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Close Encounters of the Absurd Kind

Filed under: — group @ 24 February 2010

Guest commentary from Ben Santer

Part 2 of a series discussing the recent Guardian articles

A recent story by Fred Pearce in the February 9th online edition of the Guardian (“Victory for openness as IPCC climate scientist opens up lab doors”) covers some of the more publicized aspects of the last 14 years of my scientific career. I am glad that Mr. Pearce’s account illuminates some of the non-scientific difficulties I have faced. However, his account also repeats unfounded allegations that I engaged in dubious professional conduct. In a number of instances, Mr Pearce provides links to these allegations, but does not provide a balanced account of the rebuttals to them. Nor does he give links to locations where these rebuttals can be found. I am taking this opportunity to correct Mr. Pearce’s omissions, to reply to the key allegations, and to supply links to more detailed responses.

Another concern relates to Mr. Pearce’s discussion of the “openness” issue mentioned in the title and sub-title of his story. A naïve reader of Mr. Pearce’s article might infer from the sub-title (“Ben Santer had a change of heart about data transparency…”) that my scientific research was not conducted in an open and transparent manner until I experienced “a change of heart”.

This inference would be completely incorrect. As I discuss below, my research into the nature and causes of climate change has always been performed in an open, transparent, and collegial manner. Virtually all of the scientific papers I have published over the course of my career involve multi-institutional teams of scientists with expertise in climate modeling, the development of observational datasets, and climate model evaluation. The model and observational data used in my research is not proprietary – it is freely available to researchers anywhere in the world.

The 1995 IPCC Report: The “scientific cleansing” allegation

Mr. Pearce begins by repeating some of the allegations of misconduct that arose after publication (in 1996) of the Second Assessment Report (SAR) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These allegations targeted Chapter 8 of the SAR, which dealt with the “Detection of Climate Change, and Attribution of Causes”. The IPCC SAR reached the historic finding that “The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate”. Information presented in Chapter 8 provided substantial support for this finding.

I served as the Convening Lead Author (CLA) of Chapter 8. There were three principal criticisms of my conduct as CLA. All three allegations are baseless. They have been refuted on many occasions, and in many different fora. All three allegations make an appearance in Mr. Pearce’s story, but there are no links to the detailed responses to these claims.

The first allegation was that I had engaged in “scientific cleansing”. This allegation originated with the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) – a group of businesses “opposing immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.

In May 1996, a document entitled “The IPCC: Institutionalized ‘Scientific Cleansing’?” was widely circulated to the press and politicians. In this document, the Global Climate Coalition claimed that after a key Plenary Meeting of the IPCC in Madrid in November 1995, all scientific uncertainties had been purged from Chapter 8. The GCC’s “scientific cleansing” allegation was soon repeated in an article in Energy Daily (May 22, 1996) and in an editorial in the Washington Times (May 24, 1996). It was also prominently featured in the World Climate Report, a publication edited by Professor Patrick J. Michaels (June 10, 1996).

This “scientific cleansing” claim is categorically untrue. There was no “scientific cleansing”. Roughly 20% of the published version of Chapter 8 specifically addressed uncertainties in scientific studies of the causes of climate change. In discussing the “scientific cleansing” issue, Mr. Pearce claims that many of the caveats in Chapter 8 “did not make it to the summary for policy-makers”. This is incorrect.

The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of the IPCC SAR is four-and-a-half pages long. Roughly one page of the SPM discusses results from Chapter 8. The final paragraph of that page deals specifically with uncertainties, and notes that:

“Our ability to quantify the human influence on global climate is currently limited because the expected signal is still emerging from the noise of natural variability, and because there are uncertainties in key factors. These include the magnitude and patterns of long term natural variability and the time-evolving pattern of forcing by, and response to, changes in concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosols, and land surface changes”.

Contrary to Mr. Pearce’s assertion, important caveats did “make it to the summary for policy-makers”. And the “discernible human influence” conclusion of both Chapter 8 and the Summary for Policymakers has been substantiated by many subsequent national and international assessments of climate science.

There were several reasons why Chapter 8 was a target for unfounded “scientific cleansing” allegations. First, the Global Climate Coalitions’s “scientific cleansing” charges were released to the media in May 1996. At that time, Cambridge University Press had not yet published the IPCC Second Assessment Report in the United States. Because of this delay in the Report’s U.S. publication, many U.S. commentators on the “scientific cleansing” claims had not even read Chapter 8 – they only had access to the GCC’s skewed account of the changes made to Chapter 8. Had the Second Assessment Report been readily available in the U.S. in May 1996, it would have been easy for interested parties to verify that Chapter 8 incorporated a fair and balanced discussion of scientific uncertainties.

Second, the “pre-Madrid” version of Chapter 8 was the only chapter in the IPCC Working Group I Second Assessment Report to have both an “Executive Summary” and a “Concluding Summary”. As discussed in the next section, this anomaly was partly due to the fact that the Lead Author team for Chapter 8 was not finalized until April 1994 – months after all other chapters had started work. Because of this delay in getting out of the starting blocks, the Chapter 8 Lead Author team was more concerned with completing the initial drafts of our chapter than with the question of whether all chapters in the Working Group I Report had exactly the same structure.

The reply of the Chapter 8 Lead Authors to the Energy Daily story of May 22, 1996 pointed out this ‘two summary’ redundancy, and noted that:

“After receiving much criticism of this redundancy in October and November 1995, the Convening Lead Author of Chapter 8 decided to remove the concluding summary. About half of the information in the concluding summary was integrated with material in Section 8.6. It did not disappear completely, as the Global Climate Coalition has implied. The lengthy Executive Summary of Chapter 8 addresses the issue of uncertainties in great detail – as does the underlying Chapter itself.”

The removal of the concluding summary made it simple for the Global Climate Coalition to advance their unjustified “scientific cleansing” allegations. They could claim ‘This statement has been deleted’, without mentioning that the scientific issue addressed in the deleted statement was covered elsewhere in the chapter.

This was my first close encounter of the absurd kind.

The 1995 IPCC Report: The “political tampering/corruption of peer-review” allegation

The second allegation is that I was responsible for “political tampering”. I like to call this “the tail wags the dog” allegation. The “tail” here is the summary of the Chapter 8 results in the IPCC Summary for Policymakers, and the “dog” is the detailed underlying text of Chapter 8.

In November 1995, 177 government delegates from 96 countries spent three days in Madrid. Their job was to “approve” each word of the four-and-a-half page Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC’s Working Group I Report. This was the report that dealt with the physical science of climate change. The delegates also had the task of “accepting” the 11 underlying science chapters on which the Summary for Policymakers was based. “Acceptance” of the 11 chapters did not require government approval of each word in each chapter.

This was not a meeting of politicians only. A number of the government delegates were climate scientists. Twenty-eight of the Lead Authors of the IPCC Working Group I Report – myself included – were also prominent participants in Madrid. We were there to ensure that the politics did not get ahead of the science, and that the tail did not wag the dog.

Non-governmental organizations – such as the Global Climate Coalition – were also active participants in the Madrid meeting. NGOs had no say in the formal process of approving the Summary for Policymakers. They were, however, allowed to make comments on the SPM and the underlying 11 science chapters during the first day of the Plenary Meeting (November 27, 1996). The Global Climate Coalition dominated the initial plenary discussions.

Most of the plenary discussions at Madrid focused on the portrayal of Chapter 8’s findings in the Summary for Policymakers. Discussions were often difficult and contentious. We wrestled with the exact wording of the “balance of evidence” statement mentioned above. The delegations from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait argued for a very weak statement, or for no statement at all. Delegates from many other countries countered that there was strong scientific evidence of pronounced a human effect on climate, and that the bottom-line statement from Chapter 8 should reflect this.

Given the intense interest in Chapter 8, Sir John Houghton (one of the two Co-Chairs of IPCC Working Group I) established an ad hoc group on November 27, 1996. I was a member of this group. Our charge was to review those parts of the draft Summary for Policymakers that dealt with climate change detection and attribution issues. The group was placed under the Chairmanship of Dr. Martin Manning of New Zealand, and included delegates from the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Kenya, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. Sir John Houghton also invited delegates from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to participate in this ad hoc group. Unfortunately, they did not accept this invitation.

The ad hoc group considered more than just the portions of the Summary for Policymakers that were relevant to Chapter 8. The Dutch delegation asked for a detailed discussion of Chapter 8 itself, and of the full scientific evidence contained in it. This discussion took place on November 28, 1996.

On November 29, 1996, I reported back to the Plenary on the deliberations of the ad hoc group. The Saudi Arabian and Kuwaiti delegations – who had not attended any of the discussions of the ad hoc group, and had no first-hand knowledge of what had been discussed by the group – continued to express serious reservations about the scientific basis for the detection and attribution statements in the Summary for Policymakers.

On the final evening of the Madrid Plenary Meeting, debate focused on finding the right word to describe the human effect on global climate. There was broad agreement among the government delegates that – based on the scientific evidence presented in Chapter 8 – some form of qualifying word was necessary. Was the human influence “measurable”? Could it be best described as “appreciable”, “detectable”, or “substantial”? Each of these suggested words had proponents and opponents. How would each word translate into different languages? Would the meaning be the same as in English?

After hours of often rancorous debate, Bert Bolin (who was then the Chairman of the IPCC) finally found the elusive solution. Professor Bolin suggested that the human effect on climate should be described as “discernible”.

Mr. Pearce – who was not present at the Madrid Plenary Meeting – argues that the discussion of human effects on climate in the IPCC Summary for Policymakers “went beyond what was said in the chapter from which the summary was supposedly drawn”. In other words, he suggests that the tail wagged the dog. This is not true. The “pre-Madrid” bottom-line statement from Chapter 8 was “Taken together, these results point towards a human influence on climate”. As I’ve noted above, the final statement agreed upon in Madrid was “The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate”.

Is “suggests” stronger than “points towards”? I doubt it. Is “The balance of evidence” a more confident phrase than “Taken together”? I don’t think so.

The primary difference between the pre- and post-Madrid statements is that the latter includes the word “discernible”. In my American Heritage College Dictionary, “discernible” is defined as “perceptible, as by vision or the intellect”. In Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, one of the three meanings of the verb “discern” is “to recognize or identify as separate and distinct”. Was the use of “discernible” justified?

The answer is clearly “yes”. Chapter 8 of the IPCC’s Second Assessment Report relied heavily on the evidence from a number of different “fingerprint” studies. This type of research uses rigorous statistical methods to compare observed patterns of climate change with results from climate model simulations. The basic concept of fingerprinting is that each different influence on climate – such as purely natural changes in the Sun’s energy output, or human-caused changes in atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases – has a unique signature in climate records. This uniqueness becomes more apparent if one looks beyond changes averaged over the entire globe, and instead exploits the much greater information content available in complex, time-varying patterns of climate change.

Fingerprinting has proved to be an invaluable tool for untangling the complex cause-and-effect relationships in the climate system. The IPCC’s Second Assessment Report in 1995 was able to draw on fingerprint studies from a half-dozen different research groups. Each of these groups had independently shown that they could indeed perceive a fingerprint of human influence in observed temperature records. The signal was beginning to rise out of the noise, and was (using Merriam-Webster’s definition of “discern”) “separate and distinct” from purely natural variations in climate.

Based on these fingerprint results, and based on the other scientific evidence available to us in November 1995, use of the word “discernible” was entirely justified. Its use is certainly justified based on the scientific information available to us in 2010. The “discernible human influence” phrase was approved by all of the 177 delegates from 96 countries present at the Plenary Meeting – even by the Saudi and Kuwaiti delegations. None of the 28 IPCC Lead Authors in attendance at Madrid balked at this phrase, or questioned our finding that “the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate”. The latter statement was cautious and responsible, and entirely consistent with the state of the science. The much more difficult job of trying to quantify the size of human influences on climate would be left to subsequent IPCC assessments.

Mr. Pearce’s remarks suggest that there is some substance to the “political tampering” allegation – that I was somehow coerced to change Chapter 8 in order to “reflect the wording of the political summary”. This is untrue. There was no political distortion of the science. If Mr. Pearce had been present at the Madrid Plenary Meeting, he would have seen how vigorously (and successfully) scientists resisted efforts on the part of a small number of delegates to skew and spin some of the information in the Summary for Policymakers.

The key point here is that the SPM was not a “political summary” – it was an accurate reflection of the science. Had it been otherwise, I would not have agreed to put my name on the Report.

A reader of Mr. Pearce’s article might also gain the mistaken impression that the changes to Chapter 8 were only made in response to comments made by government delegates during the Madrid Plenary Meeting. That is not true. As I’ve mentioned above, changes were also made to address government comments made during the meeting of the ad hoc group formed to discuss Chapter 8.

Furthermore, when I first arrived in Madrid on November 26, 1995, I was handed a stack of government and NGO comments on Chapter 8 that I had not seen previously. I had the responsibility of responding to these comments.

One reason for the delay in receiving comments was that the IPCC had encountered difficulties in finding a Convening Lead Author (CLA) for Chapter 8. To my knowledge, the CLA job had been turned down by at least two other scientists before I received the job offer. The unfortunate consequence of this delay was that, at the time of the Madrid Plenary Meeting, Chapter 8 was less mature and polished than other chapters of the IPCC Working Group I Report. Hence the belated review comments.

The bottom line in this story is that the post-Madrid revisions to Chapter 8 were made for scientific, not political reasons. They were made by me, not by IPCC officials. The changes were in full accord with IPCC rules and procedures (pdf). Mr. Pearce repeats accusations by Fred Seitz that the changes to Chapter 8 were illegal and unauthorized, and that I was guilty of “corruption of the peer-review process”. These allegations are false, as the IPCC has clearly pointed out.

The 1995 IPCC Report: The “research irregularities” allegation

The third major front in the attack on Chapter 8 focused on my personal research. It was a two-pronged attack. First, Professor S. Fred Singer claimed that the IPCC’s “discernible human influence” conclusion was entirely based on two of my own (multi-authored) research papers. Next, Professor Patrick Michaels argued that one of these two papers was seriously flawed, and that irregularities had occurred in the paper’s publication process. Both charges were untrue.

On July 25, 1996, I addressed the first of these allegations in an email to the Lead Authors of the 1995 IPCC Report:

“Chapter 8 references more than 130 scientific papers – not just two. Its bottom-line conclusion that “the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate” is not solely based on the two Santer et al. papers that Singer alludes to. This conclusion derives from many other published studies on the comparison of modelled and observed patterns of temperature change – for example, papers by Karoly et al. (1994), Mitchell et al. (1995), Hegerl et al. (1995), Karl et al. (1995), Hasselmann et al. (1995), Hansen et al. (1995) and Ramaswamy et al. (1996). It is supported by many studies of global-mean temperature changes, by our physical understanding of the climate system, by our knowledge of human-induced changes in the chemical composition of the atmosphere, by information from paleoclimatic studies, and by a wide range of supporting information (sea-level rise, retreat of glaciers, etc.). To allege, as Singer does, that “Chapter 8 is mainly based on two research papers” is just plain wrong”.

In the second prong of the attack, Professor Michaels claimed that a paper my colleagues and I had published in Nature in 1996 had been selective in its use of observational data, and that our finding of a human fingerprint in atmospheric temperature data was not valid if a longer observational record was used. Further, he argued that Nature had been “toyed with” (presumably by me), and coerced into publishing the 1996 Santer et al. Nature paper one week prior to a key United Nations meeting in Geneva.

My colleagues and I immediately addressed the scientific criticism of our Nature paper by Michaels and his colleague Chip Knappenberger. We demonstrated that this criticism was simply wrong. Use of a longer record of atmospheric temperature change strengthened rather than weakened the evidence for a human fingerprint. We published this work in Nature in December 1996. Unfortunately, Mr. Pearce does not provide a link to this publication.

Since 1996, studies by a number of scientists around the world have substantiated the findings of our 1996 Nature paper. Such work has consistently shown clear evidence of a human fingerprint in atmospheric temperature records.

Disappointingly, Professor Michaels persists in repeating his criticism of our paper, without mentioning our published rebuttal or the large body of subsequently published evidence refuting his claims. Michaels’ charge that Nature had been “toyed with” was complete nonsense. As described below, however, this was not the last time I would be falsely accused of having the extraordinary power to force scientific journals to do my bidding.

A Climatology Conspiracy? More “peer-review abuse” accusations

Mr. Pearce also investigates a more recent issue. He implies that I abused the normal peer-review system, and exerted pressure on the editor of the International Journal of Climatology to delay publication of the print version of a paper by Professor David Douglass and colleagues. This is not true.

The Douglass et al. paper was published in December 2007 in the online edition of the International Journal of Climatology. The “et al.” included the same Professor S. Fred Singer who had previously accused me of “scientific cleansing”. It also included Professor John Christy, the primary developer of a satellite-based temperature record which suggests that there has been minimal warming of Earth’s lower atmosphere since 1979. Three alternate versions of the satellite temperature record, produced by different teams of researchers using the same raw satellite measurements, all indicate substantially more warming of the Earth’s atmosphere.

The focus of the Douglass et al. paper was on post-1979 temperature changes in the tropics. The authors devised what they called a “robust statistical test” to compare computer model results with observations. The test was seriously flawed (see Appendix A in Open Letter to the Climate Science Community: Response to A “Climatology Conspiracy?”). When it was applied to the model and observational temperature datasets, the test showed (quite incorrectly) that the model results were significantly different from observations.

As I have noted elsewhere, the Douglass et al. paper immediately attracted considerable media and political attention. One of the paper’s authors claimed that it represented an “inconvenient truth”, and proved that “Nature, not humans, rules the climate”. These statements were absurd. No single study can overturn the very large body of scientific evidence supporting “discernible human influence” findings. Nor does any individual study provide the sole underpinning for the conclusion that human activities are influencing global climate.

Given the extraordinary claims that were being made on the basis of this incorrect paper, my colleagues and I decided that a response was necessary. Although the errors in Douglass et al. were easy to identify, it required a substantial amount of new and original work to repeat the statistical analysis properly.

Our work went far beyond what Douglass et al. had done. We looked at the sensitivity of model-versus-data comparisons to the choice of statistical test, to the test assumptions, to the number of years of record used in the tests, and to errors in the computer model estimates of year-to-year temperature variability. We also examined how the statistical test devised by Douglass et al. performed under controlled conditions, using random data with known statistical properties. From their paper, there is no evidence that Douglass et al. considered any of these important issues before making their highly-publicized claims.

Our analysis clearly showed that tropical temperature changes in observations and climate model simulations were not fundamentally inconsistent – contrary to the claim of Douglass and colleagues. Our research was published on October 10, 2008, in the online edition of the International Journal of Climatology. On November 15, 2008, the Douglass et al. and Santer et al. papers appeared in the same print version of the International Journal of Climatology.

In December 2009, shortly after the public release of the stolen emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, Professors David Douglass and John Christy accused me of leading a conspiracy to delay publication of the print version of the Douglass et al. paper. This accusation was based on a selective analysis of the stolen emails. It is false.

In Mr. Pearce’s account of this issue, he states that “There is no doubt the (sic) Santer and his colleagues sought to use the power they held to the utmost…” So what are the facts of this matter? What is the “power” Fred Pearce is referring to?

  • Fact 1: The only “power” that I had was the power to choose which scientific journal to submit our paper to. I chose the International Journal of Climatology. I did this because the International Journal of Climatology had published (in their online edition) the seriously flawed Douglass et al. paper. I wanted to give the journal the opportunity to set the scientific record straight.
  • Fact 2: I had never previously submitted a paper to the International Journal of Climatology. I had never met the editor of the journal (Professor Glenn McGregor). I did not have any correspondence or professional interaction with the editor prior to 2008.
  • Fact 3: Prior to submitting our paper, I wrote an email to Dr. Tim Osborn on January 10, 2008. Tim Osborn was on the editorial board of the International Journal of Climatology. I told Dr. Osborn that, before deciding whether we would submit our paper to the International Journal of Climatology, I wanted to have some assurance that our paper would “be regarded as an independent contribution, not as a comment on Douglass et al.” This request was entirely reasonable in view of the substantial amount of new work that we had done. I have described this new work above.
  • Fact 4: I did not want to submit our paper to the International Journal of Climatology if there was a possibility that our submission would be regarded as a mere “comment” on Douglass et al. Under this scenario, Douglass et al. would have received the last word. Given the extraordinary claims they had made, I thought it unlikely that their “last word” would have acknowledged the serious statistical error in their original paper. As subsequent events showed, I was right to be concerned – they have not admitted any error in their work.
  • Fact 5: As I clearly stated in my email of January 10 to Dr. Tim Osborn, if the International Journal of Climatology agreed to classify our paper as an independent contribution, “Douglass et al. should have the opportunity to respond to our contribution, and we should be given the chance to reply. Any response and reply should be published side-by-side…”
  • Fact 6: The decision to hold back the print version of the Douglass et al. paper was not mine. It was the editor’s decision. I had no “power” over the publishing decisions of the International Journal of Climatology.

This whole episode should be filed under the category “No good deed goes unpunished”. My colleagues and I were simply trying to set the scientific record straight. There was no conspiracy to subvert the peer-review process. Unfortunately, conspiracy theories are easy to disseminate. Many are willing to accept these theories at face value. The distribution of facts on complex scientific issues is a slower, more difficult process.

Climate Auditing – Close Encounters with Mr. Steven McIntyre

Ten days after the online publication of our International Journal of Climatology paper, Mr. Steven McIntyre, who runs the “ClimateAudit” blog, requested all of the climate model data we had used in our research. I replied that Mr. McIntyre was welcome to “audit” our calculations, and that all of the primary model data we had employed were archived at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and freely available to any researcher. Over 3,400 scientists around the world currently analyze climate model output from this open database.

My response was insufficient for Mr. McIntyre. He submitted two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for climate model data – not for the freely available raw data, but for the results from intermediate calculations I had performed with the raw data. One FOIA request also asked for two years of my email correspondence related to these climate model data sets.

I had performed these intermediate calculations in order derive weighted-average temperature changes for different layers of the atmosphere. This is standard practice. It is necessary since model temperature data are available at specific heights in the atmosphere, whereas satellite temperature measurements represent an average over a deep layer of the atmosphere. The weighted averages calculated from the climate model data can be directly compared with actual satellite data. The method used for making such intermediate calculations is not a secret. It is published in several different scientific journals.

Unlike Mr. McIntyre, David Douglass and his colleagues (in their International Journal of Climatology paper) had used the freely available raw model data. With these raw datasets, Douglass et al. made intermediate calculations similar to the calculations we had performed. The results of their intermediate calculations were similar to our own intermediate results. The differences between what Douglass and colleagues had done and what my colleagues and I had done was not in the intermediate calculations – it was in the statistical tests each group had used to compare climate models with observations.

The punch-line of this story is that Mr. McIntyre’s Freedom of Information Act requests were completely unnecessary. In my opinion, they were frivolous. Mr. McIntyre already had access to all of the information necessary to check our calculations and our findings.

When I invited Mr. McIntyre to “audit” our entire study, including the intermediate calculations, and told him that all the data necessary to perform such an “audit” were freely available, he expressed moral outrage on his blog. I began to receive threatening emails. Complaints about my “stonewalling” behavior were sent to my superiors at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and at the U.S. Department of Energy.

A little over a month after receiving Mr. McIntyre’s Freedom of Information Act requests, I decided to release all of the intermediate calculations I had performed for our International Journal of Climatology paper. I made these datasets available to the entire scientific community. I did this because I wanted to continue with my scientific research. I did not want to spend all of my available time and energy responding to harassment incited by Mr. McIntyre’s blog.

Mr. Pearce does not mention that Mr. McIntyre had no need to file Freedom of Information Act requests, since Mr. McIntyre already had access to all of the raw climate model data we had used in our study (and to the methods we had used for performing intermediate calculations). Nor does Mr. Pearce mention the curious asymmetry in Mr. McIntyre’s “auditing”. To my knowledge, Mr. McIntyre – who purports to have considerable statistical expertise – has failed to “audit” the Douglass et al. paper, which contained serious statistical errors.

As the “Climategate” emails clearly show, there is a pattern of behavior here. My encounter with Mr. McIntyre’s use of FOIA requests for “audit” purposes is not an isolated event. In my opinion, Mr. McIntyre’s FOIA requests serve the purpose of initiating fishing expeditions, and are not being used for true scientific discovery.

Mr. McIntyre’s own words do not present a picture of a man engaged in purely dispassionate and objective scientific inquiry:

“But if Santer wants to try this kind of stunt, as I’ve said above, I’ve submitted FOI requests and we’ll see what they turn up. We’ll see what the journal policies require. I’ll also see what DOE and PCDMI administrators have to say. We’ll see if any of Santer’s buddies are obligated to produce the data. We’ll see if Santer ever sent any of the data to his buddies”

(Steven McIntyre; posting on his ClimateAudit blog; Nov. 21, 2008).

My research is subject to rigorous scrutiny. Mr. McIntyre’s blogging is not. He can issue FOIA requests at will. He is the master of his domain – the supreme, unchallenged ruler of the “ClimateAudit” universe. He is not a climate scientist, but he has the power to single-handedly destroy the reputations of exceptional men and women who have devoted their entire careers to the pursuit of climate science. Mr. McIntyre’s unchecked, extraordinary power is the real story of “Climategate”. I hope that someone has the courage to tell this story.

Benjamin D. Santer

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow
San Ramon, California
February 22, 2010*

*These remarks reflect the personal opinions of Benjamin D. Santer. They do not reflect the official views of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory or the U.S. Department of Energy. In preparing this document, I would like to acknowledge the assistance of Tom Wigley, Myles Allen, Kristin Aydt, Graham Cogley, Peter Gleckler, Leo Haimberger, Gabi Hegerl, John Lanzante, Mike MacCracken, Gavin Schmidt, Steve Sherwood, Susan Solomon, Karl Taylor, Simon Tett, and Peter Thorne.

1,047 Responses to “Close Encounters of the Absurd Kind”

  1. 51
    TA says:

    If your goal is for the public to trust your work enough to base policy decisions on it, then you darn well had better make all data and calculations available for “audit” by any interested party. If your work cannot be replicated by an independent researcher, then who knows what “tricks” you may be using to “hide” inconvenient information. You cannot blame McIntyre for the loss of trust in your work, and in the field of climate science.

  2. 52

    It’s amazing, this current climate. (Pun not intended, but tolerated.)

    Today I was treated to a story about how Dr. Mojib Latif (will he never learn not to say *anything* to some of these guys!?) had used the word “fraud.” (Well, “betrug,” actually, he was speaking in German.)

    Pielke Jr.’s blog broke the story to a breathless world, and had about a dozen cut-and-paste jobs showing in Google. Thing was, you couldn’t tell what the comment was in response to, to whom it was addressed, where, when, or by whom the “fraud” was allegedly committed. Really, anything you’d naturally want to know if you wanted to understand it.

    But some of the usual suspects were all agog. “Fraud!” Well, that proves it! (Whatever “it” may be.)

    These guys don’t only not understand the climate, they don’t understand what they themselves are saying.

  3. 53
    Stephen Gloor says:

    Re: McIntyre

    Has anyone thought of doing this? Seeings as it seems all climate scientists hide things and do not pass on data until hounded into the ground with FOI requests, has anyone though of giving him everything no matter how trivial.

    I mean send him several times a day massive volumes of your data relevant or not in the spirit of cooperation. Include him on all your email lists no matter what they are so he gets 10000 emails a day reminding people to clean the upstairs fridge on Friday. I mean too much information is surely better than none for him.

    I am sure if you all got together you could provide enough data to be really annoying – if he changes his email address then obviously he is not really interested in the data in the first place.

  4. 54
    pft says:

    I am in the skeptic camp, but I don’t take to the personal attacks on either side of the debate. Seems the pendulum has swung a bit too far. Hopefully we can get back to discussing the science and not the politics. or personal attacks. Unfortunately, so long has corporate government has such a big role in funding
    science, it will probably be difficult to eliminate politics, if not the personal attacks.

    The practice of human sacrifice comes to mind when it comes to dumping what some might see as excess
    baggage. It is a common practice in business and politics to discredit old faces when a program hits a
    tough spot, and replace them with new faces, and claim the problem is solved, and all is well again. I see an attempt by some of the AGW proponents to say to the skeptic blogs, hey, we dumped these guys, lets start again, maybe we can work something out and you can play a role, and perhaps mute the skepticism. Silencing the critics is a key to winning a political debate. But thats not science, is it.

  5. 55
    dhogaza says:

    For some reason, being a bit bored and sort-a watching the Olympics, I decided to re-read some very old science fiction.

    Isaac Asimov, from his collection of short stories, “I Robot”.

    The story entitled “Reason”.

    Nails climate science (or other anti-science) skepticism perfectly.

    The same through-the-looking-glass feeling you get when dipping into climate science or evolutionary biology denial (the latter, I’m sure, was his inspiration).

    Published in 1941. Nothing has changed.

  6. 56
    Michael K says:

    But the scientist, or rational individual, who bases their world-view on logic, facts, cogent arguments etc. will always be at a distinct disadvantage in relation to the demagogue who primarily aims to sway and influence his audience by appealing to their emotions and feelings.

  7. 57
    Mark Shapiro says:

    Thank you, Dr. Santer.

    Stephen Walt just offered: “Top ten ways to handle a smear campaign”, for colleagues being attacked in the media.

    It’s a quick read that complements Lakoff. My favorites:
    3. Never Get Mad.
    5. Explain to your Audience What is Going On.
    10. Don’t Forget to Feel Good About Yourself and the Enterprise in Which you are Engaged.

    Read the whole thing. Especially number 10. Good night, all.

  8. 58
    John Peter says:

    Dr. Ben Santer is very bright and very well connected. He got his degree 22 yrs ago at East Anglia under Tom Wigley . Ben is currently based at Livermore, so he at least, should know to encrypt his emails.

  9. 59
    Michael K says:

    What is the function of most journalists in the corporate media? In short it’s to legitimize and spread the veiws, attitudes, and prejudices of ruling political and business elite. Journalism functions like a priesthood supporting the social structure of a fuedal society ruled by an aristocracy.

    In journalism land, there is no past and no future, only an eternal present, which means that learning and memory have no real place and isn’t important.

    For example, a bloody and screaming example, the demonization of Iran and its non-existant nuclear weapons programme, is remarkably similar to the propaganda offensive aimed at Iraq and its non-existant weapons of mass destruction; yet one would never guess from an examination of most reporting that this glaring parallel exists. Witness the fact that supposedly over 70% of Americans apparently believe that Iran already has nuclear weapons!

    Journalism isn’t meant to inform, but to mis-inform, not to reveal, but to conceal, especially when dealing with anything that’s perceived as a threat to established power relationships in society.

  10. 60
    John Peter says:

    That said, Benn isn’t really squeaky clean. In addition to admitting to modifying an IPCC technical section – which will continue the assault on trust, he is caught up in the email bruhaha. (hmm, looks like he didn’t encrypt)

    “…The 1,000-plus e-mails sometimes illustrate the hairier side of scientific research. Criticisms of climate change are sometimes dismissed as “fraud” or “pure crap,” as in this 2005 e-mail from CRU Director Phil Jones. Other messages, like a 2007 e-mail from Michael Mann of Penn State University, show indignation at being the target of skeptics’ ire. Some of the e-mails are in bad form; for instance, climate scientist Benjamin Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory makes a crack about “beat[ing] the crap out of” opponent Pat Michaels…”

  11. 61
    James Allison says:

    The problem, here, is that most of the deniers and their followers do not read RealClimate,
    Comment by Geno Canto del Halcon — 24 February 2010 @ 8:57 PM

    Your comment is nearly accurate. Most people do not read RealClimate.

  12. 62
    Edward Greisch says:

    Ben Santer and all of RC and the IPCC deserve medals for bravery, the well deserved Nobel Prize, financial compensation for overtime work, apologies from denialists, Secret Service protection, a bureaucracy to defend you from FOIA requests, your own public relations firm, etc. I hope that you at least reported all threats to the proper authorities.

    I hope that in the future you demand a decent salary for working for the IPCC. It should not be done for free. I have posted on this subject in RC before. Your salary should be at least 7 or 8 figures in US dollars.

    Governments and corporate organizations should not be allowed to comment or negotiate or anything else the IPCC reports. IPCC reports should be strictly science. The watered down IPCC reports are further watered down by national politicians, resulting so far in no action by the US senate.

    Thank you Ben Santer.

  13. 63
    John Mason says:

    Thanks for this, Ben. Time and again, a sensationalist media story published elsewhere simply boils down to plain old science once the uncertainties are cleared up.

    Good link from Hank #37 too – I enjoyed reading that! It has always struck me that the opposition do not understand how utterly implausible their “theory of everything” is.

    Cheers – John

  14. 64
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Testing@48 says:
    “When one is doing a statistical analysis on a dataset for purposes of comparing, contrasting, or building upon a previous statistical analysis, it is essential to have the identical dataset that was used by the previous researcher and not one that is similar, or worse, updated. No?”

    Actually, no. In fact, an analysis with an independent method and an independent but similar dataset adds to the confidenc the confirmation supplies. Accountants audit. Scientists do research.

  15. 65
    Deech56 says:

    RE BJ Chippindale

    Eventually the climate itself will explain the truth to them.

    At that point it will be too late for us.

    The excuse is already out there: “Even if they were right, it’s the fault of the scientists for not being open enough.” The jackals blame the antelope for not moving fast enough.

  16. 66
    Ray Ladbury says:

    pft says: “Unfortunately, so long has corporate government has such a big role in funding science, it will probably be difficult to eliminate politics, if not the personal attacks.”

    Pft, this makes it very clear that you understand nothing of how science works. And no (responsible) one has talked of silencing critics. When it comes to the peer-reviewed literature, they have silenced themselves.

  17. 67
    Theo Hopkins says:

    I really don’t know why you folk at Real Climate are getting so irate at Fred Pearce.

    As far as I can see, the whole point of Fred Pearce’s run of articles is so that you, and other scientists, can reply to the article, so as to get an agreed and accurate narrative of the issues around the criticisms that have been made of the (mainstream) climate community.

    When I last looked at the Guardian’s run of articles, Gavin S had already made comments, which could be read by the public, on some of the articles.

    This seems to me to be a novel and useful exercise – essentially a “work in progress”* with the goal of a definitive set of articles in the future.

    Pearce is doing you folks a favour – but perhaps you have now become so defensive that you can’t see that you are blind to this.

    Relax :-)

    *And climate science is a “work in progress” too.

  18. 68
    The Ville says:

    Unfortunately I agree with comment 1 by FishOutOfWater.
    You guys are being diverted from the main task.

    Can you bring this blog back to explaining the science please.

    Let us mere mortals handle the campaigning and politics.

  19. 69
    Jez says:

    If a British newspaper prints a misinforming article on climate science or a climate scientist replies through a blog such as this are not enough. A sustained effort through the Press Complaints Commission is required to stop it.

    All these articles in the Guardian should be complained about to the PCC. When they have to respond to complain after complaint they will start to exercise some editorial control over their journalists who seem to see climate science as a free for all to publish whatever they want.

    We can stop it, but only through a concerted effort. This is in process at present through myself on one such article late last year where a series of factual lies were published as a leading story in the run up to Copenhagen.

    A sustained complaining of such articles will hopefully lead to them being stopped in the future and in retractions having to be published by the papers.

  20. 70
    Marco says:

    @Tim #39:
    The CRU correspondence as referenced by Christy is actually a good example of the ‘liberal’ interpretation of certain people. Christy and Douglass claim in the American Thinker article that Santer’s paper was rushed through peer-review. If you read Santer’s rebuttal (here ), you will see that that is a claim that does not hold to actual scrutiny. Santer’s paper took slighty under 4 months from review to acceptance, Douglass et al slightly over 4 months. You can also check this yourself on the actual papers (they indicate submission and acceptance dates).
    Douglass and Christy also claim Santer blocked publication, but an online publication *is* a publication already!

    @Peter Tillman:
    Thank you for showing the difference also pointed out by Ben Santer. Santer et al is discussed and criticised in detail by McIntyre. Douglass gets his own comments on his paper on the website, with ZERO comments from Steve McIntyre himself. That some others at CA criticise the paper in the comments is beyond the point: McIntyre himself ‘audits’ Santer et al, but doesn’t ‘audit’ Douglass et al at all.
    The most ‘hilarious’ part of McIntyre’s piece on Santer that you linked is his lamentation of a statistician on the paper not being “independent”. First it is a problem that no statisticians are being used, and when people do, the problem is that they supposedly are not “independent” (whatever that is supposed to mean). Note that Douglass et al involves no statisticians at all…did McIntyre criticise that?

  21. 71
    DanH says:

    @Josie, #20:

    Will Hutton will be very surprised to find that the word “stakeholder” is part of “the right’s language, values and concepts”.

  22. 72
    Pasteur01 says:

    Dr. Santer,

    Did your immediate supervisor decide to release the data before you did?

    “…preparation of the datasets and documentation for them began before your FOIA request was received by us.” Dr. David Bader, January 2009

    “A little over a month after receiving Mr. McIntyre’s Freedom of Information Act requests, I decided to release all of the intermediate calculations I had performed for our International Journal of Climatology paper.” Dr. Ben Santer, February 2010

  23. 73
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Testing says:
    24 February 2010 at 11:57 PM

    #35 Hank Roberts: “And why would you want to?” Answer:

    Not answer, testing:

    try again.

  24. 74


    I’ve seen this thought before. For some reason, a number of “skeptics” are fantasizing that the “team” (which in fact does not exist as such) will scapegoat various people.

    Don’t know why this is so compelling to them, but clearly it’s another thought out of la-la land. Perhaps it’s part and parcel of the mindset that simplifies everything: science is thought to advance by singlehanded actions of heroes (eg., Galileo), often relying upon single experiments written up in single papers. Correspondingly, communities are cabals, and there must be a central directing strategist at work, one who could not only make the cold political calculations, but execute the plan, too.

    Of course, what UAE–or any other institution– decides to do is not decided at the UN (or wherever fantasy locates “Team Central.”)

    And science, though it loves to remember its heroes, does not advance by their single-handed actions. Einstein, for example, may have been highly original in his thought, but without prolonged–indeed, ongoing–efforts to test his ideas experimentally, his ideas would not truly be science.

    Correspondingly, in the climate debate, the “hockey stick” is reified as some kind of central point, the refutation of which brings down the “whole house of cards.”

  25. 75
    Nick Gotts says:

    It’s typical of the likes of John Peter that he blames the victims of email hacking, not the perpetrators@58; and @60 he attempts once more to smear Ben (not “Benn” – can’t you even get someone’s name right, Mr. Peter?) Santer by saying that he “admits” taking section that was in no way disreputable, and on the basis of an intemperate phrase in a private email. Let’s see all your private correspondence for the last 20 years or so, Mr. Peter.

  26. 76
    tamino says:

    Readers might be interested in this.

  27. 77
    CM says:

    Dr Santer, thanks for setting the record straight, including the very helpful background on the 1996 libels. The revolting smear campaigns against you and your colleagues must be a strain. It is good of you to take a clear stand.

    Not having walked a mile in your shoes, I perhaps shouldn’t venture an opinion on the last paragraph. But look, from the safe distance where I sit, McIntyre’s some guy with a blog who goes on and on about tree rings and hockey sticks and ten-year-old emails. I understand he’s had the tenacity, intelligence and cunning to make himself a nuisance to the people he targets, and a one-eyed king to the denialist kingdom of the blind. But don’t credit people like him with extraordinary powers, it just boosts their ego and reputation as climatologist-slayers (‘climatologist-slayers’? what a pathetic age we live in).

    Also, with regard to some comments on this thread and the previous one, let’s keep things in perspective with regard to Pearce and the Guardian. This series is a disappointment mainly by contrast to one’s high expectations of Pearce. In my impression he still gets more of the story more nearly right than the competition, though he leaves waters muddied that shouldn’t be. And remember, the Guardian’s actually soliciting serious corrections to the online version. By all means vigorously criticize the flaws, provide documentation and suggest specific rewrites, as these last two posts have done, but don’t push them away, they’re not the enemy. That’s my two cents on strategy, anyway. (I have been known to be naïve).

  28. 78
    Allen C says:

    John Atkeison says:
    24 February 2010 at 5:59 PM

    Perhaps you should take a dose of your own medicine and have the decency of not using the word “deniers”. Skeptics don’t deny the climate is changing, they just aren’t sure to what degree humans are affecting this change. True scientists are always skeptical.

  29. 79
    Ron Cram says:

    Here’s the email Santer wrote to McIntyre refusing the intermediate data he was requesting:
    Dear Mr. McIntyre,

    I gather that your intent is to “audit” the findings of our recently-published paper in the International Journal of Climatology (IJoC). You are of course free to do so. I note that both the gridded model and observational datasets used in our IJoC paper are freely available to researchers. You should have no problem in accessing exactly the same model and observational datasets that we employed. You will need to do a little work in order to calculate synthetic Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) temperatures from climate model atmospheric temperature information. This should not pose any difficulties for you. Algorithms for calculating synthetic MSU temperatures have been published by ourselves and others in the peer-reviewed literature. You will also need to calculate spatially-averaged temperature changes from the gridded model and observational data. Again, that should not be too taxing.

    In summary, you have access to all the raw information that you require in order to determine whether the conclusions reached in our IJoC paper are sound or unsound. I see no reason why I should do your work for you, and provide you with derived quantities (zonal means, synthetic MSU temperatures, etc.) which you can easily compute yourself.

    I am copying this email to all co-authors of the 2008 Santer et al. IJoC paper, as well as to Professor Glenn McGregor at IJoC.

    I gather that you have appointed yourself as an independent arbiter of the appropriate use of statistical tools in climate research. Rather that “auditing” our paper, you should be directing your attention to the 2007 IJoC paper published by David Douglass et al., which contains an egregious statistical error.

    Please do not communicate with me in the future.

    Ben Santer

    Is that the response of a scientist who embraces openness and transparency? Of course not. It is a totally absurd. By now, no one really needs to defend McIntyre’s requests for data. Yes, McIntyre knows the equations can be found in the papers. He wants the intermediate data because he wants to know if Santer did it right.

    I cannot imagine why Santer wants to bring up this embarrassing episode in his career. He ought to focus on doing research and archive all of his data, metadata, intermediate data, methods and code so that McIntyre would never have reason to contact him again. Writing “Please do not communicate with me in the future” is just childish.

  30. 80
    Theo Hopkins says:

    IIRC,Pearce wrote twelve articles.

    Are you at RC happy with those articles that you are not covering here?

  31. 81
    t_p_hamilton says:

    Pasteur01 asks:”Dr. Santer,

    Did your immediate supervisor decide to release the data before you did?”

    No, you are confusing data and documentation with intermediate calculations.
    Data: 10, 13, 16
    Documentation: I took the average of these numbers:
    Intermediate calculations (for the slow-witted): 10 + 13 + 16 = 39 ; 39/3 = 13

  32. 82
    Theo Hopkins says:

    This is from the Guardian, explaining what they want to do.

    [[“In a unique experiment, The Guardian has published online the full manuscript of its major investigation into the climate science emails stolen from the University of East Anglia, which revealed apparent attempts to cover up flawed data; moves to prevent access to climate data; and to keep research from climate sceptics out of the scientific literature.

    As well as including new information about the emails, we will allow web users to annotate the manuscript to help us in our aim of creating the definitive account of the controversy. This is an attempt at a collaborative route to getting at the truth.

    We hope to approach that complete account by harnessing the expertise of people with a special knowledge of, or information about, the emails. We would like the protagonists on all sides of the debate to be involved, as well as people with expertise about the events and the science being described or more generally about the ethics of science. The only conditions are the comments abide by our community guidelines and add to the total knowledge or understanding of the events.

    The annotations – and the real name of the commenter – will be added to the manuscript, initially in private. The most insightful comments will then be added to a public version of the manuscript. We hope the process will be a form of peer review. If you have a contribution to make, please email

    The anonymous commenting facility under each article will also be switched on so that anyone can contribute to the debate.”]]


    I say this with sadness, but you folk at RC seem to have got the wrong end of the stick. This series of articles by Pearce is a “work in progress” that is set up for the very reason that people can post to the site, so that the final article is, as Pearce writes “The most insightful comments will then be added to a public version of the manuscript. We hope the process will be a form of peer review.”

    And when Pearce writes “the most insightful comments” that reads to me as comments from mainstream climate science. :-)

    Stop whinging, RC, and get busy posting to Pearce.

  33. 83
    Steve Fitzpatrick says:

    With all due respect to Ben Santer, many scientists working in other fields find his and others actions surrounding Douglass et al, including explicit efforts to influence the print publication date, and explicit efforts to keep Douglas et al from being given an opportunity for formal reply (“given the last word”), are far beyond the pale of normal scientific discourse. The stolen emails paint a rather sorry picture of the events surrounding Douglass et al and Santer et al’s critique. While it appears, based on his post, that Ben Santer sees absolutely nothing wrong with anything that was done, I do hope the others who were involved can appreciate that their actions, as judged by many practicing scientists, were clearly improper.

    [Response: You are not reading the same text. There were no ‘explicit efforts’ to influence the publication date (what would have been the point? It was already published online). As for deciding whether to submit a comment or a new paper – that is a decision that is made all the time. Presumably you think it equally heinous that McKitrick, McIntyre, Douglass, Soon, Baliunas, Scafetta, etc. made identical decisions in manuscripts they’ve submitted? The decision should be based on whether the submission is a stand-alone contribution, or whether it is merely a technical comment on a specific issue arising. I have no doubt that the Santer et al paper was sufficient to be a stand-alone paper and the reviewers and editor agreed. Douglass has a track record of not acknowledging errors and wasting people’s time, and so a desire not to have much to do with him is completely understandable. He and his co-authors are of course free to write a comment on Santer et al, or submit a completely new paper at any time. He has not done so, preferring to make baseless accusations such as the ones you repeat without even once acknowledging that they got it wrong. How proper is that? – gavin]

  34. 84
    dhogaza says:

    John Peter

    Dr. Ben Santer is very bright and very well connected. He got his degree 22 yrs ago at East Anglia under Tom Wigley . Ben is currently based at Livermore, so he at least, should know to encrypt his emails.

    At which point the denialsphere would just be screaming that encryption of the stolen e-mails proves the conspiracy theory.

  35. 85
    Tom says:

    Just an observation…you know the wheels have come off the wagon when RealClimate guys are complaining about their coverage in the Guardian. Two months ago, if someone had told me this would be happening I would have thought he was off his rocker.

  36. 86
    dhogaza says:


    Did your immediate supervisor decide to release the data before you did?

    Why would it matter?

    “…preparation of the datasets and documentation for them began before your FOIA request was received by us.” Dr. David Bader, January 2009

    This is a response to the FOIA, nothing more. Perhaps Dr. Santer wanted someone higher up at LLNL to respond, maybe LLNL policy is to have someone higher up respond. So?

    “A little over a month after receiving Mr. McIntyre’s Freedom of Information Act requests, I decided to release all of the intermediate calculations I had performed for our International Journal of Climatology paper.” Dr. Ben Santer, February 2010

    This is the good part. Originally the data and methodology sufficient to recreate the intermediate calculations was released. This, by Santer, indicates the intermediate calculations themselves were released. Because rather than do the work himself, McI demanded silver-platter treatment, is my guess … the first release was sufficient for scientists, and is all scientists would expect.

  37. 87

    All this talk about McIntyre, not once did he impress about anything about climate, aside from wanting to AUDIT every asinine thing aside from his knowledge of climate, especially Canadian Climate, which he lacks terribly. Why would anyone give private E-mails to this guy is beyond crazy. The man can’t explain the current warming aside that it happenned during the MWP. But in his own Canada, he doesn’t know, MWP or MCA has not changed Canadian historical settlements, not one bit:

    The NW Canadian Archipelago, beautiful lands, even today with wolves, caribou and musk oxen, yet devoid of settlements, from formidable ice formations, thick
    multiyear climate changing ice, is now about to vanish, wouldn’t there have been
    people then, in the MWP if the climate was the same as today? Climate Audit
    is for the worst in science, paranoia drivel well deserving of the screwed up undisciplined mind.

  38. 88

    TA (51): If your goal is for the public to trust your work enough to base policy decisions on it, then you darn well had better make all data and calculations available for “audit” by any interested party.

    BPL: News flash, genius–all the data and calculations are already available, and have been for years.

  39. 89

    Michael K (59): the demonization of Iran…

    BPL: How far do you need to go to demonize a regime that tortures and rapes prisoners, decertifies any political candidate that doesn’t meet rigid religious ideology standards, sends squads of goons around to beat up women who wear western dress or use lipstick or go around without veils, sends secret police to beat up, stampede, and even shoot peaceful demonstrators, funds terrorists all over the world, and is currently trying to take over part of Iraq by military force during Iraq’s worst time of crisis in decades?

  40. 90

    John Peter (60): climate scientist Benjamin Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory makes a crack about “beat[ing] the crap out of” opponent Pat Michaels…”

    BPL: Oh, we’ve all wanted to do that for years.

  41. 91
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Allen C says:
    25 February 2010 at 8:54 AM
    Skeptics don’t deny the climate is changing, they just aren’t sure to what degree humans are affecting this change.”

    And the deniers call themselves skeptics to kid on that they COULD be persuaded but aren’t, so there’s no point doing anything yet.

    Denying evidence that ANSWERS the question “to what degree are humans affecting this change” is denialism.

  42. 92
    Completely Fed Up says:

    BPL 89, your litany sounded rather like some of the GOP parties.

    ‘cept in those cases, it’s muslims, gays and so forth, but mostly congruent.

    “Free Speech Zones” ring a bell?

    But politics has no more place here than religion except as ILLUSTRATIVE of something that has *something* to do with science.

  43. 93
    DanH says:

    @thefordprefect, #45

    This doesn’t affect the main thrust of your argument, and is somewhat off-topic, but for information, defamation is not quite `the only case where you are assumed guilty and have to prove innocence.’ There’s also common-law bias – see paragraph 103 of the Law Lords’ ruling in Magill vs. Porter/Magill vs. Weeks (2001) – someone in a quasi-judicial role is considered guilty of bias if a reasonable observer would think it “possible” (not necessarily “likely”) that that person was biased.

    Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.

  44. 94
    Dan Hughes says:

    Dr. Santer, FOIA is the Federal law of the land. I’m certain that your employer has in place approved procedures for handling FOIA requests. As a publicly funded National Laboratory involved with nuclear weapons and nuclear energy work I’m certain that FOIA requests are well-known issues there.

    If you think LLNL does not have sufficiently satisfactory procedures for handling FOIA, take it up with your employer. FOIA is the law of the land; you can’t change those laws. Your employer can change the procedures for handling FOIA requests. If you can’t deal with FOIA requests, and I have dealt with them, then maybe you should consider moving to a position in which these are not an issue.

  45. 95


    As it happens, I’m a liberal Democrat.

  46. 96
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Ron Cram@79,
    Actually, Santer’s email is far more courteous than McIntyre deserved. McIntyre is not an idiot. He is certainly capable of reproducing the calculation without having his hand held. If he cannot reproduce the results on his own, that may be worth a publication in and of itself. That is how science works, but then, Steve McI isn’t interested in science.

  47. 97
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Allen C. says, “True scientists are always skeptical.”

    Which is why denialists are neither skeptics nor scientists.

  48. 98
    John E. Pearson says:

    78: Allen C says: “Skeptics don’t deny the climate is changing, they just aren’t sure to what degree humans are affecting this change. ”

    Would you say that climatologist Sean Hannity is a skeptic or a denialist? He said in late 2009:”Here’s what I don’t understand. This is one of the coldest years on record. I don’t believe climate change is real. I think this is global warming hysteria.”

    Click on the video. You can listen to him yourself.

  49. 99
    caerbannog says:

    Is that the response of a scientist who embraces openness and transparency? Of course not. It is a totally absurd. By now, no one really needs to defend McIntyre’s requests for data. Yes, McIntyre knows the equations can be found in the papers. He wants the intermediate data because he wants to know if Santer did it right.

    McIntyre’s had the intermediate data for some time now. “Enquiring minds” want to know whether McIntyre has gone through the calculations to see if “Santer did it right”.

    So Mr Cram, has McIntyre done that yet? He’s had access to the intermediate results for over a year now.

  50. 100
    Nick Gotts says:

    “Just an observation…you know the wheels have come off the wagon when RealClimate guys are complaining about their coverage in the Guardian.” – Tom

    Just an observation, and a remarkably absurd one: when any newspaper publishes sloppy journalism, a complaint is justified. Or perhaps you disagree, provided the sloppy journalism suits your prejudices?