Pielke Sr: No surprise about BEST

Dr. Roger pielke confirms a point made in comments in my earlier post on BEST about all data coming from a single source, which is the National Climatic Data Center. (NCDC)

By Dr. Roger Pielke Senior

Comment On The Article in the Economist On Rich Muller’s Data Analysis

On Climate Etc, Judy Curry posted

Berkeley Surface Temperatures: Released

which refers the Economist article

A new analysis of the temperature record leaves little room for the doubters. The world is warming

The Economist article includes the text

There are three compilations of mean global temperatures, each one based on readings from thousands of thermometers, kept in weather stations and aboard ships, going back over 150 years. Two are American, provided by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), one is a collaboration between Britain’s Met Office and the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (known as Hadley CRU). And all suggest a similar pattern of warming: amounting to about 0.9°C over land in the past half century.

The nearly identical trends is no surprise as they draw from mostly the same raw data!

I discussed this most recently in my post

Erroneous Information In The Report “Procedural Review of EPA’s Greenhouse Gases Endangerment Finding Data Quality Processes

The new Muller et al study, therefore,   has a very major unanswered question. I have asked it on Judy’s weblog since she is a co-author of these studies [and Muller never replied to my request to answer this question].

Hi Judy – I encourage you to document how much overlap there is in Muller’s analysis with the locations used by GISS, NCDC and CRU. In our paper

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229. http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/r-321.pdf

we reported that

“The raw surface temperature data from which all of the different global surface temperature trend analyses are derived are essentially the same. The best estimate that has been reported is that 90–95% of the raw data in each of the analyses is the same (P. Jones, personal communication, 2003).”

Unless, Muller pulls from a significanty different set of raw data, it is no surprise that his trends are the same.

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Anthony, I hope Dr. Muller had the courtesy to let you know about (x-posted from BH where I was when I found it):
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204422404576594872796327348.html WSJ October 21, 2011
The Case Against Global-Warming Skepticism
There were good reasons for doubt, until now.
By RICHARD A. MULLER
Are you a global warming skeptic? There are plenty of good reasons why you might be.
As many as 757 stations in the United States recorded net surface-temperature cooling over the past century. Many are concentrated in the southeast, where some people attribute tornadoes and hurricanes to warming.
The temperature-station quality is largely awful. The most important stations in the U.S. are included in the Department of Energy’s Historical Climatology Network. A careful survey of these stations by a team led by meteorologist Anthony Watts showed that 70% of these stations have such poor siting that, by the U.S. government’s own measure, they result in temperature uncertainties of between two and five degrees Celsius or more. We do not know how much worse are the stations in the developing world.
Using data from all these poor stations, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates an average global 0.64ºC temperature rise in the past 50 years, “most” of which the IPCC says is due to humans. Yet the margin of error for the stations is at least three times larger than the estimated warming.
[…]
Without good answers to all these complaints, global-warming skepticism seems sensible. But now let me explain why you should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer.
Over the last two years, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project has looked deeply at all the issues raised above. I chaired our group, which just submitted four detailed papers on our results to peer-reviewed journals. We have now posted these papers online at http://www.BerkeleyEarth.org to solicit even more scrutiny.
[…]
Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate. How much of the warming is due to humans and what will be the likely effects? We made no independent assessment of that.
REPLY: No, he didn’t your notice is the first I’ve seen of it. But no matter – Anthony

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

Once again, it’s proven you can’t pull a bucketful of gold out of a septic tank, and all the bucketfuls pulled out will look remarkably similar, smell about the same as well. Go figure.

While the paper does use GHCN data, the last line mentions “In another paper, we will report on the results of analyzing a much larger data set based on a merging of most of the world’s openly available digitized data, consisting of data taken at over 39,000 stations, more than 5 times larger than the data set used by NOAA.” So you may hold out hope that this much larger dataset will show different results, but having worked with much of that data myself (GSOD, GHCN-Daily, ISH, etc.) I wouldn’t advise holding out much hope. Its also worth mentioning that the BEST approach uses raw (rather than homogenized) data and applies their own novel method to deal with breakpoints, but obtains results quite similar to those of NOAA.
The current paper is mostly about developing new methods for station combination (least squares method), homogenization (the scalpel), and spatial interpolation. The next will be a synthesis of the various additional temperature records that they have compiled.

Mike Bromley the Kurd

Oh gee, they’ve toned it down a hair. We’re “doubters” now. But what they seem to forget is that nobody doubts or denies anything. The world warms. The world cools. The sea rises. The sea falls. Sorry, we just doubt that the world is climatically invariant, which is your REAL issue, and one you cannot sidestep. The whole crumbling house of cards is built on that constancy premise, so any change must have a “cause”, but it can’t be just normal…or natural. Get over it….!

Download the data and read the file called sources.

philip Bradley

The arithmetic mean of Tmax and Tmin is not the ‘average temperature’.
In order, get an ‘average’ you would need to sample randomly or at fixed times and average.
Its time to move on to better datasets than Tmin/Tmax, which do exist, eg in Australia there are fixed time temperature datasets going back 60 years.
And surprise, surprise these datasets don’t show anything like the warming the Tmin/Tmax datasets show.
What they do show is a marked warming just after dawn that reduces thru the day and no warming at all at night.
Something is increasing Tmin, and that something is increased early morning solar insolation due to reduced haze and particulate pollution over the last 50 years.

Rick Perry

Let’s see, which book will I buy from this site:
The Hockey Stick Illusion or
Climategate: The Crutape Letters or
The Great Global Warming BLUNDER – How Mother Nature Fooled the World’s Top Climate Scientists or maybe
Evidence-Based Climate Science: Data opposing CO2 emissions as the primary source of global warming?
Or should I just buy the coffee cup that pictures a scientist lying to me, in order to protect his grant money? That one makes me laugh! Or the T-shirt with the dumb scientist that his heating up the weather station with a barbeque. UHH, barbeques are HOT you dummy! LOL.
Whichever it is, gotta move fast, losing Muller is shaking my faith!

Ian H

Even with 95% overlap in the underlying data, having three independent analyses does serve a purpose. Namely it constrains the extent to which the results can have been bent to achieve the desired result. Also the Climategate revelations essentially completely destroyed the credibility of the CRU so having other people look at the data is helpful.

Andrew Harding

I thought the science was settled and us sceptics were deniers, mentally deficient and/or deluded?
These people remind me of very insecure children; constantly needing reassurance that what little Johnny says about them in the playground isn’t true, is it?

I red one of the 4 papers, the one I am particularly interested in:
Decadal Variations in the Global Atmospheric Land Temperatures
http://berkeleyearth.org/Resources/Berkeley_Earth_Decadal_Variations
I’ve been looking into the N. Atlantic SST (and its derivative AMO) for some time now, even as a novice in this field, I found it wanting.
If you do understand the AMO, and it appears that even the ‘experts’ do not, have a read.

Freddy

The first comment above quotes Muller as saying :
“Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate. How much of the warming is due to humans and what will be the likely effects? We made no independent assessment of that.”
Sorry, what are we disagreeing with ?

I think Muller et al may need to do more to distinguish between (1) absolute levels in UHI and non-UHI sites, (2) respective trends thereof, (3) trends in the rates of change of the trends, and (4) eliminate all data sets before 1950, as it was only then that global coverage reached 70%.

From my quick read of this post, I have to add that my take is different. What I really see here is in the category of replication – did they handle their given data correctly, given their conclusions? This is not merely basic, it is fundamental to sound science.
The uncertainties are well noted – something lacking in the breathless SPM media stories and their many iterations. After this come questions about data adjustment and alterations over time – a huge issue, officially untouched. Which means “Trust us – we’re scientists.”
Another issue is data supplementation: should other data sets (for instance, one thinks of DMIs arctic data) be included or not? This is also a large, looming issue.
In short, “it ain’t over ’til it’s over.” Then the pronouncements will gain force, because the data will speak loud and clear.

Dr. Pielke,
I believe the BEST results using all 39,000 stations can be found here: http://berkeleyearth.org/movies.php
As Mosh mentions, the data and code is also available for download.

@- Pielke Sr
“Unless, Muller pulls from a significanty different set of raw data, it is no surprise that his trends are the same.”
The point is not that three groups find the same trend in the same data, its that NONE of the studies show any significance difference in trend between urban and rural sites. The meme that the warming is exaggerated by the UHI effect is refuted.

BioBob

“philip Bradley says:
October 20, 2011 at 11:31 pm
The arithmetic mean of Tmax and Tmin is not the ‘average temperature’.”
It is definitely an average. However, it is not necessarily an accurate arithmetic mean of all possible temperatures in that population (of a particular moment in time), which is, I think what you are getting at. A single non-random measurement from a population is NEVER an accurate representation of a normal distribution (n=1 lol), which means that many of the parametric statistics employed by AGW “scientists” could and probably does generate misleading and inaccurate results.
.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

Wow, the BEST people sure are confident. From their two page summary of the main findings (pdf):

Four scientific papers setting out these conclusions have been submitted for peer review and will form part of the literature for the next IPCC report on climate change.

1. They ALREADY know their papers WILL pass peer review and be published and WILL be used for the next IPCC report. What’s the deadline? Is there enough time for any revisions?
2. That’s a manual copying from the document. Using two different pdf readers, all that would copy-and-paste was a string of nonsense characters. So much for “open and accessible.” Anyone else get that problem?

Stephen Brown

Richard Black of the BBC is all over this ‘news’.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15373071
He specifically states that the Berkeley Project ‘validate’ Prof. Jones’ findings.

Phil

The BEST analysis is not based on data. It is based on monthly averages. Monthly averages are not a measurable quantity – they are a construction. Monthly averages have been computed “at least 101 different ways” (Peterson, Vose 1997). Mathematically, monthly averages are a strange sort of smooth, albeit with windows of different length (sometimes 28, sometimes 30 and sometimes 31 days) and computed at different intervals. A 30-day moving average would make more sense. It seems, at first blush, that the BEST analysis does not assign any uncertainty to the monthly averages themselves. Indeed, in the file called data.txt, the column labeled “uncertainty” has the value 0.0000 for all monthly average statistics for all stations.

LazyTeenager

Unless, Muller pulls from a significanty different set of raw data, it is no surprise that his trends are the same.
————-
I also would have been surprised if the results had been different, as I also understood that the raw data was pretty much the same.
However the point of the exercise was to prove whether or not the other analyses were faulty due to either bad analytical techniques or due to deliberate data fudging.
It is now proven that that many of the accusations made against climate scientists in this area were false.
Although I expect that many of the people who will not believe no matter, what will now expand the scope of their favorite conspiracy theory to include the BEST researchers.

Stephen Brown,
Inasmuch as it shows values comparable to HadCRUT using a much larger set of stations (39,000 vs 7,000), I’d consider it a validation. The BEST folks have an updated comparison graph using all stations (rather than just the GHCN stations included in the draft paper) here: http://berkeleyearth.org/analysis.php

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

Curious statements found in that two page summary (bold added):

The Berkeley Earth study did not assess temperature changes in the oceans, which according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have not warmed as much as on land. When averaged in, they reduce the global surface temperature rise over the past 50 years — the period during which the human effect on temperatures is discernable — to about two thirds of one degree Celsius.

and

What Berkeley Earth has not done is make an independent assessment of how much of the observed warming is due to human actions, Richard Muller acknowledged. As a next step, Berkeley Earth plans to address the total warming of the oceans, with a view to obtaining a more accurate figure for the total amount of global warming observable.

1. They know the human effect is “discernable” (should be discernible) in the last 50 years, although they have not assessed how much of the warming is human caused. Thus the revealed assumption is that humans have had a large enough effect to discern from the records. Is that a valid assumption?
2. They also know how much of a difference figuring in the oceans makes when figuring the land+sea global warming amount, and will now start figuring how much ocean warming there was to get accurate numbers to figure out what is the land+sea global warming amount. Nothing like the confidence of knowing what the result will be before looking for it.
And having read here many times about the paucity of historical ocean temperature data and the headaches of constructing records resembling anything like reliable and accurate, the BEST team must indeed have a very confident set of cojones!

Steve (Paris)

The BBC are going gangbusters on the melting planet this morning – have even rolled out the Phil Jones ‘significant warming since 1995’ trope.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/
Ok, maybe not a conspiracy but sure smacks of an orchestrated PR drive ahead of Durban. But I guess they think the public is too stupid to notice.

Posted on October 20, 2011 by Anthony Watts
By Dr. Roger Pielke Senior
Comment On The Article in the Economist On Rich Muller’s Data Analysis
“The nearly identical trends is no surprise as they draw from mostly the same raw data!”

I think there are some excellent high frequency global temperature reconstructions for the last two millennia (A. Moberg et al.) and they should be the reference for any scientific method to explain the causes. Because of the well known oscillations of the axis of the earth (chandler wobble), atmosphere (QBO) and ENSO [frequency ratio: 4:2:1] it seems to be important to discriminate these terrestrial impedances from the heat power current variation from the Sun.
There is no scientific need for trends in understanding the reconstructed global temperature spectra; each high frequency peak has a cause.
There is a difference in the meaning of reconstructed (absolute) temperature values and its frequencies. The meaning of the frequencies is higher, because they my lead to a physical mechanism. There is no real global temperature, there is a variable heat source named Sun which drives the local temperatures over the time superimposed by the terrestrial impedances.
There is a temperature table from UAH since AD 1659 available including the average temperature of each year. Despite the amplitude of that data it is remarkable look at a comparison of this high frequency data with some synodic frequencies of couples in the solar system with rough hand fitted amplitudes:
http://www.volker-doormann.org/images/uah_1650_2010_ghi6.gif
This graph may demonstrate that the method filtering (“trend”) high frequency temperature data is problematic; it suppresses important high frequency data for the idol of a ‘democratic best absolute global temperature trend’.
V.

I am puzzled that these people here keep on reporting on only the average temp.s differences’, when clearly you have to look at the average temp.s differences of maxima, means and minima together, and their ratio to each other. In other words, there should be 3 plots.
http://www.letterdash.com/HenryP/henrys-pool-table-on-global-warming

If you want to see a genuine re-analysis of the raw data rather than just another Tmin/Tmax rehashing, see: J.-L. Le Mouël et al., Evidence for a solar signature in 20th-century temperature data from the USA and Europe, C. R. Geoscience (2008)1.
Funny how the peer-reviewed re-analysis of J.-L. Le Mouël et al., 2008 merited no headlines apart from WUWT and other skeptic outlets, while BEST’s non-peer-reviewed rehashing it in THREE INCH headlines around the world.
Speaking only for myself, I’ve never had much of a problem with HadCRUT3, apart from their misrepresentation of the uncertainty in the data & analysis. GISTEMP is the one in which “the nature of the measurements obtained” appears to have been improperly influenced “so that the key evidence can be obtained.”
BEST has basically added a fourth GIGO to the mix.

LarryT

I still think that my main conclusion of the temperature data collected proves one thing and one thing only.The temperature measured at airports (where too many stations are located) has increased due to construction, increase passenger volume and changes in airplanes

Caleb

Forgive me for a simple-minded question, but what does this “new” approach mean, regarding Hansen’s “adjustments.”
Is the BEST data saying “adjustments” are not needed, in which case we can throw away Hansen’s “adjustments?”
Does the BEST data include Hansen’s “adjustments,” in which case we are where we started?
Does the BEST data include a whole new family of “adjustments?”
Is the raw data truly “raw?”

Alan the Brit

Well, they show that the atmosphere over land has warmed over 150 years! I see no evidence to link this to human activities, just coincidence so far, but they conclude that this is proof of human CO2 emissions causing warming? Weird! Also the BBC claimed this morning in the 7:00am news on Radio 2 this group used to be “skeptical” but now miraculously they are now warmist!

Alan the Brit

Also I forgot to ask, why does their graph stop in 2006, this is tail ending 2011 now so why the convenient cut-off date? That makes me suspicous for a start!

J.H.

Skeptics have no issue with the world warming…. It’s natural…. The same with Climate Change. That is natural too…. The issue is the anthropogenic component of the warming as is proposed by the AGW hypothesis…. Why do the AGW proponents keep trying to tell us what our arguements are?
Now…. can they get on with directing us to their observational data that shows this anthropogenic signal of warming so as to confirm their Hypothesis….. To date, there has been no such data.

Richard Saumarez

I’ve been looking at the GHCN data from a different perspective, so I wasn’t looking at the data from a global trend standpoint. Yesterday, I did a quality control exercise. By selecting 15 stations at random, 4 had series that lasted nearly a century, but contained minimal data, 3 had unexplained “jumps” in the data of well over 2oC ,two showed negative trends and the rest showed positive trends in region of 1.2 C/century. Were one asked to make a judgement on data of this quality in process control or medicine, one would decline to do so.
The primary data appears to me to be very uncertain. I am well aware that statistics is the art of making judgements in the light of uncertainty, but I am unimpressed by the quality of the primary data.

Bill Illis

In one of the papers, BEST presents a random selection of the 39,000 stations which were not used by the other groups. The dropped stations in other words.
Figure 1: it is quite different.
http://berkeleyearth.org/Resources/Berkeley_Earth_Decadal_Variations
One thing to note is using a baseline of 1950 to 1980 and then charting the data from 1950 to 2010 will naturally force the lines to appear to match up in the middle. They all average Zero from 1950 to 1980. They will naturally look to be the same in this period. This is a very important point that chart viewers need to take in account. [I’m a numbers/chart person so perhaps this is just something that I’m tuned into but it is a real effect].
It is only at the end points where differences will appear in a chart designed like this (as in Figure 1, where the random BEST stations are 0.3C below GISS/Hadcrut and 0.4C below NOAA in 2010) .
BEST random – ends at 0.54C in 2010.
NOAA All – ends at 0.95C in 2010.

Neil Jones

This is a seriously coordinated media event, I’ve just been on the Telegraph web-site where the “Pro” posters are out in force. Along with the usual insults and lack of substantiated “science” there is now comparison with the Taliban just for good measure.

Rocky Dog

Can anyone explain this to me:
The Little Ice Age is accepted by practically everyone. We are coming out of the LIA. It is expected that the world will warm when it comes out of a cold period. If we all agree that the world warms when it exits a tiny ice age, then why are we all surprised that the world is warming?

David

izen says:
October 21, 2011 at 12:07 am
@- Pielke Sr
“Unless, Muller pulls from a significanty different set of raw data, it is no surprise that his trends are the same.”
The point is not that three groups find the same trend in the same data, its that NONE of the studies show any significance difference in trend between urban and rural sites. The meme that the warming is exaggerated by the UHI effect is refuted.”
Concerning UHI I think that Roy Spencer did some work showing that UHI effect can and does happen in very small rural communties, which if true brings UHI back into force as a strong factor in average temperature. Lucy does a good write up on UHI here…http://www.greenworldtrust.org.uk/Science/Scientific/UHI.htm which I would like to see Steve Mosher comment on.

Lord Beaverbrook

The Case Against Global-Warming Skepticism
There were good reasons for doubt, until now.
By RICHARD A. MULLER
Are you a global warming skeptic? There are plenty of good reasons why you might be.

Without good answers to all these complaints, global-warming skepticism seems sensible. But now let me explain why you should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer.

Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate. How much of the warming is due to humans and what will be the likely effects? We made no independent assessment of that.

For many, including many journalists, a simple take-away from this will be that “global warming skeptics” are wrong.
There is absolutely no reason for Muller to use this terminology. The revelation of his analysis isn’t that we have been warming (since the end of the LIA), it is that the possible error in the global temperature reporting system may be less than we thought.
I guess “Global Temperature Reporting systems error less than we thought” wouldn’t show enough “team spirit” as a heading that wrongly belittles skeptics.
But, to be fair, let’s do a quick test:
all the “skeptics” who do not think we have been warming since the end of the LIA, raise you hand.
Hmm… I don’t see any hands raised. Seems pretty conclusive to me.
Even so, I’m sure Muller has fooled some of the people, at least this time.

jason

Considering nobody knows the composition of the land directly around half the stations, I find it amazing they can discern “rural”….

rpielke

Zeke Hausfather – I realize that he has a much larger set of locations, but many of them are very short term in duration (as I read from his write up). Moreover, if they are in nearly the same geographic location as the GHCN sites, they are not providing much independent new information.
What I would like to see is a map with the GHCN sites and with the added sites from Muller et al. The years of record for his added sites should be given. Also, were the GHCN sites excluded when they did their trend assessment? If not, and the results are weighted by the years of record, this would bias the results towards the GHCN trends.
The evaluation of the degree of indepenence of the Muller et al sites from the GHCN needs to be quantified.
Perhaps they have done these evaluations. However, from my reading of their work, I have not yet seen it.

Tim Minchin

Apart from the spelling error – “Why do the AGW proponents keep trying to tell us what our arguements (sic) are?” …. EXACTLY. They are champs at knocking down straw men.

thedudeabides

Why don’t we all just accept the fact that the earth is warming and move on from there? How many studies coming to the same conclusion does it take?

Greg Holmes

No one as far as I can see has denied that the earth has got warmer, what they do deny is that the cause is Co2 a trace gas, 0.038 % of the available gas in the atmosphere, it is crazy.
There is a big orange ball in the sky, we call it the SUN, it waxes and wanes, gets hotter and cooler. maybe, just maybe that is the culprit, but it is not taxable, yet>

Pamela Gray

I agree with the comment early on in the thread. The so called “average” of Tmax and Tmin cannot be statistically supported. If global warming is real, the signature will be much clearer in the details of temperature over a 24 hour period, each day, over each season, and over at least 70 to 80 year periods.

DCA

Rick Perry,
I know It’s a long shot, but are you Texas Gov. and presidential candidate Rick Perry?

rpielke says: October 21, 2011 at 6:22 am
“What I would like to see is a map with the GHCN sites and with the added sites from Muller et al.”

In a comment at Judy Curry’s I mentioned a KMZ file which shows the 36700 BEST stations in Google Earth. I’m hoping to extend this to show GHCN also, much as you suggest, when Ive been able to get the years of observation for the BEST sites.

Ray

What’s the point of this? Didn’t the Hockey Team use station data to hide the decline?

thedudeabides says:
October 21, 2011 at 6:52 am
Why don’t we all just accept the fact that the earth is warming and move on from there? How many studies coming to the same conclusion does it take?

No one is arguing that the Earth’s climate hasn’t warmed over the last 400 years. HadCRUT3 and OHC (Levitus) indicate no warming over the last decade – But that doesn’t mean that the millennial-scale warm up since ~1600 AD has ended.

Greg Holmes

I really do not care if the earth is warming.I hate the cold , it kills people really quickly. I do really care that the blame be laid at the door of a trace gas, of which mankind contibutes an even tinier amount. This trace gas, is now the excuse for trillions of extra charges being applied to energy prices, green taxes etc, Old folk will die, turning off their heating because the bills are now too high. It is a form of genocide, keeps the health costs down (sarc) but maybe?

Rob Potter

The issues for us here in the non-alarmist camp are not the temperatures for the last 30 years (well, not in terms of alarmism), but the way that the temperatures prior to this have been massaged to make the last 30 years “the warmest ever” (TM).
So far, all that BEST have done is to say (and I don’t make any comment on how accurate their statement is) that the flaws in the collection of US data pointed out in the Surface Stations project don’t matter and that the previously published surface temperature records are broadly accurate (for the last 30 years).
Now, since very few people in the non-alarmist camp have ever denied that it has got warmer in the past 30 years, what does this do to the position that anthropogenic CO2 is not the cause of warming? Nothing. Nada. Zilch
Even Muller says this. So, his point that “being a skeptic just got harder” is nothing more than a straw man argument and reveals that he is not the “independent reviewer” that he claims to be.
Game over as far as I am concerned – this is another bucket of whitewash.