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« The Yamal implosion | Main | Curriculum for Environmentalists »


A very, very important post has just gone up at Climate Audit. Read it here.

Be sure to read comment number 7 too.


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Reader Comments (27)

Yeah, this is going to be fun to watch.

Mr. Hill, who is also not a Bishop, may I suggest that this is the perfect time for an encore to Casper and the Jesus Paper?

Sep 27, 2009 at 11:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoel McDade

Well, as a non science layman it reads to me (the few sentences I can understand) as an attempt to misrepresent tree ring data. But of what significance in the grand scheme of things is this particular study of Siberian tree rings ?

Very, very significant I hope...

Sep 28, 2009 at 1:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterAyrdale

It needs to be translated into english first. I've read bits and skimmed bits and I just haven't the intellectual energy to try and understand it. It's like giving me a wiring diagram of a TV and expecting me to be impressed. Wow - they've used a 650 Ohm resistor and a 15 Farad capacitor !

The headline needs to tell the story - eg "IPCC scientists faked results"

Then the first para needs to briefly explain the story - who, what, when, where.

eg "Climate scientists Fred and Barney work on assessing historical temperatures from the last 400 years by measuring tree rings from living trees. In one recent study they had 600 samples but they hand-picked just 5 of these in their results. The 5 were not chosen at random - they were picked to support the researchers' conclusions. The other 595 were ignored because they do not support the global warming hypothesis."

Then pile into the detail. Chronological order works for most people.

Sep 28, 2009 at 2:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

I agree with the above commenters, and suggest that someone should write a book specifically about the Hockey Stick. It ought to be written for the layperson, with the complexities explained in a rigorous but lucid and non-dumbed-down way. This is something that needs to go out to the public.

Sep 28, 2009 at 7:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

The combination of CRU Director Phil Jones and Deputy Director Keith Briffa [snip - a bit strong I'm afraid] have probably had more influence than any others (Mann, Hansen excepted) in fooling the compete world about man-made global warming. In any other field of endeavour they would be examined and if found guilty, struck off. but it won't happen if you have the political backing, which this pair no doubt has.

Sep 28, 2009 at 7:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

What an intelligent lot of commenters here on the Hill! Leaves me little to say. I’ve just posted at WUWT pointing out that the fact that Briffa is English means that the obvious next stage (hard questioning before some government committee) won’t happen. Does anyone know what could happen? The only possible way forward I can imagine is someone like Booker striking him with his glove and provoking a libel action.
On the WUWT thread, Phillip Bratby links to Briffa’s site, where we learn that his research is funded by the European Commission, and we all know how fussy they are about misuse of public funds.
According to a comment at Climate Audit, Briffa is ill and won’t be answering e-mails.

Sep 28, 2009 at 7:52 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

I would like to make an appeal to the owner of this great blog (or anyone else for that matter). Could you please put this in layman's terms? I believe I speak for lots of non-science people interested in the global warming - sorry I meant climate change - debate.

Sep 28, 2009 at 8:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterBob Fleming

I agree with your comment at "7" on the CA thread. This is outstanding work by Steve McIntyre but I hope it was not a set-up by the Team.

For those needing a layman's view might I suggest Ross McKitrick's post at "10" on the CA thread may help.

The main point is surely all Scientific Journals should have a clear policy about publishing papers in their Journals - if authors don't publish their data and their methodolgy then their paper doesn't get published.

Sep 28, 2009 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaulHClark

I'm trying to put something together for the layman - but I'm also in the middle of a work crisis.

Sep 28, 2009 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterBishop Hill

Great stuff. As someone on WUWT has noted, the Guardian's moderators are already busy deleting references to it!

Sep 28, 2009 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

to JamesP
on Guardian CommentisFree (the irony) Foxgoose has had two references to ClimateAudit removed from the Met Office thread. Even more bizarrely - on the Monbiot thread, IanFremantle had a simple link to the McIntyre article removed, and a reply which quote three paragraphs from McIntyre’s article disappeared without trace while I was reading it. Meanwhile, on the same thread, comments praising the Hockeystick continue to appear, as if frozen in time.
This goes beyond simple zealous moderating. It looks to me as if Guardian lawyers have realised the potentially libellous nature of any insinuation that the science is not quite what it should be.
Does anyone have a cunning plan to get this story into the British media? I’m sure we can count on Mr Booker next Sunday, but in the meantime, is there a newspaper with a science correspondent in need of a scoop? No? Thought not.

Sep 28, 2009 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

I've also had one deleted, without leaving a trace.

Sep 28, 2009 at 1:03 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

CiF stands for Censorship is Frequent at the Guardian. If anyone dissents from their established AGW view they will be censored by the Guardian moderators.

There is no getting away from the conclusion that CA has comprehensively broken the Hockey Stick into tiny little pieces. It will be interesting to see what excuses the Team will come up with. From now on they may as well drop the 'r' from proxy science.

Sep 28, 2009 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

I've posted one at the Guardian and am waiting to see.

Sep 28, 2009 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I posted on the guardian website too. I have tried to be quite subtle, so hope the post might slip through the net.

Sep 28, 2009 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterRecyclist


The Briffa affair has the potential to knock down more than just the Hockey Stick. It's used in many of the tree ring paleoclimate studies.

Sep 28, 2009 at 4:01 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

My very moderate post was moderated out of existence.

Sep 28, 2009 at 4:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Hello, Climate Audit appears to be down. DOS?

Sep 28, 2009 at 5:10 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

CA appears to be overloaded - surprise, surprise. That's according to WUWT.

Sep 28, 2009 at 7:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

It just appears to be incredibly slow - I expect there's a lot of interest.

Other comments of importance are 35 where Steve plots out the 10 Yamal trees that contribute to the record in the modern era. You can see there are only about 4 with the hockeystick shape. And 51, where Steve lists all (?) the other studies that have used this series, and which could potentially be brought into question.

It's early days yet. The serious analysts are now going to be working like mad on this newly released data, the absence of which has blocked all sorts of investigations over the past ten years. There's probably lots more to come. And summaries of its historic significance are maybe best left until they've finished making the history.

But I suggest you don't expect an overnight collapse of the consensus and a Grand Debunking in the media, as the whole world reverses course. It's significant, but probably not decisive.

Sep 28, 2009 at 7:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterStevo

FWIW I have attempted to explain what Steve has fond in non mathematical terms at my blog.

Sep 28, 2009 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrancisT

I think what this will mean is a demolition of so called scientific consensus over climate change. There must be wavering warmers in the scientific community whose conscience will not let them keep silent any more. This could even be a scientific "tipping point..."

Sep 28, 2009 at 11:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterAyrdale

To understand the significance of this discovery, you have to realise that the data being investigated is the cornerstone of the whole idea of catastrophic AGW.

Here's why:-

In spite of wall to wall media coverage of climate change and global warming, it is not common knowledge that on its own even a doubling of CO2 can only warm the earth's surface temperature by about 1 degree C.

So where do the predictions of many degrees of warming come from?

These prognostications are based on theoretical feedback mechanisms that amplify the the warming caused by the increasing CO2. Feel free to investigate water vapour, cloud cover, albedo, permafrost and organic feedback mechanisms. Please note that these feedbacks are not cause by the increased CO2, they are activated by the raised temperature.

Imagine for a moment that the medieval warm period was hotter than today, runaway warming evidently did not occur, so either the effect of the feedback mechanisms has been grossly exaggerated or some other factor must have stopped that warming continueing and whatever that factor was it does not currently feature in climate models.

So for it to be credible that these feedback mechanisms are capable of causing runaway warming it is vital to prove that temperatures as high or higher than today's have not happened in the last few thouand years.

This is where the climate scientists had a problem, history is littered with evidence of warmer climatic conditions than we have at present. Farming in Greeenland, Chinese arctic sailors, Roman wine from Yorkshire, villages now under glaciers etc.

So the climate community had to prove that current temperatures are unprecedented. They went about their task with zeal and came up with the legendary 'hockey stick graph'. This graph shows that the medieval warm period, the roman warm period and the little ice age were localised blips that had very little effect on average global temperatures (the stick) and that since about 1900 temperatures have rocketed (the blade).

What Stephen McIntyre has been doing for the past 5 years, though it is not his direct intention, is prove that the hockey stick is not a record of temperature history but an artifice designed to justify the rediculously high CO2 sensitivity used in the climate models. His current post is the clearest evidence yet that the tree ring datasets used in the hockey stick, and other related studies, have been carefully selected to reach a predetermined result and that contrary data has been kicked into the long grass.

The scientific justification for catastrophic anthropogenic global warming hangs by a thread.

Sep 29, 2009 at 4:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenes

What about Steve McIntyre's comment # 143...

"Argggh. One of the perils of real-time calculations is that it isn't just the Team that makes mistakes. I've had to replace the two key figures in the post. I noticed the problem in trying to merge Polar Urals and Yamal data. There is nothing in the text of the post that requires changing. However, I obviously believe that errors "matter" and should be corrected and have done so.

The proprietor does not claim infallibility. One of the reasons for providing scripts and data is to improve error detection and correction - even against myself. In this case, I was working on an amalgamation of the Polar Urals and Yamal data sets and noticed the error myself. I'm happy to report that I caught the error within one day and that I caught it before any one else. I've replaced the two figures, leaving a link to the replaced figures; I will notify Anthony that a change is required in the mirror post as well."

Is this significant ?

Sep 29, 2009 at 5:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterAyrdale

Thanks, Diogenes.

I'm trying to think of any positive feedback loops in real life.

We are surrounded by negative feedback loops - eg falling objects reaching a terminal velocity then not getting any faster because drag increases with speed until it balances the weight.

Other examples of negative feedback include putting ana electric radiator in a room - the room gets hotter but reaches a point where it is losing heat just as fast as the heater works. Again this is negative feedback because the heat loss increases as temperature rises.

Are there any real-life examples of positive feedback ? Not imagined or proposed - they have to be real and measurable.

Eg the permafrost melting and releasing CO2 - some people suggest that what really happens if it melts is that bushes start to grow in formerly infertile areas and absorb CO2. We need a proper experiment.

Sep 29, 2009 at 5:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

I don't think this is the end of global warming. In scientific terms there's much more to the hypothesis than paleo. The AGW hypothesis could be correct without the Hockey Stick and its acolytes.

The importance of the Hockey Stick was as a sales tool - in the fact that the IPCC promoted it as if it were central to the hypothesis when if fact it wasn't. The IPCC now has a serious credibility issue. They promoted the Stick then defended it in the face of overwhelming evidence that it was flawed. TO have Yamal blow up in their faces when it has been used in pretty much all the other reconstruction that the IPCC says support the Hockey Stick could be the end of the IPCC as a credible body.

Sep 29, 2009 at 6:42 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

As expected, this is entirely ignored by the BBC whose 10:00 pm BBC1 News last night featured a lengthy item on the Met Office scare propaganda that warming is going to be even worse and sooner rather than later. As you imply, your grace, this is not the end of warmism by a long chalk.

Sep 29, 2009 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterUmbongo

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