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Oxburgh's conflict of interest

Commenters are also noting the background of Ron Oxburgh, the chairman of the RS panel. Lord Oxburgh is:

  • President of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association
  • Chairman of wind energy firm Falck Renewables
  • A member of the Green Fiscal Commission

So we have a chairman with a direct financial interest in the outcome. I'm not sure this is a surprise.



Emmanuel on the Climategate emails

Reader Mac notes Kerry Emmanuel's comments on the Climategate emails, delivered at an MIT debate on the subject:

"What we have here," says Kerry Emanuel, are "thousands of emails collectively showing scientists hard at work, trying to figure out the meaning of evidence that confronts them. Among a few messages, there are a few lines showing the human failings of a few scientists…" Emanuel believes that "scientifically, it means nothing," because the controversy doesn't challenge the overwhelming evidence supporting anthropogenic warming. He is far more concerned with the well-funded "public relations campaign" to drown out or distort the message of climate science, which he links to "interests where billions, even trillions are at stake..." This "machine … has been highly successful in branding climate scientists as a bunch of sandal-wearing, fruit-juice drinking leftist radicals engaged in a massive conspiracy to return us to agrarian society…"

I'm speechless. Even after the debacle of Philip Campbell's resignation from the Russell panel, no lessons appear to have been learned.


Royal Society panel announced

The Royal Society panel that is going to examine the scientific aspects on the Climategate affair has been announced. This is the press release from UEA (via a reader - it doesn't appear on the UEA website at the moment).

Lord Oxburgh FRS, a former chair of the Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, is to chair an independent Scientific Assessment Panel to examine important elements of the published science of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia.

His appointment has been made on the recommendation of the Royal Society, which has also been consulted on the choice of the six distinguished scientists who have been invited to be members of the panel.

Click to read more ...


Uninformed criticism

The Hockey Stick Illusion has now clocked up 24 five-star reviews on, a number which is rapidly approaching the total number of books I expected to sell when I started writing. 

However, on the other side of the pond it's a different story, with two reviewers on now having given me the one-star treatment. Unfortunately, neither of them actually appear to have read the book, one implying that my target is the global warming theory as a whole and the other seeming to think that I have proposed "statistical adjustments". However, I'm sure they enjoyed themselves.

Click to read more ...


GeolSoc wants your input

The Geological Society is going to prepare a position paper on climate change and wants your input:

The Geological Society has decided to prepare a position statement on climate change. A drafting group has been convened, which will prepare a document summarising the geological evidence. The resulting document will aim to provide a clear and concise summation, accessible to a general audience, of the scientific certainties and uncertainties; as well as including references to further sources of information.

The drafting group met on 18 February, and are currently working on finalising a draft statement. This will be discussed, revised and agreed by the External Relations Committee, and by Council, prior to publication.

Fellows wishing to contribute comments for consideration by the drafting group are invited to send their thoughts to Sarah Day at

Please note: the deadline for receipt of comments has now been extended to 15 April.


Josh 13


Royal Society on uncertainty

The Royal Society is holding a series of discussions on uncertainty in science in a couple of weeks' time. The programme looks pretty interesting. Among the highlights are:

  • Lord May on Science as organised scepticism
  • Julia Slingo on Uncertainty in Weather and Climate Prediction
  • Peter Webster on Uncertainty in predicting extremes of weather and climate
  • Leonard Smith on Uncertainty, ambiguity and risk in forming climate policy

Judith Curry is then running the closing panel discussion and overview.

Unfortunately registration is now closed, but if anyone is going it would be great to get a report on the proceedings.

In the meantime the BBC is discussing the issue of uncertainty today. This will presumably be available on the iPlayer later on.



Economist on global warming

The Economist adds its considerable voice to the throng of those calling on the public to "move along" because there's nothing to see here. It seems that action is required on global warming not because we are certain of the science but because we are not.


There's an editorial here and a briefing here, the latter covering the Hockey Stick story and making all the usual claims about the NAS panel.


Statistical death-match

If you have a lot of time on your hands and get excited by tests for unit roots, do have a look at contributions the thread on random walks at Tamino's blog and the longer (much longer!) subsequent thread at Bart Vergheggen's.

VS, for that is his nom-de-blog, reckons that the temperature records are a random walk (or something like one) which means that many standard statistical approaches to measuring trends, including all the ones currently used in climatology, are invalid.

The thread is interesting on another level too, with several days of calm debate at Bart's site rudely interrupted by an invasion of trolls from Tamino's.

Statistics wasn't supposed to be this much fun.


Josh 12



Big Oil forgets to bribe McKitrick

Hans von Storch reports that Edinburgh University's Tom Crowley has been doing some auditing himself, writing to Ross McKitrick to find out how much loot the Canadian is receiving from Big Oil.

Unfortunately it appears that the well-organised denier movement forgot to fund one of the most prominent sceptics of all.

Which prompts a question:

Are the Hockey Team conspiracy theorists?



Climate cuttings 37

Global warming campaigners have started what appears to be a concerted media campaign and the media is doing what it always does, failing to question anything they are fed by the PR people inside the climate machine. I've already pointed to Sir John Houghton's article in the Times. We've also had Lord Stern on Radio 4, desperately trying to shift the burden of proof onto those who doubt the word of the activists. US scientists have started a letter writing campaign, led by the usual suspects. The Australians have bashed together a six (!) page report repeating the mantra one more time.

Michael Mann and Judith Curry are interviewed in Discover magazine, as noted in an earlier post. Mann's contribution could probably best be described as "more of the same", while Curry's is fairly breathtaking.

TonyN at Harmless Sky (now up and running again) runs his eye over Peter Stott's recent attribution paper that received quite a lot of media attention this side of the pond.

An Australian academic has accused Steve McIntyre of being behind the UEA "hack". Everyone seems to think that John Quiggin will be lucky to get away without being sued.

Richard Tol continues to tear Working Group III's work to shreds. He finds that the IPCC's claim that emissions can be reduced at zero marginal cost is wrong.

BH reader, Adrian Ashfield, has been engaging in some correspondence with the HockeyStickMeister himself in the pages of his local paper. Original letter here, Mann's response here.


Judith Curry in Discover

An omigosh moment, this. Read Judith Curry's interview with Discover magazine. (Judith is a senior climatologist, from Georgia Tech).

Some choice excerpts:

Where do you come down on the whole subject of uncertainty in the climate science?
I’m very concerned about the way uncertainty is being treated. The IPCC [the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] took a shortcut on the actual scientific uncertainty analysis on a lot of the issues, particularly the temperature records.


Is this a case of politics getting in the way of science?
No. It’s sloppiness. It’s just how our field has evolved. One of the things that McIntyre and McKitrick pointed out was that a lot of the statistical methods used in our field are sloppy. We have trends for which we don’t even give a confidence interval. The IPCC concluded that most of the warming of the latter 20th century was very likely caused by humans. Well, as far as I know, that conclusion was mostly a negotiation, in terms of calling it “likely” or “very likely.” 


Are you saying that the scientific community, through the IPCC, is asking the world to restructure its entire mode of producing and consuming energy and yet hasn’t done a scientific uncertainty analysis?



Sir John Houghton in the Times

Sir John Houghton is the former head of IPCC WG1 and also key figure in the story of the Hockey Stick's use as a promotional tool. He has been given some space in the Times today, in which he seeks to defend the integrity of his creation and the honour of climalogists in general.

It's well worth a read, but it's amusing to note that he accepts the glaciergate errors, which you will remember involved the use of claims from a WWF report. At the same time Sir John also claims that:

...a report from Greenpeace or any other campaigning body would not be included because the science would not be considered robust enough.


There are also some interesting claims about the recent lack of warming being a function of El Nino and natural variation. Lucia might have something to say aon thios subject.


Josh 11

More cartoons by Josh here.