«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 ...»
The community of climate scientists, however, in making averages of different proxies gets a much smaller amplitude of about 0.5° Celsius, which they say shows that reasonable combinations of effects can indeed explain this and that the 20th century warming is unique.
Keller realizes the mistake inherent in this trick shortly. First, he provides an excellent
summary of the debate:
Thus, the impasse—one side the skeptics pointing to large temperature variations in many records around the globe, and the other side saying, “Yes, but not at the same time and so, if averaged out, is no big deal.”
He then points out that this glib brush-off is simply not valid:
But, just replying that events don’t happen at the same time (sometimes by a few decades) is the reason might not be enough. It seems to me that we must go one step further. We must address the question: what effects can generate large … temperature variations over hundreds of years, regional though they may be (and, could these occur at different times in different regions due to shifting climate patterns)? If we can’t do this, then there might be something wrong with our rationale that the average does not vary much even though many regions see large variations. This may be the nub of the disagreement, and until we answer it, many careful scientists will decide the issue is still unsettled, and that indeed climate in the past may well have varied as much or more than in the last hundred years.
This remarkable statement—mailed to all of the key players in this scandal—shows that they knew, clearly, more than eight years before the Climategate whistle-blower released these emails, that the entire basis of their claims was on shaky ground.
In his last paragraph, Keller points out the elementary mathematical error in the “averaging trick”:
Also, I note that most proxy temperature records claim timing errors of … 50 years ahead or behind the correct date or so. What is the possibility that records are cancelling each other out on variations in the hundred-year time frame due simply to timing errors?
There are, in fact, many more mathematical reasons why the “averaging trick” is completely wrong; but Keller’s observation is completely correct, and by itself discredits the entire corpus of work establishing these “multi-proxy” historical temperature estimates.
May 2, 2001: email 0988831541.txt Mike Mann criticizes Ed Cook’s work with colleague Jan Esper—not for poor methods or invalid conclusions, but rather because it was being used publicly, before being able to be blocked through the peer review process. Firstly, he applies the “peer group
We may have to let the peer-review process decide this, but I think you might benefit from knowing the consensus of the very able group we have assembled in this email list, on what Esper and you have done?
Cook parries admirably:
Of course, I know everyone in this “very able group” and respect their opinions and scientific credentials. The same obviously goes for you. That is not to say that we can’t disagree. After all, consensus science can impede progress as much as promote understanding.
Mann is taken aback, and tries a different tack:
I don’t in any way doubt yours and Jan’s integrity here.
I’m just a bit concerned that the result is getting used publicly, by some, before it has gone through the gauntlet of peer review. Especially because it is, whether you condone it or not, being used as we speak to discredit the work of us, and Phil and his co-workers; this is dangerous. I think there are some legitimate issues that need to be sorted out ….
I’d be interested to be kept posted on what the status of the manuscript is.
Cook responds with a level of integrity foreign to Mann’s mind-set:
Unfortunately, this global change stuff is so politicized by both sides of the issue that it is difficult to do the science in a dispassionate environment. I ran into the same problem in the acid rain/forest decline debate that raged in the 1980s. At one point, I was simultaneous accused of being a raving tree hugger and in the pocket of the coal industry. I have always said that I don’t care what answer is found as long as it is the truth or at least bloody close to it.
May 17, 2001: email 0990119702 Ed Cook makes valid statistical and mathematical criticisms of the error estimation
methods being used by Mike Mann and colleagues:
I have growing doubts about the validity and use of error estimates that are being applied to reconstructions …. (mathematical reasons follow).
But I really think that uncertainty bars on graphs, as often presented, may potentially distort and unfairly degrade the interpreted quality of reconstructions. So, are the uncertainty bars better than nothing? I’m not so sure.
Mike Mann responds by agreeing that the estimates of uncertainties are wrong, but
that wrong estimates are better than nothing:
What you say is of course true, but we have to start somewhere. … I firmly believe that a reconstruction without some reasonable estimate of uncertainty is almost useless! … I believe that this is absolutely essential to do, whether or not we can do a perfect job.
Cook is arguing that misleading estimates of uncertainties are worse than not presenting any estimates at all; Mann is arguing that graphs without error estimates would not look credible, which is more important than the estimates actually being meaningful.
Cook is correct.
May 23, 2001: email 0990718382 John Christy explains the events of the filming of an episode of “20/20” for the American Broadcasting Company, in which he fears he will be quoted out of context,
but he includes the following comment:
However, I do agree with the “20/20” host’s premise … that the dose of climate change disasters that have been dumped on the average citizen is designed to be overly alarmist and could lead us to make some bad policy decisions. (I’ve got a good story about the writers of the TIME cover piece a couple of months ago that proves they were not out to discuss the issue but to ignore science and influence government.)
Mike Mann’s response to this comment is only thinly veiled:
Your comments below remain disturbingly selective and myopic, and we have dealt with similar comments many times over… If the American Broadcasting Company is looking to do a hatchet job on the IPCC so be it (this doesn’t surprise me—”20/20” co-anchor John Stossel has an abysmal record in his treatment of environmental issues, from what I have heard), but I’ll be very disturbed if you turn out to have played into this in a way that is unfair to your co-authors on Chapter 2 of the IPCC Report, and your colleagues in general. This wouldn’t have surprised me coming from certain individuals, but I honestly expected more from you… July 2, 2001: email 0994083845 Ian Harris of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia writes to the Norwich Green Party mailing list, responding to a comment that natural events can
cause climate changes that swamp any effects of mankind:
We’re looking at an unprecedented acceleration in temperature … Even if it turns out to be naturally-occurring, who’s willing to take that chance? We should be trying to wean ourselves off of unsustainable energy generation and use anyway.
This is a remarkable admission: even if the scientists are completely wrong, we “should” force changes on mankind that could cost trillions of dollars, on purely ideological grounds.
December 17, 2001: email 1008619994 Following Phil Jones’s email of February 27, 2001 concerning referees of papers submitted to Science, Keith Briffa, a referee of a paper submitted to Science by Ed
Cook and Jan Esper, tells Cook:
I simply would not like to see you write a paper that puts out a confused message with regard to the global warming debate, leaving ambiguity as to your opinion on the validity of the Mann curve (“the hockey stick”) ….
Briffa is abusing his position of power as a reviewer of the paper, making it clear to Cook that he will block its publication if they deviate from the “party line”. He twists
the knife, using personal intimidation:
I would not like this affair to ruin my Christmas, as it surely will if it is the cause of our falling out.
In other words, change the paper, or you are no longer a friend and colleague.
Finally, he lays down his expectations:
I am totally confident that after a day’s rephrasing this paper can go back and be publishable to my satisfaction by Science.
March 22, 2002: email 1018045075 Keith Briffa and Tim Osborn issued a comment on the paper by Ed Cook and Jan Esper published in Science. Both papers question the work of Mike Mann and coworkers. Mike Mann admonishes all of them, copying the email to two staff of The
American Association for the Advancement of Science:
Sadly, your piece on the Esper and Cook paper is more flawed than even the paper itself. Ed, the Associated Press release that appeared in the papers was even worse. Apparently you allowed yourself to be quoted saying things that are inconsistent with what you told me you had said.
You three all should have known better. … In the meantime, there is a lot of damage control that needs to be done and, in my opinion, you’ve done a disservice to the honest discussions we had all had in the past, because you’ve misrepresented the evidence. Many of us are very concerned with how Science dropped the ball as far as the review process on this paper was concerned. This never should have been published in Science, for the reasons I outlined before (and have attached for those of you who haven’t seen them). I have to wonder why the functioning of the review process broke down so overtly here.
Keith Briffa replies, refuting Mann’s insinuations and rebuffing his intimidations:
Given the list of people to whom you have chosen to circulate your message(s), we thought we should make a short, somewhat formal, response here. I am happy to reserve my informal response until we are face to face!
… Finally, we have to say that we do not feel constrained in what we say to the media or write in the scientific or popular press, by what the skeptics will say or do with our results. We can only strive to do our best and address the issues honestly. Some “skeptics” have their own dishonest agenda—we have no doubt of that. If you believe that I, or Tim, have any other objective but to be open and honest about the uncertainties in the climate change debate, then I am disappointed in you also.
Mike Mann is demonstrating his need to be the unchallenged leader of the team, and his annoyance with anyone who does not toe his line.
March 11, 2003: email 1047388489 A paper by astrophysicists Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas was published by Climate Research, which concluded that “the 20th century is probably neither the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last millennium.” Phil Jones writes a
number of emails to his colleagues. In the first:
Tim Osborn has just come across this. Best to ignore probably, so don’t let it spoil your day. I’ve not looked at it yet. It results from this journal having a number of editors. The responsible one for this is a well-known skeptic in New Zealand. He has let a few papers through by (skeptics) Michaels and Gray in the past. I’ve had words with Hans von Storch about this, but got nowhere.
His conclusions are remarkable, given that he admits that he hasn’t even looked at
the paper as yet. His next email is sent after having read a small amount:
I looked briefly at the paper last night and it is appalling … I’ll have time to read more at the weekend … The phrasing of the questions at the start of the paper determine the answer they get. They have no idea what multiproxy averaging does.
In other words, because these astrophysicists don’t use the mathematically and statistically incorrect method of “averaging” the various temperature proxies to hide the variability of temperature in the past, they’re not members of the club!