USPTO Jumps in Line to Provide “Green” Initiatives, Ignores Climate Gate

by Jason Fischer


“Awe!  Come ON!  I made a movie about it.  That proves it’s true.”

Director Kappos, of the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), writes on his blog this week about how the Office intends to fast-track the examination of patent applications that deal with so-called “green” technologies.  Great headline for a month ago, when the popularized position was that anthropogenic climate change (formerly known as “global warming”) was a *proven* phenomenon.  However, recent developments have put those findings in serious doubt.

In case you haven’t been keeping up, as Director Kappos clearly hasn’t, emails were leaked last month from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit – a world-renowned climate change research center – which reveal a “trick” being employed by researchers to massage temperature statistics (source).  Seems that a decline in temperature didn’t fit into the doomsday scenario that’s being thrown about to justify new grant money, new cap-and-trade legislation, and new taxes.  The emails openly discuss the deletion of historic source data and ways to discredit scientific journals that have published skeptic papers, as a couple of examples (source).

Moving back to the IP tie-in, the USPTO is continuing to drink the climate change kool aid by proposing that so-called “green” patent applications should be given priority treatment in examination.  Kappos’s announcement of the policy was timed to coincide with the start of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.  In that announcement, the Director explains the impetus for such an initiative:

kool_aid_man_glassAs I have often said, the USPTO is committed to dramatically reducing the backlog and average patent pendency time across the board.  As we work toward this goal, we are going to pilot a program that will give priority to applications that combat climate change and foster job creation in the green tech sector.  The Green Tech patent pilot program will decrease the time it takes to obtain patent protection for green tech innovations by an average of 12 months.  (source)

One has to wonder what other types of applications will be “de-prioritized,” in order to let climate-change-fighting inventors skip the line.  It seems clear that this initiative would do absolutely nothing to improve the average pendency time across all patent applications.  It is truly odd that, at the Patent Office, where a science degree is required to prosecute or examine applications, they’re not letting a silly thing like the absence of a scientific foundation stop them from disparaging the majority of the inventing community.  It certainly isn’t stopping the charlatan proponents of climate change theory from generating a city-sized carbon belch to gather and talk about how to reduce carbon emissions.

Once again, the Director concludes his blog post, claiming that he welcomes comments and feedback, but somehow my comments thereto on this subject failed to clear moderation.

This article was originally posted on

24 Responses to USPTO Jumps in Line to Provide “Green” Initiatives, Ignores Climate Gate

  1. Jay Wells says:

    Jason, we can always count on you for the right-wingnut view of things.

  2. Jay says:

    I tried to write the below, and got a “Your comment was marked as spam and will not be displayed. * Comment has more than 1000 characters. *” error message, and I couldn’t be bothered to rewrite it:

    Dear Mr. Kappos:

    It is the opinion of all my colleagues who work in IP that priority for examination should not be given to any particular type of invention, regardless of whether said invention is “green” or “black.” In a truly fair and equal system, applications that pass the initial formalities should be examined in the order they are received, unless a further request for expedited examination is granted. Why should other inventors’ applications, whose inventions may be equal or more worthwhile of protection than so-called green inventions, be relegated to the end of the queue simply because they are not green? Why should businesses who trade in green technology have a no-cost advantage over those who do not?

    We respectfully urge you to reconsider this pilot program at once. Showing favoritism to one invention type over another is not a good idea (apart from 37 CFR 1.102 petitions). Perhaps it would be best simply to staff more examiners, who deal primarily with green technologies, on the quiet. Perhaps the USPTO could spend some time improving its web site’s search capabilities? Perhaps showing favoritism pleases the green movement and politicians, but we feel rather aggrieved.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

  3. writerdood says:

    I’ve been trying to come up with a green technology I can market to get in on this, but the only thing I’ve come up with is charcoal lined underwear, and it was already patented.

  4. Davis says:

    Jebus, are people still harping on about this “trick”? Gah, it’s so irritating when people fail to understand that common terms mean different things inside the scientific community than they do outside it.

    • jfischer1975 says:

      You’re right.  There must be some special *science* way of interpreting “[w]hy should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.” Is that the new phrase for “peer review”?  How about “[i]f they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the [station data] file rather than send to anyone”?

    • McKingford says:

      Although I share this frustration, I don’t even understand what is sinister about the word trick – especially in the context it was used here. It is difficult to look at that word and conclude it means anything other than “shortcut”.

      But as a lawyer, let me use a legal analogy. If someone hacked one of my emails to a colleague, where I talked about “suppressing” evidence, the same clowns would be going around saying “ZOMG! Obstruction of justice!”, when a fellow lawyer would clearly understand all I mean is getting a judge to rule the evidence inadmissible.

  5. McKingford says:

    which reveal a “trick” being employed by researchers to massage temperature statistics (source). Seems that a decline in temperature didn’t fit into the doomsday scenario

    Ahh, the “trick” to “hide the decline” canard.

    This particular email is essentially a litmus test for whether or not someone has a fucking clue about what they are saying. Anyone who cites this email is one of 2 things:
    1. profoundly fucking stupid (likely);
    2. a big fat liar.
    And please note that these are not mutually exclusive.

    Here’s the full excerpt from the email:

    I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.

    Just look at that for a moment. Do you have any clue what it means?

    This is pretty fucking simple and can be summarized this neatly: climatologists have used a number of proxies for historic temperatures – ice bores, stalagmites, tree rings, and instrument data. These have generally matched up well with one another – until about 1960, when tree ring density suddenly failed to show the same warming that all other data – including thermometers! – were showing. The reasons for this aren’t clear, but it is a pretty good reason to discount tree ring density since 1960. This is the decline that has to be “hidden”, or more accurately, accounted for!

    That’s why he’s talking about adding *real* temps! How fucking sinister is it to use real temperatures?

    This is the most telling thing about these hacked emails: this was the single most “damning” thing the deniers could come up with in 10 years worth of emails covering hundreds of conversations. In short, the very worst thing they could point to is taken so completely out of context that it took me – a non-scientist – all of about 50 words to explain.

    So, in a way, this is a helpful filter. If you think this particular email means anything sinister at all, you have outed yourself as someone unworthy to be taken seriously. The only question that remains is whether it’s because you are stupid or dishonest. Or both.

    • McKingford says:

      It’s also worth pointing out that this email was from 1999. The clownshow, otherwise known as the climate change deniers, sings in unison about how warming peaked in 1998, and how it has been cooling ever since. If this is the case, in 1999 there is no need for a climate researcher to be talking about hiding a decline in temperatures, because even the clownshow tells us it only started cooling in 1999!

    • jfischer1975 says:

      As you admit, you are not a scientist.  You might want to leave the *explanation* of science up to those who actually get it.

      The “trick” example is absolutely damning, but it is not the most damning.  It is just the one that is easiest to present to people, like yourself, who can’t handle big words.  In my opinion, and I have had technical training, the most damning parts of the leaked emails have to do with the researchers trying to skip from hypothesis to proven postulate, all without the messy hassle of concurrence from a majority of the community of their endeavor.

      One of the foundational components of the scientific method is the idea of reproducibility (Popper 1959).  In order for an experiment to be considered valid it must be replicated.  This process begins with the scientists who originally performed the experiment publishing the details of the experiment.  This description of the experiment is then read by another group of scientists who carry out the experiment, and ascertain whether the results of the new experiment are similar to the original experiment.  If the results are similar enough then the experiment has been replicated.  This process validates the fact that the experiment was not dependent on local conditions, and that the written description of the experiment satisfactorily records the knowledge gained through the experiment.  From Rand and Wilensky 2006

      When the parties proposing a hypothesis and presenting experiment results actively hide the data that was used to produce those results, rather than encouraging their peers to re-experiment and verify, they should be shouted down as impostors.  The problem here is that the political machine stepped in, seizing upon what appeared to be an oncoming disaster, before any peer review could be completed.

      Now the unproven hypothesis has become conventional wisdom, and all of the people who are only important because of the hypothesized disaster can’t really back off from it.  Instead, data is hidden, dissenting opinions are denounced, and real science has been thwarted as a result.

      There is nothing stupid or dishonest about demanding that anthropogenic climate change should be further verified — properly verified — before sweeping changes are implemented.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the financial backing that Al Gore does, to fly around the country, giving psuedo-science lectures, showing graphs without any scale, drumming up support for my position.  Other rational scientists would rather shake their head in disgust than lose their grant money for questioning the conventional wisdom.  Every intelligent human being should beware the conventional wisdom.

      • Ricky says:

        You didn’t address his objection, you just called him a name and changed the subject.

      • jfischer1975 says:

        Huh?  What name did I call anyone?  How have I changed the subject?

        The previous commenter posits that the “trick to hide the decline” language is the most damning thing, and I have responded to that point directly.

        • Ricky says:

          He was talking about the “trick” example, you said it was “absolutely dammning” without any argument whatsoever, told him he was a person who can’t handle big words, then immediately started talking about the deletion of data (apparently), which is not a direct response to that point, it’s a direct change of subject. Technically, fine, you didn’t call him a name.

  6. D says:

    Screw it, I’ll jump in after all.

    “As you admit, you are not a scientist. You might want to leave the *explanation* of science up to those who actually get it.”

    In a former life I was a mathematician, and McKingford’s description of “trick” as used in the sciences is spot-on. In math and physics (the areas I can speak to from experience), pretty much any technique that disposes of an annoying problem gets called a “trick” within the field. Go do a literature search and the word appears in the titles of numerous papers. Heck, just Google “kernel trick.” I’d even go so far as to say I’ve never heard the term “trick” used to describe anything but a clever technique in the sciences.

    Feel free to harp about the FOIA business, since that sounds like someone at CRU was feeling petulant, which doesn’t justify malfeasance (if there was any). Heck, it’s even reasonable to initially think “trick” implies something questionable. But it’s not too hard to go out and check how the relevant linguistic community uses the term once someone calls the colloquial use into doubt.

    You also misunderstand reproducibility. It absolutely does not mean that scientists share their data with each other and make sure someone else gets the same results. Such an approach would prevent discovery of systematic error, human error, or even fraud. Reproducibility means someone else needs to go out, collect their own data, and see if they get a roughly equivalent result.

    I would pay you a dollar for every published (peer-reviewed) paper you can find in any scientific field where the author simply took someone else’s data and ran the same experiment on it. Heck, I could probably afford to pay you $100 for each such paper, and I’m a student.

    • jfischer1975 says:

      As a mathematician, I assume that you are familiar with interpolation, which is a big part of what is going on here.  The researchers are using data that they do have to make an educated guess about data that they don’t have.  If only one educated guess is provided, and the guesser won’t tell you how he came up with the guess or what information was used, how can you not call it hocus pocus?

      Real science would say, “here’s what I found; did I get it right?”  These fake scientists are saying, “here’s what I found, I’m not telling how, and you’ll just have to trust me.”

      • D says:

        Well technically, they’re using extrapolation (which looks beyond the data they have), not interpolation (which looks between the data they have).

        I don’t know where you get this idea that, in “real” science, you pass along your data to someone else and have them check it (peer review is a cursory check, but it generally functions on the assumption that the author is competent and acts in good faith). There’s certainly a hypothetical version of science that could work that way, but that’s not the one we have. Instead the system works like a free market of ideas for specialists, where the currency is reputation.

        Under this view a rational actor (scientist) within the market has two reasons to resist sharing data (obtained through his labor): retention of future value and protection of current value. The former recognizes that there might another result sitting inside that data which can produce more value for the scientist; giving up the data risks passing that along to someone else. The latter results from two side facts: that exact reproductions of a previous experiment with the same result are not valued in the market and will not get published in journals, or at least won’t get cited; but an exact reproduction with conflicting results is valuable and will earn reputation. So the scientist stands only to diminish his own reputation if he shares. If you want to assault (compete with) someone else’s idea, the solution is to produce your own competing one and throw it out into that market.

        Individually scientists may be jerks, they may make mistakes, and some of them may even act fraudulently. But the invisible hand of the science “market” eventually acts to clean up those problems.

        • D says:

          Note also that the actual behavior of scientists generally reflects this market view. They are extremely reluctant to share data (except the communists); asking them for it would be like asking a lawyer for work-product. You’ll typically only get it if there’s some way you can compel it.

      • jfischer1975 says:

        As I understand it, they’re doing both (extrapolation and interpolation).

        I agree with your description of a *rational* way to handle data, when dealing with a rational market, e.g., biomedical experimentation.  Admittedly, there are dollars to be made there.  You’re explanation breaks down, however, when we apply it to the irrational, overly-emotional, hyper-politicized debate (and it is still a debate) about anthropogenic climate change.

        The only market hand that’s at work here seems determined to (I say designed to) scare people into drive more expensive hybrids.  The market, rather than cleaning up these “problems,” is perpetuating them.  On the whole, “green” products are more expensive.  That, in itself, is bad enough, but I can always choose not to buy them — for now — until governments start mandating them — don’t think that’s not coming.

        As discussed in these leaked emails, other “competing” ideas are actively suppressed.  Ever heard of “heat islands”?  Just as plausible as the greenhouse gas hypothesis, for explaining changes in temperature, but completely discounted by climate change proponents.

        I know I’m not going to convince you.  I’m not even convinced one way or the other.  What I do know is that healthy skepticism is, well, healthy.  And it appears that plenty of people want to quash all dissent on this particular issue, which should (hopefully) breed more skepticism.  It scares the crap out of me that all the sheeple in the world are just lapping this garbage up, and asking for more, instead of asking “how did you come up with that?”

        • D says:

          The only market hand that’s at work here seems determined to (I say designed to) scare people into drive more expensive hybrids. The market, rather than cleaning up these “problems,” is perpetuating them.

          But this is the political “market” rather than the scientific one; I think it’s important to distinguish between the two, even though (or perhaps because) some scientists work in both. The political one probably has less influence on the scientific one than you would think, simply because science has always been hyper-political within its own market (Newton took great pains to try to suppress Leibniz and his followers, too).

          I know I’m not going to convince you. I’m not even convinced one way or the other. What I do know is that healthy skepticism is, well, healthy.

          My mind can be changed, but only when the science changes; I trust the scientific enterprise (not necessarily the individuals) enough to defer to any consensus that forms there, and if that changes I’ll change my mind. Because I don’t have the expertise to challenge the science on its merits by doing my own, I reserve my skepticism for (highly political) policy suggestions put forth.

          Personally, I prefer technological solutions like creating incentives to replace old coal plants with nuclear ones, and policies that have positive collateral effects such as reducing our reliance on OPEC by reducing oil usage. I don’t see any reason not to support policies that can be shown to have positive externalities even if AGW turns out to be wrong. And in the time it takes to try those out, we’ll have more information about what’s going on with the climate to inform further debate. But I think the AGW debate as it’s currently proceeding prevents even that sort of approach, since it forces both sides to concede something.

          • D says:

            Here’s a legal analogy that may help explain what I’m saying. Scientific consensus is basically a Restatement: you take a look at all the published experiments (cases) and see what the state of the field is. It’s not absolute truth (legally binding), but it’s persuasive, and a good framework to work within. But if you know what you’re doing you can create a good experiment (legal argument) to undermine what’s in the Restatement. But it’s difficult to do that unless you’re a scientist (trained lawyer).

            The only difference is that all of science is in the form of Restatements; there is no black-letter law.

  7. writerdood says:

    According to this article, the trick was to hide the Medieval Warming Period in the Hockey Stick graph (the one Gore has shown in his briefings).

    “So not only did conspirators cherry-pick the one series of the four that approximated measured temperatures the longest, they also terminated that series at the point that it too, began to trend down. They then joined it to the actual 1980-1999 temperatures to “hide the decline” in the final product, as that decline created an inexplicable divergence between the reconstructed and measured temperatures..the existence of which challenges the entire series dating back to 1000 AD.

    Remember, all the temperatures prior to 1850 were estimated by computer algorithms, and no actual readings exist to prove or disprove those figures. So a relatively short window of opportunity exists to test the programs against observations. Had 20th-century measured temperatures continued to align with those recreated as smoothly after 1960 as they did previously, then the programmers could declare their code and hence their millennial temperatures sound. But the divergence, if allowed to stand, instead reveals serious design flaws in the proxy reconstructions…which suggests that just as the decline was dealt with through trickery, so was the MWP.

    And it seems that each time the trick was used, its involvement would be more deeply concealed.”

    But don’t believe me, you should read the article. I’m not saying what he suggests is what’s happening, but it is a possible scenario, and it’s worth looking at. Remember, being skeptical goes both ways, and if you’re truly a skeptic, you’ll analyze both sides of this issue. Rather than a large conspiracy, this could be an example of “group think.” Or, it could be that global warming is completely real.

    Regardless, the questions have been raised, and they should be asked.

    1. Is the earth beginning an extended period of heating that will cause the ice caps to melt, the sea to rise, and droughts and storms to become more common and more severe?

    2. If this extended period of warming is truly coming, is CO2 responsible for it?

    3. If it is not CO2 (or not solely CO2) then what is the primary cause, and can we do anything about it? (You know, like blasting the upper atmosphere with sulfer dioxiode).

    4. Will reducing carbon emissions globally make any significant difference in halting the coming temperature increase, assuming it is coming.

    These questions cannot be answered by opinion. They must be answered by evidence that can be interpreted by scientists who are unbiased and unafraid to make a decision. Can a scientist right now legitimately challenge existing global warming theory without appearing to be a quack? Can ANYONE currently challenge global warming theory without being labeled a conspiracy theorist?

    We need to step back and stop opposing the challenge of existing global warming theory. We should accept that challenge and encourage it. If he science cannot stand on its own, then it must fall. Let the challenge be made.

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