UPDATE: A prescient comment from Willis Eschenbach has been added to the body of the story, see below.
There’ an article in Nature Magazine which is an interview with Phil Jones of the CRU regarding his role in Climategate and what has happened in the past year. It seems to be mostly a sappy rehabilitation piece where Dr. Jones gets to play the victim and the reporter is fully sympathetic. Even more troublesome, Dr. Jones seems to have fully rationalized everything that has happened in the past year.
For example, we all vividly remember this email:
From: Michael Mann email@example.com To: Phil Jones firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: IPCC & FOI Date: Thu, 29 May 2008 08:12:02 -0400 Reply-to: email@example.com Hi Phil, laughable that CA would claim to have discovered the problem. They would have run off to the Wall Street Journal for an exclusive were that to have been true. I'll contact Gene about this ASAP. His new email is: firstname.lastname@example.org talk to you later, mike Phil Jones wrote: > >> Mike, > Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? > Keith will do likewise. He's not in at the moment - minor family crisis. > > Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don't > have his new email address. > > We will be getting Caspar to do likewise. > > I see that CA claim they discovered the 1945 problem in the Nature > paper!! > > Cheers > Phil > > Prof. Phil Jones > Climatic Research Unit Telephone [removed] > School of Environmental Sciences Fax [removed] > University of East Anglia > Norwich Email email@example.com > NR4 7TJ > UK
Look at what he says now about email deletion in the context of the ongoing FOI requests:
“We just thought if they’re going to ask for more, we might as well not have them.”
Regarding the Chinese Weather Station fiasco:
Jones said in a separate interview with Nature2 that he was considering a correction. He now says such a step is unnecessary and that he stands by the claims in the paper. He was on medication during the previous interview, he says, and felt under pressure then to publicly concede that he had made mistakes. He says the description of weather-station
movement “has been completely misinterpreted”.
The set of 84 Chinese stations referred to in the paper were drawn from a larger group of 265, for which the Chinese had location histories. Jones and his colleagues did not claim
that none of the selected stations had moved, only that they picked out ones that had moved the least, he says.
Such shifts do not significantly affect results, Jones says, because there was no general pattern to the station relocation: on average, ones moving to colder places were balanced by ones moving to warmer spots. But the Chinese scientist who supplied the station information has now retired and the authorities there have not released the full station-history data — making it impossible for Jones, he says, to provide the evidence to support the statement.
Okaaaayyyy. I call BS on this, because 20 years later, NCDC’s Dr. Matt Menne developed USHCN2, with a change point detection algorithm in it specifically to detect and correct change points in temperature data resulting from station moves. If station moves “don’t significantly affect results”, why did NCDC dedicate so much time and effort to develop such an algorithm? Either Dr. Jones is in CYA mode, uninformed, or both.
Professor Jones apparently hasn’t learned anything except this:
“I’m a little more guarded about what I say in e-mails now,” he says. “One thing in particular I’m doing is not responding so quickly. I might have got an e-mail in the past and responded with an instant thought in the next 10 to 15 minutes, whereas now I might leave it a day.”
In a time-line of the career of Professor Jones, the November 2010 entry is interesting:
Jones tells Nature he is on the mend, but still fears more e-mails could be released in the future.
“Jones and others connected to the CRU fear the hackers may be sitting on more stolen e-mails, but Jones feels confident the worst is behind him.”
Here’s the article in Nature Magazine (PDF)
h/t to Shub Niggurath
UPDATE: I’ve added this from comments as it is very germane to the story”
I enjoyed this from the Nature article:
The e-mails also triggered several official investigations, including one by the UK Parliament, which ultimately determined that Jones had not committed any serious offences. Case closed.
As my daughter says, “In your dreams, Dad”.
They were more subtle in their timeline, lying by omission.
2005 Britain introduces the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, giving critics a legal route to demand data from Jones and the CRU (above).
July 2009 The CRU receives 58 FOI requests in under a week as part of a blog campaign.
Makes it sound like things were going swimmingly, then suddenly the CRU is bombed with FOI requests.
In fact, I made the first request in (IIRC) 2006 for the CRU data. It was turned down. Other requests were made. We got the list of stations but not the data. They claimed there were secrecy agreements. We said OK, show us the agreements. They refused. We filed FOI requests for specific countries, about six countries at a time. That was to avoid any one of them being rejected because they entailed too much work.
That’s how we got to 58 requests in a week. Because they had blown off all of our FOI requests that had gone in one by one.
You don’t want to get 58 FOI requests, Phil?
Try answering the first one. If he had answered my initial FOI request, that would have been it for requests for the data. He could have avoided a host of grief.
Of course, the emails about the IPCC subversion were a different matter. Those are the ones that mysteriously vanished … Phil says he didn’t delete them, but somehow, they’re still gone.
Curiously, I find I feel sorry for him. He was caught in a paradigm shift, where suddenly his scientific work was being used to justify billions of dollars in expenditures. His knowledge and standards of data handling and documentation were insufficient, perhaps even wildly insufficient, to the task. They were fine when it was just him in his office fiddling with the global temperature. But …
For example, when I asked Phil for the data, I assumed it would be like almost every other database of climate information I’d dealt with. It would be in one single block, with the rows representing years and columns for station identification, monthly data, and the like. I thought it would be easy for him to email me that single block of data.
Instead, as the CRU HARRY_READ_ME file showed, there were hundreds and hundreds of individual data files. In addition, there were often identically named files that were for different stations, there was no semblance of version control, and no overall record of what files were, or where they might be located.
I was astounded when I read that. Everybody puts their data in a single block, with perhaps a second block for metadata … everybody but CRU, it seems …
That’s what I mean about how his skills and knowledge weren’t up to the task.