Feeds

Massive study concludes: 'Global warming is real'

Climate skeptics dealt 'clear and rigorous' blow

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Enter überskeptic Anthony Watts

Finally, some skeptics have questioned the accuracy of the data used in earlier studies – notably Anthony Watts of Watts Up With That?, a leading climate-skeptic blog.

Watts argues that poorly performing temperature sensors in the US have skewed climate analysis, but the BEST analysis concludes that although readings from the stations Watts identifies as "poor" may be both higher and less accurate, the overall global warming trend is the same.

Watts has some strong criticisms of the BEST report – which, of course, is as it should be: science is enriched by objective debate. Equally true, however, is that it's crippled by arguments that seek to merely prove a pre-decided point rather than be informed by observeable data.

To help in that debate, the BEST team is sharing both its 1.6 billion temperature data points and the code used to analyze them.

Project cofounder Richard Muller is a fervent believer in data sharing and peer review – and an equally fervent critic of how journals such as Science and Nature stifle broad-ranging peer analysis, debate, and collaboration.

Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project station distribution

The 39,028 data-producing stations that provided the BEST data set (source: BEST)

When contacted by The Reg, Muller responded in an email that he believes scientific papers should be widely circulated in "preprint" form before their publication. "It has been traditional throughout most of my career to distribute preprints around the world," he writes. "In fact, most universities and laboratories had 'preprint libraries' where you could frequently find colleagues."

This preprint system, he told us, is being stifled by major journals. "This traditional peer-review system worked much better than the current Science/Nature system, which in my mind restricts the peer review to 2 or 3 anonymous people who often give a cursory look at the paper."

While this more tightly controlled review method may enhance the prestige of major journals, Muller told us, it does nothing for the advancement of science.

"I think this abandonment of the traditional peer review system is responsible, in part, for the fact that so many bad papers are being published," he writes. "These papers have not be vetted by the true peers, the large scientific world."

And so the BEST data and code is out there, available to one and all, in the hope that the "large scientific world" will dig into it, and find out the truth. Because there is, after all, truth to be found – the earth is either warming or it isn't.

Muller also believes there is more work to be done before the data is complete – a glance at the map, above, shows the paucity of ocean-based sensor stations. According to Muller, that's BEST's next project.

Muller also cautions that observers should not take the BEST results and use them to prove something that they can't. When we asked him if it were possible to extrapolate from his team's results and predict whether the temperature increase will continue, he told us: "I don't think that is possible. The key issue is what fraction of the observed change is anthropomorphic. We don't shed much light on that."

But the BEST project did come up with another finding that may influence the development of climate-variation models. "We do show that decadal variations (peaks and dips lasting 3-15 years) are driven much more by the north Atlantic variability (e.g. the Gulf Stream) than they are by El Niño," he told us. "We need to include this effect in the models to see if it changes the part that the models attribute to humans."

The development of those models will require sober analysis of data and cooperation among scientists, technicians, and mathematicians, both from supporters and skeptics of predominantly accepted climate-change science.

And during those discussions, The Reg humbly suggests that we keep two things in mind. One, that although "predominantly accepted" means neither true nor false, automatic contrarianism is of value only when its proponents remain open to data-fueled persuasion.

And, two, that calling a scientist with whose results you disagree a "hockey puck" is hardly helpful. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.