A Small FOI/EIR Success

As CA readers, CRU, the Met Office and a couple of other UK institutions had more or less stonewalled David Holland’s FOI requests.

One of Holland’s particular interests is one that is perhaps a little appropriate/inappropriate for Easter Sunday – Caspar and the resurrected Jesus paper. Holland had tried for some years to determine exactly how IPCC had determined that Wahl and Ammann 2004 2005 2006 2007 met IPCC deadlines.

In a letter to Keith Briffa of April 1, 2008 (circulated by Briffa to various IPCC cadres), Holland had asked:

6. Why is their no mention of the fact that Mann et al. fails R2 verification in the important 15th century step? Who made the decision to reject comment 6-750 on the SOD by the reviewer for the Government of the United States of America who objected to the unpublished paper of Wahl and Ammann because as reviewed it did not include the table of verification data required for it be finally accepted for publication and which actually corroborated the criticism of McIntyre and McKitrick?

To which Briffa had answered (May 15, 2008):

6. Your question conflates a number of complex issues and makes statements with which I do not necessarily concur. However, in answer to the question of who made the decision to “reject comment 6-750 on the SOD”, this decision, as with all decisions related to specific reviewers’ comments, was made by multiple Chapter 6 authors and sanctioned by all of them.

More on this later. SOD Review Comment 6-750 had stated:

6-750 A 29:41 :42 The use of Wahl and Ammann (accepted) does not comply with WG1’s deadlines and all text based on this reference should be deleted. WG1’s rules require that all references be “published or in print” by December 16, 2005. Wahl and Ammann was “provisionally accepted” on that date, and not fully accepted until February 28, 2006, at which time no final preprint was available. Substantial changes were made in the paper between December 16, 2005 and February 28, 2006, including insertion of tables showing that the MBH98 reconstruction failed verification with r-squared statsistics, as had been reported by McIntyre and McKitrick in 2003. These tables were not available in the draft considered by WG1 when developing the second-order draft. [Govt. of United States of America (Reviewer’s comment ID #: 2023-415)]

To which Briffa as IPCC Author had answered:

See response to comment 6-1158.

SOD Comment 6-1158 had made a similar point to Comment 6-750:

6-1158 B 29:41 29:41 Wahl and Ammann 2006 did not meet several publication deadlines. Is it fair to use this study when other studies also not meeting publication deadlines were not used? It was not accepted by December 13-15. TSU did not have a preprint by late February. The version available for review was not the same as the accepted verion – in particular, the version made available omitted critical information that MBH98 failed cross-validation r2 and CE statistics. [Stephen McIntyre (Reviewer’s comment ID #: 309-119)]

To which Briffa as IPCC Author stated:

Rejected- the citation is allowed under current rules.

The Bergen Lead Authors’ meeting in late June 2006 appears to have prompted a decision by WG1 to change their deadlines. On July 3, 2006, the WG1 TSU sent an email to Lead Authors and Reviewers, notifying them that they could propose “additional” articles that met certain criteria as follows ( I received this email):

Dear Colleague,

Following the Government and Expert review of the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, the attached guidelines are being provided to clarify how recent scientific literature related to review comments may be included in the final draft. Please feel free to distribute this information among your colleagues.

Thank you for your interest in the work of the IPCC.

Best regards,

The guidelines stated as follows;

Guidelines for inclusion of recent scientific literature in the Working Group I Fourth Assessment Report.

We are very grateful to the many reviewers of the second draft of the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report for suggestions received on issues of balance and citation of additional scientific literature. To ensure clarity and transparency in determining how such material might be included in the final Working Group I report, the following guidelines will be used by Lead Authors in considering such suggestions.

In preparing the final draft of the IPCC Working Group I report, Lead Authors may include scientific papers published in 2006 where, in their judgment, doing so would advance the goal of achieving a balance of scientific views in addressing reviewer comments. However, new issues beyond those covered in the second order draft will not be introduced at this stage in the preparation of the report.

Reviewers are invited to submit copies of additional papers that are either in-press or published in 2006, along with the chapter and section number1 to which this material could pertain, via email to ipcc-wg1@al.noaa.gov, not later than July 24, 2006. In the case of in-press papers a copy of the final acceptance letter from the journal is requested for our records. All submissions must be received by the TSU not later than July 24, 2006 and incomplete submissions can not be accepted.
1 see report outline at http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/doc/wg1_outline.pdf

I submitted two documents in response to this notice: the Wegman Report and the NAS Report. My submission was acknowledged by the WG1 TSU.

Holland has been trying for a couple of years to verify Briffa’s statement that Wahl and Ammann 2004 2005 2006 2007 had met these revised rules – had “a copy of the final acceptance letter from the journal” been obtained for WG1 TSU records, for example – particularly given the explicit statement by WG1 TSU that “incomplete submissions can not be accepted”.

On November 28, almost immediately after Climategate, Holland re-visited this outstanding question. He had noticed that a July 26 email from WG1 TSU to Coordinating Lead Authors and a July 28 email from Overpeck to Briffa (both in 725. 1154353922.txt) referred to a spreadsheet containing a list of additional articles relevant to chapter 6, submitted under the new rules.

Holland’s new round of requests are online here. Here is the salient portion of his Nov 28, 2009 FOI request:

On 28 July 2006 at 6:32 PM UEA/CRU received an email from Jonathan
Overpeck, to which a spreadsheet was attached “listing: the
submitter, file name of the paper, its acceptance date, and the
chapter and section which the submitter feels is relevant.” These
were expert comments received pursuant to an email sent to
Reviewers on 5 July 2006, soliciting additional reviewers comments.

Please send me an electronic copy of the spreadsheet.

In December 2009, the UEA reverted saying that they would consider the request under EIR (Environmental Information Regulations) – this may be an interesting precedent since the decision between EIR and FOI has been disputed in a number of other cases. Holland’s view is that EIR is applicable; the institutions prefer to respond under FOI which has more exemptions. UEA:

In short, we will consider your request and provide information under EIR, not FOIA.

On January 26, 2010, the UEA refused on the interesting basis that the document was held by the police and they didn’t have a copy:

Your request for information received on 28 November 2009 for a spreadsheet sent as an attachment to an email of 28 July 2006 from Jonathan Overpeck has now been considered, and, upon consideration, it is, unfortunately, not possible to meet your request.

In accordance with Regulation 14 of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 this letter acts as a Refusal Notice, and I am not obliged to supply this information and the reasons for exemption are as stated below:

Reg. 12(4)(a) – Information not held
The requested information was not held at the time of the request

Reg. 12(5)(b) – Disclosure would adversely affect a criminal enquiry

Information is held by the police in connection with a current investigation

We believe that Regulation 12(4)(a) applies to your request because the only location that this information was held on was on a backup server as the original information had been ‘deleted’ some years ago. Pursuant to an investigation carried out by the Norfolk Constabulary, the server upon which the requested information resided was taken from the University grounds on 24 November and now resides with the police
forces conducting an investigation into a possible criminal offence. Therefore, at the time of the request, we did not hold the requested information, and we currently have no access to either the server or any of the material on it.

Regulation 12(5)(b) also applies to the data requested because the requested data is part of a larger set of data that is the subject of an ongoing police investigation. Such information is now under an embargo by the investigating forces and any disclosure would adversely affect the ability of that public authority to conduct the criminal enquiry.

Regulation 12(1)(b) mandates that we consider the public interest in any decision to release or refuse information under Regulation 12(4) and Reg. 12(5). In the case of Regulation 12(4)(a), there really is no consideration of the public interest as we simply did not, at the time of the request, nor do not now, have the requested information.

Turning to Regulation 12(5)(b), we feel that there is a strong public
interest in protecting the ability of police forces to investigate criminal offences and that we should abide by established procedures by which evidence is gathered and used.

Overall, we therefore believe that the public interest in non-disclosure of the information outweighs that in favour.

I should note that whilst we believe that it is possible that this material is already in the public domain due to the illegal penetration and use of University computing facilities, this does not relieve us of our obligations to address any request on its merits under the Regulations.

The above comment is interesting in considering claims that people hadn’t “deleted” emails and documents.

A few days ago (March 26, 2010), the UEA notified Holland that they had located the requested information in another location and sent him a copy. UEA FOI officer Palmer;

Further to my letter of 26 January 2010 responding to your request of 28 November 2009 for a spreadsheet sent as an attachment to an email of 28 July 2006 from Jonathan Overpeck, I am writing to advise you of recent developments in this matter.

By my letter of 26 January, you were informed in good faith that the requested information was not held at the time of the request. It was the University’s belief that the only location that this information was held on was on a backup server and that the original information had been ‘deleted’ some years ago. I further advised that, pursuant to an investigation carried out by the Norfolk Constabulary, the server upon
which the requested information is held was taken from the University’s grounds on 24 November 2009 and is being held by the police forces conducting an investigation into a possible criminal offence.

It has come to the University’s attention that the University does hold the spreadsheet in question otherwise than on the backup server. We only made this discovery very recently.

Accordingly, I enclose with this letter a copy of the spreadsheet in fulfilment of your request of 26 January 2010.

No excuses this time that the provision of the spreadsheet would cause the demise of international relations between the UK and the rest of the known universe. The spreadsheet consisted of four articles:

Submitted by Date Received File Name Chapter/Section Journal Date Accepted / Published
Hermann Held 17-Jul-06 SchneiderVonDemling_etal.pdf Geophys. Res. Lett. 07-Jun-06
Gabi Hegerl 20-Jul-06 Hegerl_etal.pdf 6.? J. of Climate 12-Jun-06
Ellen Mosley-Thompson 23-Jul-06 Thompson_etal.pdf 6.5.2 PNAS 11-Jul-06
David Schnieder 24-Jul-06 Schneider_etal.pdf 6.6 Geophys. Res. Lett. 30-Jun-06

The Thompson et al (PNAS 2006) article prompted some discussion in the Climategate letters (indeed, the WG1 TSU letter is a trailer to this discussion.)

Interestingly, neither the NAS report nor the Wegman Report were forwarded from the WG1 TSU to the Chapter 6 Authors, though both had been properly submitted.

Needless to say, Wahl and Ammann 2004 2005 2006 2007 wasn’t on the list.


  1. deadwood
    Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 11:12 AM | Permalink

    Evidence that electron trails can be as damning as paper ones.

  2. Big Al
    Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 11:13 AM | Permalink

    Long time reader, first time commenter.

    I don’t mean to be rude, but can you please get back to auditing data? 🙂

    I’ve always loved your blog. I still love it, but one of its most appealing aspects was your uncanny ability to make sense of climatological data and find flaws in it. You did a lot for climate science, but so far, you’ve been on the climategate case. Time to move on yet?

    • Bernie
      Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 12:38 PM | Permalink

      Big Al:
      The absence may reflect the impact of Steve’s prior audits. Think about what authors of new proxy studies have to do. I suspect they are now far more careful about how they document their findings and have been forced to acknowledge the inherent limitations of small screened samples of proxies.
      In addition, any new studies are going to have to deal with a decade of non-increasing temperatures and the pesky divergence issues. The apparent decline in the number of proxy studies is pretty interesting.
      That said – I actually see real merit in pursuing the FOI story.

      Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 5:13 PM | Permalink

      Welcome Big Al!

      Would heartily suggest reading Montfort’s book, “The Hockey Stick Illusion” to get a better idea of why this ongoing line of inquiry is so important. It’s ALL related!



  3. Ray Girouard
    Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 11:17 AM | Permalink

    AS everyone is aware, Google inserts ads following the first post. The ad inserted when I read the post “A Small FOI Success” is so inapt that I have cut and pasted it as follows. I doubt that Google will see any click stream income from this one.

    “Interestingly, neither the NAS report nor the Wegman Report were forwarded from the WG1 TSU to the Chapter 6 Authors, though both had been properly submitted.

    Needless to say, Wahl and Ammann 2004 2005 2006 2007 wasn’t on the list.

    Ads by Google
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    By Steve McIntyre | Posted in Wahl and Ammann, climategate | Comments (0)

    • AnonyMoose
      Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 12:17 PM | Permalink

      Ray: Google AdSense basically forbids discussion of ads. Steve can’t discuss them and we shouldn’t.

      • David S
        Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 1:33 PM | Permalink

        So much for freedom of speech, AnonyMoose. Steve has a contract with Google, but we don’t. Surely they wouldn’t mimic the Chinese government and carry out reprisals against Steve for the actions of posters here, or require him to censor us?

      • Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 3:20 PM | Permalink

        I just looked through Google’s Adsense Terms and Conditions again, and didn’t find anything of the sort. There was nothing there that, even if read harshly, would ban discussion of ads. The closest thing was a clause saying that you can’t put anything on a web page that would deceive people into thinking it was a Google ad, but really isn’t.

    • Jimchip
      Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 9:22 PM | Permalink

      Re: Ray Girouard (Apr 4 11:17),

      Still off-topic and just a tip, not a recommendation: I use Adblock Plus. It is adequate for my ad-blocking needs.

      • Dave
        Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 6:18 PM | Permalink

        Way off topic, but I don’t understand people who own up to that. Steve gets (a very little) money from the ads. If you block them, he doesn’t. It’s your choice, but it doesn’t seem to me something to be particularly proud of, or to want to promote.

        I just tune them out – they occupy the same space in my brain as the other screen fixtures like the title bar. No difference to me, but the ad company still pays up.

  4. AnonyMoose
    Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 12:06 PM | Permalink

    Whoa, hold on. That is ridiculous for a major university.

    Every server should have multiple backups. There should be backups of the data on this backup server. Maybe the police are holding all the backups, but that was not mentioned.

    And if the data has any value, the university should have already tried to arrange with the police to have another set of backups made for the university to hold in their normal secure backup location.

  5. Craig Loehle
    Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 12:32 PM | Permalink

    They are treating an email as if it was a physical thing, that since the police had it they no longer had it–this could only be true if the police hauled away their servers and the personal computers (and backups) of both sender and receiver. Right.

  6. mpaul
    Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

    Maybe Palmer is no longer accepting the “these are not te droids you are looking for” answers that he’s been getting from CRU scientists. Remember, Palmer’s career is now in shambles and eveyone involved is getting ready to throw him under the bus and move on. His defense could be ‘they lied to me’. Maybe he went poking around and discovered another copy of the emails.

    • Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 10:21 AM | Permalink

      What’s happening with Palmer is fascinating. I’ve been thinking about what Steve brought back to our attention in the previous thread, that on 28 May 2009 Phil Jones emailed Palmer about David Holland’s FOI request, copied to Keith Briffa:

      Keith (or you Dave) could say that for (1) Keith didn’t get any additional comments in the drafts other than those supplied by IPCC … Keith should say that he didn’t get anything extra that wasn’t in the IPCC comments.

      In fact, as Steve points out, what Keith or Dave were being asked to say by someone senior to them was untrue. And that’s surely not all. ‘Could say’ and ‘should say’ are very strange things for Jones to say of Briffa, who worked directly for him.

      What you’d expect an honest manager to say is “Keith assures me that he didn’t get anything extra that wasn’t in the IPCC comments.” To not use that kind of language is suspicious in itself. Wasn’t Jones bothered to find out the truth of the matter (in the unlikely event that he didn’t already know it)?

      And this does swing the focus back to Palmer and the power-relationships between the three men. We don’t have all the emails and we don’t know what Palmer or Briffa said back to Jones or each other, by email or other means. But given the suspicious nature of Jones’ language Palmer should at once have checked with Briffa what the facts were. He was in the front line responding to Holland and the FOI buck stopped with him.

      But even if he wrongly felt he’d learned not to press the CRU team on such matters, Palmer should not now be made a scapegoat for a lie in the face of FOI – or at the very best suppression of the truth – by Briffa and Jones. He could well be rueing the day he first met the two men. If his response to that now is to ‘find’ various FOI-requested files, as he’s done here, all to the good.

      • Duke C.
        Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

        Re: Richard Drake (Apr 5 10:21),

        Yes, the buck stops with David Palmer. However, there was a department level FOI POC (Point Of Contact) that must of have been involved with CRU FOI requests. Interestingly, this individual remains unnamed. Phil Jones refers to him/her as “the FOI person” in three of the emails (1228330629.txt, 1228412429.txt, 1228922050.txt). And, the list of FOI POCs at the UEA website is password protected.

        Who is the CRU POC, and why the secrecy?

      • mpaul
        Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 12:20 PM | Permalink

        It’s a very dangerous plan to throw Palmer under the bus. The tone of Jones’ email to Palmer is conspiratorial, as if they were plotting things together. But, having said that (and as Richard points out), its not Palmer telling Jones ‘here’s how to get around this request’, its Jones telling his subordinates. Palmer could claim that he interpreted Jones email as laying out facts and that he was unaware that Jones was (allegedly) telling his people to lie (or at the very least, to knowlingly mislead).

        Palmer should get a lawyer and go on offense if he wants to save himself. I bet the ICO would help Palmer to secure whistleblower status.

  7. Dave McK
    Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 2:24 PM | Permalink

    This hastening to comply and enclosing ‘deleted’ in quotes suggests some effort to steer away from ‘deleted’ as a topic.
    It admits that much was deleted and only preserved in the foia folder on THE backup server. It suggests that there remains something yet undisclosed.
    Good thing somebody had a dir full of cya.

  8. TCO gets banned for telling the truth
    Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 2:33 PM | Permalink

    The amount of time you spend on parsing words and these kind of amateur lawyer posts is just monumental. Then you don’t have the time to respond to (very good) methodological querries. Just really comes across that you are intellectually dishononest and hackish. And then you just do all your stuff on a blog, where you can control the comments…and never ever get anything to publishable status. (And blame “peer review” while seldom showing your submissions…and the few we’ve seen were just godawful meandering writing.) Makes me sad to see this from my side. Call on all the haveabrain and haveFeymnanhonesty skepitcs (Mosh?) to renounce your silly ingroup crap.

    • Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 11:40 AM | Permalink


      There are plenty of things I would like Steve to do differently, but he doesnt work to please me. he works to please himself. At least that is my view of things after several conversations with him. I identify 100% with this approach. It’s a hobby horse approach ( see tristram shandy ). For the past week, for example, I’ve been avoiding any work on climategate and the pariliament bullcrap, been there done that. I’ve got a long overdue FOIA that hasnt been answered, shrugs. Instead I’m learning R. arrg and learning how to make google earth tours and messing around with metadata. why? cause I’m curious and it makes my head hurt. which is good. Its a fun puzzle. Now, perhaps I’m projecting on Steve, but he’s always struck me as my kinda guy. When he gets riding on a particular horse, he won’t get off it till he’s satisfied, whether you like it or not. whether you think his talents lie elsewhere or not. whether you think you have an interesting question or not. But when he does decide to hop off this horse and get on another, you can be sure that he will ride that horse with the same damn tenacity and attention to detail.

      here is my point. if steve doesnt meet your needs, click on lucia. click on jeffid, click on tammy, go to barts. if none of them meet your needs, then click on yourself, turn down the lights and meet your own needs. ha. anyway good to see you again TCO. is there something else I can do for you?

      • Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 1:30 PM | Permalink

        Now, perhaps I’m projecting on Steve, but he’s always struck me as my kinda guy.

        “And so say all of us. And so say all of us. For he’s a jolly good fellow …”

        This was a vintage piece of Mosher and, being the quirky fellow I am, I thought that was the best bit. We all do project on Steve, those of us who think he’s any good. So they did with Churchill and with Hitler. And as that little example shows, whom you choose to respect and identify with at any particular point of history ain’t morally neutral, not by a long chalk.

        One of the questions TCO and Big Al should ask themselves is: is there any evidence that Steve takes a blind bit of notice of your opinion about what he should be doing? I’d say the answer to that is a resounding negative.

        Why say it then? The only other motive I can think of (apart from stupidity) is to distract from the subject in hand. Why would anyone want to do that? Well, when I was in central Australia, aged 18, I heard the story of the engineer in charge of the first water pipe from Perth to Alice Springs. They made the final connection and turned on the taps the Perth end. The man had calculated how long it should take for the water to come out the other end – a matter of some days, if I remember correctly. Some time after that there was still no water – so the engineer committed suicide. The next day the water came through. His greatest project had been a complete success. Only the very difficult estimate of the initial water flow – something genuinely ‘unprecedented’ – had been wrong.

        I told my son that story before he set off for Perth this year, aged 18. He thought it was well depressing! But the lesson’s stayed with me the rest of my life: never judge yourself a failure too quickly.

        In any case, it’s clear that our host is made of sterner stuff.

  9. AnonyMoose
    Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 7:15 PM | Permalink

    There might be another loophole there. The EIR request was rejected, so when the server was returned could data on the server be destroyed? At the instant the server is returned, this EIR request does not exist because it had been rejected.

    Would EIR require that such requests be automatically reattempted, or would rejected requests have to be requested again? (The EIR data was discovered elsewhere before the server was returned, but maybe there are other rejected requests.)

  10. George M
    Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 8:55 PM | Permalink

    I also am anxious for Steve to get back to scientific auditing. Nevertheless, there is always a gem in there somewhere:

    “No excuses this time that the provision of the spreadsheet would cause the demise of international relations between the UK and the rest of the known universe.”

    Well said, Steve! Carry on!

  11. Ausie Dan
    Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 10:13 PM | Permalink

    Steve has a habit of focusing on the most important issue at the time.

    At present, continuing to unmask the AGW pranks IS the most important issue.

    We must not let the whitewash succeed.
    When the task is done, there will be time for statistical analysis.

    In the meanwhile Steve is using the same techniques to uncover the actions of the Team for all to see.

  12. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 10:31 PM | Permalink

    FWIW, I edorse the direction Steve has taken, partly because it’s similar to my own modest thought processes and submissions. There is a phase right now with some people with allegations against them trying to squirm sideways. It is vital to keep the line straight. You have seen the effect of a “post normal reconstruction explanation” of “hide the decline” and a “trick”. It is better to place relatively inarguable material, well referenced, before the public before more diversions are attempted – not just once (as was done here) but again and again as the audience and the ambience becomes more receptive.

    Personally, I started my career in geochemistry and ended up managing government relations. It is not uncommon for a scientist to move to managerial related positions because there are different tasks to be done, with different groups of people, on some developing topics.

    There need be no death knoll associated with Steve’s current diversion from statistics in public places. And, when the stats questions build up again, there will be a return of former, respected names whose specialties will be satisfied. It goes without saying that new statistics are there for inspection. New satellites of better design have been returning better data, for example, and one day that will be placed in context.

    But first, let’s clear some debris from the past to ensure the future runs on more smoooth ground.

    • gimply
      Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 3:20 AM | Permalink

      If an audit requires data that are not available, it seems legit for those carrying out said audit to attempt to obtain said data. While climate research (I hesitate to use the term “science”) isn’t entirely like corporate R&D, it does fit the definition of government-funded research. And not being obviously under a “national security” umbrella, should be subject to FOI and other “right to know” provisions. I’m amazed that government Auditors General haven’t dug their canines into the issue in Canada, e.g. Yet….

    • philh
      Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 4:10 PM | Permalink

      Amen! This whole mess is a two pronged matter. First there are the computational results; which Steve has spent years examining. Then there is the manner in which the climate science “consensus” community has conducted its affairs over these years; what they presented and what they failed to present Those who here complain that Steve is not “doing science” on these types of posts are failing to understand the significance of the second point. To walk away from it, or ignore it, is to abnegate the development of a responsible approach to fixing the problem.

  13. Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 3:17 AM | Permalink

    Before looking at any comments I decided I was going to sugest that it was time to move on. Having read the comments so far, I realise others think the same way. It is clear that the IPCC bent their rules to include the Wahl and Amman paper; it is equally clear that no enquiry is going to attribute blame. And if it did, what then? A small note on the IPCC site saying the paper was included in error 3 years ago but the report’s conclusions are still valid.

    It is time to think ahead. The IPCC will have learnt from its mistakes. There will be no more retrospective bending of the rules but vigilance is needed to examine whatever new rules they promulgate. At the last review Steve was a lonely voice – how will the IPCC handle comments from thousands of people alerted via this and other web sites? Will they, for example, introduce a class of vexatious comment which can be ignored? It is important to plan ahead to ensure that that the next report truly reflects the full range of science and data

    • TerryS
      Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 4:11 AM | Permalink

      The IPCC will have learnt from its mistakes. There will be no more retrospective bending of the rules but vigilance is needed to examine whatever new rules they promulgate.

      I think you are being a little naive. The IPCC will have learned that no matter what flaws or poor procedures are used they can get away with it. The next report will simply be more of the same and by the time the headline news from the report has died down the media will not be interested reporting anything else.

      Some people learn from their mistakes, others from what they manage to get away with.

    • Posted Apr 6, 2010 at 12:08 AM | Permalink

      the mails show that jones met with the head of the IPCC and Tom Stafford? ( arrg check my notes) to discuss FOIA.

      he’s no dummy.

  14. charles the moderator
    Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 5:36 AM | Permalink

    Going back to the evidence of the webserver going offline on November 20th which I noticed and commented on in this post over on WUWT, I’m starting to believe more and more that there was no “backup” server involved in any of this.

    This description of the server being carted off by the police is new information.

    It seems likely the files were on the combined CRU web, ftp server, which perhaps functioned as a mail server as well, that was taken down and then carted off to DC Sean Baker’s office four days later.

    I’ll bet CRU regrets ignoring all those recommendations from the IT department for the last 10 years.

    • mpaul
      Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 12:27 PM | Permalink

      Yes, it all fits.

      As I’ve mentioned before, if in fact, the file was available on a public server, then CRU has a really big PII problem on their hands. And, by not notifying the people whose private information was compromised, as they are requiored by law to do, then they have compounded their problem.

    • Mark Cooper
      Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 12:52 PM | Permalink

      It is barely credible that the police removed a server from the University.

      If we were to remove one server from our data system at work and left the other three running, it would cause chaos, especially if it was a “backup” server. It doesn’t sound right to me…

      • thefordprefect
        Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 6:10 PM | Permalink

        There is no option but remove the server that has been hacked. It is essential to prevent the hacker being able to cover paths; it is also essential to prevent normal use over-writing the forensic evidence.

        Once secured the drives can be removed and mirrored onto others for return to the owner.

      • Dave
        Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 6:25 PM | Permalink

        Aside from the system administration aspects the stance taken is simply incorrect. The police have an obligation to provide a bit-for-bit copy of the data from the server if required. Certainly, when investigating a criminal matter in which the university is thought to be the victim, they would receive a copy of the hard disks as soon as they asked.

        Just to clear things up, I should add that it is entirely probable that the police did take the server in evidence. Speaking as a sysadmin, it’s a basic principle that servers should be presumed to be likely to fail. The loss of one server shouldn’t cripple anything. In a setup where you have more than one server, it really shouldn’t even result in a hiccup in the service received by the users. Hardware is cheap, and should have redundancy/failovers. Assuming a near-total lack of forward planning, the worst that should happen is a brief outage whilst a new server is express-shipped and has the most recent backup written to its hard-disk.

        (P.S. If your company experiences worse than this, let me give you my number… 🙂

        • charles the moderator
          Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 7:45 PM | Permalink

          Re: Dave (Apr 5 18:25),

          There is evidence that this was not a fault tolerant system with live backups in place or any failover. See the screen grab in my post noted above. It is likely they had a single old windows server performing multiple functions with poor if any security between the trusted network and the Internet. Their “emergency” server was probably something that once or twice a year someone manually copied some files onto if that frequently.

        • Dave
          Posted Apr 6, 2010 at 1:56 AM | Permalink


          True redundancy and live failover would have been overkill in this situation. It would be normal to have to build a new server from day/week-old backup tapes, which might take a day or two – that wouldn’t be terrible in this context, although it would be catastrophic for, say, a bank.

        • charles the moderator
          Posted Apr 6, 2010 at 3:36 AM | Permalink

          Re: Dave (Apr 6 01:56),

          I suspect they rebuilt from a manual copy on someone’s desktop months or even years old.

  15. Gina Becker
    Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 6:01 AM | Permalink

    Steve, You really should write a book on some aspect of this, summarizing the facts into a non-fiction narrative. Is anybody doing so, do you know? It’d be a great movie, too.

    Steve: Bishop Hill (Andrew Montford) and Mosher/Fuller both have excellent books, but the narrative continue to fill in.

  16. Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 10:52 AM | Permalink

    Thank you for all your work, SM. As far as I´m concerned, if the WG1 TSU did not receive any more submissions than those in the spreadsheet, this is as much of an “IPCCGate” as any of the ones we´ve seen get through to the media.

    IPCC reviewers unable to detect glaring flaws (Himalaya) is bad. IPCC not complying with their own basic rules is worse.

  17. Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

    Steve, I have to commend you on being able to do all of the boring and very tedious work that you have done on this topic. I think it is vastly important to be able to document not only the very poor process that the IPCC uses for documentation and evidence but also how the IPCC does not even hold itself to it’s own incredibly low standards.

    Far too many AGW supporters take what the IPCC puts out as gospel (The IPCC says so, therefore it is) without having any real understanding of what and how they publish.

    Again, keep up the fantastic work !!!

  18. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 4:25 PM | Permalink

    I agree with Phil H here. Consider Julia Slingo’s response to the Parliamentary Committee. I had asked for a citation for here view that the issues had been “fully addressed” in the literature, noting that Wahl and Ammann had been said by Wegman to have “no statistical integrity”. she replied with the IPCC section – one that relied on Wahl and Ammann. I dismissed her response out of hand as re-framing. Some readers criticized me for this arguing that she had given a citiation; I might not agree with the citation, but it was still a citation. On reflection, I’m more sympathetic to their point.

    Briffa’s IPCC AR4 section that led Slingo to believe that everything was “fully addressed” was itself a trick – a trick that requires parsing.

    When I’m working on this sort of topic, as readers realize, I often get drawn down various rabbit-holes before getting to the point that I’m working towards. These take less time to close out than the main point that I’m working towards and I like to get them out of the way. Not everyone likes this way of working. Sorry about that.

    • Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 7:03 PM | Permalink

      The point about Slingo and her citation of AR4 is very helpful. Forgive me for using it as a springboard for some general thoughts on the select committee, the blogosphere and Steve McIntyre.

      Within an hour or so of the inquiry being announced I emailed asking if it was possible for a Canadian to be invited to testify and, if so, advising the committee to make you the top priority. They didn’t reply and they didn’t comply. Instead they invited Lawson and Peiser (30 mins) to go up against Acton, Jones, Beddington, Slingo and Watson (at least 70).

      It’s one thing to think that you’d be the best person to shed light, quite another to identify with you as you listened to the resulting session on the first day of the month and read the final report on the last.

      One thing I think we all had confirmed is that anything out in the open, however inadequate, has tremendous value, as became clear as Quentin Letts and the other parliamentary sketchwriters got their teeth into it the next day. (Quentin, who I now see was voted political journalist of the year by his peers last year, only just received my email appreciation and replied very nicely. I’d forgotten my younger brother had stayed with his family in the 70s and all that kind of thing. Anyhow.) The sketchwriters quickly picked up that the questioning had been soft and the answers unimpressive, with hardly any technical background. Just imagine what they’d have said with tough questioning, Steve and Ross opening the batting and equal time overall between heretic and orthodox. But the glass half full – or even a fraction full – was better than none, because it was done in the full glare of normal parliamentary reporting. That’s why the committee’s recommendation that Muir Russell do as much as possible in public is also spot on. (Not that I expect Russell to comply. But then I didn’t expect Climategate. We can deal with the situation either way, given the blogosphere.)

      Another important observation is that the committee’s report had far less impact in the media in London than the oral evidence, in my estimation. People, including sketchwriters, prefer to make up their own minds. The blogs no doubt increasingly help with that. Well worth noting (and why I don’t really see it as George M does).

      It’s been entirely right for you to make clear how inadequate the inquiry has been in the areas you are most familiar with. It was also understandable that you should initially blame Slingo for her email response – and notable that blog critics on that specific point were a help. The real issue on reflection is Briffa’s work on that section of AR4. I believe you.

      Nigel Lawson is another thing. What does one say? If you’d had 40 mins, like Jones, then 30 for Lawson later on wouldn’t have been that bad an idea, in my view, as I’m sure he would have deferred to you on the science. Lawson’s area is climate policy, outside the strict scope of the committee. There again, they felt free to go outside scope in questioning others. Who knows. Lawson’s an important British parliamentarian and no doubt that’s what counted. I’m grateful for the stance he’s taken on AGW, which has been a lonely one. I don’t want to diss him that much. The fault was with those who set up the oral evidence.

      Anyhow, it makes sense to me that Briffa’s ‘trick section’ on Wahl, Ammann and Wegner is the real problem and that it’ll take you a little while longer to parse, to explain in detail why. We’re massively in your debt that you took this area up with that email to Mann eight years ago and haven’t let go. You could only ever attack it in a way that made sense to you. We’re all ears.

  19. George M
    Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 5:30 PM | Permalink

    In re: your last comment. You are pursuing this is the most scientific fashion possible. The problem with this is that meanwhile, the tide of public opinion as forced by the media rolls on. It will become a case of winning the battle and losing the war, IMHO. Some of the parallel tasks need to be farmed out. Fortunately some of the other blogs are doing some of this, but a cohesive summary has yet to emerge.
    George M.

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