«Edited and Annotated by John Costella The Lavoisier Group March 2010 About the Author John Costella was born in East Melbourne in 1966. After being ...»
Yet again, the problem is being handed to Keith Briffa, the one person who has most doubts about the validity and uncertainty of the reconstructions.
March 11, 2006: email 1142108839
Richard Alley continues on the crisis. In his summary:
These considerations do somewhat affect the confidence that can be attached to the best estimate of recent warmth versus that of a millennium ago. … By demonstrating that some tree-ring series chosen for temperature sensitivity are not fully reflecting temperature changes, the divergence issue widens the error bars and so reduces confidence in the comparison between recent and earlier warmth.
This is the message that Keith Briffa has been trying to get across, apparently with greater success.
April 26, 2006: email 1146062963 Mike Mann to Tim Osborn, Scott Rutherford, Keith Briffa, and Phil Jones, regarding
Steve McIntyre’s request for data:
I’m saddened to hear that this bozo is bothering you too, in addition to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, the IPCC and everyone else. Rest assured that I won’t ever respond to McIntyre should he ever contact me, but I will forward you any email he sends related to this. I assume Scott feels the same way… May 12, 2006: email 1147435800
Mike Mann to Tim Osborn, on Steve McIntyre:
Personally, I don’t see why you should make any concessions for this moron.
May 18, 2006: email 1147982305
Neil Roberts writes to Jonathan Overpeck:
Please excuse me for writing direct, but Keith Briffa suggested it would be simplest. I have looked through the draft Chapter 6 of the IPCC Report …However, bullet 4 on page 6.2, starting “global mean cooling and warming…..” strikes me as incorrect and misleading.
Roberts outlines his objections. Overpeck replies:
Hi Neil—Thanks for your interest in providing feedback on the draft … Since the IPCC has very strict rules about all this, I’m going to ask them (the IPCC) to send you an official invitation to review, along with the process—formal, but highly efficient—to follow. If you could send your comments in that way it would be a great help. We’ve been asked to keep everything squeaky clean, and not to get comments informally.
So, “squeaky clean” only when criticized?
June 21, 2006: email 1150923423 John Mitchell, Director of the United Kingdom’s Met(eorological) Office, to Jonathan
Overpeck, Eystein Jansen, Jean Jouzel, Keith Briffa, and Tim Osborn:
The issue of why we don’t show the temperature proxy data for the last few decades (they don’t show continued warming) but assume that they are valid for early warm periods needs to be explained.
… Is the mathematical approach robust? Are the results statistically significant? It seems to me that in the case of Mann, Bradley, and Hughes (the “hockey stick” paper) the answer to each question is no. It is not clear how robust and significant the more recent approaches are.
… the comments give the impression that the recent 50-year warming is unprecedented over the last 500 years (seems reasonable) and elsewhere over the last 1000 years (less clear).
So the “hockey stick” is acknowledged to be dead. Even the recent warming is only a “reasonable” impression for the past 500 years—not surprising, because most of the past 500 years was the Little Ice Age.
August 1, 2006: email 1154484340
Keith Briffa to Jonathan Overpeck:
The IPCC’s Third Assessment Report was, in my opinion, wrong to say anything about the precedence (or lack thereof) of the warmth of the individual year 1998.
The reason is that all reconstructions have very wide uncertainty ranges bracketing individual-year estimates of part temperature. Given this, it is hard to dismiss the possibility that individual years in the past did exceed the measured 1998 value. These errors on the individual years are so wide as to make any comparison with the 1998 measured value very problematic, especially when you consider that most reconstructions do not include it in their calibration range … and the usual estimates of uncertainty calculated … would not provide a good estimate of the likely error associated with it even if data did exist.
Again, Keith Briffa is reiterating the impact of uncertainties in the calculations—and coming to the sinking conclusion that the public pronouncements are scientifically indefensible.
January 2, 2007: email 1167752455 Ray Bradley writes to Mike Mann and others, about the embarrassing graph discovered
in the Reports of the IPCC itself:
I believe this graph in the 1995 IPCC Report originated in a (literally) grey piece of literature that Jack Eddy used to publish called “Earth Quest”. It was designed for, and distributed to, high school teachers. … I may have inadvertently had a hand in this millennium graph! I recall getting a fax from Jack with a hand-drawn graph, that he asked me to review.
Where he got his version from, I don’t know. I think I scribbled out part of the line and amended it in some way, but have no recollection of exactly what I did to it. And whether he edited it further, I don’t know. But as it was purely schematic (and appears to go through around 1950) perhaps it’s not so bad. … In any case, the graph has no objective basis whatsoever;
it is purely a “visual guess” at what happened, like something we might sketch on a napkin at a party for some overly persistent inquisitor… (so make sure you don’t leave such things on the table…). What made the last millennium graph famous (notorious!) was that Chris Folland must have seen it and reproduced it in the 1995 IPCC Chapter he was editing.
Mike Mann responds:
Ray, happy holidays and thanks for the (quite fascinating) background on this. It would be good material for an … article for our website. It would be even better if someone could get Chris on record confirming that this is indeed the history of this graphic… Mann seems completely unperturbed that the IPCC published a completely bogus graph, and that there is no record of where it came from.
The saga continues below… January 5, 2007: email 1168022320
Phil Jones to many:
I’ve added a few extra names in the cc of this email list to see if we can definitively determine where Figure 7.1c from the 1990 IPCC Report comes from. The background is that the skeptics keep referring back to it and I’d like to prove that it is a schematic and it isn’t based on real data, but on presumed knowledge at some point around the late 1980s.
Wonderful! Fake graphs presented in the IPCC Report—but only disclose that once the skeptics take note of it?
January 6, 2007: email 1168124326
Stefan Rahmstorf to many, on the embarrassing IPCC Report graph:
The point is not to blame anyone at all—at least my point was to track down the source in order to be able to show the skeptics (or in my special case, the school authorities) that this old graph is completely superseded
and should not be used any more in teaching! And I also see your problem:
what we are finding out now makes the IPCC process look somewhat unsophisticated back in 1990, so it is a diplomatic conundrum how to be completely truthful in reporting this, as we need to be as scientists, without providing the skeptics undue fodder for attacking the IPCC. But maybe we’re too concerned—the skeptics can’t really attack the IPCC easily in this case without shooting themselves in the foot.
I think that this story could possible catch on and make headlines, so I agree that we should be careful. … The skeptics may argue that the IPCC Reports are political after all, and this is also what it sounds like if governments “hoisted the national flag” by having their own graphs inserted at the last minute. However, by providing an account of the “evolution of the IPCC report writing”, we could possibly give the story a softer landing. E.g.
how many times of review the First Report underwent as compared to the present Report. … There are sometimes a few rotten apples in a good batch, unfortunately.
The unmistakable message is that the only way to salvage any credibility for the IPCC Reports of the 2000s is to reveal that the IPCC Reports of the 1990s were deeply flawed. But they were the reports upon which the entire climate change argument was based!
January 9, 2007: email 1168356704 Tom Wigley, former head of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), writes to Phil Jones,
its then head, on the continuing IPCC graph scandal:
Subject: Re: That darned diagram.
I see the problems with this in terms of history, IPCC image, skeptics, etc.
I’m sure you can handle it. In doing so, you might consider (or not) some of these points.
(1) I think Chris Folland is to blame for this. The issue is not our collective ignorance of paleoclimatology in 1989–90, but Chris’s ignorance. The text that was in the 1990 Report (thanks for reminding us of this, Caspar) ameliorates the problem considerably.
(2) Nevertheless, “we” (the IPCC) could have done better even then. The Rothlisberger data were available then—and could/should have been used.
(3) We also already knew that … Hubert Lamb’s United Kingdom record was flawed. We published a revision of this—but never in a mainstream journal because we did not want to offend Hubert. I don’t have the paper to hand, but I think it is … (cites a 1981 paper, of which he himself is first author) It could be … (cites a 1986 paper, again with himself as first author) The point of this paper (whichever one it is) is that it covers only the decade-scale variation—but it shows that Hubert Lamb was out to lunch even on these time scales. As you know, this arose from his uncritical use of historical sources—a problem exposed in a number of CRU papers in the 1980s, staring with Bell and Ogilvie in Climatic Change.
So part of the issue is: where did Hubert get the century time scale changes in that diagram? The answer is, mainly from his own fertile imagination.
For this he tried to synthesize both his flawed historical record for England (and records for Europe, equally flawed) and proxy data from many sources, again accepted uncritically. Still, there almost certainly was a Little Ice Age in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries (but not in Iceland—at least not in the 17th century). Whether or not there was a significant centuries-long Medieval Warm Event is doubtful in my view.
On another historical note, Hubert got many of his ideas from C.E.P.
Brooks—possibly Brooks’s work is what inspired Hubert to pursue his climate interests. Of course, he went a lot further (too far) because he had a lot more information to work with. However, it is interesting that Fig. 33 in Brooks (1928) looks a lot like the IPCC 1990/Lamb Figure—in Brooks the record goes back further, and there is a very warm period from about 500 to 950.
In other words, even though Wigley admits that his views of historical climate are doubtful and uncertain, he accuses his predecessor Hubert Lamb of producing completely fabricated historical climate results. Hubert Lamb, regarded as the father of climatology in the UK, founded the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, and the building they occupy is the Lamb Building.
Phil Jones replies to Wigley and Caspar Ammann:
Keep the attached to yourself. I wrote this yesterday, but still need to do a lot more. … So your point (3) needs to document that we knew the diagram wasn’t any good, as well as how far back it goes. Knowing Hubert on some of his other “breakthroughs!” it is clearly possible it goes back to Brooks!
On the post-Lamb work in the CRU, I recall talking to Graham (maybe mids) when he was comparing recent CRU work with Lamb’s results— agreement, etc. Did that ever see the light of day in these publications or elsewhere? I will look. It isn’t in the chapter that Astrid and he wrote in the CRU book from 1997. I recall some very low agreement between Lamb’s results and later results—for periods from 1100 to 1500.