Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
Dear Dr. Jones:
You and I have been interacting, albeit at a distance, since I first asked you for your data some five years ago. I asked for your data in part because I was astounded by your answer to Warwick Hughes when he asked for the same data. You replied to Warwick at that time, “Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”
I couldn’t fathom that a leading climate scientist could actually believe that. Finding something wrong with other scientists’ data and ideas is an integral part of how science progresses. This requires transparency and access to the data. I also couldn’t believe that other climate scientists would let you get away with saying that, without some other scientist pointing out the anti-scientific nature of your denial.
Foolish me … d’ya think I might have been more than a bit naive back then about climate “science” realpolitik?
In any case, I was also interested in the data for my own research, and I was curious whether you had been misquoted or taken out of context, so I wrote to you and asked for the data. I got no answer. (I found out later you had not been misquoted in any way. But I digress, back to the events.)
So I made a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for the data. Your University of East Anglia (UEA) Climate Research Unit (CRU) FOI point man, Mr. David Palmer, responded that all the data was available somewhere on the web … but David didn’t say where, just waved his hands and uttered the mystical incantation “GHCN”, meaning the data was held by the Global Historical Climate Network.
My response to that was as follows:
Dear Mr. Palmer:
Thank you for your reply. However, I fear that it is totally unresponsive. I had asked for a list of the sites actually used. While it may (or may not) be true that “it appears that the raw station data can be obtained from [GHCN]“, this is meaningless without an actual list of the sites that Dr. Jones and his team used.
The debate about changes in the climate is quite important. Dr. Jones’ work is one of the most frequently cited statistics in the field. Dr. Jones has refused to provide a list of the sites used for his work, and as such, it cannot be replicated. Replication is central to science. I find Dr. Jones attitude quite difficult to understand, and I find your refusal to provide the data requested quite baffling.
You are making the rather curious claim that because the data “appears“ to be out on the web somewhere, there is no need for Dr. Jones to reveal which stations were actually used. The claim is even more baffling since you say that the original data used by CRU is available at the GHCN web site, and then follow that with the statement that some of the GHCN data originally came from CRU. Which is the case? Did CRU get the data from GHCN, or did GHCN get the data from CRU?
Rather than immediately appealing this ruling (with the consequent negative publicity that would inevitably accrue to CRU from such an action), I am again requesting that you provide:
1) A list of the actual sites used by Dr. Jones in the preparation of the HadCRUT3 dataset, and
2) A clear indication of where the data for each site is available.
This is quite important, as there are significant differences between the versions of each site’s data at e.g. GHCN and NCAR.
I find it somewhat disquieting that an FOI request is necessary to force a scientist to reveal the data used in his publicly funded research … is this truly the standard that the CRU is promulgating?
Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.
Note that I was trying not to make waves. I didn’t want to appeal the ruling. I didn’t want to make any trouble for CRU or for anyone. I just wanted to get the data. A garden variety polite scientific request. (And by the way, this type of polite request, Dr. Jones, is what you have repeatedly denounced as ‘harassment’ … but again I digress from the story.)
After discussing my statements with you, Mr. Palmer wrote back and identified a couple of websites (GHCN and NCAR) where the data you used might possibly be found … but again there was no information about where each station’s data was actually located. I wrote back and said in part:
… While it is good to know that the data is available at those two web sites, that information is useless without a list of stations used by Jones et al. to prepare the HadCRUT3 dataset. As I said in my request, I am asking for:
1) A list of the actual sites used by Dr. Jones in the preparation of the HadCRUT3 dataset, and
2) A clear indication of where the data for each site is available. This is quite important, as there are significant differences between the versions of each site’s data at e.g. GHCN and NCAR.”
Without knowing the name and WMO number of each site and the location of the source data (NCAR, GHCN, or National Met Service), it is not possible to access the information. Thus, Exemption 21 does not apply – I still cannot access the data.
I don’t understand why this is so hard. All I am asking for is a simple list of the sites and where each site’s data is located. Pointing at two huge piles of data and saying, in effect, “The data is in there somewhere” does not help at all.
To clarify what I am requesting, I am only asking for a list of the stations used in HadCRUT3, a list that would look like this:WMO# Name Source 58457 HangZhou NCAR 58659 WenZhou NCAR 59316 ShanTou GHCN 57516 ChongQing NMS
etc. for all of the stations used to prepare the HadCRUT3 temperature data. That is the information requested, and it is not available “on non-UEA websites”, or anywhere else that I have been able to find.
I appreciate all of your assistance in this matter, and I trust we can get it resolved satisfactorily.
Again, a simple, polite, scientific request. You said the data was on the web. I simply wanted to know where I could find it. I made it clear that a trivially simple three-column response would suffice. Your new excuse was that some of the data was under distribution restrictions from the originating National Weather Service. I said OK, not a problem. Send me the data that’s not under restrictions.
Internally, the emails (#3298) show that at this time Dave Palmer was discussing these questions with you, saying:
As expected, Mr. Eschenbach is not satisfied with our most recent letter. I guess the essential question is whether we have the list of actual sites used for HadCRUT3 [global temperature reconstruction], and if not, who does….
And indeed, that is a very important question, Dr. Jones. Did the CRU have a list of the actual sites used for HadCRUT3?
Incredibly, the only conclusion can be that the answer was “No”, because subsequently Mr. Palmer wrote back to me and said that UEA was not able to identify the locations on the web where the information was available.
I was totally befuddled at that point, because at the time I was unaware that you didn’t know where the data was located. So I wrote back and said:
Dear Mr. Palmer:
It appears we have gone full circle here, and ended up back where we started. I had originally asked for the raw station data used to produce the HadCRUT3 dataset to be posted up on the UEA website, or made available in some other form. You refused, saying that the information was available elsewhere on non-UEA websites, which is a valid reason for FOI refusals.
“I can report that the information requested is available on non-UEA websites as detailed below.”
Your most recent letter, however, says that you are unable to identify the locations of the requested information. Thus, the original reason for refusing to provide station data for HadCRUT3 was invalid.
Therefore, since the information requested is not available on non-UEA websites, I wish to re-instate my original request, that the information itself be made available on your website or in some other form.
I understand that a small amount of this data (about 2%, according to your letter) is not available due to privacy requests from the countries involved. In that case, a listing of which stations this applies to will suffice.
The HadCRUT3 dataset is one of the fundamental datasets in the current climate discussion. As such, it is vitally important that it can be peer-reviewed and examined to verify its accuracy. The only way this can be done is for the data to be made available to other researchers in the field.
Once again, thank you for your assistance in all of this. It is truly not a difficult request, and is fully in line with both standard scientific practice and your ” CODE OF PRACTICE FOR RESPONDING TO REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000″.
I am sure that we can bring this to a satisfactory resolution without involving appeals or unfavorable publicity.
My best regards to you,
Unfortunately, that letter was of no use either. The recently released Climategate email #1184 shows why, with Mr. David Palmer, as befuddled as I was, discussing my request with you and saying (emphasis mine):
My head is beginning to spin here but I read this as meaning that he wants the raw station data; we don’t know which data belongs to which station, correct? Our letter stated:
“We can, however, send a list of all stations used, but without sources. This would include locations, names and lengths of record, although the latter are no guide as to the completeness of the series.”
Can we put this on the web? Perhaps I am being really thick here but I’m not sure if putting this on the web will actually satisfy Mr. Eschenbach – we’ve said we don’t have data sources, he says the external websites don’t have them, so who does? Are we back to the NMS’s? I am happy to give this one more go, stating exactly what we are putting on the web and seeing if that suffices.
Should Mr. Eschenbach still insist that we actually possess the information in the form he requests, I can then only give the file to Kitty Inglis for review and then we move on formally….
Dave asked, who does have the data? The answer, sadly, turned out to be … nobody. Taken in conjunction with Dave’s earlier email, this makes the problem clear. You didn’t know which data belonged to which stations. And as a result, at the end of the day you put just a list of stations on the web, without any data or references at all to where the data could be found … because you couldn’t find it.
At that point, not knowing any of this backstory revealed by the Climategate emails, I figured I’d never get any more from you than the list of stations, and I gave up the fight. In retrospect, I should have fought all the way to the top with it.
Here’s my problem with all of this, Dr. Jones. You tried out a variety of claimed reasons for not responding to a request for your data. None of them were even remotely true. They were all intended to hide the fact that you didn’t know where the data was. Dave clearly spelled out the problem: “we don’t know which data belongs to which stations, right?”
You claimed that the data was out there on the web somewhere. You claimed you couldn’t send any of it because of restrictions on a few datasets. You claimed it came from GHCN, then you said from NCAR, but you couldn’t say exactly where.
You gave lots and lots of explanations to me, everything except the truth—that your records were in such disarray that you could not fulfill my request. It is clear now from the Climategate emails that some records were there, some were missing, the lists were not up to date, there was orphan data, some stations had multiple sets of data, some data was only identified by folder not by filename, you didn’t know which data might have been covered by confidentiality agreements, and the provenance of some datasets could not be established. The unfortunate reality was that you simply couldn’t do what I asked.
Rather than just saying that, however, you came up with a host of totally bogus reasons why you could not give me the data. Those were lies, Phil. You and David Palmer flat-out lied to my face about why you couldn’t send me the data.
Now, I’ve come to accept that you lied to me. Here’s what I think. I think you are a scientist, and a reasonably good one, who was hard squeezed by two things—the Peter Principle, and Noble Cause Corruption. When you began your scientific career, your sloppy record keeping didn’t matter much. And you didn’t want to be the record keeper in any case, you wanted to do the science instead, but you kept getting promoted and you ended up curating a big messy dataset. Then things changed, and now, climate decisions involving billions of dollars are being made based in part on your data. Disarray in your files didn’t make a lot of difference when your work was of interest only to specialists. But now it matters greatly, money and people’s lives are at stake, and unfortunately you were a better scientist than you were a data manager.
So when my FOI request came along, you were caught. You were legally required to produce data you couldn’t locate. Rather than tell the truth and say “I can’t find it”, you chose to lie. Hey, it was only a small lie, and it was for the Noble Cause of saving the world from Thermageddon. So you had David tell me the data was available on the web. You knew that was a lie. David, apparently, didn’t realize it was a lie, at least at first. You hoped your Noble Lie would satisfy me, that I would get discouraged, and you could move on.
But I asked again, and when I called you on that first answer, you thought up another Noble Lie. And when that one didn’t work, you invented another Noble Lie.
OK, so you are a serial liar. Like I said, I’ve made my peace with that. It used to rankle me, but not any more. I just accepted that you can’t be trusted and I moved on. I do have compassion for you, Dr. Jones. None of you guys set out to do the ugly things you ended up doing. You all got caught by Noble Cause Corruption, by the vision of being smarter than everyone else and of being the only people standing between us and global destruction. It’s heady, treacherous stuff.
I have been a victim of that same self-delusion myself. I understand the sweet seduction that arises from the conviction that your mission is of vital, crucial importance to the whole planet. However, I quit that kind of nonsense around the time the sixties wound down … but again I digress. I have compassion for your position, and I was, although not satisfied, at least at ease with the outcome.
So if I made my peace with you, why am I writing this letter now?
I’m writing because in response to the new Climategate 2.0 email release, over at the UEA website, you have a new post in which you are up to your old tricks, trying to peanut-butter up the cracks in your stories. Inter alia, you are attempting to explain the following two quotes. First, the new release of emails revealed that you had written:
Email 2440: “I’ve been told that IPCC is above national FOI Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the process”
Your explanation of your statement is this:
At the end of the IPCC process, chapters, formal comments and responses are all published and that is the appropriate place for this information. It is important that scientists should be allowed free and frank discussion during the writing process. I might also point out that I decided not to take part in AR5 because of the time commitment it requires.
That sounds perfectly logical … if we were dealing with honest men. But if the Climategate emails have shown anything, they have shown that we are not dealing with honest men. Far too many of the leading AGW supporting climate scientists have been shown by their own words to be serial liars like yourself.
But in any case, only scientists with something to hide need privacy to have a “free and frank discussion” about science. Honest scientists have no reason to hide their views. Honest scientists discuss these scientific issues on the web in the full light of day. Why on earth would someone need privacy to discuss the intricacies of the climate models? Do you really have to go into a closet with your best friend to speak your true mind about atmospheric physics? Is it true that you guys actually need some kind of ‘private space’ to expose your secret inner ideas about the factors affecting the formation of clouds? From my perspective, these kinds of private discussions are not only not what is needed. This two-faced nature of you guys’ statements on the science are a large part of the problem itself.
This is quite visible in the Climategate emails. In your communications, you and many of the scientists are putting out your true views of other scientists and their work. You are expressing all kinds of honest doubts. You are discussing uncertainties in your and other scientists understandings. You are all letting your friends know which papers you think are good and which you think are junk, and that’s valuable information in the climate science discussions.
But you never say any of this in public. Not one word. For example, in public it’s all about how great Michael Mann’s science is, not a word of criticism, while in private some of you guys justifiably tear both him and his work to shreds.
I find this double-speak deceptive and underhanded. It has nothing to do with “free and frank discussion” as you claim. I think that if AGW supporting scientists actually broke down and told the truth to the public, you would fare much better. I think that if you disavowed your beloved Saint Stephen (Schneider) and his advice, and you expressed all of your doubts and revealed all of your uncertainties about the climate and told the plain unvarnished truth about your opinion of other scientists’ work, we’d be infinitely better off. Nobody likes two-faced people. You would be miles ahead if you said the same things in public you say in private, and so would the field of climate science.
For example, the emails clearly show that you privately knew it wasn’t true when you told me that the data for which I had filed an FOI was available on the web. You knew the reason you couldn’t release the data was, as Dave Palmer belatedly found out, that “we don’t know which data belongs to which station, correct?”
You could have told me the truth. But no, you decided to lie to me. And as with Nixon and Watergate, and with Clinton’s impeachment, it’s the cover-up that always brings the real trouble, not the original misdeed. If you had said something like ‘my office is in a mess, I can’t find some of the data, here’s almost all of it, let me get back to you when I can track down the rest’, you could have then put your house in order and sent me the data. And you would have been telling the truth.
Instead, you lied to cover it up. And when it was shown to be untrue, you lied again. And again. Here’s my point—the only reason I know that you lied, the only way you were caught in your lies, was the release of your emails.
And now, you come forth to advocate that everyone destroy their emails once the upcoming IPCC AR5 crime against science has finally been committed? Can’t say I’m impressed by that advice, it seems more than a touch self-serving.
Here’s the thing, Dr. Jones. I don’t trust you. I don’t trust your friends. And I don’t trust your “free and frank discussions” out of sight of the public. This final distrust, of your secret discussions, arises from the same logic the cops use. They don’t give a couple of criminals any private time together for free and frank discussions about how to present believable lies to the police about their crime.
Call me crazy, but for the selfsame reason I don’t want to make it easy for you to hold that kind of free and frank discussions about how to present believable lies to the public about the climate. I don’t want you covertly discussing how to hide the decline. And in the current case, your own words have betrayed you again. You say to the person you are addressing that there is some need to “cover yourself and all those working in AR5″.
So what is it you think they’ll need to cover up this time, Dr. Jones? What is it you assume they will be saying that you don’t want the polloi to know about?
If you truly have something to say about the science, hey, don’t be shy, Doc. Just blurt it out. And if you are unwilling to say something about the science or the scientists in public, DON’T SAY IT IN PRIVATE. That is cowardly backstabbing. Your assumption that the AR5 participants will have something to “cover up”, and your suggestion that they should obliterate and destroy the evidence of their true opinions about the science, are totally congruent with the fact that you were found out by way of your own emails. So of course you don’t want emails around. They proved you were lying, when nothing else could have. In scientific terms, I believe your current reaction to emails is called the “vampire/garlic syndrome”.
When you and your friends get together off the record in your frank discussions, Dr. Jones, you cook up ugly things. The Climategate emails convict you all of this, in your own words. As a result, I do not want to make it easy for you all to compare notes with each other on how to lie to me, on how to subvert the IPCC rules to slip in the next “Jesus Paper“, or on how to further deceive the public. I thank the fates that your emails were released. Without those, we wouldn’t have known you were deceiving us, or why. And I think that destroying the emails related to the IPCC AR5 is just a way to hide further malfeasance.
Your perennial but ultimately quixotic quest to leave no potential evidence un-destroyed comes up again and again in the emails. You try vainly to explain this over at the UEA website, where you refer to an email wherein you say:
Email 1897: “Do I understand it correctly – if he doesn’t pay the £10 we don’t have to respond? With the earlier FOI requests re David Holland, I wasted a part of a day deleting numerous emails and exchanges with almost all the skeptics. So I have virtually nothing. I even deleted the email that I inadvertently sent.”
Your explanation of this is as follows:
This relates to a request from Steve McIntyre made under the Data Protection Act for any personal data held about him. Following a previous experience with FoI, I had adopted a more judicious approach to retention of emails that I no longer needed. I had deleted old exchanges with sceptics I had prior to 2005. I was saying that I probably no longer had any emails relating to Mr McIntyre, a prominent sceptic.
The emails referred to were unrelated to any prior request from Mr Holland. Let me say again that I have never knowingly deleted any material subject to a current FoI request and this email should not be read in that way.
You must be kidding. When the emails are read in order, it is obvious that you destroyed a host of relevant emails once people gave you a nudge and a wink. You were surprisingly blatant in your emails regarding the fact that you were destroying important documents under the guise of “housekeeping”. You really should read your own words again, they make it quite clear that you deleted emails under false pretences.
But that’s not the worst of it. The egregious part was contained in the email you somehow neglected to mention in your recent UEA attempt at self-exoneration. That was the email wherein you counseled deleting evidentiary emails directly covered by David Holland’s FOI request:
Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise… Can you also email Gene [Wahl] and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address. We will be getting Caspar [Ammann] to do likewise.
You not only destroyed emails subject to an FOI request that contained the evidence of your misdeeds. You warned all of your friends to do likewise. Gene Wahl admitted that he destroyed emails at Michael Mann’s behest.
And now you want us to believe that you never destroyed emails under FOI request? That claim doesn’t even pass the laugh test. The Information Commissioner said of your emails and actions that it was not possible to imagine “more cogent” prima facie evidence of contravention of the FOI Act. Unfortunately, as the Commissioner pointed out, the statute of limitations had run out on any crime by that time, so you were off the hook. But the evidence is still there, and the public’s statute of limitations on lying scientists hasn’t run out.
So don’t try to make me believe that you’ve never, ever, oh my no, haven’t ever destroyed emails subject to FOI. Your own words show that’s a joke. And don’t bother telling me that the “investigation” declared that you were whitewashed as pure as driven snow. I know that, I watched them apply the necessary coats of paint, it was quite an impressive process. The facts remain. You erased emails containing evidence of your malfeasance and you advised your confederates to do the same. You lied about it then. You subsequently lied about it to your friends on the in-house whitewash “investigation” committee. And you are lying to us about it now.
And that is the answer to the question why I am writing to you at this time. It’s disquieting enough that neither you, nor any of the other un-indicted co-conspirators, has ever offered up even the slightest word of apology for the flagrant misdeeds and scientific malfeasance revealed by your own words. You guys did huge damage to climate science and to science in general, and none of you have ever breathed even a whisper of an apology. But that’s not the reason I’m writing, because as I said, I’ve made my peace with that. At the end of the day, I realized that you were men without a scrap of honor, so it was quite foolish of me to expect you to apologize.
But for you to stand up and start in again proclaiming your innocence? No way that’s gonna wash. I’m writing because I will not endure your new duplicity in silence. Stop this foolish, futile attempt to rehabilitate your reputation. Your reputation is so shredded and utterly lost at this point that, crazily, I find that my heart goes out to your predicament, calling on you to stop with the mendacity and prevarication, give up on the justifications, and return to your science. Your continued lies only make it worse. Only an apology could possibly begin to rehabilitate your reputation, and you seem totally unwilling to do that.
So in lieu of acknowledging what you’ve done wrong, please just go and work on your science in peace, Dr. Jones, and leave the denials of wrongdoing to those who haven’t done wrong. You have done what you have done, and thanks to the release of the emails your works both good and bad are explained quite eloquently in your own words. My strong suggestion is that if you are unwilling to apologize, that for your own peace of mind you turn the page and leave yesterday behind, stop rehashing your past actions, and move forward to see what remains for you to learn about the climate. I’m sure there must be some small part of climate science left that is not already “settled”, something that you could profitably investigate.
In closing, I am certain that if you wish to respond publicly to this open letter, Anthony would be more than happy to post your reply exactly as written. If you think I am mistaken in any part of what I have said, please let me know, and if you are right I will certainly retract any misstatement and correct the record. Until such time, however, what I wrote above is the truth to the best of my knowledge.