You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Speaking of record handling, here’s a particularly amusing defence of scientists failing to maintain proper records over at Connolley’s: they are less lazy than filmmakers.

Mosher noted that the irony of the thoroughness of the OFcom examination of Swindle records as compared to the haphazard and obstructive availability of data that we’ve seen too frequently in the parts of climate science examined here so far. Mosher:

I was pleased to that the filmakers actually kept good records of their emails and their raw footage. I was also pleased to see that they supplied this material when asked. It’s a standard that we should hold climate science to.

imagine that. science held to the same standards as schlock documentary makers.

Posted by: steven mosher | July 24, 2008 12:39 PM

Here is a defence:

Keep in mind that the retention of records may be a sign of laziness rather than high standards. I’ve got thousands of emails still on our email servers, much to our network admin’s chagrin. I really should delete them, but I’m lazy. Imagine that. Scientists may be less lazy than me and that Durkin fellow.

Posted by: pough | July 24, 2008 12:51 PM

You couldn’t make this up.


  1. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 8:32 AM | Permalink

    ACtually, there may be an important lesson here. Ofcom is obviously a regulatory agency that Channel 4 and Durkin took very seriously. As Mosher observed, when they asked for stuff, they got it and right away.

    Now NSF has a regulatory function as well as a cheerleading function. The difference is that NSF has totally abandoned its duties as a regulator. I complained to NSF about non-compliance with data archiving requirements and they blew me off. Because they are negligent in their regulatory duties, it’s bred a culture of non-compliance among scientists.

    Imagine a situation where a climate scientist responded to a call from NSF about data archiving in the same way as Channel 4 responded to a call from Ofcom.

    How many scientists would want to get cross-eyed with NSF and have them audit their compliance with NSF grants? The answer is evident. The threat of an NSF audit would in itself ensure proper behavior in 99.9% of the cases.

    If NSF started carrying out its obligations, this culture of negligence and haphazardness would disappear quickly enough.

  2. Ade
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 8:53 AM | Permalink

    Ofcom is obviously a regulatory agency that Channel 4 and Durkin took very seriously. As Mosher observed, when they asked for stuff, they got it and right away.

    Ofcom is treated seriously by the UK’s broadcast media for two main reasons: 1) Ofcom has some pretty far-reaching powers when it comes to dealing with broadcasters, and 2) Brits do rather like being told what to do…. (I say this as a Brit who doesn’t like to be told what to do!)

    I’m not sure what the NSF is (National Science F….?); but with the global nature of science (particularly climate science), I don’t think a national body is going to be sufficient.

    Something I’ve been thinking about for a while now [but have no idea how to start off, nor any idea how to fund] – and I’m sure you’re there before me Steve – is a kind of open-source competitor to Nature/Journal of Climate Science/etc. – all the really big peer-review publications. Essentially, any given scientist who wished to published would be required (by the OpenSource Science Journal as I’ve just decided to call it – or OSSJo for short) to archive all of their raw data; every single step they took from converting that raw data into their finished conclusion, etc. The idea (obviously) is that any suitably clever other scientist can reproduce & repeat their work using the data provided.

    The key goal would be to make OSSJo the premier journal by which all others are judged inferior….

    Ah well, one can but dream on a sunny Friday afternoon…

    Steve: Nature and Science have good franchises. It’s more relevant to try to make them live up to their own policies – which they are increasingly aware of in this area.

  3. Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 9:11 AM | Permalink

    Before everyone jumps on me like lunch, let me say that I mostly agree with you here. I doubt that the fellow who made the silly comment you highlight has PI status anywhere, though.

    There is another side to the story, though, summed up by this perhaps apocryphal story:

    Science is a fierce competition among individuals and among nations. As long as the journals don’t enforce standards of data distribution and reproducibility, competitive advantage goes to those who expend minimal effort on anything other than the publication stream. The journals should provide repositories for ALL supporting material, including codes for computations and scans of handwritten calculation, and should insist that they are adequately filled. This is perhaps a more market-oriented strategy than the regulatory one you propose. Funding agencies themselves are probably understaffed and under various stresses these days. There is a potential solution on the demand side, but it probably needs to start at the top (i.e., Nature and Science).

    Other problems: there are altogether too many people who make their way in the world stealing other people’s work. Issues of scientific provenance are consequently real and important. Also, university legal offices, in search of intellectual property bonanzas, are very wary of making work done in their employ public. And of course, journals like most other publishers have trouble getting out of the habit of thinking they are in the business of selling paper products.

  4. fFreddy
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 9:26 AM | Permalink

    Not sure if it’s been mentioned yet, but Hamish Mykura, the Channel 4 bod who commissioned the GGWS, responds to criticism here.

    Interestingly, he refers to plans for Channel 4 to transmit Gore’s Inconvenient Truth. I look forward to the Ofcom complaint for that one…

  5. DaveR
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 9:44 AM | Permalink

    In his Guardian piece in fFreddy’s link, Mykura writes that “Channel 4 showed that none of the scientific data was materially misleading and Ofcom agreed.”, which is a bit odd. I thought that Ofcom merely said it was not misleading in a way likely to “cause harm or offence”. Quite different. Did I miss something?

  6. Ade
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 10:11 AM | Permalink


    Did I miss something?

    About 1800° of spin….

    Other than that, no 😉

  7. bernie
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 10:17 AM | Permalink

    You are correct, but partially correct. The journals do need to push for adherence to their existing policies and the tenets of sound scientific practice. But what holds for journals also holds for individual researchers and research institutions. Much of the criticism coming from this site focuses on the failure to do the right thing of specific researchers and research institutes. I think it is that simple. Funding has little if anything to do with it given the internet and the capacity for mass storage.

  8. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 10:23 AM | Permalink

    Comparing OfCom to the FCC would be more apt.

  9. Jeff A
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 10:23 AM | Permalink

    The key goal would be to make OSSJo the premier journal by which all others are judged inferior….

    Ah well, one can but dream on a sunny Friday afternoon…

    Hey, Ade. If you want to build it, I’ll provide the server space, free of charge.

  10. joshua corning
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 10:26 AM | Permalink

    Why would you ever delete emails pertaining to your profession?

    If you are in the finance business in the US you might find yourself in jail for doing just that.

  11. Jeff A
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 10:30 AM | Permalink

    My emails get deleted automatically daily when my inbox and folders reach a certain disk space threshold. Company policy, I have no control over it. I have to specifically save emails to my local drive if I want to keep them being deleted.

  12. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 10:31 AM | Permalink

    #3. My point here – and previously – is that journals and NSF each have duties and obligations in this respect. There are US federal policies on data archiving that require agencies to ensure data archiving; some NSF branches do so, but the paleoclimate area doesn’t. What journals do is up to them; NSF still has an obligation to enforce its legislation.

    That’s not to say that journals shouldn’t have adequate policies of their own; some do, but they don’t enforce them.

    As I’ve said repeatedly, econometrics data sets and codes are comparable to paleoclimate in relevant respects and econometrics journals have adopted appropriate practices.

    IPCC has different obligations and responsiblities than either journals or funders. There is nothing to prevent IPCC from requiring authors who want to be cited to warrant that their data and methods are properly archived. I suggested to Susan Solomon at a CCSP workshop but she blew off the idea.

    Because IPCC is being relied on for large policy decisions, people in the field have to raise their game.

  13. Wade Michaels
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 10:50 AM | Permalink

    I’ll second what Joshua says, in that I work for a regulated industry, and if my data were supoenaed and I didn’t produce the correct data (and all code) from which my analyses were done, I’d be in big trouble… probably worse than just firing. Contempt of court comes to mind.

    snip – venting

  14. Terry
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 11:02 AM | Permalink

    Jeff A says:
    July 25th, 2008 at 10:30 am

    My emails get deleted automatically daily when my inbox and folders reach a certain disk space threshold. Company policy, I have no control over it. I have to specifically save emails to my local drive if I want to keep them being deleted.

    This is fairly common within companies and is due to the legal ramifications of keeping email. If the company keeps the email and then gets sued they have to produce it in discovery. They can not delete it after the suit begins and before discovery so they have automated systems to delete mail over a certain age just in case the email contains anything incriminating.

    Steve: But companies governed by Sorbanes-Oxley and government departments can’t do that. There’s also a difference between deletion in accordance with a policy established in advance and ad hoc deletion. That’s why companies have record management policies and systems – for legal protection. So they can prove that the destruction was in accordance with an established and reasonable policy.

  15. Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 11:16 AM | Permalink

    Steve, I can relate very well to William’s account!
    Until about a year ago my university gave each faculty member a miserly memory allocation for email and the default mode of operation was that emails were automatically removed from the server when you read them. I didn’t use that mode preferring to chose which files to erase and when to do it, however this used to cause me severe problems when some of my students would send me large pdf attachments (always in the middle of the night!) and fill up my mailbox! I’m sure many of my colleagues went the default route. A year ago the email system was substantially revamped and such problems no longer occur but the admins still harass us from time to time to delete old mail. In addition to that about 5 years ago a system change meant that while I still have a folder full of old emails they’re not readable with the current system, if I absolutely needed to get to them I suppose that it would be possible but it would be a real pain. The idea of an unbroken record of emails stretching into the past is fantasy as far as I’m concerned, I could go back to early 2004 without difficulty but beyond that would be a problem.
    That said government doesn’t seem to have difficulties in finding these old emails, I was being deposed as a witness by NASA lawyers concerning fraud by a contractor several years ago, the first question I was asked concerned an email exchange with the party from years earlier! It made me glad that I always had the policy of being careful about what I said in emails, I’m sure the other party had wished that he’d been more circumspect!

  16. Luis Dias
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

    Because IPCC is being relied on for large policy decisions, people in the field have to raise their game.

    Pardon me. I will list the problems that I can reckon in the field, from outside. I am certainly wrong, for what I see is little and vague:

    – Lack of regulation and standards of transparency make the field obtuse, confusing and opaque;

    – Scientists have problems replicating other studies due to said opaqueness;

    – Papers gradually lose ground for they depend increasingly on other papers, for which no replication was made;

    – Main international bodies of alleged regulation and standards are out of bounds of any national requirements;

    – Main international bodies of alleged regulation and standards aren’t clearly interested in maintaining a high degree of quality on their science, they aren’t concerned with the ways of science, only the ends;

    – Political struggles are interfering with such bodies, not only in the methodology of the writing of reports, but also in the hierarchy mechanisms of such bodies;

    – Opaqueness of science creates a cloud of doubt, and some may trust completely on other people’s methodologies (with necessarily an arbitrary or emotional judgement, for there is no access to the data from papers itself to objectively judge), or not, which furthers the polarization of the issue. The field becomes a theatre of subjective “feelings” where people “believe” where the truth is, rather than having the most possible objective data to prove it;

    – Skepticism ponders at the possibility if such deregulation and lack of standards could create a “pseudo-science”, rather than science. That is, if the compound of errors from papers to papers which weren’t properly critiqued and replicated are able to sidetrack completely the science theory of GW as a whole;

    – Skeptical thinkers like to doubt everything, but because the field is opaque and “subjectivized”, such skepticism is treated as treason, equated to holocaust denial. Skeptics entrench in their position and schadenfreude at every slip of mainstream findings, incoherences. Mainstream positions entrench in their position and become mega-defensive in every detail, denying errors or minimizing them anywhere they can, protect their own data from pesky “skeptics” whose only desire is to find mistakes and errors (such bestiality!).

    – Further entrenchment enters political arena and polarizes the entire social scene. Expelling CO2 is equated to a “sin” and because all our lives are energy dependent, we are all “sinning”. Skeptics deny such “sinful” thoughts and equate what is happening to a “new world order” conspiracy to bow everyone to a political “socialism;

    – Feedback of social phenomenon into scientific realm (non-linear iterations!), and the cycle is complete.

    Now imagine a society where their scientists are free to expose their ideas, mainstream or skeptical,as long as they submit all the data used, and a legion of interested scientists gather at the internet, download the data, investigate and discover every single error in the idea submitted. Debate is not only allowed, but rather obligatory.

    Climatology advances lightspeed and in few years, comprehensive studies are beginning to be truly able to detect climate mechanisms and start to forecast things quite precisely. Confidence returns to the field, and from left to right, one can only admire the deeds of climatology, and political and economical decisions based on climatologist forecasts are ubiquitous and natural.

    Oh well, one can dream, can’t we?

  17. Dave Clarke
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 11:31 AM | Permalink

    I’m not sure if you’re agreeing with DaveR or not. But obviously his point is valid. OfCom certainly did not rule on the accuracy of GGWS or whether or not it was “materially misleading”, only that no harm to the public was done as a result.

    I hope you have all read the actual complaint; it’s a highly compelling catalog of all the errors and distortions to be found in GGWS.

    A major problem with “skeptic” films and journalism, including GGWS, is that they generally present so-called “inconvenient facts” without proper attribution or sources. So, for example, the Friends of Science film “Climate Catastrophe Cancelled” claimed that estimates of tropospheric temperature derived from satellite measurements showed negligible warming. But a close examination (and a bit of sleuthing) of the graph shows that the data and analysis were at least four years out of date; moreover, the claim was not supported by the range evidence available at the time of the making of the film in late 2004.

    Or take Lorne Gunter’s recent claims that “worldwide, there are nearly half as many glaciers advancing as retreating” and “snow coverage in North America this winter was greater than at any time in recorded history.”

    Not only are no sources given, but the first claim was directly contradicted in the AP story Gunter referred to, where glacier expert Lonnie Thomson stated: “Climate change is causing roughly 90% of the world’s mountain glaciers to shrink”.


    As for the second claim, it turns out the 2008 January snow coverage at 17.0 million square kilometers was identical to the average for that month from 1973-2008, according to the NOAA. Years having equal or greater January snow coverage include every year from 1974-1985, except the marginally lower years of 1976 and 1980.


    I hope all CA readers would support a call for Gunter or the National Post to furnish the sources for these ridiculous claims. If they can’t, or if the sources are demonstrated to be false, then a prompt correction should be issued.

    Steve: All claims should be verifiable. As I’ve said on many occasions, my priority – and this is simply because I’m one person with only so much time and energy – is to examine data relied upon for policy recommendations, primarily ones relied upon by IPCC. To my knowledge, neither Gunter nor National Post are being used by the IPCC. If that understanding is incorrect and either has been relied upon by IPCC, please advise me.

  18. Jaye Bass
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 11:32 AM | Permalink

    Until about a year ago my university gave each faculty member a miserly memory allocation for email and the default mode of operation was that emails were automatically removed from the server when you read them.

    uhh…autoarchive or do it your self. I never keep email more than a month old on the server. No excuses.

  19. Jeremy
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 11:34 AM | Permalink

    Re: #2 and #9

    John A,

    I would also be willing to help with an OSSJ. I am not a perl programmer, but I know some, and I have coded before. I would imagine I could at the very least help. It would seem to me that a WIKI codebase would be an excellent starting point.

  20. Jaye Bass
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 11:38 AM | Permalink

    A major problem with “skeptic” films and journalism, including GGWS, is that they generally present so-called “inconvenient facts”

    But nothing wrong with including a clip (a CGI clip at that) from “The Day After Tomorrow” in AIT to depict glaciers melting or misrepresenting a couple of Polar bears who swam from shore to play on a floating piece of ice, as if they were stranded there or vaguely referring to the apparent lag between CO2 and temps from the ice cores as a “complication” with no mention as to what the complication was or, etc…apart from all of that what have the Roman’s done for use lately?

  21. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 11:53 AM | Permalink

    As one commenter observed, people in financial institutions under Sorbanes-Oxley can’t throw things out. Nor can officials in government departments such as John Mitchell supposedly destroying his IPCC correspondence.

    But enough about email storage; that has nothing to do with climate scientists archiving data, other than a centrifugal example.

  22. Jeremy
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 12:03 PM | Permalink

    Re: #17

    This is not a direct contradiction:

    mountain glaciers to shrink’.”>

    One is qualified as mountain glaciers. Not all glaciers are in the mountains. So both statements are probably valid.

  23. tty
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 12:15 PM | Permalink

    I certainly keep all work-related email indefinitely. But then I work in aerospace where documentation, traceability and accountability are semi-sacred. This incidentally is one of the main reasons aircraft are as safe as they are.

  24. Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 12:24 PM | Permalink

    Re #18

    Until about a year ago my university gave each faculty member a miserly memory allocation for email and the default mode of operation was that emails were automatically removed from the server when you read them.

    uhh…autoarchive or do it your self. I never keep email more than a month old on the server. No excuses.

    Didn’t read the next line I see?

  25. Ade
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 12:29 PM | Permalink

    #9, #19:

    Jeff & Jeremy – many thanks for your kind offer – please contact me at info [at] (I already registered the domains 🙂 ) on Monday (to give the e-mail config time to settle down).

    Anyone else interested in helping, please do likewise. I’ll get some kind of blog/wiki/etc. setup on the domain soon. Apologies Steve for taking up this much space – I will use no more…

  26. jeez
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 12:39 PM | Permalink

    Ade, we don’t you start a thread on the message board and recruit your team?

  27. Dave Clarke
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 12:50 PM | Permalink

    “So both statements are probably valid.” I hope you’re joking. And I’m still waiting for a credible source …

    Check out the latest glacier mass balance data from the World Glacier Monitoring Service in Switzerland.

    Only 4% of the 80 glacier sample show a positive mass balance. The sample includes several polar glaciers from Canada, Greenland and Iceland, as well as one from Antarctica, none of which are in the positive column.

    I guess CA will now take on the WGMS. Or … someone could provide the source for Gunter’s statement. I’m betting on myself, but who knows.

  28. steven mosher
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 12:59 PM | Permalink

    RE 3. it’s not lunchtime and if I jumped on you I’d probably bounce to the moon. hehe.

    nevertheless, you make some interesting points about the “dynamics” ( i hate that effing word)
    of science publishing.

  29. Clark
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 1:05 PM | Permalink

    This would be an easy change if done at the level of grant proposal review panels. In my area (molecular biology), in the early days of genomics, people would do these massive data gathering exercises, but without a plan or means to archive and distribute the data. It quickly became clear that these expensive exercises were pointless without archiving.

    Now, EVERY proposal must have a “sharing plan” that details how materials (genetic stocks, DNA clones, genomic data arrays) will be made available to scientific community. For EVERY proposal submitted to the NIH, we discuss the human and animal care plan (in applicable) and the sharing plan. No plan, no money. This is a giant stick that immediately improved the practices of thousands of scientists.

    To aid in this, many research communities have developed centers that maintain both live stocks of the genetic organisms, DNA clones, and archive digital data. If random scientists can get together and organize the maintenance of hundreds of thousands of seed lines that have to be planted every couple of years, then why can’t climate scientists manage to organize some server space for their data??????

    In paleoclimate, there is a perfectly adequate server at World Data Center – Paleoclimatolgy and there are many excellent contributions there. The problem is that archiving is optional and important climate scientists believe that they don’t have to archive (e.g. Lonnie Thompson) or they archive a little bit as a type of limited hang-out. Mann is by no means the worst in his field; actually, he’s better about archiving than other multiproxy studies and he undoubtedly found it frustrating to be apparently singled out while worse offenders seemingly were unscathed.

  30. steven mosher
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 1:08 PM | Permalink

    RE 11. jeff. When you go to your first disposition, those mails will magically reappear.

  31. Stanj
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 1:08 PM | Permalink

    These people want to save the world but can’t even save an email.

  32. Liselle
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 1:20 PM | Permalink

    #27 Dave Clarke

    I’m not sure you read your own source. Although the first sentence states that data from 80 glaciers are available, the site specifically says that the actual statistics were only compiled on 30 mountain glaciers. Furthermore, it seems to imply that 2006 was the first time they had information on approximately 50 of those 80 glaciers, so mass balance could not possibly be determined.

    Many polar glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica are growing, although I’m not going to make a guess on the proportion versus those that are receding.

    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 1:45 PM | Permalink

    RE: #27 and glaciers… Worse, the above linked data appear available only on 29 glaciers in 2006 and 27 glaciers in 2007.

    How many glaciers are there in the world??? Donno, but Alaska alone has 616 named glaciers and many more unnamed glaciers. See

    Does this mean most glaciers are retreating? Donno. Just don’t think it’s reasonable to assume much from a sample of

    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 1:48 PM | Permalink

    #33: continued…
    … just doesn’t seem reasonable to assume much from a sample of less than 30 glaciers out of what is (likely) a total of many hundreds of thousands of glaciers.


  35. Dave Clarke
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 1:56 PM | Permalink

    I take your point that the National Post, for the most part, is not being relied on for “policy recommendations” (thank goodness). So I’ll promise to lay off bringing these problems to CA’s attention, if you will unequivocally endorse the principle I enunciated, namely that all newspaper and magazine writers and publishers of climate science commentary should furnish the sources relied upon for factual statements upon request, and should promptly issue corrections if they can not or if the source is demonstrably false. After all, that would only take a few seconds of your valuable time.

    I hope all CA readers would support a call for Gunter or the National Post to furnish the sources for these ridiculous claims. If they can’t, or if the sources are demonstrated to be false, then a prompt correction should be issued.

    Steve: My priority – and this is simply because I’m one person with only so much time and energy – is to examine data relied upon for policy recommendations …

    Having said that, policymakers rely on other sources than the IPCC, and these sources should have the same standards brought to bear. In fact, there is no evidence that current U.S. policy is based in any way on the IPCC.

    But, to choose one example, Joe Barton’s calls for investigation of Michael Mann started with testimony to a joint congressional committee by Tim Ball and Ross McKitrick, both Friends of Science advisors, along with a screening of the Friends of Science film “Climate Catastrophe Cancelled”. The trip was apparently arranged by lobbyists APCO Worldwide and paid by the “Climate Change Research” fund at the University of Calgary. This is only one example of the use of this film to attempt to directly influence public policy in North America, albeit one of the more successful.

    Clearly, then, the Friends of Science and similar groups should be held to the same level of transparency, accountability and verifiability.

    Steve: Oh, pub-leeze, stop making up fairy tales. Michael Mann had gone to Congress and told them what to do on an earlier occasion. He drew attention to himself by telling a Wall Street Journal reporter that he would not release his “algorithm” as that would be giving in to “intimidation”. This appeared on a front page article and caught a lot of attention, This sort of behavior would not be tolerated in any other occupation. OF course, the academic institutions should have risen up in arms and told Mann to behave himself but they didn;t. The idea that people should be expected to rely on a result where the author wouldn’t release his algorithm was absurd and that’s what drew the interest of the Barton Committee.

    And again as a private individual with a limited amount of time and energy, I can’t do everything in the world and I’m already covering far too many files. I very much endorse the practice of verifying claims by groups of all sorts. If I could clone myself several times, there;s lots more that I could try to do, but I don’t think that you can reasonably expect me to do much more than I’m already doing. C’mon.

  36. Jeremy
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 2:02 PM | Permalink

    Re #27. All that data is fine, no reason to question it as far as I’m concerned. What I was concerned with was the qualifier “Mountain” glacier. There are glaciers that are not in mountain ranges, or am I incorrect in saying that?

  37. Dave Clarke
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 2:15 PM | Permalink

    #32, 37
    Yes there is a list of 30 mountain glaciers. But not all 80 glaciers covered are mountain glaciers.

    Instead of conjecture, how about a source, any source for Gunter’s statement … (but also see #35).

  38. Jeremy
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 2:21 PM | Permalink

    Re: #37.

    My original post on this topic was garbled, sorry about that. Basically all I was trying to point out was that one person was saying…

    …worldwide, there are nearly half as many glaciers advancing as retreating…

    And the other was saying…

    Climate change is causing roughly 90% of the world’s mountain glaciers to shrink”…

    To my mind those two statements can’t be mutually exclusive as stated unless every glacier in the world is in the mountains, which I’m pretty sure isn’t true. Regardless of who has data to back up their statement, the statements “miss” each other sufficiently to allow both to be correct.

    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 2:42 PM | Permalink

    RE: Dave Clarke: How about holding Lonnie Thompson to that standard?? He absolutely refuses to release or archive any of his data. Not only that, it seems that he’s “adjusted” data over time. Without an independent review of his findings, how can one know what’s going on?


  40. Dave Clarke
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 3:17 PM | Permalink

    In theory, perhaps that’s true. But it would also imply that a large number, perhaps most or nearly all, of non-mountain glaciers are in retreat. It’s a heck of a lot more plausible that Gunter got it wrong, especially since there is no credible source, and he gets it wrong more often than he gets it right.

    Not only that, but I have provided a source that doesn’t support your conjecture. So, again, let’s have the Gunter source and in the mean time let’s avoid implausible speculation.

    Not sure of the relevance to this discussion, since that post is about ice-core samples and paleo-climate reconstructions. Again, though, a source supporting Gunter, or casting doubt on Thompson’s statement for that matter, is what is required (it certainly is weird to use those two names in the same sentence).

  41. Scott Lurndal
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 3:38 PM | Permalink

    Re #15.

    For what it’s worth, I have every email I’ve sent or received[*] since 1988 both professionally and personally. It’s not overly cumbersome to save all email as text in unix-style mail files (multiple messages, delimited by lines beginning with ‘From’ – which is why many MUA insert a > when the word “From” starts a line in an email message). Dump ’em to a CDROM periodically for permanent storage.

    The fact that Microsoft MUA (Outlook, Outhouse Express) use a proprietary storage format is a Microsoft problem, not an email problem.

    [*] Except, of course, spam.

  42. Dave Clarke
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 3:40 PM | Permalink

    All I’m asking you to do is to clearly endorse the principle of prompt disclosure of factual sources by newspaper and magazine writers, editors and publishers. You still haven’t done that, and it would be a lot easier to simply do it rather than complain about how little time you have.

    As far as the FOS role in the Barton investigation of Michael Mann, here is what they say:

    Recently, Friends of Science Advisory Board member Dr. Tim Ball was invited with fellow Canadian Dr. Ross McKitrick to appear before a U.S. Congressional Committee discussing new energy and environmental initiatives. In addition, the Canadian Friends of Science video “Climate Catastrophe Cancelled” was aired in its entirety before the Committee.

    In response, Congressman Joe Barton wrote a letter to the author of the much cited global warming “Hockey Stick” paper, Dr. Michael Mann, demanding what Canadian scientists have been demanding for years – to see the source code upon which the UN has based much of its Kyoto rhetoric and upon which Dr. Mann claims man-made global warming. This is the most serious political challenge to date to the faulty science upon which Kyoto has been built.

    So Barton’s letter was written “in response” to the FOS testimony, according to FOS. If that’s a “fairy-tale”, I guess you should take it up with them.

    Steve: Dave, my priorities are analysis of academic articles. I agree that sources should be reported. Tell you what, if you can get Lonnie Thompson’s data archived (not just the present limited hangout version), I’ll spend some time trying to get data from a recalcitrant source of your choosing. As to the FOS story, I don’t know anything about the meeting that you mention, but I’ll inquire. My recollection is that Ross did not present at the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but the Government Reform committee or something like that; I’m 99.99999% certain that Ross had no contact with the House Energy and Commerce Committee whatever, notwithstanding the FOS press release.

    Update: I’ve contacted Tim Ball and the information on the FOS website is incorrect. There was no such presentation. He’s contacting FOS and the information will be corrected.

  43. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 3:41 PM | Permalink

    Dave #27:

    80? Ha. Nothing.

    I did a search once of the database with 65,000 or so in it (I think) I forget from where, but some nasa database I think. And the vast majority are doing nothing at all. Of course, they’re not as well sampled as the WGMS ones (by models, site samples and satellite), but they’re a more representative sample.

    But yes, a number of glaciers that WGMS is monitoring appear to be losing mass.

    Now, if it’s AGW or part of the cycle is not clear, so using the loss of mass as an anecdote to say “human creation of carbon dioxide equivalents — anomaly trend — temperature — energy level rise — loss of mass — melting” is a chain I’m not willing to acccept as established.

    It’s far more likely that it’s particulates in the air getting on ice and snow and reducing the albedo, coupled with variations in clouds, heat and wind from UHI, ships, and land vehicles. And I have posted links to evidence here and on the BB pointing to it being that, including from NASA, so it’s hardly some pet idea of mine I pulled out of thin air. I shan’t post them again, but the literature is out there and has been for years.

    Even the IPCC in the TAR says as much.

    Human activities—primarily burning of fossil fuels and changes in land cover—are modifying the concentration of atmospheric constituents or properties of the surface that absorb or scatter radiant energy.

  44. conard
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 3:45 PM | Permalink


    However, I just tried to get the file and the server has lost its serve.

  45. Jeremy
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 3:49 PM | Permalink

    Re #40:

    How would it imply that nearly all of the non-mountain glaciers are in retreat? It is Lonnie Thompson who says that 90% of the mountain glaciers are in retreat, which says little or nothing about the non-mountain glaciers.

    I confess, I dove into this topic a bit this afternoon. I just used google maps, btw, to do a little survey of the location of the glaciers included in the data that you provided from this link: What I found interesting was that 90% of the glaciers surveyed in the United states for that data set came from northwest Washington State. The other 10% google maps either couldn’t locate, or were in Alaska. I find it very interesting that such a small sample area was used when many U.S. states have glaciers in them. The data set doesn’t seem to be representative, particularly when some people claim that Alaska alone (which is much larger than Washington, much less a corner of Washington) has over a hundred thousand glaciers.

  46. steven mosher
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 4:08 PM | Permalink

    while others are lazy and retain records, we are diligent and delete them.
    Consequently, we have no evidence of your deposits.

    hey climate financials.

  47. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 4:35 PM | Permalink

    44 conard:

    Right, NOAA section. I was too lazy to look for it. 🙂

    The last time I looked, it was returning different numbers of records and other odd things, so I’m not surprised if you can’t get into it well or at all.

    As far as the discussion of mountain glaciers versus non-mountain ones, see again what I said about albedo. Maybe they’re near some area of the planet where wind could get there deposit soot on them. 😀

  48. BrianMcL
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 5:11 PM | Permalink

    Re #4 – Just a point on any complaints to Ofcom once AIT airs.

    The High Court have already ruled that it contains many material inaccuracies so unless they are corrected prior to screening (AIT The High Court Cut?) Ofcom would surely have to believe (given the nature of the film and the profile of its star) that these errors are unlikely to mislead or misinform.

    Rather unlikely given the nature and extent of the errors.

  49. conard
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 5:57 PM | Permalink


    Jeremy #38– Just under 50% of all glaciers are mountain glaciers (NSDIC Nov 2007).

    Primary classification
    0 Uncertain or miscellaneous
    1 Continental ice sheet
    2 Ice field
    3 Ice cap
    4 Outlet glacier
    5 Valley glacier
    6 Mountain glacier
    7 Glacieret and snowfield
    8 Ice shelf
    9 Rock glacier

    106852 total records

    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 5:59 PM | Permalink

    #40 Relevance to the discussion: Could just be me, but it seems that you are asking for a higher standard for the journalists reporting on the information than from the academicians who are paid to actually do the work. Instead of focusing your energies on questioning the sources a reporter used, might be more helpful to spend energy getting the “scientists” in the field to archive their work and make it available for review. Would clear up a lot of nonsense, don’t you think? Would be much easier for scientists, reporters, and anyone else interested to actually, you know, verify what gets reported.


  51. Liselle
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 6:43 PM | Permalink

    Dave Clarke:

    I, for one, would be happy to endorse the requirement that all news reporters provide proper citations for their sources as regards climate science. The likely result would be that no climate science reporting would get done, since I have never seen a science article in a newspaper or news magazine that cited sources in such a way that the reader could easily look it up in the local university library and read it themselves. They usually just say something general like, “a new study published in Nature.”

    This would be completely fine by me.

    On a side note, I had a college professor who rejected my references to (despite the presence of complete bibliographies for their sources), calling it propaganda. On the other hand, he sent us New York Times Op Ed pieces as supplemental reading. Yeah, that’s objective.

  52. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 6:55 PM | Permalink

    From the Winnipeg Sun on July 19, 2008: OTTAWA — Canada Post destroyed thousands of boxes of documents and deleted e-mails en masse in the months before the Access to Information Act came into force.
    At the end: One e-mail from an employee in the risk management office boasts that three commercial recycling and garbage bins and 35 boxes had been filled with documents for destruction and thousands of e-mails had been deleted.

    Other documents obtained by Sun Media detail how the contents of dozens of filing cabinets were shredded and e-mail accounts were stripped down.

    Tim McGurrin, Canada Post’s director of communications, explained that the corporation did not have a system for managing documents until 2006. The purging of documents, he said, was not rushed to beat a deadline but rather a process to get Canada Post’s records in order.

  53. Dave Clarke
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 7:25 PM | Permalink

    #50, #51
    Apart from original research, scientific articles typically have several or even dozens of references to the original work of others. In such articles, we expect all external references to be rigorously documented. And we expect the use of primary sources where available.

    The standards I am applying to journalism are much lower than this, of course. I’m merely asking that a journalist or editor provide a source, any source, for a given factual statement upon request. And if they can’t provide a verifiable source, they should correct the misinformation.

    In Gunter’s case, he did provide enough clues to find the source of his statements about seven California glaciers (the AP story, which in turn cited a published study). That’s not as rigorous as we would expect in a schgolarly article, but good enough for journalism. But most of the other statements are plain wrong, and we have no clue where he got them.

    By the way, most science reporters do a pretty good job in my opinion, and do give an appropriate level of sourcing. But ideologically-driven skeptic columnists don’t, by and large.

    Dave, PEter O’Neill says here that he has encountered a problem with George Monbiot on glaciers as well. Is this something that you can help with?

  54. EJ
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 8:38 PM | Permalink

    Steve M referes once again to … “the haphazard and obstructive availability of data that we’ve seen too frequently… ” from some climate scientists and journals.

    Hopefully this unscientific behavior is confined to the climate sciences. Should this laziness and lacksidazical attitude spill over to other sciences, then Houston, ….

    Of course I am yelling about this from the cheap seats, BUT.

    Somebody out there has to start keeping tabs on those who obfuscate and refuse to archive data and methods. If a “scientist” refuses to provide calculations and data, then they should be blacklisted.

    They should be shunned by the community. And if the community continues to allow such shoddy science, then said science community should necessarily lose the respect and consideration of the true “men of science”.

    Hell, I could come up with some doozy designs, and if I didn’t have to provide the calcs and take responsibility, I could design a tower to the moon.

    Fortunately someone does review my calcs. I actually can then rest easier.

    It is OK to put yourself on the line! Let others help. We all make mistakes. Isn’t the science the most important aspect? Or is it something else?

    When obfuscators circle the wagons around some claim cloaked in “intelectual property” or “privacy”, especially when these people are funded by taxpayers, and yet refuse to archive relevant material, the scientific method no longer applies.

    Or is this just me?

    I want climate scientists to reply here, with name, rank and serial number. Or, is your science not ready for prime time?


  55. EJ
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 9:12 PM | Permalink

    It boils down to show me your calcs.

  56. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 9:46 PM | Permalink

    #35. Dave, I contacted Tim Ball and the information on the FOS website is incorrect. Tim Ball did not even visit Washington in 2005. He doesn’t know why it says that on the FOS website; he will contact them and ask that the information will be corrected. The Team aren’t the only people who make mistakes.

  57. Pat Keating
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 9:47 PM | Permalink

    55 EJ

    Historically, when models were simpler, those calculations would be in the paper, at least in enough outline for another scientist to repeat them. Often, an Appendix would be used to add them to the paper.

    What do you do when the model is so complex that the calculations are too large to put in a paper?

    Hansen et al have generally tried quite well to describe the outline of the calculations in their papers. However, it seems to me that the source code should have been posted on the GISS site at the time the paper was published, in order to comply with traditional disclosure ‘rules’.

  58. EJ
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 10:21 PM | Permalink

    When the model is so complex… What do you do?

    What you do not do is submit such a complex model without documentation, review and validation. What you do not do is claim complexity so as to not have to provide calculations.

    Who cares about paper. Give me the digital data and such. Provide links to the code, data and methods. Provide the data such that the little man can see it. A simple excel file. Give links to all necessary files. In fact, be available for interviews.

    The archiving methods should be sophmoric and easily documented.

    Steve: Nope, not Excel. csv or tab,separated dat files are compromise radable in Excel and readable by proper languages.

  59. EJ
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 10:30 PM | Permalink

    EJ humbly stands down from his slippery soap box.

  60. EJ
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 11:09 PM | Permalink


  61. steven mosher
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 11:49 PM | Permalink

    re15. thumb drive. and no, you dont sit on it.

  62. steven mosher
    Posted Jul 26, 2008 at 12:02 AM | Permalink

    If you cannot or will not show me your data and calculations then I I have no intellectual, scientific, rational or moral obligation to accept your conclusions. I suspend judgment. This is the position
    of the skeptic. Now, show me your data, share your method and we can reason together. Hide your data, obscure your method, and I claim reason to doubt. scientific. rational. non denialist doubt.

  63. Colin Davidson
    Posted Jul 26, 2008 at 12:40 AM | Permalink

    I’m just a simple country boy, so I am hardline on this issue.

    People who do not allow access to data and/or method are not
    scientists. People who are negligent about storage of their data and mnethod for posterity are not scientists.

    However their products, being non-reproducible artefacts, are definitely works of art. Produced by artists.

  64. Gerry Morrow
    Posted Jul 26, 2008 at 3:43 AM | Permalink

    Dave Clarke, while it is prudent for a documentary or article in a newspaper to show its sources, it is absolutely essential that a scientist proclaiming “The end of the world is nigh” to show theirs. It is clear to anyone that AIT is propaganda puff and that TGGWS is also the same, but with considerably fewer inaccuracies. The pronouncements of the IPCC are however being accepted by politicians as the outcome of a serious body of work by a serious group of scientists. If Einstien had said, “Do you know I believe E=MC^2?” and we’d said. “How did you work that out AL?” and he’d responded, “I don’t have the data,or methodolog to hand.” Would that have struck you as good science, or bad science?

    Newton didn’t report his findings on gravity until he’d written down all his data and methodology for scrutiny by other scientists in Principia. It’s the way scientists should work and isn’t optional if they want to be believed.

    : Let’s not get into discussing Newton.

  65. Louis Hissink
    Posted Jul 26, 2008 at 4:28 AM | Permalink

    Re #58


    Western Australia’s Geological Survey demands (insists?) that data are supplied in ASCII using ASCII based templates. As usual, geophysical stuff has to be submitted in Geosoft and other “standards”.

    As an aside, Microsoft’s Excel has some odd behaviour as well. I was given some drill hole location data using a complex Excel spreadsheet with look ups etc. The spreadsheet I was given was created by pasting from a complex spreadsheet to one with no behind the scenes, formatting etc.

    The derived spreadsheet (not having any embedded look ups) changed the numerical accuracy in a subtle way – changed the geographic position of the drill holes by some 50 metres from true position.

    Cause? No idea – but I suspect a change in the 3rd decimal place of the lat and long of the position. Apparently copying some cells which in the original are referenced to some look ups and pasting into a new sheet with no look ups causes an internal soft crash, and some novel change to the numbers.

    In the mineral exploration industry data is in CSV or Tab or not at all.

    So nice to see that the climate people are a few decades behind.

  66. Dishman
    Posted Jul 26, 2008 at 5:57 AM | Permalink

    I work in aviation. I have an order of preference for people finding problems and mistakes in my work:
    * Myself
    * Members of my team
    * A DER
    * The FAA
    * Customers
    * Any random person
    * My worst enemy

    * The NTSB

    It’s not that I object to the NTSB. They’re civil, competent and professional.

    The reason I don’t want the NTSB finding a problem is that they only go looking when there’s been a real-world consequence.

    No matter how much someone fears Steve McIntyre or anyone else looking for faults in their work, he’s not the one they should really fear.

  67. Ron Cram
    Posted Jul 26, 2008 at 6:34 AM | Permalink

    For readers who are not familiar with the policies of the journals and funding agencies regarding data archiving and data sharing, you will find some useful references in these wikipedia articles.

  68. Ross McKitrick
    Posted Jul 26, 2008 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

    Re #35

    But, to choose one example, Joe Barton’s calls for investigation of Michael Mann started with testimony to a joint congressional committee by Tim Ball and Ross McKitrick, both Friends of Science advisors, along with a screening of the Friends of Science film “Climate Catastrophe Cancelled”. The trip was apparently arranged by lobbyists APCO Worldwide and paid by the “Climate Change Research” fund at the University of Calgary. This is only one example of the use of this film to attempt to directly influence public policy in North America, albeit one of the more successful.


    – I have never testified to a “joint Congressional committee” whatever that is, with Tim Ball or anyone else. My testimony to EQA in June was the first time I have testified before Senate or HoR. That was a subcommittee of the House.
    – I am not an advisor to the Friends of Science, APCO Worldwide, Joe Barton, etc. I am sure these are all fine people, but I don’t work for them or hold any affiliation with them.
    – I have never been on a panel or presentation with Tim Ball. I only had the pleasure of meeting him for the first time earlier this year.
    – Joe Barton’s decision to request Mann’s source code came after the WSJ article in which Mann refused to reveal his source code. I knew nothing about it until after the requests went out and had become public.


  69. Pat Keating
    Posted Jul 26, 2008 at 6:53 PM | Permalink

    Steve Mc is out of town.

  70. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jul 28, 2008 at 3:29 PM | Permalink

    Back from the cottage. Moved OT posts to Unthreaded.

  71. Gunnar
    Posted Jul 29, 2008 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

    Michael Tobis,

    You hit the nail on the head with your #3.

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