Krugman: No 'Scientific Impropriety' in ClimateGate - 'Hide the Decline' an 'Effective Graphical Presentation'

March 28th, 2011 10:08 AM

For many years, conservatives have been claiming that Paul Krugman makes up economic data to support his political conclusions.

Proving the point, the New York Times columnist said Monday, "Nothing in the [ClimateGate email] correspondence suggested any kind of scientific impropriety," and in the truly damning message from Phil Jones, the former head of Britain's Climatic Research Unit, "it’s clear that he’s talking about making an effective graphical presentation, not about suppressing evidence":

Back in 2009 climate skeptics got hold of more than a thousand e-mails between researchers at the Climate Research Unit at Britain’s University of East Anglia. Nothing in the correspondence suggested any kind of scientific impropriety; at most, we learned — I know this will shock you — that scientists are human beings, who occasionally say snide things about people they dislike.

But that didn’t stop the usual suspects from proclaiming that they had uncovered “Climategate,” a scientific scandal that somehow invalidates the vast array of evidence for man-made climate change. And this fake scandal gives an indication of what the Wisconsin G.O.P. presumably hopes to do to Mr. Cronon.

After all, if you go through a large number of messages looking for lines that can be made to sound bad, you’re bound to find a few. In fact, it’s surprising how few such lines the critics managed to find in the “Climategate” trove: much of the smear has focused on just one e-mail, in which a researcher talks about using a “trick” to “hide the decline” in a particular series. In context, it’s clear that he’s talking about making an effective graphical presentation, not about suppressing evidence. But the right wants a scandal, and won’t take no for an answer.

No scientific impropriety? Jones was just making an effective graphical presentation?

Well, as NewsBusters reported last February, Jones himself, in an interview with the BBC, admitted that he manipulated data.

Of course, given his background, it's not at all surprising Krugman wouldn't consider this a scientific impropriety. Former Times ombudsman Daniel Okrent in May 2005 said the Nobel Laureate "has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults."

With that in mind, let's examine what Krugman now claims was just an "effective graphical presentation."

As Marc Sheppard wrote in December 2009, "[T]he decline Jones so urgently sought to hide was not one of measured temperatures at all, but rather figures infinitely more important to climate alarmists -- those determined by proxy reconstructions." He continued:

Jones was working on a cover chart for a forthcoming World Meteorological Organization report [PDF], "WMO Statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 1990," when he wrote the e-mail. As the graph would incorporate one reconstruction of his own plus one each from Michael Mann and Keith Briffa, Jones was informing them that he had used the trick on Mann's series at the same 1980 cutoff as MBH98, but found it necessary to use 1960 as the cutoff on the Briffa series.

In February 2010, Jones admitted this to the BBC: "[It] was absolutely necessary to remove the incorrect impression given by the tree rings that temperatures between about 1960 and 1999 (when the email was written) were not rising, as our instrumental data clearly showed they were."

In simple terms, Briffa's tree-ring data showed a decline in temperatures between 1960 and 1999 that weather stations around the world disagreed with. So, Jones spliced into Briffa's data set the real "instrumental" numbers for that period thereby "hiding the decline."

This should raise eyebrows for a number of reasons. First, Jones and Company gave no notification to folks receiving this data -- including the Intergovernmental Panel and Climate Change -- that Briffa's numbers included instrumental data.

But more importantly, as the tree-ring numbers deviated so demonstrably from the observed temperature data between 1960 and 1999, why should anyone believe they're accurate for any periods in the past that can't be confirmed with instrumentation?

The entire global warming myth depends on tree-ring data that was grossly errant for forty years in the last century. This makes the decline ClimateGate scientists were trying to hide FAR MORE serious than most people believe.

I guess we can now include Krugman on this list.

That folks care what this man has to say about anything is astounding.