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« The logic at Yale | Main | Frackonomics »
Monday
May282012

Climategate and HADCRUT

I'm sure most readers are aware of Steve McIntyre's post on the Myles Allen video. The comments thread is also very interesting. I was particularly taken with Lucia Liljegren's response to a comment made by Myles on the subject of the relevance of the temperature records to CRUTEM. This is what Myles said:

I stand by the assertion that, thanks to the sloppy coverage the affair received in the media, it wasn’t just Sarah Palin who got the impression that the instrumental temperature record was seriously compromised: The Times opened the relevant story with “A science blogger has uncovered a catalogue of errors in Met Office records…”

Lucia's response should be read in full, but this excerpt gives a flavour

I would suggest that the main reason for this “sloppy coverage” was that reporters turned to people trying to rebut those discussing climategate at blogs and in forums. Some people people who (like you) might prefer to discuss the thermometer record rather than misbehavior of scientists or what “hide the decline” meant, diverted the discussion to the thermometer record.

I strongly suspect the behavior of the scientists who wanted to suppress discussion of climategate succeeded in giving the media the incorrect impression that climategate was about the thermometer record is one of the reasons much of the media, some politicians, and Sarah Palin developed the impression climategate is about the thermometer record. That you can show they were confused about what people at blogs and forums were posting about merely shows you don’t know what it was about.

The thing that struck me was that the errors found in HADCRUT had almost nothing to do with Climategate anyway. When the initial furore over the East Anglia emails broke out, the Met Office for some reason decided to release its data and code. This was subsequently analysed by John Graham-Cumming, who found some minor errors in it. The related Times article that Myles refers to can be seen here in the Internet Archive. Readers will note that it contains no mention of the University of East Anglia or the Climategate emails and in fact dates to several months after the UEA disclosures. The two stories are linked only by the fact that the Met Office's decision to release its data and code seems to have been prompted by the lack of trust in climatologists engendered by the UEA disclosures.

Nevertheless, it's interesting to ponder the way the Climategate story came to be so much intertwined with the surface temperature records - Sarah Palin's initial comment on the day the story hit the press, Beddington's diversion of the Russell panel's work, the SciTech committee's decision to look at CRUTEM and the work of John Graham-Cumming. Cause and effect are hard to determine here.

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Reader Comments (69)

George Monbiot (Chair) tried the same trick at the Guardian debate, asking Mcintyre about Crutem
Steve told him quite clearly, that this was almost irrelevent (only 12 emails)

May 28, 2012 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Is there any evidence as yet that Myles Allen has understood what Climategate was and was not about?

May 28, 2012 at 12:04 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Thanks Bish for the helpful background info, and for all of your intelligent labors in providing us this forum!

As a newbie to the blog wars I kept wondering how "Climategate" could ever be conflated with minor corrections to the surface temperature records. Now I understand a least a bit more about how different issues came to the public almost simultaneously. I don't know if Myles Allen simply linked these matters in his memory because they were in the news during the same time period, but I still cannot begin to see how he thinks that Climategate is about a 0.02C correction in the 1870s.

May 28, 2012 at 12:05 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

The Harry file did contain some revealing stuff about the climate record. It was indeed a topic in the first few days and revealed how flaky some of the records were together with a fudge factor which although subsequently explained did look pretty suspicious. But is Myles Allen being completely honest in his assessment? No, is my guess. It is when you ask them to disavow sub-par behaviour that these communicators start to scuttle. It is no use him saying that the published record was almost unchanged when a lot of the email was about blatant attempts to control what gets published. Does he disavow it? Nope.

May 28, 2012 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

Myles Allen does what everyone else in the climatology scam does he changes the pea under the thimble to a football and then kicks that into your play area. Steve McIntyre is very adept at keeping the pea in place and not playing the football.
Your book "The Hockey Stick Illusion" is so good that Myles Allen will not read it for his illusion's would be shattered.

May 28, 2012 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Whale

Andrew:
Peter Whale raises an interesting point. Since you are in contact with him, perhaps you can ask Myles if he has read your book? The Mosher and Fuller book? Any of the emails themselves? Such preening confidence surely has some basis in the readily availbale evidence?

May 28, 2012 at 1:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernie

Most of the times I read the comments of a climate scientist I am struck by three things: 1) their hubris, 2) their disdain for the intelligence of others, and 3) their shockingly poor analytical and logic skills.

May 28, 2012 at 1:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterstan

Can you really expect Myles Allen to act any differently? Here is a man who has obtained prominence in climate "science" with an alarmist position (e.g. temperatures could rise by up to +11oC from his well funded ClimatePrediction.net). Even RealClimate was not impressed

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/01/climatepredictionnet-climate-challenges-and-climate-sensitivity/

He also was one of many warmers who commented on the Climategate reviews:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2010/jul/07/climategate-review-expert-verdict

Myles Allen said "What they fail to mention is that the "iconic" version of the figure subsequently produced for the IPCC third assessment made it perfectly clear that the tree-ring series was truncated and the instrumental data was spliced on – the two data-types were shown in different colours!"

Of course he was in good company Bradley, Mann, Schmidt, Hulme and the token skeptic McKitrick

How can he now turn round and say anything other that the Team's Mantra "We are all Doomed"

May 28, 2012 at 1:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

I too have noticed the hubris and don't know whether to blame the individual or the system. I'm inclined to the latter because few working in climate science understand the errors in the physics, nor have they the ability to work it out for themselves.

In short, the case for CAGW was prepared by choosing the most extreme of the peer-reviewed past physics, sticking it into the GCMs and when mother nature didn't play ball and CO2 was shown to follow T, falsify the raw data.

There are only a few with 'Mens Rea'.

May 28, 2012 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterspartacusisfree

It would not surprise me if it turned out that most if not all the team and their supporters, used the same optician.

May 28, 2012 at 2:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

The £400,000 crisis management exercise by the UEA was also largely successful at controlling the other main dispute over the Climatgate emails - keeping the argument going as to whether the CRU climate scientists did or did not commit the offence of deleting information that was the subject of an FOIA request.

So strong was their denial of deleting emails and our disbelief of it that we forgot to ask if they had ever concealed information instead of deleting it to avoid its disclosure. Concealing was still an offence and the Palutikof email, 2526.txt, tells us, it is what they did.

May 28, 2012 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland

@peasdia

'It would not surprise me if it turned out that most if not all the team and their supporters, used the same optician'

I believe that it is the same outfit who famously equipped the late and much lamented Horatio, Viscount Nelson with his optical equipment at the Battle of Copenhagen. It allowed him not to see something that he chose not to. And if he didn't see it he could pretend that it never happened.

May 28, 2012 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Part of the misunderstanding of Allen's position lies in assuming a monolithic edifice behind the definitely monolithic facade of the IPCC/consensus position. Reality however may be that different camps compete for providing the best possible weapon in establishing the primacy of anthropogenic warming. So Myles Allen doesn't think the medieval warm period is not that important. That is probably simply because his area of work and, consequently his contribution to the consensus position is situated in modeling.

May 28, 2012 at 2:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Myles Allen said "What they fail to mention is that the "iconic" version of the figure subsequently produced for the IPCC third assessment made it perfectly clear that the tree-ring series was truncated and the instrumental data was spliced on – the two data-types were shown in different colours!"

Again watch the pea.

Yes, the instrumental data is shown in a different color, but the "truncation" of the Briffa reconstruction so as not to show the decline is NOT disclosed in IPCC TAR. It's really hard to see that it was truncated. I first noticed the truncation in early 2005 - mentioned in a CA post at the time.

And even if the truncation was disclosed in the report (it wasn't), that still doesn't make it acceptable. Especially if the purpose was to not "dilute the message" and to avoid giving "fodder to skeptics".

Any professional understands the seriousness of "hide the decline". The wilful obtuseness of Myles Allen and others is dumbfounding. What they should have done - right at the outset - was to clearly state that that sort of artifice did not meet standards of communicating to the public. End of story. They could argue their position on other grounds, but not that this is acceptable conduct.

May 28, 2012 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve McIntyre

Agreed.

Even if they did use two different colours, I've always wondered about how you can just join two very different things like an instrumental series and a tree ring reconstruction in a single graph at all.

May 28, 2012 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Steve

I think that Myles has misunderstood completely. Note that he has inserted the words "[hockey stick]". I think he is referring to the actual hockey stick graph rather than the spaghetti graph. My guess is that he has just missed the point.

May 28, 2012 at 3:47 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

3:47 PM | Bishop Hill

Which might just boil down to the fact that he is none too bright - just a serious fighter for the "cause". A Climate Jihadi, in other words.

May 28, 2012 at 3:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

Latimer Alder
Unless I am mistaken, Lady Hamilton supplied that type of equipment to Horatio because it only showed her good side.

May 28, 2012 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

The trick the climate science charlatans used to con the rest of science: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/05/28/this-new-paper-may-explain-the-widespread-belief-in-the-value-of-michael-manns-methods-and-the-bet-on-the-hockey-stick/#more-64387

May 28, 2012 at 5:27 PM | Unregistered Commenterspartacusisfree

I am sure I can't be alone in thinking that the super-smug, super-smooth Allen is becoming rattled.

Being a bigger brain, he decided that, in characteristic de-haut-en-bas style, he would enter into the debate with us poor, simple-minded sceptics and, speaking very S L O W L Y and smiling a lot, bestow upon us the benefits of his superior understanding.

In reality, this has meant a near childishly smarmy attempt to wrong-foot us by saying, 'Oh no! It was never the Hockey Stick that was important, you simpletons, it was the instrument record all along! Oh, you poor, misguided fellows!'

Hardly surprisingly, this has resulted in a severe kicking of said higher brain for the simple reason that he is talking tosh. Needless to say, this will not cause him to reconsider his very, very, very important position – let alone prompt him to do anything as radical as actually read the Climategate e-mails (to say nothing of His Grace's timeless tome). Rather, it will reinforce his sense of omnipotence and, by evident extension, his unshakeable belief in the utter irrelevance of those with the temerity to question him.

Thus are we led to disaster by our betters.

Smile as much as you like, Myles old fruit, but you are dead wrong, you know. If you are as smart as you think you are, I'd be considering an extreme tactical withdrawal right now.

May 28, 2012 at 6:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

"Smile as much as you like, Myles old fruit, but you are dead wrong, you know. If you are as smart as you think you are, I'd be considering an extreme tactical withdrawal right now."

In a nutshell, I think that Miles has got hold of the wrong end of the wrong stick.

May 28, 2012 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

"The wilful obtuseness of Myles Allen and others is dumbfounding. What they should have done - right at the outset - was to clearly state that that sort of artifice did not meet standards of communicating to the public."

Imo, once the standards of real science are abandoned - or in the case of "mainstream" Climate
Science, specifically and intentionally avoided - "perception is reality" thought control has to be considered as as the intent of the whole process until proven otherwise, which it still hasn't been.

May 28, 2012 at 6:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterJPeden

"It would not surprise me if it turned out that most if not all the team and their supporters, used the same optician." --pesadia

Yes, indeed. His name is John Ernst. Here are several of his monocles.

http://www.johnernst.com/sight_windows_p50.html

Note that they are threaded so as to screw securely into the navel.

May 28, 2012 at 6:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

May 28, 2012 at 3:39 PM | Steve McIntyre

They could argue their position on other grounds, but not that this is acceptable conduct. [emphasis added -hro]

From the perspective of a statistically-challenged bystander, it seems to me that the matter of what the Team and/or powers that be at the IPCC deem to be "acceptable conduct" is very much at the heart of so much that is questionable about "climate science".

We have undisclosed truncation, undisclosed conflict of interest, feeble attempts to justify undisclosed data and/or methodology, peer review by "intuition", press releases that make claims not substantiated by the papers to which they refer, redefining commonly understood English words, deleting emails, journal gatekeeping and reputation-wrecking attempts etc. etc. The list is almost endless.

Yet, all of this seems to be "acceptable conduct" - as if the "practitioners" have been granted "climatic licence" so that <cue music> anything goes.

And furthermore, this licence also seems to apply to the (rarely and far too belatedly) acknowledged flaws: Has there ever been an instance in this convoluted history of controversial flaws which has not, in effect, been hand-waved away by "it may be wrong, but it doesn't matter" or "yes, but it's the best we've got"?

May 28, 2012 at 8:15 PM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

I am but a lay person with a fascination for the sciences; to my (scientifically) untutored eye, Myles Allen epitomises the current problems with climate science, namely, astonishing hubris coupled with an equally-astonishing lack of what our American cousins define as 'street smarts' when it comes to examining his own area of professional endeavour and failing to see behaviour and practices which are absolutely astounding in the depths of dishonesty. Or, even more appalling to contemplate, he is aware but is desperately dissembling.

May 28, 2012 at 10:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Thanks for highlighting that article and thread Bishop; that is a must-read for everyone. The comments are remarkable, almost everyone's there - Judith Curry, Pielke Jnr, Mosher, Tom Fuller, Lucia, as well as Dr Allen and the irrepressible Nick Stokes. What a read.

May 28, 2012 at 10:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Hilary! you are correct. The blame should be directed to the main source, the IPCC. That has been the root cause for allowing so called, 'climate scientists' to get away with their rubbish. The problems at IPCC have been for a long time in the making and quietly slipped under the radar. Most people had no idea it was so corrupt a body. It should have been disbanded ages ago.

May 29, 2012 at 12:31 AM | Unregistered Commenterhubie

Hilary
You will never get a swollen thumb that way. You hit the nail on it's head.
Well said.

May 29, 2012 at 1:06 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

And furthermore, this licence also seems to apply to the (rarely and far too belatedly) acknowledged flaws: Has there ever been an instance in this convoluted history of controversial flaws which has not, in effect, been hand-waved away by "it may be wrong, but it doesn't matter" or "yes, but it's the best we've got"?
May 28, 2012 at 8:15 PM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Thank you, Hilary, for making this point, which is the thing that raises my blood pressure more than almost anything else. Myles Allen's latest excursion into the paddling pool of climate history is just one example of this.

Every time one of the studies is shot down in flames, we are told that it doesn't matter, it doesn't affect the underlying impregnability of the edifice, the science is still solid, etc.

The sheer arrogance and lack of insight that underlies this approach is, I believe, one of the main reasons that the edifice is crumbling. If they had done what Steve McIntyre and any pragmatic (let alone ethical) person would do, ie find out what the problem is, admit the mistake, and try to do better, they would not be in the mess they are in now.

May 29, 2012 at 2:08 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

May 28, 2012 at 8:15 PM | Hilary Ostrov
"We have undisclosed truncation, undisclosed conflict of interest, feeble attempts to justify undisclosed data and/or methodology, peer review by "intuition", press releases that make claims not substantiated by the papers to which they refer, redefining commonly understood English words, deleting emails, journal gatekeeping and reputation-wrecking attempts etc. etc. The list is almost endless."

Well stated, Hilary! What continually stuns me as an outsider and newbie to learning about these issues, is the evident lack of standards and scruples which has infected far too much of "climate science" and allied endeavors. For individual scientists I can't begin to sort out where confirmation bias may be distinguished from more nefarious forms of conduct. Naively, I still believe that most or all (with a few notable exceptions) are still operating more from a sense of excessive self-righteousness than from knowing malfeasance.... still, when I see someone of the academic eminence of Myles Allen apparently unable even to look at issues wider than a "0.02C" correction I have to wonder how many scientists are simply unwilling to contemplate anything that does not further "the cause."

May 29, 2012 at 2:26 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

As was noted above there were two separate but related lines of enquiry after climategate.

The main thread was the umm ethiclaly challenging behaviour of various "climate scientists" with regard to the pre-modern era proxy reconstructions (aka "Hide the decline", Yamal etc.)

The other thread was the appalling shoddy code quality and data archiving methodology displayed in "Harry_read_me" and the related code. One of the good things about cliamtegate was that having had this level of incompetence displayed, the met office has been inspired to clean up its act and we now have them and other groups (e.g. the berkely lot) providing us with properly documented open-sourced code and clearly archived data. One can take issue with some of the adjustments (I take issue with a bunch of them) but at least the working is shown and indeed, contrary to Myles' statements, the corrections have been rather more than 1/200th of a degree in the 1870s.

May 29, 2012 at 3:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrancisT

<Hilary takes a bow> Thank you :-) ... and asks if she might be permitted an "encore" of a comment she'd made in the Caption competition thread, which seems appropos here. A few commenters had chided Bish for starting such a thread; one had noted:

you can either engage Dr Allen in constructive dialogue or subject him to ridicule. Which strategy would you expect to be the more productive?

And the following was my response ...

it seems to me that by the time Andrew had posted the Caption Contest, Myles Allen had already demonstrated that he had very little interest in "constructive" dialogue with any of us. Consider the following timeline:

May 25 7:27 pm - last post in the original thread (with video from Communicate 2011, in which MA succeeded in getting Climategate spectacularly wrong, while blaming journalists for "mis-selling"). To the best of my knowledge there was no response from MA in that thread which began on May 23.

May 26 (sometime prior to 7:28 am when Philip Bratby's first comment appeared) Andrew posted, at MA's request, his reply to the comments in that thread. Except that it was non-responsive to any of the valid concerns raised. I found it particularly notable that, once again, MA was attempting to blame others:

My fear is that by keeping the public focussed on irrelevancies, you are excluding them from the discussion of what we should do about climate change [emphasis added -hro]

It is worth noting that MA has not specified these "irrelevancies" - nor has he made clear at whom he is pointing his finger of blame, this time.

In this new thread, MA made three appearances (prior to his exit stage-left on May 28 at 12:28 am):

May 26 9:06 am
May 26 9:15 am
May 27 8:14 am

This May 27 comment was merely a copy and paste in which he combined two comments he had made at CA:

http://climateaudit.org/2012/05/26/myles-allen-and-hide-the-decline/#comment-334919

and

http://climateaudit.org/2012/05/26/myles-allen-and-hide-the-decline/#comment-334915

Such non-responsive and/or diversionary contributions might be your idea of "constructive dialogue", but it certainly isn't mine. And while I cannot speak for Andrew, I would suggest that in light of the above, this caption contest thread - which did not begin until May 27 (sometime prior to 9:02 AM when the first comment appeared) - is far too kind.

And if one adds to this, MA's parting whine (May 28, 12:28 am) in which he describes an embedded video as:

an unflattering image on YouTube

and conflates and completely mischaracterizes** criticisms from a thread to which he chose not to respond directly - while ignoring the very valid questions and criticisms in the thread in which he did deign to "respond", then all I can conclude is that he had no interest whatsoever in "constructive dialogue".

**MA's parting whine included the out of left-field:

it was rapidly whipped up into a claim I was plotting to overthrow democracy

I, for one, would certainly appreciate knowing which specific comments could have led him (or anyone else for that matter) to such a conclusion.

===

But I forgot to mention - and I think we should not lose sight of - the fact that this "unflattering image" about which he's whining can also be found on the Communicate 2011 website

May 29, 2012 at 4:37 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Hilary Ostrov, you ask:

"**MA's parting whine included the out of left-field:

it was rapidly whipped up into a claim I was plotting to overthrow democracy

I, for one, would certainly appreciate knowing which specific comments could have led him (or anyone else for that matter) to such a conclusion."

Myles says in the last 1/2 minute of his presentation:

"Professional Climate Communicators are likewise dying out. Because Climate Change has become boring. But the question we’ve got to ask ourselves is, maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe the idea of selling this as something people are going to deal with as some sort of great collective action enterprise was never going to work. That actually, the way it’s going, the whole Climate Change issue, will be played out by professionals, largely leaving the public out of the picture. That’s sad for democracy, but it may ultimately be the best for the planet."

May 29, 2012 at 6:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterJPeden

JPeden

I do suspect (assume) that Myles Allen regards that as more of a prediction than a goal and method of his own, but surely some of the response against his comments may be affected by perceptions that he and other climate scientists are only supportive of "democracy" when decisions go their way.

There are myriad aspects to evaluating technocratic advice in democratic polities. One can't ignore seeking "best scientific advice" however defined, but of course what is at stake in the climate war is very much the question of "who decides" (and "who pays" for implementations of) what is the best advice and how to weigh risks and benefits, costs, etc.

If there is any defining characteristic of "skeptics" in these particular debates it may be that, by various paths, we have come to distrust at least some (if not all) crucial aspects of the diagnoses and prescriptions for which we are being forced to pay.

May 29, 2012 at 7:48 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

May 29, 2012 at 6:30 AM | JPeden

Yes, I remember that last half-minute quite well :-) However, during the course of his "swan song", Myles Allen's specific whine words were:

Andrew Montford then decided to dig up an unflattering image on YouTube and it was rapidly whipped up into a claim I was plotting to overthrow democracy, all without anyone taking the trouble to ask me what I meant.

Now this left me with the distinct impression that in his mind it is we skeptics who were "claim[ing] that [he] was plotting to overthrow democracy". And I don't recall seeing anyone making any such claim.

Over the last week, I have certainly learned that accuracy and clarity are not exactly hallmarks of Myles Allen's communications. Saying what he means, and meaning what he says do not appear to be part of his repertoire, either.

Since it appears to be highly unlikely that he will return so that we can "ask him what he meant" by this particular accusation, I was hoping that someone might be able to find some evidence of the comments which might have led him to this rather bizarre conclusion regarding his reading of the comments in the thread he's fled (or even in the thread in which we <gasp> commented on his presentation).

But thanks for trying to help ;-)

May 29, 2012 at 8:22 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Skiphil, my problem with Myles' statement is his promotion of the vague but grandiose, narcissistic idea of what is "best for the planet". Imo, this is the language of a zealot who will at least abet the subjugation of every value and system currently established, along with everyone, to his control need. Or as H.L. Mencken observed, very approximately: ~"Scratch a save-the-worlder, find a controllist."

Anyway, that's going to be my take on Myles until he finds some way to back out of this "best for the planet" nonsense. It's not like this alleged justification would be anything new for the other controllists, scammers and cultists backing "mainstream" Climate Science.

May 29, 2012 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterJPeden

Hilary O.: "I was hoping that someone might be able to find some evidence of the comments which might have led him to this rather bizarre conclusion regarding his reading of the comments in the thread he's fled..."

I said something at the thread at WUWT similar to what I just said, and so did some others, if I recall and interpreted them correctly.

May 29, 2012 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterJPeden

It occurs to me that not only do these guys from academe treat us as students, they are unable to adapt to the open forum mode of debate purely because when a bunch of random sceptics of various backgrounds and abilities require them to prove what they say, stand by previous statements, account for the actions of their peers or merely subject them to robust debate straying outside their lesson parameters it looks bad for them. You cannot maintain the respect of your students if Josh is making cartoons of you or if your move into celebrity science is made into a caption competition. Just a theory. I see Myles hung around a little longer on CA, where his interlocutors were more polite and possibly more respectable.

May 29, 2012 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

Remember that they live in a world where they think they are having robust debates with their students who are always in the end persuaded round to the "right" point of view by the force of their intellectual argument. The students are however acutely aware that disagreeing with the lecturer's pet theories is not the way to academic success...

May 29, 2012 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterNW

May 29, 2012 at 9:19 AM | JPeden

Thanks, again, JP. His accusation still hangs by a very slim thread, since you and a few others appear to have merely quoted his own words! But there are a few interesting things in the last few sentences:

That actually, the way it’s going, the whole Climate Change issue, will be played out by professionals, largely leaving the public out of the picture. That’s sad for democracy, but it may ultimately be the best for the planet."

I listened again to that last half-minute, and while his very last word - i.e. "planet" - is somewhat muffled in the video, the transcript (which may or may not be simply his notes) at http://communicate2011.bnhc.org.uk/the-elephant-in-the-room.html reads:

It’s sad for democracy, but ultimately, it may be best for climate.

Which (like many of his phrasings) doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense, to my mind. But, in fairness, I thought I should set the record straight on this!

What I find ironic - and further evidence that he just doesn't get it - is the first sentence. But, consider ... had he said/written:

"the way it’s been going, the whole Climate Change issue, has been played out by professionals, largely leaving the public out of the picture. It’s sad for democracy, but ultimately, it may be best for climate."

it would be a more honest and accurate assessment of a big part of the problem, would it not?!

May 29, 2012 at 10:39 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Dear Andrew,

I'm sorry, but my recollection of just about all the early coverage of the UEA e-mails made a point of mentioning the fact that CRU was "responsible for" the surface temperature record, with many television clips actually showing the IPCC record in their coverage. It is obvious why the surface temperature record was dragged in: that is what made the story seem interesting and important. It is certainly what made the story interesting to me: I use that data all the time, and if there really was anything seriously wrong with it, I'd have a lot of papers to retract. It turns out there wasn't. Not many people ever heard that, just as not that many people had heard about the long-running controversy over Yamal tree-rings. I believe the Met Office was planning to release all the HadCRUT code at the time anyway, but the specific allegations in the Newsnight piece about the quality of this software (which, in one of the low points of the story, turned about to be about different software entirely) may have prompted them to hurry up.

Myles

May 29, 2012 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterMyles Allen

Myles, others

I'm a bit tied up at the moment, but here are links to early news reports about the Climategate affair as cited in my new book:

98. Hickman L, Randerson J. Climate sceptics claim leaked emails are evidence
of collusion among scientists. Guardian website; 20 November
2009. Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/20/
climate-sceptics-hackers-leaked-emails. Archived at: http://www.webcitation.
org/5wW59AErd.

99. Bolt A. Climategate: warmist conspiracy exposed? Herald Sun website; 20 November
2009. Available at: http://www.webcitation.org/5wW7Ytt1L.

100. Delingpole J. Climategate: the final nail in the coffin of ‘anthropogenic
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I've checked a couple of them out and there's no mention of surface temperature records. Perhaps readers can check more thoroughly.

May 29, 2012 at 12:55 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Just as a PS to this, I think you are quite right that "it's interesting to ponder the way the Climategate story came to be so much intertwined with the surface temperature records" when it shouldn't have been. Which was really what that part the Communicate2011 talk was all about: how people came to be misled into thinking that climategate was relevant to the instrumental data we use for attribution.

Which would be a good note for us to agree on.

Myles

May 29, 2012 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMyles Allen

Dear Andrew,

Sorry to be taking up your time, but I stress that I didn't start this one. I just looked at James Delingpole's (take it as a sign of respect, James): "This matters because CRU, established in 1990 by the Met Office, is a government-funded body which is supposed to be a model of rectitude. Its HadCrut record is one of the four official sources of global temperature data used by the IPCC." I think pretty much all the BBC news reports showed the instrumental record. Of course everyone mentioned the HadCRUT record: that is what made the story seem important.

Myles

May 29, 2012 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterMyles Allen

And the indications of a small group of like-minded scientists imposing their view by fair means or foul on the political process doesn't matter either? Requires no comment? Is of no relevance to the issues? There is no point in arguing here about the way some people got the wrong end of the hockey stick in 2009. Newspapers always get it wrong. Public perception is ephemeral. The truth will out, and that is what we need to ensure. UEA cheated, the scientific community did nothing about it or indeed condoned a cover-up. That is what climategate was about.

May 29, 2012 at 1:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

A couple more to add to Andrew's list, a few days later:

Sarcy article by Monbiot, Nov 23. Says issues are attempts to withhold data, and prevent sceptics publishing and keep sceptics out of IPCC.

Harrabin, Nov 24. Largely avoids the issues in favour of spin but quotes Curry raising questions of lack of transparency, tribalism.

Telegraph, Nov 24. Evading FOI, hiding the decline (misleading described as 'in global temperature'), lobbying for sacking of journal editor.

PS Myles, as the person who indirectly started all this I feel I owe you an apology - I don't think you deserve all the vitriol. Glad to see you seem to be taking it well and still engaging!

May 29, 2012 at 1:40 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Dr Allen, I sense that you're saying that you thought Climategate was 'important' because it refererred to the instrumental temperature record, and that because it didn't it is unimportant? Do you not regard what Climategate was really about (as outlined extensively to you here, at Climate Audit, and other places) as important, even though it does not involve the temp record? You may be saying that it's not important to you - that is at least a defensible position for you, but surely you can't regard the behaviour and attitudes shown up by the emails as either unimportant or defensible in the science world at large can you?

May 29, 2012 at 2:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Dear Rhoda and Paul,

I agree with you that the UEA e-mail revealed problems with the scientific process, on all sides. For the record, I have long argued that scientific code and data should be available on request, although this is best done via journal editors, not through the blunderbuss of FOI. I've also argued that climate models should be open-source (although I also don't think that "auditing" code is ever as informative as attempting to reproduce results from equations, which is much more likely to show up unacknowledged assumptions).

There are also issues that Steve raises about presentation, but again, there are arguments on both sides (which I am very conscious have been aired extensively elsewhere, and I'm really not sure I have anything to add). Should the IPCC have shown the proxy temperature record for the post-1960 period when Keith Briffa had published papers showing there was clearly something wrong with it? I can see a scientific case for showing it, and I can also see a scientific case for not showing it: what if the impact of whatever-it-was that was contaminating the recent proxy record had introduced a spurious two degree warming in the most recent decades? I think we would all agree that showing that would have been misleading. But then why castigate IPCC for not showing what is generally agreed to be a spurious cooling? But again, I stress in matters of presentation there isn't always a black-and-white answer, which is why we have to be ready to unpack summary figures if requested, and why people need to take the trouble to ask.

I remember Pat Michaels used to have a graph he was fond of, showing the instrumental temperature record up to 1979 and the satellite MSU record thereafter. His argument for not showing the post-1979 surface observations was concern about contamination by the urban heat island effect. Some people didn't like this, but I didn't see a fundamental problem with it: as long as you are clear what you are showing and why, presentation will always be a somewhat subjective.

But the public were not told that climategate was just about process and presentation. They were given the impression, by mainstream reporting of the issue, that the e-mails revealed problems with the evidence itself, and specifically with the surface temperature record. That was the point of my talk: I was talking to the authors of those newspapers, trying to explain how they had missed an important point by failing to tell people that the UEA e-mails had not, in the end, revealed anything about the actual data we rely on for climate change detection and attribution.

Of course, it is possible that something may yet emerge that would require a substantial revision of the surface temperature record. But given the amount of scrutiny it has all had over the past couple of years, I would be surprised.

Thanks very much for the apology, Paul, it is deeply appreciated. It is kind of weird suddenly to find oneself cast as the Devil Incarnate for saying something that, it appears, everyone actually agrees with, and has been said many times before. It would be nice to hear from Andrew: I still don't understand why he took such exception to all this.

Myles

May 29, 2012 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterMyles Allen

So, remind me, did you tell all the assembled media folk that it was all about bent scientific practice? Or did you draw the line at telling them what it wasn't about? Did I miss you disavowing the bad practice on the part of UEA? Or was it 'on all sides'? I do not think it WAS on all sides, I think I could name the protagonists and describe the deceptions, all from climategate emails and the blogosphere debates around them. But I am an Oxfordshire housewife, and you are an Oxford professor.

May 29, 2012 at 3:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

Myles - thanks for coming back here, it is appreciated. I have not had the time to comment on this or over at CA but have been lurking for the last couple of days.

Regardless of the communication issues over what climategate was about, I still don't understand how you can claim that the actual temperature datasets i.e. Hadcrut / GISS can be reliably used for "climate change detection and attribution". Are you aware of the inexplicable adjustments which NOAA have made to the USHCN datasets and Hansen has been making to GISS? e.g. NOAA & GISS 20th Century adjustments. Note that these adjustments are not confined to the North America, Hansen has been busy adjusting historical records in many Arctic stations and Antipodean stations to make the past look colder: GISS heating Arctic and
GISS Iceland

I do not dispute that temperatures warmed up a little in the late 20th Century, (or to be rather more precise we had a run of mild winters) but there is no way I can accept that this 0.5-1C rise is anything unusual or to be concerned about. Especially since since UHI is likely to account for at least half this rise. Out of interest have you read the essays by Tony Brown who puts this recent climate variation into a little context?

The long slow thaw

and:

Historic variation in Arctic sea ice

I would be interested on your thoughts on these matters.

May 29, 2012 at 3:29 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

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