Archive for the ‘Eco News’ Category

The Identity Politics of Breasts: Male Lactation and the Political Economy of Wo/Man (part 1)

Friday, May 28th, 2010

[M]ale dominated society tends not to think of a woman’s breasts as hers. Woman is a natural territory; her breasts belong to others—her husband, her lover, her baby. It’ hard to imagine a woman’s breasts as her own, from her own point of view, to imagine their value apart from measurement and exchange.–Iris Marion Young "Breasted Experience"[*]According to Kristeva, the infant must substitute

Source: H.E.A.L.T.H.

The Identity Politics of Breasts: Male Lactation and the Political Economy of Wo/Man (part 2)

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Is it to men that nature confided domestic cares? Has she given us breasts to feed our children?”–Pierre-Gaspard Chaumette quoted in "Why Mammals are Called Mammals"[*]Experience may tell you that producing milk and nursing youngsters is a job for the female mammal, not the male. But your experience is probably limited, and the potential of biology–and medical technology–is vast.–Jared

Source: H.E.A.L.T.H.

The Identity Politics of Breasts: Male Lactation and the Political Economy of Wo/Man (part 3)

Friday, May 28th, 2010

PART II: Milk and the Nature of Things: Gender, Race, Class, Species“The concealment of breastfeeding rests equally, if not more, on squeamishness relating to bodily function: the fact that food comes out of our bodies is an unsettling thought in a culture that rarely remembers food growing on trees”–Fiona Giles Fresh Milk [*]“Separate lexicons suggest opposite behaviors and attributes. We eat,

Source: H.E.A.L.T.H.

Veganism as Intersectional Social Justice (part 1)

Friday, May 28th, 2010

IntroductionWould any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday…Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?–Derrick Jensen[*][Oppressions are ideologies—]“a set of socially shared beliefs that legitmates an existing or desired

Source: H.E.A.L.T.H.

Eating our Way to Global Citizenship

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Eating our Way to Global Citizenship:A Rumination on the Role of International Education in Creating a Sustainable Future of Food and Identity “The lesson of ecology is that one cannot care for the future of the human race without caring for the future of its context… A land ethic, on this view, is the moral thread that links past, present, and future individuals in a common culture. That culture

Source: H.E.A.L.T.H.

The Virginia Statute

Friday, May 28th, 2010

How many readers criticizing me for calling Cuccinelli out have bothered reading the actual Virginia statute?

Let’s consider something practical – like Mann’s failing to disclose the adverse verification r2 results – and see whether it fits within the statute. Cuccinelli doesn’t need to go fishing around emails to find this issue. It’s been on the table for a long time – it was even mentioned in Cicerone’s letter to Barton. Despite claims to the contrary, this piece of potential misconduct has never been investigated. Yes, inquiries have been formed, but they’ve all avoided this issue.

But the problem, folks, is that however much you want to fume about life, the Virginia statute in question offers no particular relief.

Here are the causes of action. Even if Mann were shown to have knowingly withheld an adverse verification r2 result, I don’t see how that fits into any of the following causes of action, all of which are structured towards relatively narrow financial things like fake invoices. Trying to shoehorn verification r2 statistics into these causes of action is the wrong case.

§ 8.01-216.3. False claims; civil penalty.

A. Any person who:

1. Knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, to an officer or employee of the Commonwealth a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval;

2. Knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement to get a false or fraudulent claim paid or approved by the Commonwealth;

3. Conspires to defraud the Commonwealth by getting a false or fraudulent claim allowed or paid;

4. Has possession, custody, or control of property or money used, or to be used, by the Commonwealth and, intending to defraud the Commonwealth or willfully to conceal the property, delivers, or causes to be delivered, less property than the amount for which the person receives a certificate or receipt;

5. Authorizes to make or deliver a document certifying receipt of property used, or to be used, by the Commonwealth and, intending to defraud the Commonwealth, makes or delivers the receipt without completely knowing that the information on the receipt is true;

6. Knowingly buys or receives as a pledge of an obligation or debt, public property from an officer or employee of the Commonwealth who lawfully may not sell or pledge the property; or

7. Knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement to conceal, avoid, or decrease an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Commonwealth;

shall be liable to the Commonwealth for a civil penalty of not less than $5,000 and not more than $10,000, plus three times the amount of damages sustained by the Commonwealth.

In addition to the above, the statute of limitation would preclude anything done in the course of MB98 and MBH99, as well as the trick to hide the decline:

§ 8.01-216.9. Procedure; statute of limitations.

A subpoena requiring the attendance of a witness at a trial or hearing conducted under this article may be served at any place in the Commonwealth.

A civil action under § 8.01-216.5 may not be brought (i) more than six years after the date on which the violation is committed or (ii) more than three years after the date when facts material to the right of action are known or reasonably should have been known by the official of the Commonwealth charged with responsibility to act in the circumstances, but in that event no more than ten years after the date on which the violation is committed, whichever occurs last.

I don’t see any connection between Mann’s emails and offences under this statute. As such, Cuccinelli’s actions seem to me to be a capricious exercise of executive power.

People also need to realize that exercises like Cuccinelli’s debase legitimate exercise of executive power.

Source: Climate Audit

AR4 on “1998 was the warmest year”

Friday, May 28th, 2010

As most CA readers know, a few years ago, I wondered how they knew that 1998 was the warmest year in a millennium – a claim that you don’t see in AR4. Nor, at first (second or even fifth) glance does the assertion, once so prominent, even seem to be addressed in AR4.

The Climategate letters offer an interesting vignette. Chapter 6 authors were not unaware of the matter and worked over language on the issue like New York or London lawyers, eventually inserting a clause deep in the chapter that gave them cover, intentionally leaving the issue out of the chapter Executive Summary.

On July 28, 2006, Chapter 6 Coordinating Lead Author Overpeck (1154090231.txt) wrote to Briffa (copy Jansen) passing along a question from WG1 Chairman Susan Solomon, asking the reasonable question about what happened to claimes that 1998 was the warmest year, 1990s the warmest decade.

Hi Keith – in our TS/SPM discussions, Susan has raised this question:
“In the TAR they spoke of 1998 being the warmest year in the
millennium and the 1990s the warmest decade. I don’t see that
chapter 6 addresses any of these time scales. I am not saying you
should do so – but are you planning to say anything about it and why
you aren’t doing so? and if you’re not planning to say anything at
all, can you please tell me what you think about it, just for my own

Would you please give me your feedback on this, with enough
thoughtful detail to hopefully make me/Susan fully informed (a para
should be enough).
Thanks, Peck

On Aug 1, 2006, Briffa replied (728. 1154484340.txt) with a comment that would not be out of place at Climate Audit (one of the interesting things about Climategate letters is how often they express views in private that are expressed publicly at CA). Briffa:

The TAR was, in my opinion, wrong to say anything about the precedence (or lack thereof) of the warmth of the individual year 1998. The reason is that all reconstructions have very wide uncertainty ranges bracketing individual-year estimates of part temperature.

Given this, it is hard to dismiss the possibility that individual years in the past did exceed the measured 1998 value. These errors on the individual years are so wide as to make any comparison with the 1998 measured value very problematic, especially when you consider that most reconstructions do not include it in their calibration range (curtailed predictor network in recent times) and the usual estimates of uncertainty calculated from calibration (or verification) residual variances would not provide a good estimate of the likely error associated with it even if data did exist.

Now Briffa didn’t leave it quite like that. He continued with the opinion that confidence could be attached to decadal averages that could not be attached to individual years:

I suspect that many/most reconstructions of NH annual mean temperature have greater fidelity at decadal to multidecadal timescales (based on examination of the covariance spectrum of the actual and estimated data over the calibration period. This is the reason many studies implicitly (Hegerl et al.,) or explicitly (Esper et a;., Cook et al.) choose to calibrate directly against decadally-smoothed data.

The exception is the Briffa et al (tree-ring density network based) reconstruction back to 1400. This has probably the best year-to-year fidelity – but for summer land only and does not go back anyway to the MWP.

We are on much safer grounds focusing on decadal/multi-decadal timescales and so this is where we place the emphasis. As for the warmest decade’ – this is likely to be the 1990s or the last 10 years – but again, the proxies do not cover this period, and we do anyway state that post 1980 is the warmest period – which I think is fair enough.

Overpeck (728. 1154484340.txt) acknowledged this message the next day, passing it on to Solomon and Jansen:

Hi Keith – thanks. This makes sense to me. I’ll cc Susan so she understands the issue better, and also can advise on any strategy we should adopt to make sure we communicate effectively.
thanks again
best, peck

On Sep 1, 2006 (739. 1157138720.txt), Overpeck and Jansen adopted the strategy of inserting some protective language in the chapter text, while leaving it out of the Executive Summary, and urgently requested Briffa to write some language on the matter (it had not been specifically addressed in the drafts sent to reviewers).

As for the 1998/2005 warmest in last 1000 years issue, we suggest adding nothing new to the ES, in line with our chapter policy from Bergen, BUT adding something in the chapter along the lines of: ” There is currently insufficient knowledge to form a consensus on the issue of how the warmth of individual years of the last 100 years compare with individual years of the last 1000 years” Keith, would you like to make a suggestion on the wording and placement?

On Sep 13 (744. 1158180188.txt), Briffa reverted with some language that was carefully crafted to say the least.

Eystein and Peck
I have thought about this and spent some time discussing it with Tim. I have come up with the following

Greater uncertainty associated with proxy-based temperature estimates for individual years means that it is more difficult to gauge the significance, or precedence, of the extreme warm years observed in the recent instrumental record. However, there is no new evidence to challenge the statement made in the TAR that 1998 (or the subsequent near-equivalent 2005) was likely the warmest in the last 1000 years.

This should best go after the paragraph that concludes section I believe we might best omit the second sentence of the suggested new paragraph – but you might consider this too subtle (or negative) then. I think the second sentence is very subtle also though – because it does not exclude the possibility that the same old evidence that challenges the veracity of the TAR statement exists now , as then!

I think this could go in the text where suggested , but I think it best NOT to have a bullet about this point. We need to check exactly what was said in the TAR . Perhaps a reference to the Academy Report could also be inserted here?

Anyway, you asked for a straw-man statement for all to argue about so I suggest we send this to Stefan, David , Betty and whoever else you think.

Overpeck wrote back the same day ( 744. 1158180188.txt):

Keith – thanks for this and the earlier updates. Stefan is not around this week, but hopefully the others on this email can weight in. My thoughts…

1) We MUST say something about individual years (and by extension the 1998 TAR statement) – do we support it, or not, and why.
2) a paragraph would be nice, but I doubt we can do that, so..
3) I suggest putting the first sentence that Keith provides below as the last sentence, in the last (summary) para of To make a stand alone para seems like a bad way to end the very meaty section.
4) I think the second sentence could be more controversial – I don’t think our team feels it is valid to say, as they did in TAR, that “It is also likely that, in the Northern Hemisphere,… 1998 was the warmest year” in the last 1000 years. But, it you think about it for a while, Keith has come up with a clever 2nd sentence (when you insert “Northern Hemisphere” language as I suggest below). At first, my reaction was leave it out, but it grows on you, especially if you acknowledge that many readers will want more explicit prose on the 1998 (2005) issue.

Greater uncertainty associated with proxy-based temperature estimates for individual years means that it is more difficult to gauge the significance, or precedence, of the extreme warm years observed in the recent instrumental record. However, there is no new evidence to challenge the statement made in the TAR that 1998 (or the subsequent near-equivalent 2005) was likely the warmest of Northern Hemisphere year over the last 1000 years.

5) I strongly agree we can’t add anything to the Exec Summary.
6) so, if no one disagrees or edits, I suggest we insert the above 2 sentences to end the last (summary) para of Or should we make it a separate, last para – see point #3 above why I don’t favor that idea as much. But, it’s not a clear cut issue.

Thoughts? Thanks all, Peck

David Rind weighed in (744. 1158180188.txt) as follows (copies to other Lead Authors)::

Leaving aside for the moment the resolution issue, the statement should at least be consistent with our figures. Fig. 6-10 looks like there were years around 1000 AD that could have been just as warm – if one wants to make this statement, one needs to expand the vertical scale in Fig. 6-10 to show that the current warm period is ‘warmer’. Now getting back to the resolution issue: given what we know about the ability to reconstruct global or NH temperatures in the past – could we really in good conscience say we have the precision from tree rings and the very sparse other data to make any definitive
statement of this nature (let alone accuracy)? While I appreciate the cleverness of the second sentence, the problem is everybody will recognize that we are ‘being clever’ – at what point does one come out looking aggressively defensive?

I agree that leaving the first sentence as the only sentence suggests that one is somehow doubting the significance of the recent warm years, which is probably not something we want to do. What I would suggest is to forget about making ‘one year’ assessments; what Fig. 6-10 shows is that the recent warm period is highly anomalous with respect to the record of the last 1000 years. That would be what I think we can safely conclude the last 1000 years really tells us.

Jansen (745. 1158204073.txt) suggested a version without Briffa’s casuistic second sentence:

Hi all,
My take on this is similar to what Peck wrote. My suggestion is to write:

Greater uncertainty associated with proxy-based temperature estimates for individual years means that it is more difficult to gauge the significance, or precedence, of the extreme warm individual years observed in the recent instrumental record, such as 1998 and 2005, in the context of the last millennium.

think this is scientifically correct, and in essence means that we, as did the NAS panel say, feel the TAR statement was not what we would have said. I sympatise with those who say that it is not likely that any individual years were warmer, as Stefan has stated, but I don?t think we have enough data to qualify this on the hemispheric mean.
Best wishes,

On Sep 15, 2006, Fortunat Joos wrote that if there isn’t enough evidence to say whether 1998 was the warmest year or not, they should say so.


I support Eystein’s suggestion and agree with David.

If there is not sufficient evidence to support or dismis claims whether 1998 or 2005 was the warmest year of the millennium than we should indeed say so. It is the nature and the strenght of the IPCC process that points from the TAR and earlier reports get reconsidered and reassessed. It is normal that earlier statements get revised. Often statements can be strenghtened, but sometimes statements can not be supported anymore. Our job is to present the current understanding of science as balanced as possible.

With best wishes,

A little later, Briffa signed off on the revision, noting his own reservations about the original “too clever” language, expressing a slight worry that they had “inserted this late with no refereeing and no justification in the text” – (a scruple that he and Jones didn’t worry about when it came to matters MM):

I do not disagree either – in fact I preferred not to make the “too clever” second statement in my “straw man” as I said at the time. If this is the consensus (and I believe it is the scientifically correct one) then I would be happy with Eystein’s sentence. The worry is that we have inserted this late with no refereeing and no justification in the text. I would also suggest dropping the second “!individual” in the sentence.

On Sep 15 (746. 1158324958.txt), Overpeck decided to go with Jansen’t language on the “all important 1998 sentence”.

Thanks Keith, Tim and Fortunat for your input. We’ll go with what we have then – Eystein’s suggestion minus the second “individual”. Eystein and Oyvind – just want to double check that you’ve deleted that 2nd “individual” in the all important 1998 sentence??
Thanks, Peck

In the AR4 Final Version, section ended as follows;

Greater uncertainty associated with proxy-based temperature estimates for individual years means that it is more difficult to gauge the significance, or precedence, of the extreme warm years observed in the recent instrumental record, such as 1998 and 2005, in the context of the last millennium.

AR4 agreed with MM on the “warmest year in 100 years”. Who would have known?

Which leads to another question. What caused the WG1 authors to have a more guarded opinion in AR4 about “1998 is the warmest year” than in AR3? What was their justification for modifying the opinion of AR3 (relying on the statistical analysis of MB98-99) that they knew with statistical confidence that 1998 was the “warmest year”?

In the penultimate comment above, Briffa observed that there was “no justification in the text” for introducing this more guarded opinion in the conclusion to the section.

The obvious location in the text for justifying this more guarded opinion was in the discussion of the MM papers, which had, after all, raised this issue. After the MM papers observed the abject failure of MBH verification r2 statistics in the early segments, even MBH supporters abandoned any pretence that the reconstruction had any “inter-annual skill”. This point is conceded in a couple of Climategate letters though not publicly.

But Briffa, as the author of the relevant section, did not concede even this point in the text on MBH vs MM – a point would have provided a small bit of credit to MM. Worse, between the Second Draft (submitted to reviewers) and the Final Draft, during surreptitious correspondence with Briffa, Eugene Wahl, neither an IPCC author or reviewer, inserted a statement that our analysis had a negligible impact – a statement that was contrary to the corresponding Second Draft statement and a statement that was never submitted to reviewers.

Ironically, Chapter 6 Lead Authors adopted a key position of the MM papers in respect to individual years (though not yet individual decades) – a position that clearly contradicted MBH98-99 and AR4 – but failed, as Briffa observed, to document the changed view in the running text.

Source: Climate Audit

The “Hartwell Paper”

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Pielke Jr and 13 other authors have published a paper advocating a “re-framing” of climate policy. Co-authors that may be somewhat familiar to CA readers include Atte Korhola and Mike Hulme (a seemingly anomalous search term in the Climategate letters). Daniel Sarewitz checked in briefly at CA a few years ago. The coauthors tend to be economists.

They observe the lack of accomplishment of climate policy over the past 15 years and argue that policy has been too heavily focused on mechanisms like cap-and-trade and demand targets and insufficiently focused on supply-side (they express it a little differently, but I think that this characterization is fair.)

They argue that the confluence of Copenhagen and Climategate creates an excellent opportunity for re-framing.

Contrary to much present spin, they say that Climategate was an extremely important event, calling it, together with the Copenhagen, one of two “watersheds” in climate policy:

The second watershed is to be found within the science of climate change. It was crossed on 17th November. The climate science community has experienced an accelerated erosion of public trust following the posting on that date of more than a 1,000 emails from the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit.[2] These emails, whose authenticity is not denied, suggested that scientists may have been acting outside publicly understood norms of science in their efforts to bolster their own views and to discredit the views of those with whom they disagreed.[3]

They provide a nice citation [3] of Andrew Montford’s book:

The principal e-mails of concern are reproduced and discussed in A.W. Montford, The Hockey Stick Illusion, London: Stacey International, 2010, pp. 402–49. This work conveniently relates the topics back to a detailed narrative of the major disputes in climate science, and specifically paleoclimate studies, with which much of the Climatic Research Unit archive is concerned.

They repudiate the disinformation from the climate science community that any of the inquiries have actually investigated matters at issue:

Hitherto, none of the specific critiques of this work by those auditing it have been adjudicated by reviews of the matter, and indeed were explicitly not investigated by the Oxburgh review (para. 9)

They dance around nuclear power, arguing that radical new technologies are needed to meet acceptable cost targets, but do not mention that Deutch et al 2009 url (which they cite) had observed that there were then about 44 nuclear plants under construction around the world in 12 countries, principally China, Russia, India and Korea – which suggests to me that a major reason why there were no new nuclear plants then under construction in the U.S. (one was being refurbished) is due at least in part to self-imposed regulatory issues and the huge costs associated with running the gauntlet of the present U.S. regulatory system.

I haven’t examined the policy options closely and the following point is an opinion that is a general impression only – one in which I’m speaking as a (Canadian) citizen rather than a specialist. Surely one of the nettles that has to be grasped by the environmental movement in the U.S. and Europe is confronting the fact that prescribing feel-good remedies like wind power and tree-planting carbon credits as a solution for present energy and climate problems is no better than prescribing Laetrile for cancer. (They may not do any actual harm, but, to the extent that people are tricked into thinking that they might be a solution, they do do harm.) Once this nettle is grasped, then there would probably be an opportunity to reform the regulatory system so that nuclear plants can be built in the U.S. as well as in Pakistan and the Ukraine.

Peter Gleick and his claque say that we have to do “something” right away – though the “something” seems all too often to be Laetrile or the sale of indulgences. Better that we have “change we can believe in”.

Source: Climate Audit

Beddington and the Oxburgh Inquiry

Friday, May 28th, 2010

The UK government has provided an incomplete response to Andrew Montford’s FOI request for copies of “correspondence or documentation” related to “the appointment of the [Oxburgh} panel or its deliberations". However, even the incomplete information so far shows that UK government Chief Scientist John Beddington played a critical role. In addition, it contains the remarkable information that US National Academy of Sciences President Ralph Cicerone was charged with contacting ("warming up") the American panelists and UK National Academy of Sciences President Martin Rees with contacting("warming up") the UK panelists. Here is the correspondence obtained so far (attachments are mentioned and not provided and the existence of other correspondence is certainly implied). Original documents are here.

Here is Andrew Montford's request of 20 April 2010:

Dear Department for Business, Innovation and Skills,

I am interested in the appointment of Lord Oxburgh's panel, which
inquired into the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

Did the government chief scientist, Professor Beddington, play any part in the appointment of the panel or its deliberations?

If so please provide copies of related correspondence or documentation.

Yours faithfully,

Andrew Montford

Here is covering letter to their response (which contained two attachments):

Ref: FOI 10/0744

Dear Mr Montford

Thank you for your email of 20 April regarding the appointment of Lord
Oxburgh's panel, which considered key science publications from the
University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit.

The appointment process and selection conducted by UEA was informed by advice from the Royal Society, to ensure appropriate rigour, expertise and objectivity.

As part of proper practice, in putting together a high quality panel the
UEA leadership also took soundings on potential members, including
candidates for the role of chair, from senior figures in the scientific
community. As the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor
Beddington was one of those consulted. Professor Beddington offered two names of possible candidates to lead the Review, one of which was Lord Oxburgh.

He also proposed the inclusion of Prof David Hands, President of the Royal Statistical Society, as someone well qualified to contribute.

In addition, at UEA's subsequent request, Prof Beddington provided his
good offices to encourage these candidates to give positive consideration
to an approach by UEA.

Copies of two email exchanges are enclosed, related to these points.

<> <>

Professor Beddington had no further involvement in the review, its
decisions or its outcomes. Indeed, he first read about the outcome of the
review when it was reported in the press.


Yours sincerely

Information Rights Unit

On March 1, 2010, leaving the hearings of the Parliamentary Committee, UEA Vice Chancellor made the following statement:

I shall be announcing later this week the chair of scientific appraisal panel to take a look at the key work of CRU and reaffirm the surefire [?] quality of the science.

The language in the release was somewhat different stating as follows:

“I hope to announce the name of the chair of the scientific appraisal panel, about which we have been consulting with the Royal Society, later this week.

The first email provided in the FOI response was an email from Trevor Davies of UEA to John Beddington, UK Chief Scientist dated three days later (March 4, 2010 transcribed from photo pdf):

From Trevor Davies
To: Beddington
Re CRU Science Assessment Panel

Dear John
As you know Ron Oxburgh has agreed to do this. Thank you for the intial suggestion! He has cleared April 6/7/8 in his diary for a 2-day session at UEA, and anticipates writing the report on the last day.

We have a list of 12/13 names, approved by the Royal Soc, covering a range of interests and “attitudes” toward global warming. Ron has decided the first we should approach for his panel of 6-7 are (xxxxxx- expurgated- xxxxx

Michael Kelly; Herbert Huppert mathematician Cambridge, David Hand FBA Imperial; Kerry Emanual meteorologist MIT, Huw Davies ETH Zurich; Lisa Graumluich, tre ring analyst Univ Arizona

Ron is keen that they are “warmed up” by influential people rather than us inviting them cold. Martin Rees is asking Ralph Cicerone (President NAS) to approach the Americans, Brian Hoskins will approach Huw Davies, Ron himself is talking to Kelly and Huppert.

I wonder if you would be prepared to “warm up” David Hand – on the basis that you know him and you suggested him!

We are most keen, if at all possible, that we can hit the April 6/7/8 window and I’m sure you will be very persuasive in convincing him that this is an important job for science, etc.

For background I attach 1) a draft letter which will be sent to David by Ron 2) a list of the papers we anticipate will be examined

David’s contact details are :x xxx
If you are able to help, I will be very grateful.
Best, Trevor

There was one more email in the tranche that I hadn’t noticed previously – it sheds light on the meaning of “warmed up” – which is to be in “agreement” with the suggestions of the UK Government Chief Scientist.

[Update- May 26, 2010] I just noticed this email that I had not previously noted:

March 9, 2010
To – Trevor Davies; John Beddington
Cc: Nick Grout BIS GO – Science

Following your phone conversation last night, John wanted to let you know that he has spoken to David Hand, who was in agreement with John’s suggestions (and therefore has been “warmed up”)
Private Secretary to John Beddington, Chief Scientific Adviser

[End Update]

The Oxburgh panel was announced on March 22, 2010 by CRU here here, in which they stated:

“We are grateful to the Royal Society for helping us to identify such a strong panel and to the members for dedicating their time to this important matter.”

The second email included in the FOI response was from Beddington to Davies on March 23, 2010, the day after this announcement.

Trevor, thanks for the information on the announcements, which all looks to be going well. As it happens, I met Ron Oxburgh last night and he duly moaned at me putting his name into the frame, but my distinct impression was that he was rather pleased. Knowing him, he will certainly make it work.

You may know that I also talked to Michael Kelly who was very positive and understood the absolute need for objectivity particularly given his known stance.

I hope this is going to work out, but we have the right team so it should have every opportunity,

Best wishes, John

The report of the Oxburgh panel was dated April 12, 2010 and stated:

The Panel was set up by the University in consultation with the Royal Society to assess the integrity of the research published by the Climatic Research Unit in the light of various external assertions.

The papers cover a period of more than twenty years and were selected on the advice of the Royal Society. All had been published in international scientific journals and had been through a process of peer review. CRU agreed that they were a fair sample of the work of the Unit.

Obviously, these emails raise a number of issues.

The emails obviously contain an amusing malapropism. (Surely Kerry Emanuel didn’t need any “warming up” :) ). However, I find the procedures disquieting.

The Oxburgh report did not disclose the role of the UK government in nominating and contacting Oxburgh or other panelists. If this was “proper practice”, as the government now claims, then why didn’t the university and the Oxburgh panel disclose this information in the first place, instead of having to glean the information through the FOI process.

To the extent that the Oxburgh panel was supposed to be providing an independent appraisal, the idea that panel members were contacted (“warmed up”) by presidents of their respective National Academies is, to say the least, disquieting. In most walks of life, expressions of concern by influential people to judges, jurors and commissioners is viewed very adversely.

Second, the FOI response appears to have omitted key parts of the correspondence. The covering email stated “Professor Beddington offered two names of possible candidates to lead the Review, one of which was Lord Oxburgh.” Presumably there was an email or other document in which this was done, but this was not provided. There are other indications of omitted correspondence.

Third, the flimsiness of the cursory Oxburgh inquiry has been obvious to readers. The emails show that this was built-in. Oxburgh planned to spend two days at UEA and write the report in one day. The report shows no evidence of its writing extending into a second day. Has there ever been a flimsier inquiry report?

I have an outstanding FOI request to the university of East Anglia for their correspondence with the Royal Society on the selection of papers. The Oxburgh report said that the papers were selected on the “advice of the Royal Society”, but the Royal Society has refused to disclose the name of the person at the Royal Society who provided the advice or what criteria the Royal Society used to select the papers. The claim in the Oxburgh report seems to be untrue, but neither the Royal Society nor the Oxburgh panel have taken any steps to correct the seemingly false statement. Yesterday, the UEA acknowledged that they were overdue on responding to my FOI request and indicated their intent to respond by the end of the week.

Source: Climate Audit

Heartland Presentation

Friday, May 28th, 2010

I’ll post up illustrated speaking notes in a day or two, as well as some comments. May 20 – Annotated version online here.

I’ve noticed two incomplete versions online.

One version is on Youtube in three parts here. It misses the last few minutes of the talk, but I prefer this version to the version on the Heartland website (which presently stalls at 20:46) because it includes some of the graphics – which were shown on a large screen to the audience and were an integral part of the presentation – and because it picks up audience reaction to the occasional ironic remark a little better.

Youtube part 1

Youtube part 2

Youtube part 3

Here is the Heartland version.

I’ll comment more on this later, but I’ll pick up on a couple of points that is occasioning blog discussion. These arise out of caveats at the beginning and end of my talk (the latter not online at present). In questions afterwards, people challenged me for not being angry, for discouraging angriness and for criticizing Cuccinelli. I received dozens of compliments from people at the conference.

Some blog characterization of my comments e.g. at Keith Kloor and Pielk Jr- somewhat mischaracterize my comments. Academics tend to be surprisingly poor listeners – all too often they fold people’s comments into their preconceived framework. Lawyers tend to be far better listeners.

CA readers know that I express myself carefully and try to make my opinions as narrow and precise as possible. As I previously stated in several CA posts, I disagree with Cuccinelli for a variety of reasons. Cuccinelli is seeking to establish an offence under section 8.01 -263.1 of Virginia act (here). I discussed this briefly in my speech as follows:

Despite the failures of the inquiries to do their job, I strongly disagree with Cuccinelli’s recent investigation of potential financial abuse. Regardless of what one may think of the quality of Mann’s work, he has published diligently. In my opinion, Cuccinelli’s actions are an abuse of administrative prerogative that on the one hand is unfair to Mann and on the other provides easy fodder for people to avoid dealing with the real issues.

All I’m saying here is that I do not think that there is prima facie evidence of a section 8.01 offence. I realize that Cuccinelli has the “right” to investigate section 8.01 offences, but I do not believe that his present interest in Mann arises out of search criteria arising out of section 8.01 – there must be hundreds, if not thousands, of government expenditures that would be on a short list generated by accounting criteria. This is too much like instigating out a tax audit on political enemies.

There are real issues in this file that should have been investigated by the appropriate inquiries. People who are worried about these things should complain to institutions responsible for the inquiries – not instigate section 8.01 investigations.

Source: Climate Audit


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