17.12.09

Global Warming Climategate

Russia is becoming a focal point in the battle of ideas over climate change.

After leaked data from the University of East Anglia’s climate change unit were posted on a server in Tomsk, conspiracy theorists pointed to Russian hackers.

Yet how would a hacker have known the University of East Anglia had manipulated climate data? Or about the climate researchers’ decade-long history of using the peer review system to silence those who disagreed with the global warming hypothesis? And where to get the emails to prove it? An inside job remains most probable.

Now, however, Russia is back in the spotlight. Research released through Moscow’s Institute of Economic Analysis suggests the Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature UK was selective and forgetful with data from Russian weather stations and exaggerated the scale of global warming in Russia.

The allegation is supported by one of the leaked  UAE emails, dated March 2004, from Phil Jones to Michael Mann.

"Recently rejected two papers (one for JGR and for GRL) from people saying CRU has it wrong over Siberia. Went to town in both (peer) reviews, hopefully successfully. If either appears I will be very surprised, but you never know with GRL. Cheers, Phil."


Copenhagen Doubts

It's well timed to weaken the resolve of global leaders at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. Russia would make more money from selling its pollution credits than any other country, so you'd be wrong to conclude that Russia is simply motivated by its oil and gas reserves.

Russia stands to benefit by $10s of Billions from carbon trading. And big oil will do very well out of the lucrative climate change business.

Russia is the world's biggest country and its got lots of climate data. Its researchers are simply puzzled how the Hadley climate unit managed to ignore so much of it.

The Russian research looks at the data from 121 monitoring sites that HadCRUT used and the at least 355 it did not use.  It plots the data, and finds the 121 sites tending to warmer weather reports than the 355 unused sites. If you want the document it is here:

The principal findings are that researchers cherry picked results based the stations that supported the hypothesis of global warming.

Supporters of global warming have already dismissed the IEA report as “the same old argument” that meteorological sites next to cities show warmer records than those in the wild.

But the IEA discovers much, much more.

Weather centres with records going back into the 19th century were ignored, in some cases, in favour of monitoring stations with less data, but which pointed to warming.

"Weather stations Uchur has a long and almost continuous serie meteorological observations from 1940, the station Toko - an intermittent series of observations from 1946 and continuous - only since 1957, however, the trend towards warming in the 20 th century was more pronounced according to the station Toko. In the calculations of global temperature HadCRUT predictably uses the data solely for the station Toko."

Hadley "Reduced" Data Series


Another excerpt from the Russian report:

"It turns out that the data not included in the HadCRUT sample and not used to calculate the global temperature is systematically much more extensive.Only one tenth of meteorological sites with complete temperature series are used. Sites with incomplete data series account for two-thirds of the HadCrut sample.

"Moreover, the processing of data Russian specialists HadCRUT sometimes exhibits an unexplained loss. For example, the Hadley Center reduced the temperature data series for the station Sortavala provided Roshydromet - See figure 5 and 6."

The Russian research concludes that HadCRUT's preselection of weather monitoring sites in Russia affected the scale of warming that it claimed to find.

The Russians try to reproduce HadCRUT's conclusions.

They do indeed identify a warming trend but it is 1.4 degrees C over the 130 years from 1870-2000, compared with the 2 degree estimate HadCRUT exhibited.

The new research suggests HadCRUT actively chose to use weather reports that backed its hypothesis of global warming:

    * Using incomplete records and ignoring longer, unbroken series from other monitoring sites in the same region.
    * Manipulating data or "losing temperature" from the sites they used
    * Choosing sites close to large, warmer, urban areas
    * Selecting sites concentrated in the north and east of Russia, even though Russia has significantly more sites in the warmer west and south. HadCRUT thus ignores 40% of the largest country on earth - not because it doesn't have the data (the data is publicly available) but for some other, unstated reason.
    * HadCRUT constructs a grid of Russia, some cells containing only no weather monitoring station, others as many as 8. In the case of the cells where weather stations are ignored, the weather stations tended not to support the hypothesis of global warming.

The conclusion is very polite (compared with the emails in which the head of the University of  East Anglia Climate Research Unit Phil Jones attacked the work and motives of those with whom he disagreed).

The IEA concedes that temperatures may have warmed but if errors of 0.64 degrees celcius are made in Russia (for the 130 year period), what errors are hiding in the data on other countries?

2.12.09

Tax and Spend

[Since this was written, the Irish government has shown its mettle in pushing through public spending cuts, despite greedy and ignorant resistance from the public sector. The Irish government is positively heroic compared with the UK, where The Bloat continues to fester like a huge turd beside the Thames.]

I’ve had it with greedy government workers! Sorry if it hurts, but sometimes you have to be direct.

Ireland has a lesson for all countries trying to stop recession turn into depression.

The public sector unions run Ireland. It’s the only explanation of how quickly the Irish premier Brian Cowen backed down when the unions threatened to strike in defence of their bloated pay.



Did I say bloated?

If you want to see fat, just look at this chart of Ireland's government spending as a proportion of its economy, compared with others in the EU. Government spending is a long phrase, so I'll just use the word bloat.

Ireland's bloat was already above the EU average in 2008, and in 2009 goes through the roof. Graph courtesy of Ronan Lyons.



Note that public services in Ireland and the UK (also above average bloat) - are far, far below the standard of the Netherlands which has less bloat. I'm speaking from personal experience of living in all  three countries and I'm talking about hospitals, schools, public transport, police service, cleanliness.

So why did prime minister Cowen capitulate to the public sector unions?

Instead of further pay cuts, the budget is likely to require each public sector worker to take two weeks of unpaid vacation.

It’ll have the same effect on their wage packets but wreak havoc on labour intensive services like heath, emergency and social services. The government is likely to look for greater savings from welfare, like cutting child benefit. So much for the “caring” public sector.

Cowen’s fallen for not one lie but three:
1. Public sector staff aren’t in it for the money. Think of them as walking charities.
2. Government spending can get us out of recession and should not be cut.
3. Instead, taxpayers should pay out even more to keep the public sector afloat. (Unions always say tax the rich but what they mean is tax the taxpayer)

The truth is: Public sector workers are paid more in Ireland than their private sector counterparts and public sector and welfare payments account for 71% of GDP. Public sector pay is 25% higher than equivalent private sector job. The Economic and Social Research Institute and the Central Statistics Office both back that up.

Unions say the public sector advantage is not so big if you take account of inflation or the influx of foreign workers depressing private sector pay. The fact is, the unadjusted, raw numbers are what matters and the unions don't dispute that. They say managers account for much of the increase in pay. That's also true in the private sector. However, for taxpayers, only the total wage bill matters.

The second truth is: A country cannot tax its way out of recession. That’s the view of economist Jim Power of financial services company Friends First.

Ireland’s government is adding €495 million to the national debt each week. Yet in its pre-budget discussions, Brian Cowen’s government backed away from facing down the public sector unions.

The same reason public spending got to 71% of national output is the reason it can’t be cut. The political interests that pushed public spending so high are resisting any effort to cut back.

The third truth is: Ireland has low tax on companies, but not on individuals. An analysis by the Department of Finance reveals that next year, 143,000 people -- 6.5 per cent of the workforce -- will earn over €100,000 a year, and pay 47.93 per cent of all income tax.

The analysis also shows that next year almost 1.8 million people -- 80 per cent of the workforce -- will earn under €50,000 a year, and pay 18 per cent of all income tax.


So increasing income taxes may actually hurt government revenues and would certainly hurt the economy. Any homeowner knows, the first thing you do when your finances are in trouble is borrow more cut spending.

The public sector was able to expand, and pay itself so lavishly, because government finances were boosted by a booming property and construction sector. Now that the over-reliance on the property sector has imploded, why should we regard the gains of the public sector as permanent and untouchable?

It defies common sense.