Dr. Fred Singer on the Muir-Russell report

SEPP SCIENCE EDITORIAL #21-2010 (July 10, 2010)

By S. Fred Singer, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

Climategate: The Muir-Russell report: Some initial comments

http://www.cce-review.org/pdf/FINAL%20REPORT.pdf

In contrast to the Oxburgh report, the Muir-Russell (MR) report is quite substantive (160 pp, incl 8 appendices) and very professionally produced. MR members held some dozen meetings (presumably in Edinburgh), conducted many interviews at UAE, and accepted some 100 submissions (all unpublished). [A very few of these came from recognizable skeptics; none from Douglass, Christy or Singer, although our work is referred to on pp 148-149 -- as a threat to Jones?]

I have several major criticisms, mostly connected to the fact that the MR team had no in-house competence in the relevant science (atmospheric physics and meteorology). Prof Geoffrey Boulton is a geologist, Prof Peter Clarke is a particle physicist, and Professor James Norton seems to be a general expert on engineering and business. Sir Muir Russell himself once got a degree in natural philosophy (physics). As far as one can tell, they consulted only supporters of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), i.e., supporters of the IPCC.

As a result, they could not really judge whether Phil Jones (head of the Climate Research Unit at UEA) manipulated the post-1980 temperature data, both by selection of weather stations and by applying certain corrections to individual records. Had they spoken to Joe D’Aleo or to Anthony Watts, they might have gotten a different slant on the CRU’s handling of station data.

The MR Team concentrates much of the report on the ‘hockey stick,’ and on whether the 20th century was the warmest in the past 1000 years (as claimed by Michael Mann and also by IPCC-3, relying mainly on tree-ring data,). But that issue is really irrelevant and a distraction from the main question (which is never addressed): is the warming of the past 50 years mainly anthropogenic (as claimed by IPCC-4) or natural (as asserted by NIPCC and some other IPCC critics)?

In pursuing the question, the Team must realize that the CRU deals only with land data (covering, imperfectly, only 30% of the Earth’s surface) and that sea-surface temperatures (SST) are really more important. Weather stations and trees tend to be land-based.

Also, the Team never bothers to inquire about the atmospheric temperature record from satellites, the only high-quality and truly global record in existence. They seem unaware of the substantial disparity between satellites and the CRU record.

In defense of the MR Team, they consider science to be outside of their charter and within the remit of the Oxburgh team. [See Item 5 on p.10] (Having seen the Oxburgh report, however, some might consider this a joke.) Yet the Team feels empowered to speak with authority about conclusions that depend on climate science. In fact, none of the investigations so far have had a serious look at the crucial science issues.

As a result, the Team doesn’t seem to realize [p.23 and 32] that “hide the decline” and “Mike’s [Michael Mann] ‘trick” refers to a cover-up. Mann’s 1000-yr temperature record (from proxies) suddenly stops at 1980 – not because there are no suitable post-1980 proxy data (as Mann has claimed in e-mails that responded to inquiries), but because they do not show the dramatic temperature rise of Jones’ thermometer data.

This problem recurs again with Fig 6.2 (which is Fig 3.1 from IPCC-4) and involves misuse of the ‘smoothing’ procedure, i.e., replacing annual temperatures with a ‘running average’ of (usually) five years and sometimes longer. [I discussed the matter in some detail in my Science Editorial 8-09 (2-28-2009)]. As can be seen by inspection, there is little rise in temperature between 1980 and 1996, until the ‘super-El-Nino’ of 1998 (which has nothing to do with GH gases or AGW). The satellite record shows more clearly the absence of any significant temperature rise between 1979 and 1997.

It is ironic then that the real post-1980 global temperatures may be closer to the proxy record than to the thermometer record. We will find out when we learn what data Michael Mann discarded.

In this connection, the legal demand for all of Mann’s data by Virginia’s Attorney-General Ken Cuccinelli assumes additional significance. Based on his own statements, one suspects that Jones has deleted some crucial e-mails. It is likely that these may be discovered among Mann’s e-mails, now held by the University of Virginia. It might put a new light on the whole Climategate affair.

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92 Responses to Dr. Fred Singer on the Muir-Russell report

  1. geo says:

    Anthony, did you make a submission on the topics you are cited here on? If not, why not?

    REPLY: I did make a Parliamentary submission some months back, so did Steve McIntyre. Like Steve, I was never contacted. – Anthony

  2. DoctorJJ says:

    Anyone who has read those emails and doesn’t think anything is amiss is either a moron or involved in a cover-up type of operation. At the least it is academic dishonesty and at the worst it’s out and out fraud. What they admitted to in those emails is not science, it is financially motivated political activism through the gerrymandering of climate data. If there was any integrity in the climatology science circles, these men would be ostracized.

  3. Rattus Norvegicus says:

    [snip - I won't allow you to insult Dr. Singer with such insulting words unless you have the courage to put your words to your name, and, I don't give a rattus norvegius butt if you don't like that. Otherwise clean it up and resubmit - Anthony]

  4. Phil says:

    Why won’t they let any skeptic groups in?

  5. Chris in OZ says:

    You would only have to read the “Harry_Read_Me.txt” to see what state Phil Jones’s data bases were in. How they got any result from that mess is beyond me. Anyway, if I’m not sure, I’ll just make it up ! And I have.

  6. Chris in OZ says:

    Adding to what I said above, I’t seems to me that Muir Russel didn’t know what he was doing either, and took the page from Harry’s book, and “Just made it up…” So he did !

  7. Max Hugoson says:

    In my 20 Years in nuclear power, I had plenty of exposure to the “anti-nuclear kooks”.

    Observations: ALL of them were left of center, some were outright “communists”,all at least socialists.

    Second observation: Their “experts” trotted out for public hearings, debates, etc. were always “particle physics” types. They were usually teaching physics at a state college, or private college as a “day job”. Here’s the parallel with the Muir group: The anti-nuke “experts” once wore a radiation badge (TLD generally, some of the older ones, actual “film” badges) , and therefore were “experts” on all aspects of NUCLEAR power. I.e., Radiation Health Physics, emissions, fuel cycle, etc. (Never mind the fact that they never had to worry about contaminated areas, moving tons of highly radioactive materials about without incident, and managing to generate something besides “papers”, i.e. electricity to run society!)

    I guess once again there might be one more similarity between the anti-nukes and the Muir group. I doubt that any of the folks in the Muir group has had direct involvement with such systems or groups as actually provide real services and real products to the public. Mostly just paper. Pity!

    I think “we” (skeptics) have no need to apologize for our lack of “formal” credentials.
    In point of fact, I’ve seen “amateur” work on WUWT that makes much of the politically charged work by the AGW types look pretty, well, “amateur” itself!

    REPLY: Regarding radiation badges…some days I wish I had a crap dosimeter for the stuff I’m exposed to.

    ;o) – A

  8. Gary Pearse says:

    Re Norwegian Rat: Anthony, as the agw walls crumble, you can expect that civil warmists who were taken in by the scam will continue to abandon ship and you will be dealing more and more with the residual ideologue rats. How I miss the many talented, gifted, respectful agwers that are very few these days.

  9. geo says:

    Anthony– Ah, well the MR thing is quite separate from the parliamentary thing, and they did seem to take at least some portions of the submissions that Steve made to them seriously enough to address some of those points in their report, so perhaps they might have with yours as well if you’d made one to them. Ah well, barn doors and horses and all that.

    REPLY: I recollect submitting the same report to Muir IIRC. But can’t remember, and writing from laptop so don’t have all my references. I know I didn’t send anything to Oxburgh -A

  10. Amino Acids in Meteorites says:

    Don Easterbrook, the Mann Hockey Stick graph, and 1900 studies about the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age:

  11. Rattus Norvegicus says:

    Jeez Tony, is “delusional” that bad. Oh that’s right I insulted your “research”.

    Let me put it this way: the report did not concentrate on the hockey stick, unless you consider 8 pages out of 120 to constitute concentration. The complaints about the surface temp record seem odd in light of the fact that the Muir Russell report took the more direct approach of just simply replicating the work of the CRU. Using either adjusted or unadjusted data they got results which agree with the other attempts at an analysis of the land surface record. His call for comparison with the satellite record is silly since the the satellite record and the surface record agree to a large extent. In addition the comparison of the land record produced by CRU and the record produced by their replication is the proper test to make. So far no one is screaming about the SST record in the late 20th century and the CRU has no part in producing the SST record. His comments about Mann have no relevance to the terms of the Muir Russell report, since Mann’s work was not a part of the terms of reference.

    I would note also that other than the initial “derogatory” comment about Singer, that I kept the bulk of my comment evidence based. The same evidence is presented in this comment, although since I had a little time to think about it, it my be stated in better terms. Feel free to delete the first sentence.

    REPLY: Having had to deal with a friend who had a mental illness, and seeing people ridicule him, yes, I’m a bit touchy when people apply such labels wantonly. But I see you’ve stepped into the light in a subsequent comment, and for that courage I thank you. – Anthony

  12. Rattus Norvegicus says:

    And oh yeah, me real name:

    John M. Sully
    113 South 9th Ave. Apt A.
    Bozeman, MT 59715.

    Phone number for all those who want to make threatening calls: [removed - no reason to post this]. I don’t care.

    REPLY: Welcome to the light Mr. Sully, post your comments then. – Anthony

  13. Amino Acids in Meteorites says:

    Had they spoken to Joe D’Aleo or to Anthony Watts, they might have gotten a different slant on the CRU’s handling of station data.

    Joe D’Aleo. Listen and watch for 20 minutes. You’ll get an earful.

    part 1

  14. Amino Acids in Meteorites says:

    Joe D’Aleo

    part 2

  15. Rattus Norvegicus says:

    Anthony, thank you for the honorary Dr. title, but I am not a Dr., nor do I even have a BS. I studied Computer Science in the 1980’s and like many was offered a very lucrative job before I graduated. Poverty for another year or a good job, what would you do?

    REPLY: Fixed, sorry. -A

  16. David44 says:

    Dr. Singer states:
    ” As a result, the Team doesn’t seem to realize [p.23 and 32] that “hide the decline” and “Mike’s [Michael Mann] ‘trick” refers to a cover-up. Mann’s 1000-yr temperature record (from proxies) suddenly stops at 1980 – not because there are no suitable post-1980 proxy data (as Mann has claimed in e-mails that responded to inquiries), but because they do not show the dramatic temperature rise of Jones’ thermometer data.”

    I may have this wrong, but my understanding is that, although it is related to Mann’s hockeystick chronology, it is actually Briffa’s tree-ring data that was truncated in the “hide the decline” trick because in the last third of the 20th century it diverged (downward) from the temperature record and implies that either something was wrong with the temperature record, or something was wrong with tree-rings as a climate proxy. Mann’s role was to pressure Briffa to delete the offending portion of the graph hiding the tail under other “spaghetti” and Jones was only too happy to assist.

  17. Amino Acids in Meteorites says:

    Rattus Norvegicus says:
    July 10, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    the report did not concentrate on the hockey stick, unless you consider 8 pages out of 120

    It only needed two sentences:

    The Mann Hockey Stick graph is bad science.

    The Mann Hockey Stick graph is used for political and environmental propaganda.

  18. Rattus Norvegicus says:

    And oh yeah, just in case a call is too personal, my email is johnsully@hotmail.com

    REPLY:
    I think you assume too much in thinking people want to threaten you, my only issue is being on a level playing field. If one should want to apply insults and labels to people, I’ve always felt that one should have the courage to put their name to it. You’ve now done that. -A

  19. Amino Acids in Meteorites says:

    Rattus Norvegicus

    867-5309 should have been the clearest lesson why you shouldn’t put your phone number out in public.

  20. Rattus Norvegicus says:

    Of course Anthony, you don’t apply the same standards to those who post content free comments which support you.

  21. juanslayton says:

    Help me out here, is it “Russell” or “Russel”?

    [It's Russell. ~dbs, mod.]

  22. rbateman says:

    Nobody is fooled by this pal-review melarkey.

  23. Rattus Norvegicus says:

    David44,

    You have this wrong in the details. Briffa had always truncated the data in 1960 because he discovered the “divergence problem”. This was something that was well discussed in the literature, as pointed out in the report. Osborne provided the final data, which had been processed with an updated method and cut the data off in 1960. In earlier emails he had told Mann not to use the data after 1960 because of the problems which were discovered.

    It seems that there were some problems with the earlier data set because it did not agree well with other efforts as it did not seem to reflect long term variability properly. The new methodology did handle this properly. You might argue that Briffa’s new paper (I think it was in Science, year 2000) was an attempt to bring his data into line with other reconstructions, except that Briffa was interested in developing methods to retain long term climate signals in tree ring data. I don’t see any evidence in the published literature that Briffa was way off base, although this would require a search of the literature post TAR. But if you do this there does not seem to be any systematic refutation of his methodology post TAR.

    Basically, the conclusion of “nothing to see here” is correct.

  24. Rattus Norvegicus says:

    Amino Acids, I don’t care, the NRA calls me every day looking for money. Don’t make me no nevermind.

  25. Amino Acids in Meteorites says:

    Rattus Norvegicus says:
    July 10, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    content free

    The Hockey Stick is content free; content free of science, that is. The data will show you that. But it has lots of political and environmentalism content. Looking at the political reports on it, environmentalist’s attitudes toward it, and Al Gore’s movie will show you that.

  26. Amino Acids in Meteorites says:

    Had they spoken to Joe D’Aleo or to Anthony Watts, they might have gotten a different slant on the CRU’s handling of station data.

    I know many readers have never seen Anthony Watts. Here he is in 2 parts:

    “Anthony Watts, PART 1, all points bulletin on the data”

  27. Amino Acids in Meteorites says:

    “Anthony Watts, PART 2, all points bulletin on the data”

  28. anna v says:

    Rattus Norvegicus says:
    July 10, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Of course Anthony, you don’t apply the same standards to those who post content free comments which support you.

    An interesting exchange. By your logic then, anonymity to the general public should be lifted on the blog, if posts with offensive anonymous allegations are banned?

    Consider that
    1) the blog owner is liable to law suits of libel,
    2)many people contributing do not want to compromise their position versus grants and posts, given the highly biased gate keeping favoring AGW, as evinced in the infamous e-mails, .
    3) the blog owner knows the IP addresses and e-mails of the contributors.

  29. rms says:

    All three of the recent major inquiries on the behaviour of CRU were UK-based with UK people. The UK government and most significant institutions, universities, school curriculums, all seem to accept AGW with no doubts. I’ve not studied the public surveys, but from conversations a large number of UK citizens accept AGW as “fact” on the basis that a) the government and institutions say so, b) “I’ve seen the pictures” of melting glaciers in Greenland and ice in the Arctic, c) it’s clear the world is warming, d) there can be no other explanation, e) we have to do something and we can change the climate. Sigh. The UK inquiries can hardly be expected to think, analyse, and report differently than they have.

  30. FatBigot says:

    “… the Team doesn’t seem to realize [p.23 and 32] that “hide the decline” and “Mike’s [Michael Mann] ‘trick” refers to a cover-up…”

    I must question the appropriateness of the pejorative term “cover-up”. In its most frequent usage “cover-up” is used to describe activities undertaken to prevent discovery of previous misbehaviour.

    The Climategate emails might or might not disclose criminal activity or previous misbehaviour, it’s not for me to say, but using “Mike’s Nature trick” to “hide the decline” does not fall into that category. What was done was nothing to do with trying to evade exposure of previous bad behaviour, it was all about finding a way for the figures to continue to promote the position to which the team was (and, no doubt, still is) dedicated.

    They might be right or they might be wrong in their dedication to that position, no one can tell because sufficient empirical evidence to prove or disprove their theory / hypothesis / assumption has not yet emerged. Their method might or might not turn out to be accurate, no one can tell because sufficient empirical evidence to prove or disprove their theory / hypothesis / assumption has not yet emerged.

    What is certain is that they were wrong to create a single graph in which proxy and actual data were spliced together without explaining: (i) how it was created and (ii) that the proxy data presented as fact prior to the date of splice must be treated with a degree of caution because identically calculated proxy data did not match actual measurements after the splice.

    It is easy to make allegations of bad faith, especially to an audience that is particularly receptive to such allegations. It is far better to ask “what did they do?” rather than to ask “why did they do it?”

    The former requires objective analysis of evidence and, therefore, will advance learning – however imperfect the sum of knowledge will remain at the end of the exercise. The latter encourages prurient speculation as to motive regardless of whether the results of the exercise are accurate.

    Knowledge is not advanced by “you shouldn’t believe them because they have an agenda” any more than it is advanced by “you should believe us because 2,500 scientists agree with us”.

    The real problem with “hide the decline” is not one of motive but of analysis. It is a simple point, a very simple point. If proxy data match observational evidence for one period but not for another, something is wrong with the proxy and/or the observation. The question, therefore, is not why those who spliced them chose to do so but whether they are really comparable – are they apples and apples or apples an oranges?

  31. Christopher Hanley says:

    I am a bit puzzled by Dr. Singer’s comments:
    “….they could not really judge whether Phil Jones (head of the Climate Research Unit at UEA) manipulated the post-1980 temperature data, both by selection of weather stations and by applying certain corrections to individual records….”
    and:
    “…..the Team doesn’t seem to realize [p.23 and 32] that “hide the decline” and “Mike’s [Michael Mann] ‘trick” refers to a cover-up. Mann’s 1000-yr temperature record (from proxies) suddenly stops at 1980…. because they do not show the dramatic temperature rise of Jones’ thermometer data….”

    HADCRUT3 and UAH noticeably diverge between 1980 and 1997 which is mysteriously corrected post 1997:
    http://woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1980/to:1997/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1997/trend/offset:-0.19/plot/uah/from:1980/to:1997/trend/offset:0.1/plot/uah/from:1997/trend/offset:-0.07

    I may be misunderstanding his point here.
    Is he alluding to the probability that the CRU record 1980 – 1997 (where it overlaps with the satellite record) continues pre-1980 practices which, if extrapolated (if that’s the correct term) back in time, would suggest that CRU (and others) by ‘adjustments’ have exaggerated the warming trends and, in particular, minimized the cooling trend c. 1945 – 1975, as disclosed here many times for individual surface stations data and suggested by the proxies?

  32. Mr. Sully,

    Raw (non-manipulated) temperature data doesn’t show anything remotely resembling manipulated results “achieved” in the University of East Anglia. Therefore, any “replication” that agrees with latter results must be an equally shameless manipulation of data. Everything else is obfuscation.

    Like draws to like the whole world over.

  33. Neil Hampshire says:

    Can someone please explain to me what is the concern regarding temperature data?

    The Muir Russel report covers this in section 6 and Appendix 7. The point they are making has been very effectively summarized by the BBC correspondent Richard Black who writes as follows:-

    “The Muir Russell team investigated this by just about the simplest method you could think of. They downloaded the temperature data themselves from public databases, and wrote a computer program that would combine the datapoints into a temperature record for the instrumental period.

    The entire process took less than two days. All the data they needed was freely available, writing the code was a cinch, and it produced a curve similar to the ones produced by CRU and its counterparts in the US and Japan.

    Anyone competent in the field could do the same, the inquiry team elaborated. You can take out data points you don’t like, you can apply whatever correction factors you want (such as the one that Nasa’s GISTEMP series uses to compensate for the dearth of measuring stations across the Arctic), and you can therefore end up with a temperature curve that might look a little different: but don’t say it can’t be done, because it can.”

    If it is that simple why has someone not done it?
    Why are we putting in all these Freedom of Information requests if the data is freely available?
    Will someone please explain?

  34. tallbloke says:

    Rattus Norvegicus says:
    July 10, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    It seems that there were some problems with the earlier data set because it did not agree well with other efforts as it did not seem to reflect long term variability properly. The new methodology did handle this properly.

    On the subject of Briffa’s methodology, if you think giving undue prominence to a single tree (the bewitched larch of Yamal) with a ~8 standard deviation anomaly with respect to the rest of the (small) dataset used is ‘handling the data properly’, then I’m not surprised you don’t think there is anything to see here.

  35. Martin Brumby says:

    @rms says: July 10, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    As a UK citizen I have to agree. The loonies are certainly in charge of the asylum here. But increasingly people with no interest in “Climate Science” are getting more sceptical at the oversold alarmist claims and can see their tax bills and energy costs shooting up.

    There is still a mountain to climb.

    But I look forward to the day of reckoning when the peasants with lighted torches and pitchforks converge on the ivory AGW towers.

  36. Rattus Norvegicus says:

    Alexander, you are quite wrong. Look at the graphs produced in the report. It is right there. Several blog based analysis using raw data have shown that the raw warming trend is GREATER than the trend shown with the adjusted data.

    Anna V: I merely ask for the same standard to be applied to all. Just because I call S. Fred on his BS, why should I be held to a higher standard than those who are willing to call Jones, Mann or whoever frauds… I merely called S. Fred delusional.

  37. Mike Haseler says:

    Muir Russell was just another management consultant brought in to write the report the management instructed him to.

  38. tonyb says:

    Neil Hampshire said:

    “If it is that simple why has someone not done it? Why are we putting in all these Freedom of Information requests if the data is freely available? Will someone please explain?”

    You’re right of course, Steve or Ross or David simply didn’t think to download this readily available information. What fools they must think themselves now they realise there was such an easy way to get the data they required. Thank goodness we have such indepedent experts as Muir Russell and his team to point out our collective stupidity. :)

    Tonyb

  39. Doug S says:

    John, I applaud your courage in posting your name and address. Please be careful with that kind of thing because it can have risks. I do the same from time to time but I usually regret having done so.

    The issue here for me is not so much in the minutia of these reports but in the political corruption that surrounds this scam they’ve called “global warming”. You get a guy, riding around on a cheery picker, on a Hollywood sound stage, yelling “the science is settled”, meanwhile he’s positioning himself to make billions in carbon trading schemes. I mean, come on. Many of us here have been around the block a few times and have been burned by these kinds of snake oil salesmen. We may have even tried to market a little snake oil ourselves in another life and found out the hard way that crime never pays. The guys at the center of this scam are financial crooks. The bit players around the edges are just going along with the ruse to keep their research money coming in and perhaps really do believe in Agenda 21. Either way, the jig is up.

  40. tallbloke says:

    Christopher Hanley says:
    July 10, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    HADCRUT3 and UAH noticeably diverge between 1980 and 1997 which is mysteriously corrected post 1997:
    http://woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1980/to:1997/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1997/trend/offset:-0.19/plot/uah/from:1980/to:1997/trend/offset:0.1/plot/uah/from:1997/trend/offset:-0.07

    Interesting graph Chris. I have a different answer you may be interested in:
    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/divergence-and-reconvergence-of-uah-and-hadcru/

  41. David44 says:

    Rattus Norvegicus says:
    July 10, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    David44,

    You have this wrong in the details.

    Don’t think so. My point was that it wasn’t Mann’s data that was the subject of the “hide the decline” controversy, but Briffa’s. And that Mann’s role in the controversy – as is seen in the emails – was to pressure Briffa, who actually believed (believes) that the Medeval Warm was as warm as today, to suppress his concerns because including all of his data would have given a less favorable picture in portraying the hockey team’s preferred political view that the MWP either didn’t happen or wasn’t as hot. (A view which is not supported by most other studies.)

  42. Rattus Norvegicus says:

    Tallbloke,

    I think that Briffa dealt with this adequately in his response to McIntyre. You can find a reference to it here: http://www.cce-review.org/evidence/Responses_salient_points_April9.pdf

    An important thing to realize is that the (manufactured) controversy over the Yamal series has nothing to do with the divergence problem or with the TAR figure. I know Steve doesn’t like the Yamal series — simply because he substituted data he liked for data he didn’t lie — but what he did was the very definition of cherry picking. My own reading of the foundational Briffa papers seemed to make it clear that what Steve did was invalid, Briffa’s comments in the above linked document shows (at least to me) that this was an appropriate response.

  43. Eric Barnes says:

    Rattus Norvegicus says:
    July 10, 2010 at 9:21 pm
    Let me put it this way: the report did not concentrate on the hockey stick, unless you consider 8 pages out of 120 to constitute concentration. The complaints about the surface temp record seem odd in light of the fact that the Muir Russell report took the more direct approach of just simply replicating the work of the CRU. Using either adjusted or unadjusted data they got results which agree with the other attempts at an analysis of the land surface record. His call for comparison with the satellite record is silly since the the satellite record and the surface record agree to a large extent. In addition the comparison of the land record produced by CRU and the record produced by their replication is the proper test to make. So far no one is screaming about the SST record in the late 20th century and the CRU has no part in producing the SST record. His comments about Mann have no relevance to the terms of the Muir Russell report, since Mann’s work was not a part of the terms of reference.

    Both you and the MR report seem to have a skill for interpreting what the complaint is in the most advantageous way for CRU and then going to great efforts to convince yourself and others that nothing has gone awry. Instead of stating a complaint (or what they thought was a complaint) why not ask those involved directly? Probably too difficult for consensus thinkers like you and the MR team. People might actually disagree.
    Your comment about the Land temps matching the satellite temps is a hoot. They agree to within what? A degree C over the last 30 years? Yes, I suppose with a consensus sheep like yourself, actually thinking about anything in a non-conformist manner is extremely difficult. Don’t attempt it. Keep on bleating to the tune of the warmists and don’t stray away from the shepherds. There are mental wolves out there who’d tear you to shreds.

  44. papertiger says:

    What’s really infuriating the warmers will toss radiosonde with less than an ~8 standard deviation if it’s headed in the other direction, for example in the Angell et al , then without batting an eye have their henchmen (pdf) turn around and declare the resulting inhomogenities, that their deletion of data caused, as reason to discount more careful research, such as McLean et al (pdf).

  45. Nick Stokes says:

    Neil Hampshire
    “If it is that simple why has someone not done it?”
    They have done it. Codes have been posted.

  46. wayne Job says:

    Neil Hampshire,
    It is simple and easy to explain, the data is homogenized, pasteurized, value added and politically correct, thus the warming. Recent cooling will continue to such an extent that the most biased thermometers will be forced kicking and screaming to tell the truth. The coming decades will prove to be rather unkind to all of us, unless the sun can be tempted to awaken from its slumber.

  47. tallbloke says:

    Rattus Norvegicus says:
    July 11, 2010 at 12:11 am (Edit)

    Tallbloke,
    An important thing to realize is that the (manufactured) controversy over the Yamal series has nothing to do with the divergence problem or with the TAR figure.

    On the contrary, I think the Yamal series was all about trying to overcome the divergence problem so that a new hockey stick could be presented with a fanfare saying,

    “look! we were right all along and didn’t need the temp data splice.”

    Anyway, I’m done with the hockey jockeys. I’ve found much more interesting proxies to play with, which give better results.

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/my-simple-solar-planetary-energy-model/

  48. Mr. Sully,

    Muir Russell report doesn’t contain any raw data. It contains manipulated (computer-processed) graphs only. The original raw data used by the University of East Anglia con artists are largely unavailable (they refuse to disclose it despite multiple lawful requests — which alone is a condemning evidence).

    Publicly available raw temperature records do not support any but very small, statistically insignificant warming during the last century, and that quite consistent with the long-term temperature fluctuations.

    As to why, exactly, you prefer to fool yourself on this subject, you, and only you, can find an answer.

  49. Is there ANY way to download NON-HOMOGENIZED data?

    Because downloading homogenized data is like asking the fox how the hens are doing…

  50. DonK31 says:

    Rattus Norvegicus:

    I will take issue with your assertion that M-R replicated more than 25 years of Professor Jones’ work, including the collection of data and the writing of code, in ~2 days. One can not replicate work without the exact same data as was used the first time. Jones said that it was thrown away at the time of the move into the new facilities and was not recoverable. Also thrown away and not recoverable was the original code by which the data was massaged in order to allow Jones to draw his conclusions.

    The best you can say is that by throwing some numbers together and writing the necessary code, that the writer can torture the numbers and make them say anything the writer wants.

    If all this can be done in 2 days, then a whole lot of time and money was wasted on Professor Jones’ previous work.

  51. Robert E. Phelan says:

    Mr. Sully:

    Welcome to the light of day. I’ve always contended that most of us don’t need an anonym and being anonymous makes it too easy to engage in uncivil activities. Before I started posting under my real name there were a few occasions when I had to eat some crow and ask moderators to remove postings that on sober reflection were not things I’d want associated with my name, if I’d given it…. and there really is no such thing as anonymity on the internet.

    Ditch the Norwegian Rat thing… John Sully is a fine handle. I wouldn’t invite a rat to share my pizza, but if John Sully finds himself in New England I’d be happy to show him the real meaning of pizza and exchange talking points over a pitcher of beer.

  52. Jeff Id says:

    Nice article. I particularly enjoyed Dr. Singers interpretation of ‘hide the decline’. The continued discussing of the testimony seen by the committee as though it weren’t done with intent is difficult to read but so far that’s all that people have done. I suppose it makes it sound reasonable to those not familiar with what really happened, but to imagine that a committee would be so incompetent as to accidentally not hear commentary from the complainant is a big leap.

  53. divergenceII says:

    The divergence problem is not a problem, its actually empirical evidence showing the hockey stick has a very poor relationship with temperature. An then to claim that the reason it doesn’t work is anthropogenic brings tears to the eyes every time, it just so hilarious!!!

  54. Peter Plail says:

    I think it would help if people reminded themselves that the use of tree rings as temperature proxies is far from sound. I recall many discussions on this site regarding correlations between tree ring widths and all the many factors contributing to tree growth (rainfall, sunlight, ground water, CO2, temperature, local soil conditions, ground slope, density of trees etc). Whatever the merits of splicing data from different sources, the use of tree rings solely as temperature proxies is a more fundamental problem, notwithstanding the sample size and regional cherry picking.

  55. Nick Stokes says:

    Dave Stephens says:
    Is there ANY way to download NON-HOMOGENIZED data?

    Yes. GHCN data, as on the file v2.mean, say, is taken directly from the CLIMAT forms lodged by the world met authorities. That is what these people used to compare with HADcrut3.

    DonK31 says:
    One can not replicate work without the exact same data as was used the first time. Jones said that it was thrown away at the time of the move into the new facilities and was not recoverable.

    No. Jones could not lose the original data, which was held by the various met offices. He only hasn’t kept his copy. Later the GHCN project collected them independently and placed them on the data based which the Nuir people used. They did the same sort of calculations that I and other bloggers did, and confirmed that the results corresponded to the CRU indices.

    The value of Jones pioneering work was not in the calculation but in the original collection, and the concept. The fact that the same data, collected from the same sources and processed in the same way gives the same answer, is very good evidence that Jones got it right.

  56. kim says:

    The delusion here is the belief that the indefensible is defensible.
    ===================

  57. 3x2 says:

    Rattus Norvegicus says:
    July 11, 2010 at 12:11 am

    An important thing to realize is that the (manufactured) controversy over the Yamal series has nothing to do with the divergence problem or with the TAR figure.

    “nothing to do with” .. Except in the sense of removing the divergence problem and the need to “hide the decline” in any future report.

  58. DoctorJJ says:

    To me, and maybe I’m too much of a purist, in this instance, I don’t really care what the data says. I don’t really care if they are ultimately proven correct. The basic issue is with integrity. You don’t have to look at a single data point to see that these scientists have no integrity. By their own admission in their own emails they have manipulated, cherry picked, and gerrymandered the data and produced biased studies consistent with their underlying views and agenda. This is not to mention their denial of data to independent resarchers and their efforts to suppress other research papers that were contrary to their viewpoint.

    Again, don’t get caught up in the technical details, the data and the ultimate outcomes. Pay attention to the behavior, the lack of integrity and the anti-science that is so clearly demonstrated in the emails. That is what is so damning.

  59. Richard Garnache says:

    What is all this discussion about? The Midieval Warm Period was real, the Little Ice Age was real, Mann was wrong. End of discussion!

  60. dave38 says:

    DonK31 says:
    July 11, 2010 at 1:51 am
    If all this can be done in 2 days, then a whole lot of time and money was wasted on Professor Jones’ previous work.

    And. if that’s true would it not be possible to prosecute Professor Jones for obtaining money by deception?

  61. Bill Illis says:

    The summary of the reviews are:

    – the temperature data was available at the NCDC anyway; Move along, nothing to see here;

    – the hide the decline and the hockey sticks have been generally accepted in the community although there could potentially be some uncertainties associated with it. Move along, nothing to see here.

    – We didn’t look at the science or the suppression of contrary papers or read the emails anyway; so we We moved along and Didn’t see anything here.

    ———-

    My comment is no one is taking CRU’s and Mann’s hockey sticks seriously anymore. There will be more attempts in the future, perhaps in IPCC AR5, to ressurect the idea that todays temperature are higher than the natural oscillations in the recent climate past but at least they won’t be trying to suppress all natural cycles in the climate anymore. The Medieval Warm Period (Climate Anomaly) and the Little Ice Age are back to stay (although they will try to say they were small events).

    Second, the smoking gun is what the NCDC has done to the Raw temperature records. We know there is a certain increase (0.3C to 0.425C) in the Adjusted versions but just how Raw are the Raw records. The reviews and CRU have been hiding behind the data held by the NCDC since Climategate started and it is time we opened their books. Tom Karl and Tom Peterson, in charge of the NCDC temperature records, are also prominent Climategate emailers. Are the Adjustments justified? Have any “adjustments” been done to the Raw data? There is enough unusual patterns in how the records have changed through time to question if there really has been an increase of 0.7C in temperatures over the past 150 years.

  62. Kirk Myers says:

    The value of Jones pioneering work was not in the calculation but in the original collection, and the concept.

    Manipulating temperature data now constitutes “pioneering work”? Only in the minds of AGW true believers, who have seen their pet theory fall into disrepute.

    At least Jones, in his BBC interview, had the courage to admit that there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995. Now, with La Nina arriving, the PDO in its negative phase, and the sun in a continuing slumber, global temperatures are headed towards a long-term decline. Another Dalton Minimum or, perhaps, Maunder Grand Minimum, may be on the way. In any event, all of the silly scare stories about runaway man-made global warming will undoubtedly make great cocktail party conversation a decade from now.

    The theory of CO2-induced global warming is headed the way of Piltdown Man.

  63. Jerry from Boston says:

    Amino Acids in Meteorites,

    Thanks for the YouTube links to Anthony’s and D’Aleo’s presentations. It’s a good update on where the data collection program is to date. And their preliminary analyses are intriguing, to say the least.

    IIRC, in an interview, Anthony said that when he was a weather newbie in, I think, the ’60’s, he had to handle a Stevenson Screen and he was annoyed by the amount of whitewash that came off during the handling. Later, it got him wondering about how Stevenson Screen coatings would affect temperature accuracy.

    I first started lurking on Anthony’s blog when he began his Stevenson Screen experiment in which he had installed, if I recall, 3 Screens – one with whitewash, one with latex paint and one left unpainted. That was really interesting in and of itself. But I was blown away (as was he) when he started posting screen shots of active temperature sensor locations and how the data base for the stations were adjusted. Those stationings and their adjustments made no sense then and I don’t believe they do now. And they just keep coming.

    Here is where I think Anthony has done one of his great services – he’s providing real-world photos of thermometer sites and temperature graphs that a high school kid can look at and say “you can’t be serious that this is valid or accurate information” and then laugh his head off. These are visuals that will never go away.

    [NASA itself has accepted that their sites are bogus by installing about 50 new stations, properly sited and about equidistant from each other across the U.S. in the last couple years (I think in tacit acceptance of Anthony's critiques) which, according to NASA, will give us a reliable database in about 30 years. Okay, I'm willing to wait 'til then for definitive temperature trend results for the U.S. to base subsequent climate policy on.]

    Here’s why we skeptics are running with the bits in our mouths. We’re questioning EVERYTHING about the temperature record: the accuracy of data collection, appropriateness of station coverage, data adjustments, magnitude of temperature changes, temperature trend slopes, technical reliability, consistency between satellite and ground records, impact of natural and human influences, station dropout effects, UHI, station positioning and movement effects, human error, statistical significance and error bands, trust in the objectivity of the data managers, ARGO data processing and inclusion in the temperature record, Climategate data-release and -distribution obstructionism, raw versus homogenized data releases, etc. And that’s just the basic intellectual skirmish. Don’t even start on mitigation vs. adaptation costs, benefits and politics. So to re-establish credibility, the AGW’ers need to aquiesce to a collective demand that EVERY temperature station be re-visited here and across the world, the data re-evaluated, adjustments made by a consensus of assessments by pro-and anti-AGW scientists, the level of reliability of the station itself, elimination of the station if found unsuitalbe, and the remaining data re-compiled with FULL revelation of the statistical uncertainties and error bars. THEN start proposing climate policies and present them for discussion and possible adoption by each nation’s citizens in accordance with the dictates of each nation’s political system.

  64. Roger Longstaff says:

    The point in the MR report that all data are publicly available, and that code can be written in 2 days to generate results similar to those of the CRU can easily be checked.

    Has anybody asked MR for the references to the data that were used, and a copy of the code that his enquiry generated? Answers to these questions will settle most of the questions posted: is the data “raw” or “adjusted”? Is the code correct and sensible? etc.

    It does not need the Freedom of Information Act, and surely such a request could not be denied?

  65. frank says:

    they could not really judge whether Phil Jones (head of the Climate Research Unit at UEA) manipulated the post-1980 temperature data, [...] We will find out when we learn what data Michael Mann discarded.

    How did ‘Phil Jones manipulated the data’ morph into ‘Michael Mann manipulated the data’?

    Perhaps this is another case of Mann Derangement Syndrome, where climate ‘skeptics’ keep getting obsessed over Michael Mann (who doesn’t even work at CRU)?

    frank

  66. Grant Hillemeyer says:

    Jerry from Boston,
    Well said. All this talk about data. We have no real idea about the raw temp data until each station is audited and understood. It seems to me that NASA’s new stations are useful almost immediately if they are near old stations. All this said, I don’t think it is wise to keep producing CO2 at the current rate indefinately. We need a economical, sane and practical plan for the production of pollution free energy for the benefit of those who will follow us. It would be nice to leave them something but a pile of debt and economic ruin.

  67. Ken Coffman says:

    Mr. Sully, now that you’re out of the shadows…if you care to receive one, I’ll be happy to send you a freebie copy of The Hockey Stick Illusion for your amusment and edification.

    REPLY: Actually, I’d like one, since we can’t yet buy it in the United States. But if we can, I’ll do a book review here. – Anthony

  68. latitude says:

    “Richard Garnache says:
    July 11, 2010 at 6:27 am
    What is all this discussion about? The Midieval Warm Period was real, the Little Ice Age was real, Mann was wrong. End of discussion!”‘

    But Richard, the MWP and LIC were just local events, not world wide.

    and using tree rings and ice cores are excellent examples of world wide temperatures, they obviously are not local.

    Now isn’t that odd?

  69. Rattus Norvegicus says:

    Rodger Longstaff,

    It is right in the report. They got it from GHCN and NCAR and ran it with both raw and homogenized data.

  70. Ken Coffman says:

    I’ll give you a freebie, too, Anthony. It’s the least I can do for all you’ve done in the name of science. And you know, I always try to do the least I can do. Ha!
    I have plenty of stock on hand.

    Send an email to ken@stairwaypress.com and I’ll take care of you.

    For those who want to support this outreach program, click my link and buy a copy. I’m sorry, was that cheezy?

  71. Ken Coffman says:

    Grant, it’s one of the great victories of the activist progressives: to classify CO2 as a pollutant. You have to give them credit for pulling off that brilliant piece of work….getting people to buy into an idea that is the opposite of true.

  72. Richard Garnache says:

    Latitude says;
    But Richard, the MWP and LIC were just local events, not world wide.

    You jest, of course.

  73. Pascvaks says:

    Ref – Ken Coffman says:
    July 11, 2010 at 10:36 am
    “Grant, it’s one of the great victories of the activist progressives: to classify CO2 as a pollutant. You have to give them credit for pulling off that brilliant piece of work….getting people to buy into an idea that is the opposite of true.”
    __________________________

    Indeed, it’s THE GREATEST PONZI SCHEME of all time… so far. Maddof was a piker compared to Mann & Co. I’ll bet a penny –though I won’t be around to see it happen– that the next two generations will have one that’s twice a big as AGW. People never change, and –as P.T. Barnum used to say– “there’s a sucker born every minute“.

  74. Roger Longstaff says: July 11, 2010 at 8:34 am

    The point in the MR report that all data are publicly available, and that code can be written in 2 days to generate results similar to those of the CRU can easily be checked.

    Has anybody asked MR for the references to the data that were used, and a copy of the code that his enquiry generated? Answers to these questions will settle most of the questions posted: is the data “raw” or “adjusted”? Is the code correct and sensible? etc.

    then

    Rattus Norvegicus says: It is right in the report. They got it from GHCN and NCAR and ran it with both raw and homogenized data.

    yet I thought there was raw data missing after CRU’s move. Is all the data and code freely available now?

    Rattus misses the important question “Is the code … sensible?” We know there are overwhelming doubts about the codes.

  75. Gail Combs says:

    To “The RAT”
    Be aware of the fate of the Intelligentsia after “the revolution” it is not pretty:
    “..In the years immediately following their accession to power in 1917, the Bolsheviks took measures to prevent challenges to their new regime, beginning with eliminating political opposition….In 1919, he began mass arrests of professors and scientists who had been Kadets, and deported Kadets, Socialist Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, and Nationalists. The Bolshevik leadership sought rapidly to purge Russia of past leaders in order to build the future on a clean slate….” http://www.ibiblio.org/expo/soviet.exhibit/attack.html

    Pleas note the Bolsheviks were financed by the Warburgs, the same banking family that gave the USA the Federal reserve and the world the World Bank.

    But I do not expect you to even bother to read what your future fate will be if your “great social plan” is enacted. The Intelligentsia always thinks it will be different “this time” I just wish you would all move to China if you and leave the rest of us alone instead of dragging us into your future hell.

  76. Dr. Dave says:

    A lot of interesting comments here. I believe it would be folly to use GHCN data for almost anything. Many in the UK believe both the Muir Russell and Oxburgh reports to be little more than politically motivated whitewash. Is anyone surprised that Penn State cleared Michael Mann? The guy brings in mountains of federal grant money year after year. But how soon we forget the Wegman report. Long before Climategate the Wegman report exposed much of the fraud we now quibble about.

    If you’ve never read it, give it a look. It’s an eye opener. The PDF can be found here:

    http://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2007/11/07142006_wegman_report.pdf

  77. Gail Combs says:

    Kirk Myers says:
    July 11, 2010 at 7:39 am

    The value of Jones pioneering work was not in the calculation but in the original collection, and the concept.

    Manipulating temperature data now constitutes “pioneering work”? Only in the minds of AGW true believers, who have seen their pet theory fall into disrepute.

    At least Jones, in his BBC interview, had the courage to admit that there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995. Now, with La Nina arriving, the PDO in its negative phase, and the sun in a continuing slumber, global temperatures are headed towards a long-term decline. Another Dalton Minimum or, perhaps, Maunder Grand Minimum, may be on the way. In any event, all of the silly scare stories about runaway man-made global warming will undoubtedly make great cocktail party conversation a decade from now.

    The theory of CO2-induced global warming is headed the way of Piltdown Man.
    ___________________________________________________________________
    You are taking it that the Money & Power grabbers do not get their agenda of a global tax in place along with the concept of “Global Governance” by an unelected elite. http://www.sovereignty.net/p/gov/ggunreform.htm

    “David Rockefeller praised the major media for their complicity in helping to facilitate the globalist agenda by saying, “We are grateful to the Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. . . . It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is now more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.” http://www.newswithviews.com/Cappadona/heidi5.htm

    This is backed up by this from the 2002 Rockefeller autobiography “Memoirs” where on page 405,” Mr. Rockefeller writes: “For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents… to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as “internationalists and of conspiring with others around the world … If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”

  78. David C says:

    Point of detail – I think all the submissions to the Russell review bar one are published on the internet
    http://www.cce-review.org/Evidence.php

  79. John Baltutis says:

    Actually, I’d like one, since we can’t yet buy it in the United States. But if we can, I’ll do a book review here. – Anthony

  80. Smokey says:

    I notice that Amazon finally has The Hockey Stick Illusion in stock. I waited 2 1/2 months after ordering it to finally get a copy. Well worth the wait.

    Thanx John Baltutis for the Amazon link. [To see what others thought of the book, click on the link and scroll down a page or two for the customer reviews.]

  81. Ken Coffman says:

    Thanks Benpal. I’m charging list price, but you get free shipping and a freebie CD of public domain stuff from my PC hard drive… That seems like a fair deal to me. As I already mentioned, if I don’t sell them, my wife will make me eat them.

  82. Liam says:

    “Actually, I’d like one, since we can’t yet buy it in the United States. But if we can, I’ll do a book review here. – Anthony”

    It should be available via Amazon:

  83. Crossopter says:

    Why the anti-Soviet demeanour? A long history of brilliant science in all maths, biology and physics. Was lucky to spend time in St. Petersburg in ’89 – weeks before ‘perestroika’ and ‘glasnost.’ The Winter Palace exterior is riddled with gunshot – the people could not have been better.

  84. Jeff Green says:

    (In pursuing the question, the Team must realize that the CRU deals only with land data (covering, imperfectly, only 30% of the Earth’s surface) and that sea-surface temperatures (SST) are really more important. Weather stations and trees tend to be land-based.
    Also, the Team never bothers to inquire about the atmospheric temperature record from satellites, the only high-quality and truly global record in existence. They seem unaware of the substantial disparity between satellites and the CRU record.)

    Quite the contrary, it seems that our good professor isn’t aware of the error corrections shown in the article below.

    http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-1/finalreport/sap1-1-final-frontmatter.pdf

  85. Kirk Myers says:

    What if CO2 went on strike. Those molecules have been given a bad reputation. We’ve been picking on them. Now it’s time for them to fight back.

    http://www.examiner.com/x-32936-Seminole-County-Environmental-News-Examiner~y2010m1d15-CO2molecule-lobby-plans-to-clear-air-about-global-warming

  86. Andrew Russell says:

    Jeff Green: “Quite the contrary, it seems that our good professor isn’t aware of the error corrections shown in the article below.”

    Mr Green, if you had looked a bit farther than William Connolley’s editing (ahem) of the Wikipedia entries on CAGW, you would know that Fred Singer is very, very well aware of this “report” and points out the dramatic differences between the Executive Summary and what the report actually says:

    http://www.sepp.org/Archive/NewSEPP/Data vs Models.htm

    “Now, a panel of experts convened by the CCSP [3] and using updated analyses of balloon and satellite data, has essentially confirmed these earlier results [1,2]. As can be seen from Fig. 2, the disparity between observations and model results is both real and substantial. The surface is warming faster than the lower troposphere (LT) in 3 out 4 data sets.

    It is puzzling therefore that the Executive Summary of the CCSP [3] report claims agreement (“there is no inconsistency between models and observations at the global scale”) when their own analysis suggests the opposite.”

    Of course, when Singer tried to point out the issue with the below entry on Wikipedia, Connelley promptly deleted it:
    (http://www.sepp.org/Archive/weekwas/2007/August 25.htm)

    Note, however: References 6 and 7 refer to the Press release and Executive Summary (Tom Wigley, lead author), respectively. Inexplicably, these misrepresent the plain results of the Report itself, namely that there is a clear discrepancy in the rate of (low-latitude) temperature increase for the surface compared with higher levels in the atmosphere – which contradicts the expected results from greenhouse models. This can be easily checked by comparing Fig. 5.7E of the Report with Fig. 1.3F; the discrepancy is most clearly shown also in Fig. 5.4G. The inevitable conclusion is that the (human) greenhouse contribution to current warming is of minor importance compared to natural processes.

  87. bob paglee says:

    East Anglia is host to the CRU and London is headquarters for a hefty weekly newsmagazine with worldwide circulation. I am a subscriber for THE ECONOMIST, and found an interesting article in the current edition. I have copied it and am pasting the text only below; being freely available in the internet, it is in the public domain. Perhaps the best nuance is in the cartoon at the head of the article that you can see at the theeconomist.com. In the past, I have noted a strong bias in The Economist’s reporting that favors the concept of AGW. I hope others also will find this British introspection rather interesting, particularly the reference to “groupthink”, selected Yamal tree ring data, and deleted e-mails. ( Story on Pages 76 and 77, my copy of print edition.)
    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    The controversies in climate science — THE ECONOMIST, July 10th – 16th 2010

    Science behind closed doors

    Two new reports say the science of climate change is fine, but that some scientists and the institutions they work in need to change their attitudes
    Jul 8th 2010

    THE winter of 2009 was a rough time for climate science. In November, in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate conference, over 1,000 private e-mails from and to researchers at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), a part of the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Britain, appeared on the internet, presumably after being stolen. At the same time a controversy was bubbling up in India over a claim in the 2007 assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the Himalayas could lose all their glaciers in 25 years, which was wrong. These events seemed to provide evidence of embarrassing incompetence, at the very least.

    Explanations were demanded and committees were formed to deliver them. This week two of those committees reported. For the CRU and what became known as “climategate”, an independent panel was created by UEA and chaired by Muir Russell, a former vice-chancellor of the University of Glasgow. The Dutch environmental-assessment agency was asked to look for other errors in the regional analyses of the IPCC’s report. Both the reports conclude that the science of climate is sound and that the professional characters of the scientists involved are unimpeached. But they raise important issues about how to do science in such an argumentative area and under new levels of scrutiny, especially from a largely hostile and sometimes expert blogosphere.

    The Dutch agency found a few errors in the relevant chapters of the IPCC’s report, though none amounted to much. It also raised questions about concentrating on bad or worst-case possibilities rather than a range of outcomes. The agency did not say this was a bad thing—policymakers need to have the most critical information flagged up—but it thinks it would be better to explain more clearly what is going on.

    Martin Parry, who in 2007 was co-chair of the relevant IPCC working group, says there was not a conscious decision to highlight negative effects, but to highlight important ones, as measured by such things as scale and irreversibility. The important effects are negative ones: this is why people are worried about climate change. A tendency for the IPCC process to produce outputs more worrying, at the margins, than its inputs does not necessarily show bias. It may reflect accurate expert assessment. But the risk that it is a sort of self-reinforcing groupthink merits attention.

    Open to criticism

    A form of groupthink certainly seems to have been at work in the climategate e-mails. The Russell committee was most exercised by a lack of openness at the CRU, in part explained, but not excused, by a sort of a siege mentality. The committee found that the scientists committed nothing close to fraud. It showed that the data needed to reconstruct CRU’s temperature records were widely available. Informed by a warts-and-all account of peer review from Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, a medical journal, the committee took the researchers’ harsh behaviour towards critics and leniency towards allies not as unduly partial or aggressive, but as part of the “rough and tumble of interaction in an area of science that has become heavily contested.” As an eminent historian of science put it to a naive scientist when the story first broke, “Everything you believe to be true once looked like this.”

    But the committee did criticise the researchers for an unwillingness to pass on data to their critics, for failing to specify which weather stations they were using, for keeping quiet IPCC discussions that should have been public, and so on. This flowed through into “clear incitement” to delete files rather than have them surrendered under Britain’s freedom-of-information act. The committee found UEA’s procedures on freedom of information poor.

    Rather remarkably, neither the Russell committee or the university has asked Phil Jones, who ran the CRU, whether he actually deleted e-mails with the intention of foiling subsequent requests under the act. The university says it takes very seriously the need to improve its openness. At the same time it has appointed Dr Jones to a new position as director of research at the CRU—“definitely not a demotion”—while abolishing the role of director and integrating the unit more fully into its school of environmental sciences.

    In doing this UEA accepts that Dr Jones’s role in one of the most famous aspects of climategate—his “hide the decline” e-mail—was “misleading”, as the Russell report puts it, without deliberately intending to be so. The growth of some trees, as recorded in their rings, tracks temperature from the 19th century to the 1960s, but then ceases to do so: the two records diverge. In a graph prepared for the World Meteorological Organisation in 1999, Dr Jones cut off the divergent part of one set of tree-ring data and spliced on data from thermometers. The scientific literature contained full discussions about the problems of divergence and various ways of dealing with them, but Dr Jones’s chart had no readily accessible explanations or caveats.

    The Russell report is thorough, but it will not satisfy all the critics. Nor does it, in some ways, fulfil its remit. One of the enduring mysteries of climategate is who chose the e-mails released onto the internet and why they did so. These e-mails represented just 0.3% of the material on the university’s backup server, from which they were taken. This larger content has still not really been explored.

    And then there is the science. An earlier report on climategate from the House of Commons assumed that a subsequent probe by a panel under Lord Oxburgh, a former academic and chairman of Shell, would deal with the science. The Oxburgh report, though, sought to show only that the science was not fraudulent or systematically flawed, not that it was actually reliable. And nor did Sir Muir, with this third report, think judging the science was his job. So, for verdicts as to whether the way that tree-rings from the Yamal peninsula in Siberia were treated by the CRU produced good results, those following the affair will have to look for future developments in journals and elsewhere. The mode of production has been found acceptable, but the product is for others to judge. Science, in the normal run of things, should do that; and if it does so in a more open, blogosphere-inclusive way some good will have come of the affair.

    Science and Technology

  88. Alexander K says:

    Dear old Geoffrey Lean, writing in today’s (July 12) UK Telegraph, reports that in his opinion this latest enquiry reduces Climategate to the status of a mere storm in a teacup, leading him to coin a new term that he obviously regards as extremely witty – the term ‘cupgate’. Wow! And this intellectual giant is actually paid to write this nonsense.
    In the article Lean perpetuates the old and silly canard that ‘the sceptics are given a free run by the media’, which pretty much summarises his refusal to examine any evidence that will not tell him what he wants to hear. What really exercises me, however, is the empty space that Lean and many other journalists have in their brain and/or character where ethics should be.

  89. bob paglee says:

    Alexander K says:

    “In the article Lean perpetuates the old and silly canard that ‘the sceptics are given a free run by the media’, which pretty much summarises his refusal to examine any evidence that will not tell him what he wants to hear. What really exercises me, however, is the empty space that Lean and many other journalists have in their brain and/or character where ethics should be.”
    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Journalists as well as certain scientists easily become victims of “groupthink”, a risk mentioned in the article I posted above. However, it requires a correction — to see the cartoon and the article go to economist.com, not theeconomist.com

  90. Smokey says:

    In today’s Wall St. Journal editorial, Patrick J. Michaels calls the Russell report a “Whitewash.”

  91. Bob Tisdale says:

    Christopher Hanley says:
    HADCRUT3 and UAH noticeably diverge between 1980 and 1997 which is mysteriously corrected post 1997:
    http://woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1980/to:1997/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1997/trend/offset:-0.19/plot/uah/from:1980/to:1997/trend/offset:0.1/plot/uah/from:1997/trend/offset:-0.07

    Christopher, tallbloke posted your comment at his blog so that he could respond to it at length. My two replies on tallbloke’s post follow:
    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/divergence-and-reconvergence-of-uah-and-hadcru/#comment-1078
    tallbloke: How do you account for the shift in the HADSST2 data…
    http://i45.tinypic.com/f3e5vo.png
    …that is caused by their merging of two (incompatible) source SST datasets in 1998, which is the likely cause of the change after 1997? Refer to:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/12/met-office-prediction-climate-could.html

    HADSST2 is also spatially incomplete, especially in the mid-to-high latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere. Refer to:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2010/07/overview-of-sea-surface-temperature.html

    I would suggest you compare HADISST or Reynolds OI.v2 SST data to UAH TLT anomalies. Are the results different?

    &&&&&&&&&
    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/divergence-and-reconvergence-of-uah-and-hadcru/#comment-1080
    Beat ya:
    UAH TLT Ocean vs HADISST:
    http://i27.tinypic.com/2rep0gn.jpg
    UAH TLT Ocean Minus HADISST:
    http://i29.tinypic.com/1qnxut.jpg

    The difference appears to represent the exaggerated response of the TLT anomalies

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