Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Denialists denied again

The Independent Inquiry headed by Lord Oxborough on the Climate Research Unit has reported. The wild charges (hi there Steve:) against the CRU were emphatically rejected by the Inquiry. To the right, Nelson well expresses our views on this failed denialist jihad. Like Tamino, Eli fears he will age waiting for apologies.

UPDATE: Eli will put up a separate post on this later but Rabett Run has many visitors at the moment. Besides the sporting aspect there is a great reason to shove these reports virgorously down the throats of some who will not be mentioned. Besides their uncalled for denigration of honorable scientists and excellent science, the alphabet soup of denialist think tanks has based their petition the US EPA for reconsideration of the CO2 Endangerment Finding on the CRU Emails. The various official inquiries reporting back on how vicious and vacuous the jihad has been strip the petitions and petitioners of standing. The more HaHa we generate leaves them standing naked in the public square. Believe Eli, an unclothed Tony Watts, is an ugly thing. (not that yrs truly is svelte, mind you, but he is cute, ask Ms. Rabett)

The charge of the Committee was

The Panel was set up by the University in consultation with the Royal Society to assess the integrity of the research published by the Climatic Research Unit in the light of various external assertions. The Unit is a very small academic entity within the School of Environmental Sciences. It has three full time and one part time academic staff members and about a dozen research associates, PhD students and support staff. The essence of the criticism that the Panel was asked to address was that climatic data had been dishonestly selected, manipulated and/or presented to arrive at pre-determined conclusions that were not compatible with a fair interpretation of the original data.
Keith Briffa (dendochronology), Phil Jones (surface temperature reconstructions) and their colleagues had been accused of data murder and rape by the usual suspects. The Inquiry finds these accusations to be infamous lies.

The Inquiry first recognizes something important about tree rings
Chronologies (transposed composites of raw tree data) are always work in progress. They are subject to change when additional trees are added; new ways of data cleaning may arise (e.g. homogeneity adjustments), new measurement methods are used (e.g. of measuring ring density), new statistical methods for treating the data may be developed (e.g. new ways of allowing for biological growth trends).
Much of the criticism came from the fly-in-amber school of science, where nothing ever changes, where initial publications must be perfect. The Inquiry report remarks that the nature of the dendro beast (and indeed, most other science) implies choices in data selection guided by experience, expertise and statistics. They ding the CRU for not having sufficient statistical expertise, but conclude
8. 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. In the event CRU scientists were able to give convincing answers to our detailed questions about data choice, data handling and statistical methodology. 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 Inquiry demurs,
9. We have not exhaustively reviewed the external criticism of the dendroclimatological work,
Wise folk, wading into the Climate Audit swamp requires at least six months of cleaning under the nails afterwards, and they continue with extreme British understatement
but it seems that some of these criticisms show a rather selective and uncharitable approach to information made available by CRU. They seem also to reflect a lack of awareness of the ongoing and dynamic nature of chronologies, and of the difficult circumstances under which university research is sometimes conducted. Funding and labour pressures and the need to publish have meant that pressing ahead with new work has been at the expense of what was regarded as non-essential record keeping. From our perspective it seems that the CRU sins were of omission rather than commission.
The last bit is the one you are going to see at Climate Audit
Although we deplore the tone of much of the criticism that has been directed at CRU, we believe that this questioning of the methods and data used in dendroclimatology will ultimately have a beneficial effect and improve working practices
without the first line which will be left in the quote mine.

On to Phil Jones and the CRUTEMP surface temperature reconstructions.
4. Like the work on tree rings this work is strongly dependent on statistical analysis and our comments are essentially the same. Although there are certainly different ways of handling the data, some of which might be superior, as far as we can judge the methods which CRU has employed are fair and satisfactory. . . .

All of the published work was accompanied by detailed descriptions of uncertainties and accompanied by appropriate caveats. The same was true in face to face discussions.
5. We believe that CRU did a public service of great value by carrying out much time-consuming meticulous work on temperature records at a time when it was unfashionable and attracted the interest of a rather small section of the scientific community.
Reaching an overall conclusion about the CRU's work
1. We saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit and had it been there we believe that it is likely that we would have detected it. Rather we found a small group of dedicated, if slightly disorganised, researchers who were ill-prepared for being the focus of public attention. As with many small research groups their internal procedures were rather informal.
The Inquiry picks up on James Annan's point that governments are insisting on charging for data they create while demanding that it be free to all. And, horrors, they come pretty close to recommending that FOI laws be modified to prevent their vexious use
4. A host of important unresolved questions also arises from the application of Freedom of Information legislation in an academic context. We agree with the CRU view that the authority for releasing unpublished raw data to third parties should stay with those who collected it.
George Monbiot will call it white wash

Eli thanks Tracy and http://nelsonhaha.com for the appropriate comment

31 comments:

chris said...

Eli, Professor Oxburgh's surname isn't quite so posh as you've made it.

Anonymous said...

As Eli rightly points out, there could only ever be one conclusion that could ever satisfy the deniers. So clearly, it will be declared by the lying bastards - Crapintyre et al. to be a whitewash. But at least we know where they're coming from.

Let's hope the FoI legislation is amended to prevent Crapintyre's sleazy tactics.

It would be really nice if someone could turn the tables on Crapintyre-scum, so he was on the receiving end of something like what he's put poor Phil Jones through.

Random mouse

_Arthur said...

I expect that the cost of this enquiry was superior to the whole CRU annual budget.

_Arthur

_Arthur said...

I expect that the cost of this enquiry was superior to the whole CRU annual budget.

_Arthur

Tracy P. Hamilton said...

http://nelsonhaha.com

silburnl said...

I don't know about George Monbiot, but the commenters below the line at the Daily Telegraph article reporting this finding certainly are ranting about whitewashes.

The posting ratio is about 90% denydiot over there.

Regard
Luke

Anonymous said...

This excerpt from http://www.latimes.com/news/custom/topofthetimes/world/la-fg-climate-data15-2010apr15,0,4480601.story pretty much sums it up:

"The fact is we found them absolutely squeaky clean," the head of the panel, Ron Oxburgh, a geologist and former government advisor, told the BBC. He added that some of the criticism by skeptics, who pointed to the hacked e-mails as proof of a massive scientific cover-up, was "just plain nasty and ill-informed."

Horatio Algeranon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fran said...

"We believe that CRU did a public service of great value by carrying out much time-consuming meticulous work on temperature records at a time when it was unfashionable and attracted the interest of a rather small section of the scientific community."

I'm troubled Eli. How do we reconcile this observation with the critically important memes:

a) groupthink?

and

b) Follow the money?

Anonymous said...

I liked this:

"Yet climate scientist Myles Allen of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, is cautious about the panel's call for improved bookkeeping so that others can later review a body's work: "Science generally progresses by taking different approaches to problems and either confirming or refuting published results, not by 'auditing' old calculations. There is a danger that if climate science starts to be treated as a bookkeeping exercise, this would actually impede progress in understanding how the real Earth system works."

http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2010/04/oxburgh-report-clears-controvers.html?rss=1

Anonymous said...

Sorry, post at 3:30 pm was by MapleLeaf.

MapleLeaf

EliRabett said...

Mostly it's the time needed to record everything in huge detail. There are answers to this but they are very expensive (computerized lab notebook systems) and beyond the understanding of old folk

Martin said...

Anybody surprised? This is what you get when you ask competent people to review silly accusations. It was the same with the Mann investigation, though sillier still: the investigators had to invent -- or "synthesize" -- the silly accusations themselves, as the ones out there weren't coherent enough for government use.

Mark said...

It reminds me of Judge Jones' evisceration of the intelligent designers in the 2005 Dover case. Anyone with critical thinking skills can see the attacks on science for what they are.

AndyD said...

Martin -

Yes, I've often found that when debating denialists of many stripes you often end up having to construct both sides of the argument...

Mr McIntyre has a response on his blog now. First glance suggests that he's upset that they don't take his blog posts as gospel truth. Shame.

You'd think that after having several hundred people examine these emails for several months without finding anything particularly incriminating, they would have given up by now. Apparently now.

Tracy P. Hamilton said...

AndyD:"You'd think that after having several hundred people examine these emails for several months without finding anything particularly incriminating, they would have given up by now."

Hey, do you want to take away the only research program they have?

Deech56 said...

"Mr McIntyre has a response on his blog now." Looks like 3 of them (plus a pre-post) are up now.

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says: Of course its OK to use a "trick" to "hide the decline" if you're and idiot.

Don't you people realise that as long as massive change to nuclear power is UK Public Policy, the Government will see to it that CO2 is vilified, so as to drive public opinion to be accepting of Nuclear Power.

DavidCOG said...

> George Monbiot will call it white wash

Almost unbelievable that no one finds that an unbelievable prediction now. George has pushed the denial wagon more than most over the last few months. :/

And then there's Fred Pearce. A more cynical and less charitable person than I might suggest he needs to keep pushing a particular narrative because he has a book on its way that describes that narrative.

Sad times at the Grauniad.

Anonymous said...

"UPDATE: Time to kill the noise"

Past time, thank you.

Anonymous said...

"Of course its OK to use a "trick" to "hide the decline" if you're and idiot."

I'm confused....., then why would markeymouse have any problem with using a trick to hide a decline?

papertiger said...

Keith Briffa (dendochronology), Phil Jones (surface temperature reconstructions) and their colleagues had been accused of data murder and rape by the usual suspects. The Inquiry finds these accusations to be infamous lies.

You think Connolley will let Briff have his wiki entry back now?

Deech56 said...

In other related events, Trenberth and Fasullo have a Perspectives piece in Science in which they discuss the earth's energy budget.

Existing observing systems can measure all the required quantities, but it nevertheless remains a challenge to obtain closure of the energy budget. This inability to properly track energy—due to either inadequate measurement accuracy or inadequate data processing—has implications for understanding and predicting future climate.

It's a travesty, I tells ya.

papertiger said...

Where has that heat got off to?

Let's look under the ocean.

Oops - not under there.

Let's look in the sky.

Not there either.

It's got to be here
this I know.
Cause climate models
tell me so

papertiger said...

Inspector Magoo couldn't find any malfeasance - so instead of checking the prescription on his glasses - or urging the culprits to honor the law and the spirit of scientific enqiry - Magoo recommends the law be altered to protect the guilty.


I hope so. I hope the UK government pushes through the protection of global warming science act immunizing Jones and Briff from ever coming forth with their data due to FOI,
over the howls of protest.

Ever hear the story of Oliver Cromwell?

EliRabett said...

Oh, there it is

Deech56 said...

papertiger, one might take away the message that Trenberth believes that current measurement methods do not allow us to fully track the energy budget.

Eli - you got linked by Atrios. May be time to dust off the welcome mat and put a few more alfalfa cubes out in case any guests show up.

EliRabett said...

Even better, Eli won't put the sound back on:)

Lars Karlsson said...

McIntyre didn't leave the "deplore" part in the quote mine - he thought it was useful:

They “deplore the tone of much of the criticism that has been directed at CRU” – again without providing any examples. Hypocritically, they ignore the “tone” of remarks within the Climategate letters, the language that has appalled the public. If they are going to complain about the mote in their brother’s eye, they should first remove the beam in their own.

Personally I think there is a difference between saying/writing something in a private conversation and publishing something on your blog for the whole world to read...

Deech56 said...

John Cook explores the Trenberth and Fasullo paper:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/Tracking-the-energy-from-global-warming.html

Macai said...

The independent inquiry headed by James Delingpole on the Climate Research Unit has reported. The many charges against the CRU were emphatically affirmed by the inquiry. Above, Nelson well expresses our views on this failed alarmist conspiracy.