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Friday
Oct012010

A measured view from Grantham

The FT has given space in its letters columns for more of Jeremy Grantham's staff - this time from the other institute, at Imperial - to respond to Lord Turnbull's article the other day. Dr Simon Buckle's contribution is much more measured than Bob Ward's laughable piece the other day, as you would expect from a former diplomat. He agrees that the IAC recommendations should be put in place immediately, but rejects calls for a renewed inquiry into what went on at CRU.

The problem with a civil service insider saying that there should not be a credible investigation of CRU is that it ends up looking like Sir Humphrey sweeping problems under the carpet. Again.

[Post amended to correct Dr Buckle's affiliation]

Thursday
Sep302010

Royal Society on climate change

I'm slightly late to the story, but it's being reported this morning that the Royal Society has bowed to pressure from sceptics and will replace its position paper on climate change, incorporating more of the uncertainties that concern sceptics.

Climate change: a summary of the science states that “some uncertainties are unlikely ever to be significantly reduced”. Unlike Climate change controversies, a simple guide — the document it replaces — it avoids making predictions about the impact of climate change and refrains from advising governments about how they should respond.

This is certainly welcome.

Wednesday
Sep292010

Pielke Jnr on Bob

RP Jnr has also been reading Bob Ward's article in the FT and picks up on many of the same points I did, including the oddity of a publicly funded university - LSE - spending money on employing a political "attack-dog", as Roger calls our Bob.

Wednesday
Sep292010

Bob wants Benny to break law

Bob Ward, the PR guy from the Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics has responded to Lord Turnbull's article in the FT with a letter to the editor that is standard fare for afficionados of the Ward oeuvre.

Turnbull's article called, you may remember, for an overhaul of climate science. Ward's response has two main thrusts:

  • he thinks the graph in GWPF's logo is wrong
  • he wants GWPF to reveal its funding sources.

I'm frankly amazed that the FT would publish a letter criticising a logo - I can't believe their readers are impressed by this kind of thing. The second point, however, is worth a closer look. Here's what Bob said:

The public and policymakers need robust and reliable information about climate change. They also expect openness and transparency from researchers in order to have confidence in their integrity and to be sure that they are not being influenced by vested interests. Yet Lord Turnbull does not mention this, and does not explain why the foundation refuses to reveal its sources of funding.

This has actually been explained to Bob before. He knows that GWPF vets donors to ensure that they have no connections with energy companies. But more significantly, he also knows that a charity cannot just reveal the identities of its donors without their permission. This would be a breach of the Data Protection Act.

What we see here is an employee of LSE - a civil servant paid for with our taxes - knowingly calling for someone to break the law in the pages of a national newspaper.

Tuesday
Sep282010

Comments

Has anyone else noticed the first two comments under Steve M's post on the New Statesman 50? Made me laugh anyway...

Tuesday
Sep282010

Tip jar reopens

A couple of readers have asked after the tip jar. My intention has been to put it up about one a quarter for a week. We're near enough ready for Q4, so I've switched it on again.

Tuesday
Sep282010

Making an impact

Congratulations to Steve McIntyre, who is included in the New Statesman's list of "50 people who matter".  The campaign to have Steve elected a fellow of the Royal Society starts here. :-)

Monday
Sep272010

KPMG: not shooting straight?

This is a guest post by Shub Niggurath. Shub followed up on an odd detail in RK Pachauri's expense claims. It could be nothing, but is interesting nevertheless.

The Guardian recently published an article about a "limited-review" of the IPCC chairman RK Pachauri's personal accounts by KPMG, a firm of accountants. This report had widespread play as it followed closely behind the Telegraph's apology to RK Pachauri over its article about his business interests. For example, using conclusions and language from the report, George Monbiot went on to claim that the IPCC chairman had "no conflicts of interest".

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep272010

Turnbull

Andrew Turnbull, the former cabinet secretary who wrote the foreword to my GWPF report, has an article in the FT looking at where we go from here:

The UK government should demand the changes recommended are implemented immediately for the IPCC’s forthcoming Fifth Assessment. Only if confidence is restored in the science will there be the trust with the public which policymakers need. Climate science needs to be less dogmatic, welcoming rather than suppressing diverse views, and candid about uncertainties. It needs also to recognise the strong natural variations upon which man-made emissions are superimposed.

Sunday
Sep262010

Budiansky again

I really must stop linking to this guy - but some of his postings are just irresistible. I picked this quote almost at random from his current posting, which picks up some of the ideas Matt Ridley puts forward in The Rational Optimist and has a damn good curmudgeonly rant in support of them:

Pessimism is of course a proven fund-raising tool; "save the whales!" is always going to bring in more cash than "the whales are being saved!" But much more than that, we have today the amusingly ironic spectacle of tenured professors with salaries, health insurance, lifetime job security, and excellent retirement plans courtesy of TIAA-CREF being showered with worldly rewards (bestselling books, "genius" awards) for telling us that progress is an illusion and the end is near . . . while still preening themselves as daring outsiders courageously taking on the mighty and powerful. The fact that it takes no daring at all to adopt such an intellectual posture these days does not stop any of the practitioners of this business model from invariably announcing themselves to be the bearers of "dangerous" or "heretical" ideas and congratulating themselves for "speaking truth to power."

Sunday
Sep262010

Josh 43

Sunday
Sep262010

Book shelf at Judy C's

Judith Curry is discussing recent climate books at her new website, including The Hockey Stick Illusion. This is what she says:

The value of the book is this:  it is a well documented and well written book on the subject of the “hockey wars.”  It is required reading for anyone wanting to understand the blogosphere climate skeptics and particularly the climate auditors; it is needed reading for anyone confusing Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick with merchants of doubt.   The book is not a rant, but presents a well reasoned and well documented argument.  The book has been referenced in at least two scholarly (refereed journal) publications that I am aware of.   Apparently the book was completed before 11/19/2009 (the unauthorized release of the CRU emails); a chapter was tagged on at the end related to the emails, and the title was changed.  I suspect that if the the title didn’t include “Climategate and the Corruption of Science” that the book wouldn’t have encountered such controversy.

I'm not sure I agree with the last bit: there are plenty of people out there who will want to protect the Hockey Stick no matter what.

Friday
Sep242010

Science cuts

There is dismay across the science community at the prospect of 20% cuts in funding. Martin Rees has been holding forth on the subject:

  • 20 per cent cuts are the "game over" scenario, which would cause irreversible destruction and be "very tragic", said Rees.
  • 10 per cent is the "slash and burn" option with "serious consequences".
  • Constant cash, a reduction in real terms, "could be accommodated".

If only we weren't spending all that money on subsidising the windfarms that scientists say we need.

Friday
Sep242010

Ernst Georg Beck

Benny Peiser emails to inform me that Ernst Georg Beck has passed away. Beck was best known for his work questioning the Mauna Loa carbon dioxide measurements. There is an obituary attached below.

Enclosure

Friday
Sep242010

Free the data

This is an excerpt from a letter published in the current edition of Nature by Keith Baggerly of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, USA and seven co-authors. It's not online but many thanks to the reader who sent a copy. The authors describe the investigation leading to the withdrawl of three clinical studies at Duke University, NC. They note that this investigation has taken thousands of hours, and that this was necessary because the source data was not available in full.

To counter this  problem, journals should demand that authors submit sufficient detail for the independent assessment of their paper’s conclusions. data are backed up with adequate documentation and sample annotation; all primary data sources, such as database accessions or URL links, are presented; and all scripts and software source codes are supplied, with instructions. Analytical (non-scriptable) protocols should be described step by step, and the research protocol, including any plans for research and analysis, should be provided (see go.nature.com/ UaF2Kv). Files containing such information could be stored as supplements by the journal.