kochs or their cronies. An investigation into the stealing of the emails has been, if conducted at all,insufficient. Climate scientists deserve no less than a complete investigation. This should be an international effort by Interpol, the FBI, the CIA, Scotland Yard, and any other agency capable of getting to the bottom of this criminal act and seeing that the perpetrators are punished. Someone deserves to go to jail for this dastardly act.