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The Reality of 'Climategate'

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« on: December 07, 2009, 03:50:12 pm »

The Reality of 'Climategate'

At a Danish climate summit this week, one subject will certainly be raised: The theft of thousands of private e-mails and files recently hacked from computers at East Anglia university, a leading climate research center. The e-mails, which were made public and appear to show scientific misconduct, have fueled a firestorm among those who believe that global warming is not chiefly driven by human influences.

The case is still unfolding, and East Anglia has launched an investigation "to determine whether there is any evidence of the manipulation or suppression of data which is at odds with acceptable scientific practice."

On the surface, it seems that there was in fact misconduct of some sort. In some cases, words and phrases (such as "trick") were used out of their academic context to make them seem duplicitous. Other cases are more serious: Scientist Phil Jones was quoted as stating that he would attempt to keep papers whose conclusions argued against a connection between warming and human activity out of an important climate panel report. Researcher Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University was quoted as discussing a boycott of an academic journal because of its "troublesome editor."

These actions certainly seem improper, and in one case may have been illegal. The question is not whether at least some of the scientists quoted in the private e-mails exhibited poor judgment or even scientific misbehavior. The real question is whether that misconduct is relevant to the larger issue of whether there is solid evidence for global warming.

For all the furor and controversy, what has not been found among the decade's worth of stolen e-mails is revealing.

If the e-mails truly are the "smoking gun" that the critics of global warming claim them to be revealing the tip of the melting iceberg of scientific fraud regarding climate change data then it is puzzling that no one has yet identified the numerous faked studies.

For all the innuendo and accusations, the scientists' critics have yet to locate a single instance of fraudulent research exposed in the e-mails. Personal e-mails between climate scientists may be ill-advised and embarrassing, but by themselves do not provide hard evidence of scientific fraud.

The fact is that the evidence for climate change does not hinge upon data from the East Anglia University researchers whose e-mails were exposed. Data supporting the global warming hypothesis has been collected over decades from a wide variety of independent organizations around the world, including NASA, the Met Office Hadley Centre in England, the Meteorological Office in Germany, and many others.

To use an analogy, it would be like if, during a worldwide eclipse of the sun, one observatory was accused of faking the telescopic images it showed visitors during the event. Even if that were true, it wouldn't change the fact that the eclipse happened, nor that dozens of other observatories recorded the same thing. Many of the claims made by the so-called global warming skeptics have been raised and addressed (see, for example, http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php).

None of this excuses the scientist's alleged behavior. They should not suppress nor delete data they disagree with. Scientists, like people in every other profession, sometimes act unprofessionally and maliciously. Fortunately the data they produce stands or falls on its own merits.

If the scientists' data is revealed to have been faked, they will undoubtedly be charged with scientific misconduct, their papers recalled, and their careers ruined. So far, however, the only crime known to have been committed is the original hacking of the university's private e-mails.

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« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2013, 05:07:09 pm »

From the Los Angeles Times....

Bloomberg unveils sweeping disaster protection plan for New York

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg unveils a $20-billion proposal that he says would protect New Yorkers
from climate disasters. It includes levees, surge barriers and a new ‘Seaport City’.

By MATT PEARCE | 4:45PM - Tuesday, June 11, 2013

This file photo of May 10th, 2013 shows view of the Manhattan Bridge, left, and Brooklyn Bridge as seen from the 105th floor of One World Trade Center, in New York. Seven months after Superstorm Sandy swamped New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a nearly $20 billion plan Tuesday, June 11th, 2013, to protect the city from the effects of global warming and storms. — Photo: Mark Lennihan/Associated Press.
This file photo of May 10th, 2013 shows view of the Manhattan Bridge, left, and Brooklyn Bridge as seen from the 105th floor of One World Trade
Center, in New York. Seven months after Superstorm Sandy swamped New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a nearly $20 billion plan
Tuesday, June 11th, 2013, to protect the city from the effects of global warming and storms. — Photo: Mark Lennihan/Associated Press.

IN A far-reaching plan that would reshape the coastline of the nation's largest city, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg unveiled a $20-billion proposal Tuesday that he said will protect New Yorkers from disasters brought on by climate change.

New York's marriage with the sea has grown more fraught after Superstorm Sandy ravaged the city's 520-mile coastline.

The sweeping proposal, which could impact the city for years after the mayor's departure from office in January, calls for a series of new floodwalls, levees, surge barriers and even construction of a new "Seaport City" to protect the East River shoreline.

“This plan is incredibly ambitious — and much of the work will extend far beyond the next 200 days — but we refused to pass the responsibility for creating a plan onto the next administration," Bloomberg said in prepared remarks. "This is urgent work, and it must begin now.”

The specter of climate change and rising waters have loomed over New York more urgently since Sandy wrought an estimated $20 billion in damage along the eastern seaboard.

Reinsurance providers have warned that the northeastern U.S. should expect more frequent flood and hurricane damage as waters rise and weather patterns change.

One Munich RE researcher said earlier this year that taking basic protective steps to adapt would be "absolutely essential," with another adding that such moves would make economic sense for New York over time. About 400,000 New York residents live in a 100-year flood plain, city officials said.

To support the proposals, Bloomberg has marshaled a small army of experts and a climate-change report that estimates New York City could see its waters rise as much as 31 inches by 2050.

The report also presents worst-case scenarios in which the city gets 15% more precipitation and a 6.5-degree increase in average annual temperature in that time.

More than just beefing up New York's coastal defenses, the plan also carries a series of political proposals that would redevelop areas hit hardest by Sandy and rewrite the city's construction codes.

One proposal offers building owners $1.2 billion in grants and loans for flood-resiliency upgrades, and another changes building codes that would require hospitals to adopt 500-year-flood safety standards.

Other proposals would expand emergency-generator coverage and add standards for utility and telecommunications companies to repair service swiftly after outages.

"Millions of New Yorkers lost power during Sandy and hundreds of thousands lost heat, Internet service, or phone service," Bloomberg said.

"When a crisis hits, when we really need them most, we lose access to them. That is not acceptable," he said. "Most of these networks are not run or regulated by the city, but the time has come for all of our private-sector partners to step up to the plate and join us in protecting New Yorkers."

Kevin Burke, chairman and CEO of power provider Con Edison, said in a statement that "Con Edison has already begun making significant investments to protect our infrastructure and our customers from future storms."

The city will also have to tackle tough new federal flood insurance rates that Bloomberg said would overburden working families in Staten Island.

The 250 recommendations in the new plan — titled the Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency — could use $15 billion in existing city and federal funding that could be driven toward the project, with the city considering various ways to come up with $4.5 billion in additional funds.

Whether all of those proposals will find traction with New Yorkers and federal purseholders is yet to be seen, particularly after Bloomberg leaves office, but the plan presents one of the most ambitious municipal disaster-prevention projects in recent memory.

"We can't completely climate-proof our city. That would be impossible," Bloomberg said. "But we can make our city stronger and safer — and we can start today."

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