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The Royal Society: the UK's independent voice on science

Readers may remember the mysterious Murphy et al paper on climate sensitivity, which used the same data as Forster and Gregory but came up with a much higher estimate of sensitivity. The paper did not attempts to explain the difference and Murphy subsequently failed to respond to requests for information.

Chris Horner has been doing sterling work trying to obtain any data and code and correspondence relating to the paper from NOAA, where Murphy works and one of his co-authors Susan Solomon worked at the time. This recently led to the release of a whole batch of Solomon correspondence, although little of it appeared to have any relevance to the paper. However, there were a few bits and pieces of interest.

One of these was a series of drafts of a Royal Society statement on the COP15 negotiations in Copenhagen around the time of of Climategate. I have compiled these into a single PDF which you can see at the link at the bottom of the post. What is interesting about them is that the drafts are annotated with what I assume must be Solomon's thoughts.

The Royal Society's various statements on climate change are often put forward as a reason why we should believe the IPCC "consensus" - if the independent academy in Carlton House Terrace is supportive of Pachauri et al, then reasonable people should be expected to accept their word too. But of course if senior IPCC officials such as Solomon are involved in drafting these statements then it makes a mockery of that "independence".

In my report on the Royal Society, I pointed out that its public statements are issued in the name of the fellows but without reference to them. I suggested at the time that they were simply the views of insiders in Carlton House Terrace. The Solomon FOI release suggests that it's worse than we thought: the Royal Society has just about reduced itself to the status of a mouthpiece.

[Updated to make it clear that Solomon has since moved from NOAA]

RS emails

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Reader Comments (29)

Makes you wonder why they didn't consult the Met Office, or CRU, it couldn't be, could it? that they don't believe we have the expertise in-house to put together an environmental activist paper? Oh, wait a mo, it was originally written by our own scientific activists and the RS were trying to spice it up with input from NOAA.

May 1, 2013 at 9:15 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

One thing jumped out at me: 'Less alkaline' would be a good way to describe the potential trend in the oceans. Use of the word 'acidic' is spin and alarmism, but not science. You'd think that scientists would know that, wouldn't you?

May 1, 2013 at 9:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

The Royal society has been through periods of decadence before. I hope we can look back on this time as another of those, but there are many indications that this one is terminal. This is why I am guessing that if great scientific institutions arise again, they will arise independently through a reformist movement.

May 1, 2013 at 9:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterBernieL

The RS's own dodgy dossier.

May 1, 2013 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

mike fowle: brilliant.

May 1, 2013 at 9:22 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

The RS new motto

“Can we strengthen this language”

Yeah their old motto was really getting to be a piece of ironic comedy wasn't it? Or maybe it is about to have an increase to “On no one's word except ours” ?

That place is just a gimp in the box for activist climate science really - just pull it out and use its name and put it back and it waits docile – do they do anything else nowadays? If they do I never seem to see or hear of it in the news.

May 1, 2013 at 9:29 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

If I am reading the meta-data correctly the author and creator of the word document the PDF is constructed from is listed as jbrundage.

Any idea who this is?

May 1, 2013 at 9:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

May 1, 2013 at 9:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Joan Brundage Senior Information Technology Manager at NOAA/Chemical Sciences Division

May 1, 2013 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered Commenterfrosty

TerryS, there's a Joan Brundage at NOAA? But bear in mind that at academic institutions these properties can be wildly unreliable - most of my PowerPoint files claim to have been written by Artur Ekert.

May 1, 2013 at 9:47 AM | Registered CommenterJonathan Jones

Yet the curious thing is that they still like to project themselves as scientists rather than what they self-evidently are: ie activists of a peculiarly juvenile kind.

May 1, 2013 at 9:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

Since the early 1990s, academic research has been based very narrowly with most practitioners technicians. Technicians are easy to fool because their viewpoint is restricted to their narrow discipline and getting grants.

There are few polymaths or renaissance figures now. Indeed, you can only be the latter if you pay your own way; no access to the public teat....

The RS is full of clever fools.

May 1, 2013 at 9:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecm

Give them a break- they no longer had Bob Ward to do it.

May 1, 2013 at 9:51 AM | Registered CommenterPharos

Seeing as, now the RS is now a closed shop, should they not consider joining UNITE - I am sure Len will welcome them to the bosom of the brothers - oops - comrades?

May 1, 2013 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Luckily, it is becoming apparent that the more they claim consensus, the less people believe what they say (see Mike Hulme on why this is), and today in WUWT there is a related take on this:

In the Paradox of Consensus, we illustrate that the greater the level of consensus for certain classes of hypotheses (those that are difficult to test) the less truth we should assign to them.

May 1, 2013 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

I love the comment "where do these numbers come from"? With a response beginning "I believe..."

Real authoritative stuff.

May 1, 2013 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered Commenterastateofdenmark

Recent head of NOAA Jane Lubchenco has been a major driver of the "Acid Oceans" claims and described "Ocean Acidification" as "Global Warming's Evil Twin"

She has a video on the NOAA website where she puts a piece of chalk into a flask of vinegar and lo and behold it fizzes, so this is what is happening in the oceans. Dr. Stephen Palumbi at Stanford has a video for schoolchildren, showing that a piece of coral placed in a flask of vinegar will fizz and give off bubbles and this is what is happening in the oceans because of CO2. So dishonest.

The claim of "30% increase in acidification" since before the industrial revolution comes from Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis, Ocean Acidification by Carbon Dioxide.

"A decrease in surface pH of 0.1 over the global ocean was calculated from the estimated uptake of anthropogenic carbon between 1750 and 1994 (Sabine et al., 2004b; Raven et al., 2005), with the lowest decrease (0.06) in the tropics and subtropics, and the highest decrease (0.12) at high latitudes, consistent with the lower buffer capacity of the high latitudes compared to the low latitudes. The mean pH of surface waters ranges between 7.9 and 8.3 in the open ocean, so the ocean remains alkaline (pH > 7) even after these decreases.

The consequences of changes in pH on marine organisms are poorly known (see Section 7.3.4 and Box 7.3). For comparison, pH was higher by 0.1 unit during glaciations, and there is no evidence of pH values more than 0.6 units below the pre-industrial pH during the past 300 million years (Caldeira and Wickett, 2003)12. A decrease in ocean pH of 0.1 units corresponds to a 30% increase in the concentration of H+ in seawater, assuming that alkalinity and temperature remain constant."

Hence we get the claim that “the ocean” has become 30% more acidic since the start of the industrial revolution. Once the scare had been introduced, it grew legs and had to be nourished and in 2005, the Royal Society published a report entitled, "Ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide."

The members of the committee producing that report included Dr. Ken Caldeira, (Caldeira and Wickett), at that time at Lawrence Livermore laboratory, now Stanford. He was accompanied by scientists from the University of East Anglia, Southampton University and Plymouth Marine Laboratory, both the latter institutions are part of the UK Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

Their report was critiqued by Gerald E. Marsh, Argonne National Laboratory (Ret) in a self-published paper, Seawater pH and Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide.

He said:

"The Royal Society pH estimate for 2100 is thus consistent with a linear extrapolation of the eighteen years of data from Ocean Station Aloha. Such an extrapolation would appear to be unwarranted or questionable at best."

He then mentions Calder and Wicket, probably not realising that the Royal Society report is essentially their paper re-hashed, with the main author sitting on the committee producing it. This time he concludes that

"…the eighteen years of Ocean Station Aloha or similar data appear to have been linearly extrapolated out to 2300. This is even more questionable than a linear extrapolation to 2100."

So the basis of all the hype is a calculation from an estimate, which gives a precise figure of 0.1pH decrease, they don’t even know the consequences of changes in pH, and the conclusions they reach are based on an extrapolation of eighteen years of data from one Pacific ocean station.

The Royal Society produced a cut and paste updated report in 2007, and again in 2009, with the same panellists.

The UK Natural Environment Research Council, (funding body), web site discusses ocean acidification and notes that, "Scientists from across Europe are working with representatives of organisations ranging from BP and Rolls Royce to WWF and Greenpeace."

NERC also notes that:

"Dr. Ken Caldeira and Dr. Michael Wickett from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US were among the first to point out the problem in a Nature paper in 2003. This was followed up by a Royal Society report two years later."

There you have it, the oceans are becoming acid, case closed.

You can find more on this here: "Acid Seas – Back To Basic"

May 1, 2013 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterDennisA

global average temperature has not changed much in the past decade, but this is thought to be due to natural variability masking the long ‐ term trend for a limited period, as has happened frequently in the past

I like the way that the bold section is considered unacceptable by the reviewers. In the end, the entire section is lost. Far too much like real science, I guess.

May 1, 2013 at 10:58 AM | Registered Commentersteve ta

It is a real privilege to see scientists at work.

May 1, 2013 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Referring to FarleyR’s comments of the “acidification” (shurely “dealkalinisation”?) of the oceans: why are the enviroloonies not picketing the deep sea smoke stacks that are ensuring that the waters around them are seriously acidic, with pH values well below 7. That this does not seem to worry the many creatures around these wondrous sources of food is irrelevant – should we not be telling the Royal Society that Something Must Be Done?

May 1, 2013 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

So, another piece of the jigsaw emerges. Another little piece of the puzzle concerning how on earth was the CO2 is a Crisis ‘movement’ so politically successful while so scientifically weak.

Solomon comes out very badly in Laframboise’s book The Delinquent Teenager for her intolerant and authoritarian approach in her work with the IPCC. I cannot help but note that Solomon has long been dismissed from my list of candidates in my so far fruitless search for anyone both admirable and prominent in the promotion of panic over carbon dioxide.

Here is an extract from the book, near the start of Chapter 27, a chapter with the title 'MORAL MIDGETS'. The chapter is concerned with IPCC-insider scientists who failed to stand up for the principled position taken by Landsea over machinations by Trenberth and others to take full PR advantage of a 'busy hurricane season in the US'. They ran a press conference in which 'experts' who had published nothing on hurricanes and climate change, declared that global warming would continue to spur "more outbreaks of intense hurricane activity":

Susan Solomon, the co-chair of Working Group I for that edition of the Climate Bible, was amongst the people to whom Landsea appealed. We met her earlier. She’s the individual who, in 2005, threatened to expel Steve McIntyre when he tried to do a conscientious job as an IPCC expert reviewer.

Landsea, being a real expert on hurricanes, had advised them that:

There are no known scientific studies that show a conclusive physical link between global warming and hurricane frequency and intensity.

Of course, the data since only reinforces Landsea’s position. But here was a Schneiderian Scenario (‘scary’, ‘simplified’, ‘dramatic’) that Trenberth could not resist, nor Pachauri see anything wrong with, nor Solomon and other insiders see as not just technically wrong, but morally despicable. Scaring the public with high-impact promotion of fanciful conjectures is morally despicable. Welcome to their world! Landsea decided to resign from it in December, 2004. Returning to the book, there is this quotation there from his open-letter of January 2005:
It is beyond me why my colleagues would utilize the media to push an unsupported agenda that recent hurricane activity has been due to global warming. Given Dr. Trenberth’s role as the IPCC’s [coordinating] Lead Author responsible for preparing the text on hurricanes, his public statements so far outside of current scientific understanding led me to concern that it would be very difficult for the IPCC process to proceed objectively with regards to the assessment of hurricane activity.

…I was disappointed when the IPCC leadership dismissed my concerns …

I am not at all surprised that Solomon had some role to play in the development of the Royal Society’s position statement on climate. The first one stank to high heaven, and led to a veritable rebellion by a few dozen Fellows in 2010 to have it toned down. The Bish has done a fine job of tracking this, e.g.

For more context on how this sort of thing could have happened, be sure to read his Nullius in Verba (

As for the IPCC, if it had proceeded objectively, it might have made a less destructive contribution to climate science and to the public understanding of the climate system. But, that, of course, would not have helped the cause one little bit.

May 1, 2013 at 11:37 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

"gimp in the box"

That describes Paul Nurse to a tee.

Surly one for Josh

May 1, 2013 at 11:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

Susan Solomon:

In a powerpoint slide from an Earth System Science Partnership, (ESSP), presentation in 2008, Susan Solomon says almost half of the contributors to IPCC AR4 were WCRP/IGBP/IHDP/Diversitas associated scientists.

Here are Solomon’s figures:

· 91% of Co-ordinating Lead Authors on AR4 were members of this grouping
· 66% of Lead Authors on AR4 were members of this grouping
· 68% of reviewers on AR4 were from this grouping
· 31% of contributing authors were from this grouping

World Climate Research Program, (WRCP) is an offshoot of the WMO.
Kevin Trenberth of NCAR, was at that time, Chairman of the WRCP Observations and Assimilation Panel

International Geosphere – Biosphere Program (IGBP)
ICSU appointees to IGBP include Ray Bradley, (Mann-Bradley) and Jean Palutikof, a former Director of CRU and now spreading the message in Australia.

International Human Dimensions Program on Global Climate Change, (IHDP), is more global governance by the UN, Current offering: "How can we enforce climate change education at school? can climate change be part of the social science curriculum?"

Diversitas is another group-think eco-catastrophe outfit with Paul Ehrlich and Jane Lubchenko, (recent NOAA Chief Administrator under Obama, long time associate of John Holdren) on its advisory board.

Its founding sponsors are the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) and the International Union of Biological Science (IUBS). SCOPE is another offshoot of the International Council for Science (ICSU). Who are they?
The International Council for Science (ICSU) is a non-governmental organisation with a global membership of national scientific bodies (120 Members, representing 140 countries) and International Scientific Unions (31 Members).

"global environmental change programmes co-sponsored by ICSU—the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP) and DIVERSITAS, an international programme on biodiversity, (plus more as they arise, browse the site).

A couple of years ago, their website said: "ICSU is responsible for coordinating and integrating over 2 billion euros of research and provide the scientific basis for major international assessments and conventions, including the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

Such is consensus......

Susan Solomon was a reviewer of the Endangerment Finding Technical Support Document, which the US EPA used to justify controlling CO2 under the Clean Air Act.

Also a reviewer was Thomas Karl, director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. He has been quoted as saying:

“Internationally, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), under the auspices of the United Nations (UN), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), is the most senior and authoritative body providing scientific advice to global policy makers.”

Another reviewer was Gavin Schmidt of NASA and Real Climate.

May 1, 2013 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterDennisA

The second page of the PDF includes the claim that "...concentrations of CO2... will remain at higher levels for a thousand years".

When the selfsame thousand-year claim appeared on the RS website at around this time I started sending them strongly worded emails in protest, saying that the latest generation of intellectual pygmies at the RS wasn't fit to wipe the boots of Hooke and Newton. They later withdrew the 'thousand-year' claim (I'm not claiming any kind of credit here).

I was so outraged at their glib millennial claim that I embarked on some statistical analysis of my own. The Mauna Loa COs record shows annual downticks every NH summer, peaking at a mean 0.57% per month between July & August, although the yearly trend remains upward. This summer downtick shows that CO2 'respiration' is not - as claimed - one-way process. That 0.57% pm decline equates to an exponential half-life of about 10 years. The point here is not some though-experiment where the Earth is locked in August configuration; the point is the order of magnitude: decadal as opposed to millennial respiration. The RS claim that CO2 emissions are cumulative and nigh-on irreversible is hokum.

The AGW scam has been created by green activists and bent politicians; how tragic that the rotten rump of the Royal Society colludes in it rather than insisting on scientific integrity.

May 1, 2013 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

Interesting to see how various UK organizations were hyping up the propaganda just before the UN Copenhagen talks started.

As well as the RS declaration above we had Richard Black, the environmental correspondent doing his 'Copenhagen Countdown' blog outputs -

We had the release from the Met Office of that disgraceful booklet "Warming - Climate Change - the Facts" with it's grossly exaggerated hockey stick on Page 4 (notice the slight gap in the upward projection of the blade, the decadal smoothing had masked the more than 10 years stasis from warming we'd had in global temperatures!!! , something the MO were careful not to show!)

We had MO representative Richard Betts pushing the hype at an Oxford University conference

"Speaking at the international conference called ‘4 degrees and beyond’ at Oxford University, Dr Richard Betts, Head of Climate Impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre, described the possibility of a 4 degree warming happening ‘before the end of the century’. He added that a scenario of very intensive fossil fuel burning could bring this forward by 20 years....He said: ‘If greenhouse emissions are not cut soon, then we could see major climate changes within our own lifetimes.’

And to cap it all we had the 'drowning puppies' ad. paid for by DECC - with taxpayers money of course

It seems that all these organizations prefer to serve the interests of the UN and its 'global governance' power grab rather than the interests of the people of the UK.

May 1, 2013 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarion

The tracked changes in the RS emails document are nothing short of disgraceful. Responsible scientists are taught to hedge when writing so that any uncertainty is clear to the reader. What we see here is such moderation and honesty being eviscerated in the name of the 'cause' and the rotten corpse of a once valued profession being paraded by lying activist scum.

I need to stop reading this stuff as my blood pressure is getting a tad raised.

May 1, 2013 at 1:42 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

I wonder if the Royal Society is in breach of its own constitution in stating, as in the paragraph headed "Inclusion of Emissions that "To be effective any climate agreement must.... encourage good governance and address the needs and knowledge of local and indigenous communities."

What makes the Royal Society competent to advocate good governance? In which SI units can it be measured? Could it be that the phalanx of enviro activists which have infiltrated it reveal their presence by their vocab? Does the membership agree with the new political agenda?

May 1, 2013 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

I would simply like to see Sir Paul Nurse be forced to explain what the RS motto means and how that ties in with recent behaviour. Any half-way decent interviewer would soon make him look an utter fool.

May 1, 2013 at 4:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

May 1, 2013 at 9:47 AM | Jonathan Jones

TerryS, there's a Joan Brundage at NOAA? But bear in mind that at academic institutions these properties can be wildly unreliable - most of my PowerPoint files claim to have been written by Artur Ekert.

Dear Professor Jones,

It is my regrettable duty to inform you that, as revealed in your statement above, you have barely achieved the Prof P Jones UEA standard of skill in the use of MS Office applications.

Have you no thought for the future? When your hard drive appears in the paleoclimatology lab of the 22nd century World Green Utopia much discussion will ensue as to whether Artur Ekert should be credited with all the published work which is claimed to have come from you.

Please, for the sake of posterity, open your copy of PowerPoint, click 'File', 'Options' and personalize your copy of Microsoft Office with the correct user name.

Unless, of course, Artur Ekert is your alter ego :)

Yours etc,

May 1, 2013 at 8:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

This looks like the final document:

May 1, 2013 at 9:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeC

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