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Political science

Martin Rees appears unable to resist the temptation to ride roughshod over the Royal Society's tradition of avoiding political controversy. His latest contribution is a fairly naked piece of political advocacy - an open letter to media and business leaders, written jointly with Anthony Giddens, a left-wing academic. In it, the two men call for "a renewed impetus to international collaboration", reduced carbon emissions and the like.

It is remarkable to see two such prominent academics demonstrating such a remarkable lack of familiarity with simple logical thinking: they allude first to the floods in Pakistan, then say that they cannot be connected to climate change and then state that they represent "a stark warning".



Climate education

There are a couple of interesting posts I'd like to draw your attention to on the "Climate change in schools" front.

Climate Lessons is preparing a list of all the global warming websites directed at children and is looking for help and assistance.

Meanwhile, Harmless Sky asks "What the hell are we doing to our children?"


Judy C in Scientific American

There is a major profile of Judy Curry in Scientific American. Read it here.


Shade on Hulme

John Shade, who runs the Climate Lessons website left these thoughts on Mike Hulme's lecture as a comment. I thought they were worth pulling into a post of their own.

I must confess to having enjoyed the talk by Professor Hulme. He spoke clearly and in a structured way, presented lots of ideas, and generally came across to me as intelligent and thoughtful. I just wish I were bright enough or informed enough to follow all of them. As it is, I still got lots to think about from it, and the notes which follow are in part intended just to share my puzzlements and prejudices.

Click to read more ...


McKitrick on the Hockey Stick

This was posted in the comments on WUWT. I'm not sure if it's recent or not, but it hasn't been on YouTube for long. I've never seen it before.



Climate cuttings 39

Another round of Climate Cuttings to set you up for the weekend...

Vaclav Klaus rounds of his trip to the UK with an article in the Spectator: Thank Heavens for Bob Carter.

Carter himself is meanwhile telling the residents of Hong Kong about what we know (or not) about the climate.  Buy Bob's book here.

Also in the Spectator, Rod Liddle says that Dellers has lost his sense of humour over the 10:10 video. Liddle thinks it was "quite funny, and nicely done and even self-deprecatingly ironic". Right.

McIntyre seems to have got hold of one of Ray Bradley's emails, in which Mann's lieutenant says he has offered to drop his plagiarism charge if Wegman requests the withdrawal of his report to Congress. Commenters wonder if this amounts to blackmail and interfering with the congressional record. More at WUWT.

Donna Laframboise notes the curious case of Richard Klein, who moved from Greenpeace campaigner, to MSc, to IPCC lead author, to IPCC coordinating lead author and finally to his doctorate, in that order.

Michael Mann et al try the ad-hominem approach to dealing with Nature's positive review of Pielke Jnr's book.

And lastly, Nature reports that space tourism will accelerate climate change.



Mike Hulme on climate models

There is video available here of a lecture given by Professor Mike Hulme entitled "How do Climate Models Gain and Exercise Authority?". Hulme asks whether deference towards climate models is justified and whether we should have confidence in them. I think the answer is "We don't know".


UVa versus Cuccinelli redux

The Madison Eagle is reporting that the University of Virginia has applied to have Ken Cuccinelli's demand for Michael Mann's emails thrown out again.

Cuccinelli sent a third, more limited subpoena — known as a civil investigative demand — to UVa on Sept. 29. Cuccinelli says he is investigating Mann for possibly violating Virginia’s Fraud Against Taxpayers Act because Mann received a $214,700 university grant while he was employed at UVa between 1999 and 2005.

On Wednesday, UVa’s lawyers filed papers requesting that Cuccinelli’s latest demand be “set aside” as well.


ICO rules against Hoskins

David Holland writes:

The Information Commissioner has just issued Decision Notice FER0239225 on my complaint against the University of Reading for its refusal to disclose information relating to the IPCC Fourth Assessment process.

It is broadly similar to that issued in relation to the University of East Anglia, in particular confirming that such information is subject to the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 which has fewer opportunities for refusal.   As a result of the Information Commissioner's intervention some 368 emails were disclosed.   One issue in this case is that employee concerned, Professor Sir Brian Hoskins had not given the University’s Information Officer the opportunity to examine the emails that he held in order to determine if they should have been disclosed, until the Information Commissioner contacted Reading.

The Information Commissioner continues to investigate similar complaints against the MOD/Met Office and the University of Oxford.   Professor Myles Allen of Oxford had made his attitude to Freedom of Information requests very clear at the Royal Institution debate on Climategate on 14 June 2010.  

Oxford has recently added a novel defence to its refusal to disclose, which the Commissioner is considering, and which I will dispute should it be seriously entertained.   Oxford is arguing that Professor Myles Allen took extended unpaid paternal leave while undertaking his duties as an IPCC Review Editor and thereby undertook his work for the IPCC on a “personal basis”.   The IPCC shows Allen’s affiliation as Oxford and he copied the pro forma Review Editor’s Report onto University letterhead before sending it to the IPCC Working Group.   His IPCC duties ran from at least 17 November 2005, when he was appointed, to 4 January 2007, when he submitted his Review Editor’s Report.

The ICO's ruling is attached below.

ICO ruling on Holland's Reading FOI request


UKRIO on retractions

The UK Research Integrity Office has issued new guidelines on retractions of journal articles (H/T COPE). I thought it was interesting to compare the guidelines to the events surrounding Phil Jones' 1990 paper on urban heat islands, which is now of course the subject of a fraud allegation from Doug Keenan. Keenan's claim is that Jones continued to cite the paper even when he knew that some of the underlying data could not be relied upon. Jones' defence is that a subsequent paper he published has shown the findings to be broadly correct.

UKRIO says that papers should be retracted

when there is clear evidence that the reported findings are unreliable, either as a result of misconduct, such as fabrication of data, or honest error, for example. miscalculation or experimental error;

I think on the basis of this statement, Jones would still argue that the findings were reliable since they were backed up by his later study. However AFAIK, there was a gap of several years in the middle when Jones knew of the problems with his 1990 paper, but hadn't yet published his new findings. This suggests that his conduct at the time was not up to the standards required by these new guidelines (although I am not aware of what rules applied at the time).

The guidelines also make the interesting point that one of the reasons for retraction is so as not to bias future meta-analyses:

A retraction can help reduce the number of researchers who cite an erroneous article, act on its findings or draw incorrect conclusions, such as from ‘double counting’ redundant publications in meta-analyses.

It is therefore interesting to consider the effect of Jones 1990 on any metaanalysis of UHI papers. One assumes that such a study would still pick up Jones 1990 because it has never been retracted. It therefore seems to me that it is incumbent upon Jones to retract the paper, even at this late stage.


Lord Marland shames Parliament

Yesterday Nigel Lawson asked a question of Lord Marland, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change. This is the full exchange:

Lord Lawson of Blaby: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the chairman of the Government’s own Green Investment Bank commission has authoritatively stated that the cost of meeting our current carbon reduction commitments in this country is somewhere between £800 billion and £1 trillion? Does he not agree that, with the best will in the world, this mind-boggling cost cannot be justified except in the context of a binding global carbon reduction agreement? Therefore, in the absence of such an agreement being secured at Cancun, does he not agree that it is only commonsense to suspend the Climate Change Act until such time as a binding global agreement is secured?

Lord Marland: My Lords, when I bumped into my noble friend in the Corridor and he said that he was catching the train to York I was rather relieved. Sadly, he will be catching a slightly later train than I was hoping for. I have now forgotten entirely what his question was.

Utterly, utterly shameful.


Nature on sceptics

Nature has published an opinion piece on the subject of the BBC's science review and in particular the way it handles global warming sceptics.

In reality, perhaps the most common complaint from scientists about the corporation's coverage of global warming is the exposure handed to sceptical non-scientists, such as former UK chancellor Nigel Lawson. This is the source of the long-standing 'false balance' problem. The BBC Trust, which is running the review, should take a stricter line here. If BBC staff want to use non-experts to criticize widely accepted science, they must explain this lack of expertise to the audience, and why the BBC has invited them to participate.



UEA hearings redux

The big news while I was away was the announcement of a further invitation to a member of staff at UEA to appear before the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. We have already had Oxburgh's appearance, and knew that Sir Muir Russell was to appear with Sir Edward Acton at the end of this month. However, it now appears that UEA's Trevor Davies will also be making an appearance. Davies, as regular readers know, was not only Phil Jones predecessor as head of CRU but, more importantly, appears to have been a pivotal figure in the organisation of the "independent" inquiries into CRU. All three men will appear on Wednesday 27th October.

Click to read more ...


The London trip

I'm now back home, having had an interesting couple of days in London.

The talk at the Energy Institute went reasonably well, although numbers were apparently down considerably on normal because the invitations had been sent out rather late in the day. I also suffered from some technical problems, which meant that I had to speak without notes. I think, however, that I gained as much in fluency as I lost in completeness, so this was not the end of the day. One disappointment was that (from the tenor of the questions at least) most of the audience were probably already on the right side of the debate, so I'm not sure how many were persuaded by my words. Nevertheless, having not spoken in public for the best part of twenty years, I was quite pleased with the way the whole thing went.

The Vaclav Klaus lecture yesterday was excellent - a very unpolitician-like politician, I thought, quietly spoken and with a complete lack of histrionics. This made him a very persuasive speaker I thought, and I would recommend you read what he has to say if you haven't already.

Thanks are certainly due to my hosts - Peter Gill and Josh - for their hospitality and to Benny and everyone at the GWPF for inviting me to the Vaclav Klaus talk.


Light blogging

I'm off to the big smoke tomorrow. I'm giving a talk at the Institute of Energy and attending Vaclav Klaus's lecture on Tuesday.

Be good while I'm away.