Update: I’ve now done a quick look at their supposed data archive http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/droughtec/download.shtml and it is far from clear that this is anything like an adequate data archive. It may be more like a the sort of limited hang-out that we often see when climate scientists grudgingly release a little bit of data to comply with pressure, but without a commitment to an “open and transparent” process. For example, I did not see any archive of the underlying data, merely the summaries. For example, the article estimates the percentage area affected by drought and gives the 5 percentile series (which is fine as far as it goes and part of a proper archive), but is well short of being an archive that enables one to replicate their result. If this is it, then this is the equivalent of archiving the MBH reconstruction without any of the underlying data and we’ve seen that movie. Maybe David Stockwell will look into this and advise.)
In order to build a true “consensus” to deal with important problems, it’s necessary for climate scientists to be thoroughly committed to an “open and transparent” process. This means more than IPCC authors taking in one another’s laundry. It means more than a bunch of IPCC scientists telling everyone else what to think – even if they’re right and perhaps especially if they’re right. It means that data and methods to support articles used for climate policy must be routinely available concurrent with the publication of the article. Not after the fact.
I think that maybe some progress is being made here, though its been slow. Whatever anyone may think of the role of blogs, they obviously are relevant in trying to get to an “open and transparent” process.
The funny thing is that I’ think that once authors get used to “open and transparent”, they’ll like it.
Even the process of archiving source code, which CSIRO didn’t do. I can vouch for this on source code: it makes me feel comfortable knowing that source code is archived and available. If someone finds a mistake, so be it. It’s out there and you deal with it. But you remove all temptation to be over-defensive, because you’ve got it off your chest. I sometimes archive code in blog posts and I find this handy after the fact because it easier to figure out what I did; and it’s easier for others to do the same thing; it’s something that I’m going to do even more consistently.