Feb 142010

Two remarkable documents were published on the BBC website on Friday night. One is a long interview with Phil Jones conducted by  Roger Harrabin. This does not seem to have been the usual head to head affair, but written answers to written questions over a period of several days, some of them provided by sceptics. Therefore there is no scope for Jones to claim that he was panicked into hasty responses or that he has been misquoted:

Q&A: Professor Phil Jones

The other is Harrabin’s shorter summary of the interview, although it does contain one revelation that is not in the other document:

Climate data ‘not well organised’

To say that these are  explosive would be to wildly underestimate the potential impact of their content. Phil Jones, and his research, has had a huge effect on the IPCC process and the climate change community during a decade that spans two IPCC assessment reports. What he says matters.

Jones is not only one of the world’s most influential climate scientists, he is also a major opinion former within his field of research and beyond. This is a man whose word has carried great weight with journalists, activists, administrators and politicians as well as with other scientists.

So why is this interview so important?

If you try to identify the core scientific evidence on which current alarm about anthropogenic climate change depends, then it is possible to come up with the  following short list:

  • The greenhouse gas hypothesis; increased Co2 in the atmosphere causes warming.
  • There has been an unprecedentedly rapid rise in global average temperature  during the 20th century.
  • Current temperatures have reached levels unprecedented during the last 1000 years at least.

The first item describes a mechanism by which human emissions of Co2 could cause the climate to change. The other two provide crucial evidence that is necessary to substantiate the green house gas hypothesis. Without them, it remains no more than a theoretical possibility, and just because something could happen, it doesn’t mean that it has happened, is happening, or will happen.

Whether you count in Pounds Stirling, Euros or US Dollars, hundreds of billions, perhaps more than a trillion, have already been invested an efforts to stave off this perceived catastrophe and to fund the science that has brought it to our attention. We really do need to know whether this research will stand up to scrutiny by people other than those who produced and promoted it; the climate science community and the IPCC. Up until now, public consent to measures that can and will effect all our lives has been achieved by claims that the science is settled, the debate is over for all rational people, and there is a consensus among scientists that global warming has occurred, and is occurring as a result of human Co2 emissions. We are told that we mus believe what we are told about global warming because the IPCC has assessed the research thoroughly, objectively and in a transparent process, to the extent  that they can guarantee its quality.

Jones’ main expertise is the surface temperature record, the analysis of thousands of vast amounts of data from weather stations all over the world dating back to the mid-nineteenth century. These apparently tell us that rapid warming has occurred during the latter part of this period.

The Climategate emails released in November show all too clearly the lengths to which Jones and his colleagues at the University of East Anglis were prepared to go to in order to avoid releasing to sceptics the data on which Jones’ estimation’s of global temperatures are based. Ever since then, the IPCC and others who seek to ward off any criticism of the science of global warming, have repeatedly said that even if there is a problem with Jones’ data, there are two other institutions, NASA GISS and NCDC, that have reached the same conclusions, therefore there is nothing to be concerned about.

In Harrabin’s summary of the interview, he reports that Jones is no longer able to identify where all the data used in his research came from:

“We do have a trail of where the (weather) stations have come from but it’s probably not as good as it should be,” he admitted.

That’s similar with the American datasets. There were technical reasons for this, with changing data from different countries. There’s a continual updating of the dataset. Keeping track of everything is difficult. Some countries will do lots of checking on their data then issue improved data so it can be very difficult. We have improved but we have to improve more.”

My emphasis

Climate data ‘not well organised’

If the other two surface temperature records suffer from the same problem as the one that Jones compiles, then that means that there is not a single estimation of global surface temperatures for the last 150 years that can be validated from the original data that was used to construct it. In science, everything must be validated and nothing can be taken on trust. The most critical test of research findings is that others can replicate them. Without a full set of data this cannot be done convincingly.

In the second bullet point at the beginning of this post, I drew attention to the importance of knowing what has happened to surface temperatures during the last hundred years. It is not too much to say that the credibility of the last two IPCC assessment reports depends entirely on this research. Unless it can be shown that global temperatures have increased anomalously during a period when levels of Co2 in the atmosphere have increased, then it is not possible to determine that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases have had any impact on global temperature.

In Question O of the BBC interview, Jones is quizzed about his career. He says that he has publishesd over 270 peer-reviewed papers on different aspects of climate research; a very impressive record. The peer review process does not usually involve the detailed inspection of data, and according to Harrabin’s report, Jones’ colleagues say that his record keeping is disorganised and they seem unsurprised about the problems with the surface temperature record data. A great many of these papers will have been relied on in the IPCC reports and elsewhere. One cannot help wondering if Jones, who has apparently failed to keep adequate records of in his most important field of research, instrumental surface temperatures, has also failed to keep proper record of other studies? How many of these other papers can be validated? This is not to suggest that they are worthless, only that it is necessary in science to be able to verify results by reference to the data.

Given what we now know about Jones’ disorganised working methods, and the lengths that he has been prepared to go to in order to avoid scrutiny by critics, it is reasonable to expect that the IPCC would want to subject any papers authored by Jones that have been relied on in their assessment reports to detailed re-evaluation. This is only likely to happen if there are irresistible demands that they should do so.

Turning to the question of whether surface temperatures at present are higher than they have been during at least the last thousand years (third bullet point) we have to consider Michael Mann’s  Hockey Stick graph that has probably done more to persuade people of the credibility of warnings about global warming than any other single piece of research. Many of the more sensational Climategate emails are devoted to the efforts of Jones, Mann, and other IPCC luminaries, to make sure that no research casting doubt on the validity of this graph should see the light of day or be given a fair hearing.

It is to the Hockey Stick graph that the IPCC turned for evidence that the Medieval Warm Period, when temperatures may well have been higher than they are now, does not in fact exist or was merely a regional phenomenum of no importance.  Although Jones was not directly involved in the original study, he has contributed to other palaeoclimate studies, so it is reasonable to expect him to provide a well informed and spirited defence of Mann’s work. In Question G he is asked about the significance of the Medieval Warm Period in determining whether recent temperatures are unprecedented. This only yields a discursive answer that avoids the main thrust of the question, but in so doing makes it clear that there is much uncertainty about this research.

Once again, this is a long way from the line taken by the IPCC, and the doubts that Jones appears to have are amplified in Question N:

When scientists say “the debate on climate change is over”, what exactly do they mean – and what don’t they mean?

It would be supposition on my behalf to know whether all scientists who say the debate is over are saying that for the same reason. I don’t believe the vast majority of climate scientists think this. This is not my view. There is still much that needs to be undertaken to reduce uncertainties, not just for the future, but for the instrumental (and especially the palaeoclimatic) past as well.

There is little that I can say about this other than it is breathtaking to hear such doubts from a leading climate scientist and IPCC functionary. They are at odds with whole thrust of the last two assessment reports, and the deluge of self-aggrandising propaganda that has emanated from that organisation and its supporters.

Another of the concerns that the Climategate emails raise is that Jones and his colleagues may have manipulated the peer review process in order to suppress research that might threaten their own findings and the case for anthropogenic climate change. In Question S, Jones reveals that, since 2005, he has reviewed some 43 papers and it is reasonable to suppose that these would not involve trivial matters of research. A scientist of Jones’ stature would [A.G.F1] not be expected to waste his time on such matters.

If Jones was at the centre of attempts to subvert the peer review process, and we will have to await the results of the two Climategate enquiries that are already under way before we know whether this is the case, there must be doubts about any reviews that he undertook. It is a requirement of the IPCC review process that the assessment reports should only rely on peer-reviewed research.  In view of this, surely it is necessary that the IPCC should reconsider any papers of which Jones was a reviewer that have been used in their reports if he is found to have behaved improperly? But are they likely to do this?

There are a couple of other things in the interview that point to areas of concern that should now be investigated either by the IPCC or, more appropriately, by an independent body.

In answer to Question Q, which deals with the notorious ‘trick’ to ‘hide the decline that is mentioned in the Climategate emails, Jones confirms that this was to do with splicing instrumental temperature records on to palaeoclimate records. What is interesting is that he says that this was done at the request of the World Meteorological Organisation, a UN agency and, with UNEP, one of the parent bodies of the IPCC. It would be very interesting to know why they requested that this should be done?  There is a tendency for palaeoclimate reconstructions to show declining temperatures at the end of the 20th century whereas the instrumental record shows a sharp increase. Given the ever-increasing suspicions about the IPCC’s methods, and the way in which climate research has been conducted over the last decade, surely this is a question that must be asked again and again until it receives a credible answer.

By this stage, it actually becomes difficult to believe your eyes as you read what Jones has to say. About eighteen months ago, Richard Lindzen suggested that there had been no statistically significant increase in global temperatures since 1995. The climate science community greeted this with derision. Now, in answer to Question B, Jones agrees that this is correct. What he does not say, and was not asked, is why the most recent IPCC report made no mention of global warming stalling in spite of their having more than a decade of data to work with at that time. All the talk in the report is of inexorably rising temperatures.

Lastly, here is Question L:

Can you confirm that the IPCC rules were changed so lead authors could add references to any scientific paper which did not meet the 16 December 2005 deadline but was in press on 24 July 2006, so long as it was published in 2006? If this is the case, who made the decision and why?

No answer. Question should be put to the IPCC.

This refers to the inclusion in the last assessment report of a deeply flawed paper by Wahl and Ammann, which claimed to replicate Mann’s Hockey Stick graph, and by so doing discredit MacIntyre and McKitrick’s criticisms. The labyrinthine events that lead up to this paper being cited are too complex to explain here but, given Jones role in the creation of the IPCC report, and the revelation in the Climategate emails of attempts to suppress criticism of the Hockey Stick, it is hard to believe that he did not know the answer to this question. It remains to be seen whether the IPCC will provide answers. If they do not do so, then their credibility will become even more damaged. This is not a matter that can be passed off as a minor mistake.

Over the last few weeks there have been a steady stream of revelations that claims made in the IPCC report are not backed up by scientific evidence. So far all these have related to the second section of the report compiled by Working Group II and entitled “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability”. This is where the most scary material about the supposed effects of climate change are to be found. Disappearing Himalayan glaciers and burning Amazon rain forests are newsworthy. But this section of the report only has meaning if it can be shown that there is robust scientific evidence that humans are,in fact,  changing the climate. For this one must turn to the first section, “The Physical Science Basis”, compiled by Working Group I, of which Jones is an influential member.  Although the recent criticisms of the  WG I report are extremely damaging to the IPCC, these are as nothing compared to the likely  impact if similar problems are identified in the WG I report.

Phil Jones’ interview with the BBC is therefore important because of what it reveals about uncertainties in the most fundamental science that underpins concern about global warming. In the immediate aftermath of Climategate, the Chairman of the IPCC said that he would launch an investigation, but later backtracked on this.

If there are now doubts about the integrity of all three of the surface temperature records, and from what Jones has that  seems very likely,  then the IPCC’s claim that there has been rapid warming  during the last century has no credible foundation. If the palaeoclimate reconstructions of temperatures, which the IPCC rely on to show that it is warmer now than at any time in the last thousand years are fraught with uncertainty as Jones suggests, they cease to provide viable evidence that anthropogenic warming is happening. As I suggested at the beginning of this post, the greenhouse gas hypothesis will no longer be supported by the most compelling evidence that the IPCC has been able to present.

In the BBC interview we are seeing one of the pivotal figures in climate science making statements that would have been branded as ‘climate denial’ if they had been published just three months ago. The uncertainties that Jones is now prepared to admit to strike at the heart of all that the IPCC has been telling us with such apparent authority for the last decade.

There must now be grave doubts concerning what we have been told about the recent warming as recorded by weather stations and about our ability to compare current temperatures with other periods during the last thousand years.  There is circumstantial evidence that there may have been malfeasance in order to include convenient research in the WG I report and that in Phil Jones view, the debate about climate change is not over, the science is not settled, and there is no consensus among scientists that anthropogenic global warming is real.

On the strength of this interview alone, it is hard to see how a full investigation of the IPCC can now be resisted.

79 Responses to “Phil Jones torpedoes the IPCC”

  1. TonyN:

    I agree with you that the Phil Jones interview is more significant than Climategate. It is however remarkable that we find it remarkable that a climate scientist is speaking rationally.

    Normally I subscribe to the cock-up theory of government but there is a whiff of a conspiracy here. If you are a climate scientist and you believe, let’s say 10 years ago, that the weight of evidence supports AGW then you have a dilemma. If you are frank about the degree of uncertainty in climate science there would be little chance than politicians and the public would take AGW seriously. In this context choosing to suppress the amount of uncertainty has a certain logic. I suspect the main players bought into this strategy and it only started to unravel with the release of the emails.

    Meanwhile the IPCC was really getting carried away with their self importance and they expanded the strategy to include scares about climate catastrophe as a way to convince politicians and the public. But they really overplayed their hand particularly getting into bed with the NGOs, and the strategy has backfired spectacularly.

    If 10 years ago, the team had been up front about the uncertainties in AGW then I believe they would be in a better position than they are now. They have really lost all credibility which is unfortunate because we should be investigating the extent to which AGW is occurring.

    The IPCC would have been better off keeping most of the research scientists away from writing the IPCC reports. The lead should have been taken by engineers or similar applied scientists who are familiar with dealing with uncertainty and have experience in analysis of climate data for planning and design and developing policies for such things as floodplain management.

    I think the Phil Jones interview demonstrates that he realizes that the game is up and he might as well be frank about the degree of uncertainty in climate change. He has nothing to lose and he might, just might, restore some of his credibility.

  2. Porentilla:

    The frustrating thing is that,in order to appreciate the full enormity of what Phil Jones is saying you need to be able to put it in context. The average newspaper reader won’t be able to do that and nor, shamefully, will most science correspondents. Had even half of what he is saying now been in the CRU emails then the two inquiries would have to confront it. As it is, there is a risk that this story will never really make it into the MSM, although I understand that the Daily Mail has has a go.

    Perhaps the best hope is that your scenario describing how Jones may have got into his present predicament is correct and other leading figures in the climate movement may decide that it would be wise to turn Queens Evidence now in an attempt to save themselves. What you say seems very plausible to me.

    I am sure that you are right about this too:

    If 10 years ago, the team had been up front about the uncertainties in AGW then I believe they would be in a better position than they are now. They have really lost all credibility which is unfortunate because we should be investigating the extent to which AGW is occurring.

    We would all have been far better off and an awful lot of very silly things would have been left undone. As you say, engineers wouldn’t have landed us in this mess. But wait a minute, what was Dr Pachauri’s first degree? ;-)

  3. Porentilla

    Thank you for restoring us engineers to our rightful pride of place. As for the railway engineers, everyone knows they have either a one track mind or tunnel vision so they don’t count. But to think of engineers being given the task of mitigating AGW is beyond horrifying,

    I once had a narrow escape from being the design engineer on the proposed Bre-X gold mine. You know, the largest gold property the world had ever seen, that on review contained ‘insignificant gold’. I would have designed a huge open pit based on the information provided by geologists. They know what they are doing, right? Of course geologists are only interpreting the data set, right? Anyhow it’s too big to be wrong and everyone agrees with the facts, right?

    In the case of Bre-X it was the scientists who put things right by obtaining new untainted data. But those scientists had a direct financial interest in the facts. The financial stakeholder in the AGW case (the taxpayer) has been marginalized and rendered largely impotent through fear.

    Applying competence on top of erroneous input would only ‘hide the decline’ and end up with vast expenditure.

    TonyN, thankyou for the valuable post.


  4. Excellent post, Tony, and it’s also good to see these points being taken up (in much less detail of course) by the mainstream media, e.g. here in the Daily Mail.

    By the way, IPCC’s Martin Parry appears to be out on a limb, at the moment.

  5. Potentilla and Tom Kennedy

    There has been some talk of whether “engineers would have landed us in this mess”.

    Being an engineer myself (chemical) I can make these remarks.

    There are in any profession a certain number of “crooks”. By that I mean those that would violate the stated or implied ethical standards of their profession for personal gain.

    Whether this number is higher among theoretical climate scientists or applied scientists / engineers is a moot point.

    Whether it is higher among those who go into private industry or those that work for the public domain, is also questionable.

    The probability curve is likely pretty much the same for all professions, with a possible lower level among those who decide to become “nuns” than among those who decide to become Wall Street “day traders”.

    Moreover, in the case of AGW it was the process itself that became corrupt.

    Obviously this started with corruption by some scientific as well as political “crooks” along the way.

    One could argue that “climatology” is a new field, so there were fewer professional checks and balances to prevent this from occurring than there might have been in a more mature field of science.

    But what was the root cause for this corruption?

    I believe that the biggest source of corruption of the process was the obscene amount of taxpayer money involved: hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars (or as TonyN has written, name any currency). And with money comes power.

    The prospect of obtaining a large chunk of money (and the power that goes with it) can be corrupting, whether one is an engineer, a climatologist, an environmental activist, a carbon trader, a hedge fund operator, a “green” industrialist, a politician or whatever.

    The latest “mea culpa” by Phil Jones does contain a lot of rationalizations and excuses, statements that he was just an innocent scientist trying to do his job without any agenda, claims that the science of AGW is still valid, etc.

    But despite all these it is remarkable, as TonyN has noted.

    It is the sad confession of a professional who bent the rules of ethics of his profession because of a basically corrupt process which funded him and even pushed him to a lofty position in his profession, and who is now paying the price.


  6. TonyN

    Fully agree with Alex Cull.

    Excellent post.


  7. Manacker:

    I agree with you that engineers are not more likely to be ethical than climate scientists. Nevertheless I don’t think the climate scientists were necessarily corrupt, just rather misguided. They thought they were doing the right thing by suppressing the uncertainty and probably considered that the means justified the ends. And it could be argued that they were not fabricating information, just not providing the whole truth.

    My comment about applied scientists and engineers was intended to be directed to their potential role in the assessment of impacts. I think the climatology should be left to climate scientists but the interpretation of the scientific findings for the IPCC would have been better left to engineers. I doubt that a qualified engineer would have concluded, for example, that hundreds of millions of people would have lost their water supply with disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers. Climate scientists are simply not qualified to make those kinds of judgements. On the other hand, review and interpretation of the scientific literature is a standard part of an engineer’s responsibility.

  8. TonyN
    I intend to get closer on-topic in my next post, but meanwhile as an engineer, I should first state that not all of us types are as naughty as a certain Choo Choo engineer; as you mentioned.

    ALL engineers and their ilk: I’ll try and copy-type in part, (in Americano), a paragraph from Mosher & Fuller’s great read: Climategate: ‘The CRUtape Letters’, from page 35.

    “…Another subplot to the entire Climategate story is the often expressed antipathy between engineers and academic scientists. Many very vocal skeptics are engineers, and they are perpetually puzzled at the seeming inability of “ivory tower” academics to implement good hygiene practices…”

    A couple of years ago, when I was in contact with Bob Carter, a geologist and influential sceptic, he wrote to me; I paraphrase; ‘that it was notable that so many of the climate rationalists are engineers’. I responded something like: that there were certainly geologists too…. Something to do with accountable science!

    Of course the population of various species of engineers is rather high compared with the other applied sciences, so that may well account for what seems to be an over-representation of engineers in the rationalist (sceptical) ranks!

  9. When Phil Jones talks about being “not as good as it should be” he is of course being quite honest. Can any of us truly say that everything we have done is “as good as it should be?” There is always room for improvement.

    Phil Jones, or even his team, of course, at CRU aren’t even directly responsible for the entire datset of historical temperatures. Generally speaking, the older they are the more inaccurate they become. That doesn’t mean they are useless – it means that the error bars on the graph become larger.

    So, when Phil Jones admits to uncertainty about the temperature record and its implications for the future, he’s meaning that the uncertainties could go either way. If we are lucky the amount of warming could be less than the median of the forecasts. Equally, if we are unlucky, it could turn out to be more. Its a 50-50 chance. Either possibility is just as likely.

    You guys remind me of that archetypal ‘fat bloke’ in the football crowd who is the world’s expert on how the game should be played. The guy who is all mouth and no action. The guy who’d trip over the ball when faced with an open goal, should he actually be brave enough to try it for himself.

    Instead of standing on the sidelines , criticising everything you don’t like, why don’t you sceptics take a look at the datasets yourselves and start writing your own reports?

  10. I suggest that it’s easy to overcomplicate this. In my view, Phil Jones’s comments boil down to the following:

    1. The rates of warming from 1860-1880, from 1910-1940 and from 1975-1998 were not statistically different from each other.

    2. There has been no statistically significant global warming since 1995.

    3. There has been a (statistically insignificant) cooling trend since 2002.

    4. Scientists should do more to communicate their reasons for saying humans are responsible.

    5. There may be some uncertainty about the surface temperature record.

    6. The MWP might have been global and might have been warmer than today – or it might not.

    7. There’s a need for more openness about surface temperature data.

    8. Some of his data was “not well organised”; he was not good at keeping a paper trail.

    9. The same problem affects the American datasets.

    10. Beddington is right about the need for more recognition of uncertainty.

    11. Paleoclimatic data are uncertain.

    12. The vast majority of climate scientists do not think the debate is over.

    13. The IPCC needs to reassure people about the quality of its assessments.

    These views have been commonplace on the NS thread for years. Their implications are far reaching. What’s remarkable is that they are now confirmed by a leading climate scientist and opinion former.

  11. Peter M

    why don’t you sceptics take a look at the datasets yourselves and start writing your own reports

    IIRC, that’s exactly what Steve McIntyre did, pulling the Hockey Stick to bits in the process. As for the rest of us, the hard part seems to be getting hold of the data!

  12. Peter #9 said;

    “Generally speaking, the older they are the more inaccurate they become. That doesn’t mean they are useless – it means that the error bars on the graph become larger.”

    I know that history isn’t your favourite subject but this simply isn’t true. The historic records are some of the most accurate available, not only because precision instruments were used, but also the readings were often taken by highly experienced scientists from one location that was unaffected by the growth of the city. Consequently there was considerable continuity of the microclimate readings which rarely happens today

    In addition the historic records have been pored over by many of the most famous climatologists of the age-including Phil Jones- who has received several millions of EU money to investigate these records. This is my own article on the subject.


    The UHI affect,together with locations being shifted -often to airports-make many modern temperatures readings of dubious value even before the bizarre gridded system is applied.


  13. Don’t get too excited about engineers:

    The scale of London’s challenge was highlighted by Kevin Anderson, director of the Tyndall Centre, as he outlined the massive rate and scale at which we must reduce CO2 emissions in order to tackle climate change.

    Anderson’s bio at Manchester Tyndall: Research Director of Tyndall-Manchester’s Energy and Climate Change programme and manager of the Tyndall Centre’s energy pathways to global decarbonisation programme.

    Kevin is based in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester and is an honorary lecturer in Environmental Management at the Manchester Business School.

    “Managing and understanding the linkages between the disparate projects demands a genuinely interdisciplinary approach, synthesising, for example, highly technical electrical power systems research with conceptually demanding interpretations of equity and carbon emissions scenarios for the UK’s energy system.”

    Conceptually demanding interpretations? This is just sociological claptrap.

    He is certainly not researching climate, he starts from the view point that Global Warming as per IPCC is a given and then proceeds to play computer games around it.

    He is now Director of the whole Tyndall shebang:
    Director Kevin Anderson writes in the Guardian

    An average Guardian reader will have emissions many 10s, if not 100s, of times higher than a typical Chinese person, and a quarter of China’s emissions arise from their manufacturing televisions, computers, clothes, cars, toys, and fridges for us.

    Certainly we should be doing the small things, as collectively these all add up to much greater reductions. However, our previous inaction also demands we must now make big and challenging changes to our lifestyles: cut back on flying; wherever possible get out of the car and on to the bus, tram and train; shun large, fast and inefficient cars; don’t buy power showers or double-door refrigerators; eat meat only as a celebration; and bath with a friend.

    Also a keen proponent of carbon credit cards:

    Tradable quotas are the best way to tackle domestic CO2 emissions, write Richard Starkey and Kevin Anderson


    Kevin Anderson is the research director of the Tyndall Centre?s Energy and Climate Change research programme, based in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester. As director of the programme, Kevin has responsibility for not only supervising specific energy-related research projects, but, more importantly, developing and implementing a process for integrating the 20 projects within the programme to provide a more systems oriented perspective of UK decarbonisation pathways.

    Kevin came to the field of environmental research through a rather unorthodox route, both in terms of a diverse academic history and with 12 years industrial experience as a mechanical engineer in the petrochemical industry. As a consequence, whilst he has practical understanding of the scientific and technical characterisation of the climate change debate, he is also conversant with the sometimes more challenging visions of the environment as a social construct existing within cultural and political, as well as scientific and engineering, domains.

    Please spare me from engineers!

  14. Robin, Reur #10, with your thirteen points on dear ol’ Phil’s revelations, you concluded with:

    “…These views have been commonplace on the NS thread for years. Their implications are far reaching. What’s remarkable is that they are now confirmed by a leading climate scientist and opinion former.”

    Another thing that I found very very surprising was that this was initiated by Roger Harrabin of the BBC and of the contemporary BBC biased AGW mantra.
    It seems to me that he must have studied the CRU Emails and the recent IPPC-Pachauri so-called “errors”, and has concluded whoops, I may have been misled by “the science” somewhere here!
    Shortly before that Q & A, he Emailed Anthony Watts (WUWT) asking for assistance to identify certain sceptical scientists, and it seems from his questions to dear ol’ Phil that he has indeed consulted such people by virtue of the quality and subtlety of those questions. (As I’ve said before, I found, for example, question A to be gob-smacking). At around that time of Roger asking Anthony for help, some commenters expressed suspicion that it might have been a clever of trick; maybe to allege that there were few British sceptical scientists of the right calibre as defined. However, those bold U-turn Q & A’s are now out there in B & W, and I’m sure that Roger can understand their deep significance and may well follow-up in a new manner.
    He has also commented something like: Those in authority may have to stop calling the sceptics “deniers” and “flat earthers”

    Watch this space!
    Will others in the MSM follow the lead?

  15. PeterM

    I certainly agree that taking a look at the datasets (where these are available to the public) is a positive thing to do, as you suggest.

    By so doing one can rationally refute or substantiate the claims made by IPCC, who have tortured the datasets into confessing the bit they wanted to hear, while ignoring the rest.

    This is what is now happening with all the “…-gates”.

    And it looks like it is continuing, with new revelations of fudged data, fabricated results, etc. surfacing on an almost weekly basis.

    Hats off to all those scientists and others out there that are exposing the bad science behind a good part of the IPCC report!


  16. You know, thinking about Phil Jones’s comments makes me wonder if just possibly it was he who leaked the emails.

    I think it’s reasonable to assume that he’s an honest man and that he’s held these views for some time. If so, it’s likely that he’s been feeling increasingly uncomfortable about how he and his colleagues were communicating what he saw as a misleading message to the public and, in particular, to politicians. He decided this had to change. But he was a weak man, lacking the courage to speak out. So he decided that leaking the emails was the only solution.

  17. I’m not sure why there is all this fuss about what Phil Jones has said. If you look at what he actually said in the BBC interview

    rather than distorted second hand accounts there is nothing at all for you zombies to crow about.

    Phil Jones is still saying things that you guys don’t want to hear. Like:

    Q (RH). How confident are you that warming has taken place and that humans are mainly responsible?

    A (PJ). I’m 100% confident that the climate has warmed. As to the second question, I would go along with IPCC Chapter 9 – there’s evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity.

    He certainly hasn’t misled the public either intentionally or otherwise. He’s certainly not saying anything that can possibly be interpreted that way either.

    Prof Jones deliberately leaking emails? If meant at all seriously, that’s brain dead climate change conspiracy theory denialism at its best! Or should that be worst?

  18. Peter M

    Clutching at straws?

    (PJ) I’m 100% confident that the climate has warmed.

    Note the past tense. I’m 100% confident that it has warmed, too (especially since 1850) but that doesn’t mean it is still doing so, or that it is anything unusual.

    there’s evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity.

    That doesn’t sound exactly conclusive! I expect he needs a grant to investigate further…

  19. TonyB #12
    You mention the “bizarre griddded system”. I’ve been meaning to ask: who decided on this way of dividing up the world? There are lots of people who have to divide up geographical regions for one reason or another – conquering generals, town planners, marketing managers… surely none of them would be crazy enough to draw parallelograms on a globe. Wouldn’t the sensible thing be to divide the world according to the physical geography of the region, into desert, mountain, plain, forest, etc, like in GCSE geography? I know there are good reasons to question the very idea of an average global temperature, but surely there must have been academics who questioned this approach?

  20. Dennis

    a quarter of China’s emissions arise from their manufacturing televisions, computers, clothes, cars, toys, and fridges for us.

    As little as that..?

  21. PeterM:

    There are few contributors to this site who would not share Phil Jones’s view that the climate has warmed. But it’s interesting that, when it comes to the human contribution to warming, he refers to IPCC chapter 9 and its evidence that, as he puts it, “most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity”. But, as you know, chapter 9 is essentially an attempt to show (based not on empirical investigation but on computer models) that natural influences made only a slight contribution. Therefore, you should look also at his answer to Harrabin’s question D (Do you agree that natural influences could have contributed significantly to the global warming observed from 1975-1998 …). In response, he says that this is outside his area of expertise – so, not unreasonably, he doesn’t answer the question, offering instead some general observations. Therefore, his answer to the question you cite is interesting but no more.

    You say you’re surprised at “all this fuss”. Well, look at my post 10. These matters are within his area of expertise so, in contrast to the above, his views carry some authority. Don’t you find it remarkable that he should have expressed them?

  22. Can any of us truly say that everything we have done is “as good as it should be?”


    That’s mighty big of you to write considering he’s been spending other people’s money……

    All the statements about how the “science” was unimpeachable, rock solid……and you aren’t at all dismayed that you’ve been lied to for all this time?

    Can you possibly think of a more productive way that the millions of dollars that Jones has wasted all these years chasing a dream could have been spent?

    Exactly when did he realize that the data didn’t add up?

    When did it become apparent to him that the theory was flawed? Was it just after he was caught red handed?

    C’mon Pete……even you I would think would recognize the enormity of Phil Jones’ admissions here…….you disappoint me.

    Yes, greed and corruption know no boundaries…..

  23. PeterM

    You wrote:

    I’m not sure why there is all this fuss about what Phil Jones has said. If you look at what he actually said in the BBC interview

    You cannot be serious. It is precisely “what he actually said” that has caused “all this fuss”, Peter.

    Rather than just quoting one cherry-picked Q+A, read the interview through very slowly and carefully and you will get the drift. Here is the link to Harrabin’s article, which contains some information not included in the Q+A sheet you cited.

    Sure, he had a few defensive disclaimers in there plus a few waffles, but “what he actually said” goes a long way to undermine the IPCC story on AGW, as TonyN has pointed out.

    It is just one more revelation, albeit a very important one, in the unraveling of the AGW premise.


  24. Max,

    I thought Climate-gate was the thermonuclear bomb that would end the global warming movement in an instant……instead, we’ve seen (self generated) grenade after grenade being lobbed into the nest…..painfully slow and excruciating……it’s like one of those television reality shows where the contestants are tortured week after week………

  25. Robin

    An interesting suggestion (16) that Jones may have been the CRU whistle-blower.

    So far, however, it has brought him nothing but the loss of his reputation and of a fairly lofty position in the AGW hierarchy, so one would wonder why he would have chosen such a self-destructive path.

    As I noted in an earlier post, his “coming clean” in the Harrabin interview was mixed with some self-serving waffles and rationalizations in the attempt to salvage some of his reputation, so it appears that he sees himself as a “victim”. His earlier “I thought of suicide” revelation also points in that direction.

    I think he is, indeed, a victim of a totally corrupted process that rewarded those who came up with “scientific evidence” in support of the preconceived agenda and punished or ignored those that did not.

    He profited from this corrupt process for a long time, until the corruption became public knowledge as a result of Climategate and its follow-up “…gates”.

    It looks like Pachauri may be the next participant that falls and Mann is likely to follow soon.

    It is very likely that this is just the beginning and that more of the AGW architects will be discredited as the scandal widens.

    But I do not believe that Jones, himself, was the whistle-blower, since he was in a pretty high and respected position. Based on many other cases, whistle-blowers are usually lower-level insiders, who are disgruntled for one reason or another (lack of promotion or recognition?) and are “getting back” at those at the top, whom they blame for their unjust treatment.

    I would not be at all surprised if more of these “whistle-blowers” come out of the woodwork as this scandal widens. Will GISS (and Hansen) be the next to fall?


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