By Jeff Poor
Even the BBC didn't let this scoop get away.
A segment on the Dec. 3 broadcast of BBC's "Newsnight," showed the implications of the story behind the so-called "ClimateGate" scandal are more than just e-mails concealing data, but an incompetence analyzing the data by way of faulty computer code.
John Graham-Cumming, a British programmer known for the open source "POPFile email filtering program" explained how the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) had wholesale problems with its computer programming analyzing climate change data, with billion, if not even trillions of dollars, on the line.
"This is the source code from the Climatic Research Unit," Susan Watts, science editor at the BBC explained. "John Graham-Cumming is a software engineer. He's not a skeptic on climate change, but he is shocked by what he's seen in the programming. He compared it with the code in the same language written by NASA."
Graham-Cumming criticized the CRU programming for its lack of professionalism and showed faults with it.
"Well, if you look at the NASA stuff, it's really professional," Graham-Cumming said. "You can look at it, you can see the history. If you look at -- what's done here by these alleged CRU files - it's not the thing you'd expect to see in certainly a commercial industry. You would not see this sort of source code because it's not clearly documented. There's not audit history of what's happened to it. So it would be below the standard in any commercial software. "
According to the author of "The Geek Atlas," the programmer even included steps to skip over errors, which shows some of the data analyzed by the East Anglia CRU is completely neglected.
"The programming language actually has a problem," Graham-Cumming said. "And they put in some code to deal with that error. Unfortunately, in doing so they produced another error. And the upshot of this is the error occurs - the underlying error, they will skip over data that they're trying to plot without any warning to the end user. So in some sense there is data that is being lost."
The programmer, unnamed in the BBC segment, even documented his lack of programming skills.
"So in here, he says some things like, ‘Something is very wrong - it's my programming ability, isn't it,'" Graham-Cumming explained. "‘You know, once again, it's further confirmation my abilities are below what is required here.'"
Watts questioned if someone was betting billions or trillions of dollars, should they "be comfortable with" it and Graham-Cumming explained it wasn't.
"I don't think I would be comfortable with that because it is not obvious what it is doing, why it is doing it," Graham-Cumming said. "It needs to be made clear."