23 November 2009

And So It Begins.

Hide the Decline

Well done and a good laugh, even though it's the wrong decline — see Marc Sheppard, "Understanding Climategate's Hidden Decline," at The American Thinker.
At The Global Warming Policy Foundation, recently launched, we read the following:
"In response to recent revelations contained in leaked e-mails originating from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, Lord Lawson, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the GWPF, has called for a rigorous and independent inquiry into the matter. While reserving judgment on the contents of the e-mails, Lord Lawson said these are very serious issues and allegations that reach to "the heart of scientific integrity and credibility:
'Astonishingly, what appears, at least at first blush, to have emerged is that (a) the scientists have been manipulating the raw temperature figures to show a relentlessly rising global warming trend; (b) they have consistently refused outsiders access to the raw data; (c) the scientists have been trying to avoid freedom of information requests; and (d) they have been discussing ways to prevent papers by dissenting scientists being published in learned journals.

'There may be a perfectly innocent explanation. But what is clear is that the integrity of the scientific evidence on which not merely the British Government, but other countries, too, through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, claim to base far-reaching and hugely expensive policy decisions, has been called into question. And the reputation of British science has been seriously tarnished. A high-level independent inquiry must be set up without delay.' "
We concur and further urge that parallel inquiries be initiated at the home institutions of the individual scientists involved. These entities are recipients of millions of dollars of governmental funds, both as direct costs and as overhead returns that have become the crack cocaine of the academy. They have an obligation to see to it that minimal — forget about "the highest" — standards of ethical behavior are observed by their employees.

Meanwhile. Luboš Motl continues his review of emails over at The Reference Frame. I especially like the one (from Tom Wigley to Timothy Carter, dated 24 April, 2003) about getting rid of a journal editor consequent to the publication of an article adverse to the Hockey Stick:
"PS Re CR [Climate Research], I do not know the best way to handle the specifics of the editoring. Hans von Storch is partly to blame -- he encourages the publication of crap science 'in order to stimulate debate'. One approach is to go direct to the publishers and point out the fact that their journal is perceived as being a medium for disseminating misinformation under the guise of refereed work. I use the word 'perceived' here, since whether it is true or not is not what the publishers care about -- it is how the journal is seen by the community that counts.[Emphasis added]

"I think we could get a large group of highly credentialed scientists to sign such a letter -- 50+ people.

"Note that I am copying this view only to Mike Hulme and Phil Jones. Mike's idea to get editorial board members to resign will probably not work -- must get rid of von Storch too, otherwise holes will eventually fill up with people like Legates, Balling, Lindzen, Michaels, Singer, etc. I have heard that the publishers are not happy with von Storch, so the above approach might remove that hurdle too." [Emphasis added]
In the event, von Storch resigned along with four other editors because CR's publisher refused to print a letter he had composed suggesting "that the publication of the Soon & Baliunas article [the paper in question] was an error, and that the review process at Climate Research would be changed in order to avoid similar failures. ... The problem," he continues,
"is not whether the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than the 20th century, or if Mann's hockey stick is realistic; the problem is that the methodological basis for such a conclusion was simply not given. ... However, my authority as Editor-in-Chief did obviously not cover the publication of an editorial spelling out the problem. The publisher declined the publication, and I canceled my task as Editor-in-Chief immediately on 28 July 2003."
More recently, and subsequent to the present scandal's irruption, von Storch has written what he calls a "little addendum" (same link):
"I have been often in the cross-fire of alarmists and skeptics, two politicized gangs of climate activists - who often have something useful to say, but who are conditioned by their respective loyalties to their "agendas", while not being too much interested in providing the cold and impassionate science needed to come up with reasonable and acceptable climate policies." [Emphasis added]
For additional commentary, go here (discussion of the Hockey Stick controversy) and here (discussion of the hacked emails). In the latter, we read the following:
"I would assume ... that a useful debate about the degree of politicization of climate science will emerge. A conclusion could be that the principle, according to which data must be made public, so that also adversaries may check the analysis, must be really enforced. Another conclusion could be that scientists like Mike Mann, Phil Jones and others should no longer participate in the peer-review process or in assessment activities like IPCC. [Emphasis added]
A Prescription for Error. Von Storch's conclusions, I believe, are self-evident. They also raise a more fundamental problem, which is that the people doing the science should not also be formulating policy. But even when the scientist's role is limited to doing science, there are problems. Objectivity is a precious and vulnerable commodity; asking investigators to be assess the validity of their own ideas, a prescription for error. The late Michael Crichton, put it this way:
"Just as we have established a tradition of double-blinded research to determine drug efficacy, we must institute double-blinded research in other policy areas as well. Certainly the increased use of computer models, such as GCMs, cries out for the separation of those who make the models from those who verify them. The fact is that the present structure of science is entrepeneurial, with individual investigative teams vying for funding from organizations which all too often have a clear stake in the outcome of the research-or appear to, which may be just as bad. This is not healthy for science.

"Sooner or later, we must form an independent research institute in this country. It must be funded by industry, by government, and by private philanthropy, both individuals and trusts. The money must be pooled, so that investigators do not know who is paying them. The institute must fund more than one team to do research in a particular area, and the verification of results will be a foregone requirement: teams will know their results will be checked by other groups. In many cases, those who decide how to gather the data will not gather it, and those who gather the data will not analyze it. If we were to address the land temperature records with such rigor, we would be well on our way to an understanding of exactly how much faith we can place in global warming, and therefore [with] what seriousness we must address this." [Emphasis added]
Returning to the emails, the extent to which von Storch's decision to resign was prompted by the tactics discussed in Wigley's letter is unclear. What is clear is that the very consideration of such tactics is a stain on the profession. What were these people thinking?

No comments: