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UEA complains to the Guardian

UEA has complained to the Guardian about Heather Brooke's article about FOI and universities. They object to her saying that they broke the FOI laws. Heather is surprised by their gall. I don't suppose many readers here are though.

No doubt the complaint goes along the lines of "nobody has been found guilty of anything", which of course is a different question to whether anyone broke the law. There is no doubt that UEA staff broke the FOI laws, but no, nobody has been found guilty of anything.


Richard D's epetition

Richard Drake has posted an epetition to the gubmint:

Household energy bills are currently projected to increase by 30% - over £300 per annum - by 2020 as a direct result of policies that seek to reduce UK emissions of carbon dioxide. Because of uncertainties in both the science and the politics of climate change, including what other countries will be doing, and the burden such increases put on the poorest and most vulnerable in society, we ask that the increase should be no more than 5% of current energy bills.

You can sign here.


Dessler on Spencer and Braswell

Updated on Sep 6, 2011 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Thanks to Anthony for forwarding me the Dessler comment on Spencer and Braswell. I'll post the same excerpts as AW has so that readers here can discuss.

Cloud variations and the Earth’s energy budget
A.E. Dessler
Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX

Abstract: The question of whether clouds are the cause of surface temperature changes, rather than acting as a feedback in response to those temperature changes, is explored using data obtained between 2000 and 2010. An energy budget calculation shows that the energy trapped by clouds accounts for little of the observed climate variations. And observations of the lagged response of top-of-atmosphere (TOA) energy fluxes to surface temperature variations are not evidence that clouds are causing climate change.

Click to read more ...


The England anomaly

Anthony Watts has an interesting post about the temperature record for England which is getting much warmer than the records for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Remarkably, it is even diverging from the Central England Temperature record.

I'm sure readers will want to press Richard B for his thoughts on this, but given that it's not actually his area and given also that he is probably overwhelmed by all the engagement he has been doing here already, I have emailed a press officer at the Met Office I met at the Cambridge Conference. Maybe we can get a comment from someone in the know.


Quote of the day


With a tiny handful of exceptions (Judy, Richard Betts, Hans von Storch, Eduardo Zorita, surely there must be a few more?) the whole of “mainstream” climate science seems to be going into collective meltdown. To ordinary scientists their behaviour just gets more bizarre with every day.

I have worked in all sorts of areas of science, some really quite controversial, and I have never seen this sort of childish throwing of toys out of prams in any other context. I can’t see any solution beyond some proper grown ups getting involved and telling Trenberth and Gleick and friends to sit on the naughty step until they learn how to play nicely.

Jonathan Jones at Climate etc.



Is AR5 finished before it begins?

Roy Spencer has penned some further thoughts on the campaign being waged by the Team and he is worried:

We simply cannot compete with a good-ole-boy, group think, circle-the-wagons peer review process which has been rewarded with billions of research dollars to support certain policy outcomes.

It is obvious to many people what is going on behind the scenes. The next IPCC report (AR5) is now in preparation, and there is a bust-gut effort going on to make sure that either (1) no scientific papers get published which could get in the way of the IPCC’s politically-motivated goals, or (2) any critical papers that DO get published are discredited with any and all means available.

Click to read more ...


Autumn fireworks testing - Josh 116

It is the story of the week - how Wolfgang Wagner may or may not have been pressurised to resign over the publication of Spencer & Braswell. I wonder how the Team feel now?

Cartoons by Josh


Santer says

Santer et al have a new paper out on trends in the tropospheric temperature.

Because of the pronounced effect of interannual noise on decadal trends, a multi-model ensemble of anthropogenically-forced simulations displays many 10-year periods with little warming. A single decade of observational TLT data is therefore inadequate for identifying a slowly evolving anthropogenic warming signal. Our results show that temperature records of at least 17 years in length are required for identifying human effects on global-mean tropospheric temperature.

Please keep comments to the subject matter of the paper.


Cameron worried

And so he should be.

The Telegraph is apparently going to report tomorrow that fuel bills are going to go up by another £300 and that Cameron is worried.

Let's face it, it's probably too late for the PM already. It's probably too late for the Conservatives as a party.

Who could possibly forgive them for what they are doing to the country?




Dear Kev

According to The Daily Climate, both the editor and publisher of Remote Sensing wrote to Kevin Trenberth to apologise for publishing the Spencer and Braswell paper.

I wonder how they phrased their letters.

Suggestions in the comments please.



Why no resignation?

David Stockwell has a fascinating post about a paper in Nature by Thomas et al. Thomas is Chris Thomas of the University of Leeds and his co-authors include a bevy of academics as well as NGO people from bodies like the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Conservation International.

The subject is the effects of climate change on biodiversity and the paper appears to be quite monumentally bad - one naturalist described it as the worst paper he had ever read. Thomas et al not only use climate models that have no proven skill at the habitat level as the basis for their projections but then assume that any species whose range expands under climate change will...go extinct. Amazing.

Click to read more ...


Frankely, a bit of a stretch

Maurice Frankel, the director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information has made his own contribution to the Stirling University FOI question, claiming in remarkable fashion that an obscure exemption for FOI requests submitted to Scottish bodies may apply to Stirling.

The researchers have argued that if they are forced to hand over the information (presumably even in anonymised form from which subjects could not be identified), funders will be reluctant to back them, other academics will not share data with them and teenagers will refuse to be interviewed in future.

Click to read more ...


Critiques and responses

There is still huge interest in the Remote Sensing affair and quite what this means for the climate debate is still unclear.

One aspect of the story that has attracted a great deal of comment is the fact that Remote Sensing has not retracted the paper. As Retraction Watch puts it:

We are not in a position to critique the claims. But we are curious: If Wagner feels he published the article in error, why not simply retract it? Was it really necessary to fall on his sword to make the point that he now feels he made a mistake in publishing the paper? It’s a noble gesture, and not unprecedented for editors of climate journals, but is it best for science?

Remote Sensing has now made it clear that they will not be retracting the paper.

Click to read more ...


Brooke on the Stirling FOI case

Heather Brooke in the Guardian writes in support of the position I took on Philip Morris's line on FOI compliance for universities:

The UK's FoI law is meant to be applicant blind. This means anyone can ask a public body for official information and there should be no discrimination based on the identity of the person asking. In the case of scientific research conducted and funded in the public's name, there is a strong argument that the underlying data and methodology should be disclosed. It is precisely this transparency that grants research reports their status as robust investigations.

Good for her.


+++Journal editor resigns+++

Wolfgang Wagner, editor of the open access journal Remote Sensing, has resigned over the journal's publication of the Spencer and Braswell paper.

Peer-reviewed journals are a pillar of modern science. Their aim is to achieve highest scientific standards by carrying out a rigorous peer review that is, as a minimum requirement, supposed to be able to identify fundamental methodological errors or false claims. Unfortunately, as many climate researchers and engaged observers of the climate change debate pointed out in various internet discussion fora, the paper by Spencer and Braswell that was recently published in Remote Sensing is most likely problematic in both aspects and should therefore not have been published.

After having become aware of the situation, and studying the various pro and contra arguments, I agree with the critics of the paper. Therefore, I would like to take the responsibility for this editorial decision and, as a result, step down as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Remote Sensing.

This is quite extraordinary. Can it really be believed that Wagner heard "in various internet discussion fora" that the paper was wrong and on that basis has resigned?

A little later he says this:

If a paper presents interesting scientific arguments, even if controversial, it should be published and responded to in the open literature. This was my initial response after having become aware of this particular case. So why, after a more careful study of the pro and contra arguments, have I changed my initial view? The problem is that comparable studies published by other authors have already been refuted in open discussions and to some [extent] also in the literature (cf. [7]), a fact which was ignored by Spencer and Braswell in their paper and, unfortunately, not picked up by the reviewers.

Something being questioned "to some extent" in the literature does not represent a resigning matter. This really doesn't look very good to me.