Tag Archives: IPCC

The IPCC AR5 Leak: why do the IPCC object?

There has been considerable excitement over the AR5 leak (for those not so involved in the climate change debate, this the latest major report from the IPCC). The leak was made by Alex Rawls, an expert reviewer on the IPCC, and he says:

I believe that the leaking of this draft is entirely legal, that the taxpayer funded report report is properly in the public domain under the Freedom of Information Act, and that making it available to the public is in any case protected by established legal and ethical standards […]

With regards to whether the leaking is a good or bad thing, in an ethical sense, Donna Laframboise covers the question extremely well, by quoting Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the IPCC, on his views and statements about transparency. This is just one of several quotes provided by Donna:

“So you can’t think of a more transparent process…than what we have in the IPCC. I would only put that forward as valid reasons to accept the science and the scientific assessments that are carried out.” – newspaper interview, June 2007

In light of the many quotes that emphasise transparency, the publication of an interim draft should not raise any problems, as it shows an element of the process in developing the final report. This seems to be the meaning of transparency; showing the stages and processes for how conclusions were developed in the IPCC reports. However, the IPCC is unhappy about the leak, and the Guardian reports:

The IPCC, which confirmed the draft is genuine, said in a statement: “The IPCC regrets this unauthorized posting which interferes with the process of assessment and review. We will continue not to comment on the contents of draft reports, as they are works in progress.”

As such, it seems that the idea of transparency is more rhetoric than reality. Indeed, one would have thought that, if the IPCC really did value transparency, they would be celebrating the interest that the leak has generated; there is considerable interest in their process. Furthermore, it is not entirely clear how leaking the report might interfere in the review process. Is it that the leaked report will make reviewers alter the nature of their reviews? Surely a review should be an objective assessment of the nature of the science being presented, and should therefore be ‘immune’ from any commentary that might be made on the basis of the leak.

There are some concerns regarding the leak. The first is that Alex Rawls also discussed that the leaked report includes admission of enhanced solar forcing. This part of the story has been taken up by several people, such as James Delingpole in the Telegraph. I will leave the analysis of the science to others, but the gist of the story is that sections of the report admit that solar forcing has a greater impact on the climate than previously accepted. However, there are indications that the conclusions being drawn do not reflect the actual substance of the report overall. For example, at the Reference Frame blog, the conclusion is that the only real change is that there are now references to the work of Svensmark et al., which offers a consideration of mechanisms for solar forcing. The post concludes:

The situation, as I see it, is that the IPCC writing process is still controlled purely by the staunch, stubborn alarmists. They may have just split into several camps that differ in the opinion whether it should be legal to pronounce the name of Henrik Svensmark, albeit with a negative sentence required immediately afterwords, or whether his name should remain a blasphemy.

The question of what the report really proposes will no doubt be clarified over time as the science focused blogs start to digest the detail of the report. In the meantime, I would urge caution, and not jumping to hasty pronouncements over the content of the report. Indeed, Anthony Watts is pointing at a ‘bombshell’ to be found in the following Figure 1.4 from the AR5 draft, and will follow up with an essay in the near future:


For the moment, I will leave the figure undiscussed, but it will be interesting to see Anthony’s essay, once he has had the time to examine the details and context surrounding the figure. The reason why I give this example is that, if it is indeed a ‘bombshell’, it may indicate why the IPCC would not seek the transparency that it claims; the early drafts of the reports may include material that can serve to raise doubts about the science that is finally used in the final report.  In the end, the final report is selective in the material that is presented, and how the material is presented. This means that some material will be excluded, and also that the emphasis in the final report will also be determined by the review process.

Real transparency would see this process of selection, rejection, and choice of emphasis take place in the public domain. For example, the ‘bombshell’ figure above might have finally been excluded from the report (we have no way of knowing what would have happened without the leak, of course), and transparency would demand that there is an explanation for its exclusion, if it is indeed a bombshell (which I suspect it is). After all, this would be part of the overall science, and any treatment of the science is a matter of the public interest.

In particular, as Alec Rawls points out, the IPCC reports are used as a basis for policy decisions, and those policy decisions can have far reaching impacts. The real question surrounding the leak, therefore, is why the IPCC might object, and why it does not conduct the entire report drafting process in the clear light of day? There should, in other words, be no need for leaks, as a genuinely transparent process would make leaks irrelevant.

Update: I see that the Climate Conversation Group has picked up on the leak, but nothing so far in the New Zealand press (for the media I checked).

Update 2: The full IPCC statement on the leak can be found here. I think it simply reinforces the points I am making here.


Climategate 2 and Corruption of Peer Review

The post here is a follow-up from my last post on some Climategate 2 emails, which I have tied together into a kind of narrative. Why should you read this?It is very simple. There are plenty of articles, views etc. out there claiming that the climategate 2 emails are being taken out of context. I have also seen Phil Jones has been saying that it is just the normal ‘to and fro’ of normal scientists going about their business etc. etc.

This is most certainly not the case in the emails that follow. There really is no hiding place for the authors, and no ambiguity. The emails will track how annoyance at the publication of a ‘contrary’ article in a journal develops into an attack on the editor, Chris de Freitas, an accomplished scientist. The attack includes a plot to see if they can get him sacked from his job at University of Auckland. Within the story, it is evident exactly what kind of ‘scientists’ the key authors are. The word scientist applied to these people has denigrated the meaning of the word.

Amongst those involved are Phil Jones, Michael Mann, Jim Salinger, Tom Wigley, Barrie Pittock, Mike Hulme + others. In addition Pachauri, the head of the IPCC is copied into many of the emails, meaning that he was fully aware that some of the key scientists in the IPCC were effectively out of control.

The post is very long, but please stick with it. The story unfolds, and is worth the effort if you really want to see what is going on. When quoting the emails, I do so minus annoying symbols such as >>>. Where I am commenting within the email text, I place the text as [this is my comments] (update 28 November: I have changed the surrond to my comments to {my comment} as a couple of people seem to have confused my commentary for the original authors, & will do the same for the next post when I have time), and any bold text is my emphasis.

The starting point is email 2683, from 12 April 2003 when there is grumbling about a paper by Soon & Baliunas (S&B) published in the journal Climate Research (abreviated to CR in the emails). There is some discussion of the S&B study, and Mike Hulme discusses the potential of the paper on the thoughts of policymakers with Barrie Pittock:

Yes, this paper has hit the streets here also through the London Sunday Telegraph. Phil Jones and Keith Briffa are pretty annoyed, and there has been correspondence across the Atlantic with Tom Crowley and Ray Bradley. There has been some talk of a formal response but not sure where it has got to.  Phil and Keith are really the experts here so I would leave that to them. Your blow by blow account of what they have done prompts me again to consider my position with Climate Research, the journal for whom I remain a review editor.  So are people like Tim Carter, Nigel Arnell, Simon Shackley, Rob Wilby and Clare Goodess, colleagues whom I know well and who might also be horrified at this latest piece of primary school science that Chris de Freitas from New Zealand has let through (there are a good number of other examples in recent years and Wolfgang Cramer resigned from Climate Research 4 years ago because of it).

I might well alert these other colleagues to the crap science CR continues to publish because of de Freitas and see whether a collective mass resignation is appropriate.  Phil Jones, I believe, is already boycotting reviews for that journal.

The first point to note is their concern is as much about the impact upon policy as it is about the science. This will become important for setting the context for the progressive process in which they eventually seek to destroy the career of the offending editor.We then get a response from Salinger, in response to Pittock’s call for someone to ‘take up the gauntlet’:

Dear Mike, Barrie, Neville et al

Saturday morning here and thanks for all your efforts.  I note the reference to Chris de Freitas.  Chris writes very voluminously to the NZ media and right wing business community often recycling the arguments of sceptics run overseas, which have been put to bed.

I, personally would support any of these actions you are proposing particularly if CR continues to publish dishonest or biased science. This introduces a new facet to the publication of science and we should maybe have a panel that ‘reviews the editors’.  Otherwise we have the development of shonkey editors who then manipulate the editing to get papers with specific views published.  Note the
immediacy that the right wing media (probably planned) used the opportunity!

Your views appreciated – but I can certainly provide a dossier on the writings of Chris in the media in New Zealand.

There are several points of note here. First of all, the positioning of de Freitas as being part of a right-wing, and there is even suggestion of a conspiracy. Finally, just to demonstrate that de Freitas is an ‘outsider’, Salinger will produce the evidence. Having a different view, it seems, is condemnation. Pittock then responds to Salinger:

Thanks for your comments and suggestions. I hope the co-editors of ‘Climate Research’ can agree on some joint action. I know that Peter Whetton is one who is concerned. Any action must of course be effective and also not give the sceptics an excuse for making de Freitas appear as a martyr – the charge should surely be not following scientific standards of review, rather than publishing contrarian views as such. If a paper is contested by referees that should at least be stated in any publication, and minimal standards of statistical treatment, honesty and clarity should be insisted on. Bringing the journal and publisher into disrepute may be one reasonable charge.

‘Energy and Environment’ is another journal with low standards for sceptics, but if my recollection is correct this is implicit in their stated policy of stirring different points of view – the real test for both journals may be whether they are prepared to publish refutations, especially simultaneously with the sceptics’ papers so that readers are not deceived.

On that score you might consider whether it is possible to find who de Freitas got to review various papers and how their comments were dealt with. I heard second hand that Tom Wigley was very annoyed about a paper which gave very low projections of future warmings (I forget which paper, but it was in a recent issue) got through despite strong criticism from him as a reviewer.

Here we have our first indications that de Freitas may be about to face problems. Note that Pittock suggests that any hint of attacking de Freitas for contrarian views must be avoided. The whole phrasing of this seems almost to admit that this is exactly what they are doing. Note also that the implication is that anything that is published by skeptics must be of a low standard. It is a view of quite extraordinary arrogance. It is even more evident in the final bold statement; annoyance that a less alarmist paper gets through.

We now move onto email 2272, of 16th April. The thread of the email is a response to Pittock’s email, and Phil Jones kicks off with this:

There have been a number of emails on these two papers {probably Wigley’s paper}. They are bad. I’ll be seeing Hans von Storch next week and I’ll be telling him in person what a disservice he’s doing to the science and the status of Climate Research.

I’ve already told Hans I want nothing more to do with the journal. Tom Crowley may be writing something – find out also next week, but at the EGS last week Ray Bradley, Mike Mann, Malcolm Hughes and others decided it would be best to do nothing. Papers that respond to work like this never get cited – a point I’m trying to get across to Hans. We all have better papers to write than waste our time responding to drivel like this.

Notice that the suggestion is that pressure will be put on the editor Hans van Storch. As will be seen, this is positively mild in comparison to what follows, but is nevertheless interference with the review system to keep out articles that do not support the ’cause’. Michael Mann then pitches in:

Phil relayed this message to me–this echos discussions that others of us here have had as well, and at Phil’s request, I’m forwarding some of these (Phil seems to have deleted them). I am encouraged at the prospect of some sort of action being taken.

The “Energy and Environment” piece is an ad hominem attack against the work of several of us, and could be legally actionable, though I don’t think its worth the effort. But more problematic, in my mind, is the “Climate Research” piece which is a real challenge to the integrity of the peer-review processes in our field.

I believe that a boycott against publishing, reviewing for, or even citing articles from “Climate Research” is certainly warranted, but perhaps the minimum action that should be taken. A paper published there last year by a University of Virginia “colleague” of mine who shall remain nameless contained, to my amazement, an ad hominem attach against the climate modeling community, and the offending statement never should have seen the light of day (nor should have any of the several papers of his which have been published there in recent years, based on quality and honesty standards alone).

A formal statement of “loss of confidence” in the journal seems like an excellent idea. It may or may not be useful for me to be directly involved in this, given that I am a primary object of attack by these folks. However, I’m happy to help in any way that I can, and please keep me in the loop.

Notice that the entire tenor of the email is summed up in the last statement in bold. Mann is taking any criticism of his work as a personal affront that must be stopped. Anything which critiques his work must be stopped. The boycott of citing and publishing in a journal is a big deal, as journal success is determined by ‘impact factors’ which in turn are driven by citations. This is already bringing out the ‘heavy guns’, but still is nothing in comparison to what comes later. In the interim, Mike Hulme continues the interference with the independence of the journal (Update 27 November- I just noticed that there is a section commencing with [Wolfgang Kramer ….] in this case the […] were in the original, not my addition Update: 28th, as per update, my comments now in {…}):

Dear Co-Review Editor

You may or may not have seen/read the article by Soon and Baliunas (from the Harvard Smithsonian Astrophysics Lab) in the Jan 31 2003 issue of CR (vol.23,2).  A variant of this analysis has just been published in the journal Energy and Environment.  The authors/editor made a big media campaign to publicise this work, claiming it showed clearly the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than the 20th century and that the IPCC (and other) analysis claiming the 20th century was the warmest in the last millennium was plain wrong.  In the UK, the Sunday Telegraph ran the story.

I have followed some email discussion about this amongst concerned paleoclimate experts here at UEA, in the USA and in Oz and NZ and their is overwhelming consensus {note this phrase carefully – the consensus of the ‘team’} that the Soon and Baliunas work is just crap science that should never be passed peer review (for a flavour see Mike Mann, Phil Jones and Barrie Pittock below).  These paleo-experts have decided it is not worth a formal scientific response since the story has not run that widely in the mass media (although is now used by sceptics of course to undermine good science) and that the science is so poor it is not worth a reply.

The CR editor concerned is Chris de Freitas and I have followed over the years papers in CR that he has been responsible for reviewing.  [Wolfgang Cramer resigned from CR a few years ago over a similar concern over the way de Freitas managed the peer review process for a manuscript Wolfgang reviewd].

Whilst we do not know who reviewed the Soon/Baliunas manuscript, there is sufficient evidence in my view to justify a “loss of confidence” in the peer review process operated by the journal and hence a mass resignation of review editors may be warranted.  This is by no means a one-off – I could do the analysis of de Freitas’s manuscripts if needbe.

I am contacting the seven of you since I know you well and believe you may also have similar concerns to me about the quality of climate change science and how that science is communicated to the public.  I would be interested in your views on this course of action – which was suggested in the first place my me, once I knew the strength of feeling amongst people like Phil Jones, Keith Briffa, Mike Mann, Ray Bradley, Tom Crowley, etc.  CSIRO and Tyndall communication managers would then think that a mass resignation would draw attention to the way such poor science gets into mainstream journals.

Of course, we would need to be sure of our case and to argue on grounds of poor conduct of peer review (I can forward a devastating critique of the Soon/Baliunas method from Barrie Pittock if you wish) rather than on disagreeable content of one manuscript.  CR does of course publish some good science, but the journal is not doing anyone a service by allowing crap science also to be published.

Now the most interesting point of note here is that the article in question refutes the infamous hockey stick chart developed by Mann, in which the Medieval Warm Period disappears. What we have here is Mann, and other members of the team trying to get the editors of a journal to discredit the entire journal, simply for publishing a paper which refutes his own [Mann’s] work! Note in this that the stakes are being raised again. Mann seeks to have the entire journal tarnished as a result of the publication of the offending papers. Note also his offer to re-review the manuscripts, which is disingenuous, to say the least (bearing in mind he is calling it crap). The aim appears to be to find out who did the review (which becomes quite and obsession, see earlier Pittock email). Finally, see how the consensus (highlighted) apparently trumps peer review! So the pressure is building against the journal…..

We are now onto email 3039 of 17 April. This is from the apparently mild mannered Phil Jones to Mike Hulme:

See the other emails I’ve sent today. Came in to do some work ! Keep me informed of the results and I’ll talk to Hans.  Nice try to shut Tim Lenton up – he’ll continue though !

Email O332 sees the approach to the de Freitas problem take a nasty turn. This is from Pittock to the rest of the ‘team’ and is very long so most commentary is in the text [comments in this format]. It is worth reproducing in full, as…well, you will see….:

I just want to throw in some thoughts re appropriate responses to all this – probably obvious to some of you, but clearly different from some views expressed. This is not solely a reply to Phil Jones, as I have read lots of other emails today including all those interesting ones from Michael Mann.

1. I completely understand the frustration by some at having to consider a reply to these nonsense papers, and I agree that such replies will not get cited much and may in fact draw attention to papers which deserve to be ignored.

2. However, ignoring them can be interpreted as not having an answer, and whether we ignore them or not, there are people and lobby groups which will push these papers as ‘refereed science’which WILL be persuasive to many small or large decision-makers who are NOT competent to make their own scientific judgements, {again, this is about policy, not about science} and some of whom wish the enhanced GH effect would turn out to be a myth. In our Australian backwater for example, such papers WILL/ARE being copied to business executives and politicians to bolster anti-FCCC decisions, and these people do matter {and goodness, wouldn’t it be terrible if they got an alternative picture of the science!}.There has to be a well-argued and authoritative response, at least for private circulation, and as a basis for advice to these decision-makers.

3. I see several possible courses of action that would be useful.

(a) Prepare a background briefing document for wide private circulation {why private???}, which refutes the claims and lists competent authorities who might be consulted for advice on this issue.

(b) Ensure that such misleading papers do not continue to appear in the offending journals by getting proper scientific standards applied to refereeing and editing {nothing we disagree with goes into the journal}. Whether that is done publicly or privately may not matter so much, as long as it happens. It could be through boycotting the journals, but that might leave them {them??? – people who disagree} even freer to promulgate misinformation. To my mind that is not as good as getting the offending editors removed {they want to determine who can and cannot edit a journal?} and proper processes in place. Pressure or ultimatums to the publishers might work, or concerted lobbying by other co-editors or leading authors.

(c) A journalistic expose of the unscientific practices might work and embarass the sceptics/industry lobbies {this sounds like a call to smear anyone who disagrees} (if they are capable of being embarassed) e.g., through a reliable {as biased as they are???} lead reporter for Science or Nature. Offending editors could be labelled as “rogue editors” {this is simply unreal}, in line with current international practice? Or is that defamatory? {I would suggest that, yes, calling anyone who disagrees with you, or allows publication of dissenting views, would indeed be defamatory}

(d) Legal action might be useful for authors who consider themselves libelled, and there could be financial support for such actions (Jim Salinger might have contacts here). However, we would need to be very careful to be moderate and reasonable in our reponses to avoid counter legal actions.

4. I thoroughly agree that just entering in to a public slanging match with the offending authors (or editors for that matter) on a one-to-one basis is not the way to go {no we do not want debate in the literature, for example????}. We need some more concerted action.

5. One other thought is that it may be worthwhile for some authors to do a serious further study to bring out some statistical tests for the likelihood of numerous proxy records showing unprecedented synchronous warming in the last 30+ years. This could be, somewhat along the lines of the tests used in the studies of observed changes in biological and physical systems in the TAR WGII report(SPM figure 1 and related text in Chapter 19, and recent papers by Parmesan and Yohe (2003) and Root et al. (2003) in Nature 421, 37-42 and 57-60). Someone may already have this in hand. I am sure the evidence is even stronger than for the critters. That is of course what has already been done in fingerprinting the actualtemperature record. {well, here is a radical alternative – address the skeptical arguments with science – however, as will be seen, they choose path 3B rather than the science!}

We now come to email 3052, 23rd April. This is where it gets really, really nasty. For this reason, I have listed all of those who were a cc on the email, and who it was addressed to. The email is from Jim Salinger, then working for NIWA new Zealand, and I imagine you will be shocked:

cc: n.nicholls@bom.gov.au, Peter.Whetton@csiro.au, Roger.Francey@csiro.au, David.Etheridge@csiro.au, Ian.Smith@csiro.au, Simon.Torok@csiro.au, Willem.Bouma@csiro.au, j.salinger@niwa.com, pachauri@teri.res.in, Greg.Ayers@csiro.au, Rick.Bailey@csiro.au, Graeme.Pearman@csiro.au, mmaccrac@comcast.net, tcrowley@duke.edu, rbradley@geo.umass.edu

To: Pittock@csiro.au, m.hulme@uea.ac.uk, Barrie.Pittock@csiro.au, mann@virginia.edu, Phil Jones, harvey@geog.utoronto.ca, wigley@ucar.edu, n.nicholls@bom.gov.au

For information, De Freitas has finally put all his arguments together in a paper published in the Canadian Bulletin of Petroleum
Geology, 2002 (on holiday at the moment, and the reference is at  work!)

I have had thoughts also on a further course of action.  The present Vice Chancellor of the University of Auckland, Professor John Hood (comes from an engineering background) is very concerned that Auckland should be seen as New Zealand’s premier research university, and one with an excellent reputation internationally.  He is concerned to the extent that he is monitoring the performance of ALL his senior staff, from Associate Professor upwards, including interviews with them.  My suggestion is that a band of you review editors write directly to Professor Hood with your concerns.  In it you should point out that you are all globally recognized top climate scientist.  It is best that such a letter come from outside NZ and is signed by more than one person.  His address is:

Professor John Hood
Vice Chancellor
University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
Auckland, New Zealand

Let me know what you think!  See suggested text below.



Some suggested text below:


We write to you as the editorial board(review editors??) of the leading international journal Climate Research for climate scientists
We are very concerned at the poor standards and personal biases shown by a member of your staff. …..

When we originally appointed … to the editorial board we were under the impression that they would carry out their duties in an objective manner as is expected of scientists world wide.  We were also given to understand that this person has been honoured with science communicator of the year award, several times by your … organisation.

Instead we have discovered that this person has been using his position to promote ‘fringe’ views of various groups with which they are associated around the world.  It perhaps would have been less disturbing if the ‘science’ that was being passed through the system was sound.  However, a recent incident has alerted us to the fact that poorly constructed and uncritical work has been allowed to enter the pages of the journal.  A recent example has caused outrage amongst leading climate scientists around the world and has resulted in the journal dismissing (??).. from the editorial board.

We bring this to your attention since we consider it brings the name of your university and New Zealand into some disrepute. We leave it to your discretion what use you make of this information.

The journal itself cannot be considered completely blameless in this situation and we clearly need to tighten some of our editorial processes; however, up until now we have relied on the honour and professionalism of our editors.  Sadly this incident has damaged our faith in some of our fellow scientists. Regrettably it will reflect on your institution as this person is a relatively senior staff member.

Yes, read it again. There can be no doubt that they are trying to get Chris de Freitas sacked from the University of Auckland. Re-read it if you have any doubts. When the team object to a person, they really, really object. And if that means seeking to destroy a reputation and career, so be it. If you look at Pittock’s email with the options for action, you can see the final option was to address critiques with science. Instead, the proposed course of action is to gang up on an individual, and trash their career and reputation.

Any ambiguity or lack of context here??

And it gets worse, as the action is approved of by other members of the team. Along the way, they also sometimes reveal more than their willingness to pursue a vendetta against de Freitas.

This is email 1051230500.txt, of 24th April. Tom Wigley tries to hide behind a fig leaf of science, but in the end hypocritically then agrees to sign the letter to tarnish de Freitas. I will  not quote all the email, as it is very long, and this post is now too long overall. Wigley does discuss using science to solve the problems along the way, but I will just focus on the parts that deal with the trashing of de Freitas. The email starts with this (note, the bit in […] on this occasion is the original author):

[Apologies to those I have missed who have been part of this email  exchange — although they may be glad to have been missed]

I think Barrie Pittock has the right idea — although there are some unique things about this situation. Barrie says ….

(1) There are lots of bad papers out there
(2) The best response is probably to write a ‘rebuttal’

to which I add ….

(3) A published rebuttal will help IPCC authors in the 4AR.

(Update 27 November- this was in block quote, and is now clearly my text)It is very clear that Wigley is very uncomfortable about what is going on, and knows that he is in a conspiracy against an individual. The following discussion follows consideration of attempts to find out how Wigley had rejected papers in review, but which still had been published. He goes on to say:

This second case gets to the crux of the matter. I suspect that deFreitas deliberately chose other referees who are members of the skeptics camp. I also suspect that he has done this on other occasions. How to deal with this is unclear, since there are a number of individuals with bona fide scientific credentials who could be used by an unscrupulous editor to ensure that ‘anti-greenhouse’ science can get through the peer review  process (Legates, Balling, Lindzen, Baliunas, Soon, and so on).

The peer review process is being abused, but proving this would be difficult.

The best response is, I strongly believe, to rebut the bad science that does get through.

Note the points I have highlighted. People with bona fide scientific background should not review articles, as they might actually accept them for publication. Even if these scientist believe a paper is worthy of publication, apparently it is a bad publication. I do not think he had any idea of the implicit corruption of  peer reviewed science that is revealed in this exchange – but then again, look at the next part of Wigley’s email, and ask what this has to do with science?

Jim Salinger raises the more personal issue of deFreitas. He is  clearly giving good science a bad name, but I do not think a barrage of ad hominem attacks or letters is the best way to counter this.

If Jim wishes to write a letter with multiple authors, I may be willing to sign it, but I would not write such a letter myself.

In this case, deFreitas is such a poor scientist that he may simply disappear. I saw some work from his PhD, and it was awful (Pat Michaels’ PhD is at the same level).

In this, he acknowledges what is going on, as he does at the start of the email, but is willing to go along with it……despite recognising that it is wrong! The same email has the following from Salinger:

This will be the last from me for the moment and I believe we are all arriving at a consensus voiced by Tom, Barrie, Neville et al., from excellent discussions.

Firstly both Danny and Tom have complained to de Freitas about his editorial decision, which does not uphold the principles of good science.  Tom has shared the response. I would be curious to find out who the other four cited are – but a rebuttal would be excellent.

Ignoring bad science eventually reinforces the apparent ‘truth’ of that bad science in the public mind, if it is not corrected. As importantly, the ‘bad science’ published by CR is used by the  sceptics’ lobbies to ‘prove’ that there is no need for concern over climate change.  Since the IPCC makes it quite clear that there are substantial grounds for concern about climate change,  is it not partially the responsibility of climate science to make sure only satisfactorily {agreeing with their views} peer-reviewed science appears in scientific publications?  – and to refute any inadequately reviewed and wrong articles that do make their way through the peer review process?

I can understand the weariness which the ongoing sceptics’ onslaught would induce in anyone {because it is too much trouble to refute them?}, scientist or not.  But that’s no excuse for ignoring bad science.  It won’t go away, and the more we ignore it the more traction it will gain in the minds of the general public, and the UNFCCC negotiatorsIf science doesn’t uphold the purity of science, who will?

We Australasians (including Tom as an ex pat) have suggested some courses of action.  Over to you now in the north to assess the success of your initiatives, the various discussions and suggestions and arrive on a path ahead.  I am happy to be part of it.

Again, good science is the science that agrees with their own views. Bad science is to take an opposing view. ‘Purity of science’ is taken to mean ‘agreeing with my views’. Again, this is disturbing, but more disturbing is the moral righteousness that leads towards the comment that Salinger is happy to be part of it. The plot thickens in email 1430 of 28 April, when Phil Jones writes to Mike Hulme:

I’ve just talked to Clare about discussions I had with Hans last week in the US. I think he is now convinced about de Freitas and is drafting a letter with Clare to go to the publishers and to de Freitas. Basically trying to get the reviewer’s names etc and their reports in the first instance, with maybe sending some of the background emails to the publishers.

Also assessing copyright as the ‘other’ Soon/Baliunas paper in Energy and Env. is essentially the same as that in CR. Hans wanted to try this first, but didn’t want to tell all what he was doing. Fears a backlash if de Freitas gets removed without due cause.  So let’s all try and keep the emails down, and hope we can report something to all once the correspondence Hans initiates gets replies.

Here, they are trying to get de Freitas through other means, which is copyright violation. Give them credit; they are determined! Mike Hulme replies to say that he will add his weight to the campaig for removing de Freitas as editor, suggesting that he will carry more weight as an ex-editor.

At this point, I will end the story. There is plenty more material to piece together, but I have (again) run out of time and energy for this. As such, I will round up this very, very long post with a few comments.

The first point is that, despite the claims about taking emails out of context, it is 100% apparent that within the context here that the aim is to corrupt the review process, and exclude skeptical articles from publication. There is repetition throughout of a justification being ‘bad science’, but they mean work that is critical of their own work when they say this. The arrogance in this is astounding, and is only a fig leaf to protect their own work.

Also, in attacking de Freitas, it is apparent that Wigley knew that this was wrong, but he was willing to sign a letter to damage his reputation. Salinger uses the fig leaf of science as a prelude to his self-righteous comment that he is happy to be part of it.

There is no hiding place in here, and the emails that follow are just as bad. I have not looked at them all in detail but, as I have shown in the last post, other members of the team were fully onboard with the attack on de Freitas.

Just as importantly, Pachauri, the head of the IPCC is copied in on many of the emails, from some of his ‘leading scientists’, where it is 100% apparent that they are out of control. He does nothing.

This is all very tragic. I will, if I have time, try to finish the story, or others may want to take it forwards if they have the time or inclination. What I do know is that this particular case appears to be one of the most clear and damning I have yet seen with regards to the ‘team’ seeking to stifle debate, and ultimately destroy the scientific process. It is just all the more shocking for the tribalistic hounding of Chris de Freitas.

Update 28 November:

I have continued the story in a new post, and it is now partially complete. I have been informed by Steve McIntyre that he is planning to take the story forwards. As such, I end the new post at the point where I heard from Steve. I have stopped as Steve understands the background to the story better than me, and his blog has far, far greater reach. I am confident that he can do it justice. If you would like to see the next section of the story, it can be found here.

Climate Change and Disasters

The latest output of the IPCC has caused some stir, which is ‘The IPCC Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation‘. This is some commentary from Richard Black of the BBC who was leaked the report:

While it is “likely” that anthropogenic influences are behind the changes in cold days and warm days, there is only “medium confidence” that they are behind changes in extreme rainfall events, and “low confidence” in attributing any changes in tropical cyclone activity to greenhouse gas emissions or anything else humanity has done.


And for the future, the draft gives even less succour to those seeking here a new mandate for urgent action on greenhouse gas emissions, declaring: “Uncertainty in the sign of projected changes in climate extremes over the coming two to three decades is relatively large because climate change signals are expected to be relatively small compared to natural climate variability”.


It’s impossible to read the draft without coming away with the impression that with or without anthropogenic climate change, extreme weather impacts are going to be felt more and more, simply because there are more and more people on planet Earth – particularly in the swelling “megacities” of the developing world that overwhelmingly lie on the coast or on big rivers close to the coast.

This is from Andrew Revkin of the New York Times:

While the summary warns of enormously increasing risks from drought and flooding in decades to come, it is bound to disappoint climate campaigners — and it frustrated at least one, Joe Romm, even before it was released. The section on disaster losses correctly reflects the uncertainty injected in such analysis by confounding factors, including rapidly shifting human populations and the paucity of solid data over long periods.

Perhaps the most amusing take on the report comes from Joe Romm, who is mentioned in the New York Times report, who headlines that the report was a missed opportunity to warn of coming catastrophe. However, he takes some comfort in the following:

Fortunately, the public already understands that global warming makes extreme weather more severe, as new polling reveals:

[diagram of poll removed]

September polling by ecoAmerica found that 57% of Americans already understand “If we don’t do something about climate change now, we can end up having our farmland turned to desert.”

That’s okay then. Even if the sainted IPCC says things that do not agree with doom-mongering, as long as people are scared, all is well with the world. He then goes on to cite a series of articles that he believes prove that global warming is a catastrophe. Sitting in the middle of the debate, Judith Currie has the following to say about the report:

This report is better than I expected, although I suspect that some of their conclusions are based on weak arguments  (we will have to wait for the full report).  The two most important aspects IMO are the recognition of the importance of natural variability and also vulnerability.  The dominance of natural variability for the past 40-60 years  in determining extreme events makes the AGW extreme events attribution exercises (see here) seem even more pointless.  The weakest part of the report is the high confidence level of the future projections (including  one “virtually certain.”)  I suspect that different authors worked  on the “Observations” section than those working on the “Future” chapter; too bad the “Future” authors didn’t read the “Observations” section first.

I would most strongly recommend that, if following any of the links here, the most interesting is Judith’s evaluation of the report, which is detailed and incisive. On the skeptic side, this is what the Global Warming Policy Foundation has to say about the report:

If and when mankind’s influence becomes apparent it may be just as likely to reduce the number of extreme weather events as increase them.

Surveying the state of scientific knowledge IPCC scientists say they cannot determine if mankind’s influence will result in more, or fewer, extreme weather events over the next thirty years or more.

Jo Nova has the a more direct and scathing approach to the report:

This is another big tipping point on the slide out of the Great Global Scam. IPCC scientists — facing the travesty of predictions-gone-wrong — are trying to salvage some face, and plant some escape-clause seeds for later. But people are not stupid.

A conveniently leaked IPCC draft is testing the ground. What excuses can they get away with? Hidden underneath some pat lines about how anthropogenic global warming is “likely” to influence… ah cold days and warm days, is the get-out-of-jail clause that’s really a bombshell:
“Uncertainty in the sign of projected changes in climate extremes over the coming two to three decades is relatively large because climate change signals are expected to be relatively small compared to natural climate variability”.

Translated: The natural climate forces are stronger than we thought, and we give up, we can’t say whether it will get warmer or colder in the next twenty years.

This multipurpose prediction means that in the future, if it’s colder, they’re right; if it’s warmer, they’re right; and they have it covered for more or less storms, floods, droughts, blizzards and frost too.

Jo captures some of the shifting sands of the debate. Despite all the uncertainties, one way or another, we are all nevertheless doomed. It is part of the ongoing trend in the AGW camp to muddy the waters as predicted outcomes of climate change are not taking place/following the script. interestingly in the updates, Jo quotes ‘scientists’ who nevertheless insist that the signal of AGW will emerge one day, with the implication that the report changes nothing about the necessity for urgent action. Jo points out:

Wait for it, in trying to control the damage from this, Prof Palutikof reveals a deeply unscientific, religious mindset. There is no signal yet of man made influence, but she “knows” it will emerge. A real scientist would wait for the observation. [below was in quotes in the original]

Jean Palutikof, director of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility at Griffith University, in Queensland, said the findings of the UN report would “not surprise anyone involved in climate science”. Professor Palutikof said it would take a while for the effects of climate change to become visible. But without action, she said, “gradually, over time, that signal will emerge with resounding clarity”.

From my perspective, I view the report with the same cynical view that I apply to all the output of the IPCC. As I have discussed before, there are some good and honest scientists working for the IPCC, but the organisation also has some characteristics that mean that their reports are not to be trusted. In other words, it is not possible to dismiss the IPCC reports which are supportive of the AGW thesis, then accept the reports that are less supportive as being ‘good science’.

However, the report is interesting in that it seems that there is finally some explicit and very clear acknowledgement of the uncertainties involved in understanding the impacts of climate, although the coverage is patchy (again, see Judith Currie’s discussion). This seems to be a positive step forward, but we will have to wait for the full report in February to see whether the devil is in the detail.

The IPCC as a Scientific Organisation?

We hear it endlessly. The IPCC uses the best scientists in the world for the compilation of the IPCC reports. The problem is that it is simply not true.

There are undoubtedly some very good scientists working for the IPCC. The problem is that many of them are not. I have been following work of Donna Laframboise in investigating the IPCC on her blog No Frakking Consensus for some time, and picked up that she has now published a book length critique of the IPCC. Donna has, for a long time, been picking through both the CVs of the IPCC contributors, as well as their processes. The result is a rather ugly picture of an institution that was supposed (and purports) to be the gold standard of science.

I wrote about one of Donna’s findings a long while ago, in which Donna wrote a piece about Dr. Sari Kovats. Kovats was awarded her PhD in 2010, but had been working as a scientist for the IPCC since 1994, and was given the role of a lead author three years before being awarded her PhD. This is but one of the astonishing examples that Donna uncovers. An equal concern is the number of key people in the IPCC that are affiliated with activist groups such as WWF, or Greenpeace. Then there is the process of peer review, or lack of it. The many tales of the conflicts of interest in the peer review process, and the lack of independent oversight make a dismal picture.

I would like to tell you that I have read the book already, but am waiting for the availability of the paper version (I hate reading on the screen, and it seems harder to concentrate on the content when I do so). However, the sample of the book on Amazon looks encouraging, and of course there has been the excellent work and investigations on Donna’s blog. As such, I suspect it will be a very good  read. Apparently the book is very well referenced and I suspect that the book will have some impact. For example,   the very fair minded Judith Currie, over at Climate etc., says the following (after a few minor critiques):

But overall, Donna Laframboise is to be congratulated for writing an important book.  Read it, it costs only $4.99 on Kindle.
So, how will this book be received by the climate establishment?  First, I suspect that they will attempt to smear Laframboise as a denier.  This is not the case.  Her prime motivation seems to be a concern about free speech; she has a long standing involvement in free speech issues in Canada.  Second, people will pick apart some of the minor points that are arguably suboptimal interpretations.
In terms of the broader audience, I have to say that I hope that this book leads to the discontinuation of the IPCC after the AR5 report (which is already well underway, and is arguably sufficiently tarnished that it is likely to have much less influence than previous reports.)

The following is a long quote lifted from a section of the book in the National Post, about some of the (ahem)….interesting CVs of IPCC ‘scientists’:

For example, Laurens Bouwer is currently employed by an environmental studies institute at the VU University Amsterdam. In 1999-2000, he served as an IPCC lead author before earning his master’s degree in 2001.

How can a young man without even a master’s degree become an IPCC lead author? Bouwer’s expertise is in climate change and water resources. Yet the chapter for which he first served as a lead author was titled Insurance and Other Financial Services.

It turns out that, during part of 2000, Bouwer was a trainee at Munich Reinsurance Company. This means the IPCC chose as a lead author someone who was a trainee, who lacked a master’s degree, and was still a full decade away from receiving his 2010 PhD.

My suspicion is that the book will just be the start. One of the key points used to promote the credibility of the global warming scare is the credibility of the IPCC as a rigorous scientific institution. Whilst there may be many good scientists working for the IPCC, I suspect this book will  lead more people to call in to question the credibility of the institution. In one sense I feel rather sorry for the scientists who have contributed in good faith, as some of the tarnish on the IPCC may eventually rub off on them. If I have time, once I get my copy, I will try to remember to do a full review. For those keen to find out for themselves, the pdf version can be purchased here, and a Kindle version on Amazon here. Please feel free to post your reviews in the comments section.

Climate Change and Science

Some readers may wonder why I have doggedly pressed Professor Keith Hunter to clarify his comments on the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition. I hope that news coming out of the US will help explain. These are the results of a new survey:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of American Adults shows that 69% say it’s at least somewhat likely that some scientists have falsified research data in order to support their own theories and beliefs, including 40% who say this is Very Likely. Twenty-two percent (22%) don’t think it’s likely some scientists have falsified global warming data, including just six percent (6%) say it’s Not At All Likely. Another 10% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

There is growing concern amongst the public about the honesty of scientific researchers, and the concern revolves around climate change. The climategate scandal, of course is one of the key issues. However, a review by Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) highlights another matter of concern. Published in Climatic Change, the abstract of his paper is as follows:

Abstract Authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) received guidance on reporting understanding, certainty and/or confidence in findings using a common language, to better communicate with decision makers. However, a review of the IPCC conducted by the InterAcademy Council (2010) found that “the guidance was not consistently followed in AR4, leading to unnecessary errors . . . the guidance was often applied to statements that are so vague they cannot be falsified. In these cases the impression was often left, quite incorrectly, that a substantive finding was being presented.” Our comprehensive and quantitative analysis of findings and associated uncertainty in the AR4 supports the IAC findings and suggests opportunities for improvement in future assessments.

The original paper is well worth a read, but Dr. Pielke has also presented a blog post on the paper, with the headline ‘How many findings of the IPCC AR4 are WGI are incorrect? Answer 28%.’ The actual paper concludes with the following:

Although the IPCC has made enormous contributions and set an important example for global assessment of a vexing problem of immense ramifications, there remain clear opportunities for improvement in documenting findings and specifying uncertainties. We recommend more care in the definition and determination of uncertainty, more clarity in identifying and presenting findings and a more systematic approach in the entire process, especially from assessment to assessment. We also suggest an independent, dedicated group to monitor the process, evaluate findings as they are presented and track their fate. This would include tracking the relationship of findings and attendant uncertainties that pass up the hierarchy of documents within AR5. Strict rules for expressing uncertainty in findings that are derived from (possibly multiple) other findings are needed (see, e.g., the second example in the Supplementary Material).

It is not the purpose of this note to discuss other, related scientific assessments of climate change knowledge; but, we do note that our preliminary analysis of the U.S. Global Change Research Program Synthesis and Assessment Products suggests a far less systematic application of the guidance supplied to authors of those documents and far less consistent application of the defined terms. We believe that the concerns we have expressed here, and the resulting recommendations, apply more broadly than the IPCC process.

The point of the paper is best expressed in the blog post.

What does it mean?  Nothing too interesting, really — science evolves and any assessment is a snapshot of knowledge in time. However, I suspect that some people will get excited or defensive to learn that by the IPCC’s own logic, the report’s future-looking findings could include 28% or more that will not stand the test of time. Of course, such excitement and defense are part of the context that the IPCC and its critics have together created, which has led to incentives to hold the IPCC up as some sort of sacred text or to denigrate it as a sham. Our work suggests neither. Instead, from the perspective of its assessment products it is a valuable if imperfect organization.

As Dr. Pielke has identified, the IPCC reports are used as a sacred text, but science is not about sacred texts. The IPCC is presented as an authority which cannot be questioned, which ends up as an argument from authority rather than an argument about the evidence and theory. A further problem is the reluctance of key researchers to release the raw data, and details of the adjustment to data, that is the foundation of much of the science that the IPCC relies upon.

For example, Steve McIntyre has had to doggedly pursue data from several key papers with endless obstructions used to block his access to the data. Just one example can be found here, but taking the time to read the blog will find a long and sorry tale of questionable behaviour on the part of those presenting the science (or reviewing the science) of climate change. A similar tale can be found here in New Zealand, with endless obstructions to the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition’s (NZCSC) investigations into NIWA’s temperature records. Richard Treadgold offers a good summary of the rather shabby story here, saying the following:

NIWA has enjoyed tremendous support in our dispute with them. Much has been written about it and much obloquy heaped on my and my Coalition colleagues’ heads. This scientific review of NIWA’s report provides justification for our initial scepticism and our perseverance. Seeing what this audit reveals, it’s hard to find reasons to support NIWA.

At first, we hinted strongly at malpractice, to goad the ever-languid NIWA scientists into releasing the data they had withheld for many years. Our goading eventually succeeded in prompting the reconstruction of the NZTR.

Examining the results of that work has uncovered stronger evidence of unscientific and even possibly unethical behaviour than we ever imagined. We certainly never hoped for this. To clarify: this does not please us. We never wanted to find evidence of dishonesty, never imagined that we might and we are disappointed to discover that they failed to do what they said.

There really is something shabby about all of this. In my own work, in an unrelated discipline, I have found similar problems. For example, in a mirror of problems with skeptical researchers have had with reviews, I found an example in which a piece of research that refuted a broadly accepted theory was reviewed by the originator of the theory. It may come as no surprise that the review saw the paper rejected for publication (not my own research I might add, but I have had a similar if less dramatic experiences).

Those on the skeptical side of the debate have, as Richard Treadgold puts it, have obloquy heaped on their heads. Terms such as ‘flat earthers’ and ‘deniers’ are applied. The problem is that much of the skeptical side of the debate resolves around questions about the empirical evidence and theory. On the other side of the debate, in addition to the ‘honest’ science, there is concealment and/or distortion of data, invocations of arguments from authority, and blocking of access to the supposedly gold standard of science, the peer reviewed literature. The general public are starting to notice.

Dr. Pielke is correct when he implies that there is good science on the warming side of the debate, but the bad ‘science’ creates doubt in the minds of the public about the science overall. There are perfectly honest researchers on the warming side of the debate, who are undoubtedly conducting their research with integrity. The problem is that they will end up being tarred with the same brush. More broadly, ‘science’ as a concept is being tarred with the same brush.

It is for this reason that the defenders of the bad science need to be called to account, in particular when those people are in a position of influence. Organisations like NZCSC are the defenders of science, but are instead portrayed as nuts/cranks.Those who insult these defenders of science cloak their insults with the name of science. In doing so, they undermine science as a whole. In other words, it is time for the defenders of science to be given the respect that they deserve.

Note: What constitutes ‘science’ has long been a problematic question. However, I do not think that anyone would reasonably suggest that practices such as distorting data to fit theory or blocking critical work just because it is critical would be accepted as ‘good science’.

A Leading Scientist?

As some light relief, this is a video that references a blog article from No Frakking Consensus:

To get the full picture, you may wish to take a look at the full blog post with an extract published below.

Since then, a picture that already seemed murky has become even more clouded. Kovats has had her PhD for less than one calendar year. Yet she has already filled numerous IPCC roles, is a senior lecturer at an institution of higher learning, is chairperson of her school’s Centre on Global Change and Health, and is a member of the steering committee of a health and climate change project funded by the United Nations.

We’re told the IPCC is comprised of top scientists. In the case of Kovats, it appears that it was actually her IPCC participation that convinced the wider community that she’s an expert. This is totally improper. It represents a complete inversion of how things are supposed to work.

So when are Kovats, the IPCC, and the British government all going to admit that she is far from being a world-class scientific expert?

It does all seem a little bit murky. Perhaps there will be clarification to come.