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David Hone
Climate Change Adviser, Shell Group

David Hone

David Hone is the climate change adviser for the Shell Group and vice chairman of the International Emissions Trading Association. He also works closely with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. ALL POSTS

A focus on the data

Q: Recently, a U.N. scientific report was found to have included a false conclusion about the melting of Himalayan glaciers. That followed the release of stolen e-mails last year, which showed climate scientists commiserating over problems with their data. Is there a broader meaning in these two incidents, and should they cause the public to be more skeptical about the underlying science of climate change?

There is little doubt that the current public perception of climate change science is one of disarray and uncertainty. What appeared solid as recently as mid-2009 has been hit hard from all sides by a series of events:

* In the lead up to Copenhagen, with the potential for agreement on action between nations, an avalanche of scepticism cast doubt on all aspects of the science by a seemingly endless parade of bloggers, pseudo academics (and real academics crossing from another area of expertise), media editors and some politicians;

* The unauthorized release of selected e-mails dating back 10 years from the University of East Anglia (UEA) Climate Research Unit (CRU), purporting to show a "conspiracy" to manipulate, misrepresent and suppress climate data such that the magnitude of global warming appeared greater than the same data would support;

* The mistake by the IPCC in reporting in the 4th Assessment Report that Himalayan glaciers may have vanished by 2035.

* This winter of 2009/2010 has seen very low temperatures across large swathes of the weather reported parts of the Northern Hemisphere - whilst this is not unusual it comes at a time of doubt following the UEA incident and the general heightened level of scepticism seen in the media in the lead up to Copenhagen.
The severe economic downturn in 2008/2009 has meant that people have more pressing issues to worry about.

* Meanwhile, the actual science as reported in academic publications by researchers in universities and institutions such as MIT, Oxford, NASA and the Potsdam Institute continues and shows no sign of changing its tone or direction. This is what we should focus on.

The past year, 2009, tied as the second warmest year in the 130 years of global instrumental temperature records, in the surface temperature analysis of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). The Southern Hemisphere set a record as the warmest year for that half of the world. Global mean temperature was 0.57°C (1.0°F) warmer than the 1951-1980 base period. The Southern Hemisphere mean temperature was 0.49°C (0.88°F) warmer than the base period. The near-record temperatures of 2009 occurred despite an unseasonably cool December in much of North America.

January 2000 to December 2009 was the warmest decade on record. Throughout the last three decades, the GISS surface temperature record shows an upward trend of about 0.2°C (0.36°F) per decade. Since 1880, the year that modern scientific instrumentation became available to monitor temperatures precisely, a clear warming trend is present, though there was a levelling off between the 1940s and 1970s.

Warmer surface temperatures also tend to occur during particularly active parts of the solar cycle, known as solar maximums, while slightly cooler temperatures occur during lulls in activity, called minimums. Overall, solar minimums and maximums are thought to produce no more than 0.1°C (0.18°F) of cooling or warming. The warming recorded in 2009 has come in the middle of a deep solar minimum.

In total, average global temperatures have increased by about 0.8°C (1.5°F) since 1880.

The level of CO2 in the atmosphere continues to rise. The rate at which this is increasing is also rising -- from less than 1 parts per million per annum in 1960 to over 2 ppm per annum today.

By David Hone  |  January 27, 2010; 6:46 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Please report offensive comments below.

It should be noted that Mr. Hone has a lot at risk here. Creating a large "Carbon Trading Market" means a lot is at stake.

I'm not accusing him of anything but since there is so much data and uncertainty in this complex problem, those with a vested interest can cherry pick "facts".

The fact is a tight group of scientists, who have received increasing amounts of research dollars, have altered records, fudged temperature data in there models, and attempted to block by illegal means opposing views.

Each of the panelists should be required to list what is a stake for each of them before submitting "unbiased views".

Posted by: tkennedy2 | January 31, 2010 11:26 AM
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I agree with Mr. Hone that we should "focus on the data." Unfortunately, the items he quotes are not "data." They are the results of complex computer models that integrate real data from thousands of weather stations, with complicated weighting factors. Moreover, many stations from early in the period 1880 - 2009 have vanished, and many current stations do not go back to the early 20th century. In addition, the margin of error in the individual measurements may have been much greater 100 years ago than today. Finally, some of the leaked e-mails question the accuracy of the computer models used to combine the real data. While I suspect that the period 2000 through 2009 really was warmer than any decade early in the instrumental record period, the actual warming from the late 19th to the early 21st century may have been less than the 1.5 F quoted.

There is also another issue that Mr. Hone does not discuss. How do recent temperatures compare with the warmest periods since the end of the last Ice Age? Some of the leaked e-mails suggest a possible attempt to understate temperatures during the period from end of the last Ice Age to 1300 AD (the end of the Medieval Warm Period). The observed warming would be less significant if current temperatures are within the range of temperatures that are "normal" compared to geologically recent temperatures that were not influenced by human activity.

Posted by: devans162 | January 31, 2010 8:05 AM
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It is increasingly difficult to distinguish between the various sets of "hoaxy" data, "scammy" data and your everyday "corrupted and falsified" climate data.
Perhaps it is the hot air being passed as Climate Science (or should that have read Crimate Science) that may be the largest source of Global Warming as well as Global Alarming. The science is settled... Yeah, right.
Simply name the appropriate "-Gate" and the lies will have seeped past the previously impervious barriers of the Peer-Reviewed theater of science.
When data doesn't make the case... cook the data until it bakes the cake, cooks the goose, or briefly passes the smell test.
The only way forward is to give selected self-appointed charlatans Billions of Dollars...
And I'll bet you thought snake oil salesmen were a thing of the past.

Posted by: dbsinOakRidge | January 30, 2010 8:46 PM
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David Hone

Vice Chairman: International Emissions Trading Association?

Trust Mr. Hone to instruct us about Global Warming?

Yes. To find data supporting Cap & Trade.

Any data. Any source. So long as it works.

And you don't need to "show me the money." We know.

Posted by: RobertAJonesJr | January 30, 2010 8:32 PM
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I would be glad to focus on the raw data. Unfortunately, model output has been presented as "data", the undoctored data has been "lost" and/or seriously (biased) preselectedl lied about, misreported..... Why the hidding of valid data that such confidence is expressed?

Posted by: JWMeritt | January 30, 2010 6:01 PM
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I agree with cocktails42. An investigation needs to be conducted on just how temperatures have been measured in the past, when the methods changed, and how the changes may have biased the readings in one direction or another. You hear reports that scores or even hundreds of stations have been dropped from the averages and that many of these were in the more remote areas. I don't know how true these reports are, but it's time to find out if the method of temperature gathering today is significantly different from what it was 50 or 100 years ago.

Given the examples of chicanery that have been made public recently and given the importance of having accurate readings in order to inform public policy decisions, we can do no less.

Posted by: theduke89 | January 30, 2010 4:59 PM
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Mr. Hone's statement concludes with the results of "130 years of global instrumental temperature records" showing a gradual and unremitting rise in average surface temperatures. But are those records, dating back to 1880, really comparable over that length of time? Were the readings being made in all the same places, in as many places, and with equally precise instruments in 1880 (and in 1900, 1920, 1940, 1960, 1980) as is being done today?

Posted by: cocktails42 | January 30, 2010 1:27 PM
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"We must also point out that more than 85% of American energy companies support Cap and Trade Legislation."

Of course. They make more money that way.

That doesn't make it the right thing to do.

Let me put it more simply. If we want to slow down consumption of energy, put a tax on it and use the tax to drive innovation for alternate energy sources.

But cap & trade is a triple whammy:

1) It raises our energy prices significantly

2) It takes a percentage of the tax and gives it to carbon trading brokers

3) It gives the money to the third world.

How that helps anything is beyond comprehension.

I think any politician knows that if they pass this stuff, they will face an electorate with torches and pitchforks. The people will give them change they really can believe in.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | January 30, 2010 1:26 PM
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Isn't it obvious? The data being pushed out simply can't be trusted. The cherry-picking and hidden emails that were exposed are just two incidents that have seen the light of day. Doesn't common sense tell you that there are most likely more things either incorrectly reported or covered up? The old saying, "If there's smoke, there's fire", seems to fit here.

I have been, and always will be, and independent thinker, so how about we get some REAL science and stop with all the left-wing, right-wing spin. I'm smart enough to do what's right for the planet and my children when presented with the facts, but sadly those facts are non-existent right now.

Posted by: jpd721 | January 30, 2010 11:27 AM
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When you cheery pick data, when you ignore data you don't like you can prove any fairy tale you want. The whole carbon trading scam is one more major financial scandal, one that was cooked up by the guys at Enron. When the so called scientists are venal grant grubbing hacks, they will gladly produce whatever their paymasters demand. To say that "The science is settled" is nonsense, the one truth is science is never settled, not by Aristotle, nor Newton, nor Einstein nor those working today and those working tomorrow.

Posted by: SanchoK | January 30, 2010 2:09 AM
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See what a Fraud Global Warming is!! These are some of the E-mails of Scientist who are advising the United Nations, The EPA, and Your U.S. Congress! Discover for yourself America.

Mann e-mail of 11 Mar 2003
In one e-mail, as a response to an e-mail indicating that a paper in the scientific journal Climate Research had questioned assertions that the 20th century was abnormally warm, Mann wrote:

“I think we have to stop considering Climate Research as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal."[37]

Jones e-mail of 8 Jul 2004
An 8 July 2004 e-mail from Phil Jones to Michael Mann said in part:

"The other paper by MM is just garbage. [...] I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"

Jones e-mail of 2 Feb 2005
A 2 February 2005 email from Phil Jones to Michael Mann includes:

"And don't leave stuff lying around on ftp sites - you never know who is trawling them. The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone. Does your similar act in the US force you to respond to enquiries within 20 days?—ours does! The UK works on precedents, so the first request will test it. We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind.”

Trenberth e-mail of 12 Oct 2009
An email written by Kevin Trenberth, a climatologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, discussed gaps in understanding of recent temperature variations:

"The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't,"[

Phil Jones:
"I've just completed Mike's Nature TRICK of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie, from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to HIDE THE DECLINE."[

You don't have to be a Climate Scientist to understand this. We are supposed to invest Trillions of Dollars based on the manipulation of Data by Corrupt Scientist? Thank God for Senator Inhofe!

Posted by: Senator_Salesman | January 29, 2010 9:01 PM
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Here are a Few of the MANY Scientists Who Believe Global Warming is Primarily Caused by Natural Processes and NOT because of Greenhouse gases!

- William M. Gray, Professor of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University [1] [2]

- Sallie Baliunas, astronomer, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics [1]

- Don Easterbrook, emeritus professor of geology, Western Washington University [1]

- Khabibullo Abdusamatov, mathematician and astronomer at Pulkovskaya Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences [1]

- Fred Singer, Professor emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia [1] [2]

- Frederick Seitz, retired, former solid-state physicist, former president of the National Academy of Sciences [1]

- Willie Soon, astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics [1]

- George V. Chilingar, Professor of Civil and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Southern California [1]

- Ian Clark, hydrogeologist, professor, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa [1]

- Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [1]

Posted by: Senator_Salesman | January 29, 2010 8:57 PM
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It is sad that Obama went to Copenhagen to sign away our sovereignty to the United Nations based on this Junk Science. The Global Warming hoax is the biggest Scam in the Last 100 years! Thank God Cap and Trade will fail miserably in the Senate this year. Wake up America! Green is the new Color of Socialism. Green Politicians like Al Gore and John Kerry don’t care about the environment. It has been proven that Al Gore will make Billions if Cap and Trade passes (which it won’t). Doesn’t that sound like a conflict of interest? This is about wealth re-distribution. They want to take American money and give it to 3rd world Communist countries to help Fight the theory which is global warming. Trust the U.N. anybody? Remember oil for food? Wikipedia it if you don’t know what happened.

Anybody that does just a little research of their own on this subject will discover what a fraud it is. Discover for yourself America.

Posted by: Senator_Salesman | January 29, 2010 8:56 PM
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David, thanks for the clarification. Believe in climate change/global warming or not, we should all agree that we should act responsibly when it comes to our use of natural resources. There was a cartoon once that showed a salesman tapping on the shoulder of a cowboy who was using his six shooter to hold off the Indians who had surrounded his conestoga wagons. Not interested in what the guy wanted and arrows flying everywhere, the cowboy said "Don't bother me, can't you see I'm busy?" The salesman was trying to show him a gatling gun.
We have the "gatling gun" right now that will help the US take a huge step toward reducing our carbon footprint, but, like the cowboy, the govt will not listen. Just like the info that Rick Rescorla had prior to the 9/11 attack - he knew the threat and he prepared his company for it in the south tower starting in 1988, but the govt wouldn't listen.
If you can help us get someone to listen, we'll be happy to share our "gatling gun".

Posted by: dgriffin94 | January 29, 2010 11:54 AM
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Ultimately action to suppress ghg emissions requires a political act. That requires support of the people in democracies. These counterindications from the scientific community undermine public confidence.

People act as if strengthening the science will solve the problem. That simply isn't true. While it may support political resolve, other factors such as the state of economy play a bigger role.

Cap and trade is dead until that improves.

Posted by: edbyronadams | January 29, 2010 10:32 AM
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It should be pointed out the NOAA/GISS data has been falling farther out of alignment with the three other major climate data measurements over the last few years (Had/Crut, UAH, RSS). 2009 is no exception to that. By other measures, 2009 was a 'normal' year in the sense of the last 50 years.
Find a computer model that has predicted the future as well as it predicted the past (based on when it was written) and you may have a useful tool. The models everyone relies on to predict global warming don't meet that test - not even close.

Posted by: natecar | January 29, 2010 10:13 AM
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Thanks, David Hone, for clarifying the data! We must also point out that more than 85% of American energy companies support Cap and Trade Legislation.

CEO's of these companies, such as James Rogers of Duke Energy - which produces the third largest carbon footprint in the USA and 12th largest in the world, have made compelling societal reasons for an energy revolution. Mr. Rogers ended a recent talk this way:

"Even if all the forecasts are wrong, I can sleep soundly now and in heaven knowing that I did my part to create a clean, sustainable world for future generations".

Words of wisdom that should give everyone pause.

Posted by: wxdancer | January 29, 2010 9:21 AM
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