The information related to Climategate — the CRU email, computer code and other documents released or “hacked” — continue to mount, illustrating an interesting trail of possible corruption of the scientific process, and the use of bullying to make a case for Anthropogenic Global Warming/Man-made Climate Change. We’ve decided to shift our original posts on the subject to a special page, along with other seemingly scandalous items that seem to be following.
THE INTER-ACADEMY COUNCIL REPORT
20 Sep 2010: The Inter-Academy Council (IAC) — a member organization composed of 15 academies of science, plus other similar organizations form around the world — released its assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IAC study was prompted by numerous errors contained in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report. Although the IPCC’s 4th Assessment Report was granted a Nobel Peace Prize (that’s the prize tied to things other than developments in the hard sciences), the IAC has noted needs for fundamental reforms in the IPCC process, management structure and procedures.
Some of the IAC’s conclusions:
Modernize the management structure:
The governance and basic elements of the management structure are more than two decades old, yet the organization has seen vast increases in complexity and the sheer magnitude of the assessment process, and there are many calls for increased transparency and accountability. It is apparently not in tune with “best practices” in use elsewhere.
Strengthen the review process:
although this process is fundamental, some review procedures are not followed and others are weak. Review comments should receive appropriate consideration, including those that may be controversial.
Characterize and communicate uncertainties:
guidance for how to apply
probabilities of confidence were not always followed allowing, for example, high confidence to be assigned to items for which there was little evidence.
this is an “important principle for promoting trust by the public, the scientific community, and governments.” There has been a definitive lack of “transparency in several stages of the IPCC assessment process, including scoping and the selection of authors and reviewers, as well as in the selection of scientific and technical information considered in the chapters.”
Clarify the use of unpublished and non-peer-reviewed sources:
“A significant amount of information that is relevant and appropriate for inclusion in IPCC assessments appears in the so-called gray literature, which includes technical reports, conference proceedings, statistics, observational data sets, and model output. IPCC procedures require authors to critically evaluate such sources and to flag the unpublished sources that are used. However, authors do not always follow these procedures, in part because the procedures are vague.
Engage the best regional experts:
The Working Group II report in particular would be improved if author teams included experts from outside those geographic regions as many of the foremost experts on a particular region live outside that region. At present, those experts are largely precluded from playing an authorship role.
Expedite approval of the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM):
governments should provide written comments prior to the plenary session in which the SPM is reviewed, often line by line. This is expected to “reduce opportunities for political interference with the scientific results…”
Telegraph editorial, Flawed Science
Wall Street Journal editorial, Climate of Uncertainty (2 September 2010)
Dr. Roy Spencer, Dump the IPCC (1 September 2010)
The IAC Press Release (30 August 2010)
The IAC Report “Climate Change Assessments, Review of the Processes & Procedures of the IPCC”
Last Updated ( Friday, 24 September 2010 03:34 )
UPDATES ON CLIMATEGATE … THE “REVIEWS”
5 September 2010: We post here links to four relatively recent articles on the continuing Climategate Saga and the various review processes that were to have assessed potential wrong-doing by scientists, the validity of the science or other matters of great importance. One such review, we notice, was also to have assessed matters of climate science, though that panel apparently understood their charter differently from many of the rest of us. (Ed. Note: The headlines presented are those of the original articles.)
Parliament misled over Climategate report, says MP: Russell report is inadequate, says Stringer (or print format)
Labour MP Graham Stringer’s summary of the Russell inquiry report was that it was not a “whitewash,” but that it was “inadequate.” The Russell report was to have examined issues of scientific malpractice (which it reportedly did not do). Three areas that were not covered were apparently of greatest concern:
“Why did they [scientists at East Anglia] delete emails?”
Russell (who is reportedly not a scientist) concluded that the work was reproducible, something that would appear outside his expertise to assess, especially if the data needed was unavailable.
The recommendations of the Commons Select Committee were not followed with respect to keeping the inquiry fully independent (i.e., not allowing the University to have first sight of the report, so as to maintain the report as “independent”).
Info commissioner finds saintly CRU crew guilty: Climategate row rumbles on
In brief, this article summarizes developments including the rapid return of Phil Jones to work at the UAE, on the heels of the Russell report’s release, while the UK’s Information Commissioner’s office confirmed that the CRU had actually broken England’s Freedom of Information regulations, “once by ignoring the request, and twice by refusing the actual data.” Four more complaints remain under review.
DOE Funding For CRU Placed On Hold (H/T WUWT)
by Jonathan Leake, The Sunday Times (subscription required)
“The American government has suspended its funding of the University of East Anglia’s climate research unit (CRU), citing the scientific doubts raised by last November’s leak of hundreds of stolen emails.” So begins the article… It’s not well known, but the US Department of Energy has been a funding source for the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) back to 1990 or so, to the tune of about US$200,000 per year, on a rolling three-year contract. This article indicates that the contract was to have been renewed in April (automatically), but was suspended pending a scientific peer review of the CRU’s work. There are suggestions that the Russell report was the “peer review” upon which the DOE was waiting, and the DOE team will now reportedly review that document before any decision is made to continue funding of the CRU.
The Climategate Whitewash Continues
This is an opinion piece written by Patrick Michaels, a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia from 1980-2007, now a senior fellow at the CATO Institute. Michaels also focuses to a large degree on the Russell report, but also notes some other concerns as well. For example, Michaels states:
“Climate Research and several other journals have stopped accepting anything that substantially challenges the received wisdom on global warming perpetuated by the CRU. I have had four perfectly good manuscripts rejected out of hand since the CRU shenanigans, and I’m hardly the only one. Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, has noted that it’s becoming nearly impossible to publish anything on global warming that’s nonalarmist in peer-reviewed journals.”
AN UPDATE ON THE “INVESTIGATIONS”
Clive Crook is a senior editor of The Atlantic, a columnist for National Journal, and a commentator for the Financial Times. He worked at The Economist for nearly 20 years, including 11 years as deputy editor. The following article appeared in The Atlantic on 14 July 2010.
By way of preamble, let me remind you where I stand on climate change. I think climate science points to a risk that the world needs to take seriously. I think energy policy should be intelligently directed towards mitigating this risk. I am for a carbon tax. I also believe that the Climategate emails revealed, to an extent that surprised even me (and I am difficult to surprise), an ethos of suffocating groupthink and intellectual corruption. The scandal attracted enormous attention in the US, and support for a new energy policy has fallen. In sum, the scientists concerned brought their own discipline into disrepute, and set back the prospects for a better energy policy.
I had hoped, not very confidently, that the various Climategate inquiries would be severe. This would have been a first step towards restoring confidence in the scientific consensus. But no, the reports make things worse….
Last Updated ( Monday, 20 September 2010 18:47 )
WHAT IS THE “REAL” MESSAGE BEHIND CLIMATEGATE?
Some of us believe the allegations of “fraud,” and outright deceit regarding the CRU (and other scientists) may be a little over the top. The focus on the emails themselves overlooks the value in the other documents, such as the comments embedded in computer code. Yet, at the same time, the release (liberation?) of the CRU documents do identify some practices that were questionable at best, at least running to the very edge of scientific misconduct. For example:
Some climate researchers apparently did a very poor job of documentation. That has opened them up for criticism, and rightly so. In the field of medicine the standard is that if you didn’t document it, you can’t prove you did it. (Certainly there is room for the documentation to be fudged from the start, but it’s clear that documentation practices at the CRU were lacking from about Day One.) One has to wonder if the funding entities really got what they paid for.
It’s clear that the IPCC coordinating lead authors, lead authors and reviewers often overlapped extensively with scientists employed at the CRU and their close associates. The IPCC has relied heavily on authors and their colleagues to place their own research into the most favorable light, and the review process also left much to be desired (when, for example, comments could be simply dismissed out of hand).
It’s apparent that the much vaunted “peer review” process, already questioned for the paleoclimatology community (that of Briffa, Mann, et al.) by the and panels (plus and ), can be “gamed” to allow an author’s associates to review papers written by the author, as well as reviewing papers critical of that given author. In addition, there is ample evidence that papers that pose problematic questions can be delayed (for many months), or dismissed out of hand without review. Further, journal editorial boards and editors are evidently susceptible to manipulation toward a variety of ends. The term “peer-review” does not appear to mean what has long been asserted. Well, at least in some circles…
A major question that remains to be answered is how these CRU researchers can determine and ascertain with reasonable certainty how they did their own work 10, 15 or 20 years ago. Some aspects were published, but the much vaunted and prized Professional Journal publications are generally an abbreviated discussion. Articles published about the research associated with a Masters Thesis or Ph.D. Dissertation (documents that may reach hundreds of pages), may be boiled down to 10 or 12 pages in such journals. That’s pretty condensed, so there are likely to be many details dropped.
In their search for tenure, researchers are often pressured to publish of perish, and may begin to take shortcuts and otherwise slide into areas of misconduct. That should be a major concern for the public.
The “leaked” UEA CRU data and emails opened a window into mindsets (the “bunker mentality” discussed previously).
The documents also illustrate a failing in scientific research, that of an increasing need for transparency and an established means for independent validation of scientific work, especially with respect to major public policy determinations. There is a likely cost implication associated with trying to fix these problems of data access, validation, etc. But the much larger hurdle to vault will be the mindset of scientists and researchers who will say: “This is mine! These data can’t be shared with others!” (We’ve already seen this problem in EPA decisions in which government funded computer code and research data have been blocked from true peer review (i.e., a proper independent review) for a variety of reasons.
With the need for independent validation transparency, and data access comes a need for independent assessment of what are “major” legislative and regulatory actions. As things stand now, the agency or legislative body making the proposal gets to assess the action under consideration (such as EPA creating its own cost estimates on the compliance costs of a proposed regulation). Can they cook the numbers to make it slip under a threshold? Sure. Do they? Good question.
CLIMATE SCIENCE, THE TIMELINE
2 5 Feb 2010: I’ve finally finished reviewing a monster, a good one. It seems that a number of individuals have created a summary timeline — including information gleaned from the “Climategate” document release (be it a real hack, an inadvertent posting to an unrestricted site, or a whistleblower’s response to being fed up with what he or she was seeing at the UEA CRU) — regarding the evolution of the IPCC, and the key dates and “contributions” to the Global Warming program.
We warn that some of the verbiage of the document may make allegations based on limited extracts, but keep in mind that the document is huge. The citations are provided so one can go to the real Climategate emails or other documents to read the point in greater context.
A large chart (which is available in multiple formats for those who want to print the piece and splice it together) has been created. The timeline goes back to the very beginnings and identifies many issues, only some of which are the result of a detailed reading of the Climategate emails, computer code and other documents now in the public domain. (A very small and unreadable version of the chart is shown below to give an idea of its size.) Many references are provided for further follow up. Clearly many hours have gone into its creation.
Also available is a 43 page booklet, available for free download in PDF format, entitled: Climategate: Caught Green-Handed — Cold Facts about the Hot Topic of Global Warming Temperature Change after the Climategate Scandal.
Oh, haven’t you downloaded your copy of the files yet? It’s about 60 MB, so download only on a broadband connection. Download options include: or As a or Just search via your favorite Internet Search Engine (such as Google) for download Climategate emails (that’s how we generated to two above).