Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Edinburgh climate scientist apologises

Prof Tom Crowley
A senior and influential Edinburgh scientist has apologised, admitting that allegations he made in the newspaper of a respected scientific society were not true. 

This is not simply a correction of a mistake, but an admission which touches on issues at the heart of the science over which the climate wars are being fought.

The apology concerns a blogger who challenges aspects of the scientific basis for man made global warming, and it is also related to concerns over peer review and 'gatekeeping' in climate science. 

Professor Tom Crowley is

  • Director of the Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society (SAGES)
  • based at the King's Buildings in Edinburgh.   
  • the author of important work used by the International Panel of Climate Change to justify its assertion that global warming has a dangerous, human induced component
In the last few days he has apologised:
  • "I now (also) know that what I said was not true."
  • "I was shocked when the mails did not reveal what I had come to believe.  ."
  • ". . . for the record I now apologize. . . "
The background.  The allegations concern Steve McIntyre, a semi retired Canadian mining engineer. About 10 years  he began to doubt some of the assertions made in an enormously influential 1998 piece of research  by Professor Michael Mann, which claimed current global temperatures were unprecedented over a long period.  "The hockey stick", as it came to be known, became the poster child of the IPCC and was hugely influential in creating grounds for dramatic changes in public policy and for changing public opinion.

McIntyre demonstrated that the claims made in Mann's peer reviewed paper rested on faulty statistical procedures and selective use of data - data which itself was in some cases unreliable.

The false allegations  This challenge to Mann provoked a ferocious attack on McIntyre from the relatively small group of climate scientists who had hitherto dominated the influence of climate science on public policy.  Professor Crowley was one of those scientists.   In a July 2005 edition of Eos, the then respected journal of the American Geophysical Union, he weighed in. 

 McIntyre had contacted Crowley requesting data behind one of his peer reviewed papers.  Crowley characterised McIntyre's correspondence as 'peremptory' and 'threatening'.  He also (as we now know) mis-characterised two key points of a paper McIntyre had written in 2003.  Crowley went on to accuse others of using McIntyre's work as 'an intimidation of researchers who produce results which are not consistent with some political preferences', and 'raising questions and fomenting uncertainty, with the aim to discredit greenhouse science. . .'.  There was a clear inference that McIntyre was party to those alleged aims.

On 31st December 2010, Professor Crowley himself contributed to a blog when he made the comment below.  The subject was the claim of McIntyre that there was evidence in his case that the peer review system was stacked against researchers critical of the coterie of influential 'establishment' scientists.
The evidence had already been detailed publicly and there then ensued a personal correspondence between McIntyre and Crowley which led to the apology.  Professor Crowley states that he had, some months before, re-discovered the correspondence which he had mis-characterised in Eos leading to the apology.  The apology concerned the Eos accusations but also makes reference to correspondence arising from his comment posted on the NYT blog.  The apology, along with the references and sources, can be found on the Climate Audit site of Steve McIntyre here and the apology is included below

The false claims in the Eos article, (McIntyre gives an example of how professionally damaging they were for him), were also made in a BBC interview.

Courage  Brave as the apology is, it now needs to be made to the original readership of Eos and in the BBC.   At the time (2005), McIntyre submitted a rebuttal article to Eos. The editor rejected it and it was never published.

Apologies are seldom easy to make and readers can judge for themselves the detail of Professor Crowley's apology above.  He should be commended for taking the step he has.

Restoring climate science credibility  A major fault of key scientists espousing the global warming orthodoxy has been their reluctance to admit to errors when they are demonstrated.  Professor Crowley's courageous confession deals with one of a long list of such injustices which need to be corrected before climate science can begin to restore its sullied reputation.

More details can be found on Steve McIntyre's blog where there is a special category for Professor Crowley (It is in 'Other multiproxy studies').

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, many other established climatologists should apologise to Steve McIntyre but they don't. Tom C deserves some credit for this, even if it is belated.