Saturday, February 11, 2006


That would be my summary of the latest bit of propaganda from "Science" magazine. Unlike Mann et al., they do at least now recognize past natural temperature fluctuations in the Mediaeval Warm Period and the Little Ice age but they think they have found an "out" by saying that recent warming is more widespread.

Even from my viewpoint as a humble social scientist, there are so many lacunae in the article that it is difficult to know where to start. Just a few points: 1). The fact that the temperature records least susceptible to heat-island effects (e.g. upper atmosphere and non-urban) show virtually NO 20th century warming is of course ignored. 2). The relatively late starting point excludes the surely VERY warm period when the Romano-Britons grew grapes right up to Hadrian's wall. 3) The apparently severe categorization of the data throws away a lot of information and makes it easy to select cutting points that suit the desired conclusion.

I give below both the abstract and the popular summary of the article and follow that with the first part of a very detailed and damaging review by climate expert Steve McIntyre.

The Spatial Extent of 20th-Century Warmth in the Context of the Past 1200 Years

By Timothy J. Osborn and Keith R. Briffa


Periods of widespread warmth or cold are identified by positive or negative deviations that are synchronous across a number of temperature-sensitive proxy records drawn from the Northern Hemisphere. The most significant and longest duration feature during the last 1200 years is the geographical extent of warmth in the middle to late 20th century. Positive anomalies during 890 to 1170 and negative anomalies during 1580 to 1850 are consistent with the concepts of a Medieval Warm Period and a Little Ice Age, but comparison with instrumental temperatures shows the spatial extent of recent warmth to be of greater significance than that during the medieval period.


Popular summary as given in "Science":

A number of unusually warm or cold intervals can be seen in most proxy records of temperature of the last millennium, so how can we assess the relative magnitude of the current warm period? Osborn and Briffa (p. 841) compared the geographic extent of late 20th-century warming in the Northern Hemisphere to the distribution of both warm and cold intervals for the last 1200 years by adopting specific thresholds to define warm and cold periods in order to avoid questions about of the absolute magnitude of warm and cold events, and they considered only a subset of the data chosen specifically for its value as a temperature proxy. They find that the continuing warmth of the late 20th century is the most widespread and longest temperature anomaly of any kind since the 9th century A.D.


Review by Steve McIntyre:


Osborn and Briffa [2006] , published today in Science, cannot be considered as an "independent" validation of Hockey Stick climate theories, because it simply re-cycles 14 proxies, some of them very questionable, which have been repeatedly used in other "Hockey Team" studies, including, remarkably, 2 separate uses of the controversial bristlecone/foxtail tree ring data. Also even more remarkably, they have perpetuated the use of Mann's erroneous principal components method in one of their key proxies.

Peer reviewers and editors at Science have failed to ensure compliance by Osborn and Briffa with journal data archiving policies, a frequent defect in paleoclimate reviewers for Science, as data for the study is not archived, nor is much of the source data. Of the source data which is archived, some is password protected, presumably for international security. Within the available record, many peculiar inconsistencies can be observed affecting both this study and Esper et al [2002], a study previously published in Science also with a non-existent data archive.


Not only are the 14 proxies used in O&B not independent of prior studies, in fact, they are composed entirely of proxies repeatedly used in previous studies. Astonishingly, 2 of the 14 proxies (2 of only 10 in the Medieval Warm Period) are bristlecone/foxtail pines, despite the fact that these are precisely the proxies that have most been called into question in connection with the work of Mann et al.

Nor are Osborn and Briffa independent authors. Both are members of a group of scientists, self-identified as the Hockey Team. They have both recently co-authored a reconstruction with Mann, Bradley and Hughes [Rutherford et al, 2005], and their close associate, Philip Jones, has co-authored still other studies with Mann. Rutherford et al. [2005] is cited, but footnote (13) fails to disclose their co-authorship.

Briffa is lead author on millennial reconstructions for the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, presently under review. Von Storch (see ) has queried the propriety and wisdom of IPCC using review authors who are engaged in controversy in the literature on a personal basis and end up reviewing their own work (as happened with Mann in IPCC TAR).

The IPCC has failed to ensure that the assessment reports, which shall review the existing published knowledge and knowledge claims, should have been prepared by scientists not significantly involved in the research themselves. Instead, the IPCC has chosen to invite scientists, who dominate the debate about the considered issues, to participate in the assessment. This was already in the Second Assessment Report a contested problem, and the IPCC would have done better in inviting other, considerably more independent scientists for this task. Instead, the IPCC has asked scientists like Professor Mann to review his own work. This does not represent an "independent" review.

Here we have another instance - this time with Briffa. The IPCC practice seems particularly unwise in this case, since the offering from Osborn and Briffa is weakly argued.

The O&B article vividly illustrates the weakness both of peer reviewing and editorial decision-making in the paleoclimate area at Science, the prominent journal presently reeling from the Hwang stem cell scandal. It highlights a failure to implement their own policies on data archiving and failures to verify claims in the article itself.

Data Archiving and Versions

On paper, Science has exemplary data archiving policies (see, which seem to require paleoclimate authors to provide an archive sufficient to replicate their results:

Science supports the efforts of databases that aggregate published data for the use of the scientific community. Therefore, before publication, large data sets . must be deposited in an approved database and an accession number provided for inclusion in the published paper.

In multiproxy paleoclimate studies, it is essential to archive the data as used even if the data appears to be in the public domain (since versions can vary), but this is not done here. This failure is exacerbated because O&B rely on 5 series from a study previously published in Science [Esper et al, 2002], where Science also failed to require data archiving, and on 1 proxy [Yang et al., 2002] which relies on 2 ice cores by L. Thompson also published in Science (Dunde, Guliya), on which no information was archived prior to my requests to another journal (Climatic Change). I have been trying for a considerable period of time to get Science to require these authors to archive the data from the earlier studies, but these efforts have so far proved unsuccessful. The difficulties of trying to track down "grey" versions are vividly illustrated just with reference to Science publications.

Yang et al. [2002] relied on a "grey" 50-year smoothed version of the Dunde and Guliya series. Unfortunately, these versions are dramatically inconsistent with the 10-year smoothed versions archived at my request last year (see In order to reconcile the versions, one needs to examine sample information, which Science has thus far been unable to obtain. Because of various problems with the Yang et al [2002] composite, Jones and Mann [2004] decided not to use it. It is rather a surprise, to say the least, to see it re-surface here in O&B.

The versions of the Esper series are also impossible to sort out. Esper et al [2002] did not provide an ITRDB identification for the Tyrol series; the identification number provided by O&B has data extending only to 1827 - which is inconsistent with Figure 2 and which would make validation of this series impossible. For the Quebec tree ring series (series 4), O&B cite Schweingruber (cana169) as a primary source for Esper et al [2002], while Esper et al [2002] acknowledge Payette and Ilion for data (who studied other sites). O&B say that the Quebec series ends in 1947, while the data in cana169 goes to 1989. There are many other similar problems.

Much of the underlying tree ring width measurements data is unarchived, affecting the following series: Yamal, Tornetrask, Taimyr, Icefields, Boreal, Upper Wright. Some of this information has been generated by the European Union "SOAP" project, financial support from which is acknowledged in the article. Osborn and Briffa head up this project. Civilians in the climate wars will undoubtedly be astonished to think that password security would be applied to tree ring data. However, this is the case (see ). Briffa has refused my requests for access to the password protected tree ring data.

Proxy Quality Control

O&B assert that they carried out quality control on the proxy records to ensure that each proxy was correlated to gridcell temperature. They singled out Soon and Baliunas [2003] for allegedly failing to carry out such quality control procedures, although the same criticism should equally be brought against Mann et al [1998] who not only used precipitation series as temperature proxies, but even used French precipitation series for American gridcells ("The rain in Maine falls mainly in the Seine"). One can only imagine the vituperation that would have issued had Soon and Baliunas committed a similar blunder, and we likewise wonder at how the supposed quality control procedures in place for Mann et al. [1998] failed to identify such an obvious blunder.

In McIntyre and McKitrick [2005a, 2005b], Ross McKitrick and I pointed out the extraordinary dependence of the MBH98 (and MBH99) reconstruction on bristlecones/foxtails and pointed out many reasons why world temperature history should not be based on their ring widths. It is astonishing, therefore, to see the bristlecone/foxtails dominating not just one, but two proxies in O&B. Since 4 proxies do not extend back to the MWP, they make up 2 of 10 in the MWP.

It is beyond astonishing that O&B series 1 uses the discredited MBH principal components methodology [see McIntyre and McKitrick, 2005a, 2005b and endorsements of this aspect of our criticism in von Storch and Zorita, 2005 and Huybers 2005]. Jones and Mann [2004] used the MBH98 principal components methodology, together with a curious and undocumented splice.........


Some sign of contact with reality showing at last

The Conservatives abandoned their traditional defence of the green belt yesterday and promised a programme of house building for first-time buyers. In a speech that ignored much of last year's election manifesto, George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor, said that he would change the tax regime, planning system and supply of public housing to increase the number of affordable homes.

In 2005 the Tories said that they would oppose all of John Prescott's homebuilding plans in the South East and establish more green belts with even tighter planning regulations. Although popular with traditionalists, the policy was a turn-off for young families looking for affordable homes. In an attempt to revive the spirit of Margaret Thatcher's "homeowning democracy", Mr Osborne said that the party would help first-time buyers. "I want the modern Conservative Party to become again the champion of affordable and sustainable homeownership," he told a housing industry conference in South Wales. "I want us to look afresh at the planning system, and tackle the delays and obstruction that is damaging the the affordability of our housing." He said that only 37 per cent of households could afford to buy their own home today, compared with 46 per cent in the late 1980s.

The Conservatives would change the definition of a greenfield site in a review of the planning system. Local communities would be given a greater say in development, as long as they took proper account of the needs of homeowners of the future. Mr Osborne also promised a programme to rejuvenate the "decaying suburbs" of Britain. He stopped short of welcoming Mr Prescott's plans for thousands of new homes in the South East. Instead, he criticised the creation of top-down targets in Whitehall, saying that they were certain to provoke hostility in the communities designated for more housing.

More here


Two cases below of the burden Greenies place on city water supplies in Australia:

Pandering to Greenies costs NSW taxpayers a heap -- and all for nothing so far

The NSW government needs more water for Sydney's growing population but they are just thrashing about looking at different implausible alternatives rather than doing the obvious: build another dam. They were going to build a desalination plant but eventually faced how much it would cost to run so are now talking about bringing up underground water instead -- a modern version of the old village well!

The State Government will squander $120 million on its desalination plant debacle. It is yet another of Bob Carr's costly legacies for his embattled successor, Morris Iemma. The Iemma Government will outlay at least $10 million to compensate the two consortiums bidding to build the stalled desalination plant, part of $120 million it will still spend on the project even though it has been shelved indefinitely. This is the latest in a series of policy U-turns as the Premier, Morris Iemma, tries to grapple with the political legacy of his predecessor, Bob Carr. The spending on the plant will raise new questions about Labor's competence in managing the state, especially as the Government is now trying to find savings of at least $300 million in an audit of expenditure. "It's an F Troop exercise," said a member of one consortium, referring to the 1960s TV show about bungling US cavalrymen.

More here

Expanding Brisbane joins the "anything but a new dam" brigade

As if adding just 2% to the water supply were even worth talking about! It's just cowardice in the face of the Greenie hatred of dams

Southeast Queensland's water crisis has become so dire Brisbane City Council will spend up to $30 million going underground to find a new source. Eight locations in Brisbane's southern suburbs have been identified as sites of potential aquifers and will be drilled from next month. Liberal spokeswoman for water Jane Prentice yesterday admitted the region was now in a perilous situation and the council would invest millions in the aquifer project to ensure southeast Queensland residents had adequate drinking water in the future. "We're at a crisis point now," she said. "We've got about three weeks left of the wet season and we have to start looking at drought-proofing this city." Cr Prentice said the council would commit $5 million in the first phase of the aquifer project, which would involve drilling 40 product bore holes to determine whether the aquifers held a sustainable water supply.

If all eight council and state-government-owned sites - two each at Darra and Runcorn, and properties in Eight Mile Plains, Sunnybank, Calamvale and Algester - prove viable, the aquifers could supply southeast Queensland with an extra 20 million litres each day, or 2 per cent of the region's current water use. If the water was too polluted with minerals and other deposits, it could be used for irrigation or to supply industrial or commercial operations, like the Swanbank Power Station, she said.

Water and city business committee chairman John Campbell said it was impossible to determine whether the underground water could be used as drinking water at this stage. "There's variations of water quality in underground water, and we don't have enough information about the costs of treatment," he said. Cr Campbell said residents in affected areas would be consulted about the potential environmental impacts of the drilling, but he said it would not dry up nearby bores. The SEQWater regional plan also recommends council and the State Government investigate extracting water from the Oxley Creek aquifer at a cost of $7 million.

The Queensland aquifer project follows the NSW Government's decision to extract water from an untapped Sydney aquifer holding approximately 15 billion litres. More than 100 Australian towns and cities use groundwater supplies to add to their drinking supply, and Water Services Association of Australia executive director Ross Young said Perth relied on the resource for 40 per cent of its supply.

Southeast Queensland's dams were yesterday at 33.02 per cent capacity, with Lord Mayor Campbell Newman estimating the dams held enough water to supply the region for just two years. Other contingency plans include programs to reduce water pressure and detect pipe leakage, developing a new weir at Cedar Grove and a $250 million State Government pipeline to connect the Wivenhoe and Hinze dams.



The following report is from the official site for Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort in Whistler, BC Canada:

"As of 10am January 31, 2006, Whistler broke the record for the snowiest month the mountains have seen since weather data collection began 25 years ago. With 20 centimetres (8 inches) of snow in the past 24 hours, January's snowfall accumulation reached 469 centimetres (185 inches). The snowiest month previously was January 1992 at 459 centimetres (180.7 inches.)"


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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