Cicerone at the AAAS

The AAAS conference is starting this week in San Diego. A special session has been convened by Cicerone to discuss Climategate – Friday, February 19, 2010: 8:30 AM-11:30 AM, Room 6F (San Diego Convention Center). The abstract for the session is:

Past controversies over historical climate trends and access to research data resurfaced in 2009 after the theft and disclosure of e-mail exchanges among a group of climate scientists. Some subsequent publicity questioned the legitimacy of the scientific consensus on global climate change. Questions also were raised about the conduct of these climate scientists and public expectations of scientists in all fields. This symposium, convened by the NAS and AAAS, focuses on the broad questions of transparency and integrity of climate-change research and all of science. It draws on three highly relevant National Research Council reports: On Being a Scientist, which describes the ethical foundations of scientific practices, and personal and professional issues that researchers encounter; Ensuring the Integrity, Accessibility, and Stewardship of Research Data in the Digital Age, which calls on researchers to make data, methods, and other information underlying results publicly accessible in a timely manner; and Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Past 2,000 Years, which examined the scientific evidence for paleoclimatic temperature reconstructions. The session will cover topics ranging from the peer review process and the importance of domestic and international scientific assessments to the responsibilities of individual researchers, scientific journals, professional societies, and other groups in developing and implementing rules and procedures for data access and sharing of research methods.

Speakers are:

Francisco J. Ayala, UC Irvine, The Practice and Conduct of Scientific Research
Sheila Jasanoff, Harvard, Science in Society
Gerald R. North, Texas A&M, The Data Behind Climate Research
Phillip A. Sharp, MIT, Data Use and Access Across Disciplines

Gerry North told the Penn State Inquiry that he hadn’t read the Climategate emails out of “professional respect”. This apparently qualified him as an “expert” on the topic.

Cicerone appears to have been quite careful not to invite any speakers that actually knew anything about the controversy. It sounds like it will be totally uninformative – an ideal Sir Humphrey outcome.


29 Comments

  1. pat
    Posted Feb 16, 2010 at 10:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

    and michael mann elsewhere:

    Eighth Atmospheric Science Symposium sponsored by the UC Berkeley
    Atmospheric Sciences Center (BASC).
    Friday, February 26:
    Slusser Auditorium
    International House, UC Berkeley
    9:00am Michael Mann (Penn State) Learning About Climate Dynamics Using
    Paleoclimate Information From Past Centuries
    Atmospheric scientists from around the San Francisco Bay Area will have the
    opportunity to present their work.
    http://www.atmos.berkeley.edu/

  2. MikeC
    Posted Feb 16, 2010 at 10:05 PM | Permalink | Reply

    First problem is they continue to insist that this was a hacker (as if it really matters). Second problem is the “experts” do not cover the problem with preventing the publishing of papers which disagree and hyjacking journal boards (the biggest Climategate issue to me). Sounds like just another phony board of friends helping friends.

  3. Posted Feb 16, 2010 at 10:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Strikes me that they are “damned if they do, damned if they don’t”. The stated abstract sounds quite noble, and if followed truthfully would (should) deliver a breath of fresh air into the closeted pal-reviewed debacle. Should we give them the benefit of the doubt given this looks like the most promising of all the various reviews/inquiries/cover-ups? Andy

    • Mark T
      Posted Feb 16, 2010 at 10:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Burn me once your fault, burn me twice my fault. Unfortunately, we’re on rev one milllllyun or so at this point. There’s a reason for the rampant cynicism you see among many of the older (in terms of time spent here) posters on this blog.

      Mark

  4. justbeau
    Posted Feb 16, 2010 at 10:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Professor North is going to make transparent all the data reconstructions for the past 2,000 years. For an encore June performance, North will speak on climate and statistics. http://atmo.tamu.edu/climate/

  5. Tony Hansen
    Posted Feb 16, 2010 at 10:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    ‘….the theft and disclosure of e-mail..’
    I would have thought that any such claim should wait until the police had announced the results of their investigation.
    To make such a claim now does not suggest that the writer has any regard for due process or verifible fact.
    Ditto for any person choosing to speak on such a point.

  6. Posted Feb 16, 2010 at 10:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The Guardian in the UK is doing something over here

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/09/help-write-the-full-story-of-the-hacked-emails-scandal

    There seems to be an opportunity to mark up the emails with your own comments. I see Gavin Schmidt has been busy.

    • windansea
      Posted Feb 16, 2010 at 11:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Keenan disposes Gavin’s spin quite nicely here:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/09/weather-stations-china

      • Posted Feb 17, 2010 at 12:55 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Yes some of Schmidt’s comments are pretty lame on the Guardian

        “This is the issue – scientists being harassed by lawsuits, FOIA requests, accusations and inquiries when all they want to do is write papers and try and work out what the planet it (sic) doing.”

        YEAH RIGHT we heard that before, didn’t we?

  7. David Smith
    Posted Feb 16, 2010 at 11:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

    http://davidsmith1.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/0216101.jpg

  8. windansea
    Posted Feb 16, 2010 at 11:19 PM | Permalink | Reply

    2 rather large news items (snip away Steve, but if I was a lawyer for the State of Texas I know who I’d be contacting :)

    Three Major Firms Pull Out of Climate Change Alliance

    ConocoPhillips, BP America and Caterpillar pulled out of a leading alliance of businesses and environmental groups pushing for climate change legislation on Tuesday, citing complaints that the bills under consideration are unfair to American industry.

    The sudden pullout of three corporate giants from a leading alliance of businesses and environmental groups could be the death knell for climate change legislation languishing on Capitol Hill.

    and this:

    Texas Takes Legal Action Against Federal Government Over EPA CO2 Mandates

    AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples today announced that the state is taking legal action in the U.S. Court of Appeals challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) endangerment finding for greenhouse gases.

    “With billions of dollars at stake, EPA outsourced the scientific basis for its greenhouse gas regulation to a scandal-plagued international organization that cannot be considered objective or trustworthy,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Prominent climate scientists associated with the IPCC were engaged in an ongoing, orchestrated effort to violate freedom of information laws, exclude scientific research, and manipulate temperature data. In light of the parade of controversies and improper conduct that has been uncovered, we know that the IPCC cannot be relied upon for objective, unbiased science – so EPA should not rely upon it to reach a decision that will hurt small businesses, farmers, ranchers, and the larger Texas economy.”

  9. Posted Feb 17, 2010 at 12:08 AM | Permalink | Reply

    When AAAS met in SF a coupe of years ago, the editor ad president were proudly trumpeting that there was no more debate about Global Warming. They showed a video of crumbling Arctic shore line and claimed it was due to rising oceans even though the European satellites had shown a few weeks earlier Arctic sea levels have been dropping. So I would not expect much more than for them to circle the wagons around the climate gate “Scientists”

    And Gerry North was one of the first people to support the climate gate scientists in an interview Andrew Freedman repeatedly assuring people that nothing bad happened.

    I can only expect more whitewash from these guys.

    • justbeau
      Posted Feb 17, 2010 at 8:01 AM | Permalink | Reply

      It may be a good thing for North and Cicerone to articulate their views. This will invite thoughtful attention. Now is their time to stand and deliver, to explain and defend the basis for their “consensus.”

      They are in a tough spot, entirely of their own making. If they go into details, these can be picked apart for genuine uncertainties. If instead they offer vague platitudes as did Keri Emanuel in the Boston Globe, this route is not persuasive either.

  10. Mike J
    Posted Feb 17, 2010 at 12:13 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Where in their presentations will be room for discussion of how to prevent scientists with politico-financial agendas presiding over the review or assessment process? For example, is there currently any mechanism for the declaration of interests and funding sources within the peer review process (either of the authors, university, journal or reviewers)?

  11. Alan Wilkinson
    Posted Feb 17, 2010 at 12:37 AM | Permalink | Reply

    This stuff just ensures the whole profession will wear the public backlash along with the individuals who caused it.

  12. Posted Feb 17, 2010 at 12:39 AM | Permalink | Reply

    It is to be noted that on one hand, they claim that they are not “trained in public relations”. This is George Monbiot’s self-assurance ploy. Andy Revkin’s used the same excuse.

    And on the other hand – they pretend to discuss ‘Climategate’?

  13. Posted Feb 17, 2010 at 1:08 AM | Permalink | Reply

    AAAS has a program called “2061,” which includes the following initiative:

    “Promotes Climate Literacy.”
    http://www.project2061.org/publications/2061Connections/2009/2009-05a.htm

    “In the area of climate change specifically, many U.S. adults lack the basic information needed to understand the scientific evidence. A recent survey by Public Agenda (2009), for example, finds that nearly 40% of Americans cannot name a fossil fuel, and 51% cannot name a renewable energy source. What is more, 56% and 32% believe that nuclear and solar power respectively contribute to global warming.

    Such misconceptions can undermine even the most well-intentioned efforts to educate and engage the public. To help address these misconceptions and to help students’ develop a solid understanding of global climate change, Project 2061 has been increasing its efforts to provide resources for the teaching and learning of climate science.”

    They’ve drunk the Kool-Aid, and they passing around the pitcher….

  14. bobdenton
    Posted Feb 17, 2010 at 2:54 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I welcome this symposium. It’s not a trial of CRU staff or even a review of their conduct, but a review of the ethical framework within which CRU should have conducted its research. It may produce something worth submitting to Muir.

    Of course, a review of Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Past 2000 yrs has been included so that the consensus can be endorsed, with the “contaminated” research excluded. No reason why they shouldn’t. It’ll be interesting to see the terms in which it’s endorsed. That will be the measure of how far their considerations of ethics has informed the way in which they spin unquantifiable probabilities, and whether it contains, in a public document, the qualifications expressed in private.

  15. jc-at-play
    Posted Feb 17, 2010 at 11:48 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Forgive me, but where in the abstract does it say that they are convening to discuss Climategate? The actual wording is

    “this symposium … draws on three highly relevant National Research Council reports” [And note they're NOT saying that the session draws on the Climategate emails.]

    And further on

    “… The session will cover topics ranging from the peer review process and the importance of domestic and international scientific assessments to the responsibilities of individual researchers, scientific journals, professional societies, and other groups in developing and implementing rules and procedures for data access and sharing of research methods.”

    As I read it, all they intend to address are GENERAL issues, that were highlighted by Climategate.

    Steve: See Cicerone’s recent article in Science – mentioned in a prior post/

  16. bobdenton
    Posted Feb 18, 2010 at 2:01 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The Today Programme (BBC) has a feature about the conference and its reflection of the ClimateGate issues (6.47 – 6.51am)

  17. Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 10:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I saw part of the special session, including all of Gerald North’s speech. Here’s my blog post.

  18. Rob Bradley
    Posted Feb 20, 2010 at 12:39 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I challenged Gerald North and this panel with an analogy between Climategate and bad behaviors that sank Enron (where I used to work and where North was my climate consultant):

    http://www.masterresource.org/2010/02/climategate-7-hard-questions-from-enron/

  19. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 20, 2010 at 7:38 AM | Permalink | Reply

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8525879.stm about Cicerone presentation

  20. bobdenton
    Posted Feb 20, 2010 at 9:07 AM | Permalink | Reply

    There is a one minute report on Cicerone’s comments on the Today programme at 06.51.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00qr4hw/Today_20_02_2010/

    It reports Cicerone as specifically saying that the public should have access to the data so they can ask their own questions.

  21. Posted Feb 20, 2010 at 10:45 AM | Permalink | Reply

    “This symposium, convened by the NAS and AAAS, focuses on the broad questions of transparency and integrity of climate-change research and all of science.”

    Argh… I’m still waiting for the official write-up and not just the AAAS/press marketing spin but it irks me when a small group of corrupt Noble Cause, redundant data recyclers get tossed in with “all of science”. It’s good to reaffirm for all the “broad questions of transparency and integrity”. The circling the wagons by non-climate scientists in support of “climate-change research” should make a lot of antennae twitch. Why “climate-change research” and not just “climate research”?

    If they are true to their abstract and move from the “broad questions” to the specifics of “Ensuring the Integrity, Accessibility, and Stewardship of Research Data in the Digital Age, which calls on researchers to make data, methods, and other information underlying results publicly accessible in a timely manner” and “responsibilities of individual researchers, scientific journals, professional societies, and other groups in developing and implementing rules and procedures for data access and sharing of research methods.” (I add: including the cleaning up of peer-review) then there might be value in the outcome.

    I think the ‘tells’ in the abstract are “the legitimacy of the scientific consensus on global climate change” “and Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Past 2,000 Years, which examined the scientific evidence for paleoclimatic temperature reconstructions”.

    My bet: ‘Nothing to see here, move on, the “three highly relevant National Research Council reports” say it all and we follow those religiously although most just don’t understand.’

  22. kim
    Posted Feb 20, 2010 at 11:59 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Wow, Steve, have you seen the Newsweek article? Did they interview you?

    Also, Cicerone criticizes the IPCC but not the NAS. Someone hold a mirror up for him.
    =================

  23. Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 12:43 PM | Permalink | Reply

    http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/56466/title/Climate_science_Credibility_at_risk,_scientists_say

    I wonder why “Credibility at risk, scientists say”? Well, could it be:

    By not “stepping up” to defend the general strength of climate science in the wake of recent public challenges, the panelists acknowledged, bloggers and television pundits have been free to spin the revelations as evidence that most climate science is now suspect. And it most assuredly is not, the panelists maintained.

    For instance, when a reporter asked what the scientists who were involved in the recent climate scandals did wrong, Rees responded: “We have no reason to believe they did anything wrong. . . .”

    And that is what several ongoing inquiries into the scandals is meant to do, he said. Offer reassurance that nothing is being swept under the rug – and likely demonstrate that any wrongdoing constitutes “a minor element in the overall climate-change-science scenario, which is crucially important in formulating public policy.

    The question, Gerald North of Texas A&M University wanted to know, “is just how much is enough?” One glaciologist he knows was asked to track down early glacial-melt data. Which, it turns out, were on the type of punched cards used in computers typical of the mid-1970s. The glaciologist couldn’t even remember where he might have packed away those boxes of cards.

    Or maybe some data were analyzed by a now-obsolete program, like Fortran. Must a scientist find a copy of the program for a challenger, North asked – and teach him or her how to use it? And what if the challenger also wanted to probe influence on the interpretation of the data. Would it be reasonable, he asked, for that person to request that you turn over all emails ever exchanged between you and colleagues referring to the work?

    Indeed, Cicerone charged, some climate scientists “are now receiving requests that are bordering on harassment.” They’re being asked, he said, for all of the data that went into a publication, sometimes in addition to all data analyses, all equations used in interpretations, detailed descriptions of all statistical techniques, all computer programs used – even access to any physical samples. These are fishing expeditions. And the demands they make, he said, often “are simply not feasible or are too costly.”

    That’s why Cicerone called for the development of new standards and practices that define, by scientific discipline, what constitutes reasonable access to data.

One Trackback

  1. By Cicerone à l'AAAS on Feb 20, 2010 at 2:46 AM

    [...] La conférence de l'AAAS commence cette semaine à San Diego. Une session extraordinaire a été convoquée par Cicerone pour discuter Climategate – Vendredi, Février 19, 2010: 8:30 AM-11: 30 AM, Salle 6F (San Diego Convention Center). Le résumé de la session est la suivante: les controverses passées sur les tendances historiques du climat et de l'accès aux données de recherche a refait surface en 2009 après que [. . . ] URL article original: http://climateaudit.org/2010/02/16/cicerone-at-the-aaas/ [...]

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