The Met Office is a jewel in the crown, of British science and global science. As a nation we should be more aware of that, and proud of it, than we are. […] Your excellence is an asset for British diplomacy, enhancing our soft power leverage on climate change all over the world.
John Ashton, “Climate Change and Politics: Surviving the Collision”
Met Office, Exeter, 11 April 2013
I don’t know whether the U.K. Met Office’s Richard Betts was in the audience or not when E3G’s Ashton, who is “equally at home in the worlds of foreign policy and green politics”, delivered his epic exhortations to the troops at the Met Office on April 11. But I do know that he’s a nice guy; a climate scientist who – unlike his colleague Myles Allen – has sense of humour:
|Thanks Josh. Fame at last :-)
I’ll print that out and put it over my desk on Monday.
Jan 7, 2012 at 12:52 PM | Richard Betts
Betts is also a Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s forthcoming 5th Assessment Report (AR5), Working Group II, Chapter 4 (WGII, Ch4). He’s definitely not a newbie to the IPCC process, having served in the same capacity for AR4’s WGI Ch2, and as a Contributing author for WGI’s Ch7 & Ch9 and WGII’s Ch3. Oh, yes, and a stint as an Expert Reviewer of WGI, Ch11.
So I found it somewhat odd, the other day, when I noticed that Betts had chosen to tweet the following:
@etzpcm @mammuthus @thirstygecko Steve McIntyre’s comment about “pressure” on Nature to accept PAGES2K seems to be entirely speculation
I cannot imagine that Betts was oblivious to the history of documented problems that preceded the publication of this just-in-time paper (with no less than 77 co-authors). But he has indicated to me in the past that his preferred mode of reading blogs is to “skim”. Consequently, he may well have missed the full context of Steve McIntyre’s observation:
The PAGES2K article has its own interesting backstory. The made-for-IPCC article was submitted to Science last July on deadline eve, thereby permitting its use in the Second Draft, where it sourced a major regional paleo reconstruction graphic. The PAGES2K submission used (in a check-kited version) the Gergis reconstruction, which it cited as being “under revision” though, at the time, it had been disappeared.
The PAGES2K submission to Science appears to have been rejected as it has never appeared in Science and a corresponding article is scheduled for publication by Nature. It sounds like there is an interesting backstory here: one presumes that IPCC would have been annoyed by Science’s failure to publish the article and that there must have been considerable pressure on Nature to accept the article. Nature appears to have accepted the PAGES2K article only on IPCC deadline eve.
In light of the above, it struck me that Betts’ tweet was “entirely” superfluous and hardly worth mentioning. In my view, it was the least important part of McIntyre’s posts on this paper.
I don’t often engage in “debate” via twitter, because I consider it to be a truncated version of the pre-web Internet Relay Chat, which was always far from conducive to dialogue. But I made a rare exception to my usual mode of lurk ‘n learn, and replied to Betts:
@richardabetts @etzpcm @mammuthus @thirstygecko @geschichtenpost Science rejected; Nature eve of IPCC deadline acceptance pure coincidence?!
To which Betts responded, in what appeared to me to be a total non sequitur:
@hro001 As I asked @etzpcm are you suggesting the review process at @NatureGeosci was not sound? @mammuthus @thirstygecko @geschichtenpost
So I gave my head a shake and replied:
@richardabetts @etzpcm No, but why is this even worth discussing?! “Easy, superficial excuse” to avoid Steve’s *main* points, p’haps?!
Which, evidently, led Betts to conclude:
@hro001 @etzpcm OK that’s good then. It was SM who seemed to query review process, but if it’s not an issue, great!
So, now you know why – for the most part – I view twitter as a considerably less than optimal platform for “dialogue”: The answers one receives quite often bear absolutely no relationship whatsoever to the question(s) one might have asked!
This is not the first series of disconnects I’ve seen emanating from Betts’ keyboard; nor, I suspect, will it be the last! Precision in posting is not what I would call his forté. But I digress …
Not mentioned in Betts’ Met Office bio is that he is also a member of the fairly recently formed “My Climate and Me” team.
If you scroll down the page, you’ll find a post dated March 12, 2013 with an outdated and very misleading title. Here’s a screen capture:
I don’t know how long the original post remained on the site, before they got around to taking it down, but I have yet to see a reasonable explanation from this “jewel in the crown, of British science and global science” as to why:
- they chose to post without examining the so-called “science” on which the press release was based
- they have chosen to leave this clearly alarmist “headline” intact, some six weeks after it was firmly established that it is not supported by the underlying paper
When asked about this Marcott et al paper (of which one of the co-authors just happened to be a fellow AR5 IPCC Lead Author), Betts’ first response [Mar 25, 2013 at 10:44 AM] was:
Don Keiller, Pharos, ZT:
I’m afraid Marcott et al is not a particularly high priority for me. I can see it’s of huge interest to readers of this blog, since it’s about palaeoclimate reconstructions and hockey-stick shapes, but there’s much more to climate science than that. If my aim was to try to convince the public one way or another on whether climate change is an urgent issue or not, then I might be more motivated to read up on it as it clearly is quite pertinent to the public debate there. However, this is not my aim, so Marcott remains merely of academic interest to me. As I say above, I’m more interested in improving the ability to assess the impacts of climate change and variability over the next few years to decades, and an 11,000 year reconstruction does not seem to be especially helpful there. [emphasis added -hro]
I’m not entirely sure how one might hold or maintain a “merely … academic interest” in a paper one has not been “motivated to read up on”. Nor does Betts’ apparent lack of interest in “paleoclimate reconstructions and hockey-stick shapes” quite square with his (relatively) instantaneous flight into the twitterverse with his superfluous “entirely speculation” tweet (about another just-in-time IPCC paper on “paleoclimate reconstructions and hockey-stick shapes”) But what do I know, eh?! I’m not a busy climate scientist!
For the record, when push eventually came to shove, Betts opted to praise with faint damnation [Apr 15, 2013 at 5:27 PM]:
My (non-palaeo expert) view on Marcott is that it is an interesting attempt to reconstruct temperatures over the last 11000 years or so, but its significance has been over-sold. It does not appear to support claims of “unprecedented rates of warming” because the time resolution is too low. [emphasis added -hro]
<Sigh> Much as I dislike sounding like a broken record …
I have yet to see a reasonable explanation from this “jewel in the crown, of British science and global science” as to why:
- they chose to post without examining the so-called “science” on which the press release was based
- they have chosen to leave this clearly alarmist “headline” intact, some six weeks after it was firmly established that it is not supported by the underlying paper
In short, why is this “jewel in the crown, of British science and global science” participating in the passive perpetuation of the “over-selling” of an ‘apparently unsupported claim’ of “unprecedented rates of warming”?
And speaking of the Met Office and participation in the passive perpetuation of overselling hockey-sticks …
There’s another poster, “Marion” in this same thread at Bishop Hill, who had observed [Apr 19, 2013 at 3:22 PM]:
[…] the Met Office […] produced in October 2009 the booklet entitled “Warming, Climate Change – the Facts” with the super-exaggerated hockey-stick on Page 4.
Betts’ response [Apr 19, 2013 at 7:31 PM]:
The brochure you link to is no longer used by the Met Office – it’s not on the website any more (which is why you had to link to a copy kept by elsewhere) and paper copies are no longer distributed. We accepted that there were errors in it, eg. the graph you mention didn’t show the uncertainties properly.
I’m not quite sure what Betts expected readers to do with this response. But I’ll take a wild guess and suggest he was hoping that his response would make this particular issue go away! However, as I subsequently posted …
I hadn’t actually seen this brochure before (although now that I have, I do recall seeing something shorter but similar on the Met Office site some years ago, and as I recall it was introduced by Julia Slingo and written by Richard Betts). But a very funny thing happened on my way to pasting the title above … after I had carefully selected the title with my mouse, my cat decided to intervene and instead of copying, I found myself searching Google for the selected text, which returned:
About 55,400 results (0.37 seconds)
It was even on e-bay! Well, at least for a while, but alas:
Item 360227229693 is no longer available.
50 items found similar to ‘WARMING CLIMATE CHANGE THE FACTS MET OFFICE
In light of this, perhaps Richard could tell us:
a) when were the errors recognized?
b) when was this (coincidental, I’m sure) just-in-time for Copenhagen document withdrawn from “paper” circulation?
But most importantly:
c) where on the Met Office website might one find the list of errors and omissions – and/or the replacement
recitation of alarmist propaganda brochure?
As of this writing, my questions remain unanswered. And because that thread is no longer on the “front” page at Bishop Hill they can quite easily be overlooked, which is why I thought I’d post them here.
And in the meantime … “a jewel in the crown, of British science and global science”?! Really, Mr. Ashton! In light of the above, freebie papier maché ring at the bottom of a very expensive CrackerJack box strikes me as being somewhat closer to an appropriate metaphor for the U.K. Met Office;-)
P.S. Here’s a copy of that no longer on the Met Office website brochure (pdf). Be prepared to be very afraid of the dreaded CO2 … and watch out for the peas under the thimbles ;-)
UPDATE: Richard has responded via comment below
45 thoughts on “Questions for a “jewel in the crown” of U.K. (and global) science”
Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
Hilary Ostrov takes MET Office climate scientist Prof Richard Betts to task for his vague and evasive statements…
Thanks for calling me a “nice guy” :-)
I didn’t attend John Ashton’s speech – I was in another meeting at the time.
To answer your questions:
a) On the retracted brochure, I don’t remember exactly but I think it was between 1 and 2 years ago when it was recognised (by me) that the graph in question wasn’t properly representing the uncertainties in the palaeo reconstruction.
b) It was withdrawn shortly afterwards, on my suggestion.
c) As far as I’m aware there is nothing specific on the Met Office website about errors / omissions, but a new brochure is published towards the end of each year for the UNFCCC COP meetings (like the Copenhagen one).
On my tweet about Steve McIntyre’s remark about PAGES2K, my concern was not with his scientific criticisms (that’s fair enough – scientific debate is healthy) but with what I perceived as his hinting that there was something amiss with the peer-review process. I note that commented “R” on Climate Audit also picked him up on this. Richard Tol put it quite nicely in his tweets to you:
I haven’t read the PAGES2K paper yet, for similar reasons why it took me a while to read Marcott (ie: that particular area of science is not a priority for me). However this doesn’t mean I have no opinion on the way the debate about it is framed (i.e: a purely scientific debate vs. a debate grounded in presumptions about how it came to be published).
I don’t know why the headline on the Marcott paper is still there on My Climate and Me. The original post about it was removed at my request. It was a mistake to post about an area of science that the Met Office does not work on – we have asked My Climate and Me to stick to areas of Met Office expertise in future, and they will do this.
On the fact that I sometime “skim” blogs – well of course I do, because if I took time to read all climate blogs in detail, I’d never have time for anything else! :-)
I think SM has very good reason to be suspicious of the peer review system given his first hand experience with his involvement in the O’Donnell et al paper that destroyed a paper published by “The Hockey Team” where their alarming Antarctic warming was shown to be nothing more than an artefact of their data processing…and as it turned out the peer reviewer doing his upmost to keep the paper out of print turned out to be….wait for it…Mr Stig himself!
Secondly, given Marcott et al actually managed to get through the peer review process with the abortion they called climate science, do you not think SM actually has a point?
Papers that dare question the religion of Mann Made Global Warming just happen to get aggressively reviewed while abortions like Marcott et al get through regardless of the obvious errors on display to even the most dimwitted of people.
Perhaps the real tragedy here is that if it wasn’t for the efforts of one man, SM, we wouldn’t even be aware of the games being played by the likes of Jones, Mann, Trenbeth et al. Because its so obviously apparent that scientists cannot regulate themselves.
I’m sure I’m not alone in being grateful for this voice within the Met, whatever the semantic gap in other areas.
I’m glad someone else took a look at the John Ashton presentation Hilary. My feelings on Thatcher and climate are complex – some would say self-contradictory – but one thing she undoubtedly did feel was a sense of pride in British science. Here’s William Waldegrave on 10th:
She would I believe be deeply grieved by what was revealed by Climategate and by the cosy assumptions of career diplomats like Ashton, a caste she seldom got on with.
On adding Ashton to my wiki I noticed that he’s trustee of the UK Youth Climate Coalition, which I’d first noted as an organisation when Tara Clarke came on our radar, after Josh sat next to her at the Oxford Lindzen debate. But I can’t see Tara listed under UYCC now. I’ve been wondering why I made that connection at the time. The view from Canada may help :)
As it happens, Jonathan Jones, Tara Clarke and myself are having lunch together in Oxford in late June. And funnily enough the last time I saw Jonathan was at Steve McIntyre’s talk to the GWPF, after which we all went down the pub afterwards (and Josh too, and a few other Bishop Hill regulars). I enjoyed meeting them, it is far better to be able talk about many of these issues over a beer than on the internet, not least because there is less room for misinterpretation.
If the peer review process is working as designed, then it is time to question the design.
As I say to Steve McIntyre below, I think more reviewing should be done in the open as a matter of routine. This happens with some of the newer journals, but not the old established ones.
I’d never have time for anything else! :-)
Zero impact on us or the UK, I would suggest. You can’t ‘do’ climate impacts without climate models which you and the rest of the world know to be useless and unfit for such a purpose. From all your ‘at my suggestions’ you do seem to have a long reach at the Met Off. Long enough to know and read Marcot etc ? ?
The comments about the UK and its ‘soft power leverage’ is a delusion which has already been beautifully skewered by Peter Lilley MP, referring to a UK Government report called ‘Low Carbon Cooperation with China’
“The first delusion affirmed by the report is the delusion of power. It is a strange hangover from liberal imperialism that the British intellectual classes believe that they can still dominate the world—that the world is anxious to hear from them, and will jump to attention at their every word and follow their every command.
“Take the opening words of the report: ‘China is central to global efforts to tackle climate change and should be at the heart of HMG’s climate change mitigation strategy.’
“What delusions of grandeur! To imagine that the United Kingdom, a nation of 65 million people off the coast of Europe, could somehow direct, guide or in any substantive way influence the policies of the largest nation in the world, with 1.3 billion people, on the other side of the globe.”
There is much more good stuff in the same vein….
There’s a paradox here Rick. Those that talk about soft power are normally those that have no idea how to gain it or use it. Maggie didn’t talk about it but as the historian Hugh Thomas pointed out, the closeness of her relationship with the leaders of both the United States and the Soviet Union by 1988 was unparalleled, even in the days of Winston Churchill. And boy did she use it.
I never voted for Thatcher when I lived in the UK butn I think history will show that she was the most important UK leader of the 20th Century.
The power yileded from a science organ that has been shown to wrong in large and small areas of concern and to heavily politicized to boot is soft indeed.
Twitter can be confusing and lead to apparent non sequiturs. For example when Richard’s tweet starts with @hro001 @etzpcm it can be unclear which of us he’s primarily talking to.
But the advantage of twitter is that it’s an entirely level playing field, where there’s no sense of venturing into enemy-controlled territory as there sometimes can be with blogs.
It also allows the opportunity for, um, a frank exchange of views with people who you wouldn’t talk to on blogs:
One climate scientist Oliver Bothe (@geschichtenpost, who is in fact sometimes quite sympathetic to sceptic views) was not happy with what he saw as McIntyre’s innuendo and speculation and the apparent skeptic null hypothesis that climate science publication was corrupt. I said this was the situation they were in, post-climategate, which got him and Doug McNeall very upset. I was accused of being ‘motivated’ and not interested in serious discussion. I’m not sure they are aware of the damage done by CG behaviour and their failure to deal with it, so I raised one example and they did agree that it wasn’t normal behaviour in the field.
Well, twitter may be a “level playing field”; but the problem I have is that there are no … uh … “uniform priors” ;-)
For example, as I had suggested in my post, I had no way of knowing whether Richard had actually read the full context of that which had evidently precipitated his initial tweet, which was as follows:
To my eyes and ears, inherent in this particular choice of phrasing is the implicit (if not explicit) assumption that a factual claim had been made.- when clearly the context indicates quite the opposite!
And if Richard wasn’t such a nice guy, I might have asked him why on Gaia’s green earth he was making such a mountain out of a virtually invisible molehill, when there was so much more meat in Steve’s posts on PAGES2K.
It only later came to light that Richard’s concern evidently pertained to his perception that Steve’s (or someone’s, I’m not sure whose) innocuous (and common sense) observation/presumption/speculation of “pressure” was in some way indicative of an accusation of impropriety in the review process.
Ironically, Steve actually had commented on the peer review process, in that same post:
Frankly, I found it quite disappointing that there was no acknowledgment of this “reality on the peer-review ground”, so to speak, in the subsequent speculations of NatureGeoSci’s defenders via twitter.
I can confirm exactly when the booklet “Warming: Climate Change – the Facts” was removed from the Met Office web site. It was July 2012 as a result of the somewhat hard time the Met Office rep Richard Betts was being given by myself and others over the inaccuracies contained within, on the posting at Bishop Hill “Testing Scientific Gullibility”
Thanks for drawing my attention to the fact that old version of the “Warming” brochure is still available. The version you cite, which IMHO did get too close to advocacy, has been replaced with a toned-down version which drops the stuff like “alarming”.
Nevertheless, the new version does still include the figure on page 4 which I am not happy with, because it does not properly show the uncertainties in the palaeo portion (they used this figure from the AR4 WG1 Technical Summary when I think it would have been better to use panel (c) from the equivalent figure in the main chapter). Rather sloppy, but I honestly don’t think there was a deliberate attempt to downplay the uncertainties there, I think it was just seeing the Summary figure not the underpinning one. Apologies for that.
*BUT* regarding the issues of warming occurring and probably being mostly anthropogenic, I am still happy with the evidence and argument as presented in the IPCC AR4 attribution chapter. Please don’t dismiss it simply because it’s IPCC – please look at the underlying literature. Maybe it is easier for me to accept the literature than it is for you, since I have actually worked with many of the people in this field, have seen them give talks, discussed the work with them over coffee, etc. This is not an appeal to authority, just my personal experience. Happy to send any papers to you if you want to see them.
Also please note that the Met Office statement focussed only on the existence and probable causes of warming, not it’s future magnitude or impacts. I would not, for example, have signed a statement that talked about catastrophic impacts unless we “act now”.
Jul 10, 2012 at 2:07 PM | Richard Betts ”
[Note the Met Office statement that Richard has signed said –
“We, members of the UK science community, have the utmost confidence in the observational evidence for global warming and the scientific basis for concluding that it is due primarily to human activities. The evidence and the science are deep and extensive. They come from decades of painstaking and meticulous research, by many thousands of scientists across the world who adhere to the highest levels of professional integrity. That research has been subject to peer review and publication, providing traceability of the evidence and support for the scientific method. The science of climate change draws on fundamental research from an increasing number of disciplines, many of which are represented here. As professional scientists, from students to senior professors, we uphold the findings of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, which concludes that Warming of the climate system is unequivocal and that Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”. !!! ]
But… to get back to the brochure –
Unfortunately for Richard the ‘toned-down’ version of the Met Office brochure “Warming: Climate Change – the Facts” was almost as bad as the original
– see comments from ‘ChrisM’
“Richard, I dutifully downloaded the “toned-down version” of the Met’s ‘Warming’ brochure, and found it worthy of a school project supervised by the kid-exploding teacher in that infamous video.
Good grief man! Can’t you see the activism behind it? To give just one example, the sunny blue-skied cartoon scene on the left (on page 01) is transformed into a foreboding black, white, grey and red depiction of nasty greenhouse gas emitting sources, including a car with an exhaust problem. Pure alarmist propaganda, and very very silly.
Jul 13, 2012 at 7:42 AM | Chris M
And from September2011
“Thanks for example to Marion, Richard Betts, and Chris M! I seem to agree with Chris M: Brochures like those ones of the Met Office are hardly, if at all, helpful for the issue: “science”.
For example, the so-called toned-down version (: Richard) asserts on page 01 (in a large font of that page):
“It’s now clear that man-made greenhouse gases are causing climate change. Scientists agree on the scope of the problem and use computer models to predict the future climate.”
Question 1: Richard (or others), did something change fundamentally since the latest IPCC so-called Assessment Report, 2007 (AR4)? I don’t see how this statement (It’s now clear […]”) is justifiable since, for instance, the AR4 reads in the Summary for Policymakers only (my highlight):
“Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperature since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic [human-caused] greenhouse gas concentrations”.
The Met Office also tells us on the same page of this “essential guide” (: quote from Met Office’s brochure):
“This guide tells you everything you need to know about climate change and, importantly, what science tells us about it and what it means for you.”
First, in my opinion everyone (or everything) who (or what) claims to tell us everything shows overexaggerating. That is one of the poorest advertising strategies (Good advertising means that you stick to the facts and, for example, that you tell others how their lives are enriched by your product or what makes your product better than the others.). Second, I already wrote elsewhere (see my comment HERE (Jun 28, 2012 at 11:44 AM)) that the phrase “science tells us” is as inaccurate as authoritative: Science tells us nothing. Scientist do.
But in my opinion one of the most famous (AGW) schticks are also at the same place (page 01), written in that brochure in blue colour:
“The Earth’s climate has changed many times in response to natural causes. The term climate change usually refers to man-made changes that have occurred since the early 1900s.”
One great schtick is that — like the UN — the Met Office defines climate change as man-made changes (…and furthermore as CO2-(C)AGW…). In “their” words/world “climate has changed [in the (long bygone) past?]” means “natural causes” (…as well as today’s “stagnation of temperature”…).
Another great schtick of that part includes the claim:
“man-made [climate] changes that have occurred since the early 1900s”.
Question 2A: Richard (or others), what is the reference/source for the claim: “man-made [climate] changes that have occurred since the early 1900s”? The authors of AR4 suggest that the (temperature/climate) changes before ~1960 could be explained by natural variabilities alone, don’t they?
Question 2B:Respectively: What “man-made [climate] changes have occurred since the early 1900s”?
Jul 13, 2012 at 1:04 PM | September 2011 ”
So in response from Richard
“Chris M, September 2011
The brochure has been removed from the Met Office website.
Jul 14, 2012 at 1:10 AM | Richard Betts”
So it’s something of an understatement for Richard to say that it was withdrawn “when it was recognised (by me) that the graph in question wasn’t properly representing the uncertainties in the palaeo reconstruction.”
I observed that there must have been a “interesting backstory” to the PAGES2K article, given its apparent rejection by Science and its already late appearance in IPCC schedule. I presume that the PAGES2K authors must have been dismayed at the rejection by Science, not least because they would then be very squeezed for time. I also presume that the IPCC chapter authors were concerned because they had presumed that acceptance of PAGES2K was a given. These points seem self-evident to me and are nothing more than human nature.
Richard Betts comments: “On my tweet about Steve McIntyre’s remark about PAGES2K, my concern was not with his scientific criticisms (that’s fair enough – scientific debate is healthy) but with what I perceived as his hinting that there was something amiss with the peer-review process.”
I remain somewhat puzzled as to the precise objectives of academic peer review as a form of due diligence. My experience is relatively limited, but it seems to me that reviewers too often try to impose their point of view, rather than letting authors have their say, while, at the same time, failing to ensure that the authors have provided a proper record that enables efficient replication. On the latter count, the PAGES2K authors have done a much better than average job according to standards in the field.
However, I would be surprised if the peer reviewers, either for Science or Nature, did any serious due diligence. PAGES2K presented reconstructions for 7 continents, involving a variety of different proxies, and using several different methods, at least of one of which was unpublished at the time of submission of the article. This is a lot of material and different issues to cover in one article on a short deadline.
One reasonable review response might well have been that the authors should publish their regional reconstructions in specialist journals. And that the authors should publish a detailed analysis of the methodologies in a specialist journal. It seems entirely possible that Science might have taken that position in rejecting the article.
Without the looming IPCC deadline and the prominent use of PAGES2K results by IPCC, I believe that it is entirely reasonable that Nature would have taken a similar position (to my interpretation of Science) and told the authors to split the article up into manageable review pieces. Do I believe that Nature recognized the need for very rapid acceptance and selected reviewers who also recognized the problem? Yes.
Without a set of quality control standards for academic peer review, it is impossible to say whether this process met or did not meet standards. I therefore am not moralizing about whether something was “amiss” in this case. However, I recommend that readers should not presume that the journal peer review constituted serious due diligence of the PAGES2K article.
Richard Betts’ implied that it was somehow “unhealthy” to point this out. I disagree.
To start, yes I am generally unhappy with Steve McIntyre’s speculative tone that to me often implies the accusation of scientific misconduct or corruption of peer review where to me everything is in the scope of peer review (not only in climate science but in science generally). I would like to see his post-publication review submitted as comments to journals and I would appreciate if the journals would consider him as reviewer for reconstruction and proxy-papers.
Next a disclaimer: I am loosely associated with Euro2K. Therefore, I have to be careful in my next comments. So, if I appear evasive, I am sorry for that.
Another disclaimer: I am less structured in the following than I would like to be.
And a short comment on mentioning the Gergis et al. reconstruction. The Pages2K-Australasia-reconstruction is not the Gergis et al., the paper under review is only referred to for part of the method, not for the reconstruction. At least that’s what I read in the SI. Of course, it is close to it, but as Steve McIntyre correctly states any speculations on the relation of this reconstruction to the JClimate-paper have to wait until the latter is published.
The acceptance of a paper is never “a given”, especially not with Science, Nature and Nature SomethingorOther. With hindsight, I can infer that the change of plan, i.e. Science to NatureGeo, required to postpone other papers.
I doubt they were dismayed but they weren’t happy either. Of course they were squeezed for time. But scientists tend to have deadlines all the time. So nothing new there? If I remember correctly, one of the IPCC chapter authors suggested before the submission deadline that it would be nice to have the paper ready for the IPCC but that one could also work with other published data if the Pages2K reconstructions were not published before the deadline.
That is: The Arctic-NorthAtlantic reconstruction by Hanhijärvi was accepted early February and could have been used. Kaufman et al (2009) would have been a choice as would have been Shi et al. (2012). The Guiot reconstruction for Europe could have been used as state of the art. Cook et al.’s reconstruction for East Asia was accepted November 2012 and could have been used. Wahl and Smerdon (2012) and Viau et al. (2012) would validly represent North America (Trouet et al. (2013) on the other hand was too late). For South America, we have the Neukom et al. data from 2011. Australasia and Antarctica would have been a problem, but so was Africa. Indeed the Africa2K paper by Nicholson et al. was accepted mid-February. For Antarctica, one could have just used the 200yr reconstruction by Schneider et al. (2006). Some of these choices would have changed the assessment but they would have been valid choices.
To distinguish between the methodological and the skeptical point of views: For the former the post-publication review of the PAGES2K will show whether there are holes which challenge the data and the conclusions; this also refers to the substantial holes comment by Jonathan Jones. For the skeptical point of view, I indeed think that the reconstructions and their discussion rather suit it.
On the substantial holes: Australasia. I don’t think that Steve McIntyre’s comments so far invalidate the reconstruction. South America is an update to Neukom et al. And, although I don’t like the formulation, these reconstructions are hypotheses based on the “best available” (selected on non-objective criteria) data.
So, as stated above, if there are strong indications of mistakes and errors, submit them as a comment or as a separate paper (as Hargreaves and Annan did in 2009), please. Put them on Arxiv at the same time. For example, why not put all your major objections to Marcott et al. in a comment and submit it first as a comment to Science and later to Climate of the Past or something similar, or put it as a separate paper on a “bladeless Holocene Hockey Stick” to any journal of choice. “Bladeless” is not stolen from Steve McIntyres recent post, but refers to my thoughts after the fray with Paul Matthews. I hope that Lewis (2013), Masters (2013) and some other papers (although of less quality than these two) should have proven that gate-keeping appears to be a smaller problem than it may have been. If you submit (and put the draft on Arxiv), some scientists are going to note and if (big if) you encounter gate keeping it’s more than easy to communicate it in a clear but less axe-in-the-face manner.
On Steve McIntyre’s comment on peer review in general. Yes, I think he’s right there. But the definition of peer-review is not a priori to try to replicate the results. Maybe Paul Matthews can comment whether mathematical peer review tries to follow each step in a paper and Jonathan Jones may comment on how this is done in the physical sub-fields he’s involved in. The task to ensure the possibility of replication lies with the author. The reviewer highlights gaps. At least that’s my impression. Should that be changed? No. The replication of results is part of the post-publication evaluation and failure to do so should be communicated in comments and possibly lead to retractions or corrections.
Put differently: The authors have to describe their methods so well that an informed reader can replicate their results with her prior knowledge and access to the data. Ideally the authors provide their code (well that should be requested). The reviewers have to check that the description allows the informed reader this replication.
So I am sure that the paper was subject to peer review as tense as average in science. Could it be more thorough. I would say peer-review can always be more detailed.
I understand these concerns. However, I would interpret the time period between the initial submission to Science and the subsequent submission to Nature Geoscience as signaling that there was a lot of work to do for the authors to deal with the initial comments. Assuming (with a at least 50 percent chance of being wrong) that these initial comments and the made changes were highlighted in the second submission, I think the review process was as thorough as I expect it to be for these journals. Does that mean it was as thorough as to ensure perfection of the published manuscript. That’s not the point of peer review. And with respect to unpublished results: The reviewers are encouraged to request all the material they need to provide a thorough review. Further, as I already wrote, the work involved in revising this paper has possibly lead the author’s to postpone other work (I know of one paper).
To add speculation to speculation. I assume that the consortium asked Science whether they would be interested before formal submission. That’s common and even encouraged by the glamour-journals. And I can say that the idea was, in principle, to publish the reconstructions in specialist journals and to submit this synthesis paper to one of the “Letter”-journals.
Again speculation to speculation. I think the synthesis provided by the PAGES2K consortium perfectly fits the scope of a progress-article in Nature Geoscience. McIntyre’s last question has to be answered with yes, but do I think that prevented a thorough peer review? No. See list of possible alternatives above.
Plus: What Richard Betts says & anyway, I am confident that at least Fredrik, Eduardo, Jan, Jason and Johannes have worked as internal quality control for proxies and methods.
My experience of being peer-reviewed is that it is largely window dressing. The two most common types of review are the near-pointless and the hostile. I have just heard back from my most recent manuscript, which spent seven weeks in review and received eight comments, five of which are typographical errors and the remaining three of which are minor suggestions for rephrasing. Unusually the only request for an extra citation tells me to cite one of my own papers, rather than the original source which I already cite, but who am I to argue? All very useful, no doubt, but it seems a complex way of getting such remarks. Hostile reviews, in which the reviewer tries to insert their opinions into my writing, some times fighting proxy wars against third parties, are just depressing.
I don’t recall a reviewer ever identifying a major error in one of my papers. This is not because they are error free: I have made my fair share of mistakes. But all the errors have been spotted post publication.
I do sometimes find reviews helpful, particularly in matters of presentation: if two reviewers have grossly misunderstood what I have written.then clearly the explanation is bad and needs rewriting. I have also had reviewers point out useful references (not always written by themselves!). But checking the actual contents? Almost never happens.
Helpful context Jonathan, for those of us concerned about climate science but blissfully unaware of the wider context. Though with its direct link to policy making review of climate science deserves more thorough consideration. Open review, both before and after publication, seems the only answer to me, as perhaps Richard Betts has been indicating. Thank you Steve for filling such a crucial gap in paleo.
In wondering about the rejection of the PAGES2K paper by Science, I observed: “One reasonable review response might well have been that the authors should publish their regional reconstructions in specialist journals. And that the authors should publish a detailed analysis of the methodologies in a specialist journal. It seems entirely possible that Science might have taken that position in rejecting the article.”
Oliver Bothe describes this as “speculation”. While it is “speculation” to say that Science received this sort of review, I do not think that it is “speculation” to say that this would have been a “reasonable review response”. Speaking as someone who is as familiar as anyone with the data and methods, I would say that it would have been a “reasonable” review response, not least because it’s what I would have said.
It is of course “speculation” that Science received a review of this nature. Perhaps Dr Bothe could ask the authors of Kaufman et al 2013 whether my speculation was correct :)
Dr Bothe’s comment about a “Progress Article” was an interesting one. He said: “I think the synthesis provided by the PAGES2K consortium perfectly fits the scope of a progress-article in Nature Geoscience.”
I confess that I had not previously paid note to the fact the PAGES2K article was published as a “Progress Article”, rather than a research article. Nor indeed had I been previously aware of the differences between the two in academic terms. However, given Dr Bothe’s belief that PAGES2K “perfectly fits” the definition of a “Progress Article”, here is Nature’s policy on Progress Articles http://www.nature.com/ngeo/authors/content_types.html
Curiously, although the Policy states that Progress Articles “do not include received/accepted dates”, Nature Geoscience, in apparent violation of this policy, stated that the the PAGES2K article was “Received 9 December 2012; accepted 11 March 2013; published online 21 April 2013”. Reasonable people may differ on why Nature Geoscience violated this particular policy, but I presume that they wished to demonstrate that the article had been “accepted” prior to the IPCC deadline of March 15. (It is also possible that Nature doesn’t actually observe the stated policy.)
Dr Bothe said that PAGES2K “perfectly fit” the definition, a definition which recommends Progress Articles for “a developing field that might not yet be mature enough for review”. I’m surprised to learn that this is Dr Bothe’s position. My own position is that the field is “mature enough for review” and that PAGES2K therefore did not qualify for the lesser due diligence of a Progress Article – particularly when it was known that IPCC planned to use it.
Now that Dr Bothe has drawn attention to the curious fact that PAGES2K was published as a “Progress Article”, I think that it is entirely possible that one or more of the Nature reviewers, like the Science reviewers, may have recognized the impossibility of careful review of seven reconstructions using multiple methods and that someone therefore had the bright idea of circumventing the problem by labeling PAGES2K as a “Progress Article”, thereby lessening the review burden. Speculation on my part, but perhaps Dr Bothe can ask the authors whether my speculation is correct.
I had closed my earlier comment with the observation “I recommend that readers should not presume that the journal peer review constituted serious due diligence of the PAGES2K article.” Given that Dr Bothe has pointed out that the PAGES2K was merely published as a “Progress Article”, the recommendation seems even more appropriate.
it looks as though Nature has disregarded its policy on Received/accepted dates on Progress Articles on other non-climate related occasions.
Thanks for your comments. We are both working entirely in the dark here, as neither of us actually know what the PAGES2K reviews said, but I would make entirely the opposite presumption to you about the approach of Nature and the reviewers. They would have known full well that you would be certain to subject this paper to considerable scrutiny on Climate Audit and are more likely to take *extra* care in the review process, and definitely not rush it through because of the impending IPCC deadline. IPCC authors, and climate scientists in general, are only too aware that our work is under scrutiny as never before.
For what it’s worth, personally I would prefer it if all peer reviews were published as a matter of routine, as is the case for some open access journals. Then we wouldn’t have to speculate about whether the process was thorough or not.
Good to meet you in London last year, by the way – we should do that again sometime. Although we have differences of opinion, it’s good to talk it through.
You appear to be talking yourself into a rather uncomfortable dichotomy.
You would have us believe that this paper will have been exceptionally well reviewed, partly because it was at Nature and partly because of the fear of post-publication review by McIntyre and others. It’s an interesting theory, but not one obviously borne out by the facts on the ground: while this paper isn’t complete rubbish, and did manage to avoid making some of the most traditional egregious mistakes, it didn’t take long for McIntyre to tear some quite substantial holes in its fabric.
So, either a top-notch example of professional climate science reviewing did not pick up errors found by One Man and His Blog, or this was not an example of top-notch reviewing. Which one are you going for?
There is of course a third possibility, which is that these are not substantial holes. All science has uncertainties and differences of opinion on what is the best approach, and this is particularly the case in palaeoclimate reconstructions. These may be minor points, misunderstandings or a consequence of poor presentation/ explanation in the paper – or then again, they may indeed be substantial holes. I don’t know enough about the field to be able to judge either way.
I see that a number of the PAGES2K authors are on Twitter. If you tell me which issues you think are the substantial holes, with links to the appropriate CA pages, I will tweet them to ask if they are going to respond. I will be as interested as you to see what they say.
So, for the avoidance of doubt, if a significant hole is found then my dichotomy applies?
Very busy today, but I would start at http://climateaudit.org/2013/04/20/pages2k-south-america/#comment-414780 reading in threaded mode
Yes, if a significant hole is found then of course your dichotomy applies. It would be an argument in favour of further increasing the move towards open reviewing (especially if that also includes allowing unsolicited review comments, as many open access journals now do, as then the kind of comments that Steve is making could then be made as part of the review process). But we’ll have to wait and see.
I have tweeted Eduardo Zorita and others to ask if the PAGES2K team will be responding to the criticisms. I hope they do.
Thanks Oliver Bothe for your comments above – very sensible, as always.
Richard, you had presumed/speculated that:
If that was the case – and particularly in light of Steve’s initial observation to the effect that with the number of authors (77 by my count) it would be challenging to find reviewers who were unconflicted – surely the solution would have been to invite Steve to be one of the reviewers, would it not?
Or do you have any evidence that this presumed “*extra* care” included the due diligence required? IOW, did the review include any objective examination of the underlying data and methodologies by reviewers whose understanding of (and expertise in) statistics matches that of Steve and/or other contributors to Climate Audit?
Incidentally, perhaps I missed it/them but in reviewing the comments on Steve’s PAGES2K posts earlier today, I didn’t notice any contributions from any of the PAGES2K authors you had notified via twitter.
Yes indeed, inviting Steve to be one of the reviewers would have been an obvious move, given that he was inevitably going to subject the paper to post-publication blog review. One can speculate that the editors might have been concerned that the review process could end up in a deadlock, with Steve (who has a reputation for being tenacious) having made some particular point that the authors fundamentally disagreed with, and with both sides refusing to back down. If all this happened in an Open Review process then everyone could see it, and then whatever decision the editor finally made, at least everyone could see the backstory out in the open. But on the other hand, maybe that wouldn’t have happened. We will never know!
I can confirm that I’ve not yet seen any response to my tweet asking whether the authors will respond to Steve’s posts, either on CA or twitter or anywhere else.
Richard, in the few reviews that I’ve done, I’ve never encountered a situation where my review resulted in a deadlock where “both sides refused to back down”. Indeed, no editor (and this is only a couple of cases) has ever even sent author responses to me or asked me to review a resubmission. Instead, the authors were allowed to ignore my comments, regardless of the merits of my comments.
Nothing “tenacious” about it at all.
Hi Steve, thanks for that – I was only thinking aloud, as I agreed that Hilary’s suggestion that inviting you to review the paper would have been an obvious thing to do, and I was just wondering why this wasn’t done. By the way, “tenacious” wasn’t meant to be a negative comment.
Richard Betts says:
April 24, 2013 at 8:49 am
Hilary: Stephen, I’m sorry, but I think there are more appropriate ways of expressing your sentiments. People were having a productive discussion. If you feel compelled to give vent to your (admitted) rudeness, perhaps it would be best if you confined it to your own blog, rather than imposing it on my little corner of the blogosphere.
I’m sorry, I’m not going to hang around here to be insulted by Stephen Richards. There was no need at all for him to call me a “creep”. I try to be polite and pleasant, and this is what I get. This is the end of my participation in this conversation. Sorry.
Richard, I have removed Stephen’s comment and trust that he will refrain from disrupting the discussion any further and that you will return.
Thanks very much Hilary. I’m back, and have replied to Jonathan Jones above.
Hi all, and welcome to my quiet little corner of the blogosphere and for the thoughtful and civil contributions … Of all days when my *work* schedule should preclude my attending to important matters (like blog moderation, that I’ve never had to deal with before!) … <sigh> the fates must be conspiring against me ;-)
I’ll be back … but in the meantime, pls talk among yourselves!
Do we have any evidence that Steven Richards isn’t working for Richard Betts?
If all it takes is one insult (which I didn’t see) to give him the excuse to leave, then
he might easily arrange for a friend to insult him, as an exit strategy.
But I’m speculating – and only the MO is allowed to do that.
That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard since a few weeks ago, when Lewandowsky et al managed to appear to identify *me* as a conspiracy theorist (for which they later apologised) – see here. But even Lewandowsky’s list of conspiracy theories didn’t cover the possibility of a climate scientist getting someone to insult them as a excuse to leave a blog conversation…. wonderful :-)
Stephen Richards has a long history of being particularly spiteful towards me on Bishop Hill, despite me making it clear that I felt his behaviour was unreasonable and unhelpful, so I decided to adopt a zero tolerance approach. I am grateful to Hilary for being a good moderator. As you can see, I am back now that I can see that rudeness is not tolerated here.
Beard the lion: Nature’s review process is manifestly corrupt.
No response yet from any of the four climate scientists who Richard tweeted on Thursday about responding to the criticisms of Pages2k. To be fair, one of the four is not twitter-active, but the other three are.
This is, of course, the standard approach of climate science to criticism. Another nice example if the treatment of the Marcott paper by the Met Office’s Myclimateandme project. First they enthusiastically and unquestioningly promoted it. Then they pulled the post and said they would get a Met Office climate scientist to comment on it. Now they have changed their mind and decided that they are not going to comment on it at all. But the scaremongering headline is still there! See Hilary’s next post.
The latest development is that Nature Geoscience @NatureGeosci has set up a “Climate 2k Journal Club” that is going to have a google+ discussion of PAGES 2k Consortium paper, on May 9th.
Thanks, Paul. I saw this at CA earlier today (well, yesterday to be precise!) and made note of it in the “Epilogue” to my latest post:
PAGES2K’s Progress and NatureGeoSci‘s peer-review lite
P.S. Here’s a copy of that no longer on the Met Office website brochure (pdf). Be prepared to be very afraid of the dreaded CO2 … and watch out for the peas under the thimbles ;-)
The AGW Greenhouse Effect Comic Cartoon – that “visible light from the Sun heats the Earth’s surface of land and water and no longwave infrared from the Sun gets through TOA”
Why has science degenerated to this?
On which world is “visible light from the Sun” capable of heating matter?
On which world is the Sun a cold 6000°C Star? On which world is there an “invisible barrier at TOA like the glass of a greenhouse preventing direct thermal infrared heat, longwave infrared, from entering”?
On which world is there no Water Cycle or rain in the Carbon Cycle?
On which world is the atmosphere “empty space populated by ideal gas molecules miles apart from each other travelling at great speeds under their own molecular momentum and so thoroughly mixing”?
On which world are these ideal gas massless molecules not subject to gravity kept from zooming off to the ends of the universe by an “invisible container”?
Etc. etc. The science of the AGW Greenhouse Effect is fiction, it is not real world scientific fact.
Who created that fiction, the fake fisics meme of “shortwave in longwave out”, the KT97 and ilk?
Watch the pea – so as to pretend that all real world measurements of radiant heat longwave infrared direct from the millions of degree hot Star we call our Sun came instead from the “atmosphere below TOA backradiated by greenhouse gases”
The Great Delusion
AGW/CAGWs – how are you going to deal with this?
You have a cold 6000°C Star for a Sun calculated by planckians on the thin 300 mile wide atmosphere around the real Earth’s Sun, and so you say you get no direct longwave infrared heat from this.
That is not science.
That is fiction.
At some point you are going have to look that straight in the eye.
Sooner would be better than later for us oiks having to listen to and being penalised by your idiotic impossible claims for the properties and processes of our real world.
We, the oiks of this world, have a genuine grievance with you.
You are destroying our well being and dumbing down basic science for this and the next generation.
You are responsible for this scam because you continue to perpertrate the crime of imposing the faked fisics of this impossible world of AGW’s Greenhouse Effect onto us by claiming it is real.
It is a lie, a scam, a con, I can show you, and have shown you, some of the sleights of hand that went into creating it.
You have no excuse if you claim to be scientists to ignore the information I give from traditional well known up to date physics.
The AGW Greenhouse Effect energy budget claims that “visible light from the Sun heats the Earth’s surface land and water”.
Visible light from the real Sun cannot do this. It is impossible from the real world properties and processes of visible light from the real Sun.
The AGW Greenhouse Effect energy budget claims that “visible light from the Sun is what we feel as heat”.
We cannot feel visible light, or any of the shortwaves in the AGW GHE “shortwave in”, as heat. They are not hot. They are not thermal energies.
The AGW Greenhouse Effect energy budget claims that “no longwave infrared heat direct from the Sun gets through an invisible barrier at TOA”.
There is no “invisible barrier like the glass of a greenhouse at TOA” preventing the great direct thermal longwave infrared heat from our real millions of degree hot Sun from entering.
This direct radiant heat from our real millions of degree hot Star which is our Sun is what we feel as heat and which we feel heating us up inside and out. This is what raises our temperature and the temperature of land and water of the real Earth’s surface.
Your AGW Greenhouse Effect Sun of your COMIC cartoon energy budget of KT97 and ilk is fake.
Your AGW Greenhouse Effect comic cartoon energy budget claims we get no real direct radiant heat energy from the Sun because it uses the real longwave infrared heat measurements direct from the Sun to PRETEND that this comes from “backradiation by greenhouse gases from the atmosphere under TOA”
That is the scam.
There is no Greenhouse Effect of “backradiation by greenhouse gases”.
Traditional science, real physics, still teaches those not dumbed down by the fake AGW fictional fisics that the Heat energy we feel as heat direct from our real millions of degree hot Sun is longwave infrared, also known as thermal infrared because it is heat. It is the real Sun’s great thermal energy, heat energy, on the move to us in heat transfer by radiation.
Near infrared of the AGW GHE energy budget which gives 1% of its “shortwave in”, is not a thermal energy, we cannot feel it as heat and it cannot heat us up.
Your AGW Greenhouse Effect Sun is fake to create your fake “backradiation by greenhouse gases” claim.
You have changed the Sun!
You have dumbed down basic science for a generation.
If you continue to teach this then you are fully part and parcel of the con.
This is science fraud at the very least, at worst it is a fraud against the personal liberties and economic well being of the general population worldwide.
Traditional NASA teaching is still online, though your partners in this crime have removed it from the main NASA site.
I give it here again –
IF YOU MAKE A CLAIM TO BE REAL SCIENTISTS YOU CANNOT IGNORE THIS.
You are obligated as scientists to bring this to the attention of other scientists.
“Far infrared waves are thermal. In other words, we experience this type of infrared radiation every day in the form of heat! The heat that we feel from sunlight, a fire, a radiator or a warm sidewalk is infrared. The temperature-sensitive nerve endings in our skin can detect the difference between inside body temperature and outside skin temperature”
“Shorter, near infrared waves are not hot at all – in fact you cannot even feel them.”
Either traditional science is wrong here or you AGW/CAGWs are..
Who created the KT97 and ilk comic cartoons of “shortwave in longwave out”?
The oldest reference I can find is this from 1954:
the atmosphere’s property of transmitting solar radiation while holding back terrestrial radiation, thereby contributing to the accumulation of heat by the earth. The atmosphere is comparatively quite transparent to shortwave solar radiation, which is almost entirely absorbed by the earth’s surface, since the albedo of the surface is generally low. The surface of the earth heats up by absorbing solar radiation and becomes a source of terrestrial, chiefly longwave, radiation. The atmosphere does not transmit this radiation very well and, in fact, almost completely absorbs it. Because of the greenhouse effect, when there is a clear sky only about 10–20 percent of the terrestrial radiation is able to pass through the atmosphere into outer space.
Kondrat’ev, K. Ia. Luchistyi teploobmen v atmosfere. Leningrad, 1956.”
Do you really think the Soviets did not know traditional physics on this?
If the AGW Greenhouse Effect was real there would be no need to manipulate temperature records and all the other science frauds we have had inflicted on us.
I’ve allowed your two comments on this now dormant but (in my quiet little corner of the blogosphere) long thread; but they really are off-topic. And I have no idea to whom amongst other commenters on this thread you thought you might have been responding.
And I also thought you should know that I don’t find rhetoric such as “fake”, “scam”, “lies” etc to be particularly helpful, persuasive or conducive to constructive discussion.
In short … please don’t use my blog as a platform for your off-topic rants. Because next time, I shall delete your comment.
Hi Hilary – this was linked to a couple of days ago, and I looked at the pdf you mentioned and was commenting on the AGW Greenhouse Effect cartoon, to show how it was as not accurate real world science any more than their temperature claims – the fact that in all the nearly two decades they were pushing the scare that the Earth was warming and it was all our fault, they knew it was not.
I really do not see any reason to not call this for what it is.
But, I respect your decision, it is your blog. And thank you for saying what you will do, I find the usual response to AGW/CAGW manipulations of basic physics is silent censorship from AGWs who claim they do not censor.., and am grateful that you allowed me to post.
Those “deniers” of the AGW Greenhouse Effect are being silenced by the consensus AGW claiming they are the only legitimate sceptics, for arguing the nuances of the sensitivity claims, but agreeing with CAGWs to the basic physics claims for the properties and processes of the GHE.
Anyway, thank you again, maybe it will spark someone’s interest. I shall continue to drop in every now and then to see what you have been writing about.