UPDATED: By Douglas J. Keenan – special for WUWT
Phil Jones tried to hush my paper. SUNY Albany won’t discuss the investigation my paper initiated. And QUB ignored my three FOI requests for their data.
I used to do mathematical research and financial trading on Wall Street and in the City of London; since 1995, I have been studying independently (for more details, please see my web site). Some of the e-mails leaked in Climategate discuss my work. Following is a comment on that and on something more important.
In 2007, I published a peer-reviewed paper alleging that some important research relied upon by the IPCC (for the treatment of urbanization effects) was fraudulent. The e-mails show that Tom Wigley, one of the most highly-cited climatologists and an extreme warming advocate, thought my paper was “valid”. They also show that Phil Jones, the head of the Climatic Research Unit, tried to get the journal editor to not publish my paper.
After my paper was published, the State University of New York, where the research was conducted, carried out an investigation. During the investigation, I was not interviewed: contrary to the university’s policies, federal regulations, and natural justice. I was allowed to comment on the report of the investigation, before the report’s release, but I was not allowed to see the report: truly Kafkaesque.
Relatedly, my paper (§2.4) demonstrates that, by 2001, Jones knew there were severe problems with the urbanization research. Yet Jones continued to rely on that research in his work, including in his work for the latest report of the IPCC.
The biggest concern with global warming is, arguably, that warming itself will cause further warming. For example, the polar ice caps reflect sunlight back into space (thereby cooling Earth); if the caps shrink, due to warming, then they will reflect less sunlight, and so Earth will warm further. It is claimed to be possible that Earth warms so much that it reaches what is called a “tipping point”, where the global climate system is seriously and permanently disrupted—like when a glass of water has been tipped over, and the water cannot realistically be put back into the glass.
There is much scientific debate over how much Earth has to warm before it reaches a tipping point. No one knows for sure. About a thousand years ago, though, there was a time known as the “Medieval Warm Period”, when much of Earth appears to have been unusually warm. It is not currently known just how warm the Medieval Warm Period was. Clearly, though, the warmth then was below the tipping point, because Earth’s climate continued without problem.
Suppose that during the Medieval Warm Period, Earth was 1°C warmer than today. That would imply that the tipping point is more than 1°C higher than today’s temperature. For Earth’s temperature to increase 1°C might take roughly a century (at the rate of increase believed to be currently underway). So we would not have to be concerned about an imminent disruption of the climate system. Finding out how warm the Medieval Warm Period was is thus of enormous importance for the study of global warming.
It turns out that global (or at least hemispheric) temperatures are reflected by the climate in western Ireland; for a short explanation of that, see here. Trees grow in western Ireland, of course, and each year, those trees grow an annual ring. Rings that are thick indicate years that were good for the trees; rings that are thin indicate the opposite. If many trees in western Ireland had thick rings in some particular years, then climatic conditions in those years were presumably good. Tree rings have been used in this way to learn about the climate centuries ago.
Queen’s University Belfast has data on tree rings that goes back millennia, in particular, to the Medieval Warm Period. QUB researchers have not analyzed the data (because they lack the expertise to do so). They also refuse to release the data. I have been trying to obtain the data, via the UK Freedom of Information Act, since April 2007. The story is scandalous.
As the above illustrates, the problems in global-warming science are with more than just the few directly involved in Climategate. Indeed, I think it would be unreasonable to suppose such.
Finally, in light of all the slander going around, maybe I should add this: I have received no payment of any kind from any entity for any work that I have done since 1995.
Douglas J. Keenan
For some background, see these two guest posts at WUWT: