Supplemental Submission to Muir Russell

The following was sent yesterday after I noticed that the April 22, 2010 minutes of the Muir Russell panel indicated a possible intent on their part to avoid consideration of IPCC activities by CRU employees, even though IPCC is how climate scientists speak to the world.

I am writing to express my extreme concern over the following point in the minutes of your April 22, 2010 meeting which has only recently come to my attention:

The Review Team emphasised that it had not been commissioned to examine the IPCC’s processes. As part of its remit, the Review is reviewing the CRU’s policies and practices for acquiring, assembling, subjecting to peer review and disseminating data and research findings, and their compliance or otherwise with best scientific practice. The Review recognised that a separate independent review of the IPCC’s processes and procedures is being conducted by the InterAcademy Council.

I am concerned that this minute may evidence an intent of the Climate Change Email Review to avoid consideration of activities that are of great concern to the public and which are squarely within its mandate to examine “evidence of manipulation or suppression of data which is at odds with acceptable scientific practice”. If, for some reason, you do not believe that your mandate to examine “evidence of manipulation or suppression of data which is at odds with acceptable scientific practice” extends to IPCC activities by CRU employees, then, noting that “the remit of the Review can be amended or added to at the discretion of the independent chair, Sir Muir Russell”, I urge and request you to forthwith amend or add to your remit so that you include IPCC activities of CRU authors, which, after all, are a primary concern of the public.

Much of CRU’s prominence exists because of IPCC activities by its employees. Much of the Climategate dossier, including some of the most controversial emails, arise out of IPCC activities by CRU employees. These include the emails arising from the September 1999 IPCC Lead Authors meeting in Arusha, Tanzania (up to and including the notorious “trick” email) and the Wahl-Briffa correspondence in July and August 2006, together with requests to delete this correspondence in May 2008.

IPCC is the primary method by which climate scientists speak to the public and therefore the public reasonably expects particular vigilance by Climate Change Email Review in assessing the conduct of CRU scientists in the IPCC process.

The terms of reference of the InterAcademy Council are “forward looking”. As a result, there is no reason to expect it to assessment of past conduct of CRU scientists, including their compliance with IPCC policies and procedures. Its existence should not be used as an excuse for the Climate Change Email Review to avoid examination of issues involving the IPCC activities of CRU employees.

One of the key issues pertaining to the Wahl-Briffa correspondence is its apparent violation of IPCC procedures on a number of counts. IPCC rules state that its process is “open and transparent” – a representation made frequently by its representatives. This “open and transparent” process requires that Review Comments be placed in a public archive for five years. Briffa and Wahl did not comply with this rule. Secondly, IPCC rules require that reviewers be registered with IPCC; Wahl did not do so. Third, IPCC rules for the preparation of the Final Draft appear to establish explicit procedures for consultation, procedures that entitled Briffa to consult with Review Editors, other Lead Authors and even convene a workshop with interested reviewers (something that would have then been feasible), but which precluded the actual form of exchange between Wahl and Briffa. This may account for the otherwise inexplicable attempted secrecy of the exchange between Wahl and Briffa and the subsequent efforts in May 2008 both to delete all record of this exchange and to suggest that Briffa deny the very existence of the exchange to FOI officer Palmer.

The email exchanges in September 1999 after the IPCC Lead Authors meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, up to and including the notorious “trick” email in November 1999, clearly require particular investigation under this clause. Coordinating Lead Author Folland wrote that, although a proxy diagram was “a clear favourite for the Policy Makers summary”, the Briffa reconstruction “dilutes the message rather significantly”, adding that this was “probably the most important issue to resolve in Chapter 2 at present”. Mann wrote back that “everyone in the room” agreed that the Briffa series was a “potential distraction/detraction from the reasonably consensus viewpoint we’d like to show”. Briffa recognized there was “pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards ‘apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more ’”, but expressed many caveats, in particular that the proxies were not responding the way that they were supposed to and that that the recent warmth was “probably matched” 1000 years ago. (Please see http://climateaudit.org/2009/12/10/ipcc-and-the-trick/ and http://www.climateaudit.info/pdf/mcintyre-heartland_2010.pdf)

The Oxburgh panel already failed their obligation to consider IPCC activities by CRU employees, presuming that this would be done by Muir Russell.

If the Muir Russell panel fails this obligation as well, the losers will, of course, include those members of the public who had hoped that the “inquiries” would inquire. But the greater losers would be the climate science “community” itself, which will, for a day or two, proudly display the worthless baubles of another “inquiry” that didn’t do its job. But such preening with worthless baubles will hardly re-assure the public who expect more from people who purport to be scientific leaders.

I note that the precise language of the minute may only mean that they are not evaluating “IPCC procedures and processes” themselves, but planned all along to comply with the terms of the remit to examine the conduct of CRU employees, including their IPCC activities – which includes compliance issues arising out of the emails and other documents. If so, my supplemental submission would be unnecessary, but won’t do any harm.


7 Comments

  1. johnh
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 9:42 AM | Permalink

    Its like holding a slippery eel, you squeeze in one spot and it starts to escape from another. Keep squeezing.

    • kim
      Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 9:52 AM | Permalink

      OK, can’t resist. All Hands on the Eel!
      ======================

  2. Dick Meisterling
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 11:40 AM | Permalink

    I’ve followed Climate Audit for a couple years, Steve, and found it both compelling and important. What I didn’t know was the enormity and quality of your work on this issue until I read “The Hockey Stick Illusion” by Andrew Muntford. Of course, I’m flabbergasted by what Mann and others have done in studying this issue. What is quintessentially disconcerting is what the entire story says about the scientific community. Those who live therein ought to be ashamed.

    • ZT
      Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 2:37 PM | Permalink

      Seconded

      • Britannic no-see-um
        Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 6:12 PM | Permalink

        Andrew Montford’s Hockey Stick Illusion will surely become an all-time science classic. An amazing and beautifully written piece of investigative work explaining for the layman the scale and importance of Steve’s dogged tenacity in exposing the whole epic hockey stick tale.

  3. pesadilla
    Posted Jun 10, 2010 at 1:03 PM | Permalink

    If you have ever been on a sales course, then you will have been treated to a session on answering objections. It is well recognised that the best way to deal with an objection (without doubt) is to anticipate it.
    Having read the paragraph above five or six times, i am pretty certain that the team will not be able to exclude the items that you list because they are not directly linked to the processes and procedures of the ipcc. The things that you consider to be relevent to the enquiry are the direct interactions of the uea personnel with others, no matter who they are

    “for acquiring, assembling, subjecting to peer review and disseminating data and research findings, and their compliance or otherwise with best scientific practice”
    Having said that. Brilliant anticipation Steve, you should be in sales
    PS there are only three other ways of dealing with an objection
    1) answer it
    2(ignore it)
    3 postphone it.

  4. Clyde Adams III
    Posted Jun 11, 2010 at 6:31 AM | Permalink

    This clause seems somewhat garbled:

    “there is no reason to expect it to assessment of past conduct of CRU scientists”

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