While perusing some of the review comments to the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report, I came across the contributions of Andrew Lacis, a colleague of James Hansen's at GISS. Lacis's is not a name I've come across before but some of what he has to say about Chapter 9 of the IPCC's report is simply breathtaking.
Chapter 9 is possibly the most important one in the whole IPCC report - it's the one where they decide that global warming is manmade. This is the one where the headlines are made.
Remember, this guy is mainstream, not a sceptic, and you may need to remind yourself of that fact several times as you read through his comment on the executive summary of the chapter:
There is no scientific merit to be found in the Executive Summary. The presentation sounds like something put together by Greenpeace activists and their legal department. The points being made are made arbitrarily with legal sounding caveats without having established any foundation or basis in fact. The Executive Summary seems to be a political statement that is only designed to annoy greenhouse skeptics. Wasn't the IPCC Assessment Report intended to be a scientific document that would merit solid backing from the climate science community - instead of forcing many climate scientists into having to agree with greenhouse skeptic criticisms that this is indeed a report with a clear and obvious political agenda. Attribution can not happen until understanding has been clearly demonstrated. Once the facts of climate change have been established and understood, attribution will become self-evident to all. The Executive Summary as it stands is beyond redemption and should simply be deleted.
I'm speechless. The chapter authors, however weren't. This was their reply (all of it):
Rejected. [Executive Summary] summarizes Ch 9, which is based on the peer reviewed literature.
Simply astonishing. This is a consensus?
Eli Rabett is trying to argue that the requests put into the University of East Anglia were vexatious and also that they were turned down. Now, I know something about this, having put in one of the requests myself, although I was not part of the coordinated effort to ask for them five countries at a time. I just took the blunt approach and asked for all of them.
What is interesting is that neither my broad sweep nor the piecemeal requests were rejected as such. While everyone got a response that was in the form of a rejection, the grounds given were not that the request was vexatious. Each of us was in fact directed to a new webpage where the information we had asked for (or at least the paltry collection of available agreements that UEA could find) was to be found. The grounds for the rejection were therefore that the information was publicly available already.
The FoI Act allows public authorities to treat requests made obviously in concert as a single request, at which point it is possible to reject them as vexatious or demand payment as the circumstances demand. The fact that neither of these things happened shows that Eli's supposition that the requests were burdensome is wrong.
There's an interesting piece by Ian Katz in the Guardian today. His approach to the current state of global warming is to declare that every rock has to be lifted before any progress can be made. This doesn't seem unreasonable.
He has also started to think about where we go from here, and wonders about the possibility of removing the IPCC from the control of governments and having it run by national academies.
Next, the credibility of the IPCC – or some form of scientific high court – must be restored. In the short term that means appointing independent experts to review any alleged errors in the panel's reports. At the same time the IPCC should renounce, or at least severely restrict the use of, grey literature. "If that means you can't be comprehensive then don't be," says a senior scientist advocating this course. There is a strong case for more radical reforms: the panel should arguably be replaced by a body controlled by national scientific academies rather than governments.
The problem with this is that the national academies are wholly (or nearly wholly) owned subsidiaries of governments, even the nominally independent ones like the Royal Society. Those of us who are suspicious of the IPCC are hardly going to be convinced by a body run by the likes of the Royal Society's climate head honcho, ex-IPCC man Sir John Houghton, or the NAS's Ralph Ciccerone, he of the Hockey Stick panel shenanigans.
The left wing Labour MP Michael Meacher has posted an article about problems with the Freedom of Information Act and makes a passing allusion to the Hockey Stick affair.
It is dreadful that the FOI requests made to the scientists at the UEA climactic research unit were so disgracefully blocked (albeit that some of the climate change sceptics demanding the information may have been obsessive and partisan themselves). Some of the data, for example concerning the location of 42 rural Chinese weather stations or the width of annual growth rings of trees in frozen Siberian bogs, might be arcane and of minute relevance to fundamental climate change questions, but it should still have been made readily available. The evidence about the 'hockey stick' is much more serious and should certainly have been provided in full. Scientific data should be a free resource to all who seek it. But that of course applies much more widely than just to contentions about climate change.
Amen to that. I wonder if he has read my book?
Republican representatives in the US Congress have criticised the Penn State investigation into Michael Mann's conduct.
The findings and, more importantly, the focus have set off a wave of criticism accusing the university panel of failing to interview key people, neglecting to conduct more than a cursory review of allegations and structuring the inquiry so that the outcome -- exoneration -- was a foregone conclusion.
On Friday, Rep. Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Investigations Committee, charged that the Penn State's failure to settle all the charges and called into question professor Mann's work. He is demanding that all grants to the noted scientist be frozen.
As whitewashes go, it has to be said that it was carried off very poorly. The failure to even go through the motions of interviewing aggrieved parties like Steve McIntyre was a mistake by the Penn State authorities. They have brought this unwelcome attention down upon themselves.
The Council of Science Editors, a body that, in its own words, is a leader in promoting ethical practices in science publishing, is going to take the theme The Changing Climate of Scientific Publishing-The Heat Is On for its annual conference.
It reflects a program that addresses both global climate change (and the role science editors have in communicating relevant research on the topic) and the rapidly changing nature of the workplace and technology in the 21st century.
This sounded pretty interesting. There are some huge lessons to be learned by scholarly publishers from the sorry story of the Hockey Stick and Climategate. Materials availability, gatekeeping at journals is just the start of it. In fact I wondered why nobody had contacted me to speak on the subject. ;-)
Here's the reason: the Council is only interested in the role editors can play in promoting global warming scaremongering. Here's the notes on the keynote address:
It is striking that on climate change, the overwhelming majority of climate scientists (and the
scientific literature) are in consensus concerning climate change; yet a cloud (pun intended) of doubt and distractions like the recent “Climate Gate” email scandal continues to exist. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the climate change picture is clear to climate scientists even with a few missing pieces. This talk will examine the current and best science thinking on climate change and objectively discuss what “we know, don’t know, or need to know.”
So a body that exists to promotes ethical practices in publishing, when presented with evidence of unethical practices, gets in a speaker who is going to write them off as "a distraction".
John Graham-Cumming, the very clever computer scientist who has been replicating CRUTEM thinks he and one of his commenters have found an error in CRUTEM, the land temperature index created by Phil Jones at CRU which forms part of the HADCRUT global temperature index.
I have no idea why the correction given in this blog post by Ilya and I works: perhaps it indicates a genuine bug in the software used to generate CRUTEM3, perhaps it means Ilya and I have failed to understand something, or perhaps it indicates a missing explanation from Brohan et al. I also don't understand why when there are less than 30 years of data the number 30 appears to still be used.
If these are bugs then it indicates that CRUTEM3 will need to be reissued because the error ranges will be all wrong.
John is not a "jump up and down and shout fraud!" kind of guy. He is very careful and very cautious, as you can probably tell from the way he announces his findings.
Those of a mathematical bent might like to take a look and check what he's done.
The letter from Phil Willis, the chairman of the House of Commons select committee on science and technology to Sir Edward Acton, Vice Chancellor of UEA, received a certain amount of publicity at the time the announcement of the parliamentary inquiry was announced. It is now possible to read the reply from Sir Edward on the website of the select committee. A PDF is available here.
Here are a few of the highlights and some thoughts thereon:
Hack or leak?
A significant amount of material including emails and documents appears to have been accessed illegally from a back-up server in CRU and downloaded in whole, or possibly in part, on to the Real Climate website . Whilst it was removed promptly from that website, it was not before it had been widely accessed and distributed across a number of other websites . The method by which the material was obtained from CRU is the subject of a police enquiry. Substantial resources from the Norfolk Constabulary are being brought to bear but clearly this is a complex and technical forensic investigation, and must be expected to take time.
As is plain from this, there is no mention of hacking. I still find the fact that the police are apparently unaware of whether CRU's systems were hacked or not completely incomprehensible.
CRU's commitment to transparency
CRU's research outcomes have been published in peer-reviewed journals of the highest standing. All adjustments to data where this has been necessary (for example to account for the move of a meteorological station), have been explained.
But the code hasn't been released has it?
CRU has undertaken, with the good offices of the Met Office, to seek permission from the various national meteorological services which have provided the original station data to publish it.
Why wasn't this done before? If you can hand the data over to your pals, why not to other researchers?
This is not a simple undertaking as some 150 meteorological services were involved in the collection of the original data, and some see the data as having economic value or are otherwise sensitive to its release.
You mean the three met services that said it could only be used for non-commercial purposes?
Restoring confidence in CRU
None of the adjusted station data referred to in the emails that have been published has been destroyed.
Ah, but the emails referred to the raw data, didn't they? I winced when I read this. It looks a bit like trying to pull the wool over the eyes of our elected representatives.
When we receive Sir Muir's findings we will understand which if any of the
allegations stand and which fall and we will act accordingly. We will publish
the findings and the University's response.
Can we take it then that we are going to hear none of the evidence? That the hearings are going to be held in private? No surprise there then. Can we also take it then that Sir Muir will not be considering Sir Edward's apparent role in breaches of FoI law either?
I guess it's down to Parliament then.
Speaking about the new Africagate story - the best telling is at EU Referendum - Bob Watson has been telling Jonathan Leake about his views on how claims in the IPCC reports need to be substantiated.
Watson said such claims should be based on hard evidence. “Any such projection should be based on peer-reviewed literature from computer modelling of how agricultural yields would respond to climate change. I can see no such data supporting the IPCC report,” he said."
Presumably then, when Bob Watson was in charge of the IPCC, everything was based on hard science?
Well, not quite. While my impression is that there was less input from advocacy groups on Watson's watch, searching the Third Assessment Report for the word "Greenpeace" returns 52 results, including for example, references like this:
Hoegh-Guldberg, O., 1999: Climate Change, Coral Bleaching and the Future of the World's Coral Reefs. Greenpeace International, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 27 pp.
Gibson, M.A. and S.A. Schullinger, 1998: Answers from the Ice Edge: The Consequences of Climate Change on Life in the Bering and Chukchi Seas. Greenpeace Arctic Network, Anchorage, AK, USA, pp. 32.
Perhaps Professor Watson is a new convert to the cause of scientific integrity in the IPCC reports.
I note that the Hockey Stick Illusion is now available on Amazon.com. The price is highish, but no longer silly.
Paul Dennis is highly unimpressed by the Independent's editorial this morning and has responded in the comments with an angry denunciation, which is, in my opinion, thoroughly deserved.
I am growing tired of the lazy, careless and vacuous journalism that seeks to smear by insinuation. This newspaper asserts that 2 prominent climate bloggers (who spoke at the Heartland Institute) who associate with Paul Dennis a 54 year old climate researcher at the University of East Anglia.
I don't know what the Independent is trying to insinuate but to me associate in this context strikes of conspiracy, subterfuge etc.
A few minutes checking archives would have revealed that my association is that I have written several comments relating to isotope geochemistry and how it may be used to determine past climates at several websites, including climate audit, WUWT, and Air Vent. I am passionate about the public understanding of science and making my science accessible to others. One way, in this modern age, is to engage in blogs. A little more research might have shown the journalists that I also hold some small grants to enable me to develop science education programmes that involve schools in some of my research and that are also to develop 'open notebook' science methds in teaching and research. For those who are unaware open noterbook science is the complete publishing of lab notebooks on the web, raw data, successful and unsuccesful experiments, comments etc. It is the laying out of the genesis of ideas, development of hypotheses and tests, the experimental approach through to interpretation, write up, publication. In addition my laboratory is completely open to anyone who would like to visit and see how we use isotope geochemistry as a tool to understanding natural processes.
I have never met any of the bloggers referred to in the article. I sent Jeff Id a copy of an important paper I wrote with colleagues on climate at the southern end of the Antarctic Peninsula, which by the way showed a strong warming. I wrote to Steve McIntyre once to invite him to give a seminar, and I also wrote to ask if he was aware of anything on the web that could have been hacked from UEA computers. Attempts to paint me a 'denier' (see the article headline are way clear of the mark and I take it very much as an insult.
It is because of this lazy reporting and repeating of memes that I refuse to talk to any newspaper journalist including Paul Bignell of the Independent on Sunday.
The Independent is exhibiting the worst kind of gutter journalism and seems incapable of understanding that it is possible to believe in manmade global warming while having an abhorrence of secret data, withheld code and all the shenanigans of journal nobbling and publication gatekeeping that seem to be a feature of Hockey Team science.
There's just so much material round at the moment, it's hard to keep up. Here then is another resurrection of the Climate Cuttings series, in which I round up some recent developments.
In a story running in parallel in the Sunday Times and EU Referendum, Raj Pachauri is linked directly to a new set of erroneous statements in the IPCC reports. This time it's African rainfall they've been misleading us about. Since Pachauri is the author of the relevant part of the report and has repeated the claims elsewhere, he will find it harder to absolve himself of responsibility this time. Commenters noted a recent study that found that there has been a massive recent greening of the Sahel, with temperature rises leading to higher rainfall.
CCNet's Benny Peiser and The Observer's Robin McKie go head to head on whether Climategate matters. There's an interesting difference in tone between the two men.
The Observer's editorial says that the worst allegations in the emails are of suppression of information. I would have thought gatekeeping at scientific journals was far more important in the big picture. Either way, the Observer thinks that alarmism should continue regardless (or words to that effect).
Phil Jones has apparently considered suicide and he says he is still receiving death threats.
The Telegraph looks at Pachauri's financial interests and also finds that, as well as being a soft-porn writer, the big man is "a professional medium pace bowler", "a good top-order batsman and a fielder with a sharp catching arm." The IPCC. Is there nothing they can't do?
I've noted before the silly attempts to try to link sceptics to oil money, and the Independent is trying hard to use this kind of argument to destroy its remaining credibility. Apparently attending a seminar funded by Exxon is enough to refute one's arguments entirely. (It's true in Independent land).