Climategate accusations shrivel under the glare of multiple investigations

For the second time in two weeks, an investigation has found that there was neither a conspiracy to deceive the public nor any scientific misconduct present in the scientific research of the scientists of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA). These scientists were at the center of the controversy created by the Climategate email theft.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee tasked itself with investigating what the MPs considered critical points, namely whether the scientific work of the CRU scientists was transparent and open, whether CRU had committed scientific misconduct, and whether the CRU committed any breaches of the UK’s Freedom of Information (FOI) law. In order to address each of these key concerns, the Committee collected a significant number of statements as evidence and looked into the various specific accusations made in those statements.

What the Committee found was that there were a few problems and a widespread disregard for FOI in the wider University culture, CRU’s research was reasonably transparent and free of obvious scientific malpractice.

Some critics of CRU had claimed that CRU didn’t publish their source code. Others had complained that the raw data was unavailable and thus CRU’s analyses couldn’t be verified. Still others rejected CRU’s claims that they were restricted from releasing raw data due to legal agreements. And there were other claims of a lack of transparency at CRU as well. The Committee found all of the claims to be incorrect for one reason or another.

  • All the raw data was available to anyone who chose to buy it from the national meteorological organizations even thought it wasn’t necessarily available via CRU.
  • The complete list of surface stations used by CRU in their global temperature datasets were available as of 2008.
  • CRU was legally restricted from distributing raw meteorological data and is still prevented from distributing raw data for six different countries including Russia and Canada.
  • The adjustments that CRU makes to the raw data in order to generate the global temperature datasets have been published and in the public domain since 1985.
  • The refusal by CRU to publish source code had no bearing on whether other researcher could check CRU’s work:

    [S]cience is more than individual researchers or research groups. One should put research in context and ask the question: what would one hope to find by double checking the processing of the raw data? If this were the only dataset in existence, and Professor Jones’s team had been the only team in the world to analyse it, then it might make sense to double check independently the processing of the raw data and the methods. But there are other datasets and other analyses that have been carried out…

    The results of those other analyses show that

    the NCDC/NOAA and GISS/NASA data sets measuring temperature changes on land and at sea have arrived at similar conclusions using similar data to that used by CRU, but using independently devised methodologies. We have further identified that there are two other data sets (University of Alabama and Remote Sensing Systems), using satellite observations that use entirely different data than that used by CRU. These also confirm the findings of the CRU work.

The Committee’s main complaint with regard to CRU’s research transparency was that they seemed stuck in a 25 year old publishing paradigm instead of adapting to the Internet-era. And so the Committee said that “CRU should have been more open with its raw data and followed the more open approach of NASA [which made all code and data open source years ago] to making data available.”

The key conclusion of the Committee with regard to research transparency was this:

Even if the data that CRU used were not publicly available – which they mostly are – or the methods not published – which they have been – its published results would still be credible: the results from CRU agree with those drawn from other international data sets; in other words, the analyses have been repeated and the conclusions have been verified. (emphasis added)

The Committee also looked closely at several specific emails from the CRU email archives. Deniers have claimed that the “trick” and “hide the decline” emails reveal intent to defraud the public. Deniers have also claimed that an email by Phil Jones where he claimed that he would “redefine what the peer-reviewed literature” reveals a conspiracy to restrict the IPCC process to just pro-anthropogenic climate disruption views. While the third, as yet incomplete Independent Climate Change Email Review will look at these emails in greater detail, the Committee concluded that these three complaints against Jones and CRU were without merit. Specifically, the Committee found that

  • “Trick” was used colloquially and didn’t indicated an attempt by Jones to deceive anyone.

    “The balance of evidence patently fails to support this view. It appears to be a colloquialism for a ‘neat’ method of handling data.”

  • “Hide the decline” was “used as shorthand for the practice of discarding data known to be erroneous” and that at least one paper, published in the journal Nature, had specifically pointed out the decline and attempted to explain why it had happened. The Committee felt that a published paper in one of the most prestigious science journals in the world specifically addressing the decline “clearly refut[ed] this allegation.”

However, while the Committee also concluded that Jones and CRU did not pervert the peer review process, this conclusion is the least well supported. Whether this was due to a lack of time (the Committee was working quickly in order to complete the review before Parliament was dissolved prior to new elections) or because the Committee was deferring to the Independent Climate Change Email Review is not clear from the Committee’s report.

Finally, the Committee investigated claims that CRU had failed to release information as required under the UK FOI law. The Committee found that there was a culture of insufficient data sharing and openness at CRU in particular and at the UEA in general. However, the Committee also found that CRU had been overwhelmed in July 2009 by 61 individual FOI requests, each of which takes a minimum of 18 hours of work just to deny as “vexatious”, never mind the time that the requests might take to complete. In addition, all FOI requests are required to be answered in no less than 20 work days. It would have taken at least seven full time staff to meet the FOI requests that came into CRU in July 2009 alone.

It’s instructive to note that Steve McIntyre of the denier website Climate Audit asked his many readers to submit as many FOI requests to CRU in July 2009 as possible. It’s also interesting to note that Lord Lawson, Chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a group that denies that anthropogenic climate disruption is occurring, blamed CRU for inviting the flood of FOI requests by refusing prior requests from McIntyre: “The 2009 flood, if you look at the sequence of events, was a response to the refusal to give disclosure of various things before. That was what came first.”

All in all, the Committee generally found Phil Jones and CRU to be innocent of the accusations that had been leveled against them:

[I]nsofar as we have been able to consider accusations of dishonesty—for example, Professor Jones’s alleged attempt to “hide the decline” – we consider that there is no case to answer. Within our limited inquiry and the evidence we took, the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact.

The second investigation was a seven member panel chaired by Lord Oxburgh of Liverpool, a fellow of the Royal Society (the UK equivalent of the US National Academy of Sciences). The panel was tasked by the UEA and the Royal Society with examining the research performed by CRU and verifying that the scientific conclusions had been supported by the data. If the conclusions were not, then that would qualify as evidence of research misconduct. In the process of doing this, the panel read 11 papers that had been recommended by the Royal Society and that spanned 25 years of CRU publications. The panel also interviewed CRU scientists twice, and the panel requested and reviewed additional information to help the panel understand the CRU’s research.

The panel investigated two main research areas, namely the use of tree rings for climate purposes (dendroclimatology) and the use of global weather station data to create a global temperature record over the last 130 or more years.

With respect to the dendroclimatology, the panel found that none of the papers they examined used inappropriate methods. Some used non-optimal methods, but the panel said

it is not clear, however, that better methods would have produce significantly different results.

The panel also found that all the papers contained the requisite caveats about the limitations and applicability of the analyses and data presented in the papers. They also found that the CRU tree ring data was disorganized and not very well documented. As anyone who’s ever worked in industry or academia knows, documentation takes time and money and so is almost always minimized in favor of pushing out the latest product or paper. The panel’s conclusion found that

after reading publications and interviewing the senior staff of CRU in depth, we are satisfied that the CRU tree-ring work has been carried out with integrity, and that allegations of deliberate misrepresentation and unjustified selection of data are not valid. (emphasis added)

When the panel investigated the historical temperature records produced by CRU, the panel again found that the methods used were “fair and satisfactory” even though other methods might have proven superior. In fact, the panel pointed out specifically something that the House of Commons Committee report also found:

There have been various analyses of similar publicly available data sets by different international groups. Although there are some differences in fine detail that reflect the differences in the analytical methods used, the results are very similar.

And again, the panel found that the CRU papers regarding global temperature records and the researchers themselves all provided “detailed descriptions of uncertainties” in the data, methods, and conclusions of the research.

The panel’s only major complaint with CRU’s work was that they didn’t have sufficient interaction with professional statisticians. However, the panel found no evidence that better statistical methods would have changed the results – NASA, NCDC, and now multiple different amateur reconstructions have all replicated the basic results of CRU using the same raw data CRU used.

Taken together, the two independent reviews have largely exonerated Phil Jones and the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia. Yes, both reviews found that there were some problems in the culture or in the specific statistical methods chosen, but on the central questions relating to the accuracy of climate science and data produced by CRU, both reviews were completely in agreement: CRU’s work was accurate and had been neither manipulated nor misrepresented to scientists, critics, or the public in general.

The release of the CRU emails and documents was an explosion when they burst upon the scene in November 2009. Since then, however, three of five investigations (two of three UK inquiries, one of two Penn State inquiries) have found that the accusations of misconduct and conspiracy are no more than a raisin drying up in the sun. If the last two reviews turn out like the first three have, what could have been a runny sore for climatologists worldwide may well turn into a sagging, heavy load for the climate disruption deniers who erroneously touted “Climategate” as the death of anthropogenic climate disruption.

Other sites discussing the two UK investigations:

S&R is presently in the process of reviewing all the evidence provided to the House of Commons and the evidence released to date by the last inquiry, the Independent Climate Change Email Review. S&R will publish an analysis of the evidence provided upon completion of the review.

Image Credits:
UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee
University of East Anglia
Global and Planetary Change 2008

84 comments on “Climategate accusations shrivel under the glare of multiple investigations

  1. Gosh, I can’t wait for all those people who were accusing Jones of all sots of mischeif, if not outright rape and murder, to come back and say “Oops, sorry, we got it wrong.”


    You’re funny, wufnik.

    That’s the beauty of climate conspiracy theories – if an investigation turns up problems, then you’re hailed as a visionary. If an investigation show’s your accusations are nothing but hot air, that just proves that the conspiracy is even more powerful than you realized. It’s a fact- and logic-free zone.

  3. Isn’t that the beauty of all conspiracy theories?

    I just know the Trilateral Commission has something to do with this.

  4. You have painted a nice propaganda story which neatly misses all of the real issues in the climategate emails. I hope your other readers are more impressed than this one.

    • Jeff Id – If the real issues with the emails aren’t the alleged research misconduct, possibly breaches in UK law, and alleged manipulation of peer review and the IPCC AR4 report generation process, then please enlighten me and my readers what the real issue are.

      The science that Jones et al did has been shown to be accurate – you yourself have proven that, when you did your own reconstruction of the global temperature record. The emails don’t talk about whether or not the base data is good or bad, and so that’s an issue that is independent of the emails and what was written in them.

      The Oxburgh report found that the conclusions were solid based on the data, and that while the statistics used could have been better (a point that the CRU scientists admitted when they said that they wouldn’t do things today the way they did them 10, 20, or 25 years ago), there was no reason to believe that the conclusions would have been any different had better methods been used.

      The House of Commons found that, as I wrote above, data was not concealed in any way – unless you call publishing the problem in the journal Nature concealing it.

      Similarly, while it wasn’t specifically addressed in either of these investigations, the papers Jones wrote about keeping out of the IPCC actually were mentioned in the IPCC AR4 WG1 report. If Jones was conspiring to keep the papers out then the conspiracy was a remarkably ineffective one.

      There’s a chance that the last two investigations, the second part of the Mann investigation by Penn State and the Independent Climate Change Email Review, will turn up something more damning than either the House of Commons or the Oxburgh investigations, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.

      So I ask again, if those aren’t the real issues rising from the emails, then what are the real issues?

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    • Don – what Booker is saying in that article comes down to a few main points. Allow me to paraphrase for the sake of brevity:

      The politics and economics demand strong and accurate science.
      The Oxburgh panel was hopelessly biased and could not have produced a fair and balanced outcome because Oxburgh is a clean-energy investor, one of the other panelists is supposedly an “advocate of man-made global warming,” and because the Royal Society is itself biased toward the scientific party line.
      Tree-ring data is the main reason scientists believe that the globe is warming today as a result of human activity.
      McIntyre and McKitrick were ignored and they’re supposedly more knowledgeable about this than anyone.
      Even if that weren’t true, it’s all cherry-picked results and the Urban Heat Island effect.
      CRU’s analyses have been shown to be wrong.
      Therefore, the two investigations are flawed and the science is inaccurate and weak.

      Unfortunately, most of what Booker says to support his claims is either an oversimplification or inaccurate.

      For example, it’s true that Lord Oxburgh has commercial interests in clean energy. So does Shell Oil, where Lord Oxburgh was once the UK chairman. It’s true that the Royal Society supports the scientific conclusion that human activity is responsible for climate disruption – so does the National Academy of Sciences and the national academies of Australia, Russia, India, China, Brazil, Japan, Sweden, and Canada to name a few of the larger ones, the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorology Society, the AAAS, the European Geosciences Union, the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, and the American Statistical Association, to name just a few.

      Furthermore, while it’s also true that the tree-ring data in Mann ’99 was one of the “holy shit” moments in the history of climate disruption science (as were the move An Inconvenient Truth and the publication of the IPCC AR4), let’s not forget that the IPCC was formed in 1989, nine years before Mann ’98. Let’s also not forget that Mann ’08 generated what was more or less the same graph as the 1999 paper both with and without tree-rings. Other proxies included corals, ice cores, cave mineral deposits, and ocean/lake sediment.

      Microsite influences in the data were largely disproven by Menne ’09 and research has shown that UHI is a bias effect that can be, and has been, compensated for in the datasets. And CRU’s calculations have been replicated, as I mentioned above, by Zeke writing at the Blackboard, Jeff Id at the Air Vent, Tamino, and by the NCDC and GISS. Oh, and for the period of overlap, CRU’s data matches up pretty well with UAH and RSS lower troposphere satellite products too. There’s so much replication of CRU’s results by experts and skilled amateurs alike that Booker is just plain wrong in claiming that CRU’s temperature product is wrong.

      Don, do you honestly believe that all those national academies and professional science organizations could have been led around by the nose by Mann, Jones, and Briffa even after Edward Wegman of the (American Statistical Association fellow) filed his report on Mann ’98? Especially the national academies of Russia, China, and India, three countries that stand to lose far more if anthropogenic climate disruption is real than they could possibly gain? That stretches credulity, yet apparently that’s what Booker thinks.

      If we apply Occam’s Razor here, what’s more likely – that it’s all a conspiracy and that the national academies of the most well educated nations in the world are all in on it in collusion with the overwhelming majority of scientific professional societies in the developed world, or that the academies and societies have looked at the science and find the data and conclusions compelling?

      • You left a piece out of that last graf, Brian: “…with no logical motive for doing so…”

        That’s the piece that nobody ever seems to answer in a way that makes a lick of sense. Not only HOW would you cobble together a coherent conspiracy to do all that is being alleged, but looking at ALL the players, what possible motive explains such a collusion?

        There may be an answer, but if so I haven’t seen it. I haven’t seen anything that approaches the most rudimentary beginnings of such an explanation. At least, not if I insist on at least a basic level of rationality.

  7. #5 I have little time to play today but lets just look at hide the decline for a moment.

    Tree ring data is a temperature proxy if, and only if, it correlates to temperature. Nobody really knows if these trees are actually thermometer trees by any other method. In fact there is no verification done whatsoever outside of correlation. So hide the decline was the hiding of data which pointed out that the scribble is not temperature. That long ago, the whole tree ring field had reason to question everything done to that point because the divergence from temp was so pronounced. Yes there was a single paper at the time which disclosed the data removal, however it was so obscure that only specific paleo’s knew of it. The rest of climatology was basically unaware of the problems.

    All that said above, there can be no excusing the partial deletion of data which diverges from expectation. This is as unscientific as anything ever done. Imagine if I cut the decline in the stock market and replaced it with the rising cost of nickel. After all nickel goes up with more demand so can’t it be a reasonable proxy for the economy? Would you then believe me that the historic Dow values were a good proxy for the cost of nickel?

    It’s just an analogy but the point is that we have two different data types, pasted together. But the reason for the pasting is to hide the problems with the tree ring data and give the world a false sense of knowledge of historic temps.

    Since if you haven’t already figured this out, my words are probably futile, I’ll end with a single final point.

    Question: If the tree rings don’t follow temperatures in recent times, isn’t it a reasonable assumption that they don’t follow temperature in historic times?

    Answer: Yes, in fact it would be foolish to assume historic divergence or non-temperature behavior wasn’t in fact the norm. Mann 08 rejected 40% of tree rings for near zero correlation to temp, the rest was likely spurious.

    • Jeff – tree ring widths will depend on all sorts of things – temperature, available water, available soil nutrients, pollution, and so on. So yes, it’s reasonable to question whether the divergence problem post 1960 should mean that the prior data where there was correlation to temperature was correct or not.

      However, a period of divergence itself does not require that all the data be thrown out any more than a period of correlation requires that all the data be used. As a practicing electrical engineer, I’ve run into all kinds of situations where a design worked just fine for a while and then broke for no obvious reason, or when something was broke and then “magically” fixed itself. In both cases I’ve tried to determine what changed. From what I know of the tree ring issue, that’s what CRU has been doing

      And if after I’ve analyzed the data and determined what changed, I then made an educated, professional judgment in consultation with other experts whether I should keep the likely good data or whether to start over from scratch. Sometimes we kept the data with the garbage truncated and sometimes we started over, but the decision was made on a case-by-case basis.

      Science in general, and tree-ring data in particular, is no different. It is OK to not use bad data if you’re confident you understand the reasons that it’s bad and you document what you’re doing and why. To put it in terms of your own analogy, if the Dow declined but I could show that the price of nickle was actually a better indicator of the state of the economy than the Dow was, then yes, it would be OK to explain the divergence and to start using the price of nickle to monitor the economy instead of the Dow. It’s a question of what is done, why it’s done, and how clearly it’s explained.

      In the case of Mann ’08, they screened the proxies to the instrumental record and rejected 60% of the proxies due to insufficient correlation (p < 0.1 without autocorrelation effects, p < 0.128 with autocorrelation included). If the proxies had matched the instrumental record by purely chance alone, they would have expected to reject 87% of the proxies instead, so 40% shows that the proxies they used were correlated to the instrumental record. (see the Mann 08 supplemental material, page 2, “Screening Procedure”)

  8. The real issues arising from the emails as I see them are:

    1) The knowing, systematic overstatement of the confidence that can be placed in the conclusions drawn by the researchers. This includes misrepresenting the extent to which paleoclimate proxies agree with the instrumental temperature record in the grossest possible way – “hiding the decline” in the proxy by truncating it. The emails verify that this truncation was deliberate, and was specifically intended to exaggerate confidence in the reconstructions.

    2) The knowing use of flawed temperature reconstructions because they support the contention that the current warming is “unprecedented”. The emails verify that the major actors knew that their paleoclimate reconstructions were crap, yet they used them anyway because they minimized the Medieval Warm Period and showed a steady decline in temperature prior to a sharp modern increase.

    3) Efforts to manipulate the peer review process to keep their critics out of publication. Critics who happen to be correct, in many cases.

    The emails leave no doubt on any of these points. None. Any report that exonerates Jones or Mann with regard to them is categorically a whitewash.

  9. Steve McIntyre discusses the Oxburgh “fair sample” of research publications:

    You might wonder about the point of a “fair sample” in the first place. It’s a bit like saying that “the suspect was not at the crime scene during a a fair sample of occasions on the day of the crime”. Why not just check the publications that have actually been criticized? Instead, it seems they have primarily looked at the ones that weren’t.

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  11. Brian Angliss, April 19, 2010 at 11:40 am :

    You have written even more propaganda, it seems like a hobby but maybe you don’t understand.

    MBH early hockey sticks were a result of flawed math. The blade doesn’t exist when it’s corrected but the math produces a blade from perfectly random data having no signal also.

    Since you cite the Air Vent as having replicated Jones crutem, you may note that our trend is actually slightly higher due to improved combination of anomalies which take seasonal effects into account. I suppose then that you can accept that the Air Vent replicated Mann 08 and proved that you can get any signal you want from the proxy data simply by looking for it. Up trends, down trends, anything.

    These papers are bogus as is Mann09. There can be no rational question. The trickery is hidden in the wording but it is nothing but trickery. This is from the same guy who just calculated a higher trend than Phil Climategate Jones.

    Regarding the match to UAH and RSS, the ground trends I’ve calculated are about 2X the sat trends and there is a divergence. There is a statistically significant difference in the residual trend but the measures are of different things. Long term they must converge to the same trend though.

    Now, I can agree that it doesn’t appear that anyone messed around with the top secret code at CRU to enhance trend. That fact does not in any way validate the result as ‘good’ or confirmed. It does confirm that the algorithm isn’t terrible though. There are several additional sources of error including UHI and loss of station data in the GHCN network which is used as the primary data source for the primary ground temp sources. In other words, we have no independent confirmation and we have evidence of urban warming contaminating the network. The loss of so many stations since 1992 is inexcusable and frankly we have no idea how their loss affects the trend in the data.

    You ask Don, do you honestly believe that all those national academies and professional science organizations could have been led around by the nose by Mann, Jones, and Briffa even after Edward Wegman of the (American Statistical Association fellow) filed his report on Mann ‘98?

    Let’s say they know who butters their bread. The conspiracy is government money and capitalism.

  12. #12, Ah, an electrical engineer, good then you will get these posts.

    I’ve read studied and beat to death Mann08 so many ways the screening procedure is nothing but a scam to amplify variance in the calibration period. What I don’t understand is whether anyone who get’s what was done actually believes it’s reasonable.

    Ya can’t pick the data you like and chuck the rest.

  13. . If the proxies had matched the instrumental record by purely chance alone, they would have expected to reject 87% of the proxies instead, so 40% shows that the proxies they used were correlated to the instrumental record.

    Try a correction for autocorrelation effects and see how far that number shifts, include the fact that if one cell didn’t correlate, he chose another cell, how much does that shift the expectation from random data, and finally realize that 15% of the passed proxies were Luterbacher that had temp data pasted right on — easy correlation pass from data to itself. Finally, he copied his favorite 51 series into blades on the ends of all the incomplete proxies beforehand using regEM.

    IOW, everything about the screening process was bull and the real expected correlation from random data under these circumstances is probably around 40%.

    To make that point I fit 38% r>.1 to a downslope on the same infilled proxies.. Does that mean that temps dropped, or the data is random crap, or the method is crap.

  14. Jeff#13, you compared apples to oranges in your first link and missed something important in the process.

    Mann ’08 used p < 0.1 to generate his data. As I pointed out, it should have rejected 90% of the data but only rejected 60%. Put another way, his procedure should have accepted only 13% but it accepted 40%. That’s a statistically significant result.

    When you did your tests to a negative slope or a couple of sinusoids, you widened your p by a factor of 3 over Mann’s, to p < 0.3, making it easier for the data to meet your artificial target. That means you should have accepted 30% of the data by chance alone.

    Your first artificial negative trend accepted only 6% of the data, well below the random chance threshold. Your sinusoid pattern accepted 18% of the data, also below the random chance threshold. Your inverse sinusoid pattern accepted 10% of the data, also below the random chance threshold. In contrary to Mann 08, whose data was 3x over the random chance threshold.

    In other words, you proved the null hypothesis (any trend can occur by random) but disproved nothing about Mann08′s methodology. At least not with that link in #13.

  15. I’ve missed nothing. First the mannian threshold only means the data isn’t random, it doesn’t have a thing to do with confirming that the resulting shape is an approximation of the signal in the data. See part 2 for signal distortion.

    But since you took the bait of my post, here’s an old one from october of 2008

    Note Figure 4 and 6 hehe.

    And again, the threshold for random data is much higher than stated for the obvious reasons I explained above. The mannian method sorts for preferential noise not only the signal. The methodology guarantees unprecedentedness, this has been recently discussed in several publications as well.

  16. When you did your tests to a negative slope or a couple of sinusoids, you widened your p by a factor of 3 over Mann’s, to p < 0.3, making it easier —

    Actually I sorted to a higher correlation making it tougher.

  17. The post is quite clear, correct, and on point. The accusations against Jones and the CRU crew were blatantly false. The accusers owe them a vast number of apologies. My prediction: they lack the courage and the integrity to do so.

    For example: Jeff Id, who resorts to the usual refuge of scoundrels: change the subject.

  18. Jeff – my error on the r vs. p thing – I thought you’d confused them, but looking at your code more closely, it appears that I did.

    However, as I looked closer, I came across a different problem with your approach. Mann points out that he uses the temperature record in the nearest gridpoint, not the global temperature record. This means that, for example, a coral proxy in the Carribbean would have to correlate to it’s nearest gridpoint temp to pass the screening test, while an ice core on Greenland would have to correlate to its nearest gridpoint, independently of the coral proxy and it’s nearest gridpoint.

    Whether that changes your conclusion or not is left for you to analyze – it’ll certainly complicate it if not alter it significantly. However, until you’ve verified that this complication doesn’t alter your conclusions, your point remains unproven. I’m curious to know whether the EIV process, which produces similar results, suffers from the same possible pitfalls you identified for the CPS process.

    Now, to drag this back off the tangent we’ve been on for a while (and that I, admittedly, permitted) by addressing a few other points.

    Dagfinn – You have a reasonable concern vis-a-vis the Royal Society’s criteria for selection. It’s unlikely that they were randomly selected, but it’s also unlikely that they were selected to specifically avoid the more controversial papers. The most controversial papers I’m aware of were largely written with Mann, and so the second part of the Mann investigation may be looking into them and the Royal Society may have simply chosen to defer to the Penn State investigators. We don’t know, and because we lack knowledge it’s best to be skeptical of anyone applying any particular motive to the selection of the papers.

    Morgan – you claim that the emails make it abundantly clear that the truncation of tree-ring data was done to artificially boost confidence in the proxy data, that the researchers knew that their work was “crap,” and that peer review had been manipulated. Since you’re so certain of this, care to provide me with the exact emails that illustrate this and make it so self-evident? I’m asking because the two investigations performed thus far looked at those issues specifically and came to a different conclusion than you have.

    I feel it’s important to point out that there’s no viable reason to believe that money is the driving force behind the decisions of individual scientists and science societies and academies. Mann has brought in only 0.06% of Penn States’ research grant money since he joined the faculty in 2006 – anyone who believes that Penn State would sully its own excellent reputation on behalf of a researcher that brought in such a tiny sum doesn’t understand how research universities work.

    Similarly, there’s no reason whatsoever that the Royal Society would risk destroying its own long and excellent reputation by permitting a whitewash to occur when it was brought in specifically to ensure that a whitewash didn’t occur. It has nothing to gain and everything to lose.

    Not everyone is motivated by money, and money is a poor motivator for most scientists. Scientists are much more motivated by fame, and at this point any scientist who could truly disprove human influence on climate disruption would become far more famous than any CRU scientist working in the trenches. If you reject this, however, following the money leads any disinterested observer back to the groups who have the most to lose monetarily – Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Peabody Coal, Koch Industries, and the like. The total research budget of climate science world-wide pales in comparison to the profits of oil, coal, and gas interests.

  19. Tamino – I admit that I took Jeff’s bait, which is why I’m now spitting it out and trying to get this discussion back onto topic by addressing some of the other comments around.

    If you read the evidence provided by McIntyre to the Independent Climate Change Email Review, you’ll see that he’s shown exactly the tactic he’ll use should it not give him the answer he (and Jeff, and many others) believe is the only right answer – he’ll attack the panel as being biased by past energy company associations, past associations with the UEA itself, and by not rejecting the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting anthropogenic climate disruption. As if publishing papers on climate topics was grounds for automatic rejection of the review’s conclusions based on accusations of bias.

    In other words, McIntyre’s written submission proves that he’s not a skeptic in any way, he’s a denier or, if you prefer, a “rejectionist.” Not that this is necessarily a surprise, however.

  20. Brian, I think there’s a misreading – eighteen hours isn’t the amount of time it takes to deny a FOIA request, it’s the point at which the time cost of gathering the information is deemed “prohibitive”. Since the datasets already existed in , it wouldn’t necessarily take that long. And 61 requests for the same information might mean 61 times the government paperwork, but only 1x the data gathering.

    Also, the link you posted doesn’t nullify claims of urban warming – rather, it says there’s no effect from sensors at the centers of two old cities (London and Vienna) (shocker), but .1C/decade in China. And I believe the various CRU-corroborating reconstructers you mention haven’t gotten around to accounting for urban warming yet.

  21. You could be right, CTD. I could have interpreted it incorrectly. I saw the list of FOI requests published somewhere, but I don’t recall where at the moment – there was a LOT of “form letter” requests that were verbatim the Climate Audit request, done alphabetically with no country overlap. That alone might have qualified all the form requests for exemption under the “vexatious” clause, but I’m not an expert in FOIA by any stretch.

    You’re also correct about the UHI – it points out that stations in well established cities show the same trend, with a correctable bias offset, as rural stations, while urbanizing areas (ie China) show a trend. Presumably urban stations that show a trend will flatten for an individual station once the degree of urbanization around the station stabilizes, just as the trend flattened for London and Vienna. I apologize for overstating the case made by that particular paper.

    Urban warming is a real effect, but it’s a bias effect (correctable error) rather than a noise effect (non-correctable error). Ultimately, the new USCRN will provide a much better baseline than the old GHCN and USHCN to determine how much error UHI actually adds. At the moment, however, the present best science suggests that the error is small and correctable. A few other papers include this 2004 brief in Nature titled “Large-scale warming is not urban,” Peterson 2003, and while it’s not directly UHI, the aforementioned Menne2009 does have something to say about UHI, albeit indirectly.

    Sometimes I love Google Scholar. :)

  22. Brian: The “fair selection” issue is not primarily about motives. It’s about whether they failed to investigate the (alleged) problems they should have investigated. For whatever reason.

    Apparently the selection was done by one (unidentified) individual, so a “conspiracy” of one is all that would be needed to bias the investigation.

    • Dagfinn – First, I’d appreciate a reference for the claim that only a single person was responsible for the selection of the 11 papers. Second, you’re claiming that those 11 papers do not adequately represent the work of CRU. That may or may not be true. However, merely looking at the controversial papers themselves while ignoring the wider CRU paper output would itself represent a selection bias. I don’t know enough about the papers themselves to say, but could hypothesize any number of ideas for why these papers would have been read while the specific controversial papers were not. For example, if the controversial papers had been wholly based on prior publications by CRU, then it would entirely reasonable to verify that the original papers were correct. After all, if the original hypotheses, data, methods, and conclusions are correct (with statistical caveats and the like) and verifiable, then it’s quite likely that, barring any errors, papers based on the original conclusions are similarly correct.

      Maurice – that Royal Society statement (which isn’t available anywhere else that I can find, and you’ll excuse me for being skeptical of a single source I can’t yet corroborate) neither confirms nor denies that the Royal Society chose those 11 key papers. In other words, you statement that Oxburgh lied is not supported by the limited information we currently have.

  23. Brian: Are we going to need another investigation to find out whether this one was adequate? ;-) Seriously, the point of the whole investigation seems moot unless they can present a convincing account of a process that’s likely to uncover whatever problems might be there.

    The idea of a “fair sample” is a red herring as far as I can tell. To exonerate someone, you need to study all possibly incriminating evidence and find it invalid. Using a representative sample might be appropriate for a performance review, but not for an investigation.

    What I would really like to see investigated is whether the climategate scientists were successful in their attempts to manipulate publication and peer review. I have seen several cases presented (analyzing the events surrounding some of the CRU emails) that seem to indicate that they were.

    I couldn’t find the information on the “single individual”. I suppose my memory played a trick on me. Sorry about that.

    • The idea of a “fair sample” is a red herring as far as I can tell. To exonerate someone, you need to study all possibly incriminating evidence and find it invalid. Using a representative sample might be appropriate for a performance review, but not for an investigation.

      Well, technically, maybe, but what I am I to conclude from the fact that apparently the presumption is now guilty-until-proven-innocent and that the standard for exoneration is an unequivocal and comprehensive repudiation of all charges?

      I’m not sure this standard works for me, either legally, politically or scientifically.

    • I suspect much of what you’re interested in will come from the last investigation, as the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee specifically asked Oxburgh and the Muir review to coordinate with each other. The exact wording of the “suggestion” could also be interpreted to suggest that the two UK reviews should also coordinate with the Penn State faculty investigation of Michael Mann. If the groups did in fact coordinate to ensure that their conclusions didn’t overlap and covered all the gaps, that would explain why some of the more controversial CRU-connected publications were not discussed.

      As I said above, the Committee’s conclusion that peer review had not been manipulated was the weakest conclusion made by the Committee. However, this will almost certainly be looked at in far greater detail by the Muir review as the principles in the complaint (McIntyre, Boehmer-Christiansen) have submitted written comments to the review that, at a minimum, reference the Committee submissions. Whether the review will find the evidence more or less convincing than the Committee did remains to be seen.

  24. Your’re innocent until proven guilty, but even so you might be a suspect for a while and want to be exonerated.

    More importantly, it’s not about punishing people as far as I’m concerned. It’s about the principles and the science. Above all, the world needs to know what all this implies for the state and validity of important aspects of climate science.

  25. The divergence problem is not terminal for temperature reconstructions. The divergence is limited to high latitude tree rings and not lower. John Cook outlines some proposed reasons for the divergence:

    Cook expalins that the low latitude tree rings do not diverge, and importantly the low and high latitude growth rates track well gowing back to the MWP.

    In addition tree rings are just one of many proxies.

  26. The unscientific PDJ rejection of a data request by Warwick Hughes was about a project we were both working on. So My interaction with PDJ is indirect through Warwick from 1991 and by my personal emails from 2006 when it became a bit intolerable.

    Therefore, some of the meaning in the CRU emails is meaningful to me while it might mean nothing to most. The whole lot has to be read in context, whch is what Steve McIntyre and Jeff Id are doing. The devil is in the detail. You have no hope of gathering any valid impression from 15 man hours of work or whatever the whichever inquiry spent. After several hundred hours of studying the emails and looking at their references, I have no hesitation in stating that, to my satisfaction, the system is rotten to the core and has been from the start. The 1990 Nature paper on Russia, China and Australia, to quantify UHI effects, was incredibly poor in quality and worthy of mirth. The cherry picking of Australia from East Anglia was so amateurish and the excuses given so inventive, that no faith at all can be placed on the Australian part. There are actual measurements of UHI in Australia and they show severe effects. The negative deviations do NOT balance the positives unless you fudge the data to look that way. Which is hard now, because Phil wrote to me in 2006 that he no longer had the data. Luckily we still have a copy.

    The Russian paper had at least 2 phases of rejection by Russians, who were effectively controlled by Kieth handing out money (reading between the lines, money that might have been granted for approved projects elsewhere). So there is prima facie evidence for misdirection of money. As to data even PJ writes that he knows he’s illegally using Met Office data and that he lectured some of his staff on how to avoid FOI law.

    The Chinese portion of the Nature paper was taken to the cleaners by Doug Keenan, who this week was vindicated by the Brit FOI office in his quest for dendro data from Queen’s Uni, Belfast. Doug is patient. I suspect he will find his way to the questioned Chinese data at CRU (if it is not fabricated and shown to be worthless). I’ve been to China mixing with scientists quite a few times and I have grave doubts about the ability of the intelligensia to keep accurate records in parts of the cultural revolution.

    In conclusion, you cannot stand back from a distance, pull a perfumed lace kerchief from your cuff and pronounce that you notice nothing smelly. When you get in there at the coal face, with the benefit of some history and personal involvement, you find that it stinks. Yes, there WAS a conspiracy and if you cannot find it then you do not have the innate ability to interpret data.

    • Geoff – You’re absolutely correct that the emails have to be read in context. But one of the most interesting points here is that the emails lack context. There are too few of them to provide the context.

      How many emails do you send during the course of your job per week, on average? Multiply that number by 50 (figuring you take a couple of weeks off every year), then again by 20 years. I expect that number is quite a bit larger than 1000. Now assume that each of your coworkers sends roughly the same number and multiply your estimate by the size of your workgroup. That number is probably MUCH larger than 1000.

      I sent almost 1,500 work emails in 2009 (yes, I checked). Over 20 years, that would be about 30,000 emails. If my workgroup was about the size of CRU, that would be 15 people, each having sent 30,000 emails, for about 450,000 emails total. Would you say that you can gain the context of one 20 email-long thread, without reading all the other email threads around it?

      I work on a project for months, in one case years, at a time, with one thread starting, running for a few days, and then stopping, only to pop back up a week or month later with a different subject line. Would you know, from reading one thread titled “problem with an oscillator on XYZ board” that the thread “Fixed it!!!!” from a month and a half later would be related to the first thread? You might if you had the entire archive available to you, but you don’t.

      Phil Jones estimated in testimony before the Committee that he’d sent about a million emails as part of CRU, and while that could be an overestimate, it’s still possible – I have coworkers who use email 2-5x more than I do. I also don’t use my email for personal communications, while university accounts are often used both for work and personal communications – and I sent at least another 3000 personal emails in 2009 from one or another personal email account. 4500 emails total per year for 20 years per person in a 15 person workgroup is 1.35 million emails. And again, I’m not the most email-dependent person I know.

      What the CRU emails are is heavily edited. If we knew who the source was, we might be able to understand the criteria the editor used to prune potentially millions of emails down to about 1000 (over 99.9% of the emails were just discarded), but we don’t really need to know that information to know that the emails cannot be trusted. All we have to do is apply the same dispassionate statistical logic to the emails that we would to a temperature dataset.

      You claim that the emails show that there was cherry-picking of the surface temperature record and that the UHI effects were squashed. Jeff ID above claimed that Mann’s rejection of 60% of the data in the CPS process invalidated the data, and I’ll presume you agree with him. So let me ask you this:

      If you don’t trust conclusions reached when only 50% of the available data was used, how can you trust conclusions reached when less than 0.1% of the data was used? Furthermore, if you don’t trust conclusions reached when the rejection criteria are described in detail, how can you trust conclusions reached when the rejection criteria are unknown?

      If you accept the 0.1% evidence because it fits your experience and reject the 99.9% evidence because it runs counter to your experience, then you’re not showing skepticism or independence. You’re suffering from selection bias.

  27. Brian, you can’t apply statistics to the emails as if it were scientific data. In a criminal investigation, for example, only one damning email with the right information is needed to get a conviction. You don’t need a representative sample. One email showing criminal intent is not selection bias (Note that I am suggesting criminal intent on the part of the CRU).

    In the case of the CRU emails, how can they be taken out of context if there is a long thread discussing, for example, a particular individual and his publications? Would not that person have more insight into the “context” than a handful of people spending half a day looking at some relatively uncontroversial CRU publications?

    • Upon further consideration, that should be “confirmation bias,” not “selection bias.” My mistake.

      Mike – I tried to answer your question about context my response to Geoff, but let me try again.

      Let’s say that I send 500 emails about a single project scattered over the lifetime of a project, in this case 2 years. In the first year I send the first 400 of those emails, get reassigned after largely completing my work on the project but am asked to take on an advisory role for the next year. During that year, three problems are discovered that relate to issues I worked on during the main design phase. The first problem takes 25 emails over the course of a few weeks and the second problem takes 25 emails over a different few weeks. The third problem, however, takes 50 emails, 10 in January, 5 in March, 20 in August, and another 15 in December.

      If you got only the 400 emails from the main project, would you say you got a full accounting of the context of my work on the project, given that you missed the 100 that detailed how problems were discovered and fixed? Or better yet, if you got those 5 emails from March (1% of the total), would you say you understood the full context of that problem, given that you missed at least 45 emails relating to the full history of that problem?

      I certainly hope not, because there is no way that you have the full context from the example I just described. And the example I crafted has happened to me at least five times in my career as an EE across three different industries (storage, telecommunications, and aerospace).

      The point is that we know that the emails are heavily edited. We don’t know what was edited out, or the criteria that were used to do the editing. And so it’s not reasonable or logical to assume that we have the full context given the tiny sample size of emails we do have.

      We don’t know for certain how many hours the Oxburgh investigation spent on the investigation, only that they spent about 15 person-days interviewing people at CRU. That doesn’t include the time spent reviewing websites like Climate Audit, reading evidence presented to the Committee by folks like Andrew Montford or Benny Peiser, reading the 11 CRU papers or the other material that was requested and provided, and so on. If we assume 8 hours per weekday per panelist between February 11 (when the Oxburgh investigation was announced) and April 14 (when it was published), each of the seven panelists would have spent 344 hours reviewing emails, data, papers, websites, discussing details among the panel, etc. That’s just over 2400 hours collectively. If that’s not enough to conclude that the conclusions derived from the data and methods were reasonable and not fudged or cherry-picked, how much time do you think they would need?

  28. Mike, weren’t submissins recieved from concerned citizens, such as those who had trawlled throught he emails for hours.

    Weren’t the specifics of such submissions considered and many directly addressed?

    Brain certainly cites several such claims that were.

    • Scanning through the list of people who submitted statements, I see Andrew Montford, Anne Stallybrass, Clive Menzies, Douglas J. Keenan, Beeny Peiser, Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, Peter Sinclair, Hans von Storch, Ross McKitrick, Richard S. Courtney, Stephen McIntyre, Steven Mosher, Warwick Hughes, and one of our commenters above, Geoffry Sherrington. There are many more, those are just some of the more well known names.

      Many of the same people submitted statements to the Independent Climate Change Email Review, but there are many new names as well, such as Ben Santer, the CRU itself, David Archer, Martin Vermeer, Michael Mann, and Mike Hulme.

  29. 34 Brian Angliss,

    Yes, I fully understand the point about only a selection of emails being released from CRU. But then, I have emails to and from CRU that do not appear on the list, directly on topic, so that counters your argument to a degree.

    Suppose you are CRU and you have 50 sites in a country for examination of UHI in the early days. If you take a half dozen big cities that show a warming trend and ignore 40 rurals that show a decrease or slight change either way, then I think you naive in your application of science. I don’t think one can mount an argument against that. And that, to a less black and white degree, is what happened.

    37 Jakerman

    The urban heat island effect around Melbourne has been studied by Melbourne University. One link that takes you to more is

    There is a problem with working with public BOM data because it has been adjusted before it gets to the public. The BOM are not terribly forthcoming about which periods at a site were adjusted by the method of whomever over what term and which adjustments were withdrawn and replaced by others. The closest we can get to raw data is from the Warwick Hughes effort in finding electronic copies of the data to 1986, see USA Dept of Energy Jones et al 1986 350 pages station documentation now online in pdf at

    But that stops at 1986.

    Public submissions to recent UK Inquiries were most often from people concerned by the quality of science, yet little mention is made of them in the findings so far. A rather small portion of submissions supported CRU.There seems a British reluctance to go forensic. Must be an election coming up.

    39 Brian Angliss

    And that list of people has significant cumulative experience beyond the surface gloss. I repeat, the devil is in the detail. Spin has no value in good science. You would be hard pressed to find a name in either paragrah who would honestly confess to agreeing with the explanation of “Mike’s trick” or “hide the decline”. Mnay people put the wrong interpretation on the latter. There are 3 prime accounts and one is historically more supportable.

    They get it a bit wrong here:

  30. Brian,
    You seem to miss a very basic point. The result of CRU data and publications, along with associated activities of the group for IPCC and other groups is possibly a major driver of a multi TRILLION dollar commitment and change of life style for the human race. The funds were mainly public, so there is clearly a right to FOI with the limitation that reasonable time should be allowed for publication before release. More important, the need for getting it right is critical to not do wasteful or harmful damage. The emails and code released show a petty and narrow activity, but more important, an effort to keep information from those in case they find errors!! Finding errors is in fact critical if they exist. There are many records supporting the MWP and LIA, and the possibility that a few locations are not the same is not support that they did not exist. If you wish I can supply you with a list of hundreds of papers with this supporting evidence. The fact that the temperature increased the last 100 or so years only supports that we came out of the LIA. The fact of the exact rise (0.6C or 0.8C) is not critical, but showing how sloppy records are is evidence of generally bad supporting evidence, and reflects on the overall lack of certainty. The fact that we are near the local peak is also of no importance unless there is more significant rise in the near future. In fact, for the last decade we see ups and downs, but not a rising trend (the present El Nino is now ending, and we will likely see some drop next). The suppression of skeptic papers (not complete, but significant) and bad mouthing even people that agree with AGW but think it may be less than you expect shows how unprofessional you and many of your supporters are. It is clear to me that if you agree with the whitewashes on CRU and Mann, you are beyond redemption.

  31. Geoff, thank your for the link. Reading the material, the issue investigated that:

    “Whilst large urban areas such as Melbourne have been excluded from the dataset used to determine climate change, the UHI in the small towns may still cause a unrealistic warming in the temperature records used to determine climate change.”

    The finding from the study is that”

    “Whilst some temperature records from small towns do not represent the large scale climate, it is unlikely to have any major impact upon our estimates of temperature warming over Australia. This is because there are numerious other weather stations located in remote areas such as lighthouses and regions far removed from urban areas that still indicate a warming temperature trend.”

    And as the data I presented shows, the most rapid warming is in some of the most rural areas of Australia.

    The original claim you made Geoff was:

    “The cherry picking of Australia from East Anglia was so amateurish and the excuses given so inventive, that no faith at all can be placed on the Australian part. There are actual measurements of UHI in Australia and they show severe effects.”

    I’ve seen no evidence of this. And the fact that UHI has real effects is not controversial, and is the reason why “large urban areas such as Melbourne have been excluded from the dataset used to determine climate change”.

    The next point you raise is:

    “There is a problem with working with public BOM data because it has been adjusted before it gets to the public.”

    Adjustments are appropriate, in fact unadjusted data is particularly misleading when the histories of many stations contain changes to recording processes, equipment and local environment.

    The BOM publish their methods for adjustment:

    Can your direct me to evidence that might exists (perhaps in Hughes work with raw data) that the adjustment have been inappropriate?

  32. Geoff (#40) – I’d say that the fact you have emails that are on-topic but not from CRU archive supports my point, actually – if you have 10 emails (guessing), any Peiser has 10, and Revkin has 100, and Borenstein has 100, and Santer has 50, and so on, you end up with a lot of the context scattered around and in a form that can’t be comprehended by looking at just what was released.

    I’d agree with you that early analyses were, perhaps, naive. However, science advances, and the sciences of climatology, paleoclimatology, biogeochemisty, and other climate-related sciences have advanced hugely in the last 10 or 20 years. New methods replace old ones only to be replaced themselves. One of the things the Oxburgh report wrote was that “The Unit freely admits that many data analyses they made in the past are superseded and they would not do things that way today.” The report also said “CRU is to be commended for continuously updating and reinterpreting their earlier chronologies.” This means that, to the satisfaction of the Oxburgh panel, CRU has gone back and re-analyzed early data and found that, even with the reanalysis, the original conclusions are still good. That so many organizations and individuals have independently analyzed the data and replicated the results using so many different methods means that CRU’s basic conclusions are solid given the data. No amount of discussion or pointing out of possibly naive methods 10 or 20 years ago can change that fact.

    Now, that doesn’t say anything about the quality of the original data used, but it does say that the conclusions are robustly supported by the data.

    Leonard (#41) – Let me address your point about errors before I address anything else. If there were errors, wouldn’t you think that NCDC, GISS, UAH, RSS, and now at least a half-dozen different independent analyses would have found them? There have been no errors found, only differences in opinion on the validity of various statistical methods and adjustment techniques. But all of the analyses have shown that there is no significant difference in conclusions that have not already been well explained in the published literature between raw and adjusted, full vs. “dropped out” stations, rural vs. urban.

    As for the LIA/MWP argument, I’m not going to take that up in a comment thread. Because as you could produce a hundred papers talking about it, I could produce a hundred papers countering your hundred, and a comment thread isn’t the right place for that. My opinion on it, based on what I’ve read, is that the LIA and MWP appear to have been largely constrained to the NH, and to the area around the northern Atlantic specifically for the MWP.

    I’m trying to decide if your statement that “sloppy records” mean the evidence supporting ACD is “generally bad” is a non-sequitor or a straw man, but in either case it’s a logical fallacy. Sloppy record keeping has no bearing on the accuracy of the data or the correctness of the conclusions drawn from that data.

    Contrary to your opinion, there is no reason to believe that the Mann inquiry was a whitewash. According to a number of academics I interviewed for a post a while back (“Experts say alleged PSU cover up of Mann misconduct ‘extremely unlikely’”), universities “live and die by their good reputations.” Penn State made $2.8 billion in research money over the period 2006-2009 (Mann joined Penn State in 2006), yet Mann brought in only $4.2 million, or 0.06% of the total research money the university got over those four years. Can you honestly tell me that a top tier research university (PSU was ranked #1 in industry funded research grants in the US in 2009) would risk its reputation and the billions of dollars that reputation has made them on one scientist whose work is barely a blip in the funding profile? Similarly, what reason would there be for the Royal Society to risk its 350 year history by permitting or supporting a “whitewash” by Oxburgh? There has to be a motive, and money isn’t a sufficient motive in this case.

    If you look at the money involved in all of this, the “worst case” estimates for how much it’ll cost the global economy to fix climate disruption is about 3% of gross world product (GWP), or about $2 trillion as of 2008. By way of comparison, fossil fuel-related industries (drilling, mining, pipelines, utilities, and refiners) had revenues of at least $9 trillion in 2008. The IMF, World Bank, and CIA World Factbook estimated that GWP in 2008 was about $60 trillion. That means that fossil fuels represent at least 15% of the global economy.

    And how much money was spent on all climate science in 2008? About $5 billion globally. That’s less than 0.1% of the revenues from fossil fuels.

    I can totally buy the idea that Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street types want to add that $2 trillion for addressing ACD to their own, already significant (about $2 trillion in 2008) coffers. But saying that climate scientists are motivated by grant money to lie doesn’t hold water. Given the fact that there’s over 1000 times the money in fossil fuels as there is in climate science, we can fairly say that scientists who are motivated by money are much more motivated to work in fossil fuels than in climate science.

  33. The whitewash was done so badly because the true believers are so cooperative in excercising what is called ‘true believer syndrome’.
    If you think a cursory review of years of communications and papers, without bothering to address the criticisms or critics is credible, you are, in another context, a cheap date.
    The bottom line problem for the AGW community is that the pesky climate catastrphe continues to decline to happen.
    Instead of dealing with that central issue, there is instead what we see at this, and other believer blogs.

  34. Brian Angliss,
    I would first commend you for extended and respectful response to my statements. Yours is one of very few “warmer” blogs with respectful responses to skeptics. I may have ended my initial comment a bit less respectful to you, but that was based on my previous experiences on other like minded sites. I will not repeat that here. I do have access to hundreds of peer reviewed papers that support a MWP and LIA that put the present rise in a perspective of not being unusual. I do not believe you can find more than a fraction that number, and with most using Mann’s tree data. As to Mann’s being poor, you really need to closely read M& M and Bishop. It is really a bad mistake to defend him. The US temperature record has been adjusted in big ways, and presently shows that the 30′s were about the same as present. The rest of the world data is less accurate and has been shown to have a lot of problems. I do not disagree that in the end the net error is small, but the entire rise is small on a historical scale. As to the “cover ups”, the institutions do not want a bad rep. It is not just about the amount of the money. They only looked at some processes, not the science. The totals of money to “fix” the AGW “problem” may in fact cause a disaster, since the end of the Holocene is near, and cooling may be accelerated.

  35. Brian, I have already outlined the early criticism of Jones which is where the rot started at CRU.

    “Suppose you are CRU and you have 50 sites in a country for examination of UHI in the early days. If you take a half dozen big cities that show a warming trend and ignore 40 rurals that show a decrease or slight change either way, then I think you naive in your application of science. I don’t think one can mount an argument against that. And that, to a less black and white degree, is what happened.”

    I can give you a list of stations that were aceepted by Dr Phil and those that were rejected and I can give you the current BoM “adjusted” temperatures. Even using the latter, you can still see that Jones’ choice of stations was cherry picked and the treatment naive.

    Trouble is, when I asked him for his raw data he emailed “We no longer have the data”.

    Oh dear. How inconvenient.

    How can reasonably intelligent people read such material an NOT believe that there is a stench?

    And Brian, your attempt at analysis of the statistical impact of private emails (as opposed to those in the release from CRU) is equally naive. The information in my private emails is probably more damning than much of the public stuff. It matters not if other people have private emails as well.

    • Geoff – you can’t escape the fact that CRU’s results have been verified repeatedly, nor the fact that, as the House of Commons report discovered, the raw data was available for anyone willing to pay the original national meteorological offices for it.

      As for my simple numerical analysis of the quantity of released emails, my point is that no-one can understand the context for 20+ years of work based on less than 0.1% of all the emails that were sent in the course of doing that work. I couldn’t understand your career and motivations from reading 0.1% of your emails, and you couldn’t understand mine – or Phil Jones’. However, if someone hacked your email, I’m certain that the hacker could find 0.1% or so of your emails that would make you look just as bad as Jones’ did. The same thing would happen with someone selectively releasing my emails as well. Or someone could hack our emails and make us look like saints by only releasing a different 0.1% of the emails.

      That the emails in your private collection increases the number of emails you know about from a hypothetical 0.07% to 0.08% or even 0.10% doesn’t change that conclusion at all.

      If Jones or Spencer or Santer or Lindzen looked at only the 0.1% of their respective data that supported their various desired conclusions and either pretended that the other 99.9% of the data didn’t matter or guessed that it supported the desired conclusions, they’d be rightly laughed out of the scientific community as examples of egregious confirmation bias. So why are you so resistant to the idea that a similar standard should apply to these emails?

  36. Geoff Sherrington writes:

    “I can give you a list of stations that were aceepted by Dr Phil and those that were rejected and I can give you the current BoM “adjusted” temperatures. Even using the latter, you can still see that Jones’ choice of stations was cherry picked and the treatment naive.”

    For all the (so far unsupported) claims of improper station selection made against Phil Jones, its is worth noting that satellite measurements from the lower troposphere over the last 30 years show a similar rate of warming as the HadCURT.

    And just as the BOM do, the CRU also publish their methods of data adjustment including reanalysis to find and deal with outliers:

    “A comparison [Simmons et al., 2004] of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) land temperature data with the ERA-40 reanalysis found a few areas where the station data were doubtful, and this was augmented by visual examination of individual station records looking for outliers. Some bad values were identified and either corrected or removed. “

    255 Australian station used by the CRU can be found here:

    Geoff, as I asked earlier regarding BOM, can you direct me to evidence that the CRU treatment of errors, bias and anomalous outliers is inappropriate?

    Geoff then writes:

    “Trouble is, when I asked him for his raw data he emailed “We no longer have the data”.
    Oh dear. How inconvenient.”

    Phil Jones and the CRU are not the keepers of raw data, this is the roll of agencies such as the BOM and GHCN. Asking CRU for raw data is asking the wrong people.

  37. OK, Jakerman,

    Hypothetical – you are a citizen of Australia with no special access privileges.

    YOU tell US which information was used by Jones et al in 1990 in ‘Nature’ for Australia, where they got if from, whether it was raw or adjusted and over which years, where it can be got now in both raw and adjusted form, and then describe all raw data adjustments for each station in quantitative detail. Then tell us how to find out if the adjustments made for this paper are the same as appear on public sites today and therefore replicable; and if they are not, when they were modified and why and over which periods.

    You’re on for $20 if you can answer all this and then conclude that Jones’ analysis was supportable and still holds today – or you can quote a retracting paper if you know of one.

    Remember, this was one of the main papers that set the rabbits running on Global Warming, so it deserves revisiting.

    There is a big difference between takling in theory and working in practice – as you will find out in the first hour.

    (BTW My true name is above and my c.v. is on the Web. You are free to disclose your name and c.v. to show you do not have access privileges.)

  38. Geoff, I’ve invited you to support your earlier claims:

    “The cherry picking of Australia from East Anglia was so amateurish and the excuses given so inventive, that no faith at all can be placed on the Australian part.”


    “using the [BoM temperatures], you can still see that Jones’ choice of stations was cherry picked and the treatment naive.”

    You may wish to make my non-authority an issue. But in an appeal to authority one wonders why your claims are not published in proper journals for peer review.

    In the absence of my CV you are left with the links I provide and fact checking the claims I make. Furthermore, you are asked again to support your claims, which so far do not stand scrutiny.

  39. 50 Jakerman, that’s dumb. How can they stand scrutiny when the source data for the paper were not kept by the authors, which disobeys standard scientific practise. What is your scientific procedure to scrutinise a blank sheet of paper? The copy we kept was an very early value added version and there is no public way to find the raw version that I can find. There are several analyses of the early Jones deficiencies on well-known blogs. I have no time nor patience to point you to them as this discussion had the once-over 4 years ago. Let’s just accept that Warwick Hughes and I were among the first to publicise the funny stuff going on at CRU, for which we have received much abuse but absolutely no proof we were wrong.

    49 Brian Angliss
    Likewise, it’s not my job to educate you as to the correct conduct of ethical science. My correspondence ends here with a note that you post on “Rogues and Scholars” when you are in apparent difficulty defining both.

    Good luck with your delusions and I’m not sorry I influenced the PM re the upcoming budget.

  40. Geoff, you should have proof that you are correct before you make such claims, and blog review is no substitute for competant peer review. It has already been explained, CRU are not the collectors nor keepers of Raw data.

    ” the raw data was available for anyone willing to pay the original national meteorological offices for it.”

    Finally this comparison say a lot, but you’ve not responded to it:

    “For all the (so far unsupported) claims of improper station selection made against Phil Jones, its is worth noting that satellite measurements from the lower troposphere over the last 30 years show a similar rate of warming as the HadCURT.”

  41. Pingback: Scholars and Rogues » Industry vs. scientists – who profits from climate disruption?

  42. Here’s an exercise that neds just a little bit of work by those who think no funny business came out of Climategate.

    There is a search engine for key words of your choice in the emails at

    Open it up and search for “money”.

    Have a read about people wishing to avoid taxes by special arrangements, money being carried on persons over country borders, funds for one approved project being diverted to another …. if I was a police person, I would want a deeper look. Especially the transactions with the Russians, where Keith seems to guide their research as if he was handing out (someone else’s) lollies.

    Now tell me it’s a placid scene of innocence. Ha!

  43. More innuendo Geoff, is that seriously the best you’ve got? I suppose lacking evidence to support your prior claims it is a logical step to focus on innuendo and dime a dozen conspricay theories.

  44. 54 Jakerman Where’s the innuendo? There are clear statements in the material. The problem is that they were not on the lists of any Inquiries. It’s for Inquiries to clarify prima facie lawbreaking, not for me. But if you can read the material I referenced with no feeling of possible lack of probity on the parts of the players, then you are truly dedicated to your cause and a dangerous person who has trouble telling right from wrong.

  45. Thats just inuendo on inuendo Geoff. “Clear statements” that go unstated by you. We are left with the memory of the previous time your assured us you had evidence.

    Claims are cheap Geoff, so is smear. You’ve struck out twice, you don’t get any benefit of any doubt.

  46. 56 jackerman too lazy to read the source?

    “That is why it is important for us
    to get money from additional sources, in particular from the ADVANCE
    and INTAS ones. Also, it is important for us if you can transfer
    the ADVANCE money on the personal accounts which we gave you earlier
    and the sum for one occasion transfer (for example, during one day)
    will not be more than 10,000 USD. Only in this case we can avoid
    big taxes and use money for our work as much as possible.”

    “I am told that the money transfer ( 5000 u.s. dollars) should have gone to the bank account you stated. Please let me know if this is received by you. I now also have the contract signed by INTAS and we must organise future work and I will talk to Fritz about us visiting Ekaterinburg next year. In the meantime I wish you and Stepan to organise major review papers of the Yamal and Taimyr long chronology staus for inclusion in the Holocene ADVANCE-10K Special Issue. These need to be completed by June at the latest . They will each be 10-12 pages of print. I can suggest content, do some analyses and help with editing these . I am also sending Stepan’s 5000 dollars to Switzerland now to be carried back by his colleague. I have yet to sort out how claims on the INTAS money will be handled. Have you received the details of the final contract?”

    Please describe the innuendo content of these.

    Why send money through Switzerland if it was not to avoid a legal obligation?

    • Wait a damned minute. It would be great if people would track back and read Ubertramp’s comments on this – he is, after all, a WORKING UNIVERSITY SCIENTIST. I don’t think anyone ever suggested that money was irrelevant to working scientists. Research is expensive, and research funding can be very hard to come by.

      But to suggest that trying to preserve a BUDGETARY concern of a few thousand dollars is somehow equivalent to personal greed along the lines of taking your millions offshore … I may be misreading the implications here, but if this is what we’re being asked to do, it’s among the most dishonest bullshit that’s ever been slung around an S&R comment thread.

  47. “Please describe the innuendo content of these.”

    You’ve got the explaining to do Geoff not I. What do you claim these emails mean? What do you know has been done wrong? Have you done anything but speculate?

    Geoff how much cash are you allowed to carry into Australia? That would be $10k else you got to go through special declarations. There is zero evidence that this is anything but simply working with in the rules (similar to Australia’s rules).

    (Edited by Admin)

  48. By the way Geoff, ever worked in Russia? How about in the decade following the state collapse? Do you know how hard it was for transactions without a proper functioning exchange system? I recall that many people were working without pay, the Ruble collapsed, and the wheels of exchange cannot be competently commented on with understand this.

  49. 60 jakerman

    So you are prepared to sacrifice prima facie evidence of lawbreaking for the reason that it’s for University research? Is this not a main theme in Climategate?

    Normal people use normal methods for money transfer, not clandestine.

  50. “I don’t know what you have gained from this interchange except a chance to exercise your ad homs.”

    The irony!

    Lead with off innuendo, make allusions without presenting any law, make further claims based on secret information. Then accuse others of playing the man. Perhaps you are not aware of how unsubtle you are Geoff?

    Others should be aware that Geoff came up short when he was asked to support on other similarly strongly asserted claims:

    “The cherry picking of Australia from East Anglia was so amateurish and the excuses given so inventive, that no faith at all can be placed on the Australian part. There are actual measurements of UHI in Australia and they show severe effects.”

  51. Geoff you are going round in circles. This was a strawman see comment 42

    “Whilst large urban areas such as Melbourne have been excluded from the dataset used to determine climate change, the UHI in the small towns may still cause a unrealistic warming in the temperature records used to determine climate change.”

    The finding from the study is that”

    “Whilst some temperature records from small towns do not represent the large scale climate, it is unlikely to have any major impact upon our estimates of temperature warming over Australia. This is because there are numerious other weather stations located in remote areas such as lighthouses and regions far removed from urban areas that still indicate a warming temperature trend.”

    And as the data I presented shows, the most rapid warming is in some of the most rural areas of Australia.

    The original claim you made Geoff was:

    “The cherry picking of Australia from East Anglia was so amateurish and the excuses given so inventive, that no faith at all can be placed on the Australian part. There are actual measurements of UHI in Australia and they show severe effects.”

    I’ve seen no evidence of this. And the fact that UHI has real effects is not controversial, and is the reason why “large urban areas such as Melbourne have been excluded from the dataset used to determine climate change”.

    The next point you raise is:

    “There is a problem with working with public BOM data because it has been adjusted before it gets to the public.”

    Adjustments are appropriate, in fact unadjusted data is particularly misleading when the histories of many stations contain changes to recording processes, equipment and local environment.

    The BOM publish their methods for adjustment:

    Can your direct me to evidence that might exists (perhaps in Hughes work with raw data) that the adjustment have been inappropriate?

    Then follow down the posts to its conclusion where you came up short failing to back your claims.

    • OK, I’ve had enough and I asked the Admin to clean up this recent activity. As a result, the comments that were free of points and counter-points and contained only name-calling have been deleted, while a few others that made a few decent points have been edited.

      Now, I’d appreciate it if you’d both keep it more civil.

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