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  • 11-Sep-10 BOOK REVIEW "The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science."
  • 31-Jul-10 BOOK REVIEW: Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming,
  • SEPP SCIENCE EDITORIAL #25-2010
    (in TWTW Sep 11, 2010)

    S. Fred Singer, Chairman and President , Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

    BOOK REVIEW "The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science."

    Sep 11, 2010

    By A.W. Montford. Stacey International. London. 2010. 482pp.

    Andrew Montford, a Scot, blogs under the name of Bishop Hill. I have not met him personally, but in correspondence with him I generally address him as Your Grace a bit of humor.

    This is probably the best book about the Hockey Stick. And while some of the detail may be overwhelming to the innocent reader, it does present all of the relevant facts as far as I can tell. You will not only become an expert on tree rings, and get to know trees by their first name, so to speak, but you will also get to learn about difficult statistical concepts, such as principal component analysis. PCA is an important statistical technique and one which the originator of the Hockey Stick, Professor Michael Mann, apparently failed to fully grasp.

    There is little one can add to Montford's comprehensive account, so I will just supply some personal details. My own involvement in the hockey-stick affair is of no real consequence -- and certainly not as important as that of the Canadians, Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick. They are the ones who broke the Hockey Stick, and Professor Edward Wegman of George Mason University, an expert statistician, provided the finishing touches.

    I first learned of the Hockey Stick by reading the original paper by Mann, Bradley, and Hughes in Nature in 1998 and was surprised that it showed an extended decline of global (or NH) temperatures since the year 1000AD, until a sudden and major warming in the 20th century (the blade of the Hockey Stick). But providing some reassurance, there seemed to be good overlap between 1900 and 1980 with the instrumental record of Phil Jones, which showed a continuing rise in temperature from 1980 to the end of the century.

    I had no basis to question the MBH work, but I noticed that the proxy record suddenly stopped in 1980 and did not extend beyond.

    At that time, I was heavily influenced by the satellite data of Christy and Spencer that showed no atmospheric warming trend from 1979 to 1997 -- in contrast to Jones' surface data from weather stations. Since Mann was using the Jones temperature data for calibration of the proxy record, I asked Mann if he had any post-1980 proxies. He replied rather brusquely that there were no suitable data available. This was my only exchange with Mann, and I've preserved those emails.

    Of course, I did not believe Mann, since I knew of tree ring data (by Jacoby in 1996) that showed no temperature rise since 1940 (see figure 16 in my 1997 book Hot Talk Cold Science). I also knew that Dahl-Jensen's ice cores showed no temperature rise since 1940. Hence I had doubts about the Jones data and still do.

    Following this unsatisfactory e-mail exchange with Mann, I had correspondence with McIntyre, Charles Keller, and others, trying to collect some post-1980 proxies to decide whether the Jones record was sound -- and whether Mann had stopped his proxy record in 1980 because it did not agree with Jones. Today we know, thanks to Climategate, that this might have been Mann's Nature trick in order to hide the decline [of temperature].

    I visited Ed Cook at the Lamont Geophysical Laboratory to get post-1980 tree ring data, but was unsuccessful and finally gave up and turned to other matters. I also had a chance to speak briefly to Mann at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, but could not extract any information from him. By then, he clearly regarded me as an "enemy" and would not have given me anything of value.

    My next encounter with the Hockey Stick was to review the IPCC's 3rd Assessment draft report in 2000. In the draft, the Hockey Stick was represented along with the Jones instrumental record, using colors of black and blue. I prevailed on IPCC to use colors that were easily distinguishable and was glad to see the Jones record appearing in red in the final IPCC version. My next encounter came in 2003 when the editor of Energy & Environment sent me the first of the McIntyre and McKitrick papers for review. I was surprised to learn of some half dozen or so cases where Mann had clearly mishandled the data, even substituting imaginary sequences to fill gaps where data were not available. Of course, I endorsed publication of this first of the M&M attacks on the Hockey Stick. I also witnessed the encounter between Mann and McIntyre at the hearings arraigned by the National Academy (NAS), charged to write a report on the Hockey Stick. Tellingly, Mann presented a brief account of his work and then immediately walked out without taking any questions or listening to the McIntyre presentation. It was a thoroughly disappointing performance, particularly since some have misinterpreted the NAS report as an endorsement of the Hockey Stick. Actually, it was just the opposite, but it was misleading. The NAS stated that the 20th century was the warmest in the last 400 years, without making it clear that 400 years ago the earth was in the depth of the Little Ice Age.

    It is certainly noteworthy that the IPCC in its fourth assessment report [2007] no longer displays the Hockey Stick. It had been demolished by able statisticians like Wegman and von Storch. M&M had shown in the meantime that random numbers fed into the Mann algorithm would always produce a hockey-stick-shaped result. The Last Hurrah for the Hockey Stick came in 2009 in a report by the United Nations Environment Program. Apparently, UNEP wanted to dramatize matters before the crucial Dec 2009 Copenhagen meeting and brought back the Hockey Stick in an inexpertly written report on climate change. They called it an update of the IPCC, but I'm sure that responsible IPCC scientists would not have agreed with that characterization. When we inquired where their Hockey Stick graph originated, we were led to a Norwegian biologist who had republished a graph he had found in Wikipedia - too funny for words! UNEP immediately reissued their report and replaced their Hockey Stick graph with a less controversial one.

    There is a serious matter, however, which bears discussion: Did Mann commit fraud? I would give him the benefit of the doubt and suggest that his initial Nature publication contained many errors, including major statistical ones, which he might not have been aware of. But certainly, after these errors had been pointed out to him in no uncertain terms, how could he maintain his original posture and claim that the Hockey Stick truly represented the global temperature record of the last 1000 years? All this in spite of many publications, both before and after 1998, that clearly told a different story: The compilation of temperature values by Soon and Baliunas, who were viciously attacked by the IPCC crowd; the isotope data of Cuffey; the global proxy data (omitting tree rings) of Loehle, which clearly showed the medieval warm period to be warmer than today; the deep-sea sediment record of Kegwin; and, of course, the historical record.

    The Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Kenneth Cuccinelli, is currently engaged in extracting from the University of Virginia (where Mann was a faculty member from 1999 to 2005) the email records and other material relating to Mann. The University is fighting this demand in court yet it had already agreed some months ago to deliver the e-mail records of Patrick Michaels to Greenpeace! At that time, no cries of academic freedom were raised by the usual suspects. The silence then, and vociferous objections now expose the hypocrisy of the UVa Faculty Senate, the AAUP, the AAAS, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

    It is quite likely that Cuccinelli will discover a smoking gun. Perhaps some of the emails that Phil Jones admitted to having deleted might tell us just when Mann became himself aware that the Hockey Stick was bogus and a fraud.

    View The Week That Was in which this editorial appeared.

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    SEPP SCIENCE EDITORIAL #23-2010
    (in TWTW Jul 31, 2010)

    S. Fred Singer, Chairman and President , Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

    BOOK REVIEW: Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming,

    Jul 31, 2010

    BOOK REVIEW: Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming,

    by James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore. Greystone Books, Vancouver, BC. 2009. 250 pp.

    Anyone who has seen the smear DeSmogBlog (http://www.desmogblog.com )will find more of the same in this hastily-written book which continues to smear on an even larger scale. For example, on page 39 it describes me as a tobacco-sponsored scientist which is totally untrue.

    Later, on page 80, it mentions me again as a hard working climate change denier who has done no obvious scientific work in the field for years. It lists me as an advisor to the organization TASSC (The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, http://tiny.cc/xu48v ) which is also completely untrue. In fact, I have never been associated with TASSC in any way --although I do commune with many of the other groups listed, all respected conservative think tanks.

    I gladly take credit for conducting, in 1992, what may have been the first survey of expert opinions on global warming. It included all of the members of technical committees of the American Meteorological Society and showed, for the first time, the existence of considerable professional skepticism about global warming promotion. The 1995 Leipzig Declaration carries this further; and contrary to Hoggan, all of the signatures are on file. Of course, Leipzig was outdone by the Oregon Petition Project (http://www.oism.org/pproject/ ),, which eventually garnered over 31,000 signatures from American scientists and engineers (p.108).

    Not surprisingly, Hoggan puts a great deal of stock in the claims of journalist Ross Gelbspan, who asserts in his book The Heat is On that climate skeptics were drawing major financial support from coal and oil interests. While I cannot speak for others, this is simply not true in my case. And would it have mattered? One whole chapter is devoted to my libel suit against one Justin Lancaster. Of course, Hoggan misrepresents the facts, which are fully laid out in the book Politicizing Science (Michael Gough, ed. Published by Hoover Institution, Stanford, 2003). It all started when Al Gore was running for Vice President. He faced great embarrassment since his guru, Professor Roger Revelle, had published a somewhat skeptical article in an obscure journal, together with me and Chauncey Starr. This led to an attack on Singer by Lancaster, a Gore groupie, who first claimed that Revelle was not a coauthor. When this did not work, he then claimed that Singer had taken advantage of Revelle's advanced age. When this didn't work either, he was finally forced to retract and apologize in order to avoid a trial that would have cost him a great deal of money and ruined his reputation forever. More recently, however, Lancaster has retracted his retraction and has left himself open to another lawsuit; but it may not be worthwhile to sue him. In any case, there is ample evidence in Revelle's writings of his skeptical views on the global warming issue -- sufficient to undermine any claim that Lancaster might have.

    Hoggan has his heroes, people like Gelbspan and Naomi Oreskes, who are fully expert in smearing people. And he also has his enemies, whom he tries to pull down: Freeman Dyson Sallie Baliunas, Tim Ball, Stephen Milloy, and of course me.

    But always it's the same story: accusations of being in the pay of the oil industry or tobacco lobby or worse. Lyndon Larouche makes an appearance, in connection with a story about melting glaciers, traced to Singer's website and based on a wrong reference. As a result, another Hoggan's hero, British smear artist George Monbiot, is credited with breaking one of the all-time-great climate disinformation stories (p.162). We haven't heard much from George Monbiot since exaggerations of glacier melt in the Himalayas was exposed.

    It's too bad that Hoggan's book appeared just before ClimateGate broke. His book title would have fitted perfectly, by changing only a single word: Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Hype Global Warming.

    View The Week That Was in which this editorial appeared.

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