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Former NASA GISS scientist exposes ‘wasted & misspent money’ on climate change

So, as they said in Watergate, follow the money. I am going to concentrate on NASA GISS, where I was for 7 years, but it applies to all climate research institutions, of which I have been at several and am familiar with several more.

The wasted and misspent money at NASA GISS and all climate research institutions is staggering. But what do you expect when you shovel money at herds of unqualified carpetbaggers?

NASA GISS, in the building over Tom’s Restaurant, used to have its own supercomputer, which are very expensive. Unfortunately, NASA GISS decided to hire unqualified incompetent friends for tech support.

I swear I am not making any of this up. I couldn’t possibly. I just don’t have that much of a comedic imagination.

One of the guys hired/promoted to provide tech support was the NASA GISS mail boy. He was a good kid so why not give him a high-paying tech job?

Similarly, a NASA GISS secretary was hired/promoted to provide tech support. She was very nice but c’mon.

Another of the guys hired was so incompetent a bunch of the climate scientists finally got together and demanded Jim Hansen, head of NASA GISS then, fire him, WITHOUT REPLACEMENT. Tech support got BETTER after that.

While I was nearing completion of my dissertation at NASA GISS, an exposed water pipe to the bathroom overhead broke in the computer room, destroying thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment and data, including mine; the “data recovery” by incompetent NASA GISS tech support destroyed even more. To start, you should be shaking your head and saying, “why are there exposed bathroom water pipes going through a computer room?”

NASA GISS no longer has a supercomputer. It now runs its climate model on supercomputers at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt Maryland, where I spent a summer studying high-performance computing.

I was talking to a guy from GSFC a few months ago and he said the program for NASA GISS’s climate model — named Model E, an intentional play on the word “muddle” — is called the “jungle” because it is so badly coded. I know this to be true from my own extensive experience programming it (I tried to fix as much as I could…).

NASA GISS has Columbia University graduate students. Funding grad students in climate science is not as straightforward — i.e., honest — as it would seem it should be. Most grants don’t last long enough to fund a grad student to graduation and no grad student is going to work where he might lose funding before graduation. Note that grants are from funding proposals for specific projects, which are peer reviewed (for what little that is worth) to make sure exactly what the project is about is worth paying for.

What usually happens is that money for specific projects is pooled to pay the grad students, although usually there is one big money project paying the lion’s share. That means that many grad students are paid off grants for specific projects but are not working on those projects. I remember once at NASA GISS having to write up a progress report for a project I didn’t really work on but was paid off of. That is the definition of “misspent”.

I have no proof, but when I was at NASA GISS there was a rumor that the head of NASA GISS before James Hansen had to leave due to um, mixing up government money and his own. And I’ve wondered — again with no proof — whether Hansen was forced out of NASA GISS due to his violations of the Hatch Act, like using government money to travel to protests. As we have said, we are pressing a case against Gavin Schmidt, current head of NASA GISS, for violations of the Hatch Act.

About travel, one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions. This has been talked about quite a bit, although mostly for failing celebrity climate spokespeople.

Even though nowadays conferences could easily and more efficiently be done as teleconferences, climate scientists love to travel to FUN places for conferences, paid for by the taxpayer. We were no different, as we said in AGU’s “Climate Change: Believe It Or Else” Prize:

“Both Kubatzki and I have presented at AGU Meetings. They are a load of fun and we thank the taxpayers for the vacations in expensive fun-filled distant San Francisco.”

At some climate conferences, climate scientists can even donate some of their conference travel money to offset the carbon emissions from the travel. The tiny number of participants would make Scrooge blush.

Speaking of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), after much careful thought — about how painful it would be to forgo the money — the AGU decided to continue to take money from the oil companies. Those climate scientists are so noble.

Following the money would be a much better use of the Freedom of Information Act than to demand to look at data that most are not qualified to understand anyway, including many climate scientists using it. The data is often fundamentally flawed. How you process it after that is irrelevant. Garbage in, garbage out.

If you must question the data, question its transformation from its rawest form. What (almost always far from the tree) weather station data was used to transform tree ring widths to temperature? (I’ve taken courses and done research on tree rings.) How is the satellite sensor data transformed into surface temperature? (I’ve taken courses in remote sensing. How do you tell the difference between high white clouds and surface white ice?) That is where you should start scoffing, not down the line about how ignorant “climate” scientists are using the garbage data. The whole Hockey Stick controversy completely missed the point.