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Climategate: Keeping Skeptics Out of the IPCC?

Posted on 24 November 2010 by James Wight

This is the fifth part in a series on the fake scandal of Climategate.

A fourth set of allegations is that University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU) scientists abused their positions on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) writing groups to impede the consideration of papers challenging CRU’s work. Two papers in particular: the first about the instrumental record, and the second about tree-ring-based temperature reconstructions. The Muir Russell Review goes into each of these allegations in meticulous detail.

The first paper, McKitrick and Michaels (2004), or “MM2004”, argued that most of the observed late 20th century warming was due to the urban heat island effect. Jones’ reaction to the paper, according to an email dated 8/7/2004, was:

The other paper by MM is just garbage. […] I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!

The MM2004 paper was indeed omitted from the first and second drafts of AR4 WG1 Chapter 3, but mentioned and refuted in the final text. McKitrick claims that Jones wrote that paragraph and that it gave contrived reasons for rejecting the paper’s conclusions.

The second paper, McIntyre and McKitrick (2003), or “M&M2003”, criticized the famous “hockey stick” proxy temperature reconstruction by Mann, Bradley, and Hughes (1998), or “MBH98”. It argued that the “hockey stick” shape was primarily an artifact of statistical errors and the selection of specific tree ring series. The allegation is that Briffa, as lead author of AR4 WG1 Chapter 6, broke IPCC rules to include a paper by Wahl and Ammann then in press, or “WA2007”; which refuted M&M2003 but was clearly published after the deadline for inclusion in the AR4. Contrarians cite an email dated 18/7/2006, in which Briffa wrote to Wahl:

Gene I am taking the liberty (confidentially) to send you a copy of the reviewers comments (please keep these to yourself) of the last IPCC draft chapter. I am concerned that I am not as objective as perhaps I should be and would appreciate your take on the comments from number 6-737 onwards, that relate to your reassessment of the Mann et al work. I have to consider whether the current text is fair or whether I should change things in the light of the sceptic comments. In practice this brief version has evolved and there is little scope for additional text, but I must put on record responses to these comments — any confidential help, opinions are appreciated.

Contrarians argue the above email is evidence of Briffa breaking rules of confidentiality to ask for help in rebutting criticism of WA2007. Chapter 6 contained a paragraph referencing WA2007 as a rebuttal of M&M2003, which contrarians assumed to have been written by Briffa.

The Review asked Jones about the MM2004 allegations. He stated that the “keep them out” email was “sent on the spur of the moment and quickly forgotten”, but there were good scientific reasons for his intention to exclude MM2004. (Namely, it did not account for signals like El Niño; and in any case its conclusions about the land temperature record are at odds with the independent lines of evidence provided by the ocean and satellite records.) Jones also denied having written the paragraph in question, saying the inclusion of MM2004 was a collective decision by the Chapter 3 writing team. IPCC records confirm that MM2004 was discussed by the group.

The inquiry also took evidence from one of the three Review Editors for Chapter 3, Professor Sir Brian Hoskins. He “was very impressed by Jones’ attention to detail, and the rigour of the Chapter 3 process.” He pointed out the writing group had joint responsibility for the text and it was unlikely for one voice to have dominated.

The Review found the rebuttal of MM2004 does not appear to have been “invented”. Instead there has been “a consistence of view amongst those who disagree with MM2004 that has been sustained over the last 6 years”. Overall, the Review found no more than “mere speculation” that MM2004 was unfairly excluded:

We conclude that there is evidence that the text was a team responsibility. It is clear that Jones (though not alone) had a strongly negative view of the paper but we do not find that he was biased, that there was any improper exclusion of material or that the comments on the MM2004 paper in the final draft were “invented” given the (continuing) nature of the scientific debate on the issue. [9.3.6]

What about the treatment of M&M2003? Briffa says the text was the responsibility of the entire Chapter 6 writing group, and they took M&M2003 very seriously. That paper excluded 77 of the 95 pre-1500 tree ring series used in MBH98, and WA2007 showed that the results of MBH98 could be replicated very closely using all the data. The AR4 text did not state that WA2007 had disproved the criticisms made by M&M2003, merely that their impact might be relatively small. Besides, MBH98 was only one of the 12 reconstructions shown in Figure 6.10 (M&M2003 was not shown because McKitrick commented that “we are not trying to offer ‘our’ climate history curve”).

Professor John Mitchell, one of the two Chapter 6 Review Editors, confirmed there was group responsibility, and told the Review that referencing unpublished material in the AR4 was not prohibited, but only allowed under exceptional circumstances. However, he says Briffa’s confidential email is “problematic”:

On the one hand it appears to reflect an honest request to an expert for a comment about the extent to which the author is being balanced and fair. On the other hand, it stresses the need for confidentiality in three places, implying that the author realizes that the approach may be improper. There was also a leak of an early draft of the WG1 report to the press which led to IPCC emphasizing the need to maintain confidentiality in general which may have been at the back of the author’s mind. [9.4.5]

The Review was persuaded that M&M2003 was “dealt with in a careful and reasonable fashion”. They found that the inclusion of WA2007 was “to ensure that assessments were as up to date as possible” and “appear[s] to be consistent with IPCC principles”. As for the allegation of breaking confidentiality, the IPCC rules do not prevent authors asking experts for objective advice.

But arguably the best evidence that Briffa was acting in good faith can be found in the emails themselves. Many of Briffa’s emails actually suggest a desire to ensure that uncertainty was fully explained. (Indeed, as the Review points out, “the e-mail correspondence with Wahl stresses in several places Briffa’s concern to be fair to sceptical views.”) I think they are worth quoting at some length. In an email dated 29/4/2003, Keith Briffa wrote (my emphasis):

Can I just say that I am not in the MBH camp — if that be characterized by an unshakable “belief” one way or the other, regarding the absolute magnitude of the global MWP. I certainly believe the “medieval” period was warmer than the 18th century — the equivalence of the warmth in the post 1900 period, and the post 1980s, compared to the circa Medieval times is very much still an area for better resolution. […] On present evidence, even with such uncertainties I would still come out favouring the “likely unprecedented recent warmth” opinion…

In an email dated 3/2/2006, Briffa wrote:

we are having trouble to express the real message of the reconstructions — being scientifically sound in representing uncertainty, while still getting the crux of the information across clearly. It is not right to ignore uncertainty, but expressing this merely in an arbitrary way (and a total range as before) allows the uncertainty to swamp the magnitude of the changes through time. We have settled on this version (attached) of the Figure which we hoe [sic] you will agree gets the message over but with the rigor required for such an important document.

In an email dated 15/2/2006, Briffa wrote:

We should be careful not to push the conclusions beyond what we can securely justify — and this is not much other than a confirmation of the general conclusions of the TAR. […] Let us not try to over egg the pudding. For what it worth, the above comments are my (honestly long considered) views — and I would not be happy to go any further. Of course this discussion now needs to go to the wider Chapter authorship, but do not let Susan (or Mike) push you (us) beyond where we know is right.

To the Review Team (and to me), these emails suggest “Briffa was unlikely to be an uncritical defender of the MBH view of the ‘hockey stick’, and wished to respect the view of the writing team as a whole”. Basically, it looks like Briffa adhered to the spirit if not the letter of the IPCC rules.

The Review concluded that neither allegation of misuse of the IPCC process could be upheld: “neither Jones nor Briffa behaved improperly”, and both “were part of large groups of scientists taking joint responsibility” for the relevant IPCC texts. [9.5]

Next: Impeding Information Requests?

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  1. Intriguing highlighted quotes there James. They certainly show that there was no blind pushing by Keith Briffa of unsupported statements into the AR4. Briffa's comment about the 'hockey stick' is certainly reasonable, and shows a truly scientific version of scepticism. Funny that we didn't hear about these quotes from the vocal 'skeptics' about this time last year...
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  2. The discussions about ClimateGate on this site show an interesting feature: observations and interpretations of facts are never objective. Our interpretation of the facts is always coloured by our frame of reference, our theoretical background.
    There are people who believe, that human activities have changed the global climate, that the present global temperature is unprecedented in at least 1000 years, and that climate change will have dramatic consequences in the next century, unless we immediately stop using fossil fuels. Let’s simply call them warmists. This is not name calling, it’s just the use of a word to characterize a group.
    There are also people who believe, that the climate has always changed, that human activities do have a certain influence on the climate, but that natural climate fluctuations are dominant, and that we should not be too worried, because mankind has shown to be able to adapt to climate change during at least 100,000 years. Let’s simply call them sceptics. This is not name calling, it’s just the use of a word to characterize a group.
    Warmists and sceptics have a very different perception of the significance of the ClimateGate documents. We see it in the reactions on the 4 parts of this ClimateGate serial. Warmists claim that the 4 independent investigations of ClimateGate have fully exonerated the group of climate scientists around Jones and Mann. No conspiracy, no perverting peer review, no fraud. Nothing. And the message stands upright: the climate has changed unprecedentedly and will change dangerously, if we don’t act now. The evidence has become even stronger since ClimateGate!
    Sceptics consider the independent investigations as white washing. The investigations yielded some heavy critics on climate scientists and the IPCC, but this was hidden in very polite recommendations. Maybe nothing illegal has been done, but the hidden critical comments confirm that climate scientists should not hide uncertainties, and should be open for alternative explanations of the facts. Exactly what sceptics have been saying for two decades! And what is that evidence that has become stronger in the previous 12 months? Which paper has definitely confirmed the warmist view?

    The different perceptions of the facts that could be observed in the slipstream of ClimateGate are well-known in cognitive sciences. It is called ‘inattentional blindness:’ seeing only what you expect to see, or what you wish to see, because your frame of reference steers you in a special direction and makes you blind for other interpretations. Could it be, that both sides of the ClimageGate debate suffer from this kind of blindness? And could it be, that the truth is in the middle?
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  3. Could it be, fydijkstra, that the truth is NOT in the middle? It's actually a well-known fallacy, the golden mean fallacy. Your "inattentional blindness"-link is also irrelevant to the point you are trying to make. The investigations specifically payed attention to supposed problems. Inattentional blindness disappears when one pays specific attention to the initial blind-spot.

    Note also that none of the criticisms and investigations claimed uncertainties were hidden (no, the IAC review did not do so either), nor was their criticism of not being open to alternative explanations.
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  4. fydijkstra,
    Yes, it is clear that a person's predispositions tend to color their perceptions. When it comes to interpretation of language, would you rather trust the judgment of someone familiar with the language and culture or someone for whom it is foreign.

    For instance, I work in a technical field; in that context, a 'trick' is a clever solution to a problem. Regarding Dr Mann's trick, he writes a description of the divergence and what he has done next to the graph where he 'hides the decline'. Telling the reader directly is a curious way to 'hide' anything; so, I always that this was an odd item for the deniers to choose to use equip in their arsenal. The other issues I sampled evaporated in a similar manner; the accusations were based on a misinterpretation of the language, or fell apart when a comparison was made of the statements in the email with what happened in actuality. So, no, I don't think that a middle-ground interpretation is accurate.

    Also, I don't think it is a fair interpretation of the AR4 to say that they downplayed uncertainties. On the other hand, I have seen uncertainty estimates omitted from what others have written about it.
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  5. Is this post it is really detailed and precise explanation, or rather, sometimes (by the amount of text) does not attempt to block out the problem?

    For example, MWP. Record is clear: Nature, 17.02.2010 - 'Climategate' scientist speaks out:

    “... the past 40 years of tree-ring data are unreliable temperature proxies, and some argue that using them in older temperature reconstructions, as Jones has done, could understate past warm periods, including the MWP (see Nature 463, 284–287; 2010). "It potentially does," admits Jones, but he adds that analyses using other methods — proxy temperature markers from ice-core samples, for example — still show much the same temperature change over the past millennium.”

    Jones, Briffa and author of this post. They still do not understand that we would have liked to know more precisely: how much the same temperature change over the past millennium, just enough, "more accurately" - not: “... absolute magnitude of the global MWP. ...”

    Conscious (?) the inclusion of old, improperly calibrated data series ...

    “Another outstanding problem in proxy research is the large range of uncertainty for temperatures from before about 1500. Studies published in 2004 (ref. 8) and 2005 (ref. 9), based on a combination of proxies of different resolution, suggest that fluctuations in global temperature during the past millennium may have been larger than initially thought. However, these studies still show late twentieth century warming to be unprecedented, says von Storch. And the most recent decade was warmer still.”(Nature463, 284–287; 2010)

    Only, that “warmer” von Storcha it’s not „warmer” “Mann and colleagues” ...

    “As long as we don't understand why the records diverge, we can't be sure that they accurately represent the past.”

    In the interview (20/02/2010 - in German language) von Storch criticizes the IPCC scientific procedures, and says - for MWP:
    „Ihr geradezu perfekter Verlauf sollte nachweisen, dass es in den vergangenen 1000 Jahren nie wärmer war als heute. Mein Institut und andere Kollegen haben mit eigenen Computermodellen früh nachgewiesen, dass in der Methodik unzulässige Annahmen steckten.“

    I do not translate this text - to not be accused of manipulation. Please use the Google option.
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  6. ... sorry - von Storcha = by von Storch
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  7. Re: fydijkstra

    It is certainly true that the repeated focus of "skeptics" on Climategate, despite multiple exonerations (truth be told: there exists no amount of investigations by no matter how impartial an arbiter that will ever acquit Mann, Jones, CRU or AGW in the mind of "skeptics") clearly indicts the "skeptics" of cognitive bias and your selfsame "inattentional blindness" charge.

    A continuing focus on a dead issue reeks of paranoia.

    Meanwhile the science of climate change is indeed as robust as ever. It is not immutable, but adapts to better understandings as they arise. Hand waving at that adaptation as proof of the falseness of AGW is revealing of the lack of understanding of science and the cognitive dissonance on display by the "skeptics" as well.
    "Which paper has definitely confirmed the warmist view?"
    Strawman argument. Where is the paper from "skeptics" overturning AGW? Anything physics-based explaining why anthropogenic-sourced CO2 doesn't act like a GHG when "normal" CO2 does? Where is the long-promised published analysis of the station drop-out issue? Where are the "skeptics" who are decrying the malfeasance already demonstrated to exist in the Wegman plagiarismgate?

    And your charge of hiding uncertainties is laughable. Rob Honeycutt has already shattered that myth of yours here.

    The reality is is that the science of climate change has moved on, and no amount of hand-waving by "skeptics" allows them to be true to the term skeptic.

    I would love for there to exist some mythical process that will allow the GHG effects of rising CO2 to just "go away". And I search daily for anything in the literature that is science-based that can demonstrate that it is even possible to be so. Diminishing returns is kicking in, though. Aside from espoused fantasies that are so wrong they're not even wrong, I find nothing.

    And hope fades.

    The Yooper
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  8. In the 3/2/2006 email, Briffa is saying that he doesn't want to allow the "uncertainty to swamp the magnitude of the changes through time" and that his goal is to "get the message over but with the rigor required for such an important document". Can someone explain how the color selection is rigorous in figure 6.10 here http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch6s6-6.html where it explains that the arbitrary value of "10%" with the faint color indicates that the outlier fell within one SE in only one reconstruction and increasingly darker colors fell within more reconstructions.

    As shown in figure 5.8 here http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/WegmanReport.pdf, the darker colors simply indicate that much of the data was reused in the various reconstructions. I conclude that the depiction fails to have any substantial rigor considering that the darkening of the color is directly attributable to the overlap in the input proxy data.
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  9. I'n with you there Daniel - every day I hope that somehow the science is wrong; sadly, every day there comes no silver bullet or magic fairy to waft the physics and climatic effects of CO2 away.

    Arkadiusz, your third paragraph makes no sense to me. The 'divergence problem' is an issue for the past 50 years, but before that, the subset of dendro records affected by the DP track very well with other long proxies and other dendro records not affected by the DP. And of course they also track well with the instrumental record up to ~1960. The subset of affected trees may indeed not be responding to unusual warmth such as the last 50 years, but the same accusation cannot be levelled against the other trees not showing a DP, and the other proxies.

    What if the MWP turns out to be rather warm? Climate sensitivity must then be high, in order to drive a larger temperature change froom a small solar forcing, and we should therefore be afraid for our future given the size of the current CO2 forcing. Everybody (skeptics included) ought to hope with all their hearts that the global MWP signal is closer to Mann's estimate (cooler) than any estimates indicating a warm MWP...
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  10. Eric, afraid I can't answer your question directly, but the growing scandal over plagiarism in the Wegman Report would make me severely question the veracity of anything written within it, to say nothing of the intellectual dishonesty of the cherry-picked rehash/copy of MacIntyre's incorrect statistics that is masquerading as original material in the WR (see the recent Deep Climate article which I found at least as shocking as the original plagiarism expose by John Mashey). Why don't you look out the references from IPCC to the data in the original figure and see whether there are significant overlaps in source data for each of the reconstructions? If there are large overlaps, it's a fair criticism, but if there are not, then the criticism is as unfounded as the rest of the Wegman Report.
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  11. skywatcher, your criticism is not fair, figure 5.8 in the Wegman report is factual as is the rest of the report AFAIK. If I can be allowed a small political tangent, I have defended Mike Mann on a conservative forum (where I have posted over 10 years) against what are objectively unfounded charges of financial wrongdoing. I believe the same types of political attacks should be avoided on both sides. Of course the legal attack on Mann is much more serious than the attack on Wegman, but they are both politically motivated attacks IMO.
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  12. "as is the rest of the report AFAIK"

    Eric, there are a number of different issues in play in the WR, and it would probably be a good idea to differentiate among them. The issues about choices of proxies are one thing, and the issues about the fundamental methodology are different.

    Regarding Wegman's claims about methodological flaws in Mann et al, you might be interested in reading the post that Skywatcher links to over at DeepClimate, if you haven't done so already.

    Aside from the plagiarism issue, there is a potentially serious problem with Wegman's claims that the methodology used by Mann produces hockey-stick shaped PCs from random data. If DC is correct, the code that Wegman used to justify this claim (originally written by McIntyre) actually generates 10,000 random data sets, tests how closely they resemble a hockey stick, and then keeps only the 1% that are the best fit.

    In other words, it's not Mann's method that produces a hockey stick from random data; it's McIntyre (and, later, Wegman) throwing out the mast majority (99%) of their random data that don't (by chance) resemble hockey sticks.

    There's no explanation in Wegman's report that this is what he did ... probably because he didn't understand that this is what McIntyre's code did.

    From the standpoint of the science, this seems much worse than the plagiarism.
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  13. Eric, here's an example. From the Wegman report:

    Figure 4.4: One of the most compelling illustrations that McIntyre and McKitrick have produced is created by feeding red noise [AR(1) with parameter = 0.2] into the MBH algorithm. The AR(1) process is a stationary process meaning that it should not exhibit any long-term trend. The MBH98 algorithm found ‘hockey stick’ trend in each of the independent replications.

    This figure ("one of the most compelling" in Wegman's own words) was actually produced by picking only a handful of "hockey sticks" after McIntyre's code had already thrown out the 99% of replications that didn't look like hockey sticks. The figure itself is deeply misleading, but the last sentence of the caption is especially problematic.

    An accurate version of that caption would have said "The MBH98 algorithm found ‘hockey stick’ trend in each of the independent replications when fed input data that we pre-screened to only include hockey sticks."
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  14. Ned, the hockey stick shape issue is interesting but does not address my question. My question was with what rigor was "10%" selected? More importantly, how does darker coloring which indicates more overlap in data sets become a rigorous definition of uncertainty? From my perspective the two best descriptions of uncertainty in this domain are the verification statistics for each series separately and the cross validation among the series. Briffa attempts to depict both in one diagram (fig 6.10) The attempt, IMO, lacks rigor because it does not take into account the overlap in the input data sets and in fact is biased by that overlap. Perhaps other people would consider 6.10 rigorous, and I would like to hear arguments of why it is.
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  15. Eric writes: "Ned, the hockey stick shape issue is interesting but does not address my question."

    Understood, Eric. I was just responding to your very broad statement "as is the rest of the report AFAIK" (i.e., the rest of the report is factual). There are now some pretty convincing suggestions of factual errors in other parts of the Report beyond the one you're discussing. These potentially serious misstatements have been obscured by the plagiarism issue, so many people might easily miss them.
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  16. Eric, please see this paper to see a reconstruction using proxies that are hardly ever used. Most, if not all of these are not part of the prior reconstructions mentioned in the Wegman report. Interesting outcome of Ljungqvist's paper? His reconstruction looks very similar to Mann 2008, despite using completely different proxies. No use of methodology that creates hockeysticks according to McIntyre. No "Inverted tiljander". None of that. And yet, the result is again the same. Somewhere someone should start to realise that all the complaints by contrarians may be nitpicking about the fourth decimal. But I guess not.
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  17. Ned @13,

    Yes, and that is just one of many examples of extremely poor scholarship by McIntyre and McKitrick (2005) and in the Wegman report. But there is a long and sordid history of incompetence by skeptics here.

    DeepClimate solidly refuted McKitrick's misinformation about the IPCC here.

    Gavin Schmidt soundly refuted McKitrick and Michaels (2007) here and McKitrick and Michaels (2004) is refuted here. The 2004 paper by M&M, despite allegations of "gate keeping" by "skeptics" and despite the fact that it had been refuted was included in in AR4. In fact, there are also several papers by other scientists "skeptical" of AGW (or skpetical that the warming won't be bad) in AR4 , including papers by Douglass, Singer, Lindzen, Spencer, Christy, Pielke etc....and that is just one chapter in AR4.

    And as for "attacks" and spreading misinformation about climate scientists, McKitrick and McIntyre are more than happy to do that, see here for just one example.

    And McIntyre and McKitrick have close ties to the Barton and Wegman scandal too.

    The shoddy science and games repeatedly come from those claiming to be "skeptics". And look whose name keeps repeatedly coming up in that context....

    Here is a link to a list of papers by "skeptics" which have been debunked/refuted.
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  18. fydijkstra.... I would suggest that the reason we have independent panels perform detailed reviews of issues like this is because of "inattentional blindness." The reviews are not a product of that malady. The are rational responses to it.

    If each of the six independent investigations had returned different conclusions we would still have an issue here of what was going on. We would have no way to evaluate what was whitewash and what was reality. But that is not what has happened. Every one of the independent reviews has returned essentially the same conclusion that there is nothing there.

    The chances of six different panels coming to nearly the exact same conclusions should be a strong indicator of where reality lay.

    You might not believe this from my posts here but I am, by nature, an extremely skeptical person. But when I am presented with convincing and overwhelming evidence I believe that I am capable of altering my position. My problem with so many of the "so called" skeptics is, they lack this very basic capacity.
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  19. Marco, thank you, that is a great example. Ljungqvist shows in figure 3 how the proxies vary by shading two standard deviations in temperature from the proxy means versus time. His use of two standard deviations is justified in figure 2A and by the fact that 2 standard deviations is only +/- 0.12 degrees in the verification period. This depiction is not by any means "arbitrary".

    In contrast the claim above is that "Many of Briffa’s emails actually suggest a desire to ensure that uncertainty was fully explained." But instead we see an arbitrary calculation and coloring of a reconstruction "scoring" (quotes in the original text) which simply ignores the fact that each of the reconstructions had at least one input data set in common. Not just arbitrary but misleading due to the overlap. So where is the rigor that Briffa claims to want to pursue? I suggest that he settled for "gets the message over" instead.
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  20. Eric, I suggest you are not a skeptic, but an ill deemer.
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  21. fydijkstra wrote : "The discussions about ClimateGate on this site show an interesting feature: observations and interpretations of facts are never objective. Our interpretation of the facts is always coloured by our frame of reference, our theoretical background."


    In this instance, there is only one fact (which cannot be interpreted and which can either be accepted or denied) : Three enquiries have found no substance for any of the accusations.



    fydijkstra wrote : "Let’s simply call them warmists. This is not name calling, it’s just the use of a word to characterize a group."


    So what about those who think the world is warming but that it is all natural ? They can't be called 'warmists' too ? Or can they ? Or is 'warmist' a desperate name used by so-called skeptics in the belief that it makes their own beliefs seem somehow more normal ?



    fydijkstra wrote : "There are also people who believe, that the climate has always changed, that human activities do have a certain influence on the climate, but that natural climate fluctuations are dominant, and that we should not be too worried, because mankind has shown to be able to adapt to climate change during at least 100,000 years. Let’s simply call them sceptics. This is not name calling, it’s just the use of a word to characterize a group."


    No, let's call them what they in fact are : those who want to believe anything but AGW, so they will argue one thing, then another (possibly the opposite) so they can argue against AGW no matter what. Perhaps we can call them 'denialists' ?

    I mean, your rationale there is so contorted, it is impossible to read it with a straight face.
    Who doesn't think that "the climate has always changed" ? Anyone ?
    Who believes in the dominance of "natural climate fluctuations" without any evidence - only a belief that there must be something there in the background, perhaps, with a cycle of a few thousand/tens of thousands/whatever years, maybe ? Those who prefer to deny.
    Who believes that we can adapt easily enough and that we shouldn't worry, everything will turn out alright in the end, possibly ? Just like 'we' did thousands of years ago...when there were hardly any people, no political borders and freedom to roam at will. Those who prefer to deny.

    This is not name-calling : this is the reality of those who wish to deny AGW.
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  22. Eric @ 19... Rather than making assumptions about Briffa's methods and intentions you should probably go deeper into the source research material. I believe you might find the answers to the questions that are popping up for you. And even then if you have nagging questions about why he presented his work as he did after reading and fully informing yourself on his work, contact Briffa with your questions.

    As long as you remain polite and brief, I've found all the prominent scientists in this field to be very eager to help people understand their work. I've corresponded with a number of them myself on various occasions.
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  23. fydijkstra wrote : "Warmists claim that the 4 independent investigations of ClimateGate have fully exonerated the group of climate scientists around Jones and Mann. No conspiracy, no perverting peer review, no fraud. Nothing. And the message stands upright: the climate has changed unprecedentedly and will change dangerously, if we don’t act now. The evidence has become even stronger since ClimateGate!"


    Rational people look at the outcome of the three main investigations (which are you claiming as the fourth - the one into Mann ?) and see the dismissal of all the baseless conspiracy theories. No surprise there. The only ones surprised are those who are like the 9/11 troofers who dismiss anything that goes against their specific conspiracy belief.
    Nothing has really changed but since none of the enquiries really looked into the evidence behind AGW, it is difficult to know where the second half of your paragraph is coming from - probably your own interpretation of the enquiries ?



    fydijkstra wrote : "Sceptics consider the independent investigations as white washing. The investigations yielded some heavy critics on climate scientists and the IPCC, but this was hidden in very polite recommendations. Maybe nothing illegal has been done, but the hidden critical comments confirm that climate scientists should not hide uncertainties, and should be open for alternative explanations of the facts. Exactly what sceptics have been saying for two decades! And what is that evidence that has become stronger in the previous 12 months? Which paper has definitely confirmed the warmist view."


    No, those who wish to deny AGW consider the results to be "white washing". Real sceptics would be glad that the basis behind the work of CRU, etc. have been found to be strong. Real sceptics would be working to make sure that the science is as good as it can be, and would be making sure that there is as firm a basis for the science as is possible.

    As for the "hidden critical comments", I suppose it takes the mind of a so-called skeptic to be able to find those 'hidden truths' which escape the rest of us.
    I don't know where you got the idea of being "open for alternative explanations of the facts" either. More 'hidden truths' or just your interpretation again ?
    If you are still asking for proof of AGW, you obviously haven't been reading anything on this site over the last year. That would be a surprise...not !



    fydijkstra wrote : "Could it be, that both sides of the ClimageGate debate suffer from this kind of blindness? And could it be, that the truth is in the middle?"


    No, I'm afraid not. The blindness is experienced by those who wish to deny AGW (who are blind to anything that goes against their particular beliefs), and who are prepared to argue for one explanation one day, and another the next. That is selective blindness but it can be cured by opening of the eyes and the mind.
    As in the so-called differences between evolutionists and creationists, you are either on the side of science or you are on the side of personal/religious/political belief - there is no middle-ground and those claiming that there is, are aware that their own arguments are unpersuasive to all but the most gullible.
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  24. Marco and Rob, perhaps you are right. The online debate in general has done that to many on both sides. Rob, will you contact Wegman?
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  25. Eric... LOL! I don't think Wegman wants to hear from me (nor is the WR something I'm willing to dig deep into at this moment). Which, honestly, is the big difference here. I think if you really dig in and fully inform yourself on Briffa's work he will gladly respond to your questions.
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  26. Eric... I might add here: I've not been making any claims about the WG nor have I even engaged in any conversation about the WR.

    It's an interesting issue to me. I've been keeping up with the news about the WR lately. I'm interested to hear what happens with the plagiarism charges. But I'm willing to stay on this sidelines of that issue for now until I understand it better.
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  27. Rob, here is the difference. Daniel Bailey (#7) threw up the charge of malfeasance and now you claim, without evidence, that Wegman cannot be contacted about it. I am glad you are neutral about that charge as you should be.

    What I did was ask if someone would defend the claim made in the post about Briffa's desire to fully explain the uncertainty. It is rather obvious that he did not have that desire as the paper that Marco posted demonstrates (a counterexample of willingness to fully explain uncertainty). Briffa's method is not commonplace or (since it is novel), not supported by or derived from previous methods. I welcome any evidence to the contrary and will read whatever is presented.
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  28. Re: Eric (skeptic) (27)

    Look up the USA Today article. The USA Today contacted 3 independent experts on plagiarism & published their thoughts on the Wegman Report. I won't further colour your opinion on it; look it up, make up your own mind.

    The Yooper
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  29. fydijkstra:
    "Our interpretation of the facts is always coloured by our frame of reference, our theoretical background."



    Interpretation of the facts??
    You start the sentence with a statement that means nothing.

    What people do is interpret the texts, they then 'colour' what they have read using their frame of reference. But what you have left out, is that the author is the person that knows the original meaning in the texts.
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  30. Daniel Bailey, thanks I will look into it further. BTW, it appears that Wegman has been instructed to not comment "When contacted by phone, Wegman said, `I'm very aware of this report, but I have already been asked by this university to refrain from commenting on this issue..." http://thebrilliantstories.com/prominent-climate-science-critic-investigated-at-varsity/452234/ So I withdraw my suggestion above, but I still ask that people try to be neutral.
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  31. Eric... You're right. I have no evidence that Wegman would not respond. It is purely an assumption on my part. None-the-less, it's you who is dragging me into a conversation that I did not initiate nor previously participated in.

    I'm merely saying that I think you're coming to rash conclusions about Briffa's work without knowing the full details. My experience is that scientists generally have extremely good reasons for presenting their material the way they do.
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  32. Eric,

    My concern about your remarks re: Wegman is that plagiarism is something that can actually be demonstrated pretty easily to laypeople, and is generally agreed to indicate dishonesty or incompetence. Everyone ought to be able to recognize plagiarism, and to understand the problems with it, regardless of where they stand on AGW.

    A kneejerk defense of the WR, at a time when plagiarism experts have found serious grounds for concern, is not "skeptical" as I understand the term. Neither is calling these concerns "politically motivated"; whatever the various motivations may be for the various investigations into the WR's sourcing and attribution, the evidence produced so far goes to the heart of Wegman's credibility and can't simply be ignored or downplayed. Attempting to dismiss the accusations (and the evidence) on this basis amounts to an ad hominem argument, at best.

    More to the point, you claim in #27 that it's good to be "neutral" about the WR, despite having previously insisted that the report is "factual" and the attacks on it are "politically motivated." That's a bit of a double standard, isn't it?
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  33. Phila, yes while "factual" is neutral, my charge of "politically motivated" is not neutral.
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  34. I'd like to see a post on the general CRU hack incident that simply states what should be obvious to anyone that takes a step back: if ANYONE had most of the emails that they wrote (presuming they use email regularly) over the past 10+ years stolen and placed in the hands of individuals badly wanting to embarass them, those individuals would almost surely find something. Aside from being able to easily take things out of context, forming a "greatest hits" to support a certain narrative, I doubt that many of us who use email regularly can honestly say we've never written anything via email that we at least moderately regret or believe could have been worded differently or more clearly.

    Eric (#30),

    "BTW, it appears that Wegman has been instructed to not comment"

    He had been. No longer I guess.

    http://www.usatoday.com/weather/climate/globalwarming/2010-11-21-climate-report-questioned_N.htm

    His email correspondence related to the Wegman Report have mysteriously disappeared at GMU. What happened to that transparency he claimed to advocate?
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  35. I wonder how Wegman would respond to a barrage of FOIA requests akin to that used against UEA...
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  36. #2 fydijkstra - the better analogy is this: You get a chest x-ray and it shows a fuzzy mass . One doctor says it is an artifact of the equipment, one says it is lung cancer.

    You now have a fact with two different interpretations. The interpretation you choose has serious repercussions for how you live your life, and how long that life is.

    You get a 2nd opinion (all the other scientists who are telling us AGW is real and needs to be dealt with). You wonder if their process is valid - you go to yet other Doctors (in different fields) to review the process (the 6 reviews that showed Mann et. al. were simply doing good science). So you now have 2 opinions that tell you the exact same thing and a team of trusted Doctors in other fields telling you the process is robust.

    Now you can talk about skeptics and pro-cancerists (aka warmists). The skeptics choose to believe there is no cancer - it could be a bad x-ray (even though you have now had 3 different x-rays, from 3 different machines, and an MRI to boot - all showing the identical lump (well, actually, the lump has grown in the time you have been studying it)). And, your body is producing the exact same chemicals it would IF you had cancer.

    And you have the pro-cancerists. These crazy coots believe you actually have cancer! It must be politically motivated. Or they just want your money. Or something.

    So - it is your life. Do you "believe" the skeptics or the pro-cancerists?

    That is a much better analogy then some "gee-the-truth-is-in-the-middle" pablum. There are real, verified facts as the basis of AGW claims. And the more you look, the more clear their conclusions become.
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  37. Eric,

    Phila, yes while "factual" is neutral, my charge of "politically motivated" is not neutral.

    Actually, the claim that it's factual isn't neutral either. It's a positive opinion, and it's increasingly contradicted by straightforward evidence that you clearly have the ability, if not the will, to read and understand.

    You're free to believe whatever you want. But please don't pretend you're being neutral while you're taking a position of advocacy. And please don't request neutrality from us while making scattershot accusations of a "politically motivated" attack on Wegmen.
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  38. Eric, although I think you're making too much out of one comment from one author attaching it to one graph of the IPPC report, I think the paleoclimate section would be greatly improved with rigorous model intercomparisons and model averaging of the paleoclimate. This exercise is not trivial (not just in comparing the data, but the statistical methods, proxy types, spatial locations, heterogeneity in the time series, etc.; just a nasty missing data problem), and AFAIK, not even done in the literature.

    I thought Figure 6.10(c) provides a nice coherent picture of the heterogeneity (or homogeneity) in the model reconstructions. The overlap values are something that can be used for future reports. The 10% number was chosen because there are 10 series, and the choice of the width of the SE is always arbitrary (but necessary) to an extent.

    The thing about the IPCC is, it's just a summary of the current lit. So doing stuff that's not even in the literature is I think overextending the purpose of IPCC. Or maybe the IPCC reports should include them anyways.. that's the authors' to decide. But once the analysis is out there, it will/should be discussed in the IPCC report.

    The GCM guys are at it already, and I'm sure the paleoclimate folks will follow. Heck, they say this in the conclusions of the paleoclimate section:

    "Differing amplitudes and variability observed in available millennial-length NH temperature reconstructions, and the extent to which these differences relate to choice of proxy data and statistical calibration methods, need to be reconciled."
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  39. apeescape, thanks for your explanations of 10% and homogeneity depictions. I am optimistic based on Ljungqvist paper Marco linked to and the IPCC sentence that you quoted above, that those will result in a more objective depiction of uncertainty. Specifically that the shaded area will be shown based on the SD for each record in the verification interval and the SD between all the records as shown in fig 2A in Ljungqvist and that the records will all be independent. In contrast, reading the first link in #8, the paragraph explaining figure 6.10c lacks an explanation of the overlap of the inputs (non-independence) in the reconstructions.

    I disagree that SE width is arbitrary to any meaningful extent because the standard deviation can be calculated by reconstruction and across reconstructions as shown in the Ljungqvist paper Marco linked in #16. Ljungqvist states the relevant fact that 2 SD's is +/- 0.12 degrees in the verification interval. There are other uncertainties that are missing from that assessment like the verification interval applicability, measurement issues, etc, but at least that one fact is expressed in the text to justify the graph. The corresponding number in Briffa's text is +/- 0.5 degrees. That is what should have been depicted in 6.10c, not a "score" (quotes in original) or a "schematic representation of the most likely course of hemispheric mean temperature change", when in fact what was depicted was the overlap of reconstructions due to having the same inputs.
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  40. Eric(skeptic),


    How can one remain neutral when not only did he plagerised words but rather he used mm05's whole analysis and then tried to say he was "independently" affirming their criticisms.
    You can see the evidence here: http://deepclimate.org/2010/11/16/replication-and-due-diligence-wegman-style/


    Clearscience
    http://clearscience.wordpress.com/
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