Sunday, April 04, 2010

CRU Inquiry Report submissions

Again too late;) Submissions to the Muir-Russell report closed March 1, however they are now being published at the Inquiry Web Site. The distribution of comments appears much more even than for the Parliament Science and Technology Committee Inquiry

An issue that is going to be important, is as Ray Bradley and others point out

You expressly note that your inquiry “is about proper scientific and FOI procedures and data handling within CRU” and not about “the fundamental science of climate change” yet most of the questions you pose are indeed quite specific about scientific issues, some of which are topics of current research by a number of individuals.
He goes on after answering the Inquiry's question about how important the assertion of “unprecedented late 20th century warming" is
As noted earlier, this question has no bearing whatsoever on your brief to examine, “..whether there is any evidence of the manipulation or suppression of data which is at odds with acceptable scientific practice … CRU’s policies and practices for acquiring, assembling, subjecting to peer review and disseminating data and research findings, …CRU’s compliance or otherwise with the University’s policies and practices regarding requests under the Freedom of Information Act (the FOIA) and the Environmental Information Regulations (the EIR) for the release of data , or … the appropriate management, governance and security structures for CRU and the security, integrity and release of the data it holds”
Perhaps, the Science and Techology Committee was right, that there should only be a single committee looking into all issues. Bradley also points out that
I note (in the FAQ section of your web site) that you have not yet read all the emails, and do not appear to find such a task essential. If that is indeed so, let me point out that the Associated Press reported the total volume of stolen material was about 1 million words, of which only a few sentences have raised any questions. I would therefore remind you of the statement attributed to Cardinal Richlieu:

“If you give me six lines written by the most honest man, I will find something in them to hang him”.

Please bear that in mind. The theft was a political act, and your inquiry should be fully aware of the context in which you are operating.
The Climate Research Unit has a somewhat similar point of view
The Climatic Research Unit, at the University of East Anglia, welcomes the opportunity to answer the questions asked of it by the Independent Climate Change E-mail Review. It recognises that the theft of e-mails in November 2009 has led to many questions in the media and the blogosphere. It accepts that there are justifiable questions which may be asked, following the publication of the stolen e-mails which represented a tiny fraction of those received and sent by the Unit during the period in question. However, the justifiable questions have been swamped, we believe, by ill-informed opinion and distortion.

Consequently, we are pleased to be able to address both the reasonable and informed concerns and the greater number of misinformed or distorted concerns through the medium of our answers to the specific questions asked of the Unit by the Independent Climate Change Email Review.

We note that, in some instances, the questions stray into areas which appear to be beyond the issues raised by the stolen e-mails, but – similarly – we welcome the opportunity to respond to them.
Nick Barnes had an interesting submission detailing the interplay between GISSTEMP and the Clear Climate Code Project
For this reason, many software professionals encountering science software for the first time may be horrified. How, they ask, can we rely on this crude software, developed in primitive conditions - by amateurs, working with such poor tools and such poor understanding of the field? This is a common reaction to GISTEMP, and is exactly the reaction which many critics have had, some very publicly, to the software published with the CRU emails. Such critics do have a point. Science software should be better than it is. Scientists should be provided with more training, and more support. But consider the uses to which science software is put. Most
software written by scientists:

* consists of tiny programs;
* which will only ever be run a small number of times;
* over the course of a few weeks as it is being developed;
* by the scientist who wrote it;
* on data gathered by that scientist's team;
* concerning a scientific field in which that scientist is expert;
* to perform data processing on which that scientist is expert; and will be discarded, never to be used again, as soon as the paper containing the results is accepted for publication.

In comparison, commercial software has a huge range of complex requirements, which are completely irrelevant to most science software: usability, robustness, flexibility, maintainability, size, speed, compatibility, portability, consistency, documentation, and so on. Much of the software industry, and the art of computer programming, is motivated by and devoted to meeting these requirements (which, even so, it often utterly fails to do). The tools and skills which I have spent my professional life mastering are of little consequence to the working scientist, who is simply trying to get the charts ready for his or her next publication.
Comments?

22 comments:

Horatio Algeranon said...

Horatio spent about a decade developing software that bridges scientific and commercial use: software for scientific instrumentation.

What Nick says rings very true.

With scientific instrumentation, one has to be more concerned with user-related bugs than one does with software for pure science, of course, but the instrument users tend to be much better trained than the average Joe on the street, so one can at least assume that most of them will not be doing things way off in left field.

You can't make that assumption with users of word processing software, for example. If they can make it crash, they will. You can count on it.

On the other hand, software for scientific instrumentation does have to be maintained for the useful life of the instrument, which is actually closer to the requirements for commercial software (for code readability, documentation, etc)

But Horatio thinks it is downright hilarious when people (like some of those at Climate Audit) try to pretend that all of the commercial software industry abides by only the "best software engineering practices" (for coding, documentation, etc)

What a joke. Horatio has seen some things over the years in commercial software development (with banking software, no less) that would turn a mouse's hair bright red.

He once worked on a voice-activated (telephone) banking project (for a large bank that will remain nameless) which used NO encryption whatsoever. Horatio actually told the people in change at the time that it was crazy. But did they listen? No.

And spaghetti code in commercial software?

Don't get Horatio started.

Anonymous said...

Hi Eli, It is windy and I kinda was blown off track... if I understand your science lingo,... you folks don't really know the 'Global Temp.'; but you can model it and "it" has increased less than a half a degree Fahrenheit, over the last ten years? Except of course this winter; which was caused by: Man-made-global-warming... Betrug!..., say it aint so, ya furry buck ya..."Such critics do have a point. Science software should be better than it is. Scientists should be provided with more training, and more support. But consider the uses to which science software is put. Most
software written by scientists:

* consists of tiny programs;
* which will only ever be run a small number of times;
* over the course of a few weeks as it is being developed;
* by the scientist who wrote it;
* on data gathered by that scientist's team;
* concerning a scientific field in which that scientist is expert;
* to perform data processing on which that scientist is expert; and will be discarded, never to be used again, as soon as the paper containing the results is accepted for publication."

Please explain again, to this bird; why "Scientists", need a new plant that requires 300 Peta Plops of power just to run the above programs, somewhere in cowboy country---Wyo. Wow!,... that's a low price:)

Frank O'Dwyer said...

The interest seems to be waning. It's like what if they held an inquiry and nobody showed up? Maybe their heart isn't in it anymore.

That said, McKitrick's submission is the best of the 'sceptic' submissions.

The Blob said...

"Please explain again, to this bird; why "Scientists", need a new plant that requires 300 Peta Plops of power just to run the above programs, somewhere in cowboy country---Wyo. Wow!,... that's a low price:)"

I think Nick is talking about small programs that scientists write for data processing for individual studies.

It'll be climate models that run on the supercomputers and that's a different kettle of fish.

There are many climate models in longterm development. I would expect the better engineered models (in context of software) will be the easier to maintain, easier to extend and possibly be the ones with least errors. Meaning those models will tend to be the ones that develop faster and are used more widely. In which case there would be a natural selection for better software engineering practice in the case of climate models that doesn't exist in the case of small programs used in studies.

A possible confirmation of this is the fact that GISS ModelE source code is under CVS version control, which is indicative of better engineering practice than what I've gleaned of the smaller single-study kind of scientific programs.

Derecho64 said...

The 3:31pm "Anonymous" is making a roundabout criticism of the new NCAR/Wyoming supercomputing center to be built near Cheyenne. There are a multitude of reasons for its location there, none of which have anything to do with the list presented before its comment.

BTW, the latest version of the CCSM, version 4, has been released. Look on the web for URLs.

wotsupwiththat said...

These submissions are intellectual gold.

Ben

Rattus Norvegicus said...

Frank, if McKitrick's is the best of the denialist submissions it is weak tea indeed. It is basically (around 1/2) a rehash of his recently posted whinge about how badly he was treated by the peer review process trying to get his (not yet published) 2010 paper published.

There are several problems with his critique of the IPCC in this submission also. Perhaps the greatest of these is his misreading of section 3.2.2.7 which basically blows him completely out of the water.

Anonymous said...

Yo, Derecho64
You are right, a shit-load of coal to run the plant. You know that little bit a white, in chicken shit? It's chicken shit too. Let's all lite up the Gulfstream 4's and roll to ta-hee-te:) Get some eye's on this AGW stuff. We got 300 PETA Plops to run, and 294 to spare... Yee-ha... later cowboys

gotta fly, buy-buy

Anonymous said...

Yo, Derecho64
You are right; a shit-load of coal to run the plant. You know that little bit a white, in chicken shit? It's chicken shit too. Let's all lite up the Gulfstream 4's and roll to ta-hee-te:) Get some eye's on this AGW stuff. We got 300 PETA Plops to run and 294 to spare... Yee-ha... later cowboys

gotta fly, buy-buy

Anonymous said...

Off-the-cuff remarks larded with amusing patois are not funny when the author succumbs to anxiety and thus posts again, worried his joke won't be read.

Perhaps the cowpoke is in Wyoming, on dialup?

Derecho64 said...

Actually, "Anonymous" (x2), the NWSC will be powered by wind energy, not coal.

Nick Barnes said...

Thanks for linking to my submission, Eli. It was based on our submission to the Science and Technology select committee, but I expanded it somewhat to cover the different remit of the Russell enquiry. And I was drawing it up in a hurry late one evening, so I had to take David Jones' name out. In reply to your "Peta Plops" commenter, here's a later paragraph from it:

I should note before moving on that some software written by scientists does have to meet some of the same requirements as commercial software. Some groups of scientists, such as the Met Office, and some entire fields, such as computational physics, develop large, complex, long-lived, robust, immensely sophisticated pieces of software. Many companies and other enterprises exist to provide reusable and flexible software tools for scientists. Typically, such groups, fields, and enterprises do follow industry practice in software development.

Nick Barnes said...

Incidentally, the link in the Keiller submission seems to be broken, and I can't find anything at the EPW committee website which would fit. And the links to the Calhoun and Lenihan PDFs don't work for me.

EliRabett said...

This was sort of explicit in the news release that they put up, but Eli assumes that they will go back and clean up.

http://www.cce-review.org/News.php

John Mashey said...

Once upon a time, Bell Labs was 25,000+ people, of whom many were engineers or scientists. People may recall that things like UNIX, C, C++, S came from there. Most modern source code control systems trace their ancestry to SCCS, and many scripting languages to work done there.

Software efforts ranged from 1-person, one-off code written for research purposes in the usual fashion ... to 300+-person projects that used intense (and necessarily, high overhead) software engineering methodologies and tools. Some of these efforts, as for switches with multi-decadal lives and stringent real-time and uptime requirements, were rather far beyond what most software people are familiar with. Projects like the Safeguard AntiBallisticMissile system weren't so easy either.
Those were the extremes, most were in between.

NO ONE expected one-offs to use the heavy-duty methodologies, especially in Research @ Murray Hill.

Even in some production projects, it was more important to get the code written fast and flexibly to avoid breaking budgets or missing market windows.

I occasionally used to do lectures for the BTL Software Project Management course, typically taken by supervisors and department heads. One of my themes was on the appropriate level of software engineering overhead for various kinds of projects. This message was endorsed by my boss (who usually ran that course), and his boss (for whom I acted as a special-projects troubleshooter), who was later President of BTL...

So, I would say that really experienced people are not knee-jerk about this, and know perfectly well that research one-offs aren't production-grade commercial software...

Nick Barnes said...

Well, it is a public holiday here today....

Anonymous said...

Derecho,

Sure about that wind power thing?

http://www.cisl.ucar.edu/nwsc/sustainability/

Looks to me like 10%, perhaps a bit more. And all the comparisons are to "typical" offices and data centers. Though a great design, and surely better then standard, this facility will still use plenty of electricity from the grid. In Wyoming, that means coal.

Spock

Anonymous said...

Derecho,
Mock...mock...; sorry... I just stopped by for a quick bite; now there seems to be something, caught in your throat? Dust, or ash do you think...? The starling, is now leaving the building...who owns that SUV, there in the parking lot? Flap on...

Anonymous said...

I know you folks are scientists and don't live in the 'real world' like the rest of us. You all are too smart for that. Look around the world and see how people react to lies. Please tell the world the truth. You do not know exactly what is going on with Global Temp. or AGW, it is a lie. The taxes you want us to pay, or else?... Corruption... It is time for people like yourselves, to read some history books for a change and see how fires get started and just how they can spiral out of control. Really, who do you think benefits from this type of situation. Here is my thumbnail of the process: 1. The people are concerned about their currency, culture, future. 2. A weak leader and corrupt system, that the people no longer trust. 3. The media is an open shill with the government and industry, obvious propaganda-the system doesn't even care about it's lies anymore...so the population reacts to rumor. Do the math. Where are we, here in the U.S., headed? Are we here now?

http://apnews.myway.com//article/20100407/D9EUA0S80.html

When you do the math for America, you count the number of guns per household. They should have considered how may guns are available to the general population. The folks in Kyrgyzstan, don't have nearly the weaponry that is available here in the U.S... Once something like this gets started there is no one that can stop it. No one, is safe. All this, over lies and personal pride. Nothing seems to change for mankind until Jesus. At least that is what the Bible says. Even after 2,000 years it is still all about man & his Pride, and the lies that go along with it. I put this forward for your consideration. Please don't posture. We all are living in very serious times, how can we improve the situation? I ask.

Anonymous said...

This my not be your cup of tea, but it has a cool graph and is clear in its meaning. Think about where we as a nation are headed... You are still worried about global temp. How about 451+ D/F? Twelve months maybe? I don't know but it bothers me. God knows.

http://www.kitco.com/ind/Turk/turk_apr052010.html

Anonymous said...

Mock...mock, A Smiling bird, helps science with more of the Truth. This old bird started as the apple of his mothers eye. When I volunteered for the draft, within just a few days I was a 'maggot'. Within a year after that, I was told I was just another FNG, cherry then, B-G-'grunt'. After I passed that test and left the service, I was a war protestor, student. Next a laborer, working to live, living to work. Now since I started doing the rounds with Dr.s, telling lies about AGW; I have been called a wanker, Poe, Godwin, Chez Watt, Troll, etc. etc. etc. But when you people tell half-truths(lies)(Dr. Derecho64) or open lies, it is OK because You all are involved in the trut of Science. We trolls, are just too stupid to feed...someone has to pay the price, to "Save-the-Planet". I can hardly wait, until you all decide 'who' of the unwashed masses is worthy of being fed(wow, that was quick:(. What a 'brave New World' you all are planning for us. Enough of me though. Now to help the confused scientists with their hard work. Here you go...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/7564682/Cows-absolved-of-causing-global-warming-with-nitrous-oxide.html

After all the fearful things we have heard & seen from you all, over the years... this should bring a chirp to even a rabbit in the hole. Speaking of holes... Have any of you folks, as 'brite' as you are... ever taken the time to read Micah, 7:16-20, in the Bible? Not to frighten you 'Knowers', but if you read the Bible, you should know that earthquakes are an indicator of coming judgment from God. Not mother nature, as you all may think? Keep raading you evening paper. Don't let yourselves fall into judgment, there is still time. I think we are getting 'short' however. This time it will include all of mankind, one way-or the other. Laugh at your own expense. As I have suggested before, read one more book; the one with the truth in it. It is all about Him.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I see a birdbrain has decided to troll on this thread.

Hey, birdbrain, why not discuss the evidence. Let's start with simultaneous stratospheric cooling and tropospheric warming. Got an explanation for that?