Parliament’s investigation: Stolen e-mails reveal no wrong-doing by climate scientists

March 31, 2010

As Galileo might have said, “Still the planet warms.”

A committee of England’s Parliament released its report on Hadley Climate Research Unit’s (CRU) stolen e-mails earlier today.  The reports you heard that the scientific case showing global warming with human causation had died, were exaggerated, significantly in error, and hoaxes themselves.

The report comes from the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee.  Press release with links and previous releases from the Committee, below:

The disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia


Report publishedThe Committee published ‘The disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia‘, HC 387-I, its Eighth Report of Session 2009-10, on Wednesday 31 March 2010. Volume II, the oral and written evidence, was published the same day.

CLIMATE SCIENCE MUST BECOME MORE TRANSPARENT SAY MPs

The Science and Technology Committee today publishes its report on the disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. The Committee calls for the climate science community to become more transparent by publishing raw data and detailed methodologies.

Phil Willis MP, Committee Chair, said:

“Climate science is a matter of global importance. On the basis of the science, governments across the world will be spending trillions of pounds on climate change mitigation. The quality of the science therefore has to be irreproachable. What this inquiry revealed was that climate scientists need to take steps to make available all the data that support their work and full methodological workings, including their computer codes. Had both been available, many of the problems at CRU could have been avoided.”

The focus on Professor Jones and CRU has been largely misplaced. On the accusations relating to Professor Jones’s refusal to share raw data and computer codes, the Committee considers that his actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community but that those practices need to change.

On the much cited phrases in the leaked e-mails—”trick” and “hiding the decline”—the Committee considers that they were colloquial terms used in private e-mails and the balance of evidence is that they were not part of a systematic attempt to mislead.

Insofar as the Committee was able to consider accusations of dishonesty against CRU, the Committee considers that there is no case to answer.

The Committee found no reason in this inquiry to challenge the scientific consensus as expressed by Professor Beddington, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, that “global warming is happening [and] that it is induced by human activity”. But this was not an inquiry into the science produced by CRU and it will be for the Scientific Appraisal Panel, announced by the University on 22 March, to determine whether the work of CRU has been soundly built.

On the mishandling of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests, the Committee considers that much of the responsibility should lie with the University, not CRU. The leaked e-mails appear to show a culture of non-disclosure at CRU and instances where information may have been deleted to avoid disclosure, particularly to climate change sceptics. The failure of the University to grasp fully the potential damage this could do and did was regrettable. The University needs to re-assess how it can support academics whose expertise in FoI requests is limited.


Committee announcementOn 22 January the Science and Technology Committee announced an inquiry into the disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.  Commenting on the material which the Committee has received since the announcement the Chairman, Phil Willis MP, said:

The Committee has been receiving a steady stream of contributions to the inquiry, for which it is grateful.  I would like to take this opportunity to emphasise that the focus of the inquiry is the implications of the disclosures for the integrity of scientific research and the terms of reference and scope of the Independent Review announced on 3 December 2009 by UEA.  It is not an inquiry into global warming. In the time remaining before the General Election the Committee would not have time to carry out such an inquiry.


Terms of Reference
The Science and Technology Committee today announces an inquiry into the unauthorised publication of data, emails and documents relating to the work of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA). The Committee has agreed to examine and invite written submissions on three questions:—What are the implications of the disclosures for the integrity of scientific research?

—Are the terms of reference and scope of the Independent Review announced on 3 December 2009 by UEA adequate (see below)?

—How independent are the other two international data sets?

Background

On 1 December 2009 Phil Willis, Chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, wrote to Professor Edward Acton, Vice-Chancellor of UEA following the considerable press coverage of the data, emails and documents relating to the work of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU). The coverage alleged that data may have been manipulated or deleted in order to produce evidence on global warming. On 3 December the UEA announced an Independent Review into the allegations to be headed by Sir Muir Russell.

The Independent Review will:

1. Examine the hacked e-mail exchanges, other relevant e-mail exchanges and any other information held at CRU to determine whether there is any evidence of the manipulation or suppression of data which is at odds with acceptable scientific practice and may therefore call into question any of the research outcomes.

2. Review CRU’s policies and practices for acquiring, assembling, subjecting to peer review and disseminating data and research findings, and their compliance or otherwise with best scientific practice.

3. Review CRU’s compliance or otherwise with the University’s policies and practices regarding requests under the Freedom of Information Act (‘the FOIA’) and the Environmental Information Regulations (‘the EIR’) for the release of data.

4. Review and make recommendations as to the appropriate management, governance and security structures for CRU and the security, integrity and release of the data it holds .

Submissions

The Committee invited written submissions from interested parties on the three questions set out above by  Wednesday 10 February. The deadline has now passed.


Written correspondence

10 December 2009

Letter from the Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia to the Chairman of the Committee


Oral evidencePrevious session:

Monday 1 March 2010
The Rt Hon the Lord Lawson of Blaby, Chairman, and Dr Benny Peiser, Director, Global Warming Policy Foundation; Richard Thomas CBE, former Information Commissioner; Professor Edward Acton, Vice-Chancellor, University of East Anglia and Professor Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit; Sir Muir Russell, Head of the Independent Climate Change E-Mails Review; Professor John Beddington, Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Julia Slingo OBE, Chief Scientist, Met Office, and Professor Bob Watson, Chief Scientist, Defra


Press notices31/03/10 Report published
22/01/10 Inquiry announced

Tip of the old scrub brush to P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula and Watching the Deniers.

______________________

Update March 31, 20101: Is this a surprise?  Contrarians, dissenters and deniers say the report errs.

Update April 5, 2010: A little slower than I had imagined, Watts Up With That denies the accuracy of the report — but the denial is a doozy of denialist argument from authority.  It’s a “guest editorial” by S. Fred Singer. Among other things, Singer’s piece reveals why we don’t let partisan politicians run investigations.  He’s miffed because the investigation didn’t give Singer, nor any other denialist, a chance to malign Hadley CRU.  In listing reasons to put fingers in his ears and not listen, Singer said of the House of Commons report, “It did not take direct testimony from scientifically competent skeptics.” There’s no good reason Commons should have take direct testimony from “scientifically competent skeptics,” it wasn’t a news article where false balance was desired.  Instead, the question was whether Hadley’s scientists had done anything wrong.  Singer can’t know, since he has no direct involvement in Hadley’s work, nor would the biased claims of a denialist be able to shed any more light.  Perhaps critically, Singer can’t know whether the Commons committee took direct testimony from claimed skeptics or not.  That the report doesn’t mention the claims doesn’t mean the question wasn’t raised.   It means that in the end, it wasn’t relevant, and not supported by the facts.

Update April 6, 2010: Singer’s in error.  McIntyre has his say in Appendix 10 of the report.  How many other contrarians, denialists and self-proclaimed “skeptics” are in the report?


Education board shames Texas: Nick Anderson’s view from 2009, part C

March 31, 2010

Nick Anderson of the Houston Chronicle on Texas SBOE social studies standards, in 2009

Nick Anderson of the Houston Chronicle on Texas SBOE social studies standards, in 2009


Education board shames Texas: Ben Sargent and Texas education follies, part B

March 31, 2010

Ben Sargent, Austin American-Statesman, on Rick Perry and Texas social studies standards

Ben Sargent, Austin American-Statesman (GoComics) March 17, 2010

(I first saw a Ben Sargent cartoon published in the Daily Utah Chronicle in about 1974.  35 years of great stuff from that guy.  He officially retired from the Austin American-Statesman in 2009, running one cartoon a week now.)

Tip of the old scrub brush, again, to Steven Schafersman and What Would Jack Do.

Also note this January cartoon from Sargent:

Ben Sargent, Austin American-Statesman, January 24, 2010

Texas State Board of Education social studies curricula - Ben Sargent, Austin American-Statesman, January 24, 2010


Still killing recess

March 31, 2010

No Recess Today, from Flickr files of BamaWester

No Recess Today, from Flickr files of BamaWester

Trends to less recess only get more complicated.

David Elkind of Tufts wrote in the New York Times about the trend to getting recess coaches.  It’s probably much better than killing recess altogether, but still problematic, don’t you think?  Elkind said:

We have to adapt to childhood as it is today, not as we knew it or would like it to be. The question isn’t whether recess coaches are good or bad — they seem to be with us to stay — but whether they help students form the age-old bonds of childhood. To the extent that the coaches focus on play, give children freedom of choice about what they want to do, and stay out of the way as much as possible, they are likely a good influence.

In any case, recess coaching is a vastly better solution than eliminating recess in favor of more academics. Not only does recess aid personal development, but studies have found that children who are most physically fit tend to score highest on tests of reading, math and science.

Earlier at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:

Other sources:


Typographical error, a gift to creationists

March 31, 2010

Here’s a post at Ecographica about a typographical error in the Arizona Daily Wildcat, the newspaper of the University of Arizona.

How long before some creationist seizes on it to claim Darwin’s theories are dead?  5 . . 4 . . 3 . . 2 . . .

If you find it, will you note it in comments, please?

(Notice how the only stuff creationists can make hay out of, is error?)

Background

Debates over the evolution of hominin bipedalism, a defining human characteristic, revolve around whether early bipeds walked more like humans, with energetically efficient extended hind limbs, or more like apes with flexed hind limbs. The 3.6 million year old hominin footprints at Laetoli, Tanzania represent the earliest direct evidence of hominin bipedalism. Determining the kinematics of Laetoli hominins will allow us to understand whether selection acted to decrease energy costs of bipedalism by 3.6 Ma.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Using an experimental design, we show that the Laetoli hominins walked with weight transfer most similar to the economical extended limb bipedalism of humans. Humans walked through a sand trackway using both extended limb bipedalism, and more flexed limb bipedalism. Footprint morphology from extended limb trials matches weight distribution patterns found in the Laetoli footprints.

Conclusions

These results provide us with the earliest direct evidence of kinematically human-like bipedalism currently known, and show that extended limb bipedalism evolved long before the appearance of the genus Homo. Since extended-limb bipedalism is more energetically economical than ape-like bipedalism, energy expenditure was likely an important selection pressure on hominin bipeds by 3.6 Ma.

Update:  Wall of Shame

Here are creationists claiming the findings rebut, refute or befuddle Darwin:


Education board shames Texas: Social studies follies, part A

March 31, 2010

John Sherffius, one of my favorite editorial cartoonists, laid out the problem in his cartoon of March 18:

John Sherffius, Boulder Daily Camera, March 18, 2010 - Texas social studies standards

John Sherffius, Boulder Daily Camera, March 18, 2010

You may purchase a copy of the cartoon — or the original — here.

SBOE isn’t exactly asking that the Bible be rewritten — or at least, not directly.  Suggesting we replace Thomas Jefferson as a founder with John Calvin in high school standards, is just as silly.

Tip of the old scrub brush to What Would Jack Do, “Lone Star Laughing Stock,” and Steven Schafersman.


Millard Fillmore and the Indians of California

March 30, 2010

Some of the most interesting stuff of history can only be found accidentally.   You don’t know what you don’t know, and so the only way to find it is to stumble into it in the dark.

Pamela Bumsted sent me a link to this site, which describes the travails of the Winnemem Wintu, a band of people native to the area of California from Sacramento, going north.  It is an American Indian tribe, except under the view of the U.S. government.

Their troubles relate to their giving up claims to their traditional lands in a treaty with the U.S. government, during the administration of Millard Fillmore.  Alas for the Winnemem Wintu, the treaty was not ratified by the U.S. Senate, and their own claims to their own lands fell out of law and out of history.

In the 1851 Treaty at Cottonwood Creek, the Winnemem (represented by the signature of Numterareman), along with other Wintu bands, ceded a vast territory from Sacramento to near the Oregon border to the United States in exchange for a 25-square-mile reservation along the Sacramento River. The California legislature lobbied against the treaty to the U.S. Senate which, in turn, pressured President Millard Fillmore to refuse ratification of any of the 18 treaties signed “in peace and friendship.” As a consequence, the Winnemem never got their reservation and started losing their traditional lands to encroaching settlement and the designation of the Shasta National Forest in 1906.

Eighteen treaties were not ratified by the Senate?  Which 18?  What happened to those bands? Were they all California bands?

We know the Winnemem Wintu are fighting for recognition  now.  What happened to the other 17 nations, and the other 17 treaties?  Got resources?  List them in comments

More:


Welcome, Pharyngulites!

March 29, 2010

You’ll find one of the posts I mentioned at P.Z.’s house, here.


A little sauce with that? Words Mitt Romney may want to eat

March 29, 2010

This appeared in the Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages on April 11, 2006 — almost exactly four years ago.

Sound like recent events?

GOOD GOVERNMENT

Health Care for Everyone?
We’ve found a way.

by MITT ROMNEY
Tuesday, April 11, 2006 12:01 A.M. EDT

BOSTON–Only weeks after I was elected governor, Tom Stemberg, the founder and former CEO of Staples, stopped by my office. He told me, “If you really want to help people, find a way to get everyone health insurance.” I replied that would mean raising taxes and a Clinton-style government takeover of health care. He insisted: “You can find a way.”

I believe that we have. Every uninsured citizen in Massachusetts will soon have affordable health insurance and the costs of health care will be reduced. And we will need no new taxes, no employer mandate and no government takeover to make this happen.

When I took up Tom’s challenge, I assembled a team from business, academia and government and asked them first to find out who was uninsured, and why. What they found was surprising. Some 20% of the state’s uninsured population qualified for Medicaid but had never signed up. So we built and installed an Internet portal for our hospitals and clinics: When uninsured individuals show up for treatment, we enter their data online. If they qualify for Medicaid, they’re enrolled.

Another 40% of the uninsured were earning enough to buy insurance but had chosen not to do so. Why? Because it is expensive, and because they know that if they become seriously ill, they will get free or subsidized treatment at the hospital. By law, emergency care cannot be withheld. Why pay for something you can get free?

Of course, while it may be free for them, everyone else ends up paying the bill, either in higher insurance premiums or taxes. The solution we came up with was to make private health insurance much more affordable. Insurance reforms now permit policies with higher deductibles, higher copayments, coinsurance, provider networks and fewer mandated benefits like in vitro fertilization–and our insurers have committed to offer products nearly 50% less expensive. With private insurance finally affordable, I proposed that everyone must either purchase a product of their choice or demonstrate that they can pay for their own health care. It’s a personal responsibility principle.

Some of my libertarian friends balk at what looks like an individual mandate. But remember, someone has to pay for the health care that must, by law, be provided: Either the individual pays or the taxpayers pay. A free ride on government is not libertarian.

Another group of uninsured citizens in Massachusetts consisted of working people who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford health-care insurance. Here the answer is to provide a subsidy so they can purchase a private policy. The premium is based on ability to pay: One pays a higher amount, along a sliding scale, as one’s income is higher. The big question we faced, however, was where the money for the subsidy would come from. We didn’t want higher taxes; but we did have about $1 billion already in the system through a long-established uninsured-care fund that partially reimburses hospitals for free care. The fund is raised through an annual assessment on insurance providers and hospitals, plus contributions from the state and federal governments.

To determine if the $1 billion would be enough, Jonathan Gruber of MIT built an econometric model of the population, and with input from insurers, my in-house team crunched the numbers. Again, the result surprised us: We needed far less than the $1 billion for the subsidies. One reason is that this population is healthier than we had imagined. Instead of single parents, most were young single males, educated and in good health. And again, because health insurance will now be affordable and subsidized, we insist that everyone purchase health insurance from one of our private insurance companies.

And so, all Massachusetts citizens will have health insurance. It’s a goal Democrats and Republicans share, and it has been achieved by a bipartisan effort, through market reforms.

We have received some helpful enhancements. The Heritage Foundation helped craft a mechanism, a “connector,” allowing citizens to purchase health insurance with pretax dollars, even if their employer makes no contribution. The connector enables pretax payments, simplifies payroll deduction, permits prorated employer contributions for part-time employees, reduces insurer marketing costs, and makes it efficient for policies to be entirely portable. Because small businesses may use the connector, it gives them even greater bargaining power than large companies. Finally, health insurance is on a level playing field.

Two other features of the plan reduce the rate of health-care inflation. Medical transparency provisions will allow consumers to compare the quality, track record and cost of hospitals and providers; given deductibles and coinsurance, these consumers will have the incentive and the information for market forces to influence behavior. Also, electronic health records are in the works, which will reduce medical errors and lower costs.

My Democratic counterparts have added an annual $295 per-person fee charged to employers that do not contribute toward insurance premiums for any of their employees. The fee is unnecessary and probably counterproductive, and so I will take corrective action.

How much of our health-care plan applies to other states? A lot. Instead of thinking that the best way to cover the uninsured is by expanding Medicaid, they can instead reform insurance.

Will it work? I’m optimistic, but time will tell. A great deal will depend on the people who implement the program. Legislative adjustments will surely be needed along the way. One great thing about federalism is that states can innovate, demonstrate and incorporate ideas from one another. Other states will learn from our experience and improve on what we’ve done. That’s the way we’ll make health care work for everyone.

Mr. Romney is governor of Massachusetts.

What changed in the last four years?  It wasn’t the need for health care reform.

Four years ago Republicans thought it was a great idea.   It was a great way to stimulate business and solve a nagging problem facing all Americans.

At Waterloo, what do you think happened to soldiers from Britain and Prussia who defected to Napoleon’s cause?  Did they regret their decision?


Idle thinking, among the bookporn

March 28, 2010

Night out for the boys — well, for Kenny and me — while Kathryn had some of the girls over.

Kenny introduced me to a Dallas sushi venue, Asian Mint.  His appearing-to-be deep-fried Texas Roll was a pleasant, crunchy blend of oriental and Texas.  The mango sauce added a sweet smoothness.  My more standard tuna came with a little internal heat — the wasabi perfectly blended (Kenny is the one who doesn’t like horseradish heat, having somehow missed that gene from my grandfather).

Asian Mint is a Dallas hit (“Asian fusion”).  It’s not Salt Lake City’s Takashi, but for 1,000 miles from the Wasatch Front, it’s a good place for Saturday night.  We got there early.  Families were lined up waiting when we left.

We closed off the night at Half-Price Books, at the store on Northwest Highway fans and employees fondly deem “the mother ship.”  (Years ago, across the street to the east, the store was in an old, converted restaurant which had a pirate’s ship inside; the store kept the ship as a kids’ reading area.  Was that the origin of “mother ship?”)

Books?  Today?

I don’t read enough.  20 years ago I found a study that said if you read one book a month, 12 books a year, you’re in the 99th percentile of readers.

The coffee mug with Einstein on it says “Coffee makes me smart.”  Kenny, our family’s most-tech savvy early-adopter — a high commendation in a family where Mom and Dad have been in computers since mainframes were the way to go — agreed that it’s more likely books that make us smart.  We don’t read enough, but we stay in the 99th percentile.

What an easy, easy way to get ahead!  Get a book:  Read it.

Michael D. Green, the real estate impresario for Murray Hill who formerly headed the Louis August Jonas Foundation when I had so much fun there, used to say that he was not educated, but he read the book reviews.  Reading the book reviews would be better than not knowing.  At a Manhattan cocktail party he could hold his ground with just about anyone.  I’ve never found a topic on which he didn’t know something, usually cutting-edge.  His book recommendations are always epiphanies.

Bookstores are full of them, epiphanies.

So are libraries.  Idle Think’s “bookporn” series cheers me up enormously, most of the time.


American demographics

March 28, 2010

Why do the heathen rage?  If you think the Tea Baggers and Republicans protest too loudly and too much, you’re not alone.

Frank Rich, writing in the New York Times, reveals the failure, sin and shame of the Republican Party; it would be good were Rich not right.  It’s unlikely, though.

The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play. It’s not happenstance that Frank, Lewis and Cleaver — none of them major Democratic players in the health care push — received a major share of last weekend’s abuse. When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan “Take our country back!,” these are the people they want to take the country back from.

Demographics are avatars of a change bigger than any bill contemplated by Obama or Congress. The week before the health care vote, The Times reported that births to Asian, black and Hispanic women accounted for 48 percent of all births in America in the 12 months ending in July 2008. By 2012, the next presidential election year, non-Hispanic white births will be in the minority. The Tea Party movement is virtually all white. The Republicans haven’t had a single African-American in the Senate or the House since 2003 and have had only three in total since 1935. Their anxieties about a rapidly changing America are well-grounded.

Now you know, too, why so many Republicans and Tea Baggers complain about the U.S. Census and its simple, unintrusive questions.  It’s not really the census taking that bothers them; it’s the census counting what they know to be true, now.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Blue Ollie, and you ought to go over to read his better and longer post on this topic.


Korean War history sources

March 26, 2010

So, teachers, students with projects due:  You need sources of information on the Korean War?

Posters, books, CDs, from the U.S. GPO (Government Printing Office); the posters are inexpensive, too.

Alas, some of the stock needs more orders to get reprints . . .

This contributes to why they call it “the forgotten war.”


Winds of change at Texas education board — in 2011

March 26, 2010

George Clayton pulled a dramatic upset in the March primary elections, for one of Dallas’s two seats on the Texas State Board of Education.  He defeated incumbent, long-time conservative-but-not-always-crazily-so Geraldine Miller.

With no Democratic opposition in November, he just has to wait until January to take his seat.

He’s promising change in the sharp political divisiveness that has marked board actions over the past decade, according to the Texas Tribune.

Unfortunately, the surgery-without-anesthetic on the state’s social studies standards is still scheduled for May 2010.


Query

March 26, 2010

Jim Demint, how’s that “break this president” thing working for you?

When one agrees to do battle at Waterloo, perhaps one should pay more careful attention to whether one is on the side of Napoleon, or on the side of Wellington.


Monckton among the Mormons

March 25, 2010

Christopher Monckton took his “pathological liar” comedy routine to Orem, Utah, last Tuesday night.

Peg McEntee wrote about it for the Salt Lake Tribune, “Monckton:  Believe it or not.” McEntee saw through him, had the good sense to check the list of Members of the House of Lords, and noted that contrary to his claims, Monckton does not appear on the list.

But the priceless piece is this comment to McEntee’s article by adjustablespanner:

I like him much better as Dame Edna.

Christopher Monckton tries to get a clue

Christopher Monckton tries to get a clue - image, The Age

Dame Edna

Dame Edna, already clued in - InsideSoCal image

More:

Is Monckton still in the country?  If he’s going to be in Texas, I’d love to debate him.  Is he still chicken?


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