Tuesday, November 24, 2009

NASA being sued for failure to provide global warming data

under the Freedom of Information Act (via Glenn Reynolds).

This is the same data source used for Intrade (real money) and for the Global Warming Exchange (play money) global warming futures.

Also, via Glenn, it looks like the software for processing the temperature data sets is pretty ugly:
One programmer highlighted the error of relying on computer code that, if it generates an error message, continues as if nothing untoward ever occurred. Another debugged the code by pointing out why the output of a calculation that should always generate a positive number was incorrectly generating a negative one. A third concluded: "I feel for this guy. He's obviously spent years trying to get data from undocumented and completely messy sources."

Programmer-written comments inserted into CRU's Fortran code have drawn fire as well. The file briffa_sep98_d.pro says: "Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL correction for decline!!" and "APPLY ARTIFICIAL CORRECTION." Another, quantify_tsdcal.pro, says: "Low pass filtering at century and longer time scales never gets rid of the trend - so eventually I start to scale down the 120-yr low pass time series to mimic the effect of removing/adding longer time scales!"

UPDATE: Megan McArdle's take:
The IPCC report, which is the most widely relied upon in policy circles, uses this model to estimate the costs of global warming. If those costs are unreliable, then any cost-benefit analysis is totally worthless. Obviously, this also casts their reluctance to conform with FOI requests in a slightly different light.

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