Yesterday, I reported that the University of East Anglia had refused to release attachments to Climategate emails, attachments that would confirm that Wahl and Briffa had knowingly violated IPCC rules on review comments. Their excuse was, in effect, that Wahl and Briffa had agreed their violation of IPCC rules would be done in secret and the University was obliged to honor this compact.
The University had an additional consideration in withholding the document as it also covered up a trick by the University on Channel Four earlier this year, which resulting in Channel Four pulling coverage of IPCC rule violations by CRU and Eugene Wahl. This trick has not been previously reported and I will do so today.
Earlier this year, Channel Four planned to run a story on Keith Briffa breaking IPCC rules in his exchanges with Eugene Wahl. They asked the University of East Anglia for a comment. Cat Bartman, Press Officer, Marketing and Communications Division, University of East Anglia sent Channel Four the following reply:
Regarding your earlier queries, please find below a response from Prof Keith Briffa:
“I confirm that I requested an opinion from Dr Wahl on how I intended to respond to reviewers’ comments on one draft of the IPCC AR4 Chapter 6. My request was motivated entirely by a desire to give fair consideration to the opinions of specific critical reviewers. Dr Wahl had detailed knowledge of a particular issue and to my knowledge, seeking his opinion of my response to the reviewers, as distinct from any specific text in Chapter 6 itself, was both justified and allowable under IPCC rules.” [my bold]
Marketing and Communications Division
Because this response seemed “legitimate” to Channel Four, they “pulled” discussion of IPCC rule violations from their piece. I was asked to comment after the fact and gave them a detailed commentary, but by then the University had succeeded in killing Channel Four coverage of IPCC rule violations.
Let’s leave aside for now (1) Briffa’s self-serving claim that he was “motivated entirely” by a desire to be “fair” to McKitrick and I; and (2) whether seeking Wahl’s input on review comments was “justified and allowable under IPCC rules” – both of which I contest. Not even Briffa had the chutzpah to suggest to Channel Four that it was “justified and allowable under IPCC rules” to seek Wahl’s opinion on “specific text in Chapter 6 itself” – since, inter alia, the period for submission of Review Comments was closed; Wahl had not registered as an IPCC reviewer; Wahl was not a Lead or Contributing Author; IPCC had other procedures for authors seeking to be “fair” e.g. consulting Review Editors.
And yet there is compelling evidence that Briffa did in fact seek Wahl’s input on Chapter 6 text. And these are the documents that the East Anglia has just refused to disclose.
On Tuesday, July 18, 2006 (1153470204.txt), long after the period for Review Comments had expired, Briffa sent a copy of the then current version of Chapter 6 to Wahl for his comments (Wahl was not then – nor even now – registered as an IPCC reviewer. This attachment is shown in the Climategate email as Ch06_SOD_Text_TSU_FINAL_2000_12jul06.doc.
On July 20, 2010 (see 1153470204.txt), Wahl reverted with suggested alterations to Chapter 6, noted in the Climategate emails as the attachment Ch06_SOD_Text_TSU_FINAL_2000_12jul06_ERW_suggestions.doc.
In the email, Wahl refers to his own “brief suggested alteration to page 6-3 of the draft text” on the basis that Wahl-Ammann “decidedly settles the issue”:
I have added a brief suggested alteration to page 6-3 of the draft text you sent, to take into account the fact Wahl-Ammann decidely settles the issue concerning how proxy PC calculations impact the MBH style reconstruction. These changes are encoded using WORD’s “Track Changes” feature.
This correspondence disproves the claim by Briffa and the University of East Anglia that Briffa’s consultation was limited to seeking Wahl’s opinion on his “responses to reviewers, as distinct from any specific text in Chapter 6 itself”.
My recent FOI request asked for these documents. The University of East Anglia refused.
I think that I know what language Wahl inserted into the Final Draft. It was language that dramatically changed the IPCC assessment of the MBH dispute in favor of Wahl’s interpretation, as compared to the language sent to external reviewers in the Second Draft. Wahl’s changes to the IPCC assessment on a very controversial issue were never submitted to external review. They have been relied upon by climate scientists in framing their understanding of the MBH dispute, including, for example, Julia Slingo’s recent testimony to the Parliamentary Committee.
In the IPCC Second Draft as sent to external reviewers, Briffa (not exactly an impartial assessor) had nonetheless assessed the MBH dispute as follows – I’ve bolded the assessment finding which Wahl appears to have changed:
McIntyre and McKitrick (2005a,b) raised further concerns about the details of the Mann et al. (1998) method, principally relating to the independent verification of the reconstruction against 19th century instrumental temperature data and to the extraction of the dominant modes of variability present in a network of western North American tree-ring chronologies, using Principal Components Analysis. The latter may have some foundation, but it is unclear whether it has a marked impact upon the final reconstruction (Von Storch et al., 2004; Huybers, 2005; McIntyre and McKitrick, 2005).
Obviously, Ross and I thought that this assessment gave insufficient weight to our actual findings – even to points on which there was no dispute, such as the failure of key MBH verification statistics, a point that even Wahl and Ammann had grudgingly acquiesced in. Nonetheless, being realistic, we didn’t expect IPCC to concede the day of the week and could understand the statement that the outcome of the dispute remained “unclear” in an assessment in spring 2006.
Remember that this assessment was prior to the Wegman Report (published July 14, 2006) and the North Report (published June 22, 2006) and the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearings (July 17 and 26, 2006), which endorsed key points of our articles – including our findings on PC bias, that strip bark bristlecones should be “avoided” in reconstructions, on verification statistics. North was asked under oath whether he disagreed with any of Wegman’s findings and said that he did not. Both these reports were properly submitted to IPCC within the July window for additional citations, but neither were cited on these points. In supplemental answers, Wegman went so far as to say that the Wahl and Ammann article (being relied on by IPCC) had “no statistical integrity”.
Notwithstanding these opinions from blue ribbon panels, the IPCC assessment in the published Fourth Assessment Report stated:
The latter may have some theoretical foundation, but Wahl and Amman (2006) also show that the impact on the amplitude of the final reconstruction is very small (~0.05°C; for further discussion of these issues see also Huybers, 2005; McIntyre and McKitrick, 2005c,d; von Storch and Zorita, 2005).
This was obviously a dramatic change to the IPCC assessment – and not one based on evidence from the Wegman Report or North Report. In the Second Draft, the assessment was that the impact was “unclear”. But the Fourth Assessment Report came down strongly on the side of Wahl and Ammann (and MBH). It seems evident to me that this change resulted from Wahl’s “brief suggested alteration to page 6-3″ – apoint that could be proven through examination of Ch06_SOD_Text_TSU_FINAL_2000_12jul06_ERW_suggestions.doc.
This changed assessment – based entirely on language inserted into the Fourth Assessment Report by Wahl and Briffa in violation of IPCC rules – was relied upon by Julia Slingo in her recent testimony to the Parliamentary Committee, in which she said (Parliamentary Committee Evidence; see discussion at CA here ):
The controversy around the original methods of Mann et al has been fully addressed in the peer reviewed literature and I think those issues are now largely resolved.
Channel Four’s story would have exposed the violation of IPCC rules by Wahl and Briffa. So the University tricked Channel Four – a trick being considered by climate scientists as “a good way to deal with a problem” (Gavin Schmidt).
The University told Channel Four
to my knowledge, seeking his [Wahl's] opinion of my response to the reviewers, as distinct from any specific text in Chapter 6 itself, was both justified and allowable under IPCC rules.
CA readers know that you have to watch the pea under the thimble with the Team, but Channel Four didn’t. Channel Four concluded from this that CRU denied any IPCC rule violations. But watch the pea. They concede that asking Wahl for comments on Chapter 6 text would not have been “justified or allowable under IPCC rules”, leading Channel Four to presume that Briffa hadn’t asked Wahl for comments on Chapter 6 text. But watch carefully – they didn’t actually say that Briffa didn’t ask Wahl for comments on Chapter 6 text. Channel Four didn’t follow up and ask them the obvious question whether they had sought Wahl’s opinion on Chapter 6 text. The trick worked.
Obviously production of the document Ch06_SOD_Text_TSU_FINAL_2000_12jul06_ERW_suggestions.doc would precisely document what even the University and Briffa himself concede would be a violation of IPCC rules. But the University has refused to produce this document – claiming, as noted above, that the agreement between Wahl and Briffa to violate IPCC rules in secret is one that must be honored by the University – a finding that has the added benefit of concealing that the University misled Channel Four into thinking that there were no IPCC rule violations.