In the MIT Climategate Forum, Ronald Prinn trotted out what has become one of the standard “move along” memes in the climate science community: that while the “tone” of the Climategate emails was “unprofessional”, they did not succeed in their “endeavour” to prevent publication of articles in journals or mentions in IPCC. Prinn at around minute 48 says:
Number 2. Were the people successful in their endeavour to preventing publication in journals or mentions in IPCC ? This is a very important question. Could one successfully do that? Five papers by McIntyre and McKitrick were published and then referenced and discussed in the IPCC… But were the people successful in their endeavour to preventing publication in journals or mentions in IPCC ? The answer is no. They were not successful. [elision does not seem germane to this particular]
As so often in climate science, Prinn is talking without apparently doing any due diligence. The Climategate Letters provide many examples of CRU and their associates successfully preventing publication of articles in journals. Most of these examples do not pertain to the Mc-Mc articles and, indeed, some of the most egregious examples precede our entry onto the scene in late 2003.
Today, I’ll provide two 2003 and two 2004 examples where, contrary to Prinn’s soporific “move-along”, CRU and their associates successfully prevented publications of four articles (the identity of which is presently unknown.) There are other examples in the Climategate Letters which I’ll discuss on other occasions.
June 4, 2003 Briffa to Cook 1054748574
On June 4, 2003, Briffa, apparently acting as editor (presumably for Holocene), contacted his friend Ed Cook of Lamont-Doherty in the U.S. who was acting as a reviewer telling him that “confidentially” he needed a “hard and if required extensive case for rejecting”, in the process advising Cook of the identity and recommendation of the other reviewer. There are obviously many issues involved in the following as an editor instruction:
From: Keith Briffa
To: Edward Cook
Subject: Re: Review- confidential REALLY URGENT
Date: Wed Jun 4 13:42:54 2003
I am really sorry but I have to nag about that review – Confidentially I now need a hard and if required extensive case for rejecting - to support Dave Stahle’s and really as soon as you can. Please
Cook to Briffa, June 4, 2003
In a reply the same day, Cook told Briffa about a review for Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Sciences of a paper which, if not rejected, could “really do some damage”. Cook goes on to say that it is an “ugly” paper to review because it is “rather mathematical” and it “won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically”. Here is the complete email:
Okay, today. Promise! Now something to ask from you. Actually somewhat important too. I got a paper to review (submitted to the Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Sciences), written by a Korean guy and someone from Berkeley, that claims that the method of reconstruction that we use in dendroclimatology (reverse regression) is wrong, biased, lousy, horrible, etc. They use your Tornetrask recon as the main whipping boy. I have a file that you gave me in 1993 that comes from your 1992 paper. Below is part of that file. Is this the right one? Also, is it possible to resurrect the column headings? I would like to play with it in an effort to refute their claims. If published as is, this paper could really do some damage. It is also an ugly paper to review because it is rather mathematical, with a lot of Box-Jenkins stuff in it. It won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically, but it suffers from the classic problem of pointing out theoretical deficiencies, without showing that their improved inverse regression method is actually better in a practical sense. So they do lots of monte carlo stuff that shows the superiority of their method and the deficiencies of our way of doing things, but NEVER actually show how their method would change the Tornetrask reconstruction from what you produced. Your assistance here is greatly appreciated. Otherwise, I will let Tornetrask sink into the melting permafrost of northern Sweden (just kidding of course).
Briffa promptly replied:
Hi Big Boy
You just caught me as I was about to slope off after a brutal day …[chitchat]… This attack sounds like the last straw- from what you say it is a waste of time my looking at it but send a copy anyway. [more chitchat]
Update: it looks like this paper is http://nber-nsf09.ucdavis.edu/program/papers/auffhammer.pdf . On a quick look, it is a professional and interesting paper – far better than standard Team fare. It was not cited in AR4. Six years later, it has still not been published in the peerreviewedlitchurchur. Breathtaking. Cook is at Lamont-Doherty in the U.S.
Jones to Mann Mar 31, 2004
On Mar 31, 2004 Jones wrote to to Mann as follows:
Recently rejected two papers (one for JGR and for GRL) from people saying CRU has it wrong over Siberia. Went to town in both reviews, hopefully successfully. If either appears I will be very surprised, but you never know with GRL.
Returning to Prinn’s question: “were the people successful in their endeavour to preventing publication in journals or mentions in IPCC?” I’m unaware at present whether any of these four papers eventually found their way into journals elsewhere. Or even who the authors of the papers were.
In order for Prinn or anyone else to make a grandiose move-along claim, surely a little bit of due diligence is in order: who were the authors of these four papers (and there are others)? Did they eventually get published in other journals despite CRU’s “endeavours to prevent publication”? Were they then mentioned in IPCC?
Prinn doesn’t know. And if he didn’t know, he should not have told the audience to move along.