An important problem in climatology involves determining how many points are required to establish a pattern or a trend. It parallels the societal challenge, how many mistakes before a pattern or trend is identified? The societal question applies to climate science, but the line appears unclear. How many scientific mistakes separate incompetence from malfeasance? After watching the corruption of climate science for over 30 years, I believe we crossed the line with creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Its procedures were established to prove the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis. This resulted in the malfeasance of eliminating or evading scientific checks and balances. The question is why is the malfeasance still not fully exposed? Why can people who were exposed and admitted their errors, continue to have credibility, at least in their own minds? Why is there no accountability?
A recent article on Climate Audit examines whether a graph was knowingly, or unknowingly used upside down. The opening comments ask,
Does it matter whether proxies are used upside-down or not?
Maybe not in Mann-world (where, in response to our criticism at PNAS, Mann claimed that it was impossible for him to use series upside-down). But, unlike Mann, Darrell Kaufman acknowledges responsibility for using proxies upside-up. Unfortunately, he and the PAGES2K authors don’t seem to be very diligent in ensuring that they do so.
This story parallels the Tijander graph, an earlier upside-down presentation in the “hockey-stick” debacle that was designed to rewrite history by eliminating the Medieval Warm Period (MWP). Climate Audit also identified and exhaustively examined the Tijander graph.
McIntyre and McKitrick (M&M) are credited with exposure of the inappropriate statistical techniques used by Mann et al, to produce the hockey stick that brought the misuse of climate science by the IPCC into the public forum. However, the late great Australian skeptic John Daly identified the larger problem, before their identification of the technique used. I urge people to read Daly’s remarkable analysis in his article, “The ‘Hockey Stick’: A New Low in Climate Science”. Notice that this article is pre-McIntyre and McKitrick, as there is no reference or citation to their work. Instead, it is a synoptic climate analysis of what is wrong.
I understand McIntyre saw the “hockey stick” graph at a conference and, not knowing it was about global temperature, recognized the form as potentially manipulated, from his statistical experience. M&M’s analysis identified the specifics of how it was created. For some time, commentators on McIntyre’s web site criticized his apparent unwillingness to say Mann’s actions were deliberately deceptive. McIntyre, correctly, initially gave him the benefit of the doubt and assumed it was lack of knowledge and understanding. Ethically, there is a difference between a mistake and a premeditated error. This was the theme of my presentation to the 6th Heartland Climate Conference in Washington D.C, but there, it was the argument that the entire IPCC process was premeditated, as were the results of their computer models.
The misuse of specialized methods and procedures is a fundamental problem caused by climatology being a generalist discipline. Most are specialists in a single component, who then, inappropriately, call themselves climate scientists. When they try to link pieces of the massive system together, they invariably have to use unfamiliar techniques and procedures. The chance of error is high. It is most problematic for computer modelers.
The IPCC brought together such specialists and charged them with proving, rather than disproving, the hypothesis that humans were causing global warming (AGW). It was an unholy alliance that provided an environment for misuse and abuse. They produced scientific proof in subjects they know little about, using techniques and procedures they know even less about. With massive funding and politics it became a recipe for disaster, as evidenced in the leaked Climatic Research Unit (CRU) emails. The end justified the means; do whatever was necessary to show human CO2 was the cause of global warming and temperatures were the highest ever. CRU was a small group and a classic example of Groupthink fuelled by politics, as I explained at the time
“Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision-making.”
Lubos Motl reported Benjamin Santer’s April 25 comment that,
I looked at some of the stuff on the Climate Audit web site. I’d really like to talk to a few of these “Auditors” in a dark alley.
This is the same Santer who, as lead author, changed a pre-agreed IPCC Report. Avery and Singer noted in 2006,
“Santer single-handedly reversed the ‘climate science’ of the whole IPCC report and with it the global warming political process! The ‘discernible human influence’ supposedly revealed by the IPCC has been cited thousands of times since in media around the world, and has been the ‘stopper’ in millions of debates among nonscientists.”
It is hard to believe Santer didn’t know what he was doing. When his changes were exposed, a rapid response was created that appears to be a cover-up. Here is what I wrote, with slight modifications, about the actions taken.
On July 4, 1996, shortly after the disclosure the apparently compliant journal Nature published, “A Search for Human Influences On the Thermal Structure of the Atmosphere” with a familiar list of authors – Santer, Wigley, Jones, Mitchell, Oort and Stouffer. It provided observational evidence that proved the models were accurate. A graph is worth a thousand words as Mann’s “hockey stick’ showed and so it was with Santer’s “discernible human influence”. John Daly recreated Santer et al’s graph (Figure 1) of the upward temperature trend in the Upper Atmosphere.
Then Daly produced a graph of the wider data set in Figure 2 and explains, “we see that the warming indicated in Santer’s version is just a product of the dates chosen” (Daly’s bold).
Errors were spotted quickly, but Nature didn’t publish the rebuttals until 5 months later (12 Dec, 1996) after the article discussed above was released. One identified the cherry picking; the other provided a natural explanation for the pattern. However, by that time the PR cover-up was under way. On July 25, 1996 the American Meteorological Society (AMS) sent a letter of defense to Santer. The letter appears to be evidence of CRU influence and a PR masterpiece. It said there were two questions, the science, and what society must do about scientific findings and the debate they engendered. Science should only be debated in “peer-reviewed scientific publications – not the media.” This was the strategy confirmed in a leaked email from Mann. “This was the danger of always criticizing the skeptics for not publishing in the “peer-reviewed literature”. Then AMS wrote, “What is important scientific information and how it is interpreted in the policy debates is an important part of our jobs.” “That is, after all, the very reasons for the mix of science and policy in the IPCC.” Daly correctly called this “Scientism”.
The rebuttal appears to indicate that Santer knew what he was doing in his original changes to the IPCC Report. He clearly knew about the cherry picked start and end points of the graph. Every graph must have a start and end point, but this example was included in an article written to salvage exposure of his rewording.
Defense of Santer was apparently orchestrated and set a pattern pursued whenever malfeasance was exposed. Use of official agencies to cover malfeasance, explains much of the continuance. It also explains why the perpetrators continue to believe they had done nothing wrong.
Phil Jones called the police following the release of emails. In order to claim they were hacked, he had to admit they were genuine. Results were meaningless, because the investigation dragged out until the Statute of Limitations expired. In a contradictory conclusion the police said,
“The international dimension of investigating the World Wide Web especially has proved extremely challenging.”…“However, as a result of our enquiries, we can say that the data breach was the result of a sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack on the CRU’s data files, carried out remotely via the internet.”
This is simply not believable, given the degree of spying and snooping done on ordinary citizens and the amount of knowledge required to select 1000 emails from some 220,000 There are three choices; they are incompetent, deliberately misleading, or both. Regardless, it was too slow to counter the loss of credibility of the entire IPCC operation.
As a result, an all out blitz of five controlled investigations were initiated, all orchestrated to mislead and divert. Hans van Storch wrote about the 3 UK inquiries,
“We have to take a self-critical view of what happened. Nothing ought to be swept under the carpet. Some of the Inquiries—like—in the UK—did exactly the latter. They blew an opportunity to restore trust.”
Lord Oxburgh was appointed to chair one inquiry.
Oxburgh was compromised because he is a Fellow of the Royal Society, but more important, he is CEO of Carbon Capture and Storage Association and Chairman of Falck Renewable Resources that benefit from the claim that human CO2 is causing warming. He also promoted the warming claim as UK Vice-Chair of GLOBE International, a consortium of Industry, NGOs’ and Government that lobbies for global warming policy.
A list of problems with the Oxburgh Inquiry follows.
· The Oxburgh Inquiry was directed to examine the CRU science, but to do that.
· There were no public hearings.
· There was no call for evidence.
· Only 11 academic papers were examined, a list vetted by Phil Jones, Director of the CRU, the agency that was being investigated.
· Only unrecorded closed interviews with CRU staff were held.
· There were no meetings with CRU critics.
· UEA had effective control of the Inquiry throughout.
· The UK House of Commons Select Committee grilled Oxburgh on the shallowness of his study and report, and its failure to review the science as promised.
“Secrecy was the order of the day at CRU. “We find that there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness,” says the report. That criticism applied not just to Jones and his team at CRU. It applied equally to the university itself, which may have been embarrassed to find itself in the dock as much as the scientists on whom it asked Russell to sit in judgment.”
Everybody makes mistakes in science, but normally, they are identified in the ideally impersonal and professional peer review process. In Santer’s case, his fellow authors did the peer review. He chose to override their concerns and got caught. The hockey stick article was peer reviewed, but as Professor Wegman, in his report to a congressional committee wrote,
In our further exploration of the social network of authorships in temperature reconstruction, we found that at least 43 authors have direct ties to Dr. Mann by virtue of coauthored papers with him. Our findings from this analysis suggest that authors in the area of paleoclimate studies are closely connected and thus ‘independent studies’ may not be as independent as they might appear on the surface.
This finding was confirmed in the leaked CRU emails. Corruption of that process by CRU scientists meant mistakes, deliberate or unintentional, entered the scientific record. In addition, cover-up and refusal to disclose data became a standard. Wegman wrote,
It is not clear that Mann and associates realized the error in their methodology at the time of publication. Because of the lack of full documentation of their data and computer code, we have not been able to reproduce their research. We did, however, successfully recapture similar results to those of MM (McIntyre and McKitrick). This recreation supports the critique of the MBH98 methods, as the offset of the mean value creates an artificially large deviation from the desired mean value of zero.
They knew why people wanted the data. Phil Jones 21 February 2005 replied to Warwick Hughes’ request for data as follows.
“We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.”
Later Jones said he had lost the data. Will other data go missing?
What is important is the nature of the error. If it was pivotal to a thesis or a scientific conclusion, then the error was due to incompetence or intent. Either way, the person responsible is professionally inadequate for their position and their claims.
Pivotal to IPCC’s objective was the need to prove human production of CO2 was causing temperature increases and creating temperatures higher than any in history. Is it coincidence that these are the areas where science was created to predetermine the result? It appears they trace out a pattern of errors that are evidence of malfeasance. Unfortunately, I am unaware of any accountability, but that is general situation with the connected dots of malfeasance in today’s society.