The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.

- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Climategate": Yet More Bupkis

NOAA Press Release Feb 24 2011:

Inspector General’s Review of Stolen Emails Confirms No Evidence of Wrong-Doing by NOAA Climate Scientists

Report is the latest independent analysis to clear climate scientists of allegations of mishandling of climate information

At the request of U.S. Sen. Inhofe, the Department of Commerce Inspector General conducted an independent review of the emails stolen in November 2009 from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, and found no evidence of impropriety or reason to doubt NOAA’s handling of its climate data. The Inspector General was asked to look into how NOAA reacted to the leak and to determine if there was evidence of improper manipulation of data, failure to adhere to appropriate peer review procedures, or failure to comply with Information Quality Act and Freedom of Information Act guidelines.

“We welcome the Inspector General’s report, which is the latest independent analysis to clear climate scientists of allegations of mishandling of climate information,” said Mary Glackin, NOAA’s deputy under secretary for operations. “None of the investigations have found any evidence to question the ethics of our scientists or raise doubts about NOAA’s understanding of climate change science.”

The Inspector General’s report states specifically:

· “We found no evidence in the CRU emails that NOAA inappropriately manipulated data comprising the [Global Historical Climatology Network – monthly] GHCN-M dataset.” (Page 11)

· “We found no evidence in the CRU emails to suggest that NOAA failed to adhere to its peer review procedures prior to its dissemination of information.” (Page 11)

· “We found no evidence in the CRU emails to suggest that NOAA violated its obligations under the IQA.” (Page 12)

· “We found no evidence in the CRU emails to suggest that NOAA violated its obligations under the Shelby Amendment.” (Page 16)

The report notes a careful review of eight e-mails that it said "warranted further examination to clarify any possible issues involving the scientific integrity of particular NOAA scientists or NOAA's data,” that was completed and did not reveal reason to doubt the scientific integrity of NOAA scientists or data.

The report questions the way NOAA handled a response to four FOIA requests in 2007. The FOIA requests sought documents related to the review and comments of part of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. NOAA scientists were given legal advice that IPCC work done by scientists were records of the IPCC, not NOAA. The requesters were directed to the IPCC, which subsequently made available the review, comments and responses which are online at: https://www.ipcc-wg1.unibe.ch/publications/wg1-ar4/wg1-ar4.html and http://hcl.harvard.edu/collections/ipcc/index.html.

“The NOAA scientists responded in good faith to the FOIA requests based on their understanding of the request and in accordance with the legal guidance provided in 2007,” Glackin said. “NOAA’s policies, practices, and the integrity and commitment of our scientists have resulted in NOAA’s climate records being the gold-standard that our nation and the world has come to rely on for authoritative information about the climate.”

The findings in the Inspector General’s investigation are similar to the conclusions reached in a number of other independent investigations into climate data stewardship and research that were conducted by the UK House of Commons, Penn State University, the InterAcademy Council, and the National Research Council, after the release of the stolen emails All of the reports exonerated climate scientists from allegations of wrong-doing.

The report also asks NOAA to review two instances in which it transferred funds to CRU. NOAA is conducting a review of funding to the University of East Anglia and as recommended by Mr. Zinser’s letter, will be providing a report to his office. NOAA’s review to date indicates that the funding supported workshops in 2002 and 2003 that helped the governments of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam improve their climate forecasting abilities.

The report further provides information about the review NOAA undertook of the emails, and notes that NOAA did not conduct a review of its data set as a result of the emails because it too determined that the emails did not indicated any impropriety and because its data sets and techniques are already regularly reviewed as part of ongoing quality control measures and are subject to formal peer review.

NOAA’s national and global climate data are available to the public in raw and adjusted form. The algorithms used to adjust the data sets to ensure high quality, useful records, are peer-reviewed and available to the public.

NOAA is committed to quality, scientific excellence and transparency and strives to provide the most authoritative and accurate information about the Earth’s climate, oceanic and atmospheric conditions. In the face of ongoing climate variability and climate change, this information is critical to businesses and people in all industries and communities as they plan for the future. NOAA is working to provide ever-improving regional and industry-specific climate information to meet the growing demand for this information.

The Inspector General report is available online: http://www.oig.doc.gov/oig/reports/2011/001688.html

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us online at www.noaa.gov or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/usnoaagov.

###

Update: McIntyre's take on all this:
NOAA scientists were given legal advice that IPCC work done by scientists were records of the IPCC, not NOAA." was not supported by the report. "The Inspector General said that there was a divergence between Solomon’s evidence and the evidence of the NOAA attorneys, the latter denied giving “legal advice that IPCC work done by scientists were records of the IPCC, not NOAA”, with Susan Solomon unable to provide any documentation of ever receiving such evidence.
So NOAA attorneys don't recall such advice. Or Solomon misremembers. Or there was a misunderstanding. Some sort of miscommunication about emails about who gets to see which emails about emails about the highly secret hiding a decline that wasn't a decline that was never hidden. (Upperdate via Sloop in comments: Eventual outcome re: FOIA requests to NOAA: "The requesters were directed to the IPCC, which subsequently made available the review, comments and responses which are online." Where the heck is the issue here?)

Ho hum. Hardly worth a footnote?

If you think not, you don't know McIntyre and his acolytes. But you are an amateur who can hardly even make a mountain out of a molehill. They can make the whole Himalayan range out of a gully.

To them, this is clearly part of the Grand Conspiracy to Willfully and With Malice Aforethought Commit Acts of Science. Or something. Anyway, something worthy of Congressional Investigation. Or Worse. (cue Ominous Trumpets)



Update via Dan Olner (promoted from comments): I don't often look at WUWT these days, but I was just over there looking at their response to the report.

It's bizarre. Inhofe and Watts appear to be saying that the report left a big, scary sword dangling over CRU: "Inspector General Finds NOAA Climategate Emails Warranted 'Further Investigation'..." - and Inhofe is going to 'follow up' on that.

Except in the (really quite short) report itself, of course, those emails are examined. They're just saying which ones they're going to look at.

I'm fascinated by this. Another commenter went out on a limb and suggested the only possible expanation was Inhofe was 'lying or stupid'. I'm wondering if it must be something different: just a massively invasive reality filter that turns any scrap around to the pre-conceived goal? I can't make sense of it otherwise.

25 comments:

Adam said...

Which of the usual suspects will be the first to cry whitewash--again?

guthrie said...

A few years ago, here in the UK, there was an internal parliamentary audit commitee whose chairman was taking their job rather seriously, and spent some time pointing out real shortcomings in the governments performance.
Funnily enough, they lost that chairmanship shortly afterwards, and the committee returned to being a safe rubber stamper.

I think you can draw the obvious conclusion from this little tale...

D.J. Andrews said...

My thoughts too, but this time it Inhofe's name is attached. Will Inhofe accept this vindication, or will he order an investigation of the investigators?

D.J. Andrews said...

My thoughts too, but this time Inhofe's name is attached to the vindication. Will he accept the report or will he order an investigation into the investigators?

David B. Benson said...

Nobody fiddled.

fiddled
2c. To meddle or tamper: a reporter who fiddled with the facts.
3. To alter or falsify (accounts, for example) for dishonest gain.

from
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/fiddle

David B. Benson said...

Only In It For the Gold is eating my comments [or else MT is censoring them all.]

Michael Tobis said...

David, first one I've seen today.

EliRabett said...

The McIntyres are going to go after Susan Solomon. They may regret that

Martin Vermeer said...

The picture is here.

Yes, inappropriate and proud of it :-)

Do I need counseling now?

Steve Bloom said...

Inhofe can't order much beyond lunch, being in the minority and all, although I expect Boxer's response to kangaroo hearings in the House (by this yahoo e.g.) may be to hold real ones.

On the whole this particular trench seems unsuited to successful inversion. It seems to me that the blogospheric denial mill may be just a touch desparate right now due to what seems to me (anyone else?) to be an unusually large number of important papers combined with the suspicious combination of bad weather.

Thanks for the blast from the past, Martin! If that 'berg is in the Southern Ocean, RP Sr. and friends may be swimming with that funny-looking shark real soon now.

Sloop said...

Eventual outcome re: FOIA requests to NOAA:

"The requesters were directed to the IPCC, which subsequently made available the review, comments and responses which are online"

Where the heck is the issue here? McIntyre sounds increasingly like a worn-out retread. Are any informed folks even listening to him anymore??

Interesting to see how Inhofe will respond to this IG report from Congress. NOAA doesn’t function at times as well as it could, but it is run by many very sound, capable managers and scientists. They will not take kindly to these attacks on agency’s credibility science research, and related programs, many of which are unquestionably world-class and world-leading.

Republican congressional leadership perhaps beginning to see they're on a politically damaging path if their policy positions re: climate/ocean disruption include unethical and fraudulent attacks on climatology and related sciences. Note how Issa has been muzzled (so far) re: initiating climate science investigations from his new perch as chair of House Comm. on Oversight and Gov. Reform.

gryposaurus said...

"They may regret that"

Do they ever regret any attack on scientists? It's not they need evidence, or even need to be partly correct more than %0.1 of the time to remain suitably credible to their audience.

Paul said...

Mosher is harrumphing over at Revkin's place.

"if Solomon gave us the documents we requested in our FIOA, she'd not have to worry about Imhoff.

The IG has requested that NOAA do a proper document search and they appear to hold the position that we are entitled to them. We will see."

Is their a bowl of soup anywhere that Mosher has not had a thumb in?

Paul Middents

dhogaza said...

Inhofe, from the NY Times:

Mr. Inhofe said the report was far from a clean bill of health for the agency and that contrary to its executive summary, showed that the scientists “engaged in data manipulation.”

“It also appears that one senior NOAA employee possibly thwarted the release of important federal scientific information for the public to assess and analyze,” he said, referring to an employee’s failure to provide material related to work for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a different body that compiles research, in response to a Freedom of Information request.

guthrie said...

So Inhofe gets to create an alternative reality? I want that special power.

Steve Bloom said...

Mosher misunderstands. The entitlement is to a document search, after which NOAA counsel will determine what can be released.

EliRabett said...

Steve McIntyre is the little boy who implies fraud at every opportunity

Rattus Norvegicus said...

Re: the FOIA issue...

I actually took the time to read the OIG report and the beef on the FOIA requests was fairly specific...

1) Neither the OGC nor Susan Solomon could present evidence for the advice received at the time. Subsequently apparently Solomon contacted the OGC and asked whether the previous advice was still operative and the advice was "yes" (this from the OGC).

2) Not all of the IPCC internal communications were marked "Confidential not for Release" or some such verbiage.

3) Since employees detailed to the IPCC were not formally detailed and were still paid by NOAA the records not make confidential should have been released because they were responsive to the FOIA requests.

I find it interesting to note that this was the same advice which the people at CRU got regarding these sorts of communications, so what Solomon claimed does not seem out of line to me. I can understand how there might not have been a formal determination. Take at face value this seems like a fairly easy determination.

What is the upshot of all this? NOAA is going to have to do a document search and produce the relevant documents, which of course are mostly already released as part of the email hack. Second, every at NOAA who works on climate at NOAA will add "Confidential, not for Release" to their signature file.

David B. Benson said...

Off topic, but note the bit at the very end:
http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/show.html

dhogaza said...

David Benson, that's interesting.

Someone should tell him that Joe Bastardi's available.

(oh, oh, laugh! run away! before y'all hit me!)

Neven said...

Hehe, good one, Dhogaza. :-)

David B. Benson said...

dhogaza --- I suspect that Jeff Masters knows that already...

Dan Olner said...

I don't often look at WUWT these days, but I was just over there looking at their response to the report.

It's bizarre. Inhofe and Watts appear to be saying that the report left a big, scary sword dangling over CRU: "Inspector General Finds NOAA Climategate Emails Warranted 'Further Investigation'..." - and Inhofe is going to 'follow up' on that.

Except in the (really quite short) report itself, of course, those emails are examined. They're just saying which ones they're going to look at.

I'm fascinated by this. Another commenter went out on a limb and suggested the only possible expanation was Inhofe was 'lying or stupid'. I'm wondering if it must be something different: just a massively invasive reality filter that turns any scrap around to the pre-conceived goal? I can't make sense of it otherwise.

Michael Tobis said...

Dan, Fox news reported a poll wherein over 60% of Americans supported collective bargaining rights as revealing that over 60% of Americans oppose collective bargaining rights, which tends to support your analysis.

Dan Olner said...

Apologies for self-plug, I had to write this one up. Also waiting for reply to comment on WUWT. Bound to get an "oh yes, sorry! My mistake."