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Climategate Inquiry described as “willfully obtuse” while Berkeley Earth begins all new paleo-climate study

Climategate ‘hide the decline’ explained by Berkeley professor Richard A. Muller

Comment by climatologist Dr. Judith Curry http://bit.ly/fhKca7

Visit the blog of a man who uncovered ‘hide the decline’ as first and filled FOIA requests, Steve McIntyre. We wouldn’t know about this without him, credit where credit is due: http://climateaudit.org/

Link to the whole presentation http://bit.ly/7WGU02.

Link to the study “Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature” (BEST) Muller is leading http://www.berkeleyearth.org/

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Current critique by Steve McIntyre:

David Holland, the professional engineer who submitted the FOI which prompted Phil Jones to initiate what can only be described as a conspiracy to destroy documents related to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, has repeatedly asked:

why did Jones take such a large professional risk by asking other scientists to destroy documents?

A correlative question for the other scientists (Briffa, Mann, Wahl, Ammann) is why they agreed to co-operate with Jones in this bizarre enterprise. These questions are not just Holland’s. They are important questions that deserve an answer.

But despite multiple so-called “inquiries”, Holland’s questions about Jones’ email deletion “enterprise” remain unanswered. Indeed, it would be more accurate to say that, as far as the inquiries are concerned, they remained unasked. Instead of unravelling the conduct of Jones and his Team, the “inquiries” have been wilfully obtuse, both refusing to ask the salient questions and determining the matter on empirical findings that were either blatantly untrue or unsupported by the evidence that they collected.

In the UK, Muir Russell was commissioned by the University of East Anglia to inquire about the emails, but didn’t even ask Jones whether he deleted the emails. Muir Russell “explained” to the Parliamentary Committee that, if he had done so, he would have been asking Jones to admit misconduct. That a panel commissioned to inquire about misconduct should refuse to grasp the nettle of actually inquiring about misconduct is unfortunately all too typical of these sorry events. Muir Russell’s subsequent report then contained findings on email deletion that were blatantly untrue and known to be untrue to hundreds, if not thousands, of readers who’ve followed these events. In particular, even though Jones’ email initiating the deletion enterprise was marked re “FOIA” and was a direct response to Holland’s FOIA request, Muir Russell obtusely reported that there was no pending FOI request at the time of Jones’ deletion email. This sort of willful obtuseness and/or incompetence was one of a number of factors that resulted in the Muir Russell “inquiry” exacerbating, rather than diminishing, the polarized attitudes in this field.

In today’s post, I’ll review the recent National Science Foundation Office of the Inspector General (NSF  OIG) report as it pertains to Jones’ document destruction enterprise, together with the Penn State Inquiry Committee that it reviews. Like Muir Russell, both the Penn State Inquiry Committee and the NSF OIG neglected to consider obvious and fundamental questions about Mann’s participation in Jones’ document destruction enterprise and arrived at empirical conclusions that were unsupported by the inadequate record that they had collected.

Although the defects in the Penn State Inquiry Committee’s handling of Mann’s participation in Jones’ email destruction enterprise are or should be obvious to any Inspector General (and had been pointed out long ago at Climate Audit), the recent report of the Inspector General condoned Penn State’s mishandling of these matters… full article

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Explanation and interpretation of “hide the decline”

Realclimate describes the issue as follows:

Phil Jones in discussing the presentation of temperature reconstructions stated that “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” The paper in question is the Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998) Nature paper on the original multiproxy temperature reconstruction, and the ‘trick’ is just to plot the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the recent warming is clear. Scientists often use the term “trick” to refer to a “a good way to deal with a problem”, rather than something that is “secret”, and so there is nothing problematic in this at all. As for the ‘decline’, it is well known that Keith Briffa’s maximum latewood tree ring density proxy diverges from the temperature records after 1960 (this is more commonly known as the “divergence problem”–see e.g. the recent discussion in this paper) and has been discussed in the literature since Briffa et al in Nature in 1998 (Nature, 391, 678-682). Those authors have always recommend not using the post 1960 part of their reconstruction, and so while ‘hiding’ is probably a poor choice of words (since it is ‘hidden’ in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is completely appropriate, as is further research to understand why this happens.

Steve McIntyre has quite a different intepretation:

Despite relatively little centennial variability, Briffa’s reconstruction had a noticeable decline in the late 20th century, despite warmer temperatures. In these early articles [e.g. Briffa 1998], the decline was not hidden.

For most analysts, the seemingly unavoidable question at this point would be – if tree rings didn’t respond to late 20th century warmth, how would one know that they didn’t do the same thing in response to possible medieval warmth – a question that remains unaddressed years later.

September 5, 2011 - Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video

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