Saturday, November 21, 2009

Another CRU Email...

The current climate models employed by the warmenist scientists use a temperature series that is based largely on tree ring data as a proxy for temperature.  Having grown up on a tree nursery, I was skeptical of the basic assumption that tree ring width in an individual tree will vary primarily because of ambient temperature.  I have personally observed much variance in the growth rate of trees based on other factors, like rainfall, nutrients in the ground, predation by animals, etc.  Certainly temperature has some effect on tree growth rate, but other factors also do.

So when I read this email (1256760240.txt) in the collection hacked from CRU, I was most interested.  Again, I've bolded and footnoted the sections I found interesting:
From: Phil Jones To:
Subject: FW: Yamal and paleoclimatology
Date: Wed Oct 28 16:04:00 2009

       There is a lot more there on CA now. I would be very wary about responding to this person now having seen  what McIntyre has put up. You and Tim talked about Yamal. Why have the bristlecones come in now.
    This is what happens - they just keep moving the goalposts.
    Maybe get Tim to redo OB2006 without a few more series.

     X-Authentication-Warning: defang set sender to
     using -f
     Subject: FW: Yamal and paleoclimatology
     Date: Wed, 28 Oct 2009 15:39:48 -0000
     Thread-Topic: Yamal and paleoclimatology
     Thread-Index: AcpDQ2sqWC+z2djuSqC1Ax4HdHoH1wUn1Ocw
     From: "Keiller, Donald"
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     Dear Professor Briffa, I am pleased to hear that you appear to have recovered from your recent illness sufficiently to post a response to the controversy surrounding the use of the Yamal chronology;
     and the chronology itself;
     Unfortunately I find your explanations lacking in scientific rigour and I am more inclined to believe the analysis of McIntyre1
     Can I have a straightforward answer to the following questions
     1) Are the reconstructions sensitive to the removal of either the Yamal data and Strip pine bristlecones, either when present singly or in combination?
     2) Why these series, when incorporated with white noise as a background, can still produce a Hockey-Stick shaped graph if they have, as you suggest, a low individual weighting?
     And once you have done this, please do me the courtesy of answering my initial email.
     Dr. D.R. Keiller
     -----Original Message-----
     From: Keiller, Donald
     Sent: 02 October 2009 10:34
     To: ''
     Cc: ''
     Subject: Yamal and paleoclimatology
     Dear Professor Briffa, my apologies for contacting you directly, particularly since I hear that you are unwell.
     However the recent release of tree ring data by CRU has prompted much discussion and indeed disquiet about the methodology and conclusions of a number of key papers by you and co-workers.
     As an environmental plant physiologist, I have followed the long debate starting with Mann et al (1998) and through to Kaufman et al (2009).
     As time has progressed I have found myself more concerned with the whole scientific basis of dendroclimatology2. In particular;
     1) The appropriateness of the statistical analyses employed
     2) The reliance on the same small datasets in these multiple studies
     3) The concept of "teleconnection" by which certain trees respond to the
     "Global Temperature Field", rather than local climate
     4) The assumption that tree ring width and density are related to temperature in a linear manner.
     Whilst I would not describe myself as an expert statistician, I do use inferential statistics routinely for both research and teaching and find difficulty in understanding the statistical rationale in these papers3.
     As a plant physiologist I can say without hesitation that points 3 and 4 do not agree with the accepted science.
     There is a saying that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof".
     Given the scientific, political and economic importance of these papers, further detailed explanation is urgently required.
     Yours sincerely,
     Dr. Don Keiller.

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   Prof. Phil Jones
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One thing that's clear from reading a hundred or so of these emails: the warmenist scientists are quite obsessed with, and defensive about, the Climate Audit web site by Steve McIntyre.  I've long linked to McIntyre's site as one of the best global warming skeptical sites I'd found.  I consider now that my choice has been completely validated!

I don't know anything about the Dr. Donald Keiller who wrote two of the emails in this thread, other than that I was able to confirm (via Google) that Dr. Keiller indeed exists, and works in the field implied in his emails.

My comments:

1. Dr. Keiller read of the controversy regarding the tree ring data being used in the temperature series on McIntyre's Climate Audit site.  He wrote to the authors for clarification.  They never responded, though they did post comments to the articles on Climate Audit.  Dr. Keiller finds McIntyre (a skeptic) more credible.

2. But more interestingly to me, Dr. Keiller questions the entire basis of dendroclimatology (using tree rings to infer anything about the climate).  The Wikipedia article I linked to explains the questions pretty clearly.  This is a big problem for the warmenists, as a major element of their models is the temperature series, which is in turn partly compised of dendroclimatology data.

3. Dr. Keiller is one of many scientists who have called BS on the warmenists creative use of statistics.  It's too bad that this hijacked email contained no more specifics.

Another CRU Email...

This one put a smile on my face.  A scientist I'd not heard of before (Tom Wigley) takes the warmenist scientists to task:
From: Tom Wigley
To:,, Klaus Hasselmann , Jill Jaeger ,,,,,,
Subject: Re: ATTENTION. Invitation to influence Kyoto.
Date: Tue, 25 Nov 1997 11:52:09 -0700 (MST)
Reply-to: Tom Wigley
Cc: Mike Hulme ,

Dear Eleven,

I was very disturbed by your recent letter, and your attempt to get
others to endorse it.  Not only do I disagree with the content of
this letter, but I also believe that you have severely distorted the
IPCC "view" when you say that "the latest IPCC assessment makes a
convincing economic case for immediate control of emissions."  In contrast
to the one-sided opinion expressed in your letter, IPCC WGIII SAR and TP3
review the literature and the issues in a balanced way presenting
arguments in support of both "immediate control" and the spectrum of more
cost-effective options.  It is not IPCC's role to make "convincing cases"
for any particular policy option; nor does it.  However, most IPCC readers
would draw the conclusion that the balance of economic evidence favors the
emissions trajectories given in the WRE paper.  This is contrary to your

This is a complex issue, and your misrepresentation of it does you a
dis-service.  To someone like me, who knows the science, it is
apparent that you are presenting a personal view, not an informed,
balanced scientific assessment.  What is unfortunate is that this will not
be apparent to the vast majority of scientists you have contacted.  In
issues like this, scientists have an added responsibility to keep their
personal views separate from the science, and to make it clear to others
when they diverge from the objectivity they (hopefully) adhere to in their
scientific research.  I think you have failed to do this.

Your approach of trying to gain scientific credibility for your personal
views by asking people to endorse your letter is reprehensible.  No
scientist who wishes to maintain respect in the community should ever
endorse any statement unless they have examined the issue fully
themselves.  You are asking people to prostitute themselves by doing just
this!  I fear that some will endorse your letter, in the mistaken belief
that you are making a balanced and knowledgeable assessment of the science
-- when, in fact, you are presenting a flawed view that neither accords
with IPCC nor with the bulk of the scientific and economic literature on
the subject.

Let me remind you of the science.  The issue you address is one of the
timing of emissions reductions below BAU.  Note that this is not the same
as the timing of action -- and note that your letter categorically
addresses the former rather than the latter issue.  Emissions reduction
timing is epitomized by the differences between the Sxxx and WRExxx
pathways towards CO2 concentration stabilization.  It has been clearly
demonstrated in the literature that the mitigation costs of following an
Sxxx pathway are up to five times the cost of following an equivalent
WRExxx pathway.  It has also been shown that there is likely to be an
equal or greater cost differential for non-Annex I countries, and that the
economic burden in Annex I countries would fall disproportionately on
poorer people.

Furthermore, since there has been no credible analysis of the benefits
(averted impacts) side of the equation, it is impossible to assess fully
the benefits differential between the Sxxx and WRExxx stabilization
profiles.  Indeed, uncertainties in predicting the regional details of
future climate change that would arise from following these pathways, and
the even greater uncertainties that attend any assessment of the impacts
of such climate changes, preclude any credible assessment of the relative
benefits.  As shown in the WRE paper (Nature v. 379, pp. 240-243), the
differentials at the global-mean level are so small, at most a few tenths
of a degree Celsius and a few cm in sea level rise and declining to
minuscule amounts as the pathways approach the SAME target, that it is
unlikely that an analysis of future climate data could even distinguish
between the pathways.  Certainly, given the much larger noise at the
regional level, and noting that even the absolute changes in many
variables at the regional level remain within the noise out to 2030 or
later, the two pathways would certainly be indistinguishable at the
regional level until well into the 21st century.

The crux of this issue is developing policies for controlling greenhouse
gas emissions where the reductions relative to BAU are neither too much,
too soon (which could cause serious economic hardship to those who are
most vulnerable, poor people and poor countries) nor too little, too late
(which could lead to future impacts that would be bad for future
generations of the same groups).  Our ability to quantify the economic
consequences of "too much, too soon" is far better than our ability to
quantify the impacts that might arise from "too little, too late" -- to
the extent that we cannot even define what this means!  You appear to be
putting too much weight on the highly uncertain impacts side of the
equation.  Worse than this, you have not even explained what the issues
are.  In my judgment, you are behaving in an irresponsible way that does
you little credit.  Furthermore, you have compounded your sin by actually
putting a lie into the mouths of innocents ("after carefully examining the
question of timing of emissions reductions, we find the arguments against
postponement to be more compelling").  People who endorse your letter will
NOT have "carefully examined" the issue.

When scientists color the science with their own PERSONAL views or make
categorical statements without presenting the evidence for such
statements, they have a clear responsibility to state that that is what
they are doing.  You have failed to do so.  Indeed, what you are doing is,
in my view, a form of dishonesty more subtle but no less egregious than
the statements made by the greenhouse skeptics, Michaels, Singer et al.  I
find this extremely disturbing.

Tom Wigley

On Tue, 11 Nov 1997, Tim Mitchell wrote:

> Reference:  Statement of European Climate Scientists on Actions to Protect
> Global Climate
> Dear Colleague,
> Attached at the end of this email is a Statement, the purpose of which is
> to bolster or increase governmental and public support for controls of
> emissions of greenhouse gases in European and other industrialised
> countries in the negotiations during the Kyoto Climate Conference in
> December 1997. The Statement was drafted by a number of prominent European
> scientists concerned with the climate issue, 11 of whom are listed after
> the Statement and who are acting as formal sponsors of the Statement.
> *****  The 11 formal sponsors are: *****
> Jan Goudriaan        Hartmut Grassl    Klaus Hasselmann    Jill J‰ger
> Hans Opschoor        Tim O'Riordan        Martin Parry        David Pearce
> Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber            Wolfgang Seiler    Pier Vellinga
> After endorsements from many hundreds of other European climate-related
> scientists are collected (and we hope that you agree to be one of these), the
> Statement will be brought to the attention of key decision-makers (e.g. EU
> Kyoto negotiaters and Environment Ministers) and other opinion-makers in
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> November. The UK and other European WWF offices have agreed to assist in
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> We would very much like you to endorse this Statement.  Unfortunately, at
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> ____________________________________________________________________________
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> future. Future society may find that some climate impacts are positive, as
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> Some may say that action to control emissions should be postponed because
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> climate change", as stated in the Framework Convention on Climate Change.
> We also acknowledge that economic arguments have been put forward for
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> interference with the climate system" and to lessen risks to society and
> nature.   Such substantive action is needed now.
> *Third Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate
> Change, Kyoto, Japan, December, 1997.
> Signed:
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> Jill J‰ger            Hans Opschoor            Tim O'Riordan
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> Wolfgang Seiler        Pier Vellinga   
> ____________________________________________________________________________
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       *Tom M.L. Wigley                        *
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