the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Zorita Calls For Banning Mann, Jones and Rahmstorf from IPCC

Posted by Jeff Id on November 27, 2009

I thought about not posting this but there is some interesting points in it. There are very strong statements regarding the climate of climate science including blackmail, collusion and corruption. In his post, Zorita makes an open effort to separate certain scientists from the chaff and get rid of them while propping up others. This seems like a political move to me with all the nonsensical trappings that go along with politics. Still he openly admits to the broken nature of the scientific process and is one of the first scientists so far to do so.

For a short background from my perspective, Dr Zorita, co-authored a paper in 2004 which pointed out the loss in variance created by methods used in Michael Mann’s hockey stick as demonstrated in the hockey stick posts linked above. The VonStorch and Zorita paper had a mistake in replicating Mann’s results in that they did the math correctly whereas Mann had it wrong so they were in the odd situation of correcting a correct paper to make it match an incorrect paper. All that aside, they demonstrate that Mann’s hockey stick handles are mathematically inclined to be straight.

Today, Zorita has issued a statement regarding a few of the scientists involved. In the middle of it he oddly gives thanks to those who are directly responsible for the “hiding the decline data” so that is difficult to grasp. Since Keith Briffa’s hidden decline was not properly disclosed in the IPCC chapter, and efforts to show the decline by some were blocked by IPCC scientists, I cannot agree with his exculpatory statements about Briffa and Osborn. Perhaps it’s an effort to separate the worst and chuck them while saving the very poor quality and highly biased paleo chapter of the IPCC reports which he also off handedly compliments. I suppose it is his field though.

Here’s where Steve McIntyre tried to get the data shown and was rejected by IPCC authors in the same chapter Zorita speaks well of.

Click to Expand

Junk is junk in my opinion, but then again I’m no polypaleoscienticianator ist.

Thanks to reader Alberto for providing the heads up. Alberto also points out that Zorita has done a post on Climate Audit in 2006. If you’re interested, you can get a perspective on his take of proxy papers.


Why I think that Michael Mann, Phil Jones and Stefan Rahmstorf should be barred from the IPCC process
Eduardo Zorita, November 2009

Short answer: because the scientific assessments in which they may take part are not credible anymore.

A longer answer: My voice is not very important. I belong to the climate-research infantry, publishing a few papers per year, reviewing a few manuscript per year and participating in a few research projects. I do not form part of important committees, nor I pursue a public awareness of my activities. My very minor task in the public arena was to participate as a contributing author in the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC.

By writing these lines I will just probably achieve that a few of my future studies will, again, not see the light of publication. My area of research happens to be the climate of the past millennia, where I think I am appreciated by other climate-research ‘soldiers’. And it happens that some of my mail exchange with Keith Briffa and Timothy Osborn can be found in the CRU-files made public recently on the internet.

To the question of legality or ethicalness of reading those files I will write a couple of words later.

I may confirm what has been written in other places: research in some areas of climate science has been and is full of machination, conspiracies, and collusion, as any reader can interpret from the CRU-files. They depict a realistic, I would say even harmless, picture of what the real research in the area of the climate of the past millennium has been in the last years. The scientific debate has been in many instances hijacked to advance other agendas.

These words do not mean that I think anthropogenic climate change is a hoax. On the contrary, it is a question which we have to be very well aware of. But I am also aware that in this thick atmosphere -and I am not speaking of greenhouse gases now- editors, reviewers and authors of alternative studies, analysis, interpretations,even based on the same data we have at our disposal, have been bullied and subtly blackmailed. In this atmosphere, Ph D students are often tempted to tweak their data so as to fit the ‘politically correct picture’. Some, or many issues, about climate change are still not well known. Policy makers should be aware of the attempts to hide these uncertainties under a unified picture. I had the ‘pleasure’ to experience all this in my area of research.

I thank explicitely Keith Briffa and Tim Osborn for their work in the formulation of one Chapter of the IPCC report. As it destills from these emails, they withstood the evident pressure of other IPCC authors, not experts in this area of research, to convey a distorted picture of our knowledge of the hockey-stick graph.

Is legal or ethical to read the CRU files? I am not a lawyer. It seems that if the files had been hacked this would constitute an illegal act. If they have been leaked it could be a whistle blower action protected by law. I think it is not unethical to read them. Once published, I feel myself entitled to read how some researchers tried to influence reviewers to scupper the publication of our work on the ‘hockey stick graph’ or to read how some IPCC authors tried to exclude this work from the IPCC Report on very dubious reasons. Also, these mails do not contain any personal information at all. They are an account of many dull daily activities of typical climatologists, together with a realistic account of very troubling professional behavior.

28 Responses to “Zorita Calls For Banning Mann, Jones and Rahmstorf from IPCC”

  1. Peter said


    All I can say about this is that from Mann’s perspective payback is going to be a bitch. Mann’s Himalayan ego combined with his microscopic ethics has certainly left many with footprints on their back, some of these folks will undoubtedly seek their revenge. I think it will make a great spectator sport.

  2. John M said

    I suppose I could be wrong, but I think what I’m starting to see emerge is a story that has most climate scientists behaving “normally”, but a handful of real [self snip]s who have alienated even a lot of “normal” climate scientists.

    Scientists in all fields can be snarky, boorish, self-absorbing, wacky, absent-minded, on-and-on-and-on…

    It most fields, this can be self-correcting, as lives and policy aren’t at issue, and the arguments can be hashed out in the literature, at meetings, in bars, etc. Medical and drug research, and work requiring strict environmental protocols are areas that have had to come to grips with these issues long ago, and have had to have more rigorous approaches, but “climate science” is still struggling with which model it wants to follow.

    What I see is Zorita painting the picture of the “normal” behavior (I thing Briffa may be falling into the “wacky professor” mold), but he wants to distance himself from [self snip]s.

    I’ve been reading these blogs for a long time, and the sense I have is that there is a very small, tightly-knit cabal that has been trying to exert absolute control, and has always rubbed a lot of other climate scientists the wrong way. Now, the climate scientists that silently resented this are starting to emerge.

    Just my two cents.

  3. Ryan O said

    I dunno . . . I kind of agree with the Briffa/Osborn comment by Zorita (and I mentioned Briffa before this, as well). Though I think Briffa suffers from confirmation bias and needs to be taught a lesson in archiving, the sense I got from reading the emails was similar to Zorita’s. So while I may disagree with Briffa on what can be learned from a tree (and I think the treatment of the divergence problem is abhorrent), I don’t put him in the Mike Mann/Phil Jones camp.

    I guess I feel that Briffa has done some questionable (and downright bad) science when it comes to dealing with the divergence problem, but he seems to be honest.

    Just my 2 cents . . . though my opinions have not followed the majority of the posters here. ;)

  4. Basil Copeland said

    Briffa shouldn’t get a walk. It is true that at times, in the emails, he comes across better than the others. But he didn’t disassociate himself from what the others were doing. He may have the potential to redeem himself, by coming clean on this whole mess. But if he doesn’t, if he stonewalls, then he deserves whatever rubs off of the worse crimes of Mann and Jones. The latter should be drummed out of the field with fanfare. Stripped of their posts, and reminders of what can happen when one corrupts science in the service of ideology. Others, like Briffa, may yet have a future in the field, but only if they show they have learned something from this mess.

  5. MikeN said

    Early e-mails between Briffa and Cook has Briffa saying he is neutral with regards to MWP vs current times.
    Another praises Briffa for a clever response to Steve in obstructing his request for data.
    There is another one received by Briffa in which someone complains about low core counts. This was around the time that Yamal was used, and that Briffa dropped himself as a coauthor for the Yamal paper by the Russians.

  6. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Ryan O at Post #3:

    While I think too many skeptics read things into the emails that are not there for some of us with a more complete background of the issues at hand, the tone of the emails in general shows evidence of what you have aptly called confirmation bias. I think that the less vociferous climate scientists in the emails or those defending or doing damage control who allowed these items to stand without publicly speaking out are not off the hook at all. That was Briffa’s proxy that was chopped off and the instrumental data added. Did he object – publicly? I think not.

    Zorita is late to the game and like Judith Curry simply doing damage control for a cause they truly believe in. Is that cause affecting and possibly inhibiting what they say publicly? I think it important to listen very carefully to what they say and how they say it.

    The scientists/advocates, I judge, are concerned that what they have nearly unanimously referred to as the consensus might crumble. It is the consensus and the certainty that it implies that gives weight to what the uninformed policy makers take away from the climate scientists. The IPCC, in a stroke of marketing savvy, took the consensus further by implying something objective about the probability obtained in their published reviews by what had to be from a show of hands of the participating scientists or some other unreported subjective measure.

    There was an email in the discovered pile of them that stood out for me where one of the writers noted that they did not want to show any of the uncertainties that scientists had on any of the pertinent topics because of the policy implications.

  7. [...] Dr. Zorita writes letter with title “Why I think that Michael Mann, Phil Jones and Stefan Rahmstorf [...]

  8. stan said

    The consensus is gone. It was built because the 99% of scientists who don’t pay any attention to the nitty gritty details because they work in different fields were convinced by the team that the science was settled. Obviously, that no longer works. The questions remaining are too large and too important to be handled with hand waving. Incompetent thermometer siting, secret data adjustments, refusals to allow studies to be checked, crappy code, and demonstrated instances of inexcusable bad faith cannot be waved away.

    Even non-scientists are now conversant with the problems. I’m not a scientist, but I would love to have a debate with one who tried to argue that the science is still solid behind AGW. Trying to argue that the field is still playable is a loser, if I can point out that there is a huge crater which has swallowed from the end zone to out past the 50.

  9. This is a very revealing letter and document. It seems that Zorita, like Monbiot, needed courage to take a position in which they felt they could stand with integrity, yet which goes right against their colleagues’ groupthink and will leave their colleagues angry, possibly vindictive, and themselves alone, possibly alienated.

    Having said that, I still think that Zorita like Monbiot has only done a 90 degree turn. I think their disillusionment has to go deeper and get more painful and become 180 degrees to embrace the full “no AGW” possibility, before they will have a real handle on the truth.

    Already I want to respect them – but not let them off the hook either.

    Charles Colson was indicted as Nixon’s right hand man. Shortly before the dams broke, he had a deep “conversion to Christ”. Even so, he still had to experience more disillusion. But he was now in a position to handle it for good even in the depths.

  10. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Post #7 the BB and Lucia:

    I get a kick out of the (favorable) reaction of some peaople to Judith Curry and her use of her students and young affiliates to further her cause. What she says in rather transparent terms is that she is convinced that the case for AGW is closed and what matters now is that the scientist/advocates do a better job of marketing that position to influence climate policy. She is very general in her approach and avoids the specifics. That my friends is what politicians do well – and scientist – well they should know better.

  11. Eric said

    A USGS scientist, in a comment to the National Post, says he too had been bullied and his family and career threatened if he published a study that suggested current global temperatures were not historically unusual. He says that individuals named in the emails (without naming them) were those that did this.

    See 2nd comment by EH Moran, and see 3rd comment, also from a scientist.

  12. lucia said

    If the case is not closed, the approach she advocates would show that it is not closed. The emails overall are consistent with the notion that a group of scientists was working to make the case appear air tight by effectively gagging dissenting (or merely not-sufficiently supportive voices. The “gag dissenters” method was not only not working but appears to have been counter-productive.

  13. Jeff Id said

    I don’t see briffa conspiring to block science so in that sense he’s different from Mann, Jones et al but he does science which relies on a certain peer group to get published. He has actively suppressed data which demonstrates his curves are not temperature while simulteneously not providing the critical data and code to replicate.

  14. Phil A said

    There is a danger here that we repeat the mistakes that the climate scientists made. They were attacked in the early days by those who wished to deny their conclusions for selfish reasons, and have ever since assumed that all criticism must be motivated by similar base motives. So along come scientific sceptics who only – with great justification it has emerged – want to ensure that the state of climate science is not rotten, and immediately we too are tagged as deniers and balked at every turn. Because they simply could and would not realise that IF THEY COULD PROVE THEY WERE RIGHT, WE WOULD SUPPORT THEM. But instead they turned inwards, hid the data and faked up the results. Because they thought all sceptics were the same.

    Now the situation is reversed. We’ve found rotten apples in the climate science barrel and it’s all too easy to assume all the rest are too. That climate science is an oxymoron. And that everyone in the field agrees with the rabid alarmists rather than probably sharing the “we don’t know but wish we did” mild sceptic category that most of us do – except in their case they can’t say so unless they want to kiss their careers goodbye.

    Besides – if climate science is going to be rebuilt, someone has to do it. So let’s not piss off everyone in the field as we’re going to need some of them to fix the mess that their elders left.

  15. Motorhead said

    Be careful here folks as you may get what you wish for. A common tactic of the Left when busted lying, cheating or stealing is to throw one or more people under the bus to get people to back off. Once the outrage dies down, the offending Leftist group quietly starts lying, cheating and stealing again.

  16. EJ said

    Many of these scientists, Curry, Zorita etc., have known for some time about the refusals to release code and methods. Why didn’t they speak up then? Fear, cowardice, who knows? The point here is, why didn’t they stand up then? I think it is too late for them.

    Free the Data, Free the Code

  17. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Lucia at Post #12:

    I have had opportunities to engage (admittedly as a layperson wanting to learn) Judith Curry about real climate science and not the advocacy stuff, and have not found her to be at all as forthcoming as she seems to claim climate scientists should be. The talk is easy and cheap and unfortunately, in my view and in her case, is pointed very much to the advocacy side of the climate issues.

    I guess that is why the emails are not revealing to me as this was all very apparent before their “discovery” and my wonderment has always been why other climate scientists were not speaking out.

    Now that the email discovery has politicized the issue, I certainly hope that these weaknesses (that I see primarily as a refusal of too many climate scientists to face up to the uncertainty of the results of many of their more well publicized studies) do not get lost in a discussion that is going to be carried on from all sides of the AGW issues and at levels were some of the nuances will be missed completely.

  18. [...] Scientists who have been silenced by CRU start to speak out here Air Vent comments here. Calls for scientists from the IPCC to be sacked. A general theory of natural climate variation [...]

  19. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Phil A:

    Now the situation is reversed. We’ve found rotten apples in the climate science barrel and it’s all too easy to assume all the rest are too. That climate science is an oxymoron. And that everyone in the field agrees with the rabid alarmists rather than probably sharing the “we don’t know but wish we did” mild sceptic category that most of us do – except in their case they can’t say so unless they want to kiss their careers goodbye.

    Believe me Phil A when I tell you that all sides of this issue are going to have partisan participants who will always go a bridge or two too far. That will not have any effect on what the truth is on AGW and its potential effects so all it does is get in the way of the real debate and discussion.

    There are a number of climate scientists who I believe are not into AGW advocacy and they are rather well known. What allows them to speak their minds and not those closeted ones? Anyway I do not care why they do what do, I just want the debate to continue and at a high level.

    I have been a somewhat surprised by climate scientists who one would thing should know better continue to talk vaguely about the disinformation campaign as if it is part of some larger conspiracy to thwart not their scientific efforts but their roles as advocates. So much for the disinterested scientist.

  20. Hoi Polloi said

    “Having said that, I still think that Zorita like Monbiot has only done a 90 degree turn.

    I don’t think that you can compare Zorita with Monbiot. Zorita was in the innercircle, while Monbiot was an outsider not knowing the AGW clique raping the data. Monbiot is disappointed because Mann/Jones are destroying his AGW picture and blowing his past rantings into oblivion. Like Dr.Curry this purely PR business. Yes the scpetics needs to be adressed but AGW is still there and the Mann/Jones cabal are now becoming a liability for the AGW and threatening the public shifting to the sceptic camp.

  21. The Burning Mann Festival begins.

  22. Brian B said

    I don’t see briffa conspiring to block science so in that sense he’s different from Mann, Jones et al but he does science which relies on a certain peer group to get published.

    He certainly knew Mann, Jones, etal were conspiring to block science but he either did nothing to stop it or actively helped them when he could keep his hands relatively clean.

    I have had opportunities to engage (admittedly as a layperson wanting to learn) Judith Curry about real climate science and not the advocacy stuff, and have not found her to be at all as forthcoming as she seems to claim climate scientists should be. The talk is easy and cheap and unfortunately, in my view and in her case, is pointed very much to the advocacy side of the climate issues.

    Precisely. I appreciate her collegial nature but she makes long and for the most part gracious statements which in the end don’t say much of anything useful. ‘Patronising’ is the word that usually comes to mind.

  23. P Gosselin said

    If they were in the pharmaceutical industry, they’d get much worse.

  24. P Gosselin said

    Hoi Polloi
    That’s quite amazing, don’t you think?

  25. Ian Perry said

    Hello, can someone please explain or direct me to a site which explains the structure of the IPCC in detail? The things I can find are frustratingly incomplete. I am looking at the IPCC website and it has some useful information regarding how it is organized, however either I am missing something or it doesn’t explain fully their structure. How is the panel which runs the IPCC selected? The IPCC is sponsered by the U.N. and supported by various governments, how much direct and indirect input do the U.N. and national governmnets have on the make up of the IPCC?

  26. John F. Pittman said

    Hey JeffID, I just sent you email by way of stormypittman. On vacation.

    I have spent days on my hobbyhorse (Yamal) studying the emails. I wrote stuff, but at 45 pages and half finished, it is a bear. I agree that Dr. Briffa comes out looking like a good scientist. It is also true that questions of openess exist. IMO, he was caught up in the process. I concluded that the compromises (if any) were done due to the human constraints of time and work. It is apparent if one wanted to work in the field that Dr. Briffa is in, working with and not against the group would be required. Some might think Dr. Briffa was required to spend effort and time on their hobbyhorse, but it is apparent in the emails that what he was already doing was quite a big load. Also, through the emails I saw, the refrain is always to go where the science leads, not where or from sceptics, nor proponents wanted him to go. There may have been things he could have or should have done, but I think most of those are sheer speculation. The concern for openess effects the whole group, and I don’t believe singling out Dr. Briffa is constructive, much less fair. He will be called to account certain actions I am sure, but from what I read, one can object, but it was his call. IMO, each person does have a right to pursue their career and decide what the best use of their time is. The knowledge of what people are saying was withheld but known, including Dr. Briffa,and I am one of these saying, does not make the group look good. That is a separate issue.

  27. [...] link to a blog discussing the Zorita letter, in which Zorita explicitly says he thinks AGW is [...]

  28. petermue said

    It’s an old thread, I know.

    But in the light of a new Rahmstorf paper,

    please admit my question, if anything has progressed since the call for banning Mann, Jones and Rahmstorf from IPCC?

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