Almost none of Oxburgh’s testimony to the Science and technology Committee can be taken at face value. Even on something as simple as climate background of Lisa Graumlich and Kerry Emanuel, Oxburgh’s statements to the committee were untrue.
Here is an approximate transcript of Oxburgh’s description of the makeup of the panel to the committee:
We put together the panel – in consultation with various people – of people who were outside the field. This was quite important. It’s quite a small field. If you look at publications of CRU, they’d collaborated with almost everyone in every department around the world. It was quite difficult. We wanted people who had no formal position or as little as possible on any of these questions, but who understood the methods and techniques that were relevant to what was going on. Ultimately the choice of panel members was mine, but I talked directly and indirectly to a number of people. We ended up with 3 people who had absolutely no connection to climate work or meteorology – 4 including me. And 3 people a bit closer – Lisa Graumlich who was a tree ring person but who had not used tree rings in the same way as the CRU used. The traditional use of tree rings was to set up chronologies for archaeological applications. What the CRU did was to tried to interpret characteristics in terms of climate – a different and quite difficult step. The other 2 people, who had professional knowledge in an adjacent area, were Huw Davies and Kerry Emanuel; both of whom were meteorological people, which is different from climate, but they understand the long words. That was how it was put together. It was ultimately my decision.
Oxburgh’s statement that Lisa Graumlich hadn’t used tree rings “in the same way as the CRU used” i.e. in this context, for the interpretation of climate as opposed to archaeological applications, is flatly untrue.
Graumlich has written dozens of articles using proxy evidence to reconstruct past temperature. Her present webpage profile says as much:
Dr. Lisa J. Graumlich is currently Director of the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at The University of Arizona, where she integrates her career-long interest in global climate change with the emerging issue of how to best manage natural resources in an uncertain future. As a researcher, she investigates how ecosystems and human societies adapt to climate change, with a special focus on severe and persistent droughts.
Her 1000-year foxtail chronologies (Boreal, Upperwright) – which include strip bark samples – have been used in a number of multiproxy studies, including Esper et al 2002, Osborn and Briffa 2006, Juckes et al 2007, among others.
On May 6, 2010, within a few weeks of the Oxburgh report, she testified at the House Committee on Global Warming (see here, here – full testimony here ) where she reported that proxy records showed that the 20th century was the ‘warmest”.
Climate records indicate the later part of the 20th century was the warmest period in the past 500 to 1,000 years, Lisa Graumlich told lawmakers May 6…
Graumlich testified that the combination of climate records used in estimating Northern Hemisphere temperature trends – such as lake sediments, ice cores, coral growth bands and historical documents – obtained by independent research groups, has led to a clear indication that the later 20th century is the warmest period in the past 500 to 1,000 years.
In her House testimony, she is described as a member of the Oxburgh panel (submitting the complete Oxburgh report as an attachment) and testified on conclusions of the Oxburgh report.
Oxburgh said that Kerry Emanuel’s expertise lay in the adjacent area of “meteorology” (though he understood the “long words”), but to say or imply that Emanuel was “outside the [climate] field” or had not taken a position on climate issues is obviously untrue. Emanuel has taken a strong and very public position on climate change. And while Emanuel had not collaborated with CRU itself, he had, of course, collaborated with their closest Climategate correspondent, Michael Mann.
Emanuel had even taken a strong public postition – see MIT debate here commencing at minute 8 – in which he defended the Climategate email as showing the “scientists hard at work” – taking lines right from Gavin Schmidt at realclimate. He blamed the controversy on a “public relations machine”, spending lots of time on the tobacco industry ( a motif also used by Oxburgh in his testimony.) He called Climategate a “victory for the machine” and later a “windfall for the machine”.
Compare this to Philip Campbell and the Muir Russell inquiry. Muir Russell, like Oxburgh, had stated that the panelists had “no prejudicial interest in climate change or in climate science”. Philip Campbell had quite properly recused himself from the panel, because of his previous comments to Chinese State Radio (far less prejudicial than Emanuel’s) in which he said:
It’s true that it comes at a bad time but it is not true that it is a scandal. The scientists have not hidden the data. If you look at the emails there is one or two bits of language that are jargon used between professionals that suggest something to outsiders that is wrong. In fact the only problem there has been is some official restriction on their ability to disseminate their data. Otherwise they have behaved as researchers should.
Campbell explained his resignation as follows:
“I made the remarks in good faith on the basis of media reports of the leaks. As I have made clear subsequently, I support the need to for a full review of the facts behind the leaked e-mails. There must be nothing that calls into question the ability of the independent Review to complete this task, and therefore I have decided to withdraw from the team.”
Compare Campbell’s mild remarks to Emanuel’s MIT statement:
“What we have here,” says Kerry Emanuel, are “thousands of emails collectively showing scientists hard at work, trying to figure out the meaning of evidence that confronts them. Among a few messages, there are a few lines showing the human failings of a few scientists…” Emanuel believes that “scientifically, it means nothing,” because the controversy doesn’t challenge the overwhelming evidence supporting anthropogenic warming. He is far more concerned with the well-funded “public relations campaign” to drown out or distort the message of climate science, which he links to “interests where billions, even trillions are at stake…” This “machine … has been highly successful in branding climate scientists as a bunch of sandal-wearing, fruit-juice drinking leftist radicals engaged in a massive conspiracy to return us to agrarian society…”
I happen to disagree with Emanuel’s remarks – I urge climate scientists to spend more time examining whether they can do their job better and less time blaming “machines”. If they actually looked into the mirror, maybe they’d realize that some self-appointed messengers to the public and that their public face e.g. realclimate, might be counterproductive.
But that’s a different point than the one here – Oxburgh’s untrue statements to the Committee about Graumlich and Emanuel. It’s hard to believe that Oxburgh was so ignorant that he really thought that Graumlich did archaeological chronologies and Emanuel did meteorology. But that’s what he told the Committee.
More British due diligence.