«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 ...»
Finally, I know that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) receive Parliamentary Questions from Members of Parliament to answer. One of these two months ago was from a Conservative Member of Parliament asking how much money DEFRA has given to the Climatic Research Unit over the last five years. DEFRA replied that they don’t give money—they award grants based on open competition. DEFRA’s computer system also told them there were no awards to the Climatic Research Unit, as when we do get something it is written down as going to the University of East Anglia!
More loopholes! Sir Humphrey would indeed be proud.
I’ve occasionally checked DEFRA responses to FOI requests—all from David Holland.
It is remarkable that Jones should have access to this level of information.
December 16, 2008: email 1229468467
Ben Santer writes to many:
I just wanted to alert you to the fact that Steven McIntyre has now made a request to United States Department Of Energy (DOE) Headquarters under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). … I was made aware of the FOIA request earlier this morning.
McIntyre clearly realized that, if he went high enough, someone would take note of Santer’s recalcitrant attitude.
McIntyre’s request eventually reached the United States DOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Livermore Site Office. The requested records are to be provided to the “FOIA Point of Contact” (presumably at NNSA) by December 22, 2008.
In other words, he has been ordered to provide the data as requested—within six days.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve had a number of discussions about the “FOIA issue” with the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI)’s Director (Dave Bader), with other Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) colleagues, and with colleagues outside of the Lab. Based on these discussions, I have decided to “publish” all of the climate model data that we used in our International Journal of Climatology (IJoC) paper.
In other words, he didn’t “decide” to provide the data; rather, his colleagues and superiors told him that his refusal to provide the data was wrong.
This will involve putting these data sets through an internal “Review and Release” procedure, and then placing the data sets on the PCMDI’s publicly-accessible website. The website will also provide information on how synthetic Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) temperatures were calculated, anomaly definition, analysis periods, etc.
This procedure should already have been carried out for such internationally crucial data.
After publication of the model data, we will inform the “FOIA Point of Contact” that the information requested by McIntyre is publicly available for genuine scientific research. Unfortunately, we cannot guard against intentional or unintentional misuse of these data sets by McIntyre or others.
It is neither Santer’s responsibility nor prerogative to determine who uses the data, or for what purposes.
I hope that “publication” of the synthetic MSU temperatures resolves this matter to the satisfaction of the NNSA, DOE Headquarters, and LLNL.
In other words, all of these levels of management told him that his refusal to provide all the data was wrong.
Tom Wigley replies, showing that his support is not of Santer, but of the principles of
This is a good idea. … To have these numbers on line would be of great benefit to the community. In other words, although prompted by McIntyre’s request, you will actually be giving something to everyone.
January 5, 2009: email 1231190304 Phil Jones writes to Tim Johns, Chris Folland, and Doug Smith, regarding temperature
I hope you’re not right about the lack of warming lasting till about 2020.
I’d rather hoped to see the earlier Met(eorological) Office press release with Doug’s paper that said something like—“half the years to 2014 would exceed the warmest year currently on record, 1998”!
Still a way to go before 2014.
I seem to be getting an email a week from skeptics saying “where’s the warming gone”? I know the warming is on the decades scale, but it would be nice to wear their smug grins away.
Jones’s next complaint is simply hilarious:
Chris—I presume the Meteorology Office continually monitor the weather forecasts. Maybe it’s because I’m in my 50s, but the language used in the forecasts seems a bit over the top regarding the cold. Where I’ve been for the last 20 days (in Norfolk) it doesn’t seem to have been as cold as the forecasts.
Jones wants the United Kingdom’s national weather service to use more “warmist” language?
January 6, 2009: email 1231257056
Ben Santer writes to many:
I am forwarding an email I received this morning from a Mr. Geoff Smith.
The email concerns the climate model data used in our recentlypublished International Journal of Climatology (IJoC) paper. Mr. Smith has requested that I provide him with these climate model data sets. This request has been made to Dr. Anna Palmisano at Department Of Energy (DOE)Headquarters and to Dr. George Miller, the Director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).
Another request for data. One would think that, by now, Santer has his data in order.
I have spent the last two months of my scientific career dealing with multiple requests for these model data sets under the United States Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). I have been able to do little or no productive research during this time. This is of deep concern to me.
Santer still seems unable to comprehend that proper documentation and archiving of data is a crucial part of his job.
He seems unwilling to learn from his last dressing-down:
I would like a clear ruling from DOE lawyers—ideally from both the National Nuclear Security Administration and DOE Office of Science branches—on the legality of such data requests. They are troubling, for a number of reasons.
1. In my considered opinion, a very dangerous precedent is set if any derived quantity that we have calculated from primary data is subject to FOIA requests. At LLNL’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI), we have devoted years of effort to the calculation of derived quantities from climate model output. … The intellectual investment in such calculations is substantial.
Santer wants “exclusive rights” to the publicly-funded data. Even if he had managed to secure such a lucrative arrangement, he should not have publicly published papers based on the data.
2. Mr. Smith asserts that “there is no valid intellectual property justification for withholding this data”. I believe this argument is incorrect. The data used in our IJoC paper—and the other examples of derived data sets mentioned above—are integral components of both PCMDI’s ongoing research, and of proposals we have submitted to funding agencies (DOE, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration).
So, this is about money.
Can any competitor simply request such data sets via the United States FOIA, before we have completed full scientific analysis of these data sets?
Santer’s characterization of independent researchers as “competitors” is disturbing.
Climate scientists should not seek to profit from their research—particularly not when their public pronouncements on the issue are used to lobby for political policy changes.
3. There is a real danger that such FOIA requests could (and are already) being used as a tool for harassing scientists rather than for valid scientific discovery. Mr. McIntyre’s FOIA requests to the DOE and the NOAA are but the latest in a series of such requests. In the past, Mr. McIntyre has targeted scientists at Penn State University, the United Kingdom’s Climatic Research Unit, and the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville. Now he is focusing his attention on me. The common denominator is that Mr.
McIntyre’s attention is directed towards studies claiming to show evidence of large-scale surface warming, and/or a prominent human “fingerprint” in that warming. These serial FOIA requests interfere with our ability to do our job.
That would sound like a reasonable set of studies for McIntyre to target. Again, Santer misunderstands that “doing his job” properly in the first place would have obviated the need to clean up his mess at this late date.
As many of you may know, I have decided to publicly release the data that were the subject of Mr. McIntyre’s FOIA request … These data sets have been through internal review and release procedures, and will be published shortly on PCDMI’s website, together with a technical document which describes how they were calculated. I agreed to this publication process primarily because I want to spend the next few years of my career doing research. I have no desire to be “taken out” as scientist, and to be involved in years of litigation.
If Mr. McIntyre’s past performance is a guide to the future, further FOIA requests will follow. I would like to know that I have the full support of LLNL management and the United States Department of Energy in dealing with these unwarranted and intrusive requests.
I do not intend to reply to Mr. Smith’s email.
Santer has learnt nothing.
I had a similar experience—but not FOIA since we at Climatic Change are a private institution—with Stephen McIntyre demanding that I have the Mann and co-workers cohort publish all their computer programs for papers published in Climatic Change. I put the question to the editorial board who debated it for weeks. The vast majority opinion was that scientists should give enough information on their data sources and methods so others who are scientifically capable can do their own brand of replication work, but that this does not extend to personal computer programs with all their undocumented parts, etc. It would be an odious requirement to have scientists document every line of code so outsiders could then just apply them instantly. Not only is this an intellectual property issue, but it would dramatically reduce our productivity since we are not in the business of producing software products for general consumption and have no resources to do so. The National Science Foundation, which funded the studies I published, concurred—so that ended that issue with Climatic Change at the time a few years ago.
This is a startling admission on the part of Schneider: that computer programs throughout climate science are so shoddily written and poorly documented—or even completely undocumented—that they do not even reach the minimal standards required of high school students. His allegation that his funding agency, the National Science Foundation, supported this stance is, hopefully, under investigation by that agency.
This continuing pattern of harassment, as Ben rightly puts it in my opinion, in the name of due diligence is in my view an attempt to create a fishing expedition to find minor glitches or unexplained bits of computer programs—which exist in nearly all our kinds of complex work—and then assert that the entire result is thus suspect.
Again, this demonstrates a hopelessly amateurish attitude to computer programming.
Glitches could indeed render the entire result false: that is why good documentation, verification, and replication are vital parts of science.
Our best way to deal with this issue of replication is to have multiple independent author teams, with their own programs and data sets, publishing independent work on the same topics—like has been done on the “hockey stick”. That is how credible scientific replication should proceed.
It is ironic that Schneider quotes the discredited “hockey stick” in support of his suggestion—which is one possible arm of a validation and verification process, but most certainly not a comprehensive blueprint.