Slowly, but surely, the curtain is being lifted on Lord Oxburgh's inquiry into the science of CRU. Today I received a response to my FoI request for the emails of Sir Brian Hoskins and Professor David Hand (both of Imperial College, London) related to the Oxburgh inquiry. They are going to make a bit of a splash I think.
The emails can be downloaded here. There's a file for each man's correspondence and another for the attachments to Hand's emails. There's a lot of administrative stuff, but there is much of interest and some that made me laugh out loud.
I particularly liked the bit Oliver Morton of the Economist asks Oxburgh who chose the papers for the inquiry. Oxburgh replies:
Thanks for your message - the answer is that I don't know! What I received was a list from the university which I understand was chosen by the Royal Society The contact with the RS was I believe through [redacted - probably Martin Rees] but I don't know who he consulted. [Name redacted], when I asked him, agreed that the original sample was fair.
This is an excerpt from a paper by Deepak Lal, an economist at UCLA. It dates from the year 2000.
My friend John Flemming who was then chief economist at the Bank of England, and also chairing a subcommittee of one of the UK's research councils, told me on reading the lecture that I would get nowhere by taking on the scientists who, at a meeting he attended to distribute funds for climate research, had explicitly said that they were not going to behave like economists by disagreeing with each other!
As part of his ongoing investigations into the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, David Holland has used FoI to get hold of a pile of emails from Professor Brian Hoskins, then of the University of Reading and now at Imperial College. Readers will remember that Professor Hoskins amusingly rubber-stamped the list of papers chosen by UEA for the Oxburgh report.
Today was the school fete. I was on carparking duty. Health and Safety has decreed that someone wearing a high-vis jacket must be in attendance at the carpark throughout the event. For the first hour, I was that person.
The fete began at 1pm. By the time I arrived at the carpark at 12:59, it was just about full, parents having proven remarkably adept at parking their cars without my assistance. This is perhaps not surprising as most of them use the carpark on a daily basis when they are on the school run.
Over the next hour I waved a few latecomers away and sat in the sunshine reading the newspaper. My high-vis jacket was quite useful as a cushion. I must have turned away about ten cars, most of which were subsequently parked in the road outside the carpark. I wasn't sure if my remit extended to the street so I left them to do this unassisted. They too seemed to manage quite well without me.
Later I went down to the fete itself. The tents had red and white tape tied to the guy ropes. This is apparently a rule laid down by Health and Safety. The scones were unbuttered, since this is not permitted by Health and Safety either. There were no sandwiches,since these apparently pose an unacceptable risk to the public.
The risk assessment had concluded that a tug of war is too dangerous so we didn't do that this year. I was reminded of the school sports day last week when parents were asked if anyone had safety concerns over their children taking part in the three-legged race. Apparently Health and Safety will be angry if this question isn't asked.
Strange day really.
In the comments on the Collide-a-scape thread, Judy Curry has issued a challenge to mainstream climate science:
I am laying down the gauntlet, [The Hockey Stick Illusion] really needs to discussed and rebutted by the paleo researchers and the IPCC defenders.
Most of the responses are fallacious so far - along the lines of "a bad person liked this book". Let's see if anything more substantial appears.
Roger Harrabin has an article about "libertarian columnists" in New Scientist.
Libertarian columnists have helped turned many British Conservative parliamentarians into climate doubters, and the Conservative prime minister, David Cameron, has installed a Liberal Democrat climate secretary to give his coalition's green policies some protection from his own party's right wing.
Libertarian columnists? Whoever can he mean?
Keith Kloor's Collide-a-scape site is currently discussing the Hockey Stick Illusion. Many of the usual suspects are arguing that it should be ignored, with Judy Curry arguing the case that it matters.
Please keep it ultra-polite and don't rise to any bait that is set out for you.
An article in Wired magazine recounts how sea-ice modellers are sharing data and methods and are learning from each other in the process. It's not obvious whether the sea-ice community have actually made their data and code open to the world or whether this is just a case of sharing within the community, but it's a step forwards at least.
It's also nice to see Mark Serreze apologising for his role in stirring up scare stories in 2007:
"In hindsight, probably too much was read into 2007, and I would take some blame for that,” Serreze said. “There were so many of us that were astounded by what happened, and maybe we read too much into it.”
If climatologists are now going to eschew scaremongering then that is certainly welcome. It's therefore a pity that the Wired reporter, Alexis Madrigal, begins the piece with the obligatory reference to "record low levels of sea ice in the Arctic". It's not that she's wrong, but just a few months ago sea ice levels were higher than they have been for years, and the more representative global sea ice levels are actually currently above their long-term average.
Steve M posted a link to the audio of John Christy's presentation to the Interacademies Council a couple of days ago. For those of us who prefer the written word, Marcel Crok has now posted a transcript. You need to scroll through the Dutch to get to Christy's words in English.
I liked this bit:
A fundamental problem with the entire issue here is that climate science is not a classic, experimental science. As an emerging science of a complex, chaotic climate system, it is plagued by uncertainty and ambiguity in both observations and theory. Lacking classic, laboratory results, it easily becomes hostage to opinion, groupthink, arguments-from-authority, overstatement of confidence, and even Hollywood movies.
Andrew Orlowski reports that the Spanish government is reining back hard on the payments it makes to solar power companies - who are in essence subsidy farmers.
Spanish economist Professor Gabriel Calzada, at the University of Madrid estimated that each green job had cost the country $774,000.
Worse, a "green" job costs 2.2 jobs that might otherwise have been created - a figure Calzada derived by dividing the average subsidy per worker by the average productivity per worker. Industry, which can't afford to pay the higher fuel bills, simply moves elsewhere.
Newly elected MPs are to be given advice on science. This is because most of them can't tell a test tube from an experimental railway.
And who is going to teach them about this science stuff? Some familiar names:
1. Phil Willis (or Lord Willis as we must now call him) the man who ran applied the first coat of whitewash to CRU.
2. Lord Oxburgh, the man who applied the second coat of whitewash to CRU.
3. John Beddington (soon to be Sir John) the man who chose Lord Oxburgh to gloss over scientific matters
There were some others too - Lord Winston and David Willetts being the two best known names. Muir Russell was said to be otherwise engaged.*
[*I made this last bit up]
What can you say about New Scientist?
There's a bit in the Rational Optimist which discusses coral reefs and the greek chorus that claims they are all going to disappear because of ocean acidification. Acidification is not really the issue says our Optimist - there are much bigger problems:
Coral reefs... are suffering horribly from pollution, silt, nutrient run-off and fishing - especially the harvesting of herbivorous fishes that otherwise keep reefs clean of algae.
And what has New Scientist writer Liz Else got to say about this? Well, she accuses the Optimist of failing `to recognize that there is more to the health of corals than the amount of bicarbonate [i.e. acidification].
Standards are not what they were at New Scientist, are they?