IPCC Hockey Stick Matters

November 18th, 2005

Posted by: admin

At some point over the past couple of years, the motivation behind the hockey stick (HS) battles (played both in journal and blog) in most of its guises slipped from “science for science’s sake” to “science for public policy’s sake.” Where it initially concerned a question of validating the original science for a specific study, it later became a question of validating what we think we know about climate change in general, and how we disseminate that knowledge to the policy-making community. Now the hockey debate has slipped further, becoming almost exclusively about credibility (according to some) legitimacy (according to others, although they are not mutually-exclusive groups). The scientific relevance of the HS is still there, but it has become subsumed by the more interesting and easier-to-follow political debate. I’ll go further here and also address questions of salience; the distinctions of all three were highlighted aptly by Roger in comment #57 here and in this paper that Roger summarizes.

Perhaps those engaged in the science debate over the HS have belatedly come to realize the larger political reality that shrouds their debate: nobody in the policy-making world cares (in other words, its salience is gone). This does not completely destroy the relevancy of the debate, but it raises an unfortunate problem for the players: they are engaged in the debate because of its perceived effects on the policy-making world. (If the HS had not been included in the TAR SPM, would we be talking about this?) If the debate is irrelevant in any context other than science, the motivations behind the fight should change to something more academic and pastoral. That it has not yet done so, that it continues to invite personal attacks, invective and name-calling among other more relevant commentary, raises a question: do the players still see political advantage to be gained by keeping up the fight?

Hidden between the lines is a stark reality at the intersection of the policy world and science world: as we move closer and closer to the early 2007 release of IPCC 4th Assessment Report (AR4), the 3rd Assessment Report (TAR) hockey stick becomes more and more irrelevant. Inaction was the political response to the 2001 SPM presentation of the hockey stick. The hockey stick both as science and icon could not have been more hyped. But They saw it and They didn’t care. By that inaction, the HS lost its salience. The next question is, will they care about the 2007 results?

If not salient to the policy consumer, salient to whom? Ross McKitrick and Steve McIntryre posted lengthy justifications of why their participation in the hockey stick debates matters and why the details of the debate should matter to the rest of us. Despite Stefan’s post, Mann and RealClimate authors do the same on their blog, even if not directly answering the current question (e.g.). The dialogue has been revealing, and you can glean what the participants in the debate (commenters especially) care about and thus what this debate has really come to signify.

With its salience gone and with a real need to hash out the science for the science’s sake questionable at best, the only reason left for continuing the debate is because the debate has become about something else entirely. To address the ways in which it the HS debate is now solely about credibility and legitimacy, moving from the very obvious to the more subtle:

1- The HS debate is about the credibility of Drs. Mann/Bradley/Hughes (but mostly Dr. Mann since as lead author and the stats jockey of the group, he has logically become the focus of procedural science questions). The credibility of Dr. Mann is crucial for his ability to continue to do science, for his ability to defend his original work and for his ability to comment on the work of others. He has fought hard in the pages of RealClimate and elsewhere to maintain his credibility both by engaging in a science debate and calling on more peripheral and even irrelevant issues such as the funding sources of M&M. (Supporters will likely disagree with this, but face it: if the science is right, the science is right, no matter who funded it.)

2- The debate has enshrouded the legitimacy of the process in constructing the IPCC TAR WG1 report and by extension, in constructing the upcoming AR4 chapters. All sides have a compelling interest in swaying the opinion of the general policy-making body toward questioning or accepting the legitimacy of the assessment process. In this both sides are effectively behaving as lobbyists, and blog commenters might be considered the individual constituents lobbying their local representatives for highway bill money.

3- The debate is also about the credibility of the skeptic community. The debate has encompassed the credibility of two outsiders and their ability to enter an esoteric debate as outsiders, but there’s something more subtle at play here. The debate does not reflect on the credibility of individuals in the skeptic community and their ability to comment on climate change science as much as the debate has come to highlight the viability of the very existence of a credible skeptic community.

In this debate, the skeptic community found a legitimate science question to argue, and made a point to which not a few experts in the system said, “you have something there.” Whether or not in the end there was much there, there, the point raised by Mr. McIntyre and Mr. McKitrick was appropriate to the scientific discussion. This occurred in the context of gradual diminution of credible skeptic science, illustrated starkly by the harsh reaction to publication of the Baliunas/Soon Climate Research paper. As most reasonable people realize, there is no vast conspiracy to block skeptic papers, a conspiracy that would have to span all the various publishers of all the various journals. Skeptic science is not being published because it’s either not there or is not publishable. So to find a worthy item to publish is a crucial step toward credibility for the skeptic community.

4- One of Mr. McIntyre’s most prominent talking points in the HS debate concerns access to data (e.g.1, e.g.2, e.g.3). There is a perception from those within academic circles and their funding sources, I think, that repeated requests for data sharing by outsiders is annoying and can be ignored. The researcher’s attitude on this may not ever change, but what if the attitude does change for the NSF program manager? Or when will a PM’s decision on how far to push his PIs to allow open access shift from his hands to a higher-level directive? This is also a credibility question. If the outsider and/or politically-loud skeptic community gains credibility as capable of solid science, it becomes harder to justify denying either access to data.

This also invites politics back into science from on high: although NSF is largely insulated from election cycle politics, NOAA and NASA, two other major funders of climate change science, as well as other federal agencies with more minor roles, are headed by political appointees. A greater positive collective sense of the credibility of the outsider/skeptic community will give political appointees, should they decide to go in this direction for political reasons, more justification for throwing the doors open to “skeptic science” (whatever that means).

5- It is clear that willingly or unwillingly, the hockey science players on both sides have become political pawns used by sides who have fixed policy positions in mind that will not be swayed by scientific results. It can be said with some confidence that Senator Inhofe and Representative Barton care little what the science says, and one must assume that left-side politicians who have also already staked out a position on climate change (Lieberman and others) would also be loath to switch positions based on murkiness of the science. Because the positions are set for many, the political players now must troll for evidence to support their positions. To do so with a straight face, they must also address the credibility of the science they are citing in Senate/House floor speeches and hearing statements. In this case, the credibility of both sides of the hockey stick debate affects the credibility of politicians engaged in a policy debate.

6- Interestingly, this debate has now produced downchain effects, influencing members of the science community quite removed from the direct hockey debate. Questions raised about the legitimacy of the TAR WGI and SPM writing process have amplified questions about the political or value statements by people closely involved with IPCC, such as Drs. Trenberth and Pachauri. Roger has, quite appropriately, warned Dr. Pachauri here and here and discussed Dr. Trenberth in these posts. At stake is the legitimacy of a product for policy-makers which is supposed to be policy and value neutral.

7- The science always moves on, but its use by non-scientists cycles, filters and percolates its way through the aquifer of public policy. Perhaps grasping this concept consciously or intuitively, all players seem to be trying to position themselves favorably to influence the process in the future. How they do in this debate affects that outcome.

To finish: Intuitively, the players in the game know that their battle is a battle for credibility and that in science, as well as in politics, credibility is the most important requirement to being heard and included. Secondarily, in examining the credibility of the HS, Steve McIntryre has found that there are questions to be raised about the legitimacy of an IPCC process that highlighted the HS so brightly. This is why what began as a technical fight over the meaning of esoteric statistical tests has become so important to so many. Unfortunately, that “many” does not include the audience for which the SPM and the use of the HS therein was originally intended.

33 Responses to “IPCC Hockey Stick Matters”

  1. Steve McIntyre Says:

    American xenophobia never ceases to amaze me. Kevin says: “Inaction was the political response to the 2001 SPM presentation of the hockey stick. The hockey stick both as science and icon could not have been more hyped. But They saw it and They didn’t care. By that inaction, the HS lost its salience.”

    That may have been the case in the U.S., but it was not the case in Canada (and no doubt other countries.) As I mentioned in my article, Canadian politicians bought into the hockey stick. The Canadian Minister of the Environment used the hockey stick phrases – the “warmest year” and “warmest decade” of the millennium in virtually every speech on the topic. The Liberal caucus used the phrase. So maybe it wasn’t “salient” in the US, but it sure was in Canada. We are spending real dollars in Canada on Kyoto policy – whether the expenditures accomplish anything is a different story.

    In this case, the Americans are in the same position as (say) France on WMD. The incorrectness of intelligence on WMD is not “salient” to the French since they didn’t adopt any policies based on this intelligence. However, the false intelligence on WMD justifiably arouses continuing interest among Americans regardless of whether one views the war as justified on other grounds.

    We did things in Canada because the IPCC said that the HS was true and represented the outcome of the most rigorous scientific review in history. So don’t tell me that the HS wasn’t “salient” just because it didn’t affect American policy. That’s just xenophobic.

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  3. Steve McIntyre Says:

    That should be “supposedly the most rigorous scientific review”.

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  5. Dano Says:

    Well done, Kevin.

    The overarching issue Steve is, however, the current large-scale ecological changes in response to recent warming. Your prolixity fails to distract from this basic fact.

    It matters little in a practical, adaptive sense whether the MWP was warmer, as the CO2 ppmv and anthropogenically-induced landcover changes and resultant ecosystem response are far more important drivers to adaptation. None of these drivers existed during the MWP so equivalency is problematic.

    Steve’s point regarding baselines has salience wrt tuning models to be more accurate in response to future change scenarios, but adaptive management strategies obviate this potential weakness, provided metrics are monitored and enforced when thresholds are reached.

    The premise Steve seems to be pushing is that the totemic HS is a bad optic for policy-making, because, well, because why? We see the ecosystem responses to our stressors. Does anyone with an ecological education (and those with firing cerebral synapses) think this is sustainable, esp. with increasing human population and exploitative consumption? How does a totem address the need to expand arable land and increase offstream water uses while maintaining ecosytem functionality?

    Come on. “Steve’s” tacit premise is weak at best. The challenges for future adaptation are multifold and none of these challenges are addressed by whether an optic is strictly accurate, as the pressures we humans exert on ecosystems will not be lessened because we discard a totem.

    The totem is a rallying cry and a convenient optic for a worldview – both for those who are self-regarding and for those who are other-regarding. For both of these divergent personality types, the totem provides a galvanizing function; groups and communities are not impelled to action unless galvanized, organized, and motivated to do so.

    This, in my view, is the reason why the debate matters.



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  7. Andrew Dessler Says:


    re: legitimacy of the IPCC reports

    I think it’s quite hard to criticize the written reports of the IPCC over the HS issue. In my opinion, the use of the hockey stick in the IPCC WGI written report looks quite reasonable to me. It is only mentioned once in the summary for policymakers (bullet three under “An increasing body of observations gives a collective picture of a warming world and other changes in the climate system.”) and in that bullet, it says that the hockey stick is “likely” true — meaning, in their nuanced language (see footnote 7), that there’s an approx. 25% chance this statement is wrong. Considering that this was written in 1999-2000, that statement looks like it reflects the peer-reviewed literature that existed then — which is what the IPCC’s reports are supposed to do.

    Individuals and advocacy groups might have used that plot extensively and misrepresented the IPCC’s confidence in it, but that’s hardly the IPCC’s fault. I agree that advocates are using this argument as a way of tainting the science to push a preferred policy position that is not supported by the vast majority of the science.


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  9. TCO Says:

    The one thing is if you defend the IPCC (saying that they endorse or use the MBH with significant caveats and with lack of examination), you can’t say that they validate it (because of the caveats). When someone else comes along and starts checking the algebra…that is much more powerful than people endorsing/using info that has only a sniff test, not an indepth checking.

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  11. Andrew Dessler Says:


    The IPCC written reports are an expert literature review. They make no effort to provide any independent validation/confirmation of the peer-reviewed literature. (ask me if you want to know the practical and philosophical reasons for this) If errors exist in the peer-reviewed literature, they will be copied into the IPCC reports.

    Once people recognize this, I think a lot of the conflict over the IPCC’s written reports will disappear.


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  13. per Says:

    ” nobody in the policy-making world cares ”
    well, maybe; but that is because policy makers never care about any individual bit of science. They care when their science advisers come and tell them “Fact X is true”.

    If the HS is overturned, the policy-makers will care. This is because it will no longer be credible to make the case that global warming is unprecedented, and hence anthropogenic.

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  15. Gregory Lewis Says:

    Even if temperatures were higher during the last millennium that does not mean that the current warming is not anthropogenic. It just means the causes are different. Orbital shifts or variation in sun output could explain past warm spells. ( Although I’m told the former happens on to slow a time scale to explain the MWP, and I don’t think we have any way of knowing about the later).
    It may lead people to modify their understanding of the consequences of a warmer world but it does not mean the current climate change is not anthropogenic.

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  17. kevin v Says:

    Good comments all and sorry for the delay, but my computer time is spotty right now as I’m trying hard to get an elk before the season closes… 8-)
    Steve – Ok, you make a good point, but I’m an American, I live in the U.S., I worked in U.S. politics, I hear U.S. news on the radio, I vote in the U.S., etc. I could make sure I read the Globe and Mail and the Hill Times online and listen to the CBC daily, but you’ve got to pick your battles, you know? I can only keep track of so much…. To call it xenophobia is a little unfair. Further, “We did things in Canada because the IPCC said that the HS was true and represented the outcome of the most rigorous scientific review in history.” I hope this isn’t true. I hope Canadian policy-makers either did something because of what the rest of the report said or because they wanted to anyway. But not *because of* the HS. The vote of support in the House of Commons was 195-77. Are you telling me that you can find 59 politicians who would have voted otherwise without the HS? If you can find that many who go on record as saying such, I’ll take it all back.

    You can also concede, I’m sure, that as the U.S. is the 1.75 billion-pound CO2-belching gorilla, and since due to that the rest of the world is looking for leadership from the U.S. on reducing its carbon output, in general it matters more what U.S. policy-makers think and do than what any other individual country thinks and does. (And that’s *not* to say that what other countries think does not matter. It is to say that when Bill Gates talks about the future of the internet and personal computing, people listen. When Linus Torvalds talks about it, most people say, “who?”)

    Andrew – I agree with you and was arguing that point to Roger in a private email exchange. 8-) I’m not criticizing the IPCC for including it. In their position, I would have included it too. I’m pointing out one of the places the debate has gone, not that I necessarily agree that it should go there.

    per – I agree with your first (“but that is because policy makers never care about any individual bit of science”) but not this: “They care when their science advisers come and tell them ‘Fact X is true’.” In my experience, they care when enough of their constituents perceive something to be a problem, or when they anticipate a perception. The “facts” as a priority are far buried beneath constituent desires. And, “This is because it will no longer be credible to make the case that global warming is unprecedented, and hence anthropogenic” obviously you don’t need the HS to make that case and if we did, we’re in big trouble, as I’ve talked about in other posts.

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  19. Steve McIntyre Says:

    Kevin, I’m not suggesting that you listen to the CBC daily. It would be bad for your sanity to listen to the constant complaining. However, it should not have escaped you that many countries in the world have adopted Kyoto and are spending money on it. You don’t need to listen to CBC daily to be aware of that, so that’s not a good excuse.

    I hardly think that the rest of the world is looking to the US for “leadership” here; they are looking for “followership”. Canada has adopted policies and is spending a lot of money without US leadership or perhaps in spite of US leadership. Again this is just a debating point.

    Anyway all you’ve provided is an “excuse” for why you didn’t consider the impact on other countries. You have not contradicted that the HS was “salient” in your terms to these other countries. If you acknowledge “salience” for these other countries, then the rest of your argument falls apart.

    If you’re suggesting the HS was not “salient” to how Kyoto was sold to the Canadian public, you’re guessing and you could not be more completely wrong. The HS was the main sales icon here. That’s just a matter of fact. It was used to sell the public. It’s how I got interested in it in the first place. It looked highly promotional to me; I was interested in how the promotion worked, without any expectation that anyone would be interested in my thoughts on the matter. I was interested in it purely as a promotion.

    There is no question that people here relied on the IPCC and relied on the HS, just as Americans relied on intelligence about WMD. In both cases, there may be valid alternative reasons, but the HS was just as influential in our policy as WMD was in yours. You folks seem to be a bit bitchy these days about intelligence on WMD. If adverse information about the HS was withheld by IPCC and IPCC authors, then we’re entitled to be bitchy about it as well and maybe even be a little bit jaundiced about new sales pitches from the same folks, no matter how well-meaning.

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  21. Dano Says:

    Steve wrote:

    “If adverse information about the HS was withheld by IPCC and IPCC authors, then we’re entitled to be bitchy about it as well and maybe even be a little bit jaundiced about new sales pitches from the same folks, no matter how well-meaning. ”

    Eliminating the optic/totem does not make the current large-scale ecological changes in response to recent warming go away.

    This on a planet where humans have increased the CO2 content of the atmosphere by ~1/3-ish, appropriate ~40% of the plantet’s NPP, and have roughly doubled the N fixing on top of that.

    No matter how many words you write.



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  23. kevin v Says:

    Steve – maybe we’re talking past one another. Obviously I know that many countries have ratified Kyoto and that many politicians have used the HS in the policy debate. My point was that without living day-to-day in a place I can have no sense of how pervasive was the local salespitch that you describe. You were there, I wasn’t, I trust you that it was pervasive. But my guess is that the icon used doesn’t matter. Certain politicians wanted to make something happen. They had the votes. The props they used were interchangeable – they would have found something (how about figure SPM-2 or something beyond the TAR?). I think you disagree, but that’s ok. As I implied in my first comment, the only way this question can be settled is by interviewing the politicians themselves and asking them if they still would have voted as they did had they never seen the HS figure. In the case of Canada, you have 59 votes to account for, unless I’m reading the political process and outcome there incorrectly.

    As far as your WMD analogy, I think it is relevant in arguing my point: my take on it is that it was clear to everybody with half a brain that WMD was an excuse for a policy direction already decided upon. (I clearly recall a few conversations with conservative friends before we went into Iraq that the WMD line was bull. They acknowledged but to them it didn’t matter, they thought we should invade anyway.) Now WMD is an excuse to attack from the other side. Again, like the HS, it’s just an icon. Something else could have stood in and it would be nice if that “other thing” was actually based in reality, but the policy direction still would have happened regardless. We don’t even need Paul O’Neill to tell us that, but he has.

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  25. Steve McIntyre Says:

    Kevin – analogies and comparisons go only so far and the WMD analogy breaks down at a certain point. In the case of Iraq, you argue that the politicians were set on a policy and, in the British phrase, were arranging the “facts around the policy”. I do not believe that this was the case with climate policy in Canada.

    I think that both the politicians and the public here were genuinely persuaded by the claims that this was the “warmest year” of the millennium and the “warmest decade” and that these claims were essential to Canada’s adopting Kyoto policy. No other evidence was presented to the Canadian public and members of parliament so uniformly.

    There was no advance policy on climate here. The HS was not simply something to drape a prior policy on, as arguably WMD; the HS claims were instrumental in establishing our policy. If the HS claims were not true (which is the point at issue and granted for the purpose of the debate about the HS), then I’m not sure that we would have adopted the policy. If it was just the models on their own, i.e. if people in Canada were told that it was warmer in the MWP but that models showed us that we were on the brink of a precipice, I’m not sure that there would have been sufficient support for Kyoto policy here. People might have been more cautious with the models, since models have not always been very accurate. I think that there was an understanding of this at the IPCC – hence David Deming’s remarkable recollection that they had to “get rid of the MWP”.

    Also, there is one important difference between the Canadian parliamentary system and the U.S. congressional system. The political process here is controlled by the prime minister incomparably more than in the U.S. Individual MPs here have virtually no say. So you don’t have to count 59 MPs; you only have to count Chretien and it would be impossible to figure out his reasons.

    So I reject your claim that the HS was not “salient” to Canadian policy. It was.

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  27. per Says:

    Dear Kevin
    “…obviously you don’t need the HS to make that case ”

    surely, you must have this wrong ? The logic is endorsed in the IPCC TAR summary.

    “Reconstructions of climate data for the past 1,000 years (Figure 1b) also indicate that this warming {per-in the 1990s/20th century-per} was unusual and is unlikely7 to be entirely natural in origin.”

    This is a pivotal part of the case of the IPCC TAR, and without a historical reconstruction of temperature, it would be very difficult to validate models of earth temperature.

    It is also easy to show that the actual historical record is extremely important to the debate about GW. Just imagine that global temperatures fluctuated by 2 degrees every millenium; what factors cause this change ? You would then have to show that these factors are not responsible for current increased temperatures, if you wish to posit an anthropogenic cause of GW.

    Re: politicians. I accept your clarification. I was not trying to be cynical about politicians, but merely trying to establish that the “lack of caring” about the hockey-stick is because they have experts to advise them about what is and isn’t important. I put it to you clearly; if the MBH HS disappears because it is bad science, the reasons for that disappearance will have echoes in the rest of the HS literature. Politicians’advisors will care deeply if the Hockey-sticks disappear, because they are an essential foundation for current theory.

    I chose my words carefully, and we may yet be agreeing. If you wish to make the case that current warming is anthropogenic, there are a whole raft of things you need to do before you can unequivocally establish that to be true. The disappearance of the HS knocks away an extremely important part of the argument for AGW.


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  29. eric Says:

    Roger, you wrote:
    “If the HS had not been included in the TAR SPM, would we be talking about this?”
    I think that is a fair question. I think the answer is, “no probably not here, and perhaps not even on RealClimate.”
    But we would be talking about it still in the scientific literature, because the magnitude of century-scale climate variabilty is a fundamentally interesting problem to climate scientists.

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  31. Roger Pielke, Jr. Says:

    eric- Agreed, 100%.

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  33. Steve McIntyre Says:


    over at realclimate, you made an untrue statement about data availability in connection with the phrase:

    “We’ve been working on this for over 25 years. Why should we make our data available to you?”

    The quotation comes from Phil Jones, in a refusal to provide station data to Warwick Hughes. Jones remains unrepentant and this refusal is ongoing to this day.

    As to the Mann data, it has not “always been available”. Some information was available in 1998. Proxies and other info for MBH99 were available in 1999. In April 2003,the proxy data was not in the public section of Mann’s FTP site (which itself started only in July 2002). When I inquired in April 2003, Rutherford said that there was no public location of the data and after a few weeks provided a URL in the /sdr/ directory, pointing to a file which had been archived in August 2002. There turned out to be problems with this dataset and after publication of our first article in Oct 2003, Mann placed the directory now labelled MBH98 in the public area of his FTP site in Nov 2003 and deleted the dataset in the /sdr/ directory previously referenced. The data as used in this new directory was inconsistent with the original SI in some respects and Nature required a Corrigendum which was published in July 2004. Unusually, Nature also required a complete new SI.

    One of the reasons was that the number of PC series used could not be decoded from the Nov 2003 directory and was provided for the first time in the Corrigendum SI in July 2004 (which also provided the underlying temperature dataset no longer available from CRU). You remember the 159 series which Mann said were used in Nov 2003 – this could not be deduced from the Nov 2003 directories. Of course, this figure was also incorrect. It looks like the July 2004 dataset relates to the one originally used, although the source code posted up in connection with the Barton inquiry calls for datafiles that do not exist in any of the presently archived datafiles. While it is possible to approximately replicate MBH98 results (as both we and Wahl and Ammann have done – and our current emulations are almost identical), neither of us has been able to replicate MBH98 results exactly. This is aside from the inaccurate description of methodology in MBH98 – most notably the inaccurate description of principal components methodology which we have discussed elsewhere. But there are other oddities which one would never have guessed – such as arbitrary extensions of some series and truncations ofother series, and the use of obsolete and/or grey versions of other series. Residual series used for calculation of verification statistics remain unavailable to this day. So don’t say that this has “always” been available.

    As to other multiproxy studies: Crowley has “misplaced” his original data and was only able to locate a smoothed and transformed version of his data. He also could not recall where he got the digital versions of certain series, so this is problematic.

    Briffa has never identified even the sites used in Briffa et al [2001]. Some of the data used in Esper et al [2002] may be archived, but much isn’t and it is impossible to verify versions. Most of Moberg’s data is located in public archives, but some isn’t and he has been unable or unwilling to provide the missing data. Some of the data used in Mann and Jones [2003] is not archived. Phil Jones says that he doesn’t know the weights used in this study.

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  35. Steve Bloom Says:

    FYI, Warwick Hughes is a liar: By way of trying to make a case (http://www.warwickhughes.com/cool/cool13.htm) that this year was not a record low for Arctic sea ice as claimed by the National Snow and Ice Data Center, he posted an analysis by Willis Eschenbach that first quoted without attribution the NSIDC press release and then discussed a data set from the University of Illinois that is based on an entirely different metric than the NSIDC’s. This could have been part of a fair case to be made that if both metrics fail to agree that it’s a record year then perhaps it’s not much of a record year, but that’s not what WE did. Why hand over data to someone who will misuse it in this way?

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  37. Steve McIntyre Says:

    The data should be public. It’s not up to Jones to conduct a beauty contest.

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  39. Hans Erren Says:

    Steve Bloom why do you (try to) change the subject? Perhaps are you trying to shoot the messenger who found that Phil Jones doesn’t want to show his work?

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  41. Dano Says:


    I believe your post got cut off when you hit ‘Post’.

    It should read: “Perhaps are you trying to shoot the messenger who found that Phil Jones doesn’t want to show his work to amateurs who wish to flood the zone and waste researcher’s time?”

    There! Fixed.

    This seems to be the new strategy.



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  43. Hans Erren Says:


    Phil Jones can still hide behind WMO resolution 40, which prohibits release of licenced data.

    But read carefully:
    “Even if WMO agrees, I will still not pass on the data. We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.”

    Sorry, if he doesn’t want others to “try and find something wrong with it.”, then he shouldn’t publish results!

    Finally can you please give a reference of ONE ‘real’ scientist who investigated Jones’work? Or is this again “Trust me, I am a doctor”?

    Counter example: 299 years of Dutch daily weather data is available for free on the internet.

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  45. Dano Says:

    Keep pushing your narrative Hans. I enjoy the gavotte.

    Can you place your quote in greater context, rather than lifting it up and plopping it?

    When argumentation does that, it has the disadvantage of confusing a reader, and thus making it look like not all information is being provided. When we are convinced we are right, we want to give all information, as you insist.



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  47. Steve McIntyre Says:

    /in July 2004, Warwick Hughes sent an email to Phil Jones as follows:

    Dear Jean Palutikof, Dr P.D. Jones,I was just reading your web page at; http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/info/warming/ and wish to access the station by station temperature data, updated through 2001 referred to on your CRU web page; http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/#datdow as “Over land regions of the world over 3000 monthly station temperature timeseries are used.”Where can I download the latest station by station data which is a foundation of Dr Jones et al published papers ? Note, I am not asking about the CRU gridded data which I can see on your web site. Looking forward to your help, Best wishes, Warwick Hughes

    After many months of runaround, in February 2005, Phil Jones finally brushed Hughes off as follows: “I should warn you that some data we have we are not supposed top pass on to others. We can pass on the gridded data – which we do. Even if WMO agrees, I will still not pass on the data. We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it. There is IPR to consider.”

    Does that help? I presume that you’ll now suggest to Jones that he make the information available.

    Dano, the availability of this stuff is nothing to do with amateurs; it should be available period. If you read McCullough on experience with empirical econometrics, the reluctance of authors to have anyone check their work is not unique to climatologists, although they are particularly sensitive.

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  49. David Stockwell Says:

    Eric you wrote:
    “Roger, you wrote:
    “If the HS had not been included in the TAR SPM, would we be talking about this?” I think that is a fair question. I think the answer is, “no probably not here, and perhaps not even on RealClimate.” ”

    Instead of a hypothetical that most would agree on, consider “If any other piece of climate research had been included in the TAR SPM and exposed to the same level of scrutiny by M&M would we be still talking about this.” On this hypothetical I think you would get very divergent opinions along the AGW-skeptic axis and better captures the broader implications of their work. To comment on the original post, I believe you are saying there have been many efforts at containment at work, first to MGH, then to the HS, then to the IPCC, and these concentric circles keep expanding outwards. The “Oil for Food” scandal might be a more appropriate analogy as it involves the next circle of the parent organization of the IPCC, the UN. Next circle, peer review and Nature publication standards, which is where it all started with the release of emails between McIntyre and Nature.

    In audits, the motivation for hiding the basic data is usually irrelevant, the mere act creates suspicion. M&M do science a great service with their gratis attention to details that lovers of science should be thankful for.

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  51. Dano Says:


    Context. Context. Context.

    Context is important, and muddying the context drives the narrative on your site forward.

    The issue is _not_ whether amateurs can or cannot have access to data. I don’t have an issue with that, nor with the assertion that there should be some Data Quality Standards. I agree. Maybe more disciplines need to allocate a portion of their time to better documentation. Great. Fantastic. Make it so. Yes. Boo-ya. Ooh-rah. Amateurs on advocacy sites, make your little charts and discuss amongst yourselves.

    However. It sure does appear, Steve, that amateurs are flooding the zone and copycatting the ‘audit’ routine.

    I, certainly, would look at a request from a Warwick Hughes and say to myself ‘hit piece’. Just as likely everyone else is doing.

    Fer chrissake, Steve, lookit the comments on your site. Do you really that any scientist, after reading some of those guys, might think there’s a risk of you writing a hit piece with their data? Gimme a break. And Warwick Hughes? Haw.

    That’s the context. Who cares whether you like it or not.

    The narrative coming out of your site is conflating an unwillingness to work with somebody into a story that PIs reacting to requests from you have something to hide. Thus, a Grand Conspiracy!!!!! These guys need to keep their funding and keep driving their Audis!! See! Conspiracy! and other such ululating.

    Folk see Warwick Hughes, Steve McIntyre, and other non-climate scientists making requests and, gosh, they might think another hit piece might be coming down the road…after all, it’s not like there’s no precedent here to draw upon – that first piece was a hatchet job and you know it. Don’t tell me no one gave you advice on how that’s exactly what it would look like if you publish that way. That’s what happened.

    So that’s how we have to sell it: gee…it sure is bad, isn’t it, that scientist X isn’t cooperating. Hiding something, yupyup.

    Well, they aren’t cooperating with someone who says things like this [again, HTML in comments would be nice]:


    and is assw:


    Suuure. They’re not cooperating, see, so that means they have something to hide, see, yup?


    You may have a percentage of the population that falls for that routine, but I hain’t rid on no turnip truck, son.

    So no, Steve, you presume incorrectly about what I think of Jones spending time with Warwick Hughes, and I suggest WH can:

    1. wait until the Data Quality revolution comes around and standards/conventions are changed to make data available to the teeming masses,
    2. play phone mail tag until Jones becomes not busy enough to spend some valuable time with an amateur who may or may not write a hit piece about some work he did,
    3. get cred by, oh gosh I dunno, publishing empirical research and disavowing associations with Milloy-types.



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  53. Roger Pielke, Jr. Says:

    Steve, Dano-

    Dano’s post on data (not computer code, to be clear, but data would include computer model output used in peer-reviewed publications) is a plausible explation for why this conflict exists. I think that he is absolutely right when he says that some scientists withold data based on personal judgments of (a) how the data might be used (Dano expresses concerns about “hit pieces”), or (b) scientists perceptions of the political leanings or associations of the requestor (Dano expresses a desire for data requestors to disavow associations with “Milloy-types”, presumably referring to Steven milloy of the JunkScience web site).

    If this is indeed accurate, then it seems to me that it provides a good reason for data policies. Let me say that I too find some of the comments at ClimateAudit to be way off target. And I also an no fan of Steven Milloy. But at the same time, so what? Blacklists and discrimination makes me nervous. If someone asked me for data related to my research, would I be justified by replying, “I don’t like the commentary on your WWW site, or peole whom you endorse, so no you can’t have it”? I don’t think so.

    It seems to me that the USGCRP, which has the legal mandate to fund climate reserch in the US has it about right in its data managment statement:


    In particular:

    “Preservation of all data needed for long-term global change research is required. For each and every global change data parameter, there should be at least one explicitly designated archive. Procedures and criteria for setting priorities for data acquisition, retention, and purging should be developed by participating agencies, both nationally and internationally. A clearing-house process should be established to prevent the purging and loss of important data sets.”


    “For those programs in which selected principal investigators have initial periods of exclusive data use, data should be made openly available as soon as they become widely useful. In each case, the funding agency should explicitly define the duration of any exclusive-use period.”

    The problem as I see it is that Steve McIntyre is focusing in the wrong place to resolve his concerns. This is not an issue specific to particular researchers, but a failure of the research agencies to enforce their own data policies. Scientists don’t have either the time or inclination to act as data services. This is why data policies and centers exist.

    The solution to this problem is not to squabble with scientists, but to take those actions needed to get the agencies to enforce their existing policies.

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  55. Dano Says:

    Yes – excellent Roger. Thank you.

    This would help eliminate these gamie-games, esp. wrt your

    “[s]cientists don’t have either the time or inclination to act as data services. This is why data policies and centers exist.”




  56. 29
  57. Steve McIntyre Says:

    Roger and Dano, you’re being unfair to my predicament and my views here. I am well aware of data archiving policies not simply of the US GCRP, but of the implementation or non-implementation of that policy by the various agencies, including NSF and DOE. Here are posts on data archiving
    US GCRP http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=115
    nsf http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=279
    also here http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=403
    and passim here http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=277

    After being rebuffed by individual scientists, I sought assistance from NSF and was rebuffed by them as well. I have posted up correspondence from NSF, which culminated in an absurd declaration from Margaret Leinen that the data which I sought was already posted up at WDCP. I think that most of you realize that I;m pretty careful about these things and would not have mentioned data that was up at WDCP. My NSF correspondence begins here: http://www.climate2003.com/correspondence/nsf.031215.htm

    I have also attempted to get Nature and Science to implement their data archiving policies, which has had some small dividends, including the first release of sample-by-sample data by Thompson, although it was only for 2 cores from one site and only dO18 data. See, inter alia, http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=327

    I have had quite a different reaction from non-Hockey Team authors. For example, I suggested to Kameda and Hughen that they archive certain unarchived data with WDCP, which they did promptly and courteously.

    You should also note that the Barton Committee has taken an interest in NSF’s disinterest in enforcing US GRCP policies and sent a letter to NSF, which is not entirely unrelated to my comments at climateaudit. I am hopeful that they will cause a shakeup in NSF policies. I asked Margaret Leinen at the CCSP workshop about why they didn’t require grantees to archive data. After an initially unresponsive answer, she said to stay tuned to their website.

    I certainly don’t expect scientists to act as data services. I do expect them to comply with the terms of their grants and for the granting agencies to enforce compliance by them with the terms of their grants.

    I also strongly urge paleoclimate journals to require authors to archive source code and data as used as a condition of submission for publication. This is required in empirical econometrics and is best practice. There’s no excuse for anything less than best practice in a field that has policy relevance.

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  59. Hans Erren Says:

    “[s]cientists don’t have either the time or inclination to act as data services. This is why data policies and centers exist.”

    Exactly: Real scientists submit their data to data centers or share their ftp sites, to advance science.
    Science is difficult enough without also having to hunt data. Additionally to that, proxy data have a serious versioning problem, just citing “Polar Urals” doesn’t indicate which version was used..

    Bottom line: a result is not scientific without proper method description and input.

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  61. Dano Says:

    >>Real scientists submit their data to data centers or share their ftp sites, to advance science. >a result is not scientific without proper method description and input. <<

    Your talking point still needs work. Back to the drawing board, keeping in mind you need to address the fact in mind that you can’t retroactively expect data availability in a service that didn’t exist at the time.


  62. 32
  63. Dano Says:

    hmmm…try this instead:

    “Real scientists submit their data to data centers or share their ftp sites, to advance science. ”

    They do?!? What are the names of these data centers, and why doesn’t my Uni have a sub to one?

    “a result is not scientific without proper method description and input. ”

    Your talking point still needs work. Back to the drawing board, keeping in mind you need to address the fact in mind that you can’t retroactively expect data availability in a service that didn’t exist at the time.


  64. 33
  65. Hans Erren Says:


    Climateaudit is the living example that climate scientists are sloppy with their data.

    Now how did I find out that Arrhenius calculations of 1896 were based on water vapour and not CO2? Because Langley published his spectra and observations.

    Check the http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/data.html

    search for Luterbacher: his digital results of his european temperature reconstruction are not even there.
    search for Chuine: her results are there.

    Check knmi for all their old daily data

    See? Easy in 2005, Easy in 1896