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Nature on respect for adversaries

Hot on the heels of Nature's editorial damning "denialists" comes these words of advice from the editorial staff at that august journal.

And scientists should be careful not to disparage those on the other side of a debate: a respectful tone makes it easier for people to change their minds if they share something in common with that other side.

Sorry, it seems, is still the hardest word to say.



IPCC and WWF statements on glaciers

In separate statements of regret and remorse, the IPCC and World Wildlife Fund have confessed to their parts in getting unsupported statements about disappearing glaciers into the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report.

The IPCC refer in their press release to "poorly substantiated estimates of rate of recession and date for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers" to which one might be tempted to add the words "not credible in the first place".

The reason for the lapse was, apparently, non-adherence to IPCC rules:

In drafting the paragraph in question, the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedures, were not applied properly. The Chair, Vice-Chairs, and Co-chairs of the IPCC regret the poor application of well-established IPCC procedures in this instance. This episode demonstrates that the quality of the assessment depends on absolute adherence to the IPCC standards, including thorough review of “the quality and validity of each source before incorporating results from the source into an IPCC Report” 3. We reaffirm our strong commitment to ensuring this level of performance.

This is an interesting admission, particularly for me, having just written a book that touches on several issues of failings in IPCC procedures and unbalanced statements finding their way into IPCC reports.

Meanwhile, WWF are also very sorry:

At the time the WWF report was issued, we believed the source of the statement to be reliable and accurate. 

We regret any confusion caused by our role in repeating the erroneous quote in the 2005 report and in subsequent publications and statements. 

As the world’s leading science-based conservation organisation, WWF is strongly committed to ensuring the information we provide to the public is thoroughly reviewed to meet the highest standards of accuracy.



It wasn't me guv!

Courtesy of the Hindustan Times we learn that Syed Hasnain, the glaciologist who was said to have been the source of the "glaciers gone by 2035" story, is now denying ever having said those words.

The man blamed so far for the false alarm about the Himalayan glaciers melting by 2035 surfaced on Tuesday to say he never made such an exact assertion and, worse, he had been misquoted.

“On the basis of our research in 1999 I must have said that glaciers in the Central and Eastern Himalayas will lose mass during the next 40/ 50 years at their present rate of decline,” Hasnain told Hindustan Times.

But a date was put to this “approximation”, Hasnain said, by a journalist, Fred Pearce, who quoted him in an article in New Scientist, a respected London-based magazine.

Was Hasnain aware that he had been misquoted? If yes, did he seek a clarification?

Yes, he was aware of the misreporting. And no, he didn’t seek a clarification. “It was not a scientific journal, just a news report. Therefore, I did not ask for a clarification.”

H/T Turning Tide in the comments



Fred Pearce and the glacier story

Climate Resistance has a fascinating post examining the role of New Scientist journalist Fred Pearce in the glacier story and wonders whether such a prolific writer of climate scare books can really have been unaware of the error for all these years.

It is inconceivable that as prolific a writer on the climate as Pearce can be unaware of the influence of his error. It is more than obvious that Pearce has a political agenda that exists prior to ‘the science’ he reports. This prior-ness is something we have emphasised here on Climate Resistance as fundamental to understanding the phenomenon of environmentalism: the disaster scenario is the premise of environmental politics, not the conclusion of environmental science. Once this premise is accepted, so to speak, a priori, the conclusion becomes a given; the ‘science’ is almost immaterial, it merely gives numbers to what is already given.



Reviews - 2

Here's another of the pre-publication reviews of The Hockey Stick Illusion:

Although the science is not always straightforward, Andrew W. Montford manages to make the story both exciting and accessible to the reader. He uses the Hockey Stick as an example of how manipulation of data and publication routines can change the whole world’s view of an important subject. The story is told in such a fascinating way that it is hard to take ones eyes from the page.

Wibjörn Karlén
Professor of Geography (Emeritus)
University of Stockholm



News from the warehouse

For everyone who is awaiting news of the availability of The Hockey Stick Illusion at Amazon, we expect them to show availability later this week.

Sorry to keep you all waiting.



The plot thickens

Apparently the glacier mistake was known all along, but the IPCC thought it better to say nothing!

Pielke Jnr has the story.



Amazon availability

A couple of readers have said they have received emails from Amazon UK saying that delivery of the Hockey Stick Illusion is now going to be delayed into February. This is not correct.

The stock was shipped over the last two working days. My publisher is going to contact Amazon to try to get this updated. I'll post an update when I have it.



Patchygate update

The momentum over Patchygate seems to be building and has now merged with the parallel furore over the IPCC's glacier story, with Richard North noting that the source of the original story about melting glaciers was a scientist who now works for Pachauri's TERI organisation.

Anthony Watts notes that Pachauri doesn't seem to separate his TERI and his IPCC roles in terms of his email communications either. Roger Pielke Jnr says the whole thing stinks. In the comments to Pielke Jnr's article, the economist Richard Tol makes the first of what is likely to be many calls for Pachauri to resign or be fired.

The furore has garnered huge attention in Pachauri's native India, with environment minister Ramesh claiming vindication of his argument that the IPCC was being alarmist. It's interesting too to read the author's observation that dodgy environmental claims about India seem to have been something of a theme of the past few years, with western governments and environmentalists using faulty evidence to try to push India around.

And Pachauri himself? He has just found another new role for himself, this time as romantic author (!), launching a novel entitled Return to Almora at what sounds like a suitably glittering occasion. I'm not joking by the way.



Glenn McGregor in NZ Herald

Glenn McGregor is a climatologist who is best known to sceptics from his appearances in the Climategate emails where Hockey Team members explain that he is willing to delay sceptic papers and pick "suitable reviewers" for warmist ones, in order to make life difficult for those who might question the global warming hypothesis.

McGregor made a brief appearance in the New Zealand Herald over the weekend, where he is quoted in an article about Kiwis' lack of confidence in global warming science:

Dr McGregor said if climatologists explained their research processes better, they might be able to avoid popular criticisms, such as recent accusations of scientists "fiddling" with climate records.

"When people don't understand the process they just pick up on, 'oh they've adjusted the (climate) record'," he said. "That probably creates a lot of mistrust."

Professor McGregor has been caught red-handed and nobody is going to be fooled by an argument that they are too stupid to understand.

When in a hole, one is normally best advised to stop digging.



Intriguing new details on the glacier story

The Hindustan Times has picked up on the glacier story that is proving so embarrassing for Rajendra Pachauri and the IPCC. But as well as repeating the details from the New Scientist and Sunday Times stories, there are a couple of new details.

Firstly, Syed Hasnain, the scientist who made the original claims about the Himalayan glaciers disappearing by 2035, has gone to ground:

Attempts by Hindustan Times to reach Hasnain failed. His family said he was away and there was no telephone number at which he could be contacted.

I suppose it is a little embarrassing, but hiding from the press does seem like a bit of an overreaction. And surely he has a mobile phone?

The other interesting news is that the IPCC are going to make a statement on glaciers in the coming week:

Pachauri said IPCC would issue a statement on the glaciers “by the middle of this week”.

We will watch with interest.



National Domestic Extremism Team


IPCC glaciers - some explanation

Photo by RichDrogPa under Creative Commons. Hot on the heels of New Scientist's story about how the erroneous Himalayan glacier story found its way from the lips of an Indian Scientist called Syed Hasnain, via the World Wildlife Fund, to the pages of an IPCC report, comes this article from Jonathan Leake in the Sunday Times, which fills in much of the detail. Amazingly, the claim that Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2035 was not even remotely credible in the first place

Professor Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University, said: "Even a small glacier such as the Dokriani glacier is up to 120 metres [394ft] thick. A big one would be several hundred metres thick and tens of kilometres long. The average is 300 metres thick so to melt one even at 5 metres a year would take 60 years. That is a lot faster than anything we are seeing now so the idea of losing it all by 2035 is unrealistically high.”

This rather begs the question of how such a remarkable claim managed to pass through the allegedly bulletproof peer review process of the IPCC and the New Scientist journalist, Fred Pearce, is demanding answers. It will be interesting to see if the IPCC deigns to respond.



Hockey Stick Illusion for US readers

While my publisher has made valiant efforts to sell the US rights to The Hockey Stick Illusion and I've made my own attempts too, we've had no joy so far. US readers can buy the book direct from Amazon UK, but this may be relatively expensive. Could someone perhaps find out how much it would cost to buy and ship a single copy to the US?

I'm still very tempted to self-publish in the US. There's a typeset manuscript ready to go, which would just need a cover design. However, wiser heads are advising me to hold on, and of course if I can make an impact in the UK there's always the possibility that someone will pick me up for North America.

What do readers think?



New Scientist on glaciers

Ten years after publishing some outrageous claims about disappearing glaciers, New Scientist comes clean:

This sudden burst of inquiry from Britain's premier science magazine is certainly welcome. We've had twenty-odd years of, at best dumb acquiescence and at worst dumber cheerleading. What have the New Scientists been thinking of these last two decades?

We are entitled to an explanation too.