Oxburgh’s 5 page Climategate book report gets a failing grade

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I’ve read blog posts longer than this report. The Global Warming Policy Foundation of London has this to say about it:

Another Unsatisfactory Rushed Job

Press release

LONDON, 14 April 2010 – The Global Warming Policy Foundation regrets that the Oxburgh Panel has been rushed and therefore extremely superficial. The body of the report is hardly five pages long. The Panel should have taken more time to arrive at more balanced and more trustworthy conclusions as there was no need to rush the inquiry.

The Panel worked by interviewing and questioning staff members of CRU, but failed to interview critical researchers who have been working in the same field for many years. The Panel even ignored, as it admits, to properly review their written evidence.

We welcome the acknowledgement by the Panel that the Urban Heat Island effect on surface temperatures records in and around large cities is important but poorly understood. We also welcome the admission that the IPCC ignored the expressions of uncertainty in CRU papers.

We also note, in the context of the long-term temperature record, its comment that “the potential for misleading results arising from selection bias is very great in this area. It is regrettable that so few professional statisticians have been involved in this work.”

In general, the report is being politely kind to CRU, but in essence rather critical of the disorganised and amateurish use of statistics. It is hardly an endorsement of the quality of the research being carried out at what is supposed to be the world’s leading unit which has received so much government funding.

Given the huge economic and social implications, one would expect that an independent audit would be more rigorous and more even-handed than the Oxburgh panel.

– end

Steve McIntyre writes that he wasn’t interviewed:

Oxburgh’s Trick to Hide the Trick

The Oxburgh report ” is a flimsy and embarrassing 5-pages.

They did not interview me (nor, to my knowledge, any other CRU critics or targets). The committee was announced on March 22 and their “report” is dated April 12 – three weeks end to end – less time than even the Parliamentary Committee. They took no evidence. Their list of references is 11 CRU papers, five on tree rings, six on CRUTEM. Notably missing from the “sample” are their 1000-year reconstructions: Jones et al 1998, Mann and Jones 2003, Jones and Mann 2004, etc.)

They did not discuss specifically discuss or report on any of the incidents of arbitrary adjustment (“bodging”), cherry picking and deletion of adverse data, mentioned in my submissions to the Science and Technology Committee and the Muir Russell Committee. I’ll report on these issues later in the day as they’ll take a little time to review. First, let’s observe Oxburgh’s trick to hide the “trick”.

Long before Climategate, Climate Audit readers knew that you had to watch the pea under the thimble whenever you’re dealing with the Team. This is true with Oxburgh of Globe International as well.

Oxburgh of Globe International alludes to the “trick..to hide the decline” in veiled terms as follows:

CRU publications repeatedly emphasize the discrepancy between instrumental and tree-based proxy reconstructions of temperature during the late 20th century, but presentations of this work by the IPCC and others have sometimes neglected to highlight this issue. While we find this regrettable, we could find no such fault with the peer-reviewed papers we examined.

Without specifically mentioning the famous “trick …to hide the decline”, Oxburgh subsumes the “trick” as “regrettable” “neglect” by “IPCC and others”.

But watch the pea under Oxburgh’s thimble.

The Oxburgh Report regrettably neglected to highlight the fact that CRU scientists Briffa and Jones, together with Michael Mann, were the IPCC authors responsible for this “regrettable neglect” in the Third Assessment Report. They also regrettably neglected to report that CRU scientist Briffa was the IPCC author responsible for the corresponding section in AR4.

Oxburgh pretends that the fault lay with “IPCC and others”, but this pretence is itself a trick. CRU was up to its elbows in the relevant IPCC presentations that “regrettably” “neglected” to show the divergent data in their graphics.

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96 thoughts on “Oxburgh’s 5 page Climategate book report gets a failing grade

  1. Of course Oxburgh was rushed. There is an election coming up very soon in the UK and Labour needs to get its train back on the track. I hope the UK electorate is not as stupid as HMG seems to believe.

  2. Sickening that this whitewash will be held to exonerate Jones and CRU by the uninformed public, and trumpeted as validation of the AGW hypothesis’ “science” by the alarmists.

  3. The report was probably so short , if they wrote anymore they would have have had to lie or compromise themselves.

    Whitewash by the”guardians” of science,or by the promoters of tax and spend.

  4. Glad someone else of note noticed the obvious whitewash.

    Off Topic:

    Another large Earthquake, this time in China. OK, who was it that ridiculed me for hypothesizing that the frequency of the occurrence of large Earthquakes might go through ebbs and troughs? I’m gonna have to blog on this today, when I’m taking a break from doing my stupid taxes.

  5. Why did the Oxburgh Panel do such a poor job? What was their agenda? Do they think this major public event can be so quickly swept away? All of the panel should be admonished for a poor job but by whom. We the public have only places like WUWT to express our displeasure at such a shockingly poor job.

  6. [snip]

    I snip posts using “denialists” and similar holocaust related terms. ~dbstealey, moderator.

  7. It’s depressing isn’t it?One step forward,two steps back.The pretense will end one day,hope I’m alive to see it.

  8. Here is what one of the AGW proponents in the UK is quoted as saying in regard to that report:

    “Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science, called for an apology from the sceptics.
    “I think those so-called sceptics who have attempted to undermine the credibility of climate change science on the basis of the hacked emails now need to apologise for misleading the public about their significance.”

    Link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/7589715/Climategate-scientists-criticised-for-not-using-best-statistical-tools.html

    Won’t be long before the ‘so-called sceptics’ will be called ‘deniers’ and worse, again, now that the e-mails are again ‘hacked’ …

  9. Skeptics had better face the fact that so far we have not succeeded in getting very many policy makers to critically review AGW at all. True believer syndrome and self interests combine to keep the fraud of cliamte catastrophe alive.
    The leader of the British whitewash is a great example of this. He profits directly from promoting AGW causes. Yet he is considered adequate to the task of (allegedly) investigating the science. And this obvious and shallow whitewash will be gleefully accepted by true believers.
    Except for the climatologists at Georgia Tech, very few climatologists have been willing to publicly question the science critically, unless they were already skeptical. I am aware of no political leaders who have done other than to dig in deeper on AGW in the face of climategate.
    More leaks, more failures of AGW predictions, and more examples of corruption may not make the difference needed to keep AGW mania from becoming the law of the world.

  10. Leaving the white-washing content aside, I am stunned by the fact that this panel produced five pages, needing three weeks for that consummate effort.

    A three-hour debate would produce a report longer than that.

    But I bet they enjoyed the surroundings of the RS, and had some nice lunch, tea and biscuits …

  11. Seems to me that this review ‘team’ found that they had no alternative but to cut and run. They threw up a token whitewash splash and ran for cover, hoping that their careers don’t go down with the sinking ship.

  12. Here’s the ‘deconstructed’ version of the main points:

    “the effects of long term temperature variations are masked by other more dominant short term influences and have to be extracted by statistical techniques. The Unit approaches this task with an independent mindset…”

    Read: Temperature variations are masked by other influences and only the most robust of statistical analyses stand any chance of being able to detect them with statistical significance. Like Michael Mann, CRU has little expertise in statistical analysis, so is practically incompetent in its use.

    “Although inappropriate statistical tools with the potential for producing misleading results have been used by some other groups…in the CRU papers that we examined we did not come across any inappropriate usage although the methods they used may not have been the best for the purpose.”

    Read: CRU employed lousy methods of applying well-known statistical tools. Thus the tools were ‘appropriate’, but their method of use was incorrect.

    “It is not clear, however, that better methods would have produced significantly different results.”

    Read: We didn’t bother to check that.

    “With very noisy data sets a great deal of judgement has to be used. Decisions have to be made on whether to omit pieces of data that appear to be aberrant…The potential for misleading results arising from selection bias is very great in this area. It is regrettable that so few professional statisticians have been involved in this work because it is fundamentally statistical.”

    Read: CRU don’t have the necessary statistical competence to apply an appropriate ‘cherry-picking’ of data and thus are prone to producing garbage from noisy data.

    “The Unit has devoted a great deal of effort to understanding how instrumental observations are best combined to derive the surface temperature on a variety of time and space scales. It has become apparent from a number of studies that there is elevation of the surface temperature in and around large cities and work is continuing to understand this fully.”

    Read: The Unit expended a lot of effort, but we have no idea whether that was efficient or not, or whether the results were sound. They are just beginning to realize that they have not properly accounted for Urban Heat Island effects.

    “The Unit has demonstrated that at a global and hemispheric scale temperature results are surprisingly insensitive to adjustments made to the data and the number of series included.”

    Read: The Unit claims to have demonstrated it, but we were reluctant to check the same as that would have been devastating since no-one in their right mind could believe such a thing. We will nevertheless include this sentence to deceive the unwary reader.

    “For example, CRU publications repeatedly emphasize the discrepancy between instrumental and tree-based proxy reconstructions of temperature during the late 20th century, but presentations of this work by the IPCC and others have sometimes neglected to highlight this issue. While we find this regrettable, we could find no such fault with the peer-reviewed papers we examined.”

    Read: This only related to the papers we actually examined. We didn’t examine papers that weren’t exclusively written by CRU personnel, for example collaborations of Jones, Briffa, Bradley and Hughes with Michael Mann, because then we would not be able to use this sentence. Anyway, we can always blame Michael Mann (being careful not to name him) as that part of the IPCC report was under his control.

    “We saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit and had it been there we believe that it is likely that we would have detected it. Rather we found a small group of dedicated if slightly disorganised researchers who were ill-prepared for being the focus of public attention. As with many small research groups their internal procedures were rather informal.”

    Read: There was certainly scientific malpractice, but we charitably conjecture that it wasn’t ‘deliberate’: it was more a case of incompetence, especially in the area of data handling, which regrettably is the whole raison d’etre of CRU.

    “We cannot help remarking that it is very surprising that research in an area that depends so heavily on statistical methods has not been carried out in close collaboration with professional statisticians.”

    Read: Frankly, these men were a bunch of dedicated (statistical) incompetents who spent a great deal of taxpayers’ money to produce reports of doubtful scientific value. However, since we all have our noses in that trough, the less said the better.

  13. iv Evans (08:37:55) :
    Here is what one of the AGW proponents in the UK is quoted as saying in regard to that report:

    “Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science, called for an apology from the sceptics.
    “I think those so-called sceptics who have attempted to undermine the credibility of climate change science on the basis of the hacked emails now need to apologise for misleading the public about their significance.””

    Link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/7589715/Climategate-scientists-criticised-for-not-using-best-statistical-tools.html

    Won’t be long before the ’so-called sceptics’ will be called ‘deniers’ and worse, again, now that the e-mails are again ‘hacked’ …
    =====
    Apologies are unlikely. While skeptics are even -handed, many self-identified skeptics are conspiracists rather than skeptics. Conspiracists believe anything that goes against their thinking is a lie. Witness the birthers.

  14. Oh dear. Just as everyone expected.
    No data, no codes, no statisticians but quite good enough to justify the useless expenditure of sqillions of pounds/dollars and jeopardise the energy supply of the Western world.
    You couldn’t make it up.
    This isn’t a quiet backwater of science but one of the major players attempting to influence world energy policy.
    What a sad day for British scientific integrity,but a brilliant day for GLOBE International and their chums.

  15. Steve McIntyre has unearthed another gem in one of his follow-up comments on his thread. Here’s Monty Python’s piece on the vital role of the Village Idiot:

    At 2:40, reference to University of East Anglia will be enjoyed by all. Spot-on.

  16. Who cares? The meme is out there now. People are now thinking for themselves instead of letting “important people” do the thinking for them. They are waking up to the fact their local climate hasn’t changed one jot in their lifetime, so it is unlikely to change in the next generation either.

  17. Predictable. This whitewash job reveals the corruption beneath the surface more thoroughly than even the Climategate emails. The embarrassed Emperor no longer minces along, hands aflutter to conceal his nakedness. Now he smirks and pirouettes down the boulevard in priapic splendor, while the media courtesans applaud politely, pretending not to see.

  18. Losing or being wrong is never easy. Charges of “the refs were crooked” or “the investigation was a whitewash” can be expected, as denial assuages the discomfort. But it doesn’t change the reality.

  19. Wren (09:14:13),

    It has been repeatedly pointed out here that the Grantham Foundation has a heavy pro-CAGW agenda, and funds only those scientists with like-minded views.

    He who pays the piper calls the tune, and Grantham calls the catastrophic AGW tune — which its grant recipients dance to, or they don’t get funded. This cheats all taxpayers who pay the salaries of scientists in the expectation of getting unbiased science. When Grantham’s cash floods into the pockets of a scientist, he is corrupted; he is bought and paid for. He has exchanged his integrity for money. If you want to explain how that is an honest situation, have at it.

    And to conflate people seeing the Grantham agenda are conspiracists akin to birthers is derogatory to scientific skeptics. Yours is the kind of post that is to be expected when you lack the empirical evidence to falsify the climate null hypothesis.

  20. Wren.

    As with so many on this site, I naively believed in AGW. My scepticism began with the disappearance of the of the MWP, which, as a keen reader of history, I found difficult to believe. No one could be further from a conspiracy theorist than me, but the various revelations, inadequate inquiries and continuing disinformation from the AGW camp may well turn me into one.
    As always with unusual human behaviour, follow the money trail.

    By the way, what is a birther?

  21. Dr T G Watkins (10:18:56) :

    Birther is the name given to people who feel they have legitimate questions about whether Barack Obama is actually a native-born US citizen. His refusal to release his birth certificate is seen as evidence that there might be something to the claim.

  22. I think this report is not fundamentally far off the mark, given the parameters they limited themselves to: “…….asked to come to a view on the integrity of the Unit’s research and whether as far as could be determined the conclusions represented an honest and scientifically justified interpretation of the data.”

    In my field, a small stinky subset of a subset of metallurgy, there are folks in the industry & academia writing papers, some peer reviewed some not. There are claims & counter-claims, and progress in the technology just kind of bounces along, getting better by the year but nowhere close to being a straight path to arriving at the “best” science. For the most part we all live with this relatively inefficient system, because the pretenders all get weeded out sooner or later (it may take many years but it will eventually happen) and the better research comes out on top.

    And, one thing is for certain, almost no one publishing in my field can have their current results withstand the scrutiny of the very sharp auditors found today in climate research. Our results would be revealed as being similar to what they found at CRU, a few folks doing some research, publishing some papers, making a few interpretations & in general doing garden-variety R&D. The safety of a commercial airliner does not depend on our results meeting the highest possible scientific standards; if it did most of us would be much more diligent in our methods and circumspect in our conclusions, or else we wouldn’t publish at all.

    So, this report is in line with my opinion of the current state of most climate researchers; they’re like me and my colleagues, with a couple differences:

    1. When someone points out apparant flaws in methodology (data collection, statistical analysis, etc) you don’t vilify the dissenting view, you figure out if the point is valid and address it. It is the complete inability of some climate scientists to ever admit that that they may have made a fundamental mistake about anything they or their boys have done that has led me to follow these climate rows closely; rarely do you ever get to see a scientific train wreck so publically played out. There really is a lot of humor in climate goings-on.

    2. Nothing in my field can be construed as being earth-shaking, and so who cares how good any one paper or hypothesis is? It will work its way out in time. The CRU folks unfortunately stumbled along in a field that others are using as a cudgel for major political, economic & social change; bad luck for them.

    For the CRU folks to see this report as vindication is wishful thinking; it reads to me like they just are some guys bumbling along in a stinky little discipline that found some data & made up conclusions however they saw fit, never anticipating that their research was going to have a significant amount of scientific firepower targeted at them. Their tragic flaw is not being able to admit their efforts are a work in progress, and their intransigence on even admitting the validity of dissenting views will be their undoing.

  23. “Conclusion
    1.We saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit and had it been there we believe that it is likely that we would have detected it.”

    But then they only asked the accused, they didn’t take any evidence from third parties despite asking for it because, for example in the field of dendrochronology, some of these criticisms show a rather selective and uncharitable approach to information made available by CRU. So they saw no evidence because they did not appear to look very hard.

    “4. A host of important unresolved questions also arises from the application of Freedom of Information legislation in an academic context. We agree with the CRU view that the authority for releasing unpublished raw data to third parties should stay with those who collected it.”

    Are they saying that “academic data” is somehow different from other data held by publicly funded organisations and that the authority of the law is somehow overridden by rights of “academic data collectors”. If the questions remain unresolved why mention this in the report – the implication of this statement is that they believe academe is above the law. It’s funny that this comes from a group of Professors.

  24. Wren (09:56:57),

    In this case the refs were, in fact, crooked.

    That is proven by the fact that they did not call a single witness for the prosecution. In fact, there were no prosecutors, only committee appointees with an intent to cover up professional malfeasance. And that is exactly what they did.

    The fact that some demand an apology from the victims of this fraud and coverup makes the whole sorry episode even more reprehensible.

  25. Well, there goes “climategate”:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8618024.stm

    ‘No malpractice’ by climate unit

    There was no scientific malpractice at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, which was at the centre of the “Climategate” affair.

    …a recent House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report into the e-mails concluded that the scientists involved had no intention to deceive.

    And Lord Oxburgh said that he hoped these “resounding affirmations” of the unit’s scientific practice would put those suspicions to bed. He stated: “We found absolutely no evidence of any impropriety whatsoever. That doesn’t mean that we agreed with all of their conclusions, but these people were doing their jobs honestly.”

    Professor Hand said that the CRU scientists did not use “the best statistical tools for their studies” but that this had made not significant difference to their conclusions.

    But he said that the CRU were “to be commended for how they dealt with the data,” adding that, in their research papers, they were very open about the uncertainty in the numbers.

    UEA’s vice chancellor Edward Acton said he welcomed the report. “It is especially important that, despite a deluge of allegations and smears against the CRU, this independent group of utterly reputable scientists have concluded that there was no evidence of any scientific malpractice,” he said.

    I guess Dr. Phil Jones will have to earn his Director’s salary again:

    http://www.uea.ac.uk/env/people/facstaff/jonesp

    I wonder how that book and movie deal are coming along ? Some say they are looking at Gerard Butler to play Dr. Jones…

  26. Five pages? Boy, the art of whitewashing is really going downhill. (Will someone please hide that decline?) This is even shorter than the typical Summary for Policymakers. Oh, that’s an idea – perhaps Mosher and Fuller can use it as a preface for a second edition of The CRUtape Letters.

  27. Wren, if you cannot see from reading the report that it is a complete whitewash then I truly feel sorry for you.

    Warming of 10 degrees, the seas rising 10 metres, we are all doomed.

    Apparently.

  28. When the state feels confident enough to create a whitewash so plainly rigged as to be beyond parody, when the state is able to perpetrate such an abuse of of its authority knowing that the main stream media will pretty much ignore the rigged process then we are all in deep deep trouble.
    We are witness to the perversion of democracy, its happening now and its real. We stand by horrified that the state feels powerful enough and untouchable enough to so blatantly rig an inquiry.
    A few pages of waffle chaired by someone with a direct and self confessed self interest in rigging the outcome is in fact a crime against democracy. The media has by and large failed us.
    When the state feels able to show such hubris and bloated arrogance, when the state feels it is able to cobble together such an obvious whitewash then the fall is surely coming.

  29. Wren.

    As with so many on this site, I naively believed in AGW. My scepticism began with the disappearance of the of the MWP, which, as a keen reader of history, I found difficult to believe. No one could be further from a conspiracy theorist than me, but the various revelations, inadequate inquiries and continuing disinformation from the AGW camp may well turn me into one.
    As always with unusual human behaviour, follow the money trail.

    By the way, what is a birther?

    =====
    One who believes President Obama wasn’t born in the U.S., and therefore is in office illegally.

  30. Whitewash (as expected), indeed.
    But I’m still of the opinion that the ”cat is out of the bag” on CAGW in general; i.e.:
    They can ”chase” and ”try to hide” the ”cat” as much as they want, but I seriously doubt they will ever be able to stuff the cat back in the ”bag”, and pull things back over to the previously-existing side of the tipping point. There are just too many informed and independent skeptics pursuing and publisizing objective science on the www, so:
    They can run and obfuscate and make excuses as much as they want.
    But I don’t think they can’t successfully hide anymore.

  31. I think it’s best to eat a little crow now than a lot later. People who dig their heels in when presented with information not to their liking are setting the table for a crow eating banquet.

  32. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-04-14/climategate-probe-finds-no-evidence-of-scientific-malpractice.html

    April 14 (Bloomberg) — An investigation by a panel of scientists into the so-called climategate leaked e-mail flap found no evidence of scientific malpractice at the University of East Anglia, the U.K. school at the center of the probe.

    The inquiry, the second of three into research at the school in eastern England, said methods used by the university to compile historical records of global temperatures were “fair and satisfactory.” It also said allegations of deliberate misrepresentation of data derived from tree rings weren’t valid.

    “There was no hint of tailoring results to a particular agenda,” the scientists said in a report posted today on the school’s Web site. “Their sole aim was to establish as robust a record of temperatures in recent centuries as possible.”

    The probe was carried out by a panel of six scientists based at universities in the U.K., U.S. and Switzerland and was chaired by Ron Oxburgh, former chairman of Shell Transport & Trading Plc and a member of the U.K. House of Lords, Parliament’s upper chamber. They were appointed by the university at the recommendation of the Royal Society, the U.K.’s national science academy.

    U.K. police are also investigating who hacked into the e- mails.

    Let’s see, the Royal Society, the House of Lords, and Universities in the U.K., U.S. and Switzerland were all in on the “whitewash”. Perhaps the Queen of England can weigh in and get a real investigation of scientific malpractice – the kind that will find Dr. Jones guilty. An impartial one. Not these fake investigations, the kind that finds the CRU completely, totally, fully vindicated.

    Oh, and by the way, police are still investigating the hacker.
    I heard on the radio they are going slow, because they are gathering evidence against the people that hired him. That’s going to be a bombshell…

  33. From the BBC

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8618024.stm

    “He explained: “We read 11 key [CRU] publications spreading back over 20 years and a large number of others. We then spent 15 person days interviewing the scientists at UEA.”

    From the Science and Technology Committee – Eighth Report

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/387/38702.htm

    “I don’t know what more we could have done and we came to a unanimous conclusion.”

  34. I posted a very brief comment on the article about the report at the Guardian’s website. In it I mentioned the Medieval Warm Period and compared the Oxburgh inquiry to the Hutton inquiry on the death of David Kelley, the United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq, which is widely regarded as a whitewash.

    The moderator has removed my comment which doesn’t say much for the Guardian’s commitment to free speech! However, in fairness to the moderator, other postings using the word “whitewash” are still there. I wonder if defenders of the Oxburgh report have been selectively clicking on the “report abuse” links to reduce the number of critics. By doing it selectively they would be able to give a wrong impression of the balance of the posts but if they did that to all criticisms the censorship would be obvious.

    Am I being paranoid?

  35. @Hunter

    I concur. Rational analysis will not change the opinions of the current political crop.

    Fortunately (and unfortunately), the impending Western economic collapse will sharpen their minds.

    For WUWT readers who are interested in expanding their knowledge of the madness and corruption of 21st century economics, I thoroughly recommend the irreverent, and darkly entertaining, insights of ex-Wall Street trader Max Keiser – http://www.maxkeiser.com

    If you thought global warming was a scam of biblical proportions, wait until you discover the delights of fractional reserve banking and derivatives.

    Carbon trading – invented by Enron and administered by Goldman Sachs.

  36. Wren (09:14:13) :
    “……many self-identified skeptics are conspiracists rather than skeptics.”

    I look at it differently. I view conspiracists as a subset of skeptics. It is true that many skeptics are not conspiracists, but they’re getting fewer and fewer.

    Today, the question isn’t whether or not a conspiracy exists, but rather how many and how deep. Witness this thread. While it doesn’t specifically say conspiracy, the word whitewash implies that one existed to exonerate the CRU. The e-mails further prove the scientists were engaged in a few conspiracies. One to eliminate dissent from being published in particular journals, and another to “hide the decline.”, and yet another to circumvent FOI requests. Obviously, there are several more examples of conspiracy the alarmists engage in. It’s not a question of whether one exists or not, but rather the dimensions of the conspiracies.

  37. Wren For me, the core of this is the data. Your concluding reference to “birthers” is telling. The data is absent–an original birth certificate. Millions, routinely, cough one up to satisfy one government requirement or other. Hence the relationship to the AGW data handling.

  38. Wren,

    “I wonder how that book and movie deal are coming along ? Some say they are looking at Gerard Butler to play Dr. Jones.”

    I suggest Dennis Quaid – he did a pretty good job in “Day after tomorrow.”

    “I think it’s best to eat a little crow now than a lot later. People who dig their heels in when presented with information not to their liking are setting the table for a crow eating banquet.”

    Thanks for the advice. Some people might actually like the taste of crow. In the UK the aristocracy eats grouse and quail. Some say the taste is similar.

  39. With respect to the so-called “dendroclimatology” the commission stated:

    “Tree growth is sensitive to very many factors including climate. By piecing
    together growth records from different trees, living or dead, it is possible to
    determine the temporal variation of growth patterns going back many
    hundreds of years. The dendroclimatological work at CRU seeks to go beyond
    this and to extract from the dated growth patterns the local and regional history
    of temperature variations.”

    Is that really true? Let us consider the simple function

    y = f(x_1, x_2, …, x_n)

    Here, y is the dependent variable and x_1, x_2, …, x_n are the independent variables. To invert this function for determining one of the independent variables, for instance, x_1 it is indispensable to have the information about the functional relationship between y and the remaining independent variables (bijective mapping requirements must be fulfilled).

    Presuppose y represents the tree ring width and the x_1, x_2, …, x_n are ambient air temperature, tree density of the stand, nutrient and water availability, etc. I wonder how the information of the tree ring width can be used to determine the ambient air temperature without knowledge about the other independent quantities. The temperature determined will always be dependent on the assumptions made for the other independent variables. This is the weakness of the method using tree rings as proxy data. It is like determining of the numbers of a lottery on the basis of tea leaves.

    In acknowledging this difficulty the commission stated:

    “The main effort of the dendroclimalogists at CRU is in developing ways to
    extract climate information from networks of tree ring data. The data sets are
    large and are influenced by many factors of which temperature is only one.
    This means that the effects of long term temperature variations are masked by
    other more dominant short term influences and have to be extracted by
    statistical techniques.”

    The weakness of the method using tree rings as proxy data cannot removed even with advanced statistical methods. The sole conclusion must be that tree rings cannot serve as proxy material. The commission was unable to come to this conclusion. It seems to me that in climatology scientific standards are excluded.

    In December 2007 I sent an e-mail to the British MetOffice regarding the HadCRUT3 time series. Since these temperature anomalies are considered with respect to the mean value of the period ranging from 1961 to 1990, it was surprising to me that an average of the temperature anomalies for that period results in -0.026 in the case of the annual temperature anomalies and -0.027 in the case of the monthly temperature anomalies. This means that something is going
    wrong because these differences are too large for being explained by truncation errors. When I asked what kind of reference value was used, it was strongly recommended to read Rayner et al. ( 2006) and Brohan et al. (2006).

    Obviously, the members of the commission did not conduct such simple tests. One needs less than five minutes for such tests.

  40. ScientistForTruth (09:04:47) :

    Excellent job. I thought I might have to use my German but the parody was well highlighted by your article. Enjoyed having a good laugh at something so sad truely sad.

  41. 5 pages! I have read them and I am left wondering why if everything was so OK that CRU and its cohorts didn’t just let everybody have the data>

  42. Without the original data sets how do they know anything? We don’t have to believe a dot of it until they hand over the original data and answer McIntyre’s FOI’s. Maybe Jones some in the fridge by mistake? Has anyone looked in there? Maybe he left it down the pub?

  43. “Wren (11:16:29) :

    I think it’s best to eat a little crow now than a lot later. People who dig their heels in when presented with information not to their liking are setting the table for a crow eating banquet.”

    You call that information? Ok, i’m not surprised. You’re paid to do this, right?

  44. We’re less than four weeks away from a general election. And adverse report from the Oxburgh panel was never going to happen because all three main UK political parties subscribe to the warmist dogma and allowed the cap and trade legislation to pass through the Commons unchallenged. Of course, nothing is going to be allowed to derail the destruction of our economy and our capacity to generate power. Not even the truth. To do otherwise would put a big stick into the hands of UKIP, the anti-EU, anti-AGW party that now has Christopher Monckton numbered in its ranks.

  45. Anu (10:47:32) :

    Well, there goes “climategate”:

    The hydroelectric dam burst, the rushing waters killed thousands and caused hundreds of millions of dollars of property damage.

    The reports from the shareholders concluded the utility company had no fault.

    So in your world, that means the company can go right back to business as usual and start the turbines up again?

  46. All we need is Rees’s final coat of whitewash and the coast will be clear for Prince Chuckles to get his mum to give Phil Jones the knighthood he so obviously deserves. After all the report says “his reputation, and that of his climate research unit, remained intact.”

    I don’t suppose they mean his reputation as an incompetent con man.

    I wonder how much this little exercise cost Acton? Or do you think his mates sorted it out for him for free?

    No wonder he says he’s “Delighted”.

  47. Lets not bother about feeding the Wren Troll, there are better things to do, like search for signs of intelligent thought from the wallpaper.

    As every single public/parliamentary/other “official” body enquiry instigated by this utterly corrupt, startlingly arrogant government has resulted in a whitewash, regardless of subject, I am surprised anyone is surprised by the result. Although I am surprised that they only managed to cobble together 5 pages, which is definitely well short of even going through the motions, so to speak.

    The only way the truth of the CRUtape situation will ever be exposed to the non-blog reading public is through a criminal trial (remember the “weapons to Iraq” trial back in the 80s? As I recall, that was after a whitewash enquiry, too).

    So – is this why it is taking soooooo long for the criminal investigation into the leak to get to a conclusion? I bet they are absolutely terrified of bringing anyone to court, because that is when expert witnesses from the skeptic side will get their say, in the full glare of publicity.

    I am part way through reading Steve Mosher’s CRUTape book, and – although obviously a rushed effort – it does a superb job of putting the various emails into context, and the more I read, the more breathtaking the behaviour of The Team appears. For any remotely intelligent/reasonable person it is blindingly obvious that the whole CAGW thing is a complete stitch-up.

    So – I am almost tempted to suggest that the person responsible for the leak publicly – on camera in case there are any “resisting arrest” scenarios – gives him/herself up and waits for the trial that dare not happen.

    I would happily contribute money to the defence team, too.

  48. hunter

    More leaks, more failures of AGW predictions, and more examples of corruption may not make the difference needed to keep AGW mania from becoming the law of the world.

    There is no reason to be disheartened by this bodge report. I agree with Methow Ken that the cat is out of the bag. And I like jorgekafkazar’s: the naked emperor is no longer mincing along but fluttering his hands to hide his nakedness and while the media courtesans applaud politely, pretending not to see.

    Consider this: If they were to start again, could one make start a global warming fear campaign now? Look at the ground upon which the case was built from the late 90s and up to 2007: unprecedented rising global temps; extreme consequences very soon; scientific consensus on the cause; gold standard report etc. To move forward with Cap & Trade, or whatever, the case must be reaffirmed.

    Since December we have seen only a few feeble attempts at this. Mostly we see a guarded retreat, with attempt to save as many as possible of the considerable careers and investments involved. Otherwise, there are hints of disarray. The once inpenetratable army is dispirited. Not Phil Jones, nor Mike Hulme will support the tired campaigns of Schneider and Hansen. And Al Gore is not mincing along, but mostly hiding deep in a bunker.

  49. Seen from France, this is just what was expected, a Hutton like whitewash enquiry. As a matter of fact, whilst the ‘executive summary’ is positive and good for main street media consumption, when you go through the lines, the report looks quite negative : no bad intentions, but many defects ; at the end of the days the fault is forwarded to the IPCC, with same team of individuals in charge, still paid by the UK (or US) tax payer, deleting all caveats in ‘research’ outcome.

  50. As a Brit, I would like to apologise to everyone for this. It is just a reflection of the incompetence and corruption of ideals that has spread throughout our society over the past 12 years.

    People with very obvious vested interests sitting in judgement on one of the most critical subject of our times. Not surprisingly, it was a whitewash, but they couldn’t even be bothered to make it a well-argued, comprehensive whitewash. Such is the contempt our ruling socialist elite feel towards the truth and the general public.

  51. This is entirely reminiscent of the endless inquiries on Iraqi WMD. The fact is that no matter howmany WMD inquiries find those responsible totally blameless, at the end of the day there were/was no Weapons/Weather of Mass Destruction.

    Moreover, the strongest evidence that the science is safe would have been a strong condemnation of the extremely poor standards which we all know about in this area.

  52. Steve MacIntyre’s CA post on the topic is outstanding:

    http://climateaudit.org/2010/04/14/oxburgh-on-proxy-reconstructions/

    At long last, someone is calling the science (black art?) of dendroclimatology out!

    Good stuff:

    2. The main effort of the dendroclimalogists at CRU is in developing ways to extract climate information from networks of tree ring data. The data sets are large and are influenced by many factors of which temperature is only one.

    This means that the effects of long term temperature variations are masked by other more dominant short term influences and have to be extracted by statistical techniques. The Unit approaches this task with an independent mindset and awareness of the interplay of biological and physical processes underlying the signals that they are trying to detect.

    ——
    uh, yeah!! Tree growth is influenced by a LOT more than simply temperature!! Solar irradiance, rainfall, predation and disease, changes of biota in the forest floor, all sorts of stuff.

    What junk science….

  53. It is most unfortunate that those living outside the UK can have no understanding of what our life here is like after thirteen years of financially irresponsible Socialist Government. Their tentacles writhe their way into every aspect of everyday life; nothing, and I mean nothing, is free from Central Government influence.
    And so it is with this “enquiry”. Nothing can be allowed to contradict the extreme “green” position of Miliband the Younger.
    Much will be made by the “Green” Socialists of these findings.
    And the majority of the UK’s population will, again, blow a collective raspberry.

  54. Tepid and luke warmish:

    The “independent” Lord-led Oxburgh report, with it’s conclusions
    and citations, is as a robust and enthusiastic endorsement as the investigated facts would allow of CRU personnel and the “science”
    they’ve produced.

    Combined with the Parlimentary Committee investigation report,
    there’s only been official luke warm support for the researchers’
    conduct and a tepid finding for the “science” they’ve produced.

    Once a U.S. Congressional Joint Committee begins investigation
    how those millons of U.S. taxpayer dollars for research were spent
    by a British-based cadre, the investigators won’t wear kid gloves.

    Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are treading water until
    then.

  55. Tony B (another one) (13:43:40) : “…And Al Gore is not mincing along, but mostly hiding deep in a bunker.”

    Not sure I’d care to see Al wearing the Emperor’s new clothes. In fact, I think I’d have to decline his hide altogether.

  56. PaulH from Scotland (12:11:12) : “Carbon trading – invented by Enron and administered by Goldman Sachs.”

    16 of the 20 partners with Al Gore’s Generation Investment LLP are from Goldman Sachs.

  57. No-facts …

    What do you expect of government people, reviewing government reports, – produce by scientists on government grants. You expected truth?

  58. Congratutions to the moderator for nixing ‘denialist’ terms with holocaust-denial connotations. I am not Jewish but two of my closest boyhood friends were. I regard holocaust denialists as the scum of the intellectual earth, and my usually pretty turn-the-other-cheek persona is infuriated at being lumped in with them.

  59. “Wren (11:16:29) :
    I think it’s best to eat a little crow now than a lot later. People who dig their heels in when presented with information not to their liking are setting the table for a crow eating banquet.”

    ************

    Let’s for one minute assume the guys at CRU are innocent. That doesn’t make them correct about AGW. That doesn’t make ‘true’ the failed predictions made by AGW. Consensus is not science. IF AGW is false then as time goes on it is going to become increasingly apparent that AGW is a non-starter. This process has already begun. Jones admits to no warming trend in the last 15 years.

  60. Jimbo (16:46:04) :

    Let’s for one minute assume the guys at CRU are innocent. That doesn’t make them correct about AGW. That doesn’t make ‘true’ the failed predictions made by AGW. Consensus is not science. IF AGW is false then as time goes on it is going to become increasingly apparent that AGW is a non-starter. This process has already begun. Jones admits to no warming trend in the last 15 years.

    Dr. Phil Jones said no such thing.
    He said the measured warming trend of 0.12° C per decade in the last 15 years was not “statistically significant” at the 95% level.
    Hardly “no warming trend”.
    If you can’t follow the words, the numbers are going to be even harder.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8511670.stm

    B – Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?

    Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.

    Dr. Jones also pointed out that from 1975 to 2009, a length of 35 years, the warming trend is 0.161° C per decade and it is statistically significant.

  61. Sonicfrog (08:25:36) :

    I’m gonna have to blog on this today, when I’m taking a break from doing my stupid taxes.

    You get taxed for being stupid now? That’s why Al Gore needs so many millions!

  62. Some highlights from Revkin’s take:
    East Anglia’s Climate Lessons

    “Closure is slowly coming…”

    “One lesson is that anyone hoping to up-end decades of research pointing to a growing human influence on the climate by challenging a single batch of studies…is almost surely on a fool’s errand.”

    “A committee of experts recommended by the Royal Society has completed the second of three inquiries into the affair, which foes of restrictions on greenhouse gases tried vigorously to use to undermine public confidence in decades of science pointing to a human-heated climate.”

    Note that those making the requests that lead to the compilation of the FOI2009.zip file are not longer ‘deniers’ but the motivation of the science auditing by the likes McIntyre is still reduced to the political – they are foes of restrictions on greenhouse gases.

    As for the science behind the causation — by CO2 emissions — Revkin himself said this back on 9 Feb:

    But after reviewing the [relevant IPCC] chapter myself just now, I have to say that at least one passage — as far as I can tell — did not contain a single caveat and did not reflect the underlying body of evidence and analysis at the time (or even now):

    “Human-induced warming of the climate system is widespread. Anthropogenic warming of the climate system can be detected in temperature observations taken at the surface, in the troposphere and in the oceans.”

    I wonder, does this scepticism make him a foes of restrictions on greenhouse gases, or a support of restrictions on greenhouse gases despite his own concerns about evidence-base of the decades of science pointing to a human-heated climate?

  63. mod – Ooops left out an “/”. In my previous comment please close the italic after “…on greenhouse gases” and delect this comment – thanks.

  64. We did more-or-less expect this I imagine.

    The questions are: will objective science ever take over this field? If so, how long will it take? Is this whole controversy enough of a “tipping point” to “force” the change?

    Jones, Mann, Briffa, Overpeck and Santer’s careers are mostly over – they will get a few payback rewards from their like-minded peers – but few climate scientists are going to take as many risks with the data again as these guys did.

    Dendrochronology is never going to be taken seriously again (the Muir Russel commission may well put the fork in it as well going by what CRU submitted to them about this aspect of the science).

    The temperature record remains intact but only because all the raw data is actually held at the NCDC. The debate needs to shift to the NCDC’s database now rather than to CRU’s or GISS’ which is just a curiousity now (the MET Office reexamination will take a few years to ressurrect Hadcrut and HadSST).

  65. The report reads like a cry for help. It’s as though they need to tell us what they are thinking but using oposite wording.

    Its either uncommonly sloppy work for a review panel, or a double-speek admission.

  66. Great new legal precedent established, here. Does that mean that in future criminal trials, only evidence proffered by the defence will be heard?

    Unbelieveble!

  67. I like this gem from page 3 of the report, “Although we deplore the tone of much of the criticism that has been directed at CRU, we believe that this questioning of the methods and data used in dendroclimatology will ultimately have a beneficial effect and improve working practices.”

    We don’t like your tone and you (SKEPTICS) know who you are!

  68. To Bob Ward
    When an adult acts like a child, they should be treated as a child. Your childish friends picked a fight that was unnecessary, came home crying with a bloody nose, and now you expect the entire world to apologize to them for it. At best, you are an overprotective mother – enabling her children to behave as self righteous and spoled brats.

    These are people’s lives you and your friends are playing with. This research could potentially cost families across the developed world, in the middle of an economic recession no less, thousands of dollars that they cannot afford. To think that this would all sail through without scrutiny is the height of ignorance.

    Just as no apology is necessary to a misbehaving child, none is owed to you and your friends. Grow up already, and maybe do a little reading on “scientific method”, “ethics”, “integrity”, and “humility” while you’re at it. Once you’re done with that, come back and do this the right way.

    Until then, please go back to your room while the grown ups talk about your behavior.

  69. Based partially on the work of Phil Jones and his motley CRU the UK’s Labour government has committed the UK public to paying almost half a trillion dollars on renewables in the ‘hope’ that they will provide over 15% of our energy!

    Even without this the outlook is pretty bleak, and bankruptcy was already the most likely outcome. Higher energy costs and other climate measures will most likely close down most of our remaining industry, and put the UK in to an economic death spiral.

    We won’t be alone. Most EU countries are already close to bankruptcy and climate change measures will help them to a similar fate. Obama seems very keen that the US won’t be left out.

    With the stakes this high I would have hoped Oxburgh’s panel would do more than just have a chat with the staff and give some mild veiled criticism.

    I really do not understand why so many governments are so keen to believe in AGW when the impact of fighting it will be so dire for their countries. The doubts raised over the past six months should be enough to have them look more critically at the evidence, and at least slow down the implementation of their catastrophic remedies.

  70. Allen Ford (18:14:36) :
    Great new legal precedent established, here. Does that mean that in future criminal trials, only evidence proffered by the defence will be heard?

    Unbelieveble!

    There were never any charges of criminal behavior, contrary to what you might have heard on various non-peer-reviewed blogs. This was merely the UK Royal Society appointing an independent review into the science published by the Climate Research Unit (CRU). The fact that they would even go that far based on stolen emails is quite remarkable.

    Here was the CRU Science Review panel:
    Chair – Ron Oxburgh FRS (Lord Oxburgh of Liverpool)
    Huw Davies, professor of physics at the Institute for Atmospheric & Climate Science at ETH Zurich
    Kerry Emanuel, professor of meteorology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
    Lisa Graumlich, directs the school of natural resources and the environment at Arizona University
    David Hand, professor of statistics in the department of mathematics at Imperial College London
    Herbert Huppert, professor of theoretical geophysics at the University of Cambridge
    Michael Kelly, Prince Philip professor of technology at the University of Cambridge

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8579929.stm

    Huh, a Professor of Meteorology from MIT – didn’t I just hear about 300 people here saying how that is a perfect background for evaluating climatology work ?

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/04/09/lindzen-earth-is-never-in-equilibrium/

    Professor of Physics, Professor of Meteorology, Professor of Statistics , Professor of Geophysics – isn’t this a Dream Team of “hard” scientists that could easily see through the “hoax” of AGW ?

    But now, suddenly the result is “political”, or “financial”, or “due to sunspots”, whatever. Just accept the loss and move on.

    Look at the bright side: maybe Sir Muir Russell will find some dirt on these guys, during the third and final investigation.

  71. It really does not matter what Oxburgh and the rest say. Jones and the gang have been found out and will continue to be under close scrutiny whenever they publish.
    No more will their “Black Art” be accepted as science.

    Lets face it, the panel into Mann was loaded and the questions raised were specifically aimed to produce a whitewash.

    The UK Parliament committee was loaded with AGW proponents and once again, the likes of Steve M were not even asked to give evidence. It seemed to me they had no knowledge (apart from Graham Stringer who at least tried) of the huge implications of the emails.

    Finally we have the joke of Oxburgh, who’s credential show a total bias.
    So, the fight for justice continues and I for one am not getting off the bus.

  72. I imagine the first draft of the report was in fact much shorter.

    “Results from CRU research are robust. The science is settled. Nothing more to see here, please move along.”

    No doubt the panel felt the need to expand the report to 5 pages in order to justify the tens of hours members put into the back-breaking work of making nice with the CRU staff and plowing through that hefty reference list.

  73. May 6th is the date for the general election in the UK although it does not affect me directly however, I fear the unelected Gordon Brown will actually get elected as there is no real opposition to speak of and they are drunk on thoughts of koolaid taxes too.

    If Gordon “I saved the world from finacial doom” Brown is elected and the Labour part wins we will see many “climate” policies enacted with the rest of the Western world following.

    Australia is next this year.

  74. More a greywash than a whitewash.

    Damning with faint praise comes to mind.

    Severe criticism but toned down to suit.

    DaveE.

  75. I call 3 out of 3.Its never the stupid act that sinks politicos, its the cover up they attempt.Its funny that both reports on CRU so far, do not support their stated results, when read completely.Its much like the climate alarm claims, the headline is seldom backed by the content.Is this the new science?Respect my authority? IT does not fly, all the spin in the world won’t save the AWG cause.Most of us do not specialise in stats or new age science, but we all know human nature.Poor missunderstood climate scientists. Yet each report has damned the CRU staff while pretending praise, its a fine art that double speak.SYA is in full swing inside the ivory towers.

  76. After reports like this I want to see a reporter ask the serious question:

    “Lord XXXXX, do you think the results of your inquiry might have been different if your commission had considered the facts before coming to a decision?”

  77. Patrick Davis (19:43:47) :

    “If Gordon “I saved the world from finacial doom” Brown is elected and the Labour part wins we will see many “climate” policies enacted with the rest of the Western world following.”

    Interestingly, of the 3 major parties, all of which are signed up to CAGW, the Labour party is the only one to approve of Heathrow’s essential third runway. The Conservatives and Liberals are against citing climate. Lots of smoke and mirrors methinks.

  78. Robert E. Phelan (08:23:40) :

    Of course Oxburgh was rushed. There is an election coming up very soon in the UK and Labour needs to get its train back on the track. I hope the UK electorate is not as stupid as HMG seems to believe.

    @ Robert – Please be aware that David of the opposition is not any better when it comes to AGW and it was thatcher that started this off, when i place my tin foil hat on i believe that the UK goverment realises that the only way for the UK economy to recover is if we can get the rest of the world believeing and then sell them all the products that go with it. The UK hopes to lead the world in green technology, we have CRU and the MET who are experts???

  79. “Mike Post (02:47:33) :

    Interestingly, of the 3 major parties, all of which are signed up to CAGW, the Labour party is the only one to approve of Heathrow’s essential third runway. The Conservatives and Liberals are against citing climate. Lots of smoke and mirrors methinks.”

    Indeed but “they” have to compete with Frankfurt.

  80. And we’ve just had one of the pro-AGW news channels tonight promote this rubbish, SBS. Yeah the “science” is settled. We are killing the planet with our patio heaters.

  81. Scientist, or the scientific establishment, across the world should hang their heads with shame; that they do not have the integrity and rigor to throw out their bad apples will come back and haunt them. They will lose the trust of the pubic who will not object when the politicians begin to cut funding for their expensive toys like they have at CERN.

  82. For what it is worth, I’ll be hearing Lord Oxburgh speak at the Grand Challenges Summit in Chicago. The program is here:

    http://www.iit.edu/grand_challenges/program/

    I’m attending in my capacity as Dr.P.H. candidate for the University of Illinois.

    Now…what should I ask him? Maybe I could just read the comments section for this post to him?? Hah! I’d be tossed out in a second.

    Interesting collection of warmists, I’ll be mixing with the “best.” Cheers!

  83. Lord Oxburgh was a no-show at the Grand Challenges summit today, due to air travel issues & volcanoes!!

    The science advisor to Pres. Obama, Dr. John P. Holdren, gave quite a stem-winder about global warming! I wish you folks could have seen it, I was out-numbered so I kept my yap shut! Temperatures soaring, ice caps melting etc.

    Later!

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