Climategate, global warming and provenance
Ok, taking a chance here: I reviewed the emails and don’t really get the whole “global warming” as a scam. Clearly the globe is warming after the mini-ice age between 1500 and 1825 or so. During the period since the mini-ice age, the human population has grown, built beautiful cities, roadways and generally turned the earth into a wonderful place to be alive. Sure there are a large number of people who live in poverty that I can’t even understand, but in an earlier era these people simply would not exist. Now the people who are impoverished have an opportunity to survive and to build a better world for them.
No, what I take away from Climategate is that the science was poorly documented and the process of peer review was shunted into an ego driven process. This does not mean that the climate isn’t being changed by human input, it means that the investigation into the processes and science (as they say in the public media) is suspect. Why? Because a reasonable person, who has knowledge of the scientific method cannot reproduce the results claimed by the so called global warming researchers.
You might be thinking, well the global warming researchers used tools I have no access to, and science I can’t understand. Fortunately, the reality is that the science is quite simple, it is the processes of data collection or workflow that were complex and hidden from you.
If you are reading this blog, I think it is safe to say you have the talent and intelligence to follow the global warming science, it isn’t anymore complicated than the way that Dancing with the Stars, or America’s Top Model judging is accomplished, perhaps less so. Science is the process of using simple observations to gain knowledge about the universe. Even the Cern accelerator is basically getting data from the mass of the objects that break off when you collide electrons at speeds near the speed of light.
The main part of the scientific method is that any results must be reproducible by other researchers, with respect to the CERN, you would go there to repeat the experiments. For global warming you might use observations about where you live and add the observations to data input by many other people.
What this means that the data used by the initial researchers must be available for the future researchers to confirm using similar but not identical equipment, processes and so forth. Ok, maybe some researchers will use identical equipment, but with all the equipment most universities have these days it is unlikely that the equipment will be the same, but the equipment will be calibrated back to certain standards. If the research, such as the research using tree rings, would mean that tree rings from one part of the region where they were taken would match other tree rings from the similar region. Also, if tree rings are used, then there would be a certain way for the tree rings to be measured that is reproducible, and if, for example, tree rings were used, then tree rings would be able to reproduce the temperature of the air in a reliable manner, or produce data that is an analog that anyone could utilize.
All of this data would be stored into a system that would allow other scientists to reproduce the research, this is part of the research is called the workflow. How can you get involved in examining workflows and create your own? Take a look at the Trident Workbench, just out from Microsoft Research, this is an awesome tool that allows you to use free tools from Microsoft to create open source workflows that you can share with others! You will need to install SQL Express on your laptop or desktop, but this is a free download from http://www.microsoft.com, type in SQL Express into the search bar at Microsoft.com, if you use google or bing, then there are some sites that will attempt to get you to pay money for the download, and this product is entirely free! When you do the installation make sure to add the service pack 1 or the engine won’t run.
More in the next blog on climate gate. For now make sure to take a look at the following videos and web pages to get up to speed on the pro and anti-global warming groups:
Pro-global warming: Real Climate Website
Anti-global warming: ClimateGate's Michael Mann Being Investigated
Political anti-global warming (US): Senator James Inhofe
Political pro-global warming (US): Senator Lugar Praises Pew Dialogue
Reason to not curse when doing a video interview (it’s at the end of the video, also, note to self: make sure to get a haircut)
More to come, this is fun stuff!