A mistaken message from IoP?

The Institute of Physics (IoP) recently made a splash in the media through a statement about the implications of the e-mails stolen in the CRU hack. A couple of articles in the Guardian report how this statement was submitted to an inquiry into the CRU hack and provide some background.

The statement calls for increased transparency, and expresses concerns about the public confidence in science if the transparency is absent. The IoP statement, however, fails to note that the issue of transparency is far more general applicable than just to mainstream climate science. It should also involve the critics of climate change, as noted by New Scientist.

The statement also fails to clarify what level of transparency they expect the climate scientists to reach. Which scientific discipline should we use as a role model? I know of none that is more transparent than climate science, and in large part that s due to the IPCC. Ironically, without this transparency, the climate-change deniers would not get as much ammunition. For instance, note how the attacks on the NASA GISTEMP product have become more vehement in recent months even though the code base and data have been available for years and clearly demonstrate that the criticisms are bogus.

Another question arises is whether the IoP follows its own recommendations in its own publications?

The statement of the IoP was made on the behalf of its 36000 members, but as a member of IoP myself, this came as a surprise. According to the Guardian, there was only a small group of people behind this, and other IoP members was obviously not very impressed. The IoP did, however, make a second statement after their initial one was misrepresented by the climate-change deniers (there is some confusion about versions).

The irony of this affair is that the IoP will not disclose who were responsible for the original statement, thus not living up to the standards they set for others.

Furthermore, it’s a paradox that the IoP based the statement on stolen private e-mail exchanges, while putting disclaimers about confidentiality, especially as it asks people to delete any e-mail before they go astray:

This email (and attachments) are confidential and intended for the addressee(s) only. If you are not the intended recipient please notify the sender, delete any copies and do not take action in reliance on it

Transparency is essential for trust and confidence in science – as in all matters – but claims about lack of transparency are easy to make. It’s another question whether the alleged lack of transparency in climate science has had any impact on anyone’s ability to verify the science.


Concerns raised over Institute of Physics climate submission‘ in Physics World

March, 19: Further Comment on DeepClimate.org

345 comments on this post.
  1. Bob B:

    The problem with being on the pro AGW side is that if you’re not 100% scrupulous in your approach then the Deniers jump all over you and claim it as proof of their case. I suspect the tone of the IOP submission was designed to demonstrate that nothing but absolute professionalism & integrity is acceptable on the pro side of the issue. Unfortunately the Deniers then immediately claimed the submission as justification of their case and the pro’s got upset because they felt it was too harsh. The IOP then issued a clarification intended to shut the deniers up & pacify the pros. This gets the conspiracy theorists hyper and leaves the Deniers, who never let the truth get in the way of their claims, still claiming IOP support.

  2. AxelD:

    To all the decent contributors on this forum: please collectively try to put a stop to the person who (wisely) hides behind the name of Completely Fed Up.[edit]

    [Response: We regularly delete comments that target other commenters (on both sides) or use intemperate language. These practices are not encouraged by us, and we will continue to police it (albeit imperfectly). Threads that devolve into endless streams of comments about other commenters’ practices or personalities are not interesting. If people do not wish to engage with others for whatever reason, then just do not engage. More reflection before posting would help improve almost everyone’s contributions. PS. discussion of this policy is similarly un-interesting. – gavin]

  3. Bob:

    Okay, Ken Coffman looks like a poster child for the problems we’re facing.

    First, he comes to a site which is run and frequented by professional scientists, and presumes to tell them how science (a very basic and accepted aspect of science) works.

    When he is corrected, he misunderstands the corrections, won’t accept them, digs in his heels, and again points out to everyone how he is right and they are wrong.

    You just can’t make this sort of thing up, and I’m not sure how you reach that sort of person, or if you even can.

    But I’ll fall back on a previous complaint. Most people’s (Americans?) foundation in math and science is so abysmally weak that they have no chance. They must trust scientists, and that trust is being poisoned (although Ken seems to have some grasp of the science, but is confusing himself with the little that he understands).

    Which I guess is my real point. I love RC, and it serves a good purpose, making the science and the scientists available to the public, but I don’t think “explaining the science to Joe Sixpack” is ever going to work, because he not only has no chance of understanding, but he’s arrogant enough to think that what he believes is true, and he trusts himself and various pundits more than scientists.

    [Response: These are not universal characteristics of lay people – and in fact I find the exact opposite. Do not confuse the often strident and confused people who show up in blog comments with the much larger populace. – gavin]

    But, on a good note… despite the doom and gloom of my earlier post about the lengthy phases we’ll go through to actually achieve climate action, I do think people will return to trusting science as temperatures rise and irrefutable visible effects (as opposed to temperature measurements, which the propaganda has succeeded in miring in that same distrust) continue to manifest.

    The thing is, no matter how much the anti-crowd plays this game, they are going to lose, and when the degree of their deception becomes obvious, the backlash will probably be fierce. People are not going to like having been duped on something so important. They will blame big oil, and the media, and maybe even scientists for not forcing them to see through the lies.

    The only people they won’t blame are themselves.

  4. trrll:

    [edit – original comment deleted, and so is commentary on it]

    The next thing I would recommend is to take a step back and consider what additional transparency measures would strengthen your friends, help to sway the uniformed and undecided, and make the task of your truly dishonest opposition more difficult. For example (and please don’t take this as criticism of how Jones or anybody else handled the situation, hindsight is 20/20, and this is merely an example of a strategy), if a list of data sources, their origins, and contact information for raw data producers had been publicly available online to point to for cranks (and more importantly, journalists listening to cranks), then that particular line of attack would have been closed off.

    You can reasonably object that responsible scientists should not have to spend time and money on projects like this, for which the payoff in terms of scientific progress is likely modest. Indeed, this is true. On the other hand, the amount of time consumed by the fallout of this affair has likely proved even more of an impediment to progress. Of course, the trick, going forward, is to anticipate such vulnerabilities and close them off in advance, bearing in mind that your true opponents (who are not scientists such as Dr Colquhoun) are neither reasonable nor honorable.

  5. Jim Galasyn:

    Sloop says: What’s noticeable for me at RC and other blogs is a lack of exploration and professional familarity of key social science literatures relevant to climate policy: law, management science, political science, environmental economics, governance studies, policy studies, etc.

    You may want to hook up with Andreas Bjurström in other recent RealClimate threads. He’s very interested in getting this kind of exploration into IPCC.

  6. Marion Delgado:

    When I was a teenager and the only internet we had was BITNET, EUNET, JNET, DARPA, MILNET, etc., scientists were freely sharing data via the internet. I helped scientists with some of that, in fact. Back then the hot-button stuff would have been about ozone depletion in the polar regions.

    The shills say scientists are not sharing data because they are committed to spreading the lie about the people prominent in climate research, not because they’re confused. They know the circumstances by now … the thinly veiled concern troll posts are completely cynical attempts. They know we don’t buy it, but it looks nice to have posted it as if you cared about the public or science when your goal is to lie to the former about the latter.

  7. Roger Hayward:

    I read the IoP statement and found it outrageous to accuse the stolen emails of indicating malfeasance on the part of Professor Jones. It seems entirely unreasonable to have to answer harassment FOI requests – especially when the requests only want to find mistakes in the data or conclusions.

    IoP is a large body that knows the difference between doing good science and doing science to meet irrational demands. I continue to see no reason for climate scientists to submit their entire data sets, code and methodology to a handful of recalcitrant non-scientists bent on falsifying the conclusions.

  8. Ray Ladbury:

    John Pearson, I am outraged by your characterization of John Pearson’s contribution about Genbank as blathering! Indeed, I am outraged by my own outrage, and I need to stop typing immediately and catch my breath!

    And since Poe’s Law seems to apply to climate science, I will add:


  9. Doug Bostrom:

    Do not confuse the often strident and confused people who show up in blog comments with the much larger populace. – gavin

    May I add, though it often requires the patience of a saint don’t write in naive, reflexive response to the strident, the rhetorically facile, the irritatingly wrong. Write instead in a way that reaches those who don’t post here but instead just read. By all means do respond to degeneration, just don’t be dragged flailing and spluttering into the gutter. Of course I suggest restraint even as I sometimes fail to keep my own lid on but we can at least strive to be better!

  10. Deech56:

    John E. Pearson, interesting point about GenBank. This effort required several streams of funding and the NIH to administer it (as an aside, my brother was the NIH project officer for the contract).

    Of course, only the sequences are entered – if there were DNA deniers involved only the original sequencing gels and pre-splice sequences would suffice. We know that gene sequences have errors (mutations) and unless one can see the code of the programs used to join the sequences one cannot be absolutely, 100% sure of the product. The mind boggles. I can just see the auditing that would need to take place to verify all the genomes (step 1 – get sample from Craig Venter).

  11. dhogaza:

    Marion Delgado:

    When I was a teenager and the only internet we had was BITNET, EUNET, JNET, DARPA, MILNET, etc., scientists were freely sharing data via the internet

    The big difference today is public access to the internet. I think you’re right that most of those complaining don’t realize that scientists began sharing data over these restricted-access networks from the very beginning.

    The irony of all this is that to a large extent, the denialsphere has Al Gore to thank for the fact that there’s a public access internet available for them to download from sites like GHCN, even if he is fat!

  12. Sloop:

    Re: #205

    As a science advisory process, the IPCC is unprecedented in its global scope, scientifically and diplomatically.

    It is successfully building key parts of the foundation upon which will be constructed a global climate and C02 reduction framework treaty and related institutions. Perhaps in a more rational world this would be moving more quickly and smoothly; but it’s going to happen.

    I personally just work on water resources in a New England state. Enough to be done here as it is.

  13. Completely Fed Up:

    AxelD, there’s usually a flurry of complaints when I post something that punctures the bubble you are busy huffing up in front of everyone so your posting after this post:


    and 154 and 155 on this thread, it is completely expected.

  14. Richard Ordway:

    Smitty says:
    8 March 2010 at 2:26 PM
    @126 What does “”””http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/global_warming/exxon_report.pdf have to do with science? “Like Big Tobacco before it, ExxonMobil has been enormously successful at influencing the current
    administration and key members of Congress.””””

    Well, you have a point that the UCS is indeed a special interest group and that unless they are quoting juried, peer reivewed vetted documents in a system that humanity has used since the 1600s and has worked…that we should perhaps ignore it. This is not to beat up on one single administration and I am sure big industry does this in all administrations to one extent or another.

    However, the following documented evidence about big industry’s lying and delaying tactics is in two legitiimate (two legitimate peer reviewed sources, Lancet and American Journal of Health) peer-reviewed science journals and had time to be rebutted:(it is quite valid evidence- legitimate… and the facts so far in these journals have not been sucessfully challenged in an open system that we have relied on since the 1600s)…and anyone including economists and oil executives have participated in the peer review systems (McKitrick, McIntyre 2005).

    “Political interference in science is hardly a new phenomenon,
    but the suppression, manipulation,disrespect, and disregard of our federal science and scientists has become widespread and pervasive (Bush 2).”

    “The current administration (Bush 2)has exerted political muscle—
    sometimes blatant and other times almost unnoticed—on such
    wide-ranging scientific issues as global warming,international
    health, endangered species, childhood lead poisoning, mercury
    emissions from power plants, condoms, and mountaintop
    removal mining.”

    “Recent attempts (Bush2 years) at political interference
    can be roughly grouped into 4 types: suppressing,
    distorting, or otherwise misusing scientific information;
    controlling federal scientists; limiting public access to scientific information; and changing the way scientific information
    is incorporated into the decisionmaking process.”

    “Perhaps the most notorious examples of this type involve the
    issue of climate change. As the US Environmental Protection
    Agency (EPA) prepared its 2003 Report on the Environment, White
    House officials tried to substantially alter the section on climate
    | Kathleen M. Rest, PhD, MPA, and Michael H. Halpern, BA Politics and the Erosion of Federal Scientific Capacity: Restoring Scientific Integrity to Public Health Science change, which referred to studies showing the significant contribution of human activity to climate

    “A less public but no less egregious example involves mercury
    and human health. In 2002, the administration (Bush 2) sought to suppress
    EPA data showing that 8% of women aged between 16 and 49 years have mercury levels in their blood that could lead to reduced IQ and motor skills in their children. In 2005, the EPA’s inspector general reported that senior agency management had instructed staff members to arrive at a predetermined conclusion favoring industry.”

    “Later, in a story that made the front page of the New
    York Times, a White House lawyer formerly employed by the
    American Petroleum Institute significantly edited another EPA climate
    change report.11 The subsequent furor led to his resignation
    and his departure for Exxon Mobil, a major corporate sponsor
    of global warming skepticism.”

    “Our nation’s health and prosperity are based on a
    foundation of independent scientific discovery. Yet in recent
    years (Bush 2), political interference in federal government
    science has become widespread, threatening this legacy.”

    “Good government and a functioning democracy require
    public policy decisions to be informed by independent
    science. The scientific and public health communities must
    speak out to defend taxpayer-funded science from political interference.”

    “Controlling Federal Scientists Information can also be controlled
    by muzzling scientific experts. A widely publicized example
    involved James Hansen, PhD, director of the National Aeronautics
    and Space Administrations’s (NASA’s) Goddard Institute
    for Space Studies. A vocal spokesperson on the urgency of
    taking action on climate change, Hansen was warned of “dire consequences”
    by a low-level agency public affairs political appointee
    if he continued to make such statements.”

    “Other federal climate scientists have reported similar pressure. Despite congressional hearings and sustained media attention on the
    suppression of global warming scientists, in March 2007, US
    Fish and Wildlife Service scientists were prevented from answering
    questions at an international conference about the
    impact of climate change on polar bears.”

    “The ability of federal scientists to participate in scientific
    exchange also has been curtailed. In April 2004, for example,
    the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) implemented a new policy requiring that an HHS political appointee approve all experts
    before their participation on international scientific panels,
    including those convened by the World Health Organization.”

    “A more recent policy requires the political vetting of Centers for Disease
    Control and Prevention scientists who are given foreign assignments,
    delaying the process by 2 to 3 months.30 A statement from the American Sociological Association summed up the potential danger of this
    practice:the inevitable result will be fewer invitations for US scientists
    to contribute to scientific discourse at the international
    level and the consequent lessening of US influence and


    “Limiting Public Access to Information: Other troubling efforts have
    limited public access to previously available scientific, health,
    and safety information. A recent example that produced substantial
    outrage involved EPA’s closure of significant parts of its network of libraries, including the Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances Chemical Library used by its own scientists.”

    “… investigation found that the
    administration (Bush 2) had effectively placed off-limits critical health
    and safety information, including some data on quality and vulnerability
    of drinking water supplies, potential chemical hazards in communities, and safety of airline travel.”

    “…have provided further evidence of political interference in our critical health and environmental agencies. Of the more than 1800 federal
    scientists who responded to these 5 surveys, 699 scientists
    reported that they fear retaliation for openly expressing concerns
    about their agency’s work—a number that really should be zero. Within the FDA alone, more than one third of the 997 respondents did not
    feel they could express safety concerns even inside the
    agency, and 145 scientists reported having “been asked, for
    non-scientific reasons, to inappropriately exclude or alter
    technical information or their conclusions in a FDA scientific

    “Our country’s legacy of scientific innovation and investment
    has brought us sustained economic progress, sciencebased
    public health policy, and unequaled scientific leadership
    across the world. The implications of political interference
    with science in the context of public policy are significant and
    serious, threatening not only public health, safety, and the environment
    but also the government’s long-term ability to address
    these critical issues.”

    “Controlling tobacco use is the highest immediate priority for global health, while climate change is the biggest threat to health in the medium and long term.”

    “There are many similarities between tobacco use and climate change. In addition to causing huge damage to population health, both cause substantial adverse social, economic, equity, and gender effects. Both have long lead times between cause and effect, and both require long-term policies and monitoring systems.”



  15. phil c:

    According to this site there is apparently a mountain of evidence to show that global warming is happening, enough theory to understand and explain the mechanism and also prove that man is responsible.

    But then I read a BBC Q&A session with Prof. Phil Jones CRU who appears to state that

    a) the warming between 1975-1998 was not significantly different from the periods 1860-1880, 1910-1940 . i.e.any recent warming is not unprecedented

    b) from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

    c) From 2002 to the present the trend is negative (-0.12C per decade) i.e. it’s got very slightly cooler.


    if Phil Jones says this then why is anyone who expresses skepticisn (a valid scientific position) still refered by posters here as a denier, denialist etc.

    [Response: These topics have been discussed to death in a number of posts and other blogs that hopefully some readers will point you to. I will just say that regarding your point (b), the odds ratio of a warming vs a cooling trend over that time period are, very roughly, about 19:1, even if the 95% significance level that Phil Jones was referring to in his statement, is in fact just barely missed–Jim.]

  16. AxelD:

    CFU @213: readers in the US may not realize what a deeply unpleasant and criminal organization the ALF is, in the UK at least, and are therefore prepared to let you continue. [edit]

    [Response: Get a grip. There are no ‘veiled threats’ there. Though I don’t want to get drawn into a debate on this (since it isn’t my comment in any case), it is clear to me that this was simply an argument by analogy that demonstrates that complete openness to anyone who asks is not a good general rule that everyone should follow, and that given this, it is easy to make hay about how scientists are being secretive with the data. It might not have been the clearest argument ever made, but it does make the point. Please deal with that point (if you care to), rather than carrying on about how horrible the ALF are (which no one here is going to dispute). – gavin]

  17. phil c:

    It seems entirely unreasonable to have to answer harassment FOI requests – especially when the requests only want to find mistakes in the data or conclusions.

    Why he was under so much pressure from FOI requests?

    The law is clear,you get a FOI request you release the data unless the data is not yours to release in which case you the refer the person to the owner of the data. A few standard replies handled by admin staff should have sorted the whole thing out.

    And if others can actually find mistakes in his work he should be grateful for the help. If he is confident in his work he should be happy to let others try to pull it apart.

  18. Dave G:

    phil c says:
    8 March 2010 at 5:41 PM

    “The law is clear,you get a FOI request you release the data unless the data is not yours to release in which case you the refer the person to the owner of the data.”

    Nonsense. The recipient of the FoI request is under no obligation to refer the requester to the owner of the data. The recipient just has to show that he doesn’t own the data and that’s the end of the request. The requester can go and find out who owns the data for himself – scientists are not gophers.

    “And if others can actually find mistakes in his work he should be grateful for the help. If he is confident in his work he should be happy to let others try to pull it apart.”

    If anyone wants to get the raw data, then download the Met Office’s software and then follow the methodology in the paper, they can test whether there are mistakes or not. You don’t need the raw data to be gift wrapped for you. You don’t need Jones’ original software. You can show that his conclusions are wrong (if they are) without either of those things. And it’s the conclusions that really matter, not small mistakes that don’t affect the rightness of the conclusions.

  19. Hank Roberts:

    > The law is clear
    And it’s not what you think it is. Please look up the facts and stop posting talking points that misstate what happened, what the law says, and what the record shows about the decisions. You’re engaging in malicious fantasy here.

  20. phil c:

    Response: These topics have been discussed to death in a number of posts and other blogs that hopefully some readers will point you to.

    I take your point Jim, but you do you not think that terms like denier are now less than helpful.

    [Response: IMO, categorizing large groups of people with a single term is always fraught with trouble. It would be good if we could all be as precise as possible, and it almost always exacerbates problems to mis-characterize another person, especially intentionally. Denier is sometimes very appropriate and other times not.–Jim]

    and even if the topic has been discussed to death to most of the general public it sounds like Phil Jones is saying there is no global warming. Could you point me to a clarification of what he is really saying

    [Response: Here, and please no more discussion on FOIA issues. It has gotten very tedious. – gavin]

  21. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Ray (L),

    There seems to be a good deal of confusion about what cools the entire Earth system, versus what cools the Earth’s surface. For the surface, conduction and convection (and evapotranspiration) are important, though still not as important as radiation. Of course, you’re quite right that as far as transferring heat to space goes, the Earth can only radiate–not conduct or convect. Or not measurably, anyway. (Does it even make sense to calculate convection or conduction in the interplanetary medium?)

  22. dhogaza:

    Phil C:

    But then I read a BBC Q&A session with Prof. Phil Jones CRU who appears to state that

    b) from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

    But, he also said it was *almost* significant.

    Someone has run the numbers, and came up with a confidence level of 92.3%. Yes, that’s less than 95%, but not much. 95% is a rule-of-thumb standard for the phrase “statistical significance”, it’s not ironclad in deep statistical theory or the like.

    And why was 1995 chosen?

    1995 is the earliest year when the statistical significance of the trend from that year to 2009 safely fails. Since 1994, you would get a technically significant trend.

    So the time period’s been cherry-picked as the longest someone could find that (just barely) fails to be statistically significant. In a world where climate trends are typically discussed in a 30 year time frame, the fact that in a particular 15 year time frame the observed warming trend of 0.12C/decade doesn’t quite reach the level of statistical significance is no surprise.

  23. Donald Oats:

    The IOP submission, and the Inhofe blacklist, need to be taken together. Monckton was touring Australia – perhaps still is – and during that tour he made some allusions to Climate Scientists being about to face criminal charges, and also to peak academic bodies having some very interesting submissions to make to the UK inquiry. I don’t know whether the IOP submission or Inhofe’s blacklist were already in the public domain when Monckton made his comments (as digressions in either his talks or interviews; I don’t recall precisely) or whether he was aware ahead of time, but I’ll say this: usually I’m up with the latest stuff very soon after it is made public, yet I missed these two rather big items.

    From what I’ve seen, Monckton, Plimer, Carter, etc are in frequent enough contact with each other and the organisations that circulate fud as their strategy, that I’m fairly confident Monckton knew ahead of time and was basically boasting. It sux.

  24. dhogaza:

    Phil C

    and even if the topic has been discussed to death to most of the general public it sounds like Phil Jones is saying there is no global warming. Could you point me to a clarification of what he is really saying

    It only sounds like that because people like yourself leave out the “+0.12C/decade of warming” part of the statement. I doubt that most people reading the full answer to the question would come away with the understanding that he said “there is no global warming”.

  25. andy:

    Regarding the curiously pinpoint selection of 1995, DeepClimate has some background:

    Lubos’s involvement should surprise nobody, but this seems like a new low for Lindzen.

  26. Hank Roberts:


  27. Ray Ladbury:

    Hmm, well, how about energy loss due to loss of Helium? It’s a convection of sorts–or at least a diffusion, but not significant. Might be an interesting question, though–particularly if we were to ever get fusion working and start creating a lot of helium. How much helium would we have to release into the atmosphere to provide significant cooling at the TOA? Anybody giving a planetary atmospheres test any time soon?

  28. Ray Ladbury:

    Andy says, “…but this seems like a new low for Lindzen.”

    Nah! Lindzen’s been bottom feeding for at least a decade now. I lost all respect when he suggested that warming on Mars, Jupiter and Pluto might have the same cause as warming on Earth in his closing argument in a public debate. He knows better. He quit doing science a long time ago.

  29. Ray Ladbury:

    Jim’s inline response: “IMO, categorizing large groups of people with a single term is always fraught with trouble.”

    Which is why I sometimes use the term “tin-hat conspiracy theorist”.

  30. andy:

    Whoops, Hank got it.

  31. Hank Roberts:


  32. Lotharsson:

    The problem with being on the pro AGW side is that if you’re not 100% scrupulous in your approach then the Deniers jump all over you and claim it as proof of their case. … Unfortunately the Deniers then immediately claimed the submission as justification of their case and the pro’s got upset because they felt it was too harsh.

    Unscrupulous spin artists don’t care what you do or don’t do – they will find a way to dump crap on you EITHER way. Trying to be 100% scrupulous rather than 99.99% because of this dynamic is probably ultimately a waste of time. You might be better off tackling the false meme they use head-on and pointing out that 100% is not possible, but genuine scientists are a LOT closer to it than the deniers .

    Or as it’s often put in the commercial world – “manage expectations” sometimes stated “set appropriate expectations”. Don’t allow unrealistic expectations to sink in, or to be implicitly or explicitly set as a benchmark.

  33. Richard Ordway:

    “”””Nah! Linden’s been bottom feeding for at least a decade now. I lost all respect when he suggested that warming on Mars, Jupiter and Pluto might have the same cause as warming on Earth in his closing argument in a public debate. He knows better. He quit doing science a long time ago.”””

    Not to beat a dead horse, however the book the “Heat is On” by Gelbspan, who conceived, directed and edited a series of articles that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for the Boston Globe, goes extensively into Richard Linden’s psyche and documents Richard Linden’s history including his motivations (available at Amazon.com)…

    It ties in closely to what peer reviewed author Naomi Oreskes is currently documenting in her book Merchants of Doubt…Both Oreske’s and Gelbspan’s works compliment each other in a facinating way. Oreskes gives an overview of the strategy, the brains, and history of the operation and Gelbspan gives the point of view from the trenches of one of the hired soldiers(at least gathering from what Naomi Oreskes says in a lecture).

    Gelbspan did not have access to the whole picture when he wrote his “Heat is On” several years ago. Oreskes fills in the missing parts with about five years worth of research.

    In a lugubrious sort of way, it is a fascinating documented story of how a small dedicated group of people built a brilliant (if you are into that sort of thing) organization from an idea and dominated the largest superpower on Earth’s politics and policies for about 50 years…not to mention the world’s agenda…absolutely amazing.

    It needs to be made into a movie or play…it certainly has all the elements…and it will end like a Shakepearian drama at this rate as well… filled with irony and paradoxes. You couldn’t ask for a better movie plot.

  34. Marion Delgado:

    To David Colquhoun:

    Your repetition of denialist talking points about CRU is not civil. Your tone is irrelevant to the fact that you continue to misrepresent the FOI issue, and you have no excuse, by now for not knowing better. Therefore, whatever standards of civility you’ve maintained in your own environment, in the past, are abandoned, therefore, by you, whether or not also by the people who tried to get you to acknowledge facts and reality and an accurate history of this campaign.

    What part of the answers you’ve received to your petitio principii questions was wrong, and why? “I don’t know” is now an excuse, not a justification.

  35. Frank Giger:

    Can we get back to science?

    Two of five is great if one is a major league batter, but it stinks for RealClimate to have only two of the five features on the current page relating to actual science.

    The other three are complaining about people complaining, and how unfair it all is. If I wanted opinion pieces about how climatologists are being maligned, there are plenty of sources for it; but RC seems to be the only scientific site that has the right balance of science terminology and common vernacular in its summaries.

    Small hint: playing the victim or grandstanding righteous indignation is not persuasive. It is only affirmative to those already in agreement and empathetic by default.

  36. John Mashey:

    A generalization about over-generalization.

    1) A while ago, I posted a discussion of why people don’t believe climate models”, where the specific reasons varied by discipline, but the base reason was over-generalizing from a specific discipline’s constraints and behavior to others, without realizing that.

    2) The same thing happens with software in general: the more specialized someone is, and the longer they have been working in that specialty, the more likely they are to assume that other areas of software work the same.

    3) And finally, the same thing is true of data.

    I suggest a parallel between the arguments that finally yield the post where a biochemist just could not accept that climate models might not work, and it took a while to understand why.

    Anyway, I think some of the arguments with David C are of this sort. I have run into other (good) scientists whose initial reaction is “share the data of course, what’s their problem?”: because they haven’t looked into the context carefully enough.

    *Context* is really important.

  37. Tim Jones:

    The previous political decade had a right wing government muzzling climate scientists and their reports to keep the citizenry in the dark regarding new findings.

    Now that they’ve been voted out of power for that sort of thing the denier’s tactics exploit FOIA to keep the climate scientists busy with… busy work. And of course defending why they weren’t getting out what we weren’t supposed to see fast enough.

  38. Edward Greisch:

    203: “These are not universal characteristics of lay people – and in fact I find the exact opposite. Do not confuse the often strident and confused people who show up in blog comments with the much larger populace. – gavin”
    Sorry, Gavin, but I think Bob is closer to right than you are. Most Americans are disrespectful of intellectuals; and they believe some very impossible things. If I elaborate, I am sure to get edited, so I will instead ask again that you add some social science professors to the RealClimate team. Do you [Gavin] live in a college town where the average opinion is more than usually influenced by the college? Try taking a poll out here in the sticks.
    Bob is also correct that we will win the argument eventually. It is just that it will be too late by then.
    Better education would certainly be helpful as well, but again, we don’t have centuries in which to turn the situation around. We are stuck with people as they are.

    My question is: Would I be better off giving up on humanity and concentrating on finding a way to move to Mars? That way I could watch from a safe distance while Earth becomes another Venus. That would be Depressing. But perhaps a dozen people could survive. I think I know why E.T. has not arrived yet. They did the same thing most people are doing and went extinct. We have such a slim chance of becoming the first species in our galaxy to avoid/evade/overcome the GW/fossil fuels trap.

  39. Septic Matthew:

    183, Ray Ladbury: All of the heat transfer from Earth’s climate system is due to radiation, or if you disagree, do please explain how convection or conduction would remove heat from Earth into the inky blackness of space.

    I think that you mean “empty blackness”. If it were like ink, convection and conduction would work fine.

    That’s supposed to be humorous. I couldn’t resist.

  40. Slioch:

    #223 Donald Oates said, “I’m fairly confident Monckton knew ahead of time” about the IoP submission.

    Have a look at this article.


    If you haven’t thrown a brick through your screen before you get to near the end you will see that “Terri Jackson, MSc MPhil founder of the Energy Group at the Institute of Physics” refers to “my colleague Lord Monckton”

  41. Geoff Wexler:

    I think that Ike Solem has occasionally issued warnings about the energy * world.

    The IoP’s fiasco illustrates the difference between energy research and climate research. The former is most important, and includes some excellent work but the cultures are quite different. The energy world consists of good and bad all together, lots of opinion and speculation, economics often of the right wing neoliberal kind, subsidies from industry, good technology, arguments about priorities and money. People have to get involved with it, but I think a clear line should be kept between all that stuff and climatology, both in the books and in the better blogs.

    The bureaucrats at the IOP have failed to keep this distinction clear. The result is that some people from the energy world have been allowed to speak for the whole energy world and even for the physics and climatology world. Don’t they have enough controversy and uncertainty of their own?

    In a similar way, I am in favour of a default policy in Realclimate to oppose the inclusion of comments about the relative merits of fusion,fission, solar,wind and the use of the free market etc. and whether it is easy or hard to convert to renewables. The validity of global warming science has nothing to do with such questions whatever the contrarians say. RC’s strong point is climate and its high reputation depends on that. An outstanding exception is when it comes to geoengineering which might affect the climate.
    [* A trivial point; even the terminology is different; global warming occurs because of energy conservation but the fuel world’s problem stem from the fact their energy (e.g. Gibbs free energy) is not]

  42. L. David Cooke:

    “RE: 168

    Dear Mr. Colquhoun,

    Data Integrity
    I just checked out the first two paragraphs of your blog in regards to the recent
    issues. My first knee jerk reaction was “Snake Oil Salesmen” dressed in medical
    coats in regards to cloning and cancer research. I stopped to think a bit about
    your post above and I considered that medical research is likely a prime example of
    how a study can reflect erroneous conclusions based on data. Over the years there
    has been many papers touting this or that in regards to the ways to be healthier or
    to live longer. But, in the end the result is still going to be terminal.

    This is no different with the general Earth, Physical or Chemical Sciences. In
    nearly every case you will find that there may be data that points in different
    directions; however, in the end the overriding indication is that the data leads to
    a frank conclusion. Time and additional information will out…

    At issue here is not that the terminus of the conclusion is wrong; but, the method
    of building the system to examine the data. For the un-initiated, the scientific
    peer review process was an outgrowth of the former National Scientific Committees,
    Academies and Societies. (Most of which pre-date the Medical equivalents.) That
    the initial works were kept in check by a relative few who desired to maintain a
    status quo and political power were finally pricked by the free press and the
    ability to publish with only a review by experts in the respective fields. This
    process has served science well for over two centuries.

    Financial Gain
    That there is a great liberalization with anyone with a keyboard and a public access
    account can now publish has put a crimp on many media outlets, the prime one being
    the print media. The problem is that the abilities in this industry have not
    translated well to the modern media. Copyrights have in essence left the building
    as have the ability to protect them. That financial or other benefits had been
    related to the print media and the “rights” had gaged the potential compensation
    there, the point is this is no longer the case in the new media environment.

    What I see many skeptics crying about is the lack of access is unjust. What I see
    on behalf of the scientists or researchers is that their work is being hijacked with
    commercial gain made and they are not compensated for their contribution. When you
    discuss the pharm’s you discuss their “hiding” of data or studies.

    What you do not discuss is the flip side or the gains they make off the works of
    researchers. What would happen if all formulas for medicines and the preparations
    of them had to be made public? To go even further, what if all the equipment and
    chemicals used in the preparations had to be available to anyone who wanted them…

    Before we go much further with the freedom of access to data and the ability to
    replicate experiments or analysis let us start matching up apples with apples… As
    I have suggested before, please let us be more careful before drinking the KoolAid


    My Thanx,

    Dave Cooke

  43. Ike Solem:

    Geoff Wexler says:

    In a similar way, I am in favour of a default policy in Realclimate to oppose the inclusion of comments about the relative merits of fusion,fission, solar,wind and the use of the free market etc. and whether it is easy or hard to convert to renewables. The validity of global warming science has nothing to do with such questions whatever the contrarians say. RC’s strong point is climate and its high reputation depends on that.

    I think a far better idea is to insist that the energy research scientists adopt the same standards as climate research scientists when it comes to release of instrumental data, paleoclimate data, computer model codes, and anything else related to their research. Hence, if RC is going to discuss energy research, it must apply the same standard of analysis that it does to any climate science topic – and that, RC has failed to do, understandably enough.

    Without much exception, energy research scientists these days are doing applied work. There is still very little money available for basic research into renewable energy generation – the only funding agency is the DOE, and while reporters refuse to take the time to analyze the DOE budget, I have – and there’s almost nothing there for public university research financing for renewable energy programs – which is why you won’t find an Institute of Renewable Energy on any major university campus in the United States – although you will find dozens of ocean science institutes, earth science institutes, departments of petroleum engineering, and so on. This is because the federal government controls the purse strings for university research, and due to the powerful influence of fossil fuel lobbyists, the funds for renewable energy research were quickly eliminated from the DOE a few years after the DOE was formed in 1976.

    The basic issue is that renewable energy spells the end of the fossil fuel industry, and with it much of the wealth than banks have come to enjoy over the 20th century. The reason is simple, and thus widely ignored – but perhaps you need to know the history of the fossil fuel & nitrogen fertilizer industries. The industry managers worked off an inversion of an old saying, something like this:

    “Sell a man a fish, make a tidy profit. Teach a man to fish, put yourself out of business.”

    With renewable energy, you are converting the energy of wind and sunlight to electricity and stored chemical potential. Fossil fuels are just the stored chemical potential of sunlight – locked away in isolated locations. If you can control access to the isolated location, you can then sell the product to those who don’t have any other options. Since sunlight is globally distributed (with an advantage for the equator), there’s no way to control access. You don’t get to sell power, just equipment to harness natural power.

    No problem, you say – the businesses will just manufacture electric cars instead of gasoline powered cars, and everything will continue as before. However, the industry has always known that the real money is not in the cars, but in what feeds the cars. If the cars can feed themselves using sunlight – well – what then?

    Obviously, from the Exxon CEO view, there’s a huge need to prevent technological innovation from undermining fossil fuel profits – and that need was met by ensuring that the federal government wouldn’t finance real renewable energy research. The main drivers here are probably the large banks and holding companies, who typically have investments in fossil fuels at least ten times their investments in vehicles, etc. For example, Barclay’s holds $14 billion in Exxon, $1 billion in Ford. If Ford started making a lot of all-electric cars that people liked, they might rise in value, but Exxon would plummet. Similar deals exist with the investors in power utilities, coal mines, and coal-hauling railroads – much of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway business is involved in such deals. Are they going to invest in a solar project that undermines all that? Unlikely.

    So, those are the kinds of political pressures that come into play at the DOE – which is a highly politicized body, much more so than the NSF or NIH, whose director is not a Cabinet Secretary. In fact, there’s a good argument that the DOE should be an independent agency like the NIH or NSF – one that disperses funding to research programs instead of to private contractors with highly dubious records.

    One conclusion is that climate scientists should be very happy about the overall quality of their work, particularly in comparison with the energy research field.

    As an illustrative example: One of the main claims made over the past decade or so is that clean coal, carbon capture and sequestration, and the resulting ‘zero-emission coal-fired power plants’ were going to allow us to burn coal for electricity without emitting any CO2.

    Any request for proof of such claims runs into the brick wall of public-private partnerships and proprietary information. You can’t send a request to a private company – at least, they don’t need to respond. You’d have to subpoena them in court. This is despite the federal government pouring billions of dollars in funding into such research – the proprietary restrictions take precedence over any notion of scientific transparency or the open exchange of information. This model of research… well, it was the mainstay of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes of preWWII Germany, the public-private corporate model. That worked out great, didn’t it?

    To understand the issue, imagine if the code for all the climate models was protected the same way MS source code was protected, and the raw instrumental data was handled the same as raw drug trial data? That is, kept hidden behind lock and key?

    Nevertheless, despite their obsession with scientific integrity and complete transparency, when it comes to examining the “CCS research” of the past decade – you don’t hear anything at all. This goes for the IOP as well – they’re not going to conduct an independent analysis into CCS claims, I’m guessing.

  44. Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen:

    “I know of none that is more transparent than climate science, and in large part that s due to the IPCC. ”

    This claim may well be true but ignores how selective the IPCC is, or rather how selective of whom and what the governments are that fund climate research.

    [Response: The selection is based on experience and merit. Please keep in mind that the IPCC is supposed to represent the best knowledge we have on climate science. Hence, the IPCC needs to work with the best scientists. -rasmus]

    The IPCC critics/ sceptics I know and respect, have not been funded adequately if at all, certainly not by the oil&gas industry who, by the way, have not been losers in the energy game over ‘decarbonisation’.

    [Response: The IPCC doesn’t fund science or scientists. The contribution to the IPCC work is voluntarily, and funded by respective countries/governements. The question then is: Why are they not funded? And who are they? It’s impossible to judge this comment without more specific details. -rasmus]

    A problem with IPCC science that is published in the full reports after peer review is that the peers that are taken note of (almost anybody can make comments!), are selected by ‘cliques’ – you may prefer communities- of authors. (I was a peer reviewer once and know of research into this subject)

    [Response: The science published in the IPCC reports represent the publications in the scientific literature. The IPCC assesses the state of the climate science. Any relevant peer reviewed article should be discussed. Do you mean that some are missing? Please provide specifics. -rasmus]

    More important in undermining the IPCC ‘s claim to be representative of all science relevant to climate is that the selected science (selected to predict warming) is then summarised and further simplified into the ‘Policy-makers’ summaries. These short and precise publications are importnat for policy and propaganda, I mean advocacy. They are negotiated simplifications that serve the objectives not off science, but of the global energy agenda of a handful of governments (the majority of governemnts are being bribed to join in). All sides present gain, as long as teh science lobbies fulfil their part of the bargain – a happy symbiosis in which only the truth suffers. The truth is uncertainty and ignorance about the what ‘really’ climate is and how it changes over time, and with what effects.

    [Response: I believe that the SPM provide a reasonable overview of the main reports. I also think that the policy is to provide the best available knowledge bout our climate to the society. Fairly sinister, eh? But if you disagree, please provide specifics. -rasmus]

  45. Ray Ladbury:

    Gee, Sonja, maybe if the “skeptics” ever published anything in a real peer-reviewed scientific journal (as opposed to E&E) they might actually get funded.

  46. Andreas Bjurström:

    244 Rasmus,

    I agree that scientific expertise are important when selecting IPCC authors, yet this is not the only criteria and authors are not selection by the scientific community. It is Governments that propose authors. The selection is hence not free from political concerns, it would be naive to believe that governments are only interested in scientific expertise. Moreover, IPCC take explicit consideration to geographical representation. Hence, also geography are important selection criteria that has nothing to do with scientific expertise, but much to do with some kind of “democracy” in science. IPCC is a hybrid organisation between science and policy, that is important to not forget.

  47. Hank Roberts:


    “… the IPCC also seeks the widest selection of experts. Not only are nominations from governments and participating organizations sought-out, but self-nominations are also possible from qualified experts who can participate in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report and act as Coordinating Lead Authors (CLA), Lead Authors (LA) and Review Editors (RE) for the report.

    The nomination period opened on 15 January and is closing on 12 March 2010! We urge everyone with scientific technical expertise to apply for the nomination process ….”

    Click the link for more.

  48. simon abingdon:

    #165 #166

    …sorry guys, beyond the pale, I´m afraid.

  49. Joe:

    A lot has been is being said about the CRU E-mails in this context. Has anyone looked at


    There is much that is speculation in there, but also much that puts the E-mails in a damning light. Has anyone tried to come up with a point by point rebuttal that is more than just a character assassination of the author?

  50. Richard Ordway:

    re 244 Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen says:
    9 March 2010 at 1:44 PM
    “I know of none that is more transparent than climate science, and in large part that s due to the IPCC. ”

    “”””This claim may well be true but ignores how selective the IPCC is, or rather how selective of whom and what the governments are that fund climate research.”””
    Sonja, I know you are scared of big government, and you want a laissez faire government, and you are opposed to government regulation in all forms like your mentors Robert Jastrow (Astrophysicist), Fred Seitz president of NAS- consultant to RJ Reynolds), William Nierenberg (nuclear physicist) and I honor that.

    However, what you are doing is wrong- plain and simple. It is backfiring. It will ironically result in a big government takeover anyway because of no other choice to combat the coming human-caused climate change emergency which you personally helped to create as a result of your 30 year delaying action on climate change.

    The Carter administration was ready to start action on human-caused climate change in the 1970s. Had that happened without political interference from your party (You know what I mean…and it is not the Republicans, either) and as a result of your party’s delaying tactics like in case of the ozone layer [boy, were you lucky on that one], tobacco, acid rain, and DDT, small government (that you like) could have phased in global warming regulations slowly and you could keep your small government.

    I know you mean well, but you are wrong to be doing what you are doing.

    I am sorry you had all the problems with your original form of government from where you originated..it must have been terrible…however, I doubt the USA would turn into that form of government with all of our checks and balances…

    Sonja, the more you and your party keep delaying remedial action on human-caused climate change, the worse it will get even faster… and the more and more likely it is that the big government takeover that you fear will happen…don’t you see that?

    You were lucky on the ozone layer (it wasn’t too late to solve it by the time your delaying actions ended)…but now you have catastrophically miscalculated on human caused global warming…it’s a lot worse and happening a lot faster then you had originally calculated…and your wish came true…delayed action…now it might be too late to avoid catastrophe and a massive (as in ma_tial l_w) possible future government takeover… of the very thing you were trying to prevent.