Monday, November 28, 2011

Climategate 2, more unethical Team behavior

The second batch of e-mails, (Climategate 2)(you have to register) documenting the “behind the scenes” activities of the scientists that have been some of the stronger advocates for the uniqueness of current global warming over the last two millennia have been released. They have now been perused in running series of posts at various blog sites, and, while there is no immediately obvious major new revelation, the contemptible behavior of these purportedly exemplary individuals is getting an increasing amount of sunlight. It also shows how thick the whitewash was in the “enquiries” into scientific misconduct that followed the release of the original, Climategate 1, e-mails.

As an example, New Zealand Climate Change has shown in two posts ( here and here) how “reputable” scientists (Phil Jones, Michael Mann, Jim Salinger, Tom Wigley, Barrie Pittock, Mike Hulme and others – i.e. "the Team") worked to get Chris de Freitas, then editor of the journal Climate Research fired from that position, and also worked to try and get him fired from his academic position. His “crime” was to allow, following peer review, a paper that challenged the validity of the initial Mann “hockey stick” paper and its conclusions that the late 20th century was the warmest of the last millennium. (That particular conclusion was later changed, by Dr Mann, though much later than these events).

To explain the heinous nature of this particular activity requires some background, and also some information that has only since emerged. And, for the sake of brevity I am only going to summarize the story, though adding some detail not in the NZ post.
At the beginning of the story, back in 1997, the state of historical climate science thinking was that between AD 900 and AD 1300 (roughly) the world was going through a warming period, roughly akin to that we are currently seeing, and known as the Medieval Warming Period (MWP). This was followed by a much colder period that lasted from AD 1400 to AD 1800, known as the Little Ice Age (LIA). Evidence for this can, for example, be found in a study that was carried out looking at the sediments laid down in lakes in Finland. In 2005 Mia Tiljander submitted her thesis on these sediments in which she found, in concurrence with earlier studies of sediments in other lakes in the region that:
During the Roman period there was in AD 140-220 an 80-year-long period in the Lake Korttajärvi area when organic matter deposition and the sedimentation was similar to that during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), interpreted as milder climate condition. After this period, a clear mineral matter – organic matter varve structure existed, until the beginning of the MWP.

The MWP, AD 980-1250, was an exceptional period. The MWP is characterized by thinly laminated varves rich in organic matter, almost lacking the mineral pulses (i.e. spring floods), indicating mild climatic conditions. This period was interrupted by a colder period from AD 1115- 1145, dominated by mineral-matter-rich varves. The sediment deposited during the MWP was highly organic and dark brownish in colour. Based on pollen and diatom studies (Kauppila 2002), the MWP was a two-stage event. AD 980-1100 was warm and dry, a cold spell (AD 1115-1145) interrupted the warm trend and the following period AD 1145-1220 was again warm and even drier than the first stage.
In light of subsequent discussion of her work (which comes later) it should be noted that the disturbance of the annual sediment layers (the varves) by human activity only occurred in sediments after AD 1720, i.e. towards the end of the LIA. The picture of the historic climate can thus be outlined, as it was understood, by a plot from the first IPCC report.

Global Temperature plot from the first IPCC report (IPCC via John Daly )

This picture was challenged with the publication by Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes of a paper in Nature in 1998 (MBH 1998) that introduced the “Hockey Stick” plot to the world. Contrary to the prevailing opinion this paper suggested that there was a steady decline in temperatures from 1000 AD to around 1850 AD (the handle of the hockey stick), following which temperatures rose steadily to their present high levels (the blade).

The original “Hockey Stick” from MBH 1998 (MBH via John Daly ) (Note the thickness of the green error bars).

This plot made it easier to argue that current temperatures were a direct cause of industrial activity, due to the generation of increasing levels of carbon dioxide as the world used more fossil fuel. And, as a result, MBH concluded:
Our results suggest that the latter 20th century is anomalous in the context of at least the past millennium. The 1990's was the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, at moderately high levels of confidence.
This conclusion and the elimination of the MWP and LIA, despite the fact that the curve and conclusion over-rode the combined papers of hundreds of scientists who had worked to validate their existence, was seized upon by the Global Warming community and used without further discussion, as the “New Bible.” It was, for example, prominently featured in the 2000 Third Assessment Report of the IPCC. I have seen it used by the current Secretary of Energy as the valid plot of temperatures over the past millennium and thus as justification for the programs he espouses. And this despite the torrent of valid criticism of the curve, and that the original plot only referred to the Northern Hemisphere.

To sustain the credibility of this plot, the warming of the MWP, and the cooling of the LIA, had to be minimized. Both the initial set of e-mails and the new set document that the Team recognized and worked to do this. One immediate challenge was to respond to a paper published in 2003 in the journal Climate Research by Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas which had looked at some of the previous data (which MBH 1998 had neither considered nor shown invalid) to conclude that:
Furthermore, the individual proxies can be used to address the question of whether the 20th century is the warmest of the 2nd millennium locally. Across the world, many records reveal that the 20th century is probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last millennium.
Such effrontery and direct challenge to the authority of the team could not go unanswered, and the Team swung into action, (e-mail 31 ). It is interesting to note that in that correspondence Phil Jones recognizes the work of Jean Grove, an early climate scientist, (who reviewed the data validating the presence of The Little Ice Age in an excellent seminal book), but who died in 2001).
What we want to write is NOT the scholarly review a la Jean Grove (bless her soul) that just reviews but doesn't come to anything firm. We want a critical review that enables agendas to be set.
Which was not how I remembered the text at all, and so I re-read the beginning of that book, and it shows that he was wrong in that statement. Dr. Grove wrote:
Historical evidence of Little Ice Age events is much more plentiful in Europe than elsewhere but the documentation from other continents though scantier, is supported by a great volume of field evidence (e.g. Hope et al 1976, Hastenrath 1984) which is presented in Chapters 7, 8 and 9. It emerges that the Little Ice Age was a global phenomenon and it is shown in Chapter 10 that it was not unique to the Holocene.
But it was not just enough to write a rebuttal paper (which would be normal scientific practice). Although a rebuttal paper was written, with Tom Crowley suggesting that it be in EOS, this was not considered sufficient. Beginning with an e-mail from Mike Hulme (e-mail 2272) ) the Team began to focus on the editor, Chris de Freitas, who had accepted the paper.
Whilst we do not know who reviewed the Soon/Baliunas manuscript, there is sufficient evidence in my view to justify a "loss of confidence" in the peer review process operated by the journal and hence a mass resignation of review editors may be warranted. This is by no means a one-off - I could do the analysis of de Freitas's manuscripts if need be.

I am contacting the seven of you since I know you well and believe you may also have similar concerns to me about the quality of climate change science and how that science is communicated to the public. I would be interested in your views on this course of action - which was suggested in the first place my me, once I knew the strength of feeling amongst people like Phil Jones, Keith Briffa, Mike Mann, Ray Bradley, Tom Crowley, etc. CSIRO and Tyndall communication managers would then think that a mass resignation would draw attention to the way such poor science gets into mainstream journals.
Pressure was brought to bear, initially forcing changes in the editorial practices at the Climate Research journal, and then leading to the resignations of the editor in Chief (Hans von Storch) as well the one who accepted the paper (Chris de Freitas), and two others (Clare Goodess – who was at the University of East Anglia with the CRU group and Mitsuru Ando) who protested the publication, and who were encouraged to resign by the Team (e-mail 4808). It led to an editorial by the publisher, explaining why they could not allow the publication of papers in the journal to be governed by individuals outside the peer-review process (i.e. Team members).

The lack of objectivity of the editors of the journals in which the Team publish(such as Science, for example) is shown by theTeam being solicited by the journals to write opposing articles for them, as a counter to the Soon/Balianas paper. (e-mail 2469).
Phil Jones and I are in the process of writing a review article for Reviews of Geophysics which will, among other things, dispel the most severe of the myths that some of these folks are perpetuating regarding past climate change in past centuries. My understanding is that Ray Bradley, Malcolm Hughes, and Henry Diaz are working, independently, on a solicited piece for Science on the "Medieval Warm Period".
Of course, since then, Mann among others, has admitted to the presence of an MWP and an LIA, but it is a little late . . .

The Team were still not satisfied, and as the New Zealand post points out, they suggested that a letter be sent to the head of the University at which Dr de Freitas works, (e-mail 3052)
I have had thoughts also on a further course of action. The present Vice Chancellor of the University of Auckland, Professor John Hood (comes from an engineering background) is very concerned that Auckland should be seen as New Zealand's premier research university, and one with an excellent reputation internationally. He is concerned to the extent that he is monitoring the performance of ALL his senior staff, from Associate Professor upwards, including interviews with them. My suggestion is that a band of you review editors write directly to Professor Hood with your concerns. In it you should point out that you are all globally recognized top climate scientist. It is best that such a letter come from outside NZ and is signed by more than one person.
The e-mail goes on to suggest the form of the letter that should be sent:
Instead we have discovered that this person has been using his position to promote ‘fringe’ views of various groups with which they are associated around the world. It perhaps would have been less disturbing if the ‘science’ that was being passed through the system was sound. However, a recent incident has alerted us to the fact that poorly constructed and uncritical work has been allowed to enter the pages of the journal.

A recent example has caused outrage amongst leading climate scientists around the world and has resulted in the journal dismissing (??).. from the editorial board. We bring this to your attention since we consider it brings the name of your university and New Zealand into some disrepute. We leave it to your discretion what use you make of this information.
The strength of the punishment that the Team inflicted on the journal and those associated with the story kept the peer reviewed papers “in line” for some time, and so it has only this last September (after some 8 years) that it has been necessary to force the resignation of another editor, Wolfgang Wagner, to remind the scientific press as to who is in charge here.

Let me, however, end this rather lengthy post with another piece of Team dishonesty. You may remember that I began by quoting Mia Tiljander’s work on Finnish lake sediments. Well due to an odd circumstance, when this was examined by the Team the results were inverted. As a result, instead of showing the MWP that actually existed, her results were included as showing that it did not.

This was admitted in the first Climategate release (e-mail 3511) where Darrell Kaufman wrote
Regarding the "upside down man", as Nick's plot shows, when flipped, the Korttajarvi series has little impact on the overall reconstructions. Also, the series was not included in the calibration. Nonetheless, it's unfortunate that I flipped the Korttajarvi data.
In fact that is not a completely true statement either, since, as Mia Tiljander noted, the original data clearly showed an MWP, and if the data was good enough to use inverted to disprove that it existed, surely it should also be used to prove its presence when turned the right way around. But as Steve McIntyre has noted on the subject, while the original perpetrator may have submitted a correction the good Dr Mann has yet to admit that he used data improperly.

Courtesy of Climate Audit, you can judge for yourselves, comparing perhaps to the top figure, as to whether inverting the data made any difference.

How using the Tiljander data properly (New) reveals the MWP and LIA (Tiljander via Climate Audit), while the Team use (Old) hides them.

In further discussion the more recent sediments (which Tiljander noted were disturbed) which upticked in the “OLD” incorrect use, continued to be used by the team. As Andrew Montford noted in "The Hockey Stick Illusion", however:
The big selling point of Mann’s new paper was that you could get a hockey stick shape without tree rings. However, this claim turned out to rest on a circular argument. Mann had shown that the Tiljander proxies were valid by removing them from the database and showing that you still got a hockey stick. However, when he did this test, the hockey stick shape of the final reconstruction came from the bristlecones. Then he argued that he could remove the tree ring proxies (including the bristlecones) and still get a hockey stick – and of course he could, because in this case the hockey stick shape came from the Tiljander proxies. His arguments therefore rested on having two sets of flawed proxies in the database, but only removing one at a time. He could then argue that he still got a hockey stick either way.

And a short P.S. Steve McIntyre has just posted that the Team tried the same nasty tricks to try and discredit Willie Soon at Harvard.


  1. Dave, thank you for putting this together.

    The levels of fraud and misconduct by Mann and the other “reputable” scientists, and, the subsequent whitewashed investigation, is truly breathtaking. The more I read about the evidence put forward to support the theory of man-caused global warming and climate change, and, the poor behavior of its advocates, the more skeptical I have become.

    If evidence of misconduct and fraud from climategate I and II and other misconduct are eventually proven to be true, and become prominent in the mainstream media, this will be seen as one of the biggest scientific frauds in history. I am afraid that the impression that the general public will be left with is that big institutions, prominent journals and the scientists themselves have all been so "deeply captured" by a political or social agenda, that whatever comes out of them can no longer be trusted—none of it

    Trust is hard to win back once you lose it, so, when other scientists present evidence of peak oil and its repercussions, this too will be ignored and seen as just another political or social agenda.

  2. Thank you for the "digest". Quite handy at this phase when my PhD is taking so much of my spare time.

    This can only end bad, and all these people will go in History as charlatans. Really sad to see Tom Wigley associated with this.

  3. This is a textbook case of corruption in science.