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Entries in Climate: CRU (367)


Indy disappears legendary climate quote

Anthony Watts has the extraordinary information that the Independent has disappeared the now legendary "children won't know what snow is" article.

You've heard of something called a newspaper of record? I guess the Independent is whatever the opposite of that is.


HH Lamb's scepticism confirmed

A new paper (£) in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change caught my eye on the Twitter feed this morning. With a title of "Ways of knowing climate: Hubert H. Lamb and climate research in the UK" Janet Martin-Nielsen's paper sounded as if it was going to be a direct response to Bernie Lewin's GWPF report on Lamb's work, but a look at the paper suggests that to the extent that it is such a riposte it is so feeble as to hardly warrant the description.

Certainly it covers precisely the same ground as Bernie's paper, documenting Lamb's career step by step, describing his focus on natural variability and his distrust of computer models and even featuring many of the same excerpts from Lamb's books that Bernie used. The riposte to the sceptics, such as it is, comes in the closing section, which opens with a quote from a piece that Bernie wrote for BH about how Lamb should be seen as a proto-sceptic, follows up with a claim that allegations about the misdeeds of CRU have been shown to be "wrong" (based on the Oxburgh report!!), before heading onward to the meat of the case:

Click to read more ...


Dazed and confused in the AAAS 

Three former presidents of the American Association for the Advancement of Science have written a piece in the Guardian decrying attempts by greens to obtain email correspondence of state-funded scientists using freedom of information requests. In it, they make this inapt comparison:

[The greens'] attack is reminiscent of ‘Climategate’, where the release of private emails did immense, unwarranted damage to the reputations of climate scientists. Now the vocal anti-GM lobby appears to be taking a page out of the Climategate playbook.

Click to read more ...


Lewin on Lamb

Bernie Lewin's new report for GWPF is a must-read. Exhaustively researched, beautifully written, and extremely insightful about how climatology was diverted from a scientific to a political imperative, you absolutely should not miss it.

Here's the press release.

London, 10 February: A new paper by Bernie Lewin and published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation re-examines the legacy of the father of British climatology Hubert Lamb (1913-1997).

After leading and establishing historical climatology during the 1960s, Hubert Lamb became the founding Director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (CRU). What is not widely known is that, in contrast to current research directions at CRU, its founding director was an early and vocal climate sceptic.

Against the idea that greenhouse gas emissions were (or would soon be) noticeably warming the planet, Lamb raised objections on many levels. “His greatest concern was not so much the lack of science behind the theory,” Mr Lewin said, “it was how the growing preoccupation with man-made warming was distorting the science.”

Lewin said that “Lamb was already sounding this warning as early as 1972; soon after that the entire science would be transformed.”As research into man-made warming began to dominate climate studies, Lamb worried that the recent advances in our understanding of natural changes were falling into neglect.

A foreword by eminent climatologist, Professor Richard Lindzen, explains how, “in this new paradigm, the natural variability that Lamb emphasized was now relegated to ‘noise’.” Speaking from his own experience, Lindzen says that “Lamb’s intellectual trajectory is typical of what many other senior climate scientists around the world experienced.”

Bernie Lewin is an historian of science investigating the global warming scare in the context of the history and philosophy of science. Over the last 5 years he has published many essays on various sceptical blogs, including his own, Enthusiasm Scepticism and Science.

Read the whole thing.


Spotting policy-based evidencemaking

Oxford economist Simon Wren-Lewis has a blog on the subject of macroeconomics called Mainly Macro. I chanced upon it this morning via my Twitter feed.

His latest post is about policy-based evidencemaking and who you should trust. There's plenty of good stuff in there, but plenty to take issue with too. For example, being an academic, he has an overly high opinion of academics:

I know I’ll get it in the neck for saying this, but if the analysis is done by academics you can be relatively confident that the analysis is of a reasonable quality and not overtly biased. In contrast, work commissioned from, say, an economic consultancy is less trustworthy. This follows from the incentives either group faces.  

In the climate debate at least, this confidence is misplaced.

Click to read more ...


Hubert Lamb: The scepticism of CRU’s founder

This is a guest post by Bernie Lewin.

The Wikipedia article on the founder of CRU, Hubert Lamb,states:

At first his view was that global cooling would lead within 10,000 years to a future ice age and he was known as “the ice man”, but over a period including the UK's exceptional drought and heat wave of 1975–76 he changed to predicting that global warming could have serious effects within a century. His warnings of damage to agriculture, ice caps melting, and cities being flooded caught widespread attention and helped to shape public opinion.

Click to read more ...


More Briffa vs Ridley

There has been another exchange between Keith Briffa and Matt Ridley in the pages of the Times. Briffa's new letter was as follows:

Sir, Matt Ridley’s response (Jan 17) to my letter further confuses and misrepresents the issues.

He says that I said I reprocessed a tree-ring data set “rather than ignoring it because it gave less of an uptick in temperatures in later decades than the small sample of Siberian larch trees” that I published.

What I in fact said was that I reprocessed the same data set used by different researchers in their version of this chronology. This was in order to improve the representation of long-timescale information in these data. Ridley persists in the repeated claim that a “larger tree-ring chronology from the same region did not have a hockey stick shape”, implying that a chronology based on more tree-ring data would invalidate our conclusions and insinuating that just such an “adverse” chronology had been concealed by us and would not have come to light without a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. He is wrong on both counts. An FOI request was made to the University of East Anglia for a chronology whose existence was revealed as a result of the theft of emails from the Climatic Research Unit. The Information Commissioner’s Office and the Information Tribunal rejected this request, accepting our explanation that the chronology in question was produced as part of ongoing research intended for publication. This chronology was subsequently published, but as a demonstration of how a failure to recognise and account for inhomogeneities in the underlying measurement sets can produce an unreliable indication of tree growth and inferred summer temperature changes.

Ridley quotes me as saying my “research was validated by the inquiry chaired by Sir Muir Russell.” I said no such thing. The Independent Climate Change Email Review had no remit to “validate” any research. What I actually said was that I had not “cherry-picked” my data to produce a desired result, which was the specific accusation levelled at me in Ridley’s piece (Opinion, Jan 6). Sir Muir Russell’s team examined this specific accusation and found that I had not.

Professor Keith R. Briffa

Matt has sent  me a copy of his response which is as follows:

Click to read more ...


Diary dates: sceptic edition

Some interesting lectures upcoming at the University of Nottingham. I hope they stream these or otherwise make them more publicly available:

Thursday, February 6th: 1-2pm, Law & Social Sciences (West Wing), A100
Amelia Sharman (London School of Economics and Political Science) 
“Mapping the climate sceptical blogosphere”
Amelia highlights three key climate sceptic blogs’ focus on the scientific aspects of the climate change debate, their status as alternative sites of expertise, how they contribute to the contestation and delegitimisation of expert knowledge and how they engage members of the public previously unengaged by the mainstream knowledge process.

Click to read more ...


The genius of academe

Ivory Tower by Sue Barnes (Click for details)Google Alerts advises me of a new paper in the journal Research Policy entitled 'Boundaries, breaches, and bridges: The case of Climategate'. Penned by Raghu Garud of the Business School at Penn State and colleagues from the University of Alberta and MIT's Sloan School of Business, it examines the aftermath of Climategate, looks at efforts to restore the credibility of climate science, and considers why people still doubt.

The authors have a bit of a problem though. While they claim to have read Watts up with That and Climate Audit, neither blog is cited in a meaningful way. Similarly, The Hockey Stick Illusion is named in passing, but this blog and Hiding the Decline don't even warrant a mention. Garud and his colleagues have learned about Climategate and global warming sceptics from tomes such as Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand by Haydn Washington and John Cook (cited seven times), J.L. Powell's The Inquisition of Climate Science (cited ten times) and Mann's Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars (seven times).

Click to read more ...


Miranda and Climategate

The Guardian has got itself into a bit of a pickle over the Miranda affair, with editor Alan Rusbridger trying to justify his newspaper's possession of the leaked Snowden intelligence material on public interest grounds. He does seem to have resiled from this position, however: in an article yesterday he explained how he was persuaded to destroy some PCs containing the illicit material. Evan Davis and Malcolm Rifkind discussed these issues on the Today programme this morning, and a transcript appears at the Guardian:

MR: I think Mr Rusbridger, in the article he wrote yesterday about the destruction of his hard disk, is on relatively weak ground. He clearly did not dispute that he had no legal right to possess the files or the documents that were being discussed.

Click to read more ...


Climatologists raise the shutters again

About a year or so ago, the Met Office and CRU announced the release of the CRUTEM4 temperatures series. As John Graham-Cumming noted at the time, they were positively gung-ho in their enthusiasm for transparency:

Given the importance of the CRUTEM land temperature analysis for monitoring climate change (e.g. Trenberth et al. 2007), our preference is that the underlying station data, and software to produce the gridded data, be made openly available. This will enhance transparency, and also allow more rapid identification of possible errors or improvements that might be necessary (see e.g. the earlier discussion of homogeneity adjustments in the SH).

Click to read more ...


More on the Holland EIR decision

UK Human Rights Blog has examined the Information Tribunal's decision to allow the Russell panel to withhold its emails. The eyebrows of the author, David Hart QC, appear to have been raised:

It is a little odd that a public authority can commission an inquiry of this sort, pay for it, and use its results, in this case, broadly to clear its name, and then not be able to produce documents which, had the inquiry been internal, it would have been required to produce to the requester.


Judge expresses doubts over soundness of the Russell inquiry

The Information Tribunal has finally reached its decision over David Holland's request for access to the Russell inquiry's emails. The decision is that they should not be released.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that the decision seems to have been made on the grounds that David H failed to demonstrate that UEA were controlling the inquiry. These are the only grounds on which the Tribunal could have demanded that the emails be released. However, in the course of reaching that decision, the judge seems to have doubted the soundness of the inquiry:

...we find it surprising that there was no contractual document, and in particular, that there was no discussion between them about the information that would be received or generated by the ICCER. Professor Acton’s evidence is that he had the advice and input of other senior colleagues at the time he was setting up this inquiry. We would have thought, in any event, that it would be almost instinctive for Professor Acton, as an historian, to have taken an interest in the question of what would happen to the information after Sir Muir’s work was concluded, even if he wanted to ensure that it was held independently during the course of the inquiry itself. His evidence as to why there was no specific agreement on this issue, nor even any discussion, appears to be somewhat contradictory. On the one hand, he says that he and his colleagues did not turn their minds to it because they were focused on getting the inquiry up and running. On the other hand, he says that it was important that the UEA not have any claim to the information because that would have compromised the information people might have been prepared to give to the inquiry, and in turn, would have compromised its independence. The second position suggests that the issue was actively considered; the first suggests that it was not. Given that Professor Acton has stressed, throughout, the importance of the inquiry not only being independent, but being seen to be independent, we would have thought that a clear statement to the effect that the UEA would not have control over, nor even sight of the information received or generated by the ICCER, would have been important.

Click to read more ...


Climategate 3.0

This message from FOIA was forwarded to me.

It's time to tie up loose ends and dispel some of the speculation surrounding the Climategate affair.

Indeed, it's singular "I" this time.  After certain career developments I can no longer use the papal plural ;-)

If this email seems slightly disjointed it's probably my linguistic background and the problem of trying to address both the wider audience (I expect this will be partially reproduced sooner or later) and the email recipients (whom I haven't decided yet on).

The "all.7z" password is [redacted]

Click to read more ...


Thought crimes

Maxwell Boykoff has written one of those activism-dressed-up-as-academia papers on the subject of media coverage of climate change. Apparently the media should be ignoring dissenting views. Who would have thought it!

To the extent that mass media misrepresent and/or gratuitously cover these outlier views, they contribute to ongoing illusory, misleading, and counterproductive debates within the public and policy communities, and poorly serve the collective public.

Sounds as though these transgressors are public enemies. Burn them in the streets I say.

Boykoff gets a lot wrong in his two paragraphs on Climategate. This sentence was a goodie:

After 6 months of multiple independent investigations into possible wrongdoing by data manipulation and the violation of U.K. Freedom of Information laws, Phil Jones and the other climate scientists involved in the email discussions were cleared of the legal charges (Adam, 2010).

Independent - nope. The Russell inquiry was to all intents and purposes run by a former colleague of Jones. And no legal charges were ever brought because of the statute of limitations, so nobody was "cleared" of anything. But Jones was found guilty of misleading policymakers over "hide the decline", so the allegation of data manipulation stuck. Oh yes, and we still have no investigation of the allegations of journal nobbling, so the questions over the integrity of the climate literature remain.

I wonder what the rest of the paper is like?