Yet more clearing

‘Rigour and honesty’ of scientists not in doubt but Sir Muir Russell says UEA’s Climatic Research Unit was not sufficiently open. I’d quibble the latter but we have to take what we can get; probably they needed a sop for the ranters.

Here is the thing itself and here are some quotes (bold in the original):

13. Climate science is a matter of such global importance, that the highest standards of honesty, rigour and openness are needed in its conduct. On the specific allegations made against the behaviour of CRU scientists, we find that their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt.
14. In addition, we do not find that their behaviour has prejudiced the balance of advice given to policy makers. In particular, we did not find any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments.
15. But we do find that there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness, both on the part of the CRU scientists and on the part of the UEA, who failed to recognise not only the significance of statutory requirements but also the risk to the reputation of the University and, indeed, to the credibility of UK climate science.

The one that misc septics have kept pushing is thoroughly rebutted:

16. On the allegation of withholding temperature data, we find that CRU was not in a position to withhold access to such data or tamper with it. We demonstrated that any independent researcher can download station data directly from primary sources and undertake their own temperature trend analysis.

and

We do not find that the way that data derived from tree rings is described and presented in IPCC AR4 and shown in its Figure 6.10 is misleading. In particular, on the question of the composition of temperature reconstructions, we found no evidence of exclusion of other published temperature reconstructions that would show a very different picture. The general discussion of sources of uncertainty in the text is extensive, including reference to divergence. In this respect it represented a significant advance on the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR).

Of course, like everyone else I haven’t actually read the report and may never do so :-).

[Update: The RC comment is worth reading. It deals with one issue I'd noticed but skipped over: 23. On the allegation that the references in a specific e-mail to a „trick‟ and to „hide the decline‟ in respect of a 1999 WMO report figure show evidence of intent to paint a misleading picture, we find that, given its subsequent iconic significance (not least the use of a similar figure in the IPCC Third Assessment Report), the figure supplied for the WMO Report was
misleading. We do not find that it is misleading to curtail reconstructions at some point per se, or to splice data, but we believe that both of these procedures should have been made plain - ideally in the figure but certainly clearly described in either the caption or the text.
What I hadn't noticed is that they've got this hopelessly wrong: the "trick" junk was never over the 1999 WMO report - as RC points out, no-one has ever heard of it. This looks like a misunderstanding by M-R; I can't quite account for their error here -W]

Comments

  1. #1 Nick Barnes
    2010/07/07

    I’m reading it now.

  2. #2 frank
    2010/07/07

    Benny Peiser’s climate inactivist group wants to conduct its own kangaroo ‘inquiry’ into the inquiries. The mind boggles.

    http://ijish.livejournal.com/13186.html

  3. #3 Donald
    2010/07/07

    Seems pretty fair.

    Criticises CRU for not being open enough and being “unhelpful and defensive” in response to information, but also points out that the people looking for the information could have found it elsewhere, but have not bothered to check it in this way (1.5-31), says CRU needs to deal with FOI requests better.

    All of the accusations of scientific malpractice are rejected.

    Phil Jones gets a slapped wrist over FOI and basically his own job back minus responsibility for FOI.

    I’m a bit disappointed that the report doesn’t point out that demands for information not done according to scientific etiquette and protocol would probably have elicited exactly the same response (“get lost”) from any scientific institution. (At least, not in the section I’ve read so far.)

    We’ll have to see how much the “sceptics” can make out of “unhelpful” and “defensive”. Those who know the score will shrug and say: “not surprised”.

    One of the previous reports got in something about the critics really just being out to undermine CRU’s work.

    It would be nice to find Muir Russell say the same thing in his report somewhere, but hey ho.

  4. #4 Tony Sidaway
    2010/07/07

    The long wait is over. So far I’ve read the executive summary but I intend to study the whole report in detail, and take another close look at the other reports, before finally arriving at a personal assessment of the outcome.

    While some of the findings won’t surprise any honest, informed individual, the recommendations cover a lot of ground. At first sight this report appears to be a decent first pass at establishing how the research component of science-led public policy needs to be supported by administrators who fully understand the implications of the blogosphere.

  5. #5 Carl C
    2010/07/07

    did any of these reports point out that the McI fanbois tactics of sending many “Freedom of Information requests” for repeated permutations of 5 of 200 countries, led to them being ignored or ridiculed in emails? Of course now the email ridicule, the major finding of all these reports, is being touted as McI & his pals as the new smoking gun, as of course scientists are always bright & shiny & professional with no human failings at all, such as calling McI & his cohorts a complete bunch of dicks….

  6. #6 John Mashey
    2010/07/07

    The Muir-Russell report is clearly invalid…
    Benny Peiser is misspelled as Peizer *4 times*. :-)

    (Other than that, it looked pretty good, and I did read it, and it has nice documentation of things that will save me some work.)

  7. #7 Phil
    2010/07/07

    Shame they didn’t really address the issue of the deniers’ malicious use of FOIA requests to harass and intimidate, a point raised by Gavin and Mike over at RealClimate:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/07/the-muir-russell-report/

    Also, they suggest more openness and availability of data and code, yet fail to publish the code they used in Appendix 7. Tut!

  8. #8 John Mashey
    2010/07/07

    The Muir-Russell report is clearly invalid…
    Benny Peiser is misspelled as Peizer *4 times*. :-)

    (Other than that, it looked pretty good, and I did read it, and it has nice documentation of things that will save me some work.)

  9. #9 carrot eater
    2010/07/07

    Jones gets the administrative stuff removed from his portfolio, which seems like a good result. Let the guy do his work; have somebody else spend their time figuring out how to deal with FOI requests.

  10. #10 Donald
    2010/07/07

    Shame they didn’t really address the issue of the deniers’ malicious use of FOIA requests to harass and intimidate, a point raised by Gavin and Mike over at RealClimate.

    In retrospect, CRU clearly took the wrong road. The Science Committee report and the Muir Russell report have been quite astute in criticising CRU for taking the wrong road, rather than be seen to be making excuses for taking the wrong road. Initially, I was disappointed that they hadn’t emphasised the reasons why CRU took the wrong road, but now I feel that this would have played into the hands of the sceptics. Making excuses is not the way forward. Openness (the road NASA took) clearly is the way to go.

    But there is a background story. There are reasons why CRU acted in the way it did (the “obvious bad faith” of many of the requests for information, as mentioned on RC). The background story needs to be told- but in the context of the new openness. The “sceptics” wanted the data. CRU told them it was available, but the “sceptics” demanded to be spoonfed. Now they are being spoonfed. where are the analyses that prove the temperature record wrong?

    Of course they don’t exist and never will- the temperature record is correct. (I believe the Muir Russell report got the data an did the analysis and proved this.) This way it will be “sceptics” making excuses. They will be shown up for what they are- frauds.

  11. #11 deconvoluter
    2010/07/07

    They really have done some work. To get a flavour of it I suggest you look at Section 6.4 and in particular to Fig. 6.1 (p.47 in my version of the doc.).

    I have only dipped in so far and my one negative comment refers to the layout. The allegations take up so much space that you may never reach the substantive points if you get tired too easily.

  12. #12 Alex Harvey
    2010/07/07

    More clearing, but actions speak louder than cherry-picked words:

    From http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cif-green/2010/jul/07/climategate-scientists

    “The university has responded by abolishing the role of director of CRU, held by Jones until last November. Indeed CRU itself has lost its former independence. Acton [UEA's Vice Chancellor] said Jones would now be ‘director of research’ for CRU, working within the university environment department.”

    In when all is said and done, Phil Jones has been demoted.

    [That is your interpretation. If you feel happier that you've been thrown a bone, then I guess that is good. But I disagree with you -W]

  13. #13 Alex Harvey
    2010/07/07

    Moreover, no amount of talking is ever going to make Climategate go away or make the many real (i.e. non internet) people I’ve talked to forget that this happened:

    [I agree, that so much lying abnd mudflinging has been done so shamelessly by people like you that it will be hard to get back to reality. You nailed your colours to the mast and got sunk; now, like the Black Knight you're legless and armless on the floor threatening to bite people, who will just walk away -W]

    From the left-wing Melbourne newspaper, the Age: http://www.theage.com.au/world/climate-scandal-a-game-changer-20100705-zxjw.html

    From Klimazwiebel: http://klimazwiebel.blogspot.com/2010/06/climate-science-and-public-opinion.html

  14. #14 Steve Bloom
    2010/07/08

    No, Alex, but the hallucinogens they seem to like will do the job soon enough, I’m sure.

  15. #15 Chris S.
    2010/07/08

    “Jones would now be ‘director of research’ for CRU, working within the university environment department.”

    Every scientist I know grates against the administrative aspect of their job – it gets in the way of doing any science. This may actually be a major bonus for Jones.

  16. #16 MarkB
    2010/07/08

    In a real sense, it’s like being promoted from office secretary to manager. It will be harder for McI and his fanatical minions to directly harass him, thus giving Jones more time to do research. They can’t be happy about that. I would think UEA will be better prepared to toss out the frivolous stuff, combine multiple requests, and generally determine what a valid request is.

    In other news, Monbiot is beginning to come to his senses.

    “The ‘climategate’ inquiry at last vindicates Phil Jones – and so must I

    The UEA’s climate science chief has been cleared: he was provoked beyond endurance. It was unfair to call for his resignation.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2010/jul/07/russell-inquiry-i-was-wrong

    One has to wonder why someone like Monbiot is just now figuring this out. Better late than never I guess.

    Others have dug too big a hole for themselves to easily climb out of at this point.

    “ClimateGate” is all but dead (Alex Harvey is already trying to keep the fading mythical memory alive), but I’m confident deniers will be able to fabricate a new controversy soon. That’s what they’re good at.

  17. #17 Andy Russell
    2010/07/08

    Interesting interpretation from McKitrick in the Guardian.

    “…with regard to the famous “trick” to “hide the decline”, whereas earlier investigations (including Penn State) claimed it was a valid procedure, the ICCER found otherwise, concluding that the figure published in the WMO report “was misleading in not describing that one of the series was truncated post 1960 for the figure, and in not being clear on the fact that proxy and instrumental data were spliced together”. It is good to finally have agreement that Jones’ graph was misleading, and the attempts to explain this away as an innocent turn of phrase are invalid.”

    So it seems his main objection was only about the WMO report all along.

    [I think the M-R bit on the "trick" is rather intersting, and I'm surprised it hasn't got more publicity. I think I disagree with them, but that bit needs more reading. OTOH, if the whole affair just fades away, I won't bother -W]

  18. #18 Martin Vermeer
    2010/07/08

    William, Andy, the preceding phrase in the report

    given its subsequent iconic significance (not least the use of a similar figure in the TAR),

    is bollocks, as also Myles Allen pointed out. The ‘similar’ figure is dissimilar precisely in that it documents (even by using different colours!) what was done. The WMO figure itself never got much traction anywhere… until last November :-(

  19. #19 Eli Rabett
    2010/07/08

    They are moving the pea

  20. #20 MarkB
    2010/07/08

    “The WMO figure itself never got much traction anywhere… until last November”

    Reminds me of the Himalayan glacier 2035 error. I hadn’t noticed anyone reporting on that section until the error was found.

  21. #21 Tony Sidaway
    2010/07/08

    I’m still plodding through it, but this paragraph stood out. From paragraph 34, in section 10.6, Recommendations.

    Orchestrated campaigns. As detailed in paragraph 23, CRU was the subject of an orchestrated campaign of FoIA/EIR requests in late July and early August 2009. The Review believes that CRU helped create the conditions for this campaign by being unhelpful in its earlier responses to individual requests for station identifiers and the locations from which specific, detailed station raw data could be downloaded. Similarly a clearer publication policy, reflecting the wishes of both the University and the research funders might have avoided these challenges. The Review team can however conceive of situations where such orchestrated campaigns might recur, with literally overwhelming impacts on small research units. We urge the ICO to give guidance on how best to respond to such organised campaigns, consistent with the underlying principles of openness.”

    I hope the ICO will take notice of that and provide the necessary guidance.

  22. #22 M
    2010/07/08

    “Reminds me of the Himalayan glacier 2035 error. I hadn’t noticed anyone reporting on that section until the error was found.”

    I had _thought_ I’d never heard about the 2035 glacier figure until the whole fuss, as I thought it was self-evidently wrong, but to my embarrassment I found out that a document I had reviewed had actually included that little factoid (in my defense, it was in a section of the report which I skimmed because glaciers are not my forte and not the reason I had been asked to review the report, so I’m presuming I didn’t read it then, either, or I really hope I would have raised red flags about it… and perhaps if I had, _I_ could have been the one to discover the error,which would have been convenient as I bet I could have set it in a better context).

    -M

    [Tut tut. But I too agree with the "self-evidently wrong" comment, which in itself is evidence that very few people had read the claim -W]

  23. #23 Rattus Norvegicus
    2010/07/08

    I know how they got confused!

    They paid attention to McIntryre, who tried very, very hard to conflate the WMO figure with the TAR figures. Go figure!

  24. #24 Hank Roberts
    2010/07/09

    Just to make it easier for, er, me, and whoever comes next, (citations needed) for the “McIntyire, who tried … to conflate …” — always helps people to check whether the gentleman was being confused, confusing, or both.

  25. #25 P. Lewis
    2010/07/09

    Which bit of the FoIA have the CRU fallen foul of with Muir Russell then?

    I ask because (not wanting to waste my life reading yet another report — we have the media and bloggers for that :-), an “absolute exemption” is provided by the act when requested information is accessible by other means/in other places.

    Given that the Muir Russell team obtained an almost identical output to the CRU output by accessing publicly available information, why is this and its obvious implications not mentioned prominently in the report and the media? (Or is it?)

    [There was something about the station list they used. I didn't pay too much attention -W]

  26. #26 Rattus Norvegicus
    2010/07/09

    Sorry Hank, it’s here: http://www.cce-review.org/evidence/StephenMcIntyre.pdf, although to get the obfuscation in full glory it requires wading through multiple posts as CA.

  27. #27 Nick Barnes
    2010/07/09

    Loving section 8.4, about Boehmer-Christiansen. It slaps her down in such a measured way. As my son would say: “Boom: head shot!”

    [Hmm, you may want to redirect your son's attention to something like Algadoo. The bit on the Soon+Baliunas stuff is good, too -W]

  28. #28 pough
    2010/07/09

    Jones gets the administrative stuff removed from his portfolio, which seems like a good result. Let the guy do his work; have somebody else spend their time figuring out how to deal with FOI requests.

    OMG! Jones was the whistleblower! This was his plan all along to get that annoying stuff off his plate!

  29. #29 Rattus Norvegicus
    2010/07/09

    Yet more evidence of how McIntyre gets it all wrong here.

    One has to say he doesn’t come off too well. In fact he looks like a clown.

  30. #30 Nick Barnes
    2010/07/10

    A journalist from Science has asked me a bunch of questions about the Review from a CCC angle.

    [Interesting! And, a good sign. Make sure you say something outrageous so you'll be remembered as a good source and come back to -W]

  31. #31 Martin Vermeer
    2010/07/11

    Actually the WMO figure / TAR figure mix-up (by Muir Russell) was a lot more dumb wrong than the Himalayas thing — they just hadn’t read the relevant literature, a pretty deadly sin. If the Himalayas made the IPCC report “rubbish”, to use one of William’s popular expressions, then surely Muir Russell is “rubbish” too. Which I would assert anyway for all committees of this kind… even while this one said a lot of things I liked to hear ;-)

    Let’s be brutally honest: what M-R and all the other investigators did was ‘auditing’ (with the laudable exception of re-doing the surface station computation). Auditing doesn’t work. It just looks good politically. But if you want to know if a doctor is guilty of malpractice, you ask another doctor. (And if a surgeon, you don’t ask an internist, etc. Specialization.) And if you think all doctors are in on the conspiracy, you are screwed anyway.

    Expertise matters.

  32. #32 Nick Barnes
    2010/08/04

    The Muir Russell review has not published their source code (although I prompted them to do so on the publication day), and are now bouncing email enquiries about it. Sigh.

    [I smell a scandal. You don't suppose they nicked your code, do you? -W]

  33. #33 pesadilla
    2010/08/07

    Read the hockey stick illusion, if you dare and then your eyes will be opened