More on the Hanno Wikipedia graph in the UN Climate Report

Guest post by Harold Ambler, TalkingAboutTheWeather.com

What started as a brouhaha in the blogosophere has turned into a minor embarrassment for the United Nations in the climate debates. As first reported on ClimateAudit.org, the origin of a graph used in last week’s UN climate report, published to coincide with the summit in New York attended by President Obama and other world leaders, was not an august team of scientists working around the clock, but rather Wikipedia.

The Hanno graph used by the United Nations Climate Change Science Compendium 2009, published last week to coincide with the summit attended by President Barack Obama and other world leaders.

The "Hanno" graph, from Wikipedia, used by the United Nations Climate Change Science Compendium 2009, published last week to coincide with the summit attended by President Barack Obama and other world leaders.

Perhaps equally surprising was the revelation that the graph’s author was not a climatologist, but rather an obscure Norwegian ecologist, Hanno Sandvik, who claimed no expertise regarding the data used in his graph. Misidentified in the UN report as “Hanno,” Sandvik politely distanced himself from the graph as the story unfolded. The UN report authors, meanwhile, had given a scientist they had never met or heard of the appearance of scientific legitimacy.

Was copying and pasting a Wikipedia graph drawn by a non-climatologist the best that the United Nations, with a staff of hundreds working on climate change using an annual budget in the hundreds of million dollars, could do? Evidently, it was. Sandvik himself appeared surprised.

‘My’ graph has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal since I am not a climatologist,” he wrote in an e-mail to TalkingAboutTheWeather.com. “The graph has been drawn using data that have undergone peer-review. That means that the graph is ‘mine’ only in a very restricted sense, viz. that I have drawn it – the underlying data [are] not mine, as the source provided clearly indicates. I have no qualification to judge whether the underlying data are correct or erroneous, and have never pretended to be able to do so.

This is not the first graph with a hockey-stick shape to gain notoriety. The most famous example is that of Penn State climatologist Michael Mann’s own hockey stick graph, prominently featured at the 2001 UN IPCC meeting and in its Third Assessment Report.

Michael Manns famous hockey stick graph used by the United Nations for its Third Assessment Report in 2001 but abandoned by the Fourth Assessment Report of 2007.

Michael Mann's famous hockey stick graph used by the United Nations for its Third Assessment Report in 2001 but abandoned by the Fourth Assessment Report of 2007.

That hockey stick has since been debunked by the United States Congress by the world-renowned statistics expert Edward Wegman. See the Wegman report here.

The Wegman Report was sufficiently damning that, until now, the United Nations has distanced itself from Mann’s graph, which did not appear in the Fourth Assessment Report published in 2007. From the Congressional report led by Wegman came the following conclusion:

“The [Mann] methodology puts undue emphasis on those proxies that do exhibit the hockey stick shape and this is the fundamental flaw.”

Mann has argued that it was never his intention for the flat part of the stick that he derived from proxies to be grafted onto the modern temperature record, providing the upturned blade, as though the two sets of data had the same origin. Writing on the website that he co-founded, realclimate.org, Mann wrote the following in response to earlier critiques of his methodology in 2004: “No researchers in this field have ever, to our knowledge, ‘grafted the thermometer record onto’ any reconstruction. It is somewhat disappointing to find this specious claim (which we usually find originating from industry-funded climate disinformation websites) appearing in this forum.”

Such a graft is precisely what Sandvik’s graph does, however, leading to the inevitable question: Is the United Nations an “industry-funded climate disinformation website”? Unlike Mann’s graph, which, with the use of color and error bars, at least suggests both the level of uncertainty associated with temperature proxies and shows that the sources for the temperature data is not the same during the past 1,000 years, the “Hanno” graph used by the United Nations has neither error bars nor different colors for the differently derived data. By intent or no, it is inherently misleading.

The storm over “Hanno 2009” is very likely just beginning.

Harold Ambler is an avowed starving artist. His first book about climate, Don’t Sell Your Coat, is due to be published in November. In the meantime he’s living hand to mouth. If you liked this article consider helping him out by hitting his tip jar. – Anthony

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65 thoughts on “More on the Hanno Wikipedia graph in the UN Climate Report

  1. This is very alarming stuff. It’s impressive what is being done by the UN nowadays. With Copenhagen getting pretty close, I bet the number of errors will soar. Stay tuned…
    Ecotretas

  2. What a great site! No wonder it wins awards and gets so many hits.Thanks Mr. Watts, I am so glad to have found this site. It’s a shame that our Representatives in Congress don’t get to read this site. Maybe they would have an “eye opening experience” rather than a “leg tingle” or whatever.

  3. The UN has indeed learned from the high priest of media shenanigans, President Silvio Berlusconi.

    In case our non-european readers are not privileged with regular insight into the Italian President’s approach to marriage, one should limit the insight to this:

    Mr President is a well-known womaniser.

    Mr President has given more than one public apology to his wife about inappropriate commenting in public about other women.

    Mr President has been known, after giving such apologies, to comment inappropriately about another woman a few weeks or months later.

    Clearly the UN sees hockey stick graphs as akin to Mr Berlusconi’s ‘hot totty’…….inappropriate but irresistible.

    For those who have been asleep through 2009, Mr President’s wife lost her patience this year and has initiated divorce proceedings……

  4. Evidently, the Hockey Stick is like a drug to UN and IPCC-related researchers. They can’t let it be. But after all, Mann’s original papers WAS peer-rewieved in Nature, and that has to be counted as good as an OBSERVATION. Maybe even as a devine TRUTH.

  5. ‘It is somewhat disappointing to find this specious claim (which we usually find originating from industry-funded climate disinformation websites) appearing in this forum.’ So says Michael Mann. I think these claims of industry sponsored misinformation, usually oil companies, are an indication of an ever increasing desperation by alarmists to keep their disintegrating agenda alive. but regardless of this thousands of supporters of the socio-political religion known as AGW will attend Copenhagen shortly and the most enthusiastic of these will be politicians who are eager to increase taxes and impose ever harsher conditions on the public. These are the enemy.

  6. I await comment from the outgoing head of UNEP, Achim Steiner, and will update the story if he surprises me by responding to my e-mail.

  7. Perhaps, given that the wikipedia page upon which the graph is found is under the iron control of a Team member, that the UN felt it was “peer reviewed” in some sense? Funny how most all university professors refuse to accept wikipedia articles as valid references in academic work, yet the UN’s standard is so much lower. Perhaps given so many of them live on the lying lies that is a diplomats stock in trade, they cannot tell the difference between shades of truth any longer.

  8. They will resort time after time to a hockey-stick graph because it’s the only way to “show” that Global Warming is real and caused by Man.

  9. Lucy Skywalker (11:54:00) :

    They will throw him under the Bus faster than you can say ‘oops’, when things go awry.

  10. Manuel (12:20:56) :
    They will resort time after time to a hockey-stick graph because it’s the only way to “show” that Global Warming is real and caused by Man.

    Ahhhhh.. didn’t you really mean to write “…caused by Mann..”?

  11. The graph was supposed to be for Sen Boxer and her unveiling of the US version hoax on September 30.

    What’s the odds Boxer still tries it on the media to see if they bite.

    When will science say enough is enough.

  12. Speaking of “Hockey Sticks”, Steve McIntyre just posted the following on his Climate Audit web site: http://www.climateaudit.org/

    This is a must read.

    Yamal: A “Divergence” Problem
    by Steve McIntyre on September 27th, 2009
    The second image below is, in my opinion, one of the most disquieting images ever presented at Climate Audit.

  13. The UN have been on the nose for a while now but this one takes the cake. UN “peer reviewed” papers should be printed on two ply tissue for ease of recycling!

  14. From the UN report.

    In the absence of oxygen, bacteria produce methane, the
    second most common GHG.

    Accuracy doesn’t seem in anyway important in this publication.

  15. Wow. You wanna talk about burning up? Look at the AMSU Temperatures from today at noon (PDT)! We’re all gonna burn! (chuckle)

  16. Heard that Boxer has gotten delayed, and her lil’Frankenstien of a bill isn’t going to see
    the light until after Christmas break-and Copenhagen…
    Frankenstein,er sorry, too much Mel Brooks…

  17. Rhys Jaggar (10:53:49) : “The UN has indeed learned from the high priest of media shenanigans, President Silvio Berlusconi…”

    But, unlike Berlusconi, no one will ever hear of the UN’s gaffe. The MSM (Main Stream Mediocrities) won’t print a word of this. Ever.

  18. Hi,

    I took a look at the report, using the link you kindly provided, and I was immediately struck by how poor the graphics are from Fig 1.1 onwards with exceptions for Figs 4.7 & 5.4.

    Some of them are truly dreadful. I know this is only a small thing but do they not have any standards. Take a look at Fig 1.3 (“HannoStick”) and compare it to the original wiki one at the top of this page.

    Alex

  19. Ad rem – “It can be said with a high level of confidence that global mean surface temperature was higher during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period during the preceding four centuries. This statement is justified by the consistency of the evidence from a wide variety of geographically diverse proxies.” Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Past 2,000 Years. The National Academies Press, 2006

    Ad hominem – “In our further exploration of the social network of authorships in temperature reconstruction, we found that at least 43 authors have direct ties to Dr. Mann…”

    http://go2.wordpress.com/?id=725X1342&site=wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.climateaudit.org%2Fpdf%2Fothers%2F07142006_Wegman_Report.pdf

  20. 1. That graph looks cheap.
    2. It shows negative correlation between 1850-1910, and 1940-1970.
    3. It also has no title!
    4. Y Axis: ” ⁰ C” : Degrees Celsius.. of what? The IPCC office water dispenser?

    This graph is very poor as it explains little if a layman were to look at such a graph for the first time without knowing the history of the hockey stick. Wikipedia could have at least edited in some extra information to make it more believable!

    ‘Is the United Nations an “industry-funded climate disinformation website”?’ – Trick question…

  21. I almost feel sorry for Hanno… his heart is certainly in the right place…. but I have no sympathy for academics who put their hearts where their brains should be and who think that a threadbare anonym is going to protect them from this sort of drecht… The IPCC exposed both themselves and you, Hanno… and I’m looking into whether I’m allowed to file an academic misconduct compliant with your university.

  22. It is worth restating the criteria for wikipedia in considering submissions made to them;

    “Verifiability
    Main article: Wikipedia: Verifiability
    The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. This policy and the verifiability policy reinforce each other by requiring that only assertions, theories, opinions, and arguments that have already been published in a reliable source may be used in Wikipedia.”

    Unfortunately many people use wiki as their first and only research tool. They are unreliable on many matters, none more so than on climate change as their gatekeeper William Connelley is associated with Real Climate.

    An apparent bias towards AGW material and loose rules for checking verifiability do not make for peer reviewed articles and that such papers are then taken up by a supposedly serious organisation demonstrates the depths serious science has sunk to.

    tonyb

  23. Interesting that Mann’s OWN graph was used four times in the IPCC’s presentations to the public; and that regardless of whether he ever “grafted” the proxy data onto the temperature data, they (he ?) DID “graph” the proxy data directly on top of the temperature data. Who then, is guilty of “graft” and corruption?

    Mann: ” It is somewhat disappointing to find this specious claim (which we usually find originating from industry-funded climate disinformation websites) appearing in this forum.”

    With 79 billion in climate research depending SOLELY on the impressions that Mann’s chart deliberately creates, I find it “specious” that Mann is guilty of extracting gold from we, the taxpayers to fund HIS disinformation.

  24. The UN report authors, meanwhile, had given a scientist they had never met or heard of the appearance of scientific legitimacy……Sandvik himself appeared surprised…. “I have no qualification to judge whether the underlying data are correct or erroneous, and have never pretended to be able to do so.”

    I love the smell of the UN burning up its credibility in the morning…..

  25. German Hanno Ritter changed his name to the Austrian Hanno Pichl when his parent decided to marry, but which the Germans could not write (it should be Pichel). And when he went to Norway it was worse, they could neither write nor pronounce it. So he adopted the second name of his wife, but this is not recognized in Germany.

    But now he has his 5 minutes of fame; that would help him if he should have an identity problem.

  26. TonyB (14:45:25) : The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. This policy and the verifiability policy reinforce each other by requiring that only assertions, theories, opinions, and arguments that have already been published in a reliable source may be used in Wikipedia.”

    I think the owners of Wikipedia are not aware that this rule is violated on a regular basis by William Connolley.

    I wish I knew a way to make them aware.

  27. Mr. Alex (13:58:40), there is no title on the graphic so it can be used on Wikipedia articles written in several languages.

  28. A few decades ago, my brother spent four years working in the back blocks of Tanzania for a humanitarian project which was partly funded and run by the UN.
    He holds the UN in complete contempt and after listening to his stories you would never trust anything that originates from within the totally dysfunctional, grossly incompetent and graft ridden UN organisation again.

  29. Surely this scientific garbage should, officially, be brought to the attention of some of the people who really count. I would name three at the top of my list.

    1. The President of the American Physical Soiciety.

    2. The President of the American Chemical Society.

    3. The President of the Royal Society.

    If someone has the right contact, maybe they could persuade Prof. Will Happer to contact the President of the APS. Maybe others could produce some names who might also help.

  30. @Brian Dodge (13:51:28) :

    From the Wegman Report:

    “Findings
    In general, we found MBH98 and MBH99 to be somewhat obscure and incomplete and the criticisms of MM03/05a/05b to be valid and compelling. We also comment that they were attempting to draw attention to the discrepancies in MBH98 and MBH99, and not to do paleoclimatic temperature reconstruction. Normally, one would try to select a calibration dataset that is representative of the entire dataset. The 1902-1995 data is not fully appropriate for calibration and leads to a misuse in principal component analysis. However, the reasons for setting 1902-1995 as the calibration point presented in the narrative of MBH98 sounds reasonable, and the error may be easily overlooked by someone not trained in statistical methodology. We note that there is no evidence that Dr. Mann or any of the other authors in paleoclimatology studies have had significant interactions with mainstream statisticians.
    In our further exploration of the social network of authorships in temperature reconstruction, we found that at least 43 authors have direct ties to Dr. Mann by virtue of coauthored papers with him. Our findings from this analysis suggest that authors in the area of paleoclimate studies are closely connected and thus ‘independent studies’ may not be as independent as they might appear on the surface. This committee does not believe that web logs are an appropriate forum for the scientific debate on this issue.
    It is important to note the isolation of the paleoclimate community; even though they rely heavily on statistical methods they do not seem to be interacting with the statistical community. Additionally, we judge that the sharing of research materials, data and results was haphazardly and grudgingly done. In this case we judge that there was too much reliance on peer review, which was not necessarily independent. Moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that this community can hardly reassess their public positions without losing credibility. Overall, our committee believes that Mann’s assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade of the millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year of the millennium cannot be supported by his analysis.”

    Your supposed ‘ad hominem’ was Wegman’s response to Mann’s claim of multiple ‘independent’ studies supporting his findings.

  31. Hey – what’s the problem – the boy’s graph fits the dominant narrative that Man Made Emissions of CO2 will lead to Thermageddon – what else is required?

    I hope that no one is naive enough to expect the facts from the UN when talking about “Climate”.

  32. With Steve McIntyre new sleuth work on Briffa Yamal series and the conclusions well summed up by Ross McKitrick, at least 10 scientific papers including the Kaufman et al. 2009 unprecedented Arctic temperatures are impacted… i.e. Hockey Stick shape is an artefact, not real.

    How long until the HADCRUT that is used by most of Copenhagen supporting cast stories will likely suffer the same fate: Phil Jones release the raw data NOW!

  33. “Is the United Nations an “industry-funded climate disinformation website”? ”

    Of course not – it’s a government-funded climate disinformation website!

  34. Al Gore’s Holy Hologram (10:34:16) : What’s all this about Soros-funded climate disinformation websites?

    Apparently George Soros likes politics, and/or power, and likes to spend a part of his billions on it.

  35. yeah, that was supposed to be “complaint” not “compliant”… I can file the complaint but it might not be compliant.

  36. Perhaps all the IPCC publications are written by a couple of intern students – let’s not be too harsh now. After all, the IPCC is about attending conferences, hobnobbing with who’s who and sitting on boards and committees; doing real work and proof reading the work of students doesn’t even enter the job description or Standards of Performance for the IPCC leadership.

  37. Duly noted, Bob. I see a hockey stick that you mention in the Fourth Assessment Report, but it does not appear to me to be Mann’s. You’re right to point out that hockey sticks, of whatever provenance, have not disappeared from IPCC publications and likely won’t for some time.

  38. Gene Nemetz (17:20:17) :
    Al Gore’s Holy Hologram (10:34:16) : What’s all this about Soros-funded climate disinformation websites?

    Apparently George Soros likes politics, and/or power, and likes to spend a part of his billions on it.

    Soros doesn’t see it as spending, but as investment. The millions he put into leftists organizations allowed him to come out of retirement for a couple of weeks last Summer and net a cool couple of billion off the financial crisis they helped create for him, with the added side benefit of assuring the election of the One which is almost certain to create numerous similar future opportunities for profit from the chaos his policy goals will guarantee.

  39. Quick question… Where would we find a “real” graph and raw data to compare to those “fake” ones.

    If they use those graph to prove their theory, is there another one to prove something else?

  40. Ron de Haan,

    I second Jimmy Haigh’s kudos for that link. Unemotional and straightforward, it gives a great overview of the Hokey Stick controversy.

  41. We understand that words may change meaning over time. But “peer reviewed” becoming “wikipedia reviewed” is a change that is sudden indeed!
    Beth down under.

  42. Bob Tisdale (18:41:50),

    If you look closely, figure 6.10 actually seems to show the MWP as being warmer than today. And as you say, AR-4 is chock full of hokey sticks.

    But there is one glaring omission: the original Mann hokey stick is completely missing! Why? Because McKitrick and McIntyre, supported by the Wegman Report, literally forced the UN to delete it from AR-4.

    The IPCC loved Michael Mann’s scary chart. They certainly would still be using it today if it had not been so thoroughly debunked. So they must resort to imitations of the original fake.

  43. “AnonyMoose (15:35:41) :
    Mr. Alex (13:58:40), there is no title on the graphic so it can be used on Wikipedia articles written in several languages.”

    I doubt this because some graphics have their original English title, for example searching in the Polish wiki (my ancestral language):

    http://pl.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Plik:Sunspot_Numbers.png&filetimestamp=20060720201649

    The title is in English but the explanation on the main page is in Polish, (Eng title retained), Other graphics have had their original language titles erased and translated, some retain the original source language and some have no title; so there is probably no set method here, just carelessness.

  44. And don’t forget those two damning words on Michael Mann’s 2001 infamous graph; “NORTHERN HEMISPHERE”.

    In other words; just a local anomaly, and not a global climate record at all.

    George

  45. If you look closely, figure 6.10 actually seems to show the MWP as being warmer than today. And as you say, AR-4 is chock full of hokey sticks.

    But there is one glaring omission: the original Mann hokey stick is completely missing! Why? Because McKitrick and McIntyre, supported by the Wegman Report, literally forced the UN to delete it from AR-4.

    Where does this bizarre claim come from? Mann et al’s hockey stick (MBH 1999) is right there in figure 6.10.

    see page 467:

    http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Report/AR4WG1_Print_Ch06.pdf

  46. Here’s an actual graph of the NSF porn access. The labels are incorrect, but the data is from leer-reviewed papers.

  47. well because of the industrial revolution i think that it has an impact on the hockey stick plot and that the temperature gose way up as it gets to the 1900s
    and by then all of the inventions of the industrial revolution are used almost daily. That is what i think when i look at this plot.

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