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August 22 2011


National Science Foundation vindicates Michael Mann

Carbon steel "hockey stick" stronger than ever

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of the Inspector General, having conducted a thorough review and investigation into all allegations of impropriety or scientific misconduct against Penn State University Prof. Michael Mann, has dismissed all of those allegations for lack of evidence and closed the case (attached and/or here).

As reported by Joe Romm at Climate Progress, Mann has been the target of a host of allegations and attacks, many arising out of the iconic status of a graph (inset) that he created in a 1998 paper with Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes, and others sourced in the emails that hackers stole in 2009 from the the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

As the NSF now reports, none of Mann's critics ever showed the courage or conviction of actually laying a formal complaint before Penn State, where Mann is director of the Earth System Science Center. But the allegations were so prominent in the blogosphere and in mainstream media that the university took it upon itself to conduct an investigation. The NSF then reviewed Penn State's exculpatory findings, duplicating some parts of the investigation in greater detail.

The result? No shred of evidence exists to impugn Mann's work.

As Romm points out, the central conclusion drawn from the Hockey Stick - that temperatures, stable for a thousand years, have spiked dramatically since humans began using fossil fuels - is also being confirmed with each new study. It appears that, unless you are willfully blind or directly in the employ of the fossil fuel industry, the evidence - of climate change, as well as of Mann's scientific bona fides - is undeniable.

This is not likely to stop people like David Legates from continuing to misrepresent the contents of the East Anglia emails, nor would it be profitable to expect newpapers like the National Post or Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal to actually apologize to Mann and others or to make any other effort to correct the record. But for anyone who clicks past the imagined reality peddled by those papers, the conclusion is clear - and is now confirmed by one of the largest and most credible funders of scientific research in the world. The Hockey Stick is unbroken.

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August 02 2011


NAS President Peter Wood: wrong, dishonest or hopelessly compromised?

New Mashey Report Disrobes Climate Disinformer

What would cause a senior anthropologist such as Peter Wood to stagger outside his field of expertise and launch a bitchy, personal and error-ridden attack on a climate scientist and his defender? Wrong-headedness? Ideological blindess? Great wads of Richard Mellon Scaife's cash? What?

Well, the question must be rhetorical, unless the President of the National Association of Scholars chooses to answer it himself. According to his fields of study, Wood is an "expert" in art, aesthetics, Catholocism and culture. He neither claims nor can demonstrate the tiniest academic mastery of atmospheric physics or any other aspect of climatology.

Yet he has used his launching pad as president of the NAS (suspiciously rendered with the same acronym as the National Academy of Sciences) and a podium at the Chronicle of Higher Education to try to dismiss both Michael Mann and John Mashey as huckster fellow travellers of P.T. Barnum.

As the attached report demonstrates, that was a mistake. Because Wood doesn't fare at all well when someone turns the investigatory camera on him. Wood has long had a tendency to question climate science or to laud whacky climate change deniers such as Christopher Monckton or Fred Singer, but his most recent outburst followed an excellent short feature of John Mashey by the journal Science. As Wood says, "Science reports that retired computer scientist Dr. John Mashey is attempting to patch the tattered reputation of 'hide the decline' Michael Mann, the climate scientist whose famous 'hockey stick' chart shows exponentially increasing global temperatures in the near term."

Beyond correctly identifying Mashey as a computer scientist, Wood appears to be wrong on all fronts. Far from being "tattered," Mike Mann's reputation has been hardened in the fires of hell. Despite a pitched attack on his character and scientific output going back nearly a decade, every inquiry appears to exonerate his personal behavior and reaffirm the quality of his science. I suspect Mann's work has been cited more in the last six months than Wood's has in his entire career.

Neither was it Mann who penned the famous (and famously misquoted) "hide the decline" line from the stolen East Anglia emails. And the important part of Mann's hockey-stick chart was not the exponential increase in global temperature: you can see that in any rendering of the actual instrumental record. The defining work in Mann's graph (and in every other climate reconstruction that has been done since) is the demonstration that, before humans started pouring carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, we had enjoyed at least a thousand years of remarkable climate stability (constituting the shaft of the hockey stick that came before the exponential blade).

So Wood either doesn't understand any of this or doesn't want us to. And Mashey, a ferociously energetic researcher, has created a 34-page report pondering Wood's own frailties and setting forth some possible explanations of why the (less credible) NAS president could be so far off the rails.

There is, of course, ideology. Although the NAS declines to identify itself as a bastion of "conservative" thought, it seems to spend a surprising amount of time digging its nose into issues that are more of interest to its well-healed conservative funders than those that are centrally reflected in the organization's own mission statement. (I dare you to find much "reasoned scholarship" or "civil debate" in Wood's original salvo or in any of the back-and-forth commentary that followed.)

Mashey also points to the coincidence that the big donors to the (less credible) NAS are also suspiciously generous to organizations such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the George C. Marshall Institute - two of the most prominent climate science denying think tanks in the country. Now, it could be purest chance that all these organizations share a passion for spreading climate confusion.  Just as it could be possible that the devastating weather events that have marred America so far this year are entirely unrelated to climate change ....

You also have to admit the possibility that Dr. Wood just isn't that smart - that he is doing all this work in purest good faith, but that he has the terrible misfortune to have consistently and repeatedly got all the details wrong.

Certainly, it was a case of misfortune that he attacked Mashey, or else the encyclopedic evidence of Wood's connections and previous protestations would not have been gathered in this handy reference.

Alas, when you look at the clownish Monckton, the discredited Singer or Steve Milloy and, now, the unfortunate Peter Wood, you have to wonder that the oily barons can't afford more impressive champions for their increasingly incredible cause.

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July 29 2011


Artist Franke James has Harper quaking in fear

If Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is this frightened, then we can only assume that the visual artist from Toronto, Franke James, is THAT scary!

As reported most recently in the Toronto Star, the Canadian government - so often now referred to as the "Harper government" - stands accused of trying to block a presentation of James's art in capitals across Europe. And in a way, who can blame them? The official Canadian position these days is that toxic stuff is good for you (or good for us - and who really cares about you?). Whether it's "ethical oil" dredged out of the tar sands in one of the most environmentally damaging variations of any oil exploitation, or asbestos, peddled to any impoverished nation still so desperate as to use it, Canada is officially in the poison-for-profit business. When some lippy woman stands up and suggests that this is a bad thing, it makes the government look - well, like shills for dirty industries - and it compromises the chances that those dirty industries have of enjoying even greater profit. No wonder Stephen Harper's henchpeople refer to James as "that woman!"

The funny part about all this is that Franke James is anything but a conventional rabble rouser. It's hard to call someone "girlish" these days without courting an anti-feminist image, but Franke James, personally and in her bright, brilliant, quirky and sometimes childlike art, is brimming with the kind of naive optimism that prompts certain 14-year-old females to dot their 'i's with little hearts. She's the kind of person who could ask, with complete sincerity and no hint whatever of sarcasm, why everyone can't just be nice to one another.

She has asked - pointedly and repeatedly - why the "Harper government" can't be nice, or at the very least passingly responsible, to the Canadian and global environment. And while Harper's minions would like to pass this off as a "silly" question, it's a silly question that they can't answer. More, it's a question they plainly fear.

So Canadian embassies across Europe are declining what would be garden-variety support otherwise due to any artist that had attracted enough attention to win a tour across the contientn. More insidiously, it appears that they may have been bluntly interfering, making intimidating/compromising approaches to the Nektarina Non-Profit that had tried to mount the James tour and discouraging private-sector funders from underwriting the show.

The scoop on Stephen Harper, even among those who find his politcs abhorent, is that he is an incredibly smart guy. He works hard. He remembers everything he reads. And he has a political instinct that has enabled him to consolidate the top spot in Canadian government - for what may turn out to be four very long years. So, again, if Stephen Harper is afraid of Franke James, she must be doing something powerful - something that the smartest politician thinks he can't manage if it moves into the public and international realm.

So, the only thing to do is to click on Franke James's website and entertain yourself with one or several of her fabulous visual essays. Go back and read the story about what happened when she asked another, now famously silly question: Why can't I dig up my driveway and plant flowers? Then send links of those essays to everyone in your address book.

And if you know someone with a budget, let's try to round up support for a Franke James tour in Canada and the U.S., as well. About this issue, Stephen Harper can't be wrong. And on every other issue, Franke James looks suspiciously right.

July 27 2011


Petermann iceberg visible from Labrador - and from space

#FromSpace a lonely iceberg in the Labrador Sea off Petty Har... on Twitpic

The Petermann Ice Island, a Manhattan-sized iceberg that broke off the Petermann Glacier in Greenland last August, has since traveled almost 4,800 kilometres (3,000 miles) and is currently bumping off the Canadian coast of Labrador.

The glacier is so huge that it can be seen equally well from space (this photo was taken yesterday from the International Space Station by NASA astronaut and Expedition 27 flight  engineer Ron Garan) and from American Hill, a promontory near the Labrador village of Saint Lewis. less than 50 kilometres from the northern tip of Newfoundland.

Saint Lewis Mayor Annie Rumbolt said today that the iceberg has been the talk of the town for almost a week approaching to within 15 kilometres of shore. "You can drive on up to American Hill and see it from there," she said. "Everybody has."

Evan Pye, 16, a student from Lodge Bay who's spending his summer cleaning up Labrador beaches as part of  the Green Team Conservation Corps, said that while icebergs are always floating past this coast, this one is "four or five times" larger than anything that the locals have seen before.When the iceberg calved from the Petermann Glacier last year, it was estimated to be almost 250 square kilometres - more than four times larger than Manhattan. A navigation buoy that was dropped on it last fall charted its course through the winter, but ceased sending a signal almost two months ago. But the 'berg, still more than 55 square kilometres, continues to show up on satellite imagery and obviously caught Ron Garan's attention as he was looking out of a space station window.

NASA spokesters say that the Petermann Ice Island is unlikely to strike land in Labrador or Newfoundland because the massive berg will first ground itself on the sea floor some distance from shore. But as the residents of Saint Lewis were reporting it blowing back out to sea, it remains a serious threat to shipping and oil rigs in the area.

June 23 2011


Canadian Geologists Embarrass Themselves on Climate

The joint conference of the Geological Association of Canada (GAC) and the Mineralogical Association of Canada (MAC) included a DenierFest sideshow worthy of the Heartland Institute, with guest speakers flown in from as far away as Australia and Europe in an effort to address one organizer's concern about an "unbalanced debate."

Notwithstanding the manipulations of the deluded University of Toronto geologist Dr. Andrew Miall, the conference featured a full helping of honest-to-goodness science. There were occasions galore during which knowledgeable people spoke about matters with which they have legitimate expertise.

Then there were the sessions that featured the likes of Australians Bob Carter and Ian Plimer, people who do no actual work in climate science but who are only too delighted to tell you that everything we understand about human influence on global warming is a carefully constructed fiction. Organizers even brought in the Danish astrophysicist Henrik Svensmark - a man who will clutch his chest and fall to the ground rather than offer a straight answer as to why he insists the sun is causing climate change when the sun has been in a long weak cycle even as the earth continues to overheat. (The "heart attack," reported above, was later confirmed to be a stress reaction.)This - all extremely well covered recently by the good folks at Friends of Gin and Tonic - is an embarrassment to the Canadian geological community. While the American Geophysical Union (AGU) has taken the trouble to actually check the science and come to an official position on climate change, the backwoods Canadian geologists are still prepared to entertain compromised confusers such as the oil patch geophysicist and Friends of Science director Norm Kalmanovitch.

The conference also featured the past president of the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists, A. Neil Hutton, whose abstract suggests that because CO2 was much more plentiful in the atmospher during the Cambrian period than it is today, we have nothing to worry about the current carbon spike that is occurring as a result of the burning of, well, petroleum. (Can't someone please tell Dr. Hutton that the Cambrian period was 500 million years ago - a time when the sun was markedly cooler, and when the earth was still going to evolve for, uh, 500 million years before it would be habitable for humans?)

If you needed any further evidence to suggest that this whole exercise was either an oily put-up job or a mindless ideological intervention, undermining the reputation (and ambient IQ level) of the collected geologists, look no further than the National Post, the Canadian handbook for denier narratives. Its coverage of the conference came courtesy of Tom Harris, with no mention that Harris is an oily public relations guy who helped launch the Friends of Science, who created the energy industry front, the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, and who now fronts for something called the International Climate Science Coalition.


June 22 2011


Al Gore Roasts Obama Over Climate Position

In a scorching, 7000-word article in the coming issue of Rolling Stone, Al Gore savages mainstream media for its incompetent reporting of climate change and roasts President Barack Obama for failing to advance policies against global warming any more quickly than his woeful predecessor.

Gore is clear, quotable and uncompromising in stating his own case:

"Here is the truth: The Earth is round; Saddam Hussein did not attack us on 9/11; Elvis is dead; Obama was born in the United States; and the climate crisis is real. It is time to act."

But after making the case for reality in climate reporting - and crediting Obama for some early efforts -  Gore says this:

"But in spite of these and other achievements, President Obama has thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change. After successfully passing his green stimulus package, he did nothing to defend it when Congress decimated its funding. After the House passed cap and trade, he did little to make passage in the Senate a priority. Senate advocates — including one Republican — felt abandoned when the president made concessions to oil and coal companies without asking for anything in return. He has also called for a massive expansion of oil drilling in the United States, apparently in an effort to defuse criticism from those who argue speciously that "drill, baby, drill" is the answer to our growing dependence on foreign oil."

The implications for U.S. credibility in the global conversation is obvious, Gore argues:

"During the final years of the Bush-Cheney administration, the rest of the world was waiting for a new president who would aggressively tackle the climate crisis — and when it became clear that there would be no real change from the Bush era, the agenda at Copenhagen changed from "How do we complete this historic breakthrough?" to "How can we paper over this embarrassing disappointment?"

Not to say, "we told you so," but it's worth recalling that Obama's position on climate change has long been unconvincing. In 2007, the DeSmogBlog served the then-presidential candidate with a SmogMaker Award for his failure to take a stronger position in favour of good climate policy and, especially, against coal. We said, "Barack Obama may not be the worst offender among the spinmeisters, but he’s the biggest disappointment."

And we were flayed for saying it across the internet. Friends and allies responded in outrage that we were holding Obama to an unrealistic standard and, counterproductively, attacking the candidate whose climate position was most progressive.

So we apologized.

That now looks like a mistake. The environmental and scientific communities' tendency to be polite, supportive and tame when dealing with their "allies" in the White House and Congress have left those allies with the impression that there is no political cost to doing nothing - even as the Republican "mainstream" takes ever more stupidly radical positions in response to the Tea Party ravers and campaign-funding lobbyists. If the climate conversation is inane - perhaps insane - some of the blame surely falls on those of us who have held our tongues in the face of disappointment. If the people of America and the world have been left standing on a busy intersection with their backs to the traffic, it's because we have failed to shout the warning. We certainly have failed to offer fierce and constructive criticism to those of our political "friends" on whom we rely to make matters better.

As Gore points out, President Obama has let dust gather on the Bully Pulpit. It's not clear whether that's because Obama doesn't want to be mistaken for a bully or because he truly thinks there will be no political cost for ignoring his timid base.

Gore, much to his credit, has taken the second option off the table. He says:

"Here is the core of it: we are destroying the climate balance that is essential to the survival of our civilization. This is not a distant or abstract threat; it is happening now. The United States is the only nation that can rally a global effort to save our future. And the president is the only person who can rally the United States."


UK Climate Denial Tank Shuts its Doors

The International Policy Network, one of the U.K.'s most prominent climate-change-denying think tanks, has shut its doors, apparently after an internal battle during which science finally overwhelmed both ideology and the lure of dirty oil funding.

IPN is one of 150 right-wingy think tanks and similar organizations that can trace their heritage to Sir Anthony Fisher, the ideologue and disciple of the neoliberal economist Frederich Hayek. According to documents that The Independent obtained through a Freedom of Information request, the IPN Board was effectively composed of Fisher's two children, Linda Whetstone and Michael Fisher. It was they who decided to burst the delusional organization's bubble last year.

The Independent speculates that Whetstone may have been influenced by her daughter, Rachel, now vice president for global communications and public affairs for Google. Rachel Whetstone's husband, Steve Hilton (inset with British Prime Minister David Cameron) was the strategist who moved the British Conservative Party into the realm of reality on climate policy.

Regrettably, the U.S. IPN survives.

June 16 2011


Ice Age Cancelled: Deniers Destined for Disappointment

The web is alive with idiotic commentary this week after the American Astronomical Society's solar physics division heard three new studies, all pointing towards declining sunspot activity into the next decade.

But while the least professional journals (see the Financial Post link above) presented only the possibility that reduced solar energy could chill the planet, even sometimes-skeptical newspapers such as The Telegraph responded to the responsibility to include some scientific response confirming that a Grand Solar Minimum, even if one occurred, would not be sufficient to offset the effects and dangers of human-induced global warming.

For more complete looks at the goofy claims of an impending ice age, and more thoughtful presentations of the science debunking such a chill, check out Peter Sinclair's take on Climate Denial Crock of the Week or Joe Romm's at ClimateProgress.<!--break-->


Skeptical Science launches interactive history

The great Australian blog SkepticalScience has launched an Interactive History of Climate Science that provides an instant - and visual - reference for the overwhelming scientific weight behind our understanding of global warming and climate change.

The SkepticalScience "History" is hinged on an interactive graphic that allows you to choose any year since 1824 and establish how many climate science papers were written that year, what was the accumulated total from all previous years and how many of all the papers were "skeptical," "neutral" or supportive of the theory that human activity is causing the world to warm in a dangerous and unprecedented way.

The graphic also allows you to click on the "bubble" from any particular year and see the actual papers.

<!--break-->The "History's" conclusion is obvious and unavoidable. As of 2011, there were a combined total of 2438 papers supporting the consensus that climate change is happening and humans are the cause. A further 2,217 papers advanced our understanding but were judged to be neutral in their ability or intent to address what Skeptical Science derides as the common climate science myths. And 187 papers are openly skeptical of climate change, its seriousness or its anthropogenic cause.

It's surely a coincidence that that adds up to one skeptical paper for every years since 1824, when Joseph Fourier authored the first paper explaining the greenhouse effect. Contrast that with the 2,075 affirmative papers that have been published in the peer-reviewed literature since the year 2000.

There will, undoubtedly, be people who argue that SkepticalScience editor John Cook has missed a paper or two. If so, there is a link enabling the scientifically well-informed to help update the historical graphic.

And for anyone else who is interested in climate science but still confused by the denier talking points, SkepticalScience also offers the web's best one-stop shop for myth-busting: Skeptic Arguments and What the Science Says. Cook has identified 165 denier talking points - the boring, repetitive and thoroughly debunked arguments (Climate has changed before; It's the sun; It's cooling) - and he offers both concise responses and more detailed scientific explanations as to why the myths are, well, generally dumb.

Required reading for anyone who might have to spend dinner with a denier - and recommended reading for the deniers themselves.

June 09 2011


Science article recognizes John Mashey

Updated: With complete list of Mashey Papers

Computer scientist, entrepreneur, periodic DeSmogBlog contributor and "one of the good guys" John Mashey is the subject of an extremely favorable profile this week in Science

Science writer Eli Kintisch looks back over the last couple of years at the research and reports that Mashey has produced. Calling Mashey "an amateur" (which, on the question of climate science, he freely admits to being), Kintisch then looks for some journalistic "balance," interviewing one person who is defensive and critical in the face of Mashey's work (the confused and compromised physicist Will Happer) and one who is reassured and delighted ("hockey stick" co-author and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State, Michael Mann).

"Both sides can agree on one thing, however: Mashey has become one of the most visible of a new generation of climate warriors."<!--break-->Kintisch canvases the reason that Mashey got involved in the first place - why he spends his retirement from designing computer systems by feverishly documenting "climate anti-science."

"Mashey became upset that they (friends in the climate science community) were being attacked by bloggers and lawmakers and subjected to anonymous threats. '(Science historian) Naomi (Oreskes) is a friend, and she gets death threats. Mike Mann’s a friend, and he gets death threats. It pisses me off,' Mashey says. 'They get harassed and discouraged for doing a good job for everybody’s grandchildren.'”

So, with a computer programer's zest for detail, Mashey wades through the flawed and contradictory material that constitutes the attack on climate science, producing voluminous and carefully credited reports that, in at least one recent case, result in the embarrassment of warriors on the other side of the argument and in a restoration of accuracy in the published record.

The Science article concludes:

"Mashey believes that vanquishing scientists’ foes will serve a higher purpose. 'It’s up to some of the rest of us to help get these guys off your backs so you can do the science,' he tells his scientist allies. He thinks discrediting their opponents also allows society to focus on the biggest problem: the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 'Goal number two is, try to help lessen the impact of climate antiscience on public policy before it commits the U.S. to be an increasingly bad place to live,' he says."

The Mashey Papers

1) Another Attack on Global Warming’s Scientific Consensus – A Case Study of Personal Harassment and Amplification of Nonsense by the Denialist PR Machine, DeSmogBlog, March 23, 2008, 40p.

2) Science Bypass – Anti-science Petition to APS from folks with SEPP, George C. Marshall Institute, Heartland, DeSmogBlog, Nov. 11, 2009, 128p.

3) Crescendo to Climategate Cacophony - Behind the 2006 Wegman Report and Two Decades of Climate Anti-Science, DeSmogBlog, March 15, 2010, 185p. (CCC)

4) Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report - A Façade for the Climate Anti-Science PR Campaign, DeepClimate, Sept. 26, 2010, 250p. (SSWR)

5) "Strange Inquiries at George Mason University …and even stranger comments, DeSmnogBlog, Jan. 04, 2011, 45p.  (SIGMU)

6) Strange Tales and Emails: Said, Wegman, Sharabati, Rigsby (2008), DeSmogBlog,  May 26, 2011, 17p.  STaE.

7) Strange Falsifications in the Wegman Report, DeSmogBlog, May 27, 2011, 12p.  SFWR


The Machinery of Climate Anti-Science, April 7, 2011, University of Victoria, B.C., Canada.

June 05 2011


Wegman Report: Not just plagiarism, misrepresentation

New Mashey Report Drills into Academic Misconduct

The 2006 Wegman Report to Congress, already under investigation for extensive plagiarism, also appears to be guilty of falsifications, misrepresentation and frabrications that could give rise to a charge of academic misconduct, according to a new report by computer scientist and entrepreneur John Mashey (attached, below).

Mashey and the Canadian blogger Deep Climate have analysed Wegman extensively in the past, primarily for the plagiarism of which Wegman is so clearly guilty. But Mashey digs deeper in the current report, questioning whether the numerous errors, oversights and misrepresentations in the report can be explained by inadvertence or incompetence, or whether Wegman and his prinicpal co-author Yasmin Said were intentionally distorting the information they were plagiarizing and, in the process, pointedly misrepresenting science.<!--break-->

The Wegman Report was commissioned by Congress as an "investigation" into a controversial "hockey stick" graph that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had used prominently in an effort to illustrate the reality of climate change. Although Edward Wegman's report was highly critical of that graph, later analysis (mostly by Deep Climate) showed that he had extensively cribbed one of the graphs own authors, Raymond Bradley, in mounting his attack.

What Mashey now demonstrates is that, in addition to misrepresenting Bradley's words as his own, Wegman also twisted, misrepresented or completely changed the meaning of some of Bradley's work, without explanation or reference to any other source that might justify the manipulations.

As Mashey says - showing an extensive analysis of Wegman against the original: "Bradley is methodically weakened, silently contradicted or even directly inverted ...."


These errors could have been attributable to "mere serious incompetence and poor scholarship, including inability to understand a textbook well enough to summarize it correctly," Mashey says. But he later adds, "I think most of this is purposeful."

Mashey's analysis is compelling. He reveals minor, but annoying changes, such as when Bradley is talking about a "strong temperature signal" available from tree rings and Wegman, in the midst of a purloined paragraph, amends Bradley's text to add the word "relatively" - as in a "relatively strong temperature signal."

Indeed, having relied overwhelmingly on Bradley's text to present himself as something of an expert on the use of tree rings to create a reconstruction of historic temperatures, Wegman then changes the last section to arrive at a conclusion exactly opposite to Bradley's own. Bradley, explaining both the strengths and weaknesses of using tree rings, says this:

"If an equation can be developed that accurately describes instrumentally observed climatic variability in terms of tree growth over the same interval, then paleoclimatic reconstructions can be made using only the tree-ring data."

Wegman, who had added confusing or "confounding" references in the midst of several earlier paragraphs, removes Bradley's concluding sentence and adds instead this flatfooted statement, instead:

"Thus tree ring proxy data alone is not sufficient to determine past climate variables."


Finally, Mashey demonstrates that Wegman was also guilty of that most obvious of undergraduate cheats: bibliography padding - the inclusion of numerous references to give the impression of careful scholarship.

Mashey writes: "Bibliography-padding can also be a form of fabrication, and 40 of 80 references (in Wegman) are never cited, leading one to wonder if the (Wegman Report) authors had actually ever studied them. Many are clearly irrelevant or found in dubious sources inappropriate for such a report. A tabloid writer's 1987 ozone article in a fringe technology magazine is listed as an “Academic paper.” It cannot possibly be relevant."

As usual, Mashey's own report is painstakingly annotated and he generously credits the previous excellent scholarship by DeepClimate. Wegman, who must surely have been humiliated by having a related paper thrown out of a scholarly journal - also for plagiarism - must surely stand accountable soon, lest the reputation of George Mason University be permanently damaged by its tolerance of this poor and political performance.


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May 26 2011


Nature Scolds GMU over Wegman Inquiry

George Mason U dragging its feet on plagiarism complaint

An editorial in the current issue of Nature questions why George Mason University has taken more than 14 months - so far - in its review of the plagiarism complaint against Edward Wegman, even though GMU's own policy says that such a complaint should be dealt with in 12 weeks.

"Long misconduct investigations do not serve anyone, except perhaps university public-relations departments that might hope everyone will have forgotten about a case by the time it wraps up," the Nature editorial states.

The editors go on to say that this is as particularly pressing issue because Wegman's (purportedly) shoddy work has been used to prop up government policy, as well as to dilute the quality of climate science.<!--break-->

Finally Nature says this:

"Perhaps it should fall to accreditation agencies to push for speedy investigations. Tom Benberg, vice-president of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools — the agency that accredits George Mason University — says that his agency might investigate if the university repeatedly ignored its own policies on the timing of misconduct inquiries. To get the ball rolling, he says, someone would have to file a well-documented complaint."

Gee, that sounds exactly like an invitation ...

May 24 2011


Mashey Report Reveals Wegman Manipulations

Strange Tales and Emails: Said, Wegman, Sharabati, Rigsby (2008)

The discredited Dr. Edward Wegman tried to blame a student for the plagiarism in a paper that has since been retracted from the journal of Computational Statistics and Data Analysis, according to emails released in a new report by computer scientist Dr. John Mashey (attached below).

The emails, originally obtained by USA Today reporter Dan Vergano, reveal that Wegman and his friend, CSDA Editor Dr. Stanely Azen, both tried to convince the publisher Elsevier to allow the discredited paper to stand, perhaps with an errata sheet attached as what Azen described as "punishment" for the Wegman team's academic misconduct.<!--break-->

Mashey and the Canadian blogger DeepClimate have been the two most effective forces at discovering, analyzing and revealing the incorrect, plagiarized and academically incompetent work generated by Wegman, his collaborator and former student Yasmin Said, as well as other students including Walid Sharabati and John Rigsby in their ongoing attacks on climate scientists who contributed to the iconic "hockey stick" climate reconstruction graph (inset).

Earlier Mashey reports include Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report and Crescendo Climategate Cacaphony, both of which leverage DeepClimate's research and then canvas in extraordinary detail the connections and manipulations that mark the Wegman campaign. The retraction of the CSDA paper is the first obvious result of Mashey and DC's painstaking scholarship. This new report is yet more evidence that more dramatic punishments may still be in store for the Wegman team and for the Republican legislators (such as Joe Barton) and functionaries (including Barton's staffer Peter Spencer) who originally engaged Wegman to launch the hockey stick attack.


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May 16 2011


Wegman Paper Retracted for Plagiarism

The journal Computational Data and Statistics Analysis (CSDA) has withdrawn a paper by George Mason University Professor Edward Wegman and his student Jasmin Said for plagiarism, USA Today has reported.

The newspaper quotes CSDA editor Stanley Azen (who is denying responsibility for what appeared to be a rushed, one-man review of the Wegman/Said paper), saying the journal's legal team has decided to pull the study because of the evidence of plagiarism from Wikipedia and textbooks.

The Wegman work is part of a flurry of "analysis" (at least one expert derides this particular paper as "an opinion piece"), that Wegman and Said conducted on behalf of U.S. Congressman Joe Barton (R-Texas), who was using the material to attack the climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann.<!--break-->

Barton commissioned an earlier and similarly problematic report for a Congressional hearing in which he argued that Mann's iconic "hockey stick" climate reconstruction was statistically unsound. Wegman and Said went on to author the CSDA report, using what they called a "network analysis" to argue that Mann and a small group of climate scientists were short-circuiting the publication process by getting friends to peer-review one another's studies. That puts Editor Azen in an awkward position. A friend of Wegmans, who was himself an editor of CSDA, Azen has no record of anyone other than himself reviewing the Wegman/Said paper, and Azen has no particular expertise in the relatively new field of network analysis.

Although "broken" in the mainstream news by Dan Vergano at USA Today, credit for this story must go to blogger DeepClimate, who was the first to document Wegman and Said's plagiarism. Several others, notably John Mashey and the Simon Fraser University Professor Ted Kirkpatrick, also launched complaints to CSDA and George Mason University about Wegman's shoddy work. GMU has yet to respond.

April 28 2011


Climate Crock: Watching Muller trying to "hide the decline"

Peter Sinclar of Climate Crock of the Week unpacks one of the most famous quotes from the stolen East Anglia emails - in his typically clear and entertaining way. He also shows how frankly disingenuous the Berkeley physicist Richard Muller is being in his own climate science presentations.



April 25 2011


New Weaver Book a Gift for the Climate Confused

Canadian readers should keep an eye out for Generation Us, a tiny climate change primer by University of Victoria Professor Andrew Weaver, the Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis.

Subtitled The Challenge of Global Warming, Generation Us is like a climate change CliffNotes. Published by Raven Books as part of a "Rapid Reads" series, this is a short, succinct, clear and readable rendering of the science - followed by a passionate appeal for us all to move from "Generation Me" (which really seems to have outlasted its stylishness) to Generation Us, in which we start taking seriously the opportunity we have to mitigate the climate damage that we have already inflicted on future generations.

Actually, if you're looking for an informed tour through the science, I might recommend Weaver's earlier book even more highly. In Keeping Our Cool, Weaver drilled down into the topic a bit more thoroughly, even explaining precisely how scientists such as Lonnie Thompson torture 650,000-year-old oxygen isotopes to get them to admit what the temperature was on the year they were frozen into the Antarctic plains.

But for someone coming to this topic without any science background, GenUs is a perfect introduction - and as such is an important addition to the climate library.<!--break-->

Reposted by02mydafsoup-01 02mydafsoup-01

Sun TV (aka Fox North): No Goths; only vandals

Full disclosure: I have not actually spent any time watching the new Sun TV channel, which promised in its debut last week to bring Fox News-style partisanship to the Canadian airwaves. But one of my favourite provocateurs sent me the Youtube link below to a skit in which Ethical Oil author Ezra Levant belligerently prunes a tiny cedar as an insult to "Saint Suzuki" and a Koran-burning-style assault on the sanctity of Earth Day.

Seriously. Mr. Tough Guy can't even start his own chainsaw.

Regrettably, I have been unable to confirm the rumour that, for his next demonstration of man's dominion over nature, Levant is going to buy a really pretty ficus - and not water it.<!--break-->

April 15 2011


Lindzen Slipping from Ranks of "Credible" Scientists

Has the once-respected professor "gone emeritus"?

Richard Lindzen has long been the "skeptic" community's scientific poster boy. In a world stuffed with deniers for hire such as S. Fred Singer and Tim Ball, who lecture on the topic of climate change regardless that they bring little or no relevant expertise to the subject, Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT and has served (many years ago) as a lead author on a chapter in the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

But increasingly, his trenchant denial that climate change is a concern is casting him further from the ranks of people who can be taken seriously - particularly as he shows increasing willingness to say things that are simply and demonstrably not true.

Take as an example this recent radio interview, in which Lindzen tells Australian commentator Chris Smith that his country's effort to tackle climate change by implementing carbon tax is "a bit bizarre."

Lindzen says a number of silly things (in more detail below), but he flat out lies about the state of polar ice in Greenland and Antarctica saying, "there is no evidence of any significant change."<!--break-->

Isabella Velicogna would disagree. In her most recent Geophysical Research Letters paper on ice mass loss calibrated by the GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite mission, she recorded losses on Greenland amounting to 286 giggatonnes a year between 2007–2009 on Greenland and 246 Gt/yr in 2006–2009 in Antarctica. Compared to a period five years earlier, the loss was accelerating by a trend that Velicogna described as quadratic rather than linear.

Most of Lindzen's comments in this interview amount to little more than advising children to play with matches. For example, he says that it is "bizarre" for people in Australia to try to rein in their carbon emissions because that action, "couldn't be justified by any impact that it would have on Australia or anyone." Lindzen doesn't make any effort to justify this view, leaving us to speculate that he might be arguing that any action taken by Australia's small population would be irrelevant, especially when both population and personal carbon emissions are growing quickly in the developing world.

It's the argument you might hear from Smokey the Bear's evil cousin, who advises not that "Only you can prevent forest fires," but: "What the hell, some guy in China might be starting a fire right now anyway; what possible difference can it make if YOU'RE reckless?"

Lindzen is only 71 years old, a little early to "go emeritus" in the sense of forgetting entirely the necessity to check your work before you open your mouth - and to restrict yourself to topics on which you have actually done some recent research. Then again, this is a guy who once testified that it was hard to make a link between smoking and cancer.

Toward the end of the radio interview, however, Lindzen said one thing that's hard to criticize. Asked to imagine what people will think when they look back on this time 40 years from now, he said, they "will wonder how science broke down." They'll wonder how, "in a period of technilogical advance that the public could be swayed by arguments that make no sense."

On that position, he is sure to be proved correct.

April 05 2011


John Mashey to lecture in Vancouver, Victoria

DeSmogBlog Tutor Examines the Trail of Denial

Three or four years ago, when the DeSmogBlog's comments were still unmoderated (and too often unintelligent), we began to notice the consistent high quality of input from a frequent reader named John Mashey. His analysis was so sharp and his breadth of knowledge so impressive that we couldn't resist tracking him down - to find out: who the heck is this guy?

Well, his Wikipedia page announces him as a "computer scientist, director and entrepreneur, " a veteran of Bells Labs and Silicon Valley who has recently turned his prodigious energy and evident intelligence to the task of sorting out who's saying what in the world of climate change denial and who's paying them for their efforts.

Mashey has become a teacher, friend and contributor to the DSB in more ways than one. Aside from the remarkable research papers (1, 2)  that he has posted on our site in the last year, his was the greatest and most valued contribution to Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming.

So, we're thrilled he's in "the neighbourhood," speaking in our hometown of Vancouver tomorrow (Wednesday April 6, 7:30 p.m. in Theatre C300 at UBC Robson Square, 800 Robson Street) and  in Victoria (Thursday, April 7, 7:30 p.m. at the Bob Wright Centre, Rm B150). The trip, which included a lecture last night at the University of Northern BC in Prince George, was organized thanks to the good graces of Dr. Tom Pederson, Director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.<!--break-->

The Vancouver poster is attached, and interested viewers can tune into the Victoria event via LiveStream here

AttachmentSize Mashey_Vancouver_Lecture.pdf123.05 KB

April 04 2011


Required Reading: American Progress Koch Report

The Centre for American Progress Action Fund has just released a new report on the Koch brothers and their tentacled intervention in American politics.

The report documents the extent of the Koch empire as well as the Koch's known investments in anti-government think tanks and action groups. It details how the Koch's have used the fourth-largest private fortune in America to pervert the democratic process, most recently through the Tea Party campaign. And it shows how aggresively the Koch's have moved to buy political support from the new generation of anti-government Republican members of Congress, as well as how much they have invested in influencing state governments.

At a time when the U.S. Supreme Court has removed the barriers from the super rich trying to affect democratic outcomes by using their wealth to manipulate the results of elections and decisions of elected representatives, David and Charles Koch have emerged as the greatest immediate risk to American democracy. The report shows how.<!--break-->


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