By John O'Sullivan
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
The controversy over ‘Satellitegate’ heats up as NOAA faces a court appearance for refusing to release evidence that would show whether one or more US satellites exaggerated global warming temperatures.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a federal agency focused on reporting the condition of the oceans and the atmosphere. When the story first broke NOAA bizarrely announced it would withdraw satellite ‘images’ from its archives, but failed to state whether reams of cooked data had also been withdrawn.
An official US Government statement last July confirmed that the NOAA-16 earth orbiting satellite used to measure surface temperatures suffered failure due to a “degraded” sensor system. But skeptics now fear that because government climate scientists won’t answer any more questions or reveal the discredited data archives, they may be guilty of fraudulently cooking the books to show super boiling temperatures.
The story broke after an anonymous member of the public contacted a skeptic blog when he stumbled across thousands of alarming readings on a government website. The website showed thousands of surface temperatures of over 400 degrees fahrenheit. Dubbed [b]Satellitegate[/b] the shocking revelations proved that all such bogus data had been fed automatically into data banks that the US Government then sold all over the world.
As proprietary temperature data products, the junk numbers were used by domestic and international weather and climate researchers. Fears are growing that the junk data may have contaminated scores of climate models worldwide and artificially increased average global warming records by several degrees.
In the three months since the story hit the news, NOAA still hasn’t come clean as to the true extent of the data contamination. Now it may be necessary for lawyers to file an official Freedom of Information request (FOIA) to compel the government, under federal legislation, to stop the cover up and reveal the truth.
US Government Has History of Breaking Law over Satellite Failures
This won’t the first time NOAA has cynically broken the law to hide embarrassing satellite problems. In 2008 desmogblog.com became embroiled in a similar FOIA confrontation- see ‘NOAA Stonewalls on DCSOVR Documents.’ It is believed that the DCSOVR satellite costing over $100 million may be cannabalized to destroy incriminating evidence that NOAA and NASA were conspiring to prevent the launch of that satellite because it would prove the numbers from other such sources were fake.
As desmogblog.com reports
, “DSCOVR is designed to view the planet from the unique vantage point of one million miles distant, and according to leading researchers would immediately settle any remaining debate on the origins or seriousness of global warming.”
Degraded Climate Data Knowingly Sold for Over Five Years
Among the questions NOAA still hasn’t answered are: (1.) how long did NOAA knowingly sell to its network of international customers (mostly government weather and climate researchers) ‘degraded’ data and, (2.) why was no action taken until the story caused a public outcry five years after prominent climate researchers first made the faults known?
Sadly, some commentators on this issue omit to consider that it is common practice in corruption cases for conspirators to shroud their malevolence in the cloak of incompetence. To be fair to the commentator in question he has since publicly conceded, “But, I don’t know the full story.”
How the Law Addresses Corruption
Too often, those with little or no legal experience fail to address whether the alleged perpetrators have the means, motive and opportunity to engage in such conspiratorial acts. Willful ignorance of the facts and/or the law are recurrent themes in government corruption cases on which I’ve worked in both the UK and New York.
Courts must look for the mens rea (guilty mind) component of the wrongful act in conjunction with the actus reus (the rotten deed itself) otherwise, quite rightly, they will never convict.
Lawyers defending the indefensible will often resort to that hoary old chestnut of applying the “merely negligent” gambit to get government workers off serious charges. I have heard endlessly over the years from defense attorneys that we should “never presume malice where simple incompetence will do.” To the raw, untrained eye it often works.
Indeed, there is no prerequisite to doubt such an affirmative defense when there is the absence of any pattern of “error” because it is that pattern of repeated errors that leads to the guilty. What becomes apparent in good fraud cases is that the evidence always displays a pattern- a predictable sequence- of “errors” that go way beyond mere chance.
The Question that NOAA Still Won’t Answer
What makes the Satellitegate controversy so intriguing are three simple questions:
1. Why do the thousands of high temperature “errors” favor the alarmist (thus government) case?
2. Why were such “errors” only acknowledged by the US government when the story became big news?
3. Why won’t NOAA answer my follow on questions and release all the facts?
Invariably, apologists for science fraud often refer to systemic “errors” as nothing more serious than simple laboratory “selection bias” - and it sure is! Those involved only see what suits them. However, as we have seen in correspondingly substantial frauds (e.g. multi-billion dollar Madoff scandal and sub-prime mortgages) such “error” bias profits the individual or the organisation that crunched the numbers.
When that link between conscious act and subsequent gain becomes clear then it constitutes criminal fraud. Often when such cases are proved you’ll hear those same sanctimonious words uttered by apologists, “lessons will be learned” and they sure are - particularly lessons as to how best to mitigate being caught in the future!
How Self-preservation instinct leads to Conspiracy to Commit Fraud
As I have seen in courtrooms, many middle ranking officers, those loyal lieutenants, often rally behind the misdeeds of their superiors because they are clearly motivated by misplaced self-preservation in a process of ‘CYA.’ You “cover your #####” and concomitantly, by such a survival strategy you also cover the behinds of colleagues by wagon circling as a group. You know full well that your undoubted strength in numbers increases your own personal chances of avoiding censure/prosecution.
So how do anti-corruption specialists prove malfeasance/fraud under the civil burden of “the preponderance of the evidence?” Well, ultimately we need to demonstrate a good probability that X , Y or Z are unlikely to be merely incompetent time after time when their repeated errors favor only one outcome as opposed to a random one. When it becomes statistically improbable that such “errors” could be down to chance alone, that’s when a jury convicts.
What those without legal training also often fail to grasp are two key concepts that courts must address that may be fatal for those implicated parties:
1. Omission-conscious failure to positively remedy a known error is malfeasance and may thus constitute conspiracy to commit fraud;
2. Loss or destruction of evidence by any party subject to an FOIA constitutes evidence abuse which is dealt with by the spoliation doctrine (i.e. the offending party is sanctioned under law because the law states that a party shall be punished when it ought to anticipate legal proceedings-thus securing conviction by default judgment).[1.]
The worst evidence of hyper-inflated global warming data that I found was on a web page entitled, ‘Michigan State University Remote Sensing & GIS Research and Outreach Services.’ When I contacted NOAA for further information, I was denied by their lawyers. Is this necessary if we are talking about a non-problem over trivial errors of data no one uses? Does that smell of negligence or more of fraud? Taxpayers have a right to know what evidence has now become conveniently “lost” or destroyed.
NOAA and MSU have effectively blocked further access to all associated data preventing my associates and me from analyzing it to identify if there is any case to answer. We merely want NOAA to address the following:
1. Since removing ‘images’ from their archives has NOAA or its Sea Watch partners taken steps to also remove infected ‘data’ from their archives?
2. When did NOAA/Sea Watch Partners first know of this problem?
3. Has NOAA and/or Sea Watch partners ascertained the scope and extent of this data error and what action (i) has been (ii) will be taken to avoid any further recurrence?
4. Has NOAA/Sea Watch partners identified whether satellite data temperature anomalies impact other data sets and findings including global climate models?
5. Why has NOAA sinisterly removed all entries for the NOAA-16 subsystem log about the satellite’s health and performance from 2005 onwards when such entries were clearly displayed online up to the date of my first ‘Satellitegate’ article?
6. Were there errors also made in the NOAA-16 subsystem log that is a totally unconnected process to that of the degraded sensor?
7. Will NOAA preserve/provide my investigators and me with the details of all the aforementioned data no longer displayed online, plus all associated data that may be relevant to investigations into the ‘Satellitegate’ controversy?
8. Does NOAA continue to feed automated ‘degraded’ satellite data into its proprietary products that are bought by weather and climate researchers around the world?
9. Why has NOAA not given any official notifications to (i) it’s paying customers and (ii) the public via its website/publications of the NOAA-16 faults despite Drs. Roy Spencer and John Curry making it known since 2005 that data was no longer reliable?
What Are the Public Left to Think Now?
As any competent government corruption attorney will tell you, repeated errors constitute malfeasance when a continuous and unrelenting omission to address a known sequence of data ‘degradations’ can be judged to be nothing short of a conscious and willful act.
Moreover, when there is also the intentional failure to divulge the evidence that would prove conscious intent not to correct a fault in your favor then that is also proof of fraud. Thus, a group of those who knew of the errors and collectively and consciously failed to act are as guilty of conspiracy to defraud as those who perpetrated the original wrong. Bankers have been jailed for less, why aren’t climate scientists?
[1.] Koesel, MM; Turnbull, TL; Gourash, DF; ‘Spoliation of evidence: sanctions and remedies for destruction of evidence,’(2006), American Bar Association.
I hadn't mentioned the Kiwigate Scandal (NIWA Climategate Clone) yet - here's the verdict...
Quote:Guilty: Legal Defeat for NIWA for Climate Data Fraud in NZ Kiwigate Scandal
By John O'Sullivan
Last Updated Oct 9, 2010, Published Oct 6, 2010
In the climate controversy dubbed Kiwigate,New Zealand skeptics inflict shock courtroom defeat on climatologists implicated in temperature data fraud.
New Zealand’s government via its National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) has announced it has nothing to do with the country’s “official” climate record in what commentators are calling a capitulation from the tainted climate reconstruction. The story is also covered on web news aggregator site, icecap.com.
NIWA’s statement of defense claims they were never responsible for the national temperature record (NZTR).The climb down is seen as a legal triumph for skeptics of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition (NZCSC) who had initiated their challenge last August when petitioning the high court of New Zealand to invalidate the weather service’s reconstruction of antipodean temperatures. The NZCSC Petition may be read here.
According to the August official statement of the claim from NZCSC, climate scientists cooked the books by using the same alleged ‘trick’ employed by British and American scientists. This involves subtly imposing a warming bias during what is known as the ‘homogenisation’ process that occurs when climate data needs to be adjusted.
The specific charge brought against the Kiwi government was that its climate scientists had taken the raw temperature records of the country and then adjusted them artificially with the result that a steeper warming trend was created than would otherwise exist by examination of the raw data alone.
Indeed, the original Kiwi records show no warming during the 20th century, but after government sponsored climatologists had manipulated the data a warming trend of 1C appeared.
New Zealand Government Abandons ‘Official’ Climate Record
The NZCSC story reports that the NZ authorities, “formally stated that, in their opinion, they are not required to use the best available information nor to apply the best scientific practices and techniques available at any given time. They don’t think that forms any part of their statutory obligation to pursue “excellence.”
NIWA now denies there was any such thing as an “official” NZ Temperature Record, although there was an official acronym for it (NZTR). However, the position now taken by the NZ government is that all such records are now to be deemed as unofficial and strictly for internal research purposes.
The article urges that if the government will not affirm that their temperature reconstruction is official then, “Nobody else should rely on it.”
Researcher from Climategate University Implicated in Data Fraud
As reported in a Suite101 article by the same writer of April 2010 'Kiwigate is a Carbon Copy of Climategate' it was shown that the scientist who made the controversial “bold adjustments” is none other than Jim Salinger who is also a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Because very few temperature records exist for the Pacific Ocean, the NIWA record is given extra weight by the UN’s IPCC for determining multi-decadal trends in global average temperatures.
Salinger was dismissed by NIWA earlier this year for speaking without authorization to the media. The researcher originally worked at Britain’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU), the institution at the center of the Climategate scandal.
Salinger was also among the inner circle of climate scientists whose leaked emails precipitated the original climate controversy in November 2009. In an email (August 4, 2003) to fellow American climate professor, Michael Mann, Salinger stated he was “extremely concerned about academic standards” among climate skeptics.
Data Destroyed Before it Could be Independently Verified
In circumstances strangely similar to those witnessed in the Climategate controversy, Kiwigate appears to match Climategate in three key facets. First, climate scientists declined to submit their data for independent analysis. Second, when backed into a corner the scientists claimed their adjustments had been ‘lost’. Third, the raw data itself proves no warming trend.
Downloadable pdf files of letters between Coalition chairman and barrister Barry Brill and NIWA chairman Chris Mace may be read here.
Dunleavy MBE, T.,'High Court asked to invalidate NIWA’s official NZ temperature record,' (August 13,2010); climatescience.org.nz, (accessed online: October 6, 2010)
Atkins, Holm, Joseph & Majurey., [Solicitors],’Statement of Defence on Behalf of the Defendant,’ [On behalf of NIWA], (September 14, 2010)
Costa, A.C. and A. Soares, ‘Homogenization of Climate Data: Review and New Perspectives Using Geostatistics,’ Mathematical Geoscience, Volume 41, Number 3 / April, 2009.
New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, ‘NIWA Challenged to Show Why and How Temperature Records Were Adjusted’ (February 7, 2010), accessed online April 26, 2010.
NZCSC & Climate Science Conversation Group; Press Statement of December 18, 2009; accessed online ( April 26, 2010).
Salinger, J. Climategate email Filename: 1060002347.txt. (August 4, 2003).
This particular letter presented in the case had some good recommendations for which to outline future climate studies on (PDF excerpt):
Quote:The Coalition believes that the best interests of the scientific fraternity will be served if the NIWA Board now takes prompt action to assure New Zealanders the Institute is committed to the following principles:
• Routine disclosure of data and methodologies in sufficient detail to allow replication;
• Full compliance with the letter and spirit of the Official Information Act;
• Maintenance of full and accurate records, with adequate documentation;
• Observance of scientific best practice to minimize the influence of bias;
• Strict separation between the Institute’s scientific and political/PR objectives;
• Development of a culture that values transparency and openness