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« Climate of smear - Josh 229 | Main | Light blogging »
Tuesday
Jul092013

Climate of fear

I'm still off duty, but this is too important to leave for later. I've been having some correspondence with Murry Salby in recent weeks regarding a BH reader's research. Prof Salby copied me in on this email, which needs to be widely disseminated.

Thanks for your interest in the research presented during my recent lecture tour in Europe. http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/06/another-nail-in-the-climate-change-coffin.php Remarks from several make it clear that Macquarie University is comfortable with openly disclosing the state of affairs, if not distorting them to its convenience. So be it. Macquarie’s liberal disclosure makes continued reticence unfeasible. In response to queries is the following, a matter of record:

1. In 2008, I was recruited from the US by "Macquarie University", with appointment as Professor, under a national employment contract with regulatory oversight, and with written agreement that Macquarie would provide specified resources to enable me to rebuild my research program in Australia. Included was technical support to convert several hundred thousand lines of computer code, comprising numerical models and analyses (the tools of my research), to enable those computer programs to operate in Australia.

2. With those contractual arrangements, I relocated to Australia.   Upon attempting to rebuild my research program, Macquarie advised that the resources it had agreed to provide were unavailable. I was given an excuse for why. Half a year later, I was given another excuse. Then another. Requests to release the committed resources were ignored.

3. Three years passed before Macquarie produced even the first major component of the resources it had agreed to provide. After five years of cat-and-mouse, Macquarie has continued to withhold the resources that it had committed. As a result, my computer models and analyses remain inoperative.

4. A bright student from Russia came to Macquarie to work with me. Macquarie required her to abandon her PhD scholarship in Russia. Her PhD research, approved by Macquarie, relied upon the same computer models and analyses, which Macquarie agreed to have converted but did not.

5. To remedy the situation, I petitioned Macquarie through several avenues provided   in my contract. Like other contractual provisions, those requests were ignored. The provisions then required the discrepancy to be forwarded to the Australian employment tribunal, the government body with regulatory oversight. The tribunal then informed me that Macquarie had not even registered my contract. Regulatory oversight, a statutory protection that Macquarie advised would govern my appointment, was thereby circumvented. Macquarie’s failure to register rendered my contract under the national employment system null and void.

6. During the protracted delay of resources, I eventually undertook the production of a new book - all I could do without the committed resources to rebuild my research program. The endeavor compelled me to gain a better understanding of greenhouse gases and how they evolve. Preliminary findings from this study are familiar to many. http://www.thesydneyinstitute.com.au/speaker/murry-salby/  Refer to the vodcast of July 24, 2012. Insight from this research contradicts many of the reckless claims surrounding greenhouse gases. More than a few originate from staff at Macquarie, which benefits from such claims.

7. The preliminary findings seeded a comprehensive study of greenhouse gases. Despite adverse circumstances, the wider study was recently completed. It indicates:     (i) Modern changes of atmospheric CO2 and methane are (contrary to popular belief)         not unprecedented.    (ii) The same physical law that governs ancient changes of atmospheric CO2 and methane                                  also governs modern changes. These new findings are entirely consistent with the preliminary findings, which evaluated the increase of 20th century CO2 from changes in native emission. http://www.climatedepot.com/2013/07/02/swedish-scientist-replicates-dr-murry-salbys-work-finding-man-made-co2-does-not-drive-climate-change/

8. Under the resources Macquarie had agreed to provide, arrangements were made to present this new research at a scientific conference and in a lecture series at research centers in Europe.

9. Forms for research travel that were lodged with Macquarie included a description of the findings. Presentation of our research was then blocked by Macquarie. The obstruction was imposed after arrangements had been made at several venues (arranged then to conform to other restrictions imposed by Macquarie). Macquarie’s intervention would have silenced the release of our research.  

10. Following the obstruction of research communication, as well as my earlier efforts   to obtain compliance with my contract, Macquarie modified my professional duties. My role was then reduced to that of a student teaching assistant: Marking student papers for other staff - junior staff. I objected, pursuant to my appointment and provisions of my contract.

11. In February 2013, Macquarie then accused me of "misconduct", cancelling my salary. It blocked access to my office, computer resources, even to personal equipment I had transferred from the US. My Russian student was prohibited from speaking with me. She was isolated - left without competent supervision and the resources necessary to complete her PhD investigation, research that Macquarie approved when it lured her from Russia.

12. Obligations to present our new research on greenhouse gases (previously arranged), had to be fulfilled at personal expense.

13. In April, The Australian (the national newspaper), published an article which grounded reckless claims by the so-called Australian Climate Commission: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/opinion/last-summer-was-not-actually-angrier-than-other-summers/story-e6frgd0x-1226611988057  (Open access via Google News) To promote the Climate Commission’s newest report is the latest sobering claim:       “one in two chance that by 2100 there'll be no human beings left on this planet” http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion/if-you-want-to-know-about-climate-ask-the-right-questions/story-fni0ffxg-1226666505528 Two of the six-member Australian Climate Commission are Macquarie staff. Included is its Chief Commissioner.

14. While I was in Europe presenting our new research on greenhouse gases,   Macquarie undertook its misconduct proceedings – with me in absentia. Macquarie was well informed of the circumstances. It was more than informed.

15. Upon arriving at Paris airport for my return to Australia, I was advised that my return ticket (among the resources Macquarie agreed to provide) had been cancelled. The latest chapter in a pattern, this action left me stranded in Europe, with no arrangements for lodging or return travel. The ticket that had been cancelled was non-refundable.

16. The action ensured my absence during Macquarie’s misconduct proceedings.

17. When I eventually returned to Australia, I lodged a complaint with the Australian employment tribunal, under statutes that prohibit retaliatory conduct.

18. In May 2013, while the matter was pending before the employment tribunal, Macquarie terminated my appointment.

19. Like the Australian Climate Commission, Macquarie is a publically-funded enterprise. It holds a responsibility to act in the interests of the public.

20. The recent events come with curious timing, disrupting publication of our research on greenhouse gases. With correspondence, files, and computer equipment confiscated, that research will now have to be pursued by Macquarie University's "Climate Experts". http://www.science.mq.edu.au/news_and_events/news/climate_change_commision  

                                                                                                                            Murry Salby

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Reader Comments (221)

Outrageous on the face of it.....but we do only have one side of the story? Caution advised!! I shall wait a bit before I make my judgement.
( Not that anyone cares what I think!)

Jul 9, 2013 at 8:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

I mentioned this on the previous thread. Jonova has the story.
After UWA and Llewellyndosky (as the Welsh locals affectionately know him), I didn't think Australian universities could sink any lower. However, if true, this is truly appalling. I'm not a letter writer but I think I might put pen to paper over this and encourage everyone I know to do likewise.

Jul 9, 2013 at 8:58 AM | Registered CommenterGrantB

Like Jack Savage I feel we ought to avoid a rush to judgment but past events tell me that Macquarie's behaviour is 'consistent with' ("I thank thee, Mann, for teaching me that word" - M of V Act 4 scene 1 — or very nearly!) normal standards of behaviour in climate departments of universities.
Am I shocked? Yes. Am I disappointed? Yes. Am I saddened? Yes. Am I surprised? Am I hell!

Jul 9, 2013 at 9:11 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Why did Macquarie appoint him in the first place, if (as appears from his version of events) they intended to hinder his work from the outset?

Jul 9, 2013 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterTurning Tide

If true, this is a desperate piece of manipulation to correct their first 2 mistakes of employing the Russian lady and Murray.

It sounds very much as if someone employed without the 'appropriate authority'.

Jul 9, 2013 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

German immigrants played a large role in setting up the excellent Australian wine industry. However I'm certain they're not responsible for this apparant move to 1930's physics at Macquarie University.

Jul 9, 2013 at 9:21 AM | Registered CommenterGrantB

Johanna is also on the case, being cautious about checking the facts.

Politics gets everywhere, unfortunately. It is a human condition. But the powers-that-be in academia have many strings to their bow. If the face doesn't fit, there are many ways a university can make working life so difficult for an academic that they are effectively neutered and/or forced out by seemingly innocent mechanisms.

Why do they do it? Because they can. I've seen it in action; things that are generally not so well tolerated today in large corporations who are afraid of damaged reputations and lost profits.

Jul 9, 2013 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

The Australian Government Minister for Science and Industry, Kim Carr, has form on this. Leading up to Copenhagen Conference he caused CSIRO to force a leading academic to resign because he had written a paper which implicitly criticized the economic analyses behind the Government’s climate change policies.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/climate-expert-clive-spash-heavied-by-csiro-management/story-e6frg8gf-1225793717744

Climate expert Clive Spash 'heavied' by CSIRO management

A CSIRO economist whose research criticising emissions trading schemes was banned from publication said last night he had been subjected to harassment by the senior agency management.

Clive Spash also accused the agency of hindering public debate and trampling on his civil liberties by preventing the research being published in British journal New Political Economy.

Dr Spash defended the paper, The Brave New World of Carbon Trading, saying it was a dispassionate analysis of ETS policies and was not politically partisan.

He was told in February he could publish the work if it were peer reviewed. But in July, CSIRO management said it could not be published after it was cleared for publication.

This month, he was informed he could not publish it even in his private capacity, because it was "politically sensitive". Within 24 hours, he also received a letter outlining a list of trivial instances in which he was accused of breaching CSIRO policy, for example not completing a leave form properly.

Dr Spash said he believed the letter was intended to, and did, intimidate him and denied him due process. None of the matters were raised with him prior to the letter being sent and each of the alleged misdemeanours could be explained.

"We are not members of the Defence Department, we are scientists who are supposed to be discussing research in an open forum. How do you advance knowledge if you stop people from publishing their work?

"I am totally happy to have my work criticised and debated but I'm not happy to have it suppressed."

Dr Spash said it was impossible to publish research in his field that did not have an impact on government policy. "The idea that you cannot discuss something like ETS policy when you're working on climate change as a political economist seems ridiculous," he said.

The gagging of Dr Spash's work is embarrassing for Science Minister Kim Carr, who defended academic freedoms in opposition and last year trumpeted a new CSIRO charter he said would give scientists the right to speak publicly about their findings.

Yesterday, Senator Carr told The Australian he supported the publication of peer-reviewed research, even if it had negative implications for government policy. He said he had not tried to gag the research.

Last night CSIRO chief executive Megan Clark said the organisation would work with Dr Spash on his paper.

"There is some important science in the paper and we will now work with Dr Spash to ensure the paper meets CSIRO internal review standards and the guidelines of the Public Research Agency Charter between the CSIRO and the federal government," she said.

"I encourage CSIRO scientists to communicate the outcomes and implications of their work and one of the underlying core values of CSIRO is the integrity of our excellent science."

Jul 9, 2013 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Lang

Macquarie University won't like the publicity this generates. It's one thing to fire someone, but the dirty tricks displayed in this instance are something else again. Someone acted shamefully. I hope they get named.

Jul 9, 2013 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterA.D. Everard

A month later (and just 4 days before the start of the Copenhagen Conference), the article below reports Dr. Clive Spash was forced to resign from CSIRO.

Clive Spash resigns from CSIRO after climate report 'censorship'

SCIENTIST Clive Spash has resigned from the CSIRO and called for a Senate inquiry into the science body following the censorship of his controversial report into emissions trading.

Dr Spash has lashed out at the organisation which he said promoted self-censorship among its scientists with its unfair publication guidelines.

He said he was stunned at the treatment he received at the hands of CSIRO management, including boss Megan Clark, and believed he was not alone.

"I've been treated extremely poorly," he said. "There needs to be a Senate inquiry.

"The way the publication policy and the charter are being interpreted will encourage self-censorship.

"It's obviously happened before at the CSIRO - and there's issues currently."

Last month, Dr Spash accused the organisation of gagging him and his report - The Brave New World of Carbon Trading - and restricting its publication.

The report is critical of cap and trade schemes, like the one the federal government is seeking to introduce, as well as big compensation to polluters.

Dr Spash advocates a direct tax on carbon.

The CSIRO said the report was in breach of its publication guidelines, which restrict scientists from speaking out on public policy.

But it provoked accusations the CSIRO was censoring research harmful to the Government.

Under intense pressure, Dr Clark publicly released the report on November 26 but warned Dr Spash would be punished for his behaviour and his refusal to amend it.

"I believe that internationally peer-reviewed science should be published or, if Dr Clark wishes to have her own opinion, then she should publish her own opinion," Dr Spash said, who has been on sick leave.
"I've been to the doctor under extreme stress."

He had been ordered not to speak to the media while working for the CSIRO, which originally headhunted him for the job.


http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/clive-spash-resigns-from-csiro-after-climate-report-censorship/story-e6frfku0-1225806539742

Jul 9, 2013 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Lang

Why did Macquarie appoint him in the first place, if (as appears from his version of events) they intended to hinder his work from the outset?

Jul 9, 2013 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterTurning Tide

Need the facts from both sides but if you wanted to stop some research from appearing is not this the easiest way.

Jul 9, 2013 at 9:46 AM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

Who are behind this? Their names!

Jul 9, 2013 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

With the usual caveats of seeing just one side, if this is as portrayed, then it does suggest that there is something even more insidious than mere academic incompetence and fear of being found out to be wrong behind the whole AGW scam. Which makes me seem like a loony “conspiracy theorist”; how soon before this is the charge laid against sceptics?

Jul 9, 2013 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

On the face of it, more skullduggery by the "Team" but I agree with earlier posters that we may not have the full story. It seems odd that it has taken so long for this to become public and it is not clear when the lack of a formalised contract was discovered. Without his material and the promised resources, what was he doing for 5 years?

Jul 9, 2013 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikeH

One the face of it, this appears appalling, but I retain my scepticism in all things, and will withhold outrage until we have full confirmation.

The Clive Spash case is somewhat different. I agree with his argument in the contentious paper (a tax is preferable to cap-and-trade), but he was working for the CSIRO (a government research agency), not a university where one might expect a commitment to academic freedom. Such does not exist at CSIRO and its employees - rightly or wrongly - are prohibited from criticising government policy. So his argument was right, but he gave up his right to express it by accepting employment from CSIRO.

Jul 9, 2013 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered Commenteraynsleykellow

@Breath of Fresh Air "Need the facts from both sides but if you wanted to stop some research from appearing is not this the easiest way."

Shouldn't have thought so: after all, Prof. Salby could simply have moved on to some other institution when it became obvious Macquarie were not going to supply the promised "resources" to enable him to rebuild his research programme.

BTW: I'm puzzled as to why the computer code detailed in his point 1 couldn't simply run in Australia too anyway. And if it couldn't, why would he accept a position that necessitated a hiatus in his research while this technical work was carried out?

Jul 9, 2013 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterTurning Tide

MikeH "Without his material and the promised resources, what was he doing for 5 years?"

Well, he wrote some papers. In addition, as he says in the email above, he also wrote a book entitled "Physics of the Atmosphere and Climate". I pre-ordered it and have a copy of it on my desk at work as write this.

If you want to support Murry Salby, why not buy his book?

As regards the back story to this, it is early days. But the statements provided by Murry Salby are very concerning. There may be another side to the story, but on the face of it something very disturbing is going on. I hope that Murry has the financial means to keep going (either with a legal action, although a tribunal will be much cheaper) and that Murry can find a new tenure at an open-minded research establishment. Perhaps Carlsberg or another international brewer can step in and provide support?

Jul 9, 2013 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

Murry was also working on a revolutionary new hypothesis related to CO2 and temperature:

"7. The preliminary findings seeded a comprehensive study of greenhouse gases.
Despite adverse circumstances, the wider study was recently completed. It indicates:

(i) Modern changes of atmospheric CO2 and methane are (contrary to popular belief)
not unprecedented.

(ii) The same physical law that governs ancient changes of atmospheric CO2 and methane
also governs modern changes.

These new findings are entirely consistent with the preliminary findings,
which evaluated the increase of 20th century CO2 from changes in native emission."

With those findings completed, he went on a world wide lecture tour...only to find his return ticket had been cancelled by his employer.

Jul 9, 2013 at 11:04 AM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

"On the face of it" can anyone name a lying cheating warmist "scientist" who has been sacked for their appalling climatology, from CRU, UEA. NASA. or other enlightened dump?.No, they get more funding and more accolades because that is what their political masters want. I think Dellingpole has the answer call them out for the scum they are

Jul 9, 2013 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Whale

Doesn't Australia have any organisations concerned with academic freedom? If so, are they taking up this case or are they run by a bunch of lefties who think freedom of speech means simply freedom to agree with them?

What about the press? If the office of the university's vice-chancellor/principal/president (whatever they call them in Australia) was getting lots of phone calls from journalists then the university would probably have to put out some sort of statement giving its side of the story.

I suspect that the university would try and avoid the subject of the cancellation of Professor Salby's return ticket. It would probably be very hard to come up with a legitimate excuse for that action.

Jul 9, 2013 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Turning Tide wrote:

Shouldn't have thought so: after all, Prof. Salby could simply have moved on to some other institution when it became obvious Macquarie were not going to supply the promised "resources" to enable him to rebuild his research programme.

Moving to another institution would not be a simple solution. How many universities have climatology departments or departments where similar research could be conducted? How often do jobs at a senior level come up in such places? If a vacancy occurred at the University of East Anglia do you think Salby would make the short-list?

If funding for research in climatology is driven by fear of the dangers of climate change then any institution will probably think twice before employing a researcher acquires a reputation for questioning the "consensus."

Jul 9, 2013 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

"With those findings completed, he went on a world wide lecture tour...only to find his return ticket had been cancelled by his employer."

Well, the lecture tour happened to coincide with a misconduct hearing, that he seems to regard as of lower priority. But the odd thing to me about this grand new theory, is that he never seems to have found the time to write it up for publication, or even a blog post. You have to listen to a podcast or watch a DVD.

Jul 9, 2013 at 11:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterNick Stokes

Isn't it obvious? Murry Salby was coming up with the "wrong answer" which did not support the CAGW orthodoxy. Perhaps it is not coincidental that two members of the Australian Government's "Climate Commission" - a euphemism for a mouthpiece for Government propaganda on CAGW - are also based at Macquarie University. One of the two is none other than Professor Time Flannery, the Chairman of the Climate Commission whose many procalamations on global warming in a book ('The Weather Makers') have been rebutted in a 400 page book titled 'The Weather Makers Re-examined'.
As a graduate of an Australian University (MB BS 1971 University of Sydney) I am thoroughly DISGUSTED, APPALLED AND HUMILIATED by the actions of Macquarie University.
I have exactly the same sentiments about the University of Western Australia and their defence of an atrocious paper which appeared recently in a journal titled 'Psychological Science'.

Jul 9, 2013 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterPatrick Purcell

"odd thing to me about this grand new theory, is that he never seems to have found the time to write it up for publication"

In lieu of journal articles, these links might help:

http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?as_q=&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&as_occt=any&as_sauthors=salby&as_publication=&as_ylo=2013&as_yhi=&btnG=&hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Physics-Atmosphere-Climate-Murry-Salby/dp/0521767180

Jul 9, 2013 at 11:52 AM | Registered CommenterPhilip Richens

For the benefit of those not familiar with Murry Salby, it should be noted that he has been working in this field for some 35 years and has recently published a textbook in which, inter alia, he explains the scientific basis underpinning his views based on the available data. Personally, I find his arguments more compelling than those of the CAGW proponents who are permanently attached to the government funding teat who seem to have an infinite capacity to ignore any 'inconvenient truths' which disagree with their hypothesis.

Jul 9, 2013 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterPatrick Purcell

"In lieu of journal articles, these links might help:"
The first two are just abstracts of talks. The textbook is AFAIK, an update of his 1994 text, not an exposition of new theories.

Jul 9, 2013 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterNick Stokes

Re: Jul 9, 2013 at 11:11 AM | Peter Whale

""On the face of it" can anyone name a lying cheating warmist "scientist" who has been sacked for their appalling climatology, from CRU, UEA. NASA. or other enlightened dump?.No, they get more funding and more accolades because that is what their political masters want."

Precisely - just think of the plaudits, funding and appointments received by the likes of Gleick, Lewandowsky and Mann to name but a few.

( And then there are the policital appointments in the UK of course where it seems a vested interest is almost a requirement for the job!!! So we get the likes of Yeo, Deben and co.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2338255/Tim-Yeo-MP-paid-400-000-green-firms-slams-climate-change-peer.html )

Thank you Murry Salby for highlighting all the problems you've encountered in your search for the truth and how publice funds are being deliberately manipulated in this way to suppress it!

Jul 9, 2013 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarion

aynsley kellow
I understand your point and there is no doubt that the restrictions normally placed on government employees (or any employee whose employer is funding his research) are perfectly proper.
But why would anyone employ a researcher to carry out research only then to tell him that he came up with the "wrong" answer which is more than evidently what happened in this case?
If a tax is preferable to cap-and-trade ("preferable" in this context presumably meaning better for the people/country/economy which is what governments supposedly care about) why would an employer attempt to squash debate on the subject?
I know I tend to be a bit of a naïf sometimes, for all my advancing years, but this sort of behaviour makes no sense — unless, of course, the government concerned is corrupt.
And I use that word quite deliberately.

Jul 9, 2013 at 12:11 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Nick Stokes - if the lecture tour coincided with a known misconduct hearing, why did MU pay for the return ticket in the first place. Prof Salby would have had to provide an itinerary to get funding approval. Logic fail Nick. [snip. Manners].

Jul 9, 2013 at 12:13 PM | Registered CommenterGrantB

Looking him up on Web of Knowledge it's clear that something happened in 2008: up till the end of 2008 he was publishing about four papers a year, and generally looking like a very solid, but not stellar, research scientist. After that he has one paper in 2011 and another in 2012. The fall is obvious and dramatic and while writing the second edition of his book would explain some of it it seems too large to be just that.

Changing institution and moving half way wound the world is a bad idea if you're undergoing a Damascene conversion in your views. There seems to be more going on here than either side is saying.

Jul 9, 2013 at 12:14 PM | Registered CommenterJonathan Jones

Nick Stokes
Have you suddenly become an arbiter of how scientists should behave?
Perhaps you could tell us where Salby's facts are wrong instead of picking holes in his method of disseminating them.

Jul 9, 2013 at 12:17 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Lysenkoism is alive and well, I see

Jul 9, 2013 at 12:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

"Nick Stokes - if the lecture tour coincided with a known misconduct hearing, why did MU pay for the return ticket in the first place. Logic fail Nick."
Payment was probably approved at a relatively low level. MS may even have had authority to buy the ticket himself.

On the other hand, if you don't turn up to a misconduct hearing, more senior people may get annoyed.

Jul 9, 2013 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterNick Stokes

Bullshit Nick unless MU are incredibly slack with travel funding. You were a PRS (maybe SPRS) I believe at CSIRO. I was a PRS at DSTO. Prof Salby was not a department head, neither were we. Whenever I went overseas my Chief of Division made sure my absence was covered and he went over my itinerary with a fine toothcomb. Then HE signed my approval to travel, not some friggin' underling.

If MU operate differently, then as an Australian taxpayer, all I can say is that they should have their arses kicked until their noses bleed.

Jul 9, 2013 at 12:42 PM | Registered CommenterGrantB

Mike Jackson:
I can't really answer your question as to why CSIRO would hire Clive Spash and then prevent him from publishing - I was simply explaining the context. Not many governments like the discomfort of supporting social science research (and sometimes natural science research): for all their claims to wanting evidence based policy, they too often insist on policy based evidence.

Jul 9, 2013 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered Commenteraynsleykellow

GrantB,
In fact, I was a CRS and effectively a department head - I had a budget. But we had credit cards, and could pay for tickets on our own authority - in fact, budget management was complicated by the fact that staff could thus spend my budget without my direct approval. That's been tightened since.

There were forms to fill out etc, but no more senior staff were involved. Of course, you'd normally want to be sure they knew, but it sounds like that may be a lesser concern here.

Jul 9, 2013 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterNick Stokes

The only surprise here is that anyone should be surprised. AGW is political, not scientific. By any objective standards it's been falsified many times over, and even at the very least has been revealed to be nothing approaching 'dangerous', 'catastrophic' etc.

There's simply too much financial, professional, political and reputational investment already placed to allow AGW to be revealed as the utter nonsense it is. We;ve got this baby for years to come, effectively for as long as it takes for the current generation of advocates to leave politics.

Scientists are paid huge sums to drive the politics; should they offer up opinions at variance from the accepted (and desired) line, their funding vanishes, as do their lucrative posts and any nice professional awards, too.

So everyone stays on message, the lie is perpetuated, backs are slapped and funds flow. As you were, gentlemen, as you were.

Jul 9, 2013 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

Mike Jackson, Nick Stokes

If you do a "publications" search on Salby in the Macquarie website you find at least one rather odd reference. It is a paper in pdf format entitled "How we know the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic." It is written by Colin Prentice, a professor in the same department. Prentice acknowledges Ann Henderson-Sellers, another professor climate scientist, and Sara Mikaloff Fletcher (somebody I couldn't trace). The document is dated August 2011 and is quite a scholarly rebuttal of something apparently written, spoken, or at least believed by Salby (about using carbon isotopes to fingerprint CO2). All familar stuff, but written very forcefully - very definitely somebody wanted to get something off his chest. The odd thing is that although Salby is the focus of the paper, and the paper cites several other references, there is no reference to anything actually by Salby. Apart, that is, from being littered with comments along the line "contrary to what Salby claims ..." It assumes that whoever read the document was well aware of the background. Odd that internal disagreements about science, or even personal animosity, should have led to such well worked up rebuttals prepared presumably for circulation, although that's not clear. It does suggest levels of disagreement in the department of fairly titanic proportions.

Jul 9, 2013 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered Commenteralan Kennedy

Sounds like a rant from someone who didn't even bother to check that they had legal employment status to me. Maybe I'm just judging by the language used, but it seems very convoluted...

Jul 9, 2013 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterSean Houlihane

Nick,

He had informed (apparently more than informed, which I like to imagine means tatooed the dates on someone's forehead...) the university of his dates of absence, and as they had the authority to cancel his ticket, they must have brought this. We do not have their side of the story (and I doubt we will - I can't see how they can come out of this well) - but cancelling a return ticket and leaving an employee (as he was at the time) stranded alone seems to be more than irresponsible to me.

If you have worked in academic environments, then you will know that cliques can take control of things, especially in small areas. It may be that, assuming there is nothing we have not been told here, it could simply be something as simple as this. But do you not find it odd that every time a story like this comes out it is those who challenge the AGW 'consensus' that have suffered?

Jul 9, 2013 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterWatchman

I've come across quite pedestrian behaviour from CSIRO folks, but of course, in the fine service of the orthodox position. No doubt fully defensible as 'outreach', 'communication' and the like.

I've had almost the same experience, luckily enough however, with my car! I can imagine Salby to be simply going about his business while forces move behind his back.

Jul 9, 2013 at 1:10 PM | Registered Commentershub

Alan Kennedy,
I assume that Prentice paper is a rebuttal of this talk at the Sydney Institute, 2 Aug 2011. That's what I was referring to - for a long time podcasts from this talk, and some later ones in the same forum, were the only reference cited. The Sydney institute is a very well connected conservative forum, so that is probably why the rebuttal effort was made.

Mike J invites me to rebut the theories and not worry about the mode of dissemination. It's actually hard to rebut a podcast. But for here, I'm focussing on why the University might be unhappy with this as the return on their considerable expenditure.

Jul 9, 2013 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterNick Stokes

I know it will be just a small drop in the ocean, but I've ordered his book - to hell with Macquarie University and their disgraceful antics

Jul 9, 2013 at 1:21 PM | Unregistered Commentercicero

Nick Stokes - fine, so you delegated overseas travel for SRS, PRS and SPRS applicants to a senior techo, the travel clerk or "someone at a relatively low level" as you are suggesting is the SOP at MU. A few beers and a few words in their shell like ears after work, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Well at least that's cleared up. It appears the practice is not just confined to academia.

Jul 9, 2013 at 1:27 PM | Registered CommenterGrantB

"Nick Stokes - if the lecture tour coincided with a known misconduct hearing, why did MU pay for the return ticket in the first place. Logic fail Nick."
Payment was probably approved at a relatively low level. MS may even have had authority to buy the ticket himself.

-But cancelling it was almost certainly not a low level decision.

On the other hand, if you don't turn up to a misconduct hearing, more senior people may get annoyed.

-I don't think I'm pushing the boat out in suggesting that both sides knew in advance what the "more senior people" had decided the result was going to be. I think we both know that Nick. When someone is going to be "let-go", some preparations are both necessary, and sometimes not disguised. He probably decided to not go quietly, for which he earns my respect.

-Regarding historic maximal absolute atmospheric CO2 levels, I'm not yet entirely convinced by his ice-core diffusion arguments, but I don't regard them as convincing either way. But it is plausible.

-The kinetics of the time lags on the temperature-CO2 response data cannot be so easily wished away without a more complex explanation. If you have some literature on how IPCC models have predicted this aspect of the carbon cycle in detail then I would be pleased to read it, Nick.

Jul 9, 2013 at 1:28 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Michael hart
I was particularly struck by how accurate estimates for natural sources of C12 and C13 don't exist. Is this true?

Jul 9, 2013 at 1:36 PM | Registered Commentershub

By coincidence, very recently, I posted a summary of some of Murry Salby's conclusions as a discussion thread here on BH.

Murry Salby: Relationship Between Greenhouse Gases and Global Temperature

At the start of my posting, I said:

I think, in times to come, it will be seen as a turning point and its significance will be great. He shows how the "climate science", that led to the belief in fossil-fuel use causing global warming, is simply wrong, being contradicted by observations. His reasoning is simple and straightforward and presents evidence obtained directly from observations.

By the way, he is not a crackpot by any measure whatever. He has a record of work with NASA and his new textbook "Physics of the Atmosphere and Climate" (~650 pages) provides a good measure of his stature.

I think it is not an exaggeration to state that he puts climate science on to a rigorous footing, where things are confirmed by comparison with observation. This is something it has lacked previously, even leading some people to question whether it should be accorded the term "science", because of its reliance on unvalidated models as "evidence".

Jul 9, 2013 at 1:40 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

GrantB (Jul 9, 2013 at 12:42 PM):

Beware. People may make light of your logic if you cannot get basic English right. I know of no teeth that need combing, so doubt any fine, splendid, or even coarse or derisory toothcombs exists. I suspect you actually meant “fine-tooth (or fine-toothed) comb”.

Jul 9, 2013 at 1:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Shub, if Salby said this then he is completely wrong. We have very good measurements of the carbon isotopic composition of the sources and sinks for atmospheric CO2. We also have a good knowledge of the fractionation factors involved during photosynthesis, respiration, combustion, dissolution, hydration etc. all processes that involve the CO2 molecule.

I've not listened to Salby's presentations and am not in a position to critique them. However, I did read the Prentice note referred to above and am in broad agreement with what he (Prentice) says about anthropogenic contributions to atmospheric CO2,

Jul 9, 2013 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Dennis

Sean Houlihane
You may be right which is why I suggested up-thread that getting the other side of the story would help. The longer we don't get that, of course, the more we are likely and entitled to believe that if Salby's account is not 100% accurate it is probably accurate enough.
The puzzle is why Macquarie appeared to have head-hunted him (and his Russian sidekick) in the first place. They must have known the likely outcome.
Or maybe not. Martin A's post above (copied from a discussion thread) makes one very crucial point, namely that Salby has put climate science onto a rigorous footing which I very strongly suspect is itself enough to damn him.
There doesn't seem to be any doubt left (was there ever?) that AGW is a political beast. Scientific rigour is the last thing either governments or universities want.

Jul 9, 2013 at 1:48 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

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