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Interview in El Reg

There's an interview with one A.W. Montford Esq just gone up at the Register.


Council of Science Editors

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".

Oh dear.



Climategate book reviews

Reviews of the Climategate books - Montford, Mosher and Fuller, Booker and Costella - by the Bit Tooth Energy blog.


Has JG-C found an error in CRUTEM?

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.



Pulling the wool

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.




Bob Watson sees the light

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."


Peer Review Josh '10Well, of course. Anyone who believes in the integrity of science would expect the conclusions to be made on the basis of such hard evidence.

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.



Hockey Stick Illusion - US availability

I note that the Hockey Stick Illusion is now available on The price is highish, but no longer silly.

The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science (Independent Minds)



Paul Dennis responds to the Indy

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.

Paul Dennis

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.



Climate cuttings 34

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).




Politicians drawn in to FoI coverup

The scandal over the illegal blocking of FoI requests by scientists at the Climatic Research Unit has deepened somewhat, with the Mail reporting that the Defence Minister, Bob Ainsworth, used his statutory powers to help prevent disclosure of the work of the former Met Office Chief Scientist on the grounds that for the public to see it would prejudice Britain’s relationship with an international organisation.

Given that the disclosure is expected to reveal corruption within that international organisation, it does rather start to look as if Bob Ainsworth has managed to get himself implicated in the cover up. I don't suppose he has thought it through for himself - he is probably taking his officials' word for it.

I don't suppose people will forgive him though.


Flipping bizarre

An interesting little development on one of the story lines from The Hockey Stick Illusion. In Chapter 14, I tell the story of one of Michael Mann's later attempts at creating a hockey stick shaped temperature curve - Mann 2008. This paper is not as well-known as the Hockey Stick itself, of course, but has become fairly notorious because of an oddity in Mann's algorithm. Because of the way it works, the algorithm is unable to detect the orientation of the proxy series in a dataset and in the case of Mann 2008, this failing had some unfortunate consequences, namely that some of the series ended up upside-down, with what would normally have been read as declining temperatures flipped over so that they looked like warming.

This error was picked up extremely quickly by Climate Audit readers, and McIntyre included this point in a formal comment on the paper. The correction didn't, however, prevent an identical error being made in a later paper, Kaufman 2009, which was written by some of the same authors as Mann 2008 (although not the HockeyStickMeister himself).

Click to read more ...


Has Global Warming increased the toll of disasters?

This report on the debate between Pielke Jnr, Ward and Muir-Wood at the Royal Institution is by Josh, the cartoonist whose work has been adorning this site recently.

The Royal Institution has all the academic grandeur you would expect but its decor is up to date and, in a word, posh. The RI website reassuringly says "..although this event is held on a Friday...there is no dress code". The discussion was held in their old lecture theatre, with its steep seats and kitted out with excellent sound, projectors, and very comfy seats. You could imagine the room hearing Michael Faraday 150 years ago - this time it was Roger Pielke Jr.

I am a scientific and medical artist and the notes I take are visual, usually in the form of cartoons, a few of which I include here. This post will just be some overall impressions of the evening as you can listen to all the finer points on the RI website.

James Renderson chaired what was billed as a 'debate'. He got off to a bad start.

Click to read more ...


The shorter Guardian

Climatologists are not scientists. People who said so are evil.






State-run banks

Now that the Royal Bank of Scotland is in government control, the public can be sure that the rough edges of capitalism will be smoothed off and a more gentle caring approach will be taken to debts.

INDEPENDENT Anger as RBS pulls plug on girls’ school




Sir David King, conspiracy theorist

Sir David King says that some climate scientists have been overstating things:

Some science we stand on as totally solid and valuable but when we do it with something as complex as climate change we can get ourselves into difficulties so I am very annoyed with some of my colleagues for not following the scientific process," he said. "I have been irritated by some of my colleagues who have overstated the science.

It's funny, but I can't think of a single occasion on which Sir David has spoken of these concerns before, but I guess it's good to know now.

But the remarkable thing about King's interview is that he doesn't seem to have learned the lesson of his earlier utterances about foreign intelligence services being behind the climategate leak/hack, again bringing up national security as an issue for consideration in the climate debate:

He even suggested that British intelligence may have knowledge of who is behind the campaign.

"It is a security issue. We are talking about something that the British Government among others believes is putting our people at risk".

I was talking to an off-duty policeman in the pub last night, trying to get a perspective on why the National Domestic Extremism Team might be involved in the climategate investigation.  He thought the "nothing better to do" explanation was possible, but was also attracted to the "policing-overkill-covers-backsides" theory. And having now read Sir David's comments, I wonder if he's right. If the people in power in London are going to tie themselves up in conspiracy theories over the motley band of global warming sceptics being funded by vested interests and foreign powers then it's hardly surprising when anti-terrorist forces are used to against concerned, but law-abiding citizens.