michael mann

Wegman's Report Highly Politicized - and Fatally Flawed

“Independent” Hockey Stick analysis revealed as Republican set-up

The purportedly independent report that Dr. Edward Wegman prepared in 2006 for the Congressional Committee on Energy and Commerce was actually a partisan set-up, according to information revealed today.

Wegman, who had presented himself as an impartial “referee” between two “teams” debating the quality of the so-called Hockey Stick graph was, in fact, coached throughout his review by Republican staffer Peter Spencer. Wegman and his colleagues also worked closely with one of the teams (and especially with retired mining stock promoter Stephen McIntyre) to try to replicate criticism of the Hockey Stick graph, while at the same time foregoing contact with the actual authors of the seminal climate reconstruction.

The Hockey Stick refers to a graph (by Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes) that became a defining image of the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It also became a target for Steve McIntyre and the Guelph University economist Ross McKitrick, who since 2002, at least, has been a paid spokesperson for ExxonMobil-backed think tanks such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the Fraser Institute.

Breaking: Penn State inquiry finds no evidence for allegations against Michael Mann

Penn State University has concluded that there is no evidence to substantiate the claims made against climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann surrounding the emails stolen from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University.

An inquiry panel was set up earlier this year to look at allegations made by right-wing bloggers and media outlets against Penn State University climate scientist, Dr. Michael Mann, relating to the contents of emails stolen from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in London.

On all 4 of the allegations made against Dr. Mann the panel has concluded that there is no evidence to substantiate the claims. 

However, the panel has recommended that the allegation that Dr. Mann “engaged in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting or reporting research or other scholarly activities,” be further investigated.

Dr. Mann issued a statement today on the findings, saying that:

I am very pleased that, after a thorough review, the independent Penn State committee found no evidence to substantiate the allegations against me.

Three of the four allegations have been dismissed completely. Even though no evidence to substantiate the fourth allegation was found, the University administrators thought it best to convene a separate committee of distinguished scientists to resolve any remaining questions about academic procedures.

This is very much the vindication I expected since I am confident I have done nothing wrong.

I fully support the additional inquiry which may be the best way to remove any lingering doubts. I intend to cooperate fully in this matter – as I have since the beginning of the process.

The full report of the inquiry panel can be found here: Concerning the Allegations of Research Misconduct Against Dr. Michael E. Mann

The Commonwealth Foundation's Favorite Strawman

When it comes to the art of political rhetoric there is nothing more effective then the straw man technique.

It’s simple: instead of using sound logic and evidence to discredit an idea or policy, just brand an individual as representative of the idea and then knock them down.

On the issue of climate change, you can see this technique in action with the right-wing Commonwealth Foundation trying to discredit the work of a single climate expert, Dr. Michael Mann, as a means of discrediting the entire body of climate change science.

The Commonwealth Foundation recently published a “policy brief” called Climategate & Penn State, a 12-page attack that tries to frame Dr. Mann as the orchestrator behind some grand conspiracy, which is the key to a good stick man attack.

The Real “Climategate” Story – Current Climate Satellites are Woefully Inadequate

The media missed the real story about the so-called “climate-gate” scandal.

After thousands of emails were mysteriously stolen from the University of East Anglia and distributed just before the climate conference in Copenhagen, many news outlets seemed content to report the story as it was presented to them rather than bothering to read the emails in the context they were written.

A closer look at these candid messages reveals a very different problem than the supposed scientific conspiracy theory that’s been in high rotation in the media. This previously unreported story also shows why launching the long-mothballed Deep Space Climate Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) is more urgent now than ever.

Lets start with perhaps the most widely distributed and misunderstood of the stolen emails, of October 12, 2009 from Dr. Keith Trenberth to Michael Mann, which reads:

The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.

A Review of Michael Mann's Exoneration

In the endless - and senseless - assault on Michael Mann and his famous hockey stick graph, it is generally overlooked that the graph has withstood all of the criticism and, still today, stands as a perfectly accurate picture of climate over the past millennia.

Most convincingly, its results have been replicated by other methods, using other proxies on more than a dozen occasions.

As well, however, Mann’s conclusions were vindicated in two independent reviews, the second of which, by Edward Wegman, was particularly hostile in it conception, but ultimately exculpatory. Arie Brand covered this so well in a comment to the next post that I felt compelled to reproduce his note here, for the convenience of those who are too offended by the trolls to pick through all of the excellent comments buried among the mindless criticisms.

Thank you Arie:

Michael Mann in his own words on the stolen CRU emails

With all the wild accusations flying around over the illegally obtained email correspondence from the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit, I thought I would ask one of the scientists in the middle of the issue to provide some context.

Penn State University climate scientist, Dr. Michael Mann, whose name appears in some of the stolen emails, provided me with a run-down of the emails that involve him. His responses provide some much needed context and give you an idea of just how wildly some people have blown this story out of proportion.

What follows is quotes taken directly from the stolen emails, followed by Dr. Mann’s response:

1. “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i. e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” (from Phil Jones).

Phil Jones has publicly gone on record indicating that he was using the term “trick” in the sense often used by people, as in “bag of tricks”, or “a trick to solving this problem …”, or “trick of the trade”.

In referring to our 1998 Nature article, he was pointing out simply the following: our proxy record ended in 1980 (when the proxy data set we were using terminates) so, it didn’t include the warming of the past two decades.

In our Nature-article we therefore also showed the post-1980 instrumental data that was then available through 1995, so that the reconstruction could be viewed in the context of recent instrumental temperatures. The separate curves for the reconstructed temperature series and for the instrumental data were clearly labeled.

The reference to “hide the decline” is referring to work that I am not directly associated with, but instead work by Keith Briffa and colleagues.

The “decline” refers to a well-known decline in the response of only a certain type of tree-ring data (high-latitude tree-ring density measurements collected by Briffa and colleagues) to temperatures after about 1960.

In their original article in Nature in 1998, Briffa and colleagues are very clear that the post-1960 data in their tree-ring dataset should not be used in reconstructing temperatures due to a problem known as the “divergence problem” where their tree-ring data decline in their response to warming temperatures after about 1960.

Hide” was therefore a poor word choice, since the existence of this decline, and the reason not to use the post 1960 data because of it, was not only known, but was indeed the point emphasized in the original Briffa et al Nature article. There is a summary of that article available on this NOAA site.

A Question of Framing

What a difference a year can make. While the consensus on the Hill may not have grown stronger in the interim—I’m looking at you, House Republicans—the American public seems to be increasingly wising up to the idea that global warming is, in fact, a real threat and not some nefarious liberal plot to deprive it of its God-given right to pollute.

That is the principal finding of a new survey, entitled “Global Warming’s Six Americas,” that was released this past week by the Center for American Progress. The survey, which the authors describe as an “audience segmentation analysis,” splits the American public into six distinct groups based on their level of engagement with global warming: alarmed, concerned, cautious, disengaged, doubtful, and dismissive.

The authors polled 2,129 American adults in the fall of 2008 on a variety of issues related to global warming, including risk perceptions, policy preferences, and values.

Parsing Dennis Avery's Other Dubious Claims

Dennis Avery may have done the fact-challenged (yes, again) WaPo columnist George Will one better by actually admitting he’d “misstated” that CO2 levels at Mauna Loa were declining (when they were, in fact, quite clearly rising), but the remainder of his column was so error-filled that I thought it deserved another look.

Take the first half of the piece, in which he approvingly cites Australian – and Oxford-trained – research physicist Tom Quirk to make the jaw-dropping argument that natural climate variability, and not anthropogenic activity, is to blame for elevated atmosphere CO2 levels. A quick look at Avery’s list of citations informs us that Quirk’s article appeared in a recent issue of Energy and Environment, a “peer-reviewed” journal curated by Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, which does not inspire great confidence in its scientific rigor.

Hockey Stick Rises Again

The fabled “hockey stick” - Michael Mann's graph showing the last decade to be the warmest in a 1,000 years - has re-emerged, stronger and longer than ever.

In a peer-reviewed paper published today in the online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Mann and six other scientists show that current warming is the most severe in more than 1,300 years - 1,700 if you accept still-controversial data drawns from tree rings.

Nature to Palin: "I'm Hotter Than You!"

Researchers confirm that surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere were warmer over the last 10 years than any time during the last 1300 years, and, if the climate scientists include the somewhat controversial data derived from tree-ring records, the warming is anomalous for at least 1700 years.


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