Sunday, 29 November 2009

The bike route that actually needs fixing

More on the crummy bike route in a moment. For now, here's a devilishly handsome fellow reflected in the arse end of a Statesman.

Now to the crummy bike route. One bone that I have to pick with the Sydney Council is that they are doing all the easy bits first in the bike route upgrade project through Pyrmont. They're building a bike lane where we don't need one, whilst ignoring a hyper-dangerous section outside the Pyrmont Hotel.

In the evening, the only way to get from the Pyrmont Bridge onto this particular bike route is to ride the wrong way up a short section of very busy road. It means trying to get up this bit of street before a fast moving car, bus or truck comes around the bend in the outside lane and takes you out. It is an absolute horror of a thing to do - but it is the only way to get a large number of bikes through this bottle neck in the minimum amount of time. The footpath is out, as it is totally congested with pedestrians.


Unfortunately for Council, the only solutions to this are contentious, and I don't believe the Mayor has the guts to make the necessary tough decisions to fix it. Some people are going to be very annoyed. However, I'd prefer that they fixed it, and stopped a cyclist from being very dead.

It will really piss me off if Clover comes out this way and cuts a ribbon to announce the opening of a new and improved cycle route if this bit is not fixed first. It's a black spot, and it has to go.

Idiot taxi driver

I guess it would come as no surprise to most that some taxi drivers are idiots. Unthinking, uncaring idiots. I particularly hate the ones that pull out without indicating or looking in the mirror or over their shoulder, especially when they are fiddling with their booking computer and looking anywhere except the road ahead or behind them. I've had a few just bolt out in front of me of late, and the driver has always had their face inches away from the booking computer and one hand on it, fiddling with the buttons.

In the clip below, the bike in front of me was lucky not to go straight into the back of the taxi as it pulled out. The camera always flattens the perspective, so it doesn't seem that he comes that close, or is in that much trouble, but when it happened, my heart was in my mouth - I thought for a moment I was going to be imprinted in the back of the taxi.


The driver then meandered off like he was on drugs. I wonder if some of these guys aren't managing their fatigue levels properly, and they're simply knackered and sleep-addled by the end of their shift. It wouldn't surprise me to find that some are driving half asleep without realising it.

I hate these people

This sort of thing has happened to me three times in the last month. A bonehead driver overtakes, then decides to do a U-turn. However, because they are completely incapable and incompetent, they start the U-turn by hanging hard left into the bike lane before swinging right into the U-turn. They just completely ignore the fact that they have just overtaken a bike, and are swinging into the bike lane in front of a fast moving bike.


The first vehicle that did this to me was a taxi. There was another car coming up behind me when he did it, and the second car had to slam on the brakes when the taxi did a sudden unannounced U-turn right in front of them. No indicator, no nothing.

The amazing thing was that the taxi driver's window was down, and I could see the expression on this face. Although the second car pulled up in a cloud of tyre smoke not a foot from his window, he appeared to not even notice the fact that he had almost been T-boned. He just put his foot down and took off in the opposite direction as the driver of the car next to me swore and beeped and generally shook his fist. The taxi dude looked seriously stoned.

Since then, I've really been on the lookout along this stretch for idiots pulling this manouevere, and I finally caught one on film. The other thing to note about this particular incident is that the driver of the black car had driven for several blocks with their indicator on, so by the time we reached this spot, I had assumed they didn't realise it was on, and were driving along in dreamland. So it was a bit of a shock when they actually moved left!

Mother and son

As I've been saying for some time now, there are a lot more cyclists on our roads than just lycra clad lunatics. I spotted this pair during the week - a mother taking her son to school in the CBD. This is pretty rare in the city, but I see a bit of it out in the suburbs. They were chatting away, happy as can be.


I have this really firm rule about filtering - I'll only do it if I can see that traffic is gridlocked for at least 2 blocks. I know that one thing that really annoys motorists is when cyclists filter to the front of the lights when they are red, and then they have to go around the cyclist 100 metres down the road. In this instance, it's 5pm - peak hour - and traffic in most locations around the city is at a standstill. The place is a parking lot from end to end. At times like these, I have no problems using the bike to get ahead.


The thing is, it still pisses off the occasional motorist. In these circumstances, me getting ahead has no impact on their progress. When I am half a mile down the road and turning right, they'll still be sitting in the same spot. They're just annoyed at the idea of anyone getting in front of them. I imagine people like that get irrationally annoyed at lots of things. So long as they don't open their car door on me as I go past, I really don't care.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Useless rugby players

So typical of the inhabitants of the rugby playing states - can't kick a bloody ball properly.


Good lookers, gumbies and lots of photos

Handsome devil. Never seen a bus that clean and shiny.

Gumby coming off the worst pedestrian bridge in Sydney - note he has his left foot out for balance. A sure sign of a gumby.

And here he is again on another curve on the bridge. Out of my way, gumby.

I stopped to help a bloke who had a flat. He had no pump, so he borrowed mine. Whilst he attempted to put some air in his tyre, my camera caught lots of cyclist going past.

I was only there a few minutes. Just shows what a busy commuting route this has become.

Why is it that some people are just so bloody hopeless at parking their cars. There are times when I feel like carrying some pliers and using them to cut the tops off their tyre valves.

And here is the NRMA showing their usual contempt for cyclists - nothing like sticking the nose of your van into the bike lane and giving me no room to get past. Twat.

The stupidest pedestrian bridge in Sydney

Sometime earlier this year, the SMH did something half factual and put together a list of the 10 worst cycling black spots in Sydney. Since they utterly fail to grasp the idea of all this new media business, I thought I would show what it is like to ride over the bridge rated as their number 1 cycling sink hole.

The bridge in question crosses Victoria Rd at the bottom of Balmain. It allows cyclists like me, coming from the west, to get onto the ANZAC Bridge without being squashed flat by mental drivers.

Caution - this video contains muffin tops.


A partial defence for the RTA is that the bridge was built about 900 years ago, possibly by Chinese traders who had landed in Botany Bay for a bit of R&R (rape and run) with the locals. It really is ancient and out of date. It was definitely designed before anyone dared to ride a bike on Sydney's roads. It's not bad for pedestrians, but it is a shocker on a bike. For many novice riders, it's too steep, too narrow and the curves are way too tight. The RTA put up a new bike bridge last year just around the corner and the new bridge is three times as wide, features long, sweeping curves and it's long and flattish. Comparing and contrasting the old and the new is a good way of seeing how engineering thinking has changed in the last 90 decades.

A good test of the competence of an cyclist is to see whether they can get around the bends without unclipping from their pedals. If they have to unclip, they are a gumby hubbard.

The other fun thing about this bridge is that when you exit on the western side, it unceremoniously dumps you onto the road at a spot right where cars coming around the corner too fast will wipe you out. It has all the hallmarks of being designed and built by a special bus full of window lickers.

The thing is, the budget position of NSW is so rooted, I doubt this thing will be replaced in my lifetime unless a truck misjudges a bend and wipes it out.

By the dawn's early light

A solitary sculler comes into the UTS rowing sheds after a dawn training session.

Two more sculls coming in to the sheds. Amazingly, I actually stopped to take these photos. I must be getting old and slack.

A relaxed rider heads into the city. Mudguards. Kick stand. Thongs (flip-flops for you yanks). A breezy attitude to cycling. Not in any particular hurry to be anywhere in particular.

I was so taken by the surreal light on the buildings that I just had to crop them into their own photo. Almost like something out of a sci-fi movie.

A brilliant piss-take

Check this out, you low life pedestrian scum!

Normal service on hold whilst we looking at a possible smoking gun

Bishop Hill has been doing a wonderful job of collating all sorts of info about the CRU emails.

I urge you to read through the comments on this post about some possible hockey stick creating code.

It's been 20 years since I did any sort of programming at all, so most of it is Greek to me, but the Dilberts who are analysing it do a reasonable job of explaining it to the likes of me.

But if what I have read so far is true, then the bastards have manipulated the raw data to remove the medieval warming period so it looks like things are hotter now than ever, and they've fiddled with the trends to create a hockey stick in order to panic the entire planet.

If you know anything about deciphering code, have a look and see if you can add some value.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Normal service has resumed

Right, that's enough about emails for now. Let's have some good old fashioned photos of cyclist's bums.

Here's a bloke working hard on the Anzac Bridge. I don't think I've ever stood up out of the saddle going up here, yet I managed to slow down, take this photo, put the camera back in my pocket and then accelerate past him - all without standing up and huffing and puffing. Some people make it look really hard.

Reflective safety belts - seeing lots more of these. Are people becoming paranoid?

Muffin tops. Sure, it's nice to ride in casual work clothes - but try and wear a shirt that doesn't show your muffin tops when you are leaning into the pedals. Note the extra baggy pannier hanging way off the side of the bike. It's practically doubled the road space she takes up.

This blokes T-shirt says "I like beer and hockey". Interesting combination to be seen on a bike.

A hipster! Pity I was too busy to photograph his head as well. This guy was a very serious young insect. Hipster bag, hipster shoes, hipster fixie and even a hipster helmet with a hipster sticker on the back.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

My version of the hockey stick

I present to you my own version of the Hockey Stick, made famous by Michael Mann. Can you guess what it represents?

I'll admit that I have cheated here and hidden the data at the end of the series to "hide the decline".

This is a graph of the grants provided to the CRU from 1991 to the present, in UK pounds. You can find the original figures here.

In the interests of openeness, this is what I did:

  1. I took each grant, and calculated how many months it ran for
  2. I then divided the total grant by the number of months, giving an average "income" from that grant per month over the life of the grant
  3. I then summed up the total income per month from all the grants and plotted it, fiddling with the trendline until it produced a hockey stick. I had to use a 6 order polynomial to get a hockey stick - if you use anything less than that, a hockey stick fails to appear
  4. I then pulled a "trick" to eliminate the data after August 2004, as the budget went into a sad decline

CRU emails - some sleuthing required. Help!

I have been following up on this email conversation from back in 1999 regarding Barrie Pittock, an ex-CSIRO researcher and Mike Hulme at CRU. Barrie is keen to help the WWF, who paid the CRU $US142,000 to produce a range of pamphlets that were to be used at the Kyoto conference.

The press release from the WWF covered all the usual scary bases:

Examining the impact of this range of emissions on temperatures, sea level rise and precipitation, the CRU scientists, in consultation with WWF's global biodiversity experts, identify a number threats to ecosystems and species posed by global warming. These include:

Coral bleaching in Australia, Central America and the Philippines. Forest fires in the Amazon, Alaska, Canada and Russia. Flooding in the Pantanal (Brazil), the Everglades and the Chesapeake Bay. Drought in parts of China, southern Africa and Central and South America. Loss of wildfowl habitat in North Dakota and other parts of the Northern Great Plains, Canada and Europe. In Canada, the duration of the Arctic sea-ice melt season will be extended, while precipitation will increase by between 15 and 45 percent by the year 2080. Sea ice melt will reduce the habitat available to the polar bear and could lead to its extinction. Thawing permafrost and forest cover loss will threaten species like the woodland caribou and the grey wolf.

The press release quoted Mike Hulme as saying:

"Evidence for the warming of our planet over the last 200 years is now overwhelming," said Dr. Mike Hulme, senior CRU climatologist and lead author of the WWF-sponsored study.

"Increasingly we are seeing the unmistakable fingerprint of human influence on global climate. With no action to curb emissions, the climate on Earth over the next century could become warmer than any the human species has lived through."

Here's a graphic from the WWF pamphlet illustrating decreases in rainfall in the two worst case scenarios. Winter rainfall in Perth for instance is forecast to fall by 50% - perhaps this is why some alarmists claim Perth will run dry any day now.

However, it appears that the WWF chose Hulme because of a paper he had written for Nature not long before. At least I think I have the right paper - I have had to make some inferences from the statements made in the emails. In the foreward to that paper, he wrote:

We find that, for some regions, the impacts of human-induced climate change by 2050 will be undetectable relative to those due to natural multi-decadal climate variability. If misleading assessments of and inappropriate adaptation strategies to climate-change impacts are to be avoided, future studies should consider the impacts of natural multidecadal climate variability alongside those of human-induced climate change.


Third, and most important at the catchment and water management scale, the impacts of multidecadal climate variability may be greater than the impacts of climate change (Fig. 1). For this climate model and for these experiments, the impacts of climate change on mean runoff by 2050 are significantly greater than natural climate variability in northern and southern Europe, but are no different to those of natural climate variability across large parts of western and central Europe. Similar results were found using the value of the monthly runoff that was exceeded 90% of the time; this is a measure of low flow, calculated from the 30 individual years of simulated monthly runoff. This is because although the percentage impact of climate change on this extreme is greater than on the mean, the impact of multi-decadal natural climate variability on this measure is also greater. Different results may be obtained with other definitions of extreme behaviour; where an increase in mean precipitation is associated with a greater relative increase in precipitation intensity, for example, the ¯ood signal might expect to be strengthened.


First, in some sectors and for some regions human-induced climate change may not have as great an impact on natural resources as might multi-decadal natural climate variability. Comparing present resources only with those simulated under future climate change may exaggerate the importance of climate change by ignoring the impacts of natural variability on these time-scales: the estimated impacts may occur even in the absence of human-induced climate change. Second, the results suggest that in many areas it will be very difficult to detect the impact of climate change, even on a multi-decadal time scale; the different spatial patterns of climate change and climate-variability impact, suggest that detection is best undertaken by looking over a large geographic area. Third, adapting our management systems to withstand multi-decadal natural climate variability (adequately designed) may, in some sectors and for some regions, be a sufficient medium-term response to the prospect of climate change although elsewhere it may not. Last, the results do not suggest that we can ignore the possibility that climate change will affect our natural resource base; what they do show is that some impacts of natural climate variability may be as great as, or greater than, the estimated impacts of human-induced climate change. This study shows that it is possible, and suggests that it is important, to compare the impacts of climate change alongside those of natural multi-decadal climate variability in order both to assess the importance of climate change and to help in the development of appropriate adaptation strategies.

My problem is this - I do not have the skills to decipher the original paper in Nature and to compare it to the pamphlets in order to find what changes were made to suit the needs of the WWF for $142,000. Are you able to give it a go?

Remember, this is the line that Barrie Pittock was pushing on Hulme:

What you are doing is using a strict Type I error criterion when others (WWF?) might think a Type II error criterion is more suitable (the Precautionary Principle), and reasonable people (like me of course!?) think a criterion in between which measures risk of serious impacts is
what is needed for policymakers.

I would be very concerned if the material comes out under WWF auspices in a way that can be interpreted as saying that "even a greenie group like WWF" thinks large areas of the world will have negligible climate change. But that is where your 95% confidence limit leads.

What impact did moving from a Type I to a Type II error criterion have?

CRU data dump no.1 - lost data


Bear in mind that there is no working synthetic method for cloud, because Mark New    lost the coefficients file and never found it again (despite searching on tape    archives at UEA) and never recreated it. This hasn't mattered too much, because    the synthetic cloud grids had not been discarded for 1901-95, and after 1995    sunshine data is used instead of cloud data anyway.

Monday, 23 November 2009

CRU emails no 22 - tearing into tree rings

John Daly has a go at using tree rings to determine temperature. This is the best description of the problems with this technique that I have read so far.

From: "John L. Daly"
To: Chick Keller
Subject: Re: Hockey Sticks again
Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2001 21:47:57 +1100

Dear Chick & all

> the first is Keith Briffa's rather comprehensive treatment of getting
> climate variations from tree rings: Annual climate variability in
> the Holocene: "interpreting the message of ancient trees", Quaternary
> Science Reviews, 19 (2000) 87-105. It should deal with many of the
> questions people raise about using them to determine temperatures.

Take this from first principles.

A tree only grows on land. That excludes 70% of the earth covered by water. A tree does no grow on ice. A tree does not grow in a desert. A tree does not grow on grassland-savannahs. A tree does not grow in alpine areas. A tree does not grow in the tundra

We are left with perhaps 15% of the planet upon which forests grow/grew. That does not make any studies from tree rings global, or even hemispheric.

The width and density of tree rings is dependent upon the following variables which cannot be reliably separated from each other.

*sunlight - if the sun varies, the ring will vary. But not at night of course.
*cloudiness - more clouds, less sun, less ring.
*pests/disease - a caterpillar or locust plague will reduce photosynthesis
*access to sunlight - competition within a forest can disadvantage or advantage some trees.
*moisture/rainfall - a key variable. Trees do not prosper in a drought even if there's a heat wave.
*snow packing in spring around the base of the trees retards growth temperature - finally!

The tree ring is a composite of all these variables, not merely of temperature. Therefore on the 15% of the planet covered by trees, their rings do not and cannot accurately record temperature in isolation from the other environmental variables.

In my article on Greening Earth Society on the Hockey Stick, I point to other evidence which contradicts Mann's theory. The Idso's have produced more of that evidence, and a new article on Greening Earth has `unearthed' even more.

Mann's theory simply does not stack up. But that was not the key issue. Anyone can put up a dud theory from time to time. What is at issue is the uncritical zeal with which the industry siezed on the theory before its scientific value had been properly tested. In one go, they tossed aside dozens of studies which confirmed the existence of the MWE and LIA as global events, and all on the basis of tree rings - a proxy which has all the deficiencies I have stated above.

The worst thing I can say about any paper such as his is that it is `bad science'. Legal restraint prevents me going further. But in his case, only those restraints prevent me going *much* further.


John Daly

John L. Daly
`Still Waiting For Greenhouse'

CRU emails no 21 - aiding tax evasion

Hmm. Briffa employed a couple of Russian scientists to go out into the boonies and collect his tree ring data. There are two emails relating to how he paid for this work.

The first is about blatant tax evasion, which is illegal just about everywhere.

Also, it is important for us if you can transfer the ADVANCE money on the personal accounts which we gave you earlier and the sum for one occasion transfer (for example, during one day) will not be more than 10,000 USD. Only in this case we can avoid big taxes and use money for our work as much as possible. Please, inform us what kind of documents and financial reports we must represent you and your administration for these money.

Briffa appeared to have problems with doing that, so the Russians proposed another method - just hand over the cash in person.

From: "Isaak M. Khalatnikov"
Subject: Keith Briffa
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 97 07:18:26 +0400 (MSD)

Dear Keith,

Thank you for the message of 5 June, 1997.

I am anderstanding your difficulties with transfering money and I think the best way for us if you will bring money to Krasnoyarsk and I give you a receipt.

The emails don't reveal what action Briffa took - whether he refused their entreaties to be paid via illegal means, or whether he caved in and aided and abetted a crime.

Regardless of the outcome, if this request was made to me, I'd really start to question the ethics and honesty of the people I was dealing with. In fact I'd be considering using someone else in future if they proposed this sort of thing. Yes, I know it's Russia, and it's a pretty wild place, but if people are prepared to do dodgy financial stuff, it generally shows that they are morally corrupt, and they are likely to undertake dodgy things in other areas of their life. It is a question of character. It is revealing.

Put it this way - how does Briffa's university feel about this sort of thing? Do they condone one of their institutes engaging in tax evasion?

CRU emails no 21 - blocked publications and GIGO

GIGO stands for "garbage in, garbage out".

Here we have an unhappy camper:

The excuses seem to be becoming desperate. Unjustified assertion that I fail to understand "Myles' comments and/or work on trying the detect/attribute climate change" does not stop the attribution study being an error. The problem is that I do understand what is being done, and I am willing to say why it is GIGO.


Richard's statement makes it clear, to me at least, that he misunderstands Myles' comments and/or work on trying the detect/attribute climate change. As far as I understand it, the masking is applied to the model to remove those locations/times when there are no observations. This is quite different to removing those locations which do not match, in some way, with the observations - that would clearly be the wrong thing to do. To mask those that have no observations, however, is clearly the right thing to do - what is the point of attempting to detect a simulated signal of climate change over some part of (e.g.) the Southern Ocean if there are no observations there in which to detect the expected signal? That would clearly be pointless.

Yes it would. And I fully understand Myles' comments. Indeed, my comments clearly and unarguably relate to Myles comments. But, as my response states, Myles' comments do not alter the fact that the masked data and the unmasked data contain demonstrated false trends. And the masking may introduce other spurious trends. So, the conducted attribution study is pointless because it is GIGO. Ad hominem insults don't change that. And nor does the use of peer review to block my publication of the facts of these matters.


CRU emails no 20 - all aboard the gravy train

How would you like to work for $AUS213 per hour?

(That's assuming I have read this email correctly).

Do you have any preference for the allocation of days between you, Clare and Tim? Also, do you want to revise your rates (for reference Jim Hall is in at £950, Chris Kilsby at £750)? They should apply until the end of the contract i.e. December 2009 and we are asked whether any discounts are available e.g. over and above a certain number of days, which could be worked in if you increased your rates. However, this is entirely up to you!

CRU emails no 19 - oust this troublesome editor

The editor of GRL asked for comment on a paper that he was thinking of publishing. Just asking for comments got him this:

At 04:30 PM 1/20/2005, Tom Wigley wrote:


This is truly awful. GRL has gone downhill rapidly in recent years. I think the decline began before Saiers. I have had some unhelpful dealings with him recently with regard to a paper Sarah and I have on glaciers -- it was well received by the referees, and so is in
the publication pipeline. However, I got the impression that Saiers was trying to keep it from being published.

Proving bad behavior here is very difficult. If you think that Saiers is in the greenhouse skeptics camp, then, if we can find documentary evidence of this, we could go through official AGU channels to get him ousted. Even this would be difficult.

CRU emails no 18 - sliming another scientist

This is where it gets nasty.

At 02:45 14/10/2009, Tom Wigley wrote:

Dear folks,

You may be interesting in this snippet of information about Pat Michaels. Perhaps the University of Wisconsin ought to open up a public comment period to decide whether Pat Michaels, PhD needs re-assessing?

In other words, because Pat Michaels is not in the right camp, they think the best thing to do is to destroy his academic reputation, rather than argue the merits of his case.

CRU emails no 17 - catchy phrase

Fraudit - the in-house CRU name for the Climate Audit blog. Very nifty play on words.

Yes, Friday-Saturday I noticed that ClimateFraudit had renewed their interest in you. I was thinking about sending an email of sympathy, but I was busy preparing for a quick trip to Hawaii - I left Monday morning and flew out Tuesday evening and am now in the Houston airport on my way home.

CRU emails no 16 - Even these guys are sick of the European Union...

Even these guys are sick of the European Union and the waste and bureaucracy.

As for the Commission's performance it is not my impression they are living up to their own standards that they have set up for the quality of proposals requested. In particular the proposal evaluation process is ridiculous and lacks any degree of substance. For instance, the reviews that I did receive in response to my RTN proposal (submitted last year) are mediocre at best, meaningless and useless in detail, beyond anything I would consider expert insight, simply a waste of time and tax payers' money. They are an insult to anybody who did contribute to and put work and effort into that proposal. As for the Impront proposal we now are faced with the prospect that the only IP proposal, Millennium, that is competing with Imprint from the outset was received more favourably than our own proposal. With this I could live were it not for the fact that in Millennium everything is named as a strategy and work plan that we were being advised to not do. This speaks a language of its own and to me reflects a fundamental lack of enthusiasm, professionalism and competence with those who give advice and organize the evaluation process. Obviously, the vision set out by our programme manager(s) never made it to the reviewers who seemed to follow quite different guidelines, if any.

Lastly, from what I can see around me, particularly in the Mediterranean club, it appears more important and beneficial to spend time in Brussels wiping door handles and leaving a professorial - directorial impression rather than composing upbeat cutting edge science proposals. It is ever so disheartening that within the FWP our success seems to depend more on who we know than the quality we present. Last time when programme managerial posts in the commission were reshuffled the primary concern around here was that "we now lose our contacts". This is wrong, a disgrace to our community.

As for the Commission's performance it is not my impression they are living up to their own standards that they have set up for the quality of roposals requested. In particular the proposal evaluation process is ridiculous and lacks any degree of substance. For instance, the reviews that I did receive in response to my RTN proposal (submitted last year) are mediocre at best, meaningless and useless in detail, beyond anything I would consider expert insight, simply a waste of time and tax payers' money. They are an insult to anybody who did contribute to and put work and effort into that proposal.

CRU emails no 15 - "earth government"?

I have no idea who this email on Earth Government was sent to, as the "To:" part is missing.

However, it's disturbing to find that someone at the CRU was subscribing to this mailing list.

Various skeptics like Lord Monckton have been mocked for saying that Copenhagen is about creating a world government. Yet here we have a member of one of the world's premier global warming research centres apparently believing just that.

I found this by doing a search on "tax" and it popped up this beauty:

* the ruling by the Earth Court of Justice of the abolishment of the debt of the poor or developing nations as it is really a form of global tax to be paid annually by the rich or industrialized nations to the developing nations

Sounds just like Copenhagen, except that it was written back in 2003.

Arty photo of the day

An interlude in an anotherwise serious series of stuff.

Copywrite: Monkey.

CRU emails no 14 - interesting mindset

I won't put up this long, long email, but just this snippet:

I've also seen many other embellishments mentioning Greenland, the Vikings, Vineyards in York, frost fairs on the Thames etc. Also I've emailed over the years for the numbers in the 1990 IPCC Figure. I even got a digitized version once from Richard Tol and told him what he'd done was ludicrous.

If I read that correctly in context, they were complaining that their temperature reconstructions from proxies were being nit-picked by people who said that it was hotter or colder during certain periods than their proxies implied.

Examples - the Thames freezing over in the 1700s and fairs being held on the ice. Greenland being warm enough to support a large colony of Vikings who farmed a variety of crops for hundreds of years.

My take on this snippet is that these scientists are so taken with their elegant reconstructions from tree rings, peat bogs, ice cores and so on that they can't believe that maybe they are not as accurate as they think they are.

So if their tree ring data says that say a particular decade was not that cold, but painters in Europe painted freezing winters and diarists wrote about freezing winters and financial records show poor crops etc, then they are inclined to dismiss the painters, writers and record keepers as bunk as their tree rings show the "truth".

If I have that right, it shows a remarkably closed mindset, and an unhealthy addiction to certain tools and techniques. Then again, if your job depends on your tree ring work, I guess you will apply it to everything and defend it to the death.

CRU emails no 13 - not sure what to make of this

A few interesting statements in here, but I would really like to understand what they are talking about when they say "So the verification RE for the "censored" NH mean reconstruction? -6.64 The verification RE for the original MBH98 NH mean reconstruction: 0.42 I think the case is really strong now!"

From: "Michael E. Mann"
To: Keith Briffa , "raymond s. bradley" , Tim Osborn ,
Subject: Re: One way out....
Date: Thu, 30 Oct 2003 14:26:55 -0500

Hi Keith,

sorry--yes, I think the Nature idea would be great. Definitely give it a try!


At 06:53 PM 10/30/2003 +0000, Keith Briffa wrote:

Things obviously moving over there - this result looks good.Just thought I'd send this first bit (up to dotted line) of edited version , to illustrate possible toning down? Have to go now and feed daughter . Will wait til see your joint version first thingtomorrow - rest assured, that am entirely with you on this and still appalled by the MM stuff - but keeping your distance and calm stance is still urged. all the best to all any objections if I talk to Nature tomorrow?


At 01:31 PM 10/30/03 -0500, Michael E. Mann wrote:


So the verification RE for the "censored" NH mean reconstruction? -6.64 The verification RE for the original MBH98 NH mean reconstruction: 0.42 I think the case is really strong now! What if were to eliminate the discussion of all the other technical details (and just say they exist), and state more nicely that these series were effectively censored by their substitutions, and that by removing those series which they censored, I get a similar result, with a dismal RE.

And most people would keep the RE of 0.42 over the RE of -6, right? So this would make that point. I think we also need to say something about the process, etc. (the intro was based on something that Malcolm/Ray had originally crafted).

Thoughts, comments? Thanks,


I'm thinking of a note saying basically this, and attaching this figure. Could everybody sign on to something like this?

Thanks for all your help,


At 05:11 PM 10/30/2003 +0000, Keith Briffa wrote:

Ray et al

I agree with this idea in principle . Whatever scientific differences and fascination with the nuances of techniques we may /may not share, this whole process represents the most despicable example of slander and down right deliberate perversion of the scientific process , and bias (unverified) work being used to influence public perception and due political process. It is , however, essential that you (we) do not get caught up in the frenzy that these people are trying to generate, and that will more than likely lead to error on our part or some premature remarks that we might regret. I do think the statement re Mike's results needs making , but only after it can be based on repeated work and in full collaboration of us all. I am happy to push Tim to take the lead and collaborate in this - and I feel we could get sanction very quickly from the DEFRA if needed. BUT this must be done calmly , and in the meantime a restrained statement but out saying we have full confidence in Mike's objectivity and independence - which we can not say of the sceptics. In fact I am moved tomorrow to contact Nature and urge them to do an editorial on this . The political machinations in Washington should NOT dictate the agenda or scheduling of the work - but some cool statement can be made saying we believe the "prats have really fucked up someway" - and that the premature publication of their paper is reprehensible . Much of the detail in Mikes response though is not sensible (sorry Mike) and is rising to their bate.


At 11:55 AM 10/30/03 -0500, raymond s. bradley wrote:

Tim, Phil, Keef:

I suggest a way out of this mess. Because of the complexity of the arguments involved, to an uniformed observer it all might be viewed as just scientific nit-picking by "for" and "against" global warming proponents. However, if an "independent group" such as you guys at CRU could make a statement as to whether the M&M effort is truly an "audit", and if they did it right, I think that would go a long way to defusing the issue.

It's clear from the figure that Reno Knuti sent yesterday that something pretty whacky happened in their analysis prior to ~AD1600, and this led Mike to figure out the problem. See: [1]file:///c:/eudora/attach/nh_temp_rec.jpg

If you are willing, a quick and forceful statement from The Distinguished CRU Boys would help quash further arguments, although here, at least, it is already quite out of control.....yesterday in the US Senate the debate opened on the McCain-Lieberman bill to control CO2 emissions from power plants. Sen Inhofe stood up & showed the M & M figure and stated that Mann et al--& the IPCC assessment --was now disproven and so there was no reason to control CO2 emissions.....I wonder how many times a "scientific" paper gets reported on in the Senate 3 days after it is published....


Interesting that the yanks view the CRU as an "independent group", and want their help in squashing Steve McIntyre.

Also interesting that the seek sanction from DEFRA, when according to an answer to a question in parliament, they responded that they got no money from DEFRA. Why seek sanction from DEFRA then?

Sunday, 22 November 2009

CRU emails no 12 - misleading parliament?

It's never good when a public agency receiving money from the taxpayer misleads parliament - whether it was inadvertent or not.

From: Phil Jones
Subject: Re: A quick question
Date: Wed Dec 10 10:14:10 2008

Finally, I know that DEFRA receive Parliamentary Questions from MPs to answer. One of these 2 months ago was from a Tory MP asking how much money DEFRA has given to CRU over the last 5 years. DEFRA replied that they don't give money - they award grants based on open competition. DEFRA's system also told them there were no awards to CRU, as when we do get something it is down as UEA!

Yes, that's very clever. They could say that they abided by the letter of the law, but not the spirit. Just because DEFRA logged everything into their financial system as going to the parent university rather than to CRU doesn't change the fact that it looks like DEFRA gave CRU funding, whether it was direct or indirect.

People get sacked for this sort of thing.


Thanks - title fixed.

CRU emails No. 11 - response from an unhappy chap

Back in 1997, the CRU was part of a campaign to put together a big list of climate scientists that endorsed the findings of the IPCC. An email was sent out by one Joseph Alcamo from the University of Kassel. Joseph was so keen to get as many names on the list that data quality issues were thrown out the window.

Tom Wigley received the request to endorse a statement to "influence Kyoto". He was not happy with that at all. Tom is a believer, not a skeptic. Read on......

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 statement.

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

CRU emails no 10 - dissing Carter

I never thought I'd see this mob stabbing Jimmy Carter in the back:

From: "Michael E. Mann"
To: Phil Jones
Subject: Re: More Rubbish
Date: Thu, 17 May 2007 11:46:30 -0400

yep, I'm watching the changing of the guard live on TV here!

New Scientist was good. Gavin and I both had some input into that. They are nicely dismissive of the contrarians on just about every point, including the HS!

Heard anything back from IUGG yet? I thought Mike's email was helpful, if that doesn't do the trick I don't know what will,


Phil Jones wrote:
> Mike,
> Apparently there is a lot in New Scientist this week. As usual our copy has gone walkabout!
> Blair is out on June 27 - Gordon Brown then !
> Phil
> At 16:33 17/05/2007, you wrote:
>> as I was looking at this, I had CNN on in the background. Live
>> conference, with Bush and Blair both agreeing about the importance of
>> significantly cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
>> jokes like Carter have become completely irrelevant. they are a sad
>> anachronism...
>> mike

CRU emails - a quick thought

One thing I have noticed in this enormous dump of emails is the bitchy, backstabbing tone to a lot of them. That's completely normal in most organisations, but this sort of thing is almost never made public.

For instance, A writes to B asking a question. B passes on the email to C, and adds, "As is a freaking idiot". B and C have a quiet laugh at A's expense.

10 years later, A does a search on the email dump and finds that their erstwhile colleagues B and C have been stabbing him/her in the back all along.

I expect this dump to ignite more scientific feuds, hatreds and flame wars than any other hacking event in the history of man. Suddenly, anyone can find out what these people really thought of them at the click of a mouse.

The "scientists" at the CRU shouldn't be too worried about the response from the sceptics - their real worry is going to be the mob of axe-wielding, pitchfork-waving fellow believers who are incensed at what they've read, and who are going to be arriving at the CRU shortly with lengths of rope and burning torches.

CRU emails No 9 - how to boost the number of scientists that suppor the IPCC

From this email:

From: Joseph Alcamo
Subject: Timing, Distribution of the Statement
Date: Thu, 9 Oct 1997 18:52:33 0100

Mike, Rob,

Sounds like you guys have been busy doing good things for the cause.

I would like to weigh in on two important questions --

Distribution for Endorsements --
I am very strongly in favor of as wide and rapid a distribution as possible for endorsements. I think the only thing that counts is numbers. The media is going to say "1000 scientists signed" or "1500 signed". No one is going to check if it is 600 with PhDs versus 2000 without. They will mention the prominent ones, but that is a different story.

Conclusion -- Forget the screening, forget asking them about their last publication (most will ignore you.) Get those names!

Never again can anyone ever claim that "4500 scientists support the IPCC' etc etc.

I like Joseph's faith in the lack of rigour that the media will apply to their statements regarding numbers. They'll put 11 fact checkers onto Palin, and zero onto the IPCC.

CRU emails no 8. - outsource your letter writing to Greenpeace

I think this email has been covered elsewhere. Greenpeace wrote a letter to The Times and then got two CRU scientists to sign it to lend it credibility.

So much for disclosure.

From: "Wallace, Helen"
To: "''" , "''"
Subject: Letter
Date: Thu, 21 Aug 1997 18:21:04 +0100

Dear Tony and Michael,

The final draft of the letter to the Times is attached, incorperating
your changes (I hope I have combined them in a way that you are both
happy with).

Brian Hoskins and Adrian Jenkins have both decided that they prefer not
to sign the letter, although agreeing with its message. I haven't been
able to contact anyone else in the short time available, so I leave it
up to you to decide whether you are still both happy to go ahead.

If so, Mike could you please reply to both Tony and myself and let us
know, and Tony could you then send it as agreed?

Thank you both very much for your time and trouble.

Best regards,

Dr Helen Wallace
Senior Scientist
Greenpeace UK

Greenpeace, Canonbury Villas, London, N1 2PN

Tel: +44-171-865-
Fax: +44-171-865-

Letters Editor
The Times

Fax: 0171-782-5046

21 June 1997
Dear Sir,

Without wishing to comment on the dispute between BP and Greenpeace
(Editorial, 20 August), we would like to remind your readers of the
seriousness of the potential threat caused by our continued use of
fossil fuels. This damage occurs both locally - as evidenced by the
deterioration of air quality in UK cities in the past few weeks - and
also globally.

As scientists studying the impacts of climate change, we consider the
global threat from greenhouse gases to be serious and to need
addressing. Adverse effects on human populations are likely to result
from changes in weather patterns, shifts in storm frequencies, rises in
sea level and the spread of certain pests and infectious diseases. A
wide variety of ecosystems throughout the world will be at increasing

We have little idea whether or not we can manage such adverse effects
and therefore the prudent course of action is to limit the cause of the

Major shifts in investment away from fossil fuels will therefore be
required to make the necessary reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide
to the atmosphere. Large companies like British Petroleum seem to us to
be well placed to take an active part in investing in these changes.
There is no doubt the need for precautionary, preventative action is

Yours sincerely,

Prof. A.J. McMichael
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
University of London
Keppel Street

Dr. M. Hulme
Climatic Research Unit
University of East Anglia