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The CRU hack: Context

Filed under: — gavin @ 23 November 2009

This is a continuation of the last thread which is getting a little unwieldy. The emails cover a 13 year period in which many things happened, and very few people are up to speed on some of the long-buried issues. So to save some time, I’ve pulled a few bits out of the comment thread that shed some light on some of the context which is missing in some of the discussion of various emails.

  • Trenberth: You need to read his recent paper on quantifying the current changes in the Earth’s energy budget to realise why he is concerned about our inability currently to track small year-to-year variations in the radiative fluxes.
  • Wigley: The concern with sea surface temperatures in the 1940s stems from the paper by Thompson et al (2007) which identified a spurious discontinuity in ocean temperatures. The impact of this has not yet been fully corrected for in the HadSST data set, but people still want to assess what impact it might have on any work that used the original data.
  • Climate Research and peer-review: You should read about the issues from the editors (Claire Goodess, Hans von Storch) who resigned because of a breakdown of the peer review process at that journal, that came to light with the particularly egregious (and well-publicised) paper by Soon and Baliunas (2003). The publisher’s assessment is here.

Update: Pulling out some of the common points being raised in the comments.

  • HARRY_read_me.txt. This is a 4 year-long work log of Ian (Harry) Harris who was working to upgrade the documentation, metadata and databases associated with the legacy CRU TS 2.1 product, which is not the same as the HadCRUT data (see Mitchell and Jones, 2003 for details). The CSU TS 3.0 is available now (via ClimateExplorer for instance), and so presumably the database problems got fixed. Anyone who has ever worked on constructing a database from dozens of individual, sometimes contradictory and inconsistently formatted datasets will share his evident frustration with how tedious that can be.
  • “Redefine the peer-reviewed literature!” . Nobody actually gets to do that, and both papers discussed in that comment – McKitrick and Michaels (2004) and Kalnay and Cai (2003) were both cited and discussed in Chapter 2 of 3 the IPCC AR4 report. As an aside, neither has stood the test of time.
  • “Declines” in the MXD record. This decline was hidden written up in Nature in 1998 where the authors suggested not using the post 1960 data. Their actual programs (in IDL script), unsurprisingly warn against using post 1960 data. Added: Note that the ‘hide the decline’ comment was made in 1999 – 10 years ago, and has no connection whatsoever to more recent instrumental records.
  • CRU data accessibility. From the date of the first FOI request to CRU (in 2007), it has been made abundantly clear that the main impediment to releasing the whole CRU archive is the small % of it that was given to CRU on the understanding it wouldn’t be passed on to third parties. Those restrictions are in place because of the originating organisations (the various National Met. Services) around the world and are not CRU’s to break. As of Nov 13, the response to the umpteenth FOI request for the same data met with exactly the same response. This is an unfortunate situation, and pressure should be brought to bear on the National Met Services to release CRU from that obligation. It is not however the fault of CRU. The vast majority of the data in the HadCRU records is publicly available from GHCN (v2.mean.Z).
  • Suggestions that FOI-related material be deleted … are ill-advised even if not carried out. What is and is not responsive and deliverable to an FOI request is however a subject that it is very appropriate to discuss.
  • Fudge factors (update) IDL code in the some of the attached files calculates and applies an artificial ‘fudge factor’ to the MXD proxies to artificially eliminate the ‘divergence pattern’. This was done for a set of experiments reported in this submitted 2004 draft by Osborn and colleagues but which was never published. Section 4.3 explains the rationale very clearly which was to test the sensitivity of the calibration of the MXD proxies should the divergence end up being anthropogenic. It has nothing to do with any temperature record, has not been used in any published reconstruction and is not the source of any hockey stick blade anywhere.

Further update: This comment from Halldór Björnsson of the Icelandic Met. Service goes right to the heart of the accessibility issue:

Re: CRU data accessibility.

National Meteorological Services (NMSs) have different rules on data exchange. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) organizes the exchange of “basic data”, i.e. data that are needed for weather forecasts. For details on these see WMO resolution number 40 (see http://bit.ly/8jOjX1).

This document acknowledges that WMO member states can place restrictions on the dissemination of data to third parties “for reasons such as national laws or costs of production”. These restrictions are only supposed to apply to commercial use, the research and education community is supposed to have free access to all the data.

Now, for researchers this sounds open and fine. In practice it hasn’t proved to be so.

Most NMSs also can distribute all sorts of data that are classified as “additional data and products”. Restrictions can be placed on these. These special data and products (which can range from regular weather data from a specific station to maps of rain intensity based on satellite and radar data). Many nations do place restrictions on such data (see link for additional data on above WMO-40 webpage for details).

The reasons for restricting access is often commercial, NMSs are often required by law to have substantial income from commercial sources, in other cases it can be for national security reasons, but in many cases (in my experience) the reasons simply seem to be “because we can”.

What has this got to do with CRU? The data that CRU needs for their data base comes from entities that restrict access to much of their data. And even better, since the UK has submitted an exception for additional data, some nations that otherwise would provide data without question will not provide data to the UK. I know this from experience, since my nation (Iceland) did send in such conditions and for years I had problem getting certain data from the US.

The ideal, that all data should be free and open is unfortunately not adhered to by a large portion of the meteorological community. Probably only a small portion of the CRU data is “locked” but the end effect is that all their data becomes closed. It is not their fault, and I am sure that they dislike them as much as any other researcher who has tried to get access to all data from stations in region X in country Y.

These restrictions end up by wasting resources and hurting everyone. The research community (CRU included) and the public are the victims. If you don’t like it, write to you NMSs and urge them to open all their data.

I can update (further) this if there is demand. Please let me know in the comments, which, as always, should be substantive, non-insulting and on topic.

Comments continue here.


1,074 Responses to “The CRU hack: Context”

  1. 51
    Deech56 says:

    Gavin, you have some ‘splainin’ to do.

    Cheers. Oh, I hope you weren’t having your morning tea/coffee.

  2. 52
    CM says:

    I apologize for my misleading statement on the previous thread. Structuring transactions for the purpose of avoiding currency transaction reporting requirements is indeed illegal in the U.S. (since 1986). Thanks to “bz” for setting me straight and the moderator for letting through this off-topic apology.

  3. 53
    Ray Ladbury says:

    The basic problem with the denialist arguments is that the proponents are so utterly ignorant of the science. For God’s sake, we now have people contending that the rise in CO2 is not due to human activity! Folks, come on. Humans have produced more CO2 than can be accounted for by the increase in the atmosphere and we have acidification of the oceans that accounts for the rest. We know the carbon is from a fossil source by the fact that it is enriched in light carbon isotopes. We KNOW these things, and to claim we do not is not skepticism but ignorance at best.

    Frankly, IMHO, you would all be welcome to comment here at RC if you were more inclined to actually learn the science before accusing the entire scientific community of fraud! Fergodsake! People spend decades learning this stuff. Don’t you think you ought to at least spend a couple of years familiarizing yourself with the subject matter before you consider yourself sufficiently knowledgeable to comment on it?

  4. 54
    Bas says:

    What’s scientific about this…..?

    “So, we can have a proper result, but only by including a load of garbage!”

    From HARRY_READ_ME.txt …….you’ll find it…..

    [edit]

    [Response: Anyone who has worked on debugging code tests things and sometimes find odd behaviours that are obviously wrong. You then fix them, as 'Harry' goes on to do. No "smoking gun" in finding that debugging code finds bugs. - gavin]

  5. 55
    Max says:

    A small reply to ccpo:

    Why it is necessary to have a good understanding of climate science that is beyond doubt? Well, there are several reasons. First, most political decisions are made while being unaware of the respective science. You claim that is not true, but you just have to look at energy production. Most political choices are either special interests or are counter to what science says is a good way to manage an electrical grid (e.g. wind power over nuclear power). Or let’s change the subject to labour markets, again, science says that minimum wage hurts low skill labour, but they are still upheld. Third example, recycling is done despite the known fact that energy-wise this is the worst kind of recycling.
    So, there you go on your criticism, that politics act on the basis of much less certain science. They actually DO NOT act on it.

    Yes, there are nut jobs out there that deny any kind of warming and say it doesn’t exist. But such nut jobs can be found on BOTH sides of the line. You shouldn’t argue with them. However, there are people that are a lot more sensitive. They believe that there is man-made warming, they just think that the amount of warming is exaggerated in the methods we have nowadays. This criticism stems from the physical sciences that conclude CO2 drives a certain amount of warming depending on the ppm-count (f.e. approx. 0.6 °C at our current ppm-position). But they believe that the complex system of radiative forcings and feedbacks doesn’t easily have an amplification of much more than 1. They want to calm down the debate to a more rational and sensible level, which should be in your interest, too, if you consider yourself to be a man of science.

  6. 56
    Alexander Davidson says:

    Is a Freedom of Information Request necessarily the act of a sceptic?

    Discuss…..

  7. 57
    Tommy says:

    Copenhagen is looking more and more like a potentially disastrous catastrophe should the US and Chinese Administrations fail to commit to making significant changes. None of us want it to fail, but even the organisers are now beginning to thing of contingencies…

    http://tommygilchrist.wordpress.com/2009/11/23/why-copenhagen-will-fail/

  8. 58
    Adam Gallon says:

    Interesting as the e-mails are, from a point of view of group-dynamics and as Judith Curry’s post over at Climate Audit shows, a “Circling of the Wagons”, the real interesting material is contained within the documents, the one labelled HARRY_READ_ME about the computer programming behind the CRU data.
    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/hadley-hack-and-cru-crud/ being specially interesting.
    Is it not high time, that this archaic, patched, botched & distorted set of models was consigned to an electronic dustbin and a new model started, with proper inputs?

    [Response: What 'Harry' was doing is exactly that - upgrading legacy code so that it actually works and can be used by others. And these aren't 'models' in any case. - gavin]

  9. 59
    Adam Gallon says:

    Oh, a further addition.
    I see that there are many posters decrying the release of these data & e-mails.
    If a similar set were to pop up, showing conivance between (insert name of major company) and (insert name of blogger or politician) to subvert publication of real evidence of AGW, would thye be equally vocal in their denounciation?
    It seems much like the recent leaking of UK MP’s expenses, where the MPs couldn’t see what the fuss was about and were disgusted that the non-redacted information had been released.

  10. 60
    Christian King says:

    During the traffic jam this morning I was flicking the radio when I stumbled across and interview with one of the female scientists involved in the CRUgate (missed name..sorry). I think it was 4BC or one of those dodgy talk back stations (In Australia).

    Anyway the conversation was along the lines of what is the Australian government doing talking about emissions trading that will ruin our way of life, and why are they following these climate schemers, keeping secrets from the public. The interview with the female scientist was reasonable and the usual basics of climate change were covered, the answer to the leaked emails was the abhorrence towards the hackers and that they had deliberately selectively quoted comments out of context. The interviewer went further twisting the words into a conspiracy and claiming that it was an “inside job”. News to us. They went onto downplay the relevance to the upcoming ETS agreement.

    The programme then interviewed my favourite journalist Andrew bolt who proceeded to announce that global warming is not real that the hottest year was 1998, that there is no scientific consensus, and all manner of completely fabricated defunct arguments that make my blood boil. The problem is that years after the controversy the media have turned the science into a debate which bears no resemblance to the actual science but creates a circus that sways public opinion.

    The only thing that calmed me down was the excellent write up by Mungo MacCallum about Bolt and the Liberal party in my local rag this week. Pure Gold. http://www.crikey.com.au/2009/11/23/mungo-ets-decision-crunch-time-for-turnbull/

  11. 61
    The Raven says:

    The denialists seem to think that crime on their part is evidence of crime on the part of their victims. That’s toxic.

    There’s a number of people who call this a heroic act, invoking Daniel Ellsberg’s and the Pentagon Papers–bah! It might be heroic if the subject was a current war fought on false pretenses with thousands dying, with an administration lying, lying, lying, and a real risk of prosecution and mistreatment by corrupt officials. None of that obtains here.

  12. 62
    Georg Filzmaier says:

    Reality vs. Modell:

    http://i50.tinypic.com/301j8kh.jpg

    Is this true?

    Regards
    Georg F.

    [Response: I don't think so. See here. (which is where I think that picture is derived from). - gavin]

  13. 63
    mdc says:

    E-mails and so on aside, what exactly is the problem with publishing all the raw data and model code? Surely this is just what ought to normally happen? How else can anyone verify the conclusions?

    [Response: Nothing is wrong with it. All of my code and data is available in public archives. Not everyone is free to do so however. - gavin]

  14. 64
    Brian Rookard says:

    Gavin said …

    “MM is likely to be McIntyre and McKitrick (2005) in E&E (a very poor choice of journal if they wanted to be taken seriously). This last one was cited in IPCC AR4 (though against my suggestion in my review – based on it’s unclear status as a possibly un-peer-reviewed paper).”

    Let us dispense with this argument. The one thing that is abundantly clear from the released documents / emails is that this gaggle of climate scientists doesn’t WANT him to be published … precisely so that they can keep making this self-serving argument.

    The fact that you are (willingly?) blind to the utter hypocrisy … well.

    [Response: Well let's get rid of this argument altogether. Progress in science occurs in the peer-reviewed literature which provides a filter that usually a) forces the authors to be logically clear, b) makes sure that conclusions actually follow from the analysis, c) makes sure that assumptions are specified and tesed, and d) tries to keep the discussion focussed on the science rather than on personalites. McIntyre has had years to produce clear arguments for his claims, and yet chooses not to, instead he appears happy to make claims on no other basis than his say so for which any justification and assumptions are buried in a mass of rambling, disjointed blog posts. Papers are not difficult to write (I am involved in about 10 a year), and actually do improve the quality of the arguments presented. Every paper I have ever written has been improved in clarity and logical and science by the peer-reviewed process. Some papers have indeed even been rejected. The reason therefore that IPCC requires peer-reviewed literature to cite is because it improves the process. And it is precisely because the end product is improved that it is worth maintaining. People who don't want to play by the rules can't be surprised when they are not welcomed on the field. Do people want to be criticised? No. But if they are going to be, the criticisms are much better when they are concise, scientific, logical and valid. Peer-review is what makes that happen - however imperfectly. - gavin]

  15. 65
    pjclarke says:

    I see posters over on WUWT they are calling for Phil Jones, Head of CRU, to be fired and talking of sending the archive to an MP ….

    ‘Hello, this is Sir Bufton Tufton MP, how can I help you’
    ‘Hi – I am calling to alert you to the fact that the the scientific basis for global warming is flawed and to demand the resignation of Professor Phil Jones, head of the CRU at UEA for manipulation of scientific data …’
    ‘Very odd, our Chief Scientific Advisor assures me the scientific case is solid, his predecessor described climate change as a bigger threat than terrorism. And that is an exceedingly serious allegation, what is your basis? ‘
    ‘He has admitted as much in an email, look …. “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline”
    ‘I see the Professor has explained the meaning of this quote on the UEA website … http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/2009/nov/homepagenews/CRU-update It seems perfectly innocuous to me …’
    ‘Well, he has deleted data rather than release it under the Freedom of Information Act’
    ‘Another very serious matter. What data was destroyed?’
    ‘Well, actually we don’t know. But he certainly wrote mails that we can make sound very much like he was going to delete some emails ….’
    ‘I see. Do you have the full record of the correspondence, is it possible there are others that provide more context and background…?
    ‘I don’t know’
    ‘Excuse me?’
    ‘Well we only have a selection of the mails ….’
    ‘I see. These mails, I am sure you are aware that under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 an email is classed as a literary work and anyone reproducing it without permission of the copyright owner, that is, the author is committing an offence? I assume you have received such permission from Professor Jones … ‘
    ‘Well, not exactly. We acquired the mails from an anonymous individual who removed them from the UEA server without authority …’
    ‘I see, look, would you mind awfully supplying your name and address, the police would like to have a word with you regarding an ongoing investigation. Just routine you understand …’

  16. 66
    Lennart van der Linde says:

    Are there any signs yet that emails have been fabricated by the hackers? Some denier in Holland comes up with this email:

    From: “Michael E. Mann”
    To: Tim Osborn, Keith Briffa
    Subject: update
    Date: Thu, 09 Feb 2006 16:51:53 -0500
    Cc: Gavin Schmidt

    guys, I see that Science has already gone online w/ the new issue, so we put up the RC post. By now, you’ve probably read that nasty McIntyre thing. Apparently, he violated the embargo on his website (I don’t go there personally, but so I’m informed).

    Anyway, I wanted you guys to know that you’re free to use RC in any way you think would be helpful. Gavin and I are going to be careful about what comments we screen through, and we’ll be very careful to answer any questions that come up to any extent we can. On the other hand, you might want to visit the thread and post replies yourself. We can hold comments up in the queue and contact you about whether or not you think they should be screened through or not, and if so, any comments you’d like us to include.

    You’re also welcome to do a followup guest post, etc. think of RC as a resource that is at your disposal to combat any disinformation put forward by the McIntyres of the world. Just let us know. We’ll use our best discretion to make sure the skeptics dont’get to use the RC comments as a megaphone…”

    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun

    I’m wondering if this is real of fabricated. Any comments?

    [Response: Real. The post referred to is "A new take on an old millennium". The comment thread is substantive and with multiple questions and answers on various issues arising. No apologies needed for that. - gavin]

  17. 67
    hmmm says:

    Mark #18,
    You are absolutely correct that any skeptic who uses this to disprove all AGW/ACC theory is insane. However you are absolutely incorrect in assuming that is the big-picture view of all skeptics. Sane skeptics are using some of these questionable emails to push for what they have always been pushing for: transparency in the data, adjustments, and reasoning/assumptions behind the science. You might be surprised to find out that many skeptics are actually on the fence and question why all of this data is under wraps when it is ultimately going to be used to affect us so greatly.

    To me, I see many crazy parts.
    Skeptics who think this ends the debate and we don’t have to worry about it anymore are crazy.
    Activists who read through the sane skeptical viewpoint (not the one presented on this blog) and don’t find reason to question are crazy to me.
    Politicians who call skeptical scientists “flat-earthers” or jump to the conclusion that they must be paid by “big oil” are crazy to me.
    The fact that this data is not public, which may affect us so greatly, is crazy to me.

    [Response: What data do you want? Raw temperature records? Go to GHCN v.2. Code for putting that into a global average? Go to GISTEMP. - gavin]

  18. 68

    One sympathizes with Dr. Trenberth that CERES data post-2005 isn’t yet available.

    Since Exxon, the Scaife Foundation, et al., want the truth about GW to come out, perhaps they could pony up to hire a few more researchers to speed up the data processing–? Surely that would be more productive than hiring PR firms?

    Someone should let them know. . . hey, I know! How about WUWT does a post on this?

    –What do you mean, I sound bitter?

  19. 69
    Mike says:

    What is FOI? I read something elsewhere about emails wanting to deny FOI requests for data.

    [Response: Freedom of Information acts - specifically in the UK. - gavin]

  20. 70
    Todd Albert says:

    I wonder what would turn up if the emails of Inhofe, Palin, Dick Lindze, John Christie, Roy Spencer, Pat Michaels, Glen Beck, Rupert Murdoch, and other denialists emails were hacked.

    I think that the libelous rhetoric of the media against science needs to stop. Perhaps a giant law suit would do it.

    Or, as one of my colleagues suggested, let’s just name our newest and best research centers after these fools. How about an Inhofe Climate Research center (a temporary station) set up on a large ice shelf that is becoming unstable? We can invite him (publicly) to the christening. And publicize the heck out of it when it calves into the Southern Ocean. I’d give money to see that happen! Perhaps we could rename CRU to the Roy Spencer Climate Research Center?

    It is becoming increasingly frustrating to be a professional in a field that is being dragged through the mud! Could you imagine Glen Beck giving medical advice contrary to what every doctor says and then referring to doctors as a bunch of conspiring idiots? Why do we let them get away with this??

  21. 71
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Denial Depot provides even more context: NASA Fakes Email Leak

    …what makes me deeply suspicious is the complete lack of correspondence with Al Gore in these released emails. Where are all the emails showing Al Gore’s involvement? Even more bizarrely there is no plotting and planning on how to raise taxes. I don’t see any mention of the social-ist new world order that these scientists are trying to bring about. Not once do they talk about how to best achieve wealth redistribution or world government.

  22. 72
    Geoff Wexler says:

    pjclarke says:
    22 November 2009 at 7:15 AM

    “Firstly a huge thank you to Gavin for devoting his time, energy and expertise”
    (the rest of that comment was good too)

    Deech56 says:
    22 November 2009 at 8:01 AM

    Gavin, your work since this incident broke has been outstanding.

    I agree Gavin deserves a medal.

    To navigate the first thread I suggest that you start by searching for the string Gavin, then some of the emails start to make sense and you may even learn a bit about the subject.

    After that try :
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/11/the-cru-hack/comment-page-17/#comment-143251
    and
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/11/the-cru-hack/comment-page-7/#comment-142545
    Then try your luck with the rest.
    ———————————–
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/11/the-cru-hack/comment-page-18/#comment-143359
    Scott A. Mandia
    Excellent lecture notes. (But shouldn’t it be spelt correlation?)

  23. 73
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Re: My previous comment. It should have been

    I suggest that you start by searching for the string Gavin]

  24. 74
    Chris K says:

    Perhaps I’m missing the point here. As a confirmed and devout man-made GW sceptic I think the hacker managed to very nicely expose the fact that “science” as defined by the media should not be seen as providing conveniently straightforward answers to questions on world climate. Science in many areas is continually evolving. Physics for example has moved on significantly from where it was when I studied it at university. By providing the public with an insight into this fact; that scientists are only human and easily capable of making mistakes, taking risky judgement calls and bad-mouthing ideas they oppose. This fallability may seem a patently obvious fact to anyone with half a brain, however the fanatical fervour with which some people have jumped on the man-made climate change bandwagon suggests that many people are happy to take a scientist’s word on faith alone, with no pause to consider things like accuracy or possible political or financial agendas.
    The IPCC have been quoted in the media repeatedly stating that the consensus of views on GW was overwhelming, with the subtext being that this was yet more evidence of the accuracy of their views. This is a logical fallacy of the most basic kind, and is not the sort of sentiment I expect any science-based quango to want to associate itself with. It is clear that “good science” is not, and never has been at the heart of this subject. This hack has at the very least exposed the fact that sceptic’s questions still remain relevant….as is right and proper for any scientific exploration

    I may yet be proven wrong, and a link between CO2 and global average temperature may exist, but I doubt it, and even the most media savvy pseudo science committee’s comments on the subject will not move me without providing hard evidence which relies on something more reliable than ice-gas readings and tree ring studies. In the meantime, hopefully exposing the “niceties” of scientific debate like this may convince a few of the hardliners that their absolute faith in the current model is mis-placed, and may yet prove to be a costly mistake.

  25. 75
    caerbannog says:

    Brian Rookard,

    Here is a link to one of the papers that climate-scientists would like to have kept out of the peer-reviewed literature: http://www.int-res.com/articles/cr2003/23/c023p089.pdf

    If you cannot figure out why that paper is complete garbage (we are talking college freshman f***ups here), then you have no business passing judgment on the climatology community.

  26. 76
    Pete Ridley says:

    Gavin, people involved in this can try as hard as they like to side-step the flack and spin their way out of trouble but this is most unlikely to go away quietly. It’s a bit like the UK MP’s expenses scandal. They’re trying like anything to divert attention elsewhere but it keeps coming back to bite.

    If the science of climate processes and drivers was adequately understood then the revelations within that leaked file would have minimal impact globally, however, as you are fully aware, the science is very poorly understood. This is evidenced by all of the uncertainties acknowledged in the IPCC AR4 WG1 scientific report and in many of the more recent papers (I give an example later).

    This is the fundamental reason why there is this continuing debate between scientists over The (significant human-made global climate change) Hypothesis. As the Australian government’s chief climate advisor Professor Brook acknowledged back in April (Note 1) QUOTE: There are a lot of uncertainties in science, and it is indeed likely that the current consensus on some points of climate science is wrong, or at least sufficiently uncertain that we don’t know anything much useful about processes or drivers UNQUOTE. Scientists on both sides of the debate are able to identify flaws in the others’ arguments, not because anyone is necessarily being dishonest but merely because of this lack of understanding about global climate processes and drivers. This is not a sound basis for politicians to make potentially damaging policy decisions (unless they have some other agenda).

    Professor Brook threw in a figure of 95% relating to understanding climate science during that comment of his and he never explained where it came from. He added to the above QUOTE: But EVERYTHING? Or even most things? Take 100 lines of evidence, discard 5 of them, and you’re still left with 95 and large risk management problem. UNQUOTE. Do you guys dream up these figures (just like the IPCC does when using “expert opinion” to quantify uncertainty) or do you have some secret knowledge hidden away that you aren’t prepared to disclose (even under FOI legislation)?

    There is an extremely interesting 2009 paper (Note 2) “WATER VAPOR AND THE DYNAMICS OF CLIMATE CHANGES”. Although the paper mentions greenhouse gases numerous times it not once mentions AGW, carbon dioxide or fossil fuel. The paper starts with QUOTE: Water vapor is not only important for Earth’s radiative balance as the dominant greenhouse gas of the atmosphere. It is also an active player in dynamic processes that shape the global circulation of the atmosphere and thus climate. UNQUOTE.
    It then goes on to say QUOTE: Although the mechanisms are not well understood, it is widely appreciated that heating and cooling of air through phase changes of water are integral to moist convection and dynamics in the equatorial region. But that water vapor plays an active and important role in dynamics globally is less widely appreciated, and how it does so is only beginning to be investigated. UNQUOTE.

    It concludes with QUOTE: Devising a theory that is general enough to be applicable to relatively dry and moist atmospheres remains as one of the central challenges in understanding the global circulation of the atmosphere and climate changes. UNQUOTE

    In this paper they really are discussing CLIMATE science, not simply global temperatures. It clearly highlights the poor understanding of climate processes and drivers and in my opinion destroys Professor Brook’s implication that perhaps 95% is understood.

    NOTES:
    1) see http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/04/23/ian-plimer-heaven-and-earth/ especially the lead item paragraph starting “There are a lot of uncertainties in science” and comments on 8 June 2009 at 1.24, 12 June 2009 at 20.42, 21 June 2009 at 0.09, 23 June 2009 at 5.02, 24 June 2009 at 6.12. (NB: I believe that this comment is highly significant and repeatedly but unsuccessfully tried to get Professor Brook to clarify what he was saying. The only response that I had from him was an objection to me using this quote “out of context”, so please see his blog comment of 23 June 2009 at 5.02 for the full quote).
    2) see http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0908/0908.4410v1.pdf
    Pete Ridley, human-made global climate change agnostic

  27. 77
    David Harrington says:

    Interesting analysis in The Guardian today and indicative of why those involved in this affair should be concerned rgardless of the raw facts.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cif-green/2009/nov/23/leaked-email-climate-change

  28. 78
    Brian Rookard says:

    Gavin,

    The point, as I’m sure you are well aware, is that this group of climate scientists say “you are not published … therefore your findings lack credibility” while at the same time seeking to keep those out who are critical. That is what has become evident. Even those who are sympathetic realize that there is a perception that the climate scientists are “hiding” something. This is certainly so given the emails which talk of deleting emails, not turning over *anything* as it relates to data, code, etc.

    While I can certainly appreciate that peer-review can be a way for science to advance, it is certainly not the ONLY way. If you want peer-review, then the peer-review should at least be honest and open. It is not clear that that is the case anymore. What has been revealed is a group of people who are trying to keep dissenters out.

    This is what gives your “publish it” schtick a ring of hollowness. And I think you know that.

    Too, the fact that climate scientists later correct the work after mistakes are pointed out (in a non-peer-reviewed format such as the internet) shows that peer review is not the only method for science to advance.

    [Response: You are right that it doesn't take a peer-reviewed paper to note that an error bar might not have included the impact of auto-correlation, or that URL was missing, or that a caption was wrong. These things do get noted and fixed quickly. But if the argument is that a whole approach is flawed, or that the paper was misguided from the outset, then you need to do it properly and make the arguments correctly because it is going to be more complicated and you are going to have to justify your position in depth. For instance, the McLean et al paper earlier this year was fundamentally flawed in multiple ways. No corrigendum is going to be able to fix that - so we wrote a comment for peer review. The point is, it isn't hard to do this properly. And so if McIntyre et al want to move beyond getting minor corrections made, they need to do it properly. I'll grant that this gets easier with practice, but that is not an argument for not starting. - gavin]

  29. 79
    Ike Solem says:

    As far as the language, imagine a group of cancer researchers sending one another emails that belittle tobacco company scientists and warn about the need to keep their dishonest and biased studies out of the scientific literature – would that be a big deal, or an example of responsible behavior on the part of the scientific community?

    Or, consider AIDS researchers worried about the Peter Duesberg effect on public health and AIDS epidemiology (he’s the UC Berkeley professor who claims that AIDS is not virus-related – a kind of medical version of Richard Lindzen)? Would it be surprising if they sent emails to one another full of negative commentary about Duesberg.

    The emails change no scientific conclusions whatsoever. Furthermore, this is a coordinated PR push, along the lines stated in Jack Gerard’s American Petroleum Institute memo to contributing members:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/aug/14/us-lobbying

    The email from Gerard lays out ambitious plans to stage a series of lunchtime rallies to try to shape the climate bill that was passed by the house in June and will come before the Senate in September. “We must move aggressively,” it reads. The API strategy also extends to a PR drive…

    Modern PR drives involve lots of bloggers and calls to reporters in an effort to generate “buzz” – but this story has no substance whatsoever. There is no evidence of intent to deceive or manipulate – but try this 1998 API strategy document for an example of what shady backroom maneuvering looks like.

    Despite ten more years of multi-million dollar expenditures by fossil fuel lobbies, they’ve never come up with anything other than tobacco science – and a lot of smears and insinuations and baseless accusations aimed at silencing professional climate scientists – even including efforts by the previous administration to keep climate scientists from talking to the press.

    Similarly, attempts to claim that action on climate will hurt the economy have fallen flat – because the large-scale construction of renewable energy infrastructure across the U.S. will eliminate all fossil fuel imports, from Canadian tar sands to Iraqi light crudes to West Pacific LNG supplies. This will clearly help the vast majority of people – except those who see their fossil fuel sales income plummet – but then, the same thing happened to horse-drawn carriage manufacturers and coal-fired steamship operators. It’s called progress – and using energy sources that don’t destabilize the climate and pollute the air, water and soil with mercury and arsenic and carcinogenic residues?

    Yes, that’s progress. What isn’t progress? When the science and the economics both work against you, the only options is to use dirty tactics – lies, smears, etc. The API encourages lying to the public to maintain the status quo, as per the 1998 API memo:

    “When informed that “some scientists believe there is not enough evidence to suggest that [what is called global climate change] is a long-term change due to human behavior and activities,” 58 percent of those surveyed said they were more likely to oppose the Kyoto treaty.”

    See, if we lie to the public, they will be deceived! We can win! The heart of their plan?

    National Media Relations Program: Develop and implement a national media relations program to inform the media about uncertainties in climate science; to generate national, regional and local media coverage on the scientific uncertainties, and thereby educate and inform the public, stimulating them to raise questions with policy makers.

    Was the National Media Relations Program run by API (and likely ACCCE as well) used in an effort to give this non-story about emails maximum coverage? Probably – but why did the reporters and editors go along with it? Are they just parrots?

    The obsession with media influence and control at the API is pretty high. One of their “action points” is as follows:

    Convince one of the major news national TV journalists (e.g., John Stossel ) to produce a report examining the scientific underpinnings of the Kyoto treaty.

    Meanwhile, a lot of real science news is being ignored by “science journalists” in favor of covering this non-story – for example, here is new data on the carbon cycle.

    An international team of researchers under the umbrella of the Global Carbon Project reports that over the last 50 years the average fraction of global CO2 emissions that remained in the atmosphere each year was around 43 per cent — the rest was absorbed by the Earth’s carbon sinks on land and in the oceans. During this time this fraction has likely increased from 40 per cent to 45 per cent, suggesting a decrease in the efficiency of the natural sinks. The team brings evidence that the sinks are responding to climate change and variability.

    For real journalists, here’s the web site for the Global Carbon Project that produced this:

    http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/08/references.htm

    Here’s their central PDF presentation:
    http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/08/presentation.htm

    So, can we now get back to real science? Or is it going to be email discussions from here on out, which is what the API and ACCCE would prefer – not discussions about the ability of renewables to replace fossil fuels, something the API and ACCCE do NOT want to talk about.

  30. 80
    penn says:

    Has there been any explanation given for charge that there was a request for emails to be deleted to avoid an FOI request? All I’ve heard is that no emails were deleted, but the request itself is completely unethical and most likely illegal. Everything else I’ve seen seems to due to poor word choice and/or lack of context. The FOI avoidance would be a big blow to CRU, even if it doesn’t affect climate science.

    [Response: In my opinion that email was very ill-advised. - gavin]

  31. 81

    Glen Raphael #33, perhaps you should study statistics instead of fantasizing over it. The reason we know this thing is real is because the physics tells us so. We’re not randomly looking for a trend, we’re looking for a trend we know is there — just what we don’t know, with any great precision, is how big it is.

    Just like we know that asteroids can and do impact the Earth, but getting precise probabilities and damage estimates may be a bit of a challenge. No reason not to prepare.

    The days of hypothesis testing are long past, we’re in parameter estimation mode now. Google up on “silly nulls”. And one other thing we know for a fact, irrespective of parameter values, is that you ain’t seen nothing yet.

  32. 82
    I belive says:

    What has become obvious is this has now gone from a minor news blip to “the appearance of impropriety” by climate scientist. We are all aware, that we that believe have been losing the information war. The many polls show more people now DO NOT believe in AGW and their side is growing. The only way we will regain the trust of the public is demand a full blown top-to-bottom investigation so we can prove without a doubt the information leaked is out of context and there has been no foul play.

    We may not like it, but we have to prove our innocence, if we don’t these documents will be used for decades to thwart our cause. The public will never believe us again. I have friends that have been on the fence and right now they we don’t look very honest.

    I would encourage us to all demand an open investigation. If we only piecemeal defend this one email or that one sentence we lose…it comes off as spin. We have to prove we did noting wrong. We should be out in front of the deniers demanding all the facts. We have to do so to maintain any degree of credibility.

  33. 83
    Sloop says:

    Reply to #091 Tom Fuller

    It was me, not Dr. Schmidt, who postulated that this hacker event is part of a larger, sophisticated campaign intended to increase public confusion and uncertainty and slow inevitable government actions.

    It’s a postulation based upon the evidence; but I hope many would agree that the tools and skills of policy analysts, social scientists, political pro’s, and Scotland Yard are what is most needed to begin to resolve this controversy, not statisticians and climatologists.

  34. 84
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    The denyalists will realise they have been totally misinformed and misguided or just plain ignorant within a decade I would bet. Or maybe when superstorms or freak weather events are globally commonplace they will still lay the blame on solar cycles or whatever nutzy ideas they have dreamt up by then. Even when the ominous foundations of a global perfect climatic storm are forming like they are now they still cannot or will-not perceive what is to come. I would like any denyalist to refute the following facts: CO2 has rizen from 280ppmv in the pre-industrial era to >385ppmv at present. Arctica is dissapearing at a astonishing rate. Antarctic on the presumably west side now is showing disturbing continental and sea ice loss. (the denyalists will say there’s nothing to worry about because the additional water just loves to soak up CO2..problem with that argument is one of scale (how much the extra open ocean can sequester vs how much additional Carbon/CO2 is being pumped into the atmosphere each year..the ratio is a little lop-sided isn’t it!) The rate of coral polyp and inverebrate deformation due to weak Calcium carbonate matrices is now common in most parts of the world caused by ocean acidification. There is global glacial retreat at a speed and scale that is unprecedented. High temp. records now more that double that of low temp records in the US (in a stable climate both highs and lows should be pretty much equal). I would say that the majority of countries are experiencing a similar trend. If you keep your eyes on the news you will see regular extreme weather conditions almost everywhere.recent example NW United Kingdom has the heaviest rain and flash flooding in their history (and English history unlike american goes back a long-long way!). Do I have to go on or can you begin to see a picture happening here! You can ask gavin et-al for all the hard scientific facts. He has been completely transparent with all of you as he in a top notch climate scientist with impeccable credentials and thus has absolutely nothing to hide as you might all agree.

  35. 85
    Jarkko Nieminen says:

    One question about the comments in code posted earlier.
    “but shouldn’t usually plot past 1960 because these will be artificially adjusted to look closer to the real temperatures.
    Could you explain what exactly “will be artificially adjusted to look closer to the real temperatures” means.

    [Response: It depends what their timeseries had in it. If it was the proxy record until 1960 and then the observed temperatures after, plotting it past 1960 would make it look artificially like the real temperatures. But they said to not do that. - gavin]

  36. 86
    Arthur Dent says:

    Ill advised is a very strange term to use. It is a criminal offence in the UK to destroy information that is the subject of an FOI request.

    [Response: I have no knowledge of what the scope of the request was, what would be responsive to it or indeed whether anything was destroyed. But clearly making such a suggestion is ill-advised. I don't think we are in disagreement here. - gavin]

  37. 87
    Dan says:

    re: 83.
    I would go so far as to say it is also strong evidence of the continued anti-science meme of the denialists. Which fits their political and theocratic beliefs.

  38. 88
    Lennart van der Linde says:

    For the record also this one showed up on a Dutch newspaper climate blog: real of fabricated? About the slow-down in warming this decade:

    http://www.anelegantchaos.org/cru/emails.php?eid=1048&filename=1255352257.txt

    Any comments?

    [Response: Read the trenberth paper link in the top post. - gavin]

  39. 89
    John Henriksen says:

    Gavin – this is from the presenting of your book:

    ‘In this groundbreaking book, published by W.W. Norton & Company in April 2009 NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt and photographer Joshua Wolfe illustrate as never before the ramifications of shifting weather patterns for human society.’

    You provided the link to someone here who set up a list of what would be the necessary content of a book that actually demonstrated WHY CO2 in the atmosphere is THE single driver of climate change.

    [Response: Complete strawman. There are many different drivers of climate change, and indeed my last post was specifically about some of the other forcing (like methane and aerosols). -gavin]

    But the text above provides nothing of the sort – is just yet another Al Gore ‘the sky will fall’ with pretty pictures to stir sentiment.

    Can you or anyone else point me to a text stating THE physical evidence linking CO2 to ‘warming’ with any degree of necessity?
    And could you point me to a text stating what would FALSIFY this? Of course, these two would have to be in the same text, if it is to be considered hard evidence.

    [Response: The evidence that CO2 specifically is having an impact on climate comes from radiation measurements and in particular temperature trends in the stratosphere (which are cooling in contradiction of almost all other drivers). Combine that with expected changes predicted decades ago that have actually happened, you end up with a strong case that CO2 (along with the other GHGs and aerosols) are having an impact, and that will increase in decades to come. If you want to falsify this, you'd have to show that spectral data on CO2 absorption is wrong, that the stratosphere is not cooling as expected (this is a cleaner test than the surface temperatures because there are less extraneous factors), or improve the satellite measurements by an order of magnitude and have the fluxes not look like what is expected. Tall order, but conceivable. - gavin]

  40. 90
    G. Karst says:

    Eli Snyder:

    “Keep in mind that you are genuinely, without hyperbole, here to save the world.”

    It is exactly this attitude, that we must save the world, that has caused these people to forget their scientific training, so that the end justifies the means, and science violations occur. You are not helping anybody. Keep your secret knowledge of impending doom to yourself, and let some real science ensue. This is not an anti AGW statement… just a call for reason. After all, everything is justifiable when “saving the world”.

    [Response: Much as I appreciate the sentiment, I am not engaged in saving the world. The world is going to have to save itself - though hopefully with as much science guiding it's choice as I and other scientists can supply. - gavin]

  41. 91

    “All of my code and data is available in public archives” (Gavin)

    One of the problems with that line of defense is that we´ve all seen you right here at RC go to extraordinary lenghts at defending Hansen´s or Steig el at´s refusal to provide code and data. You adamantly defended that GISTEMP algorithms should not be given out…until Hansen finally did release them. So yes, now they are public but not precisely thanks to you. Same thing with Steig, even Michael Tobis expressed his disagreement with you here and at CA re. not disclosing data.

    [edit]

    [Response: Go back to the '1934 and all that' thread and read the comments and conversation. I never made a statement saying that the code should not be released. I did say that it wasn't going to help much and that people who really wanted to check the code would do much better to try and do it from scratch themselves. The point being that learning what the issues really are is very quick when you actually have to work through them yourself. Subsequently, there have been two very minor errors fixed in the code with no noticeable impact on the results. The vast majority of people clamouring for the code have made no significant efforts to explore it. Instead they just moved on to the next target, while the number of attacks on GISS and Hansen does not appear to have diminished. I still think that a truly independent analysis of the raw data either from GHCN or elsewhere would be very useful. -gavin]

  42. 92
    Eli Shkrob says:

    I just want to express my deepest sympathy to the RC scientists that became the subject of a malicious and unprovoked attack. Publishing private correspondence and discussing stolen letters is immoral and heinous. I count myself as a skeptic, though I am more interested in paleoclimate and planetary science than GW, but I always find your posts interesting and worthy of thought, informing me of many new developments that did change my mind on a few subjects – and I thank you for that. Whatever moral lapses these e-mails possibly reveal (I am not going to read this correspondence or descriptions of its content), the moral lapses of people making pilfered private correspondence into a propaganda tool are incomparably greater. I am dismayed that your opponents do not understand such elementary ethics. I wonder if you gain anything in involving yourself into polemics on such terms. Once more, I use this opportunity to express my gratitude and sympathy to your undeserved plight.

  43. 93
    Neal J. King says:

    #33, Glen Raphael:

    Your proposal is that no action be taken when the probability of a calamity in an area amenable to scientific concern is 90%; better wait until 95%.

    Let’s see, if we take 10 areas of phenomena (as you do), and in each area the probability of NOT having a disaster is = 100% – 90% = 10%, then the probability that there will be NO CALAMITY in ANY of the 10 areas is
    = (10%)^10 = 10^(-10)= 0.0000000001, so the probability of a calamity is
    = 1 – 10^(-1) = 0.9999999999.

    So you don’t think that degree of certainty of calamity is worth doing anything about.

    But in your view, it makes sense to act if it’s 95%; that gives you the probability of calamity of:
    1 – (1 – 0.95)^10 = 1 – (0.05)^10 = 1 – (.5)^10 * 10^(-10) = 1 – 9.76e(-14)
    = 0.9999999999999

    So to summarize your position:
    - Probability of catastrophe = 0.9999999999: “Better not to act, might disturb the bond market.”
    - Probability of catastrophe = 0.9999999999999: “Let’s invest in a little insurance.”

    Uh huh…

  44. 94
    Shirley says:

    #26 a book that has nothing to do with current warming but explains the science of climate and how scientists operate (in a very human way) is “Snowball Earth” by Gabrielle Walker. It examines the controversy of Precambrian cooling and how bad it really was. While the author is somewhat biased to the conclusions of the researcher she’s profiling, what I found important about the book is that it really explained Earth systems balance in clear laymen’s term, and the back story between researchers and their escapades keeps it entertaining. I think it’s an excellent climate primer, and also helps to make clear why and how climate has changed in the past. Because it’s not about current ACC, it might be a good “first step” for someone who isn’t sure, a primer to go on and tackle the modern scenario. And, as a budding climate researcher, I also cringe when I hear Al Gore’s name. His name induces the same kind of reaction that Newt Gingrich’s or might in others – too polarizing, too political. Average people don’t seem to realize that climate researchers don’t think about him much.

    But some people, it seems, can’t be reached. I’ve just begun the application process to a graduate program in paleoclimate. At 39 years old, I am about to finish my BS in geology and environmental analysis. My sister is i her 50s, and could probably represent “the average American” as well as anyone. She’s divorced, has two adult children, lives in the middle of the country, works in health care, is overweight, likes to shop, likes to dance, wine tasting, etc. I hadn’t seen her in a while and when I brought up what I’m pursuing in grad school (assuming I get accepted… a lot of nail biting and stomach flopping in my life right now) and despite the fact that she knows that this is an issue I have really, really investigated over the last three years in a serious way, she insisted on babbling things to me about “well maybe the dinosaurs…” and “well how do we know…” without pausing for an answer. She was spewing ignorance to someone whom she knows understands the issue, and she expected me to take her seriously. When I said one grant the program I’m looking at has applied for has to do with quantifying and qualifying methane release in the Arctic, instead of realizing it’s being released now because of ACC, but it’s instead maybe a cause she can add to her “arsenal” of paper tigers. I knew the conversation was hopeless when she said “Well maybe god is doing it…”

    What I think it comes down to is that there are a whole lot of people out there enjoying their lives, r trying to enjoy their lives, and they don’t want any bad news. They want to be happy and not make changes in their lives unless there is a clear and immediate benefit. They don’t want to feel like they’re doing anything bad – they already have enough to feel guilty about, like drinking, eating too much of the wrong foods, spending too much on things they don’t really need, etc. They don’t want the added burden, so refuse to face it. It will take some obvious catastrophe to turn around their thinking (like massive beach loss in their NC vacation spot or sudden in availability of oysters dying off from acidification) but I don’t know that will even change their habits or create a willingness to wean off fossil fuels.

    As I write all this, I ask myself like I sometimes do, why this has become my calling, and I don’t have an obvious answer. I don’t/won’t have kids, convincing the public often seems an insurmountable task, but I just keep going back to the research and can’t stop looking at the train wreck. Over the years, I’ve delved into every denier claim, with the thought going into it that “maybe they have something” and each time, come out the other side after a few days of scouring research, considering all the variables (denier arguments I’ve noticed tend to focus on no more than three) I come out the other side more resolved. Why do I care? I don’t know exactly… part of it is that I have always had a strong compulsion to try and leave the world better than the way I found it. I want my life’s legacy to be constructive, not destructive. In slightly different language, I liken all of this to a old saying, purportedly native American but who knows. In slightly different language, it goes like this: “You don’t (foul) in your own tent” and this is what we’ve been doing, not just in regard to ACC, but I dare anyone to bring me water from a river, pond, lake or stream that isn’t full of artificial toxic chemicals and hormones. We’re living in a grand experiment, and despite not having any vested interest in the long term future (no kids), I care. And I guess I know that someone has to pursue these things, and since I can, I feel I must.

    On another note, I like to be clear about the difference between a skeptic and a denier. Deniers claim to be skeptics, but to be skeptical of something, one must hold out the notion that an argument could go either way. I’ve seen some of them get angry for being called deniers and not skeptics (D’Alleo comes to mind) but they don’t hold out that ACC researchers could be right. There don’t seem to be many genuine skeptics out there. I can’t even call my “everyday people” sister a skeptic, as she was clearly, actively looking to cherry pick things to make the case against ACC. In some cases, they outright lie, and misrepresent the argument. Monckton, with who I’ve argued in person, frames it as a debate between him and Al Gore, and laughed at me when I asked about the 100s of other climate scientists out there, implying there aren’t that many, trying to get his audience to think he’s the big cheese and it’s a showdown at high noon and nothing more. I’m convinced he doesn’t even believe his own garbage, and is on an ego trip to prove to himself he can convince people of anything so long as he presents with with enough grandeur and self confidence. The other ones who don’t seem to be as nuts present arguments that always leave out one huge aspect/climate variable that is understood. If they say the Antarctic isn’t warming, they leave out the ozone hole and that positive feedback loop between the cold from the continent and the hole. If it’s solar variability, they leave out CO2 entirely, and ignore the decoupling of solar influence since the 70s, and “lag times” that are inconsistent. I could go on, but I have gone on enough already.

    Gavin and others, thank you for doing all that you do and for fighting the good fight. This too shall pass.

  45. 95
    edward says:

    CCPO
    Here’s a theory, the world is naturally warming, land use changes to the environment has regionally changed temperatures, some extra CO2 in the atmo has added +.4C to the overall global temp and it’s effect is now maxed out and the UHI effect creates the perception of some additional temp increase that accounts for the balance of the +.6C increase in temperatures since the end of a little ice age. Temps are now are not increasing and the integrity of some of the people keeping track of all of this seems questionable.
    I’m proud to be skeptical based on the above.
    Thanks
    Ed

    [Response: Well you should be skeptical of the above. Where is the evidence for any of it? Note. global land use effects result in a cooling because the biggest issue is the chopping down of forest (dark) to make cropland (bright) - gavin ]

  46. 96
    William says:

    How can the writer of this blog say “There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy” in the body of leaked emails. This email sent by Edward Cook to Keith Briffa dated 09:50 AM 6/4/03 -0400 is only one example demonstrates the degree of sneaky, unprofessional behaviour (see below).

    I have always been concerned about anonymous peer reviewed journals. HEY FELLOW SCIENTISTS—How many times in your career have you had a paper rejected even though you know in your soul it is the right paper, written in the right manner with the right substance? Or how many times have you submitted a paper only to have it rejected and then in the future find another “distinguished” scientist publishing on the same topic? Or as this email demonstrates, your work is often forwarded outside the assigned reviewer for critique or help in reviewing your work.

    [edit] Hopefully, this expose will open the dialogue on updating the much antiquated peer review process, or on an even bigger scale, the proposal funding process

    [edit]

    Hi Keith,
    Okay, today. Promise! Now something to ask from you. Actually somewhat important too. I
    got a paper to review (submitted to the Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and
    Environmental Sciences), written by a Korean guy and someone from Berkeley, that claims
    that the method of reconstruction that we use in dendroclimatology (reverse regression)
    is wrong, biased, lousy, horrible, etc. They use your Tornetrask recon as the main
    whipping boy. I have a file that you gave me in 1993 that comes from your 1992 paper.
    Below is part of that file. Is this the right one? Also, is it possible to resurrect the
    column headings? I would like to play with it in an effort to refute their claims.
    If published as is, this paper could really do some damage. It is also an ugly paper to
    review because it is rather mathematical, with a lot of Box-Jenkins stuff in it. It
    won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically,
    but it suffers from the classic problem of pointing out theoretical deficiencies,
    without showing that their improved inverse regression method is actually better in a
    practical sense. So they do lots of monte carlo stuff that shows the superiority of
    their method and the deficiencies of our way of doing things, but NEVER actually show
    how their method would change the Tornetrask reconstruction from what you produced.
    Your assistance here is greatly appreciated. Otherwise, I will let Tornetrask sink into
    the melting permafrost of northern Sweden (just kidding of course).
    Cheers,
    Ed

    [Response: Cook's request is a check to see whether he has the right data with which he can check the claims of a submitted paper. Neither the authors, nor the paper were shared. Even if they had been, it is permissible to discuss reviews with colleagues as long as that is noted on the review. Some times there are issues in a paper that a reviewer needs help with. This sounds like Cook, while not very impressed with the submission is preparing to do a very thorough job assessing its importance. The review that would result would be of great help to the authors in improving their paper and making sure it is relevant and significant to the field if and when it is revised or resubmitted. - gavin]

  47. 97
    Ray Ladbury says:

    You know, I might have some sympathy for the calls for openness if the denialist community had taken any steps to actually address or understand the mountains of data and evidence already in the public domain. And yet all that data and evidence remains as a silent testament to their failure. So, given that they don’t know what to do with available data, why do they want all this other data they won’t know what to do with either?

  48. 98
    J says:

    CCPO:>> [And it’s been warmer before 1850] No, it hasn’t. Check the recent lit. At least 2k years last I heard.

    2k is before 1850. And the MWP was about 1k before.

  49. 99
    John Phillips says:

    If proxy temperature data diverges significantly with instrument temperature data in recent times, why should we think proxy temperature data is accurate in pre-instrument times?

    [Response: Some proxy data diverges in unexpected ways. Others do not. Why that happens makes all the difference to whether those proxies are useful going backwards. If it is due to some unique late 20th C effect (ozone pollution, acid rain, an end point effect or something), they'll be useful going back. If it is related to a physiological effect that makes their response to temperature very non-linear it will be more complicated. See this review paper for a discussion of the issue (page 10). - gavin]

  50. 100
    Arthur says:

    Prior to reading this stuff my assumptions about “the AGW debate” were:

    1. There is too much ignorant twaddle and “noise” coming from the sceptical camp to be bothered sorting it out.

    2. There is too much emotional manipulation and table thumping “official science” coming from the “save the planet” camp to be bothered sorting that out.

    3. Anyone unqualified in the relevant fields (including me) should stay out of the actual scientific debates among those who are.

    4. Consequently it is reasonable for governments to rely on the consensus reported by the IPCC even though there are strong indications of a tendency towards resorting to “official science” and government approval to add weight to the views of the large majority against those of the small minority among those qualified to debate the issues.

    5. None of the above sheds any light on what, if anything, should be done about it. Those are matters on which climate scientists have no special expertize.

    After reading the recently published information and taking a look at Gavin’s reference to “Model E” most of my preconceptions above are unchanged, but items 3 and 5 have to be modified.

    3′. It is still necessary to stay out of debates on the actual scientific issues among people qualified to debate those issues. But it is clearly necessary for outsiders to intervene and insist on proper standards being enforced for peer review in that field as those previously responsible are too committed to their own views to be entrusted with editorial responsibility.

    5′ The obvious economic illiteracy of climate scientists is not just irrelevant to the climate science itself but actually problematic for it. Education on the sophisticated and very large scale stochastic partial differential equation models used by large teams with very highly paid PhDs in physics and mathematics as “quants” to shed no light whatever on the Global Financial Crisis should be mandatory.


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