Thursday, December 17, 2009

Some blurbs from an article about Stephen McIntyre called 'Centre of the Storm' that´s well worth a read in it´s entirety

The private emails and logs leaked last month from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia can’t tell us whether industrial activity is really heating the earth’s atmosphere and endangering civilization. But they have settled the identity of the Great Satan of climate science. Torontonian Stephen McIntyre, a gentle, persistent amateur who had no credentials in applied science before stepping into the global warming debate in 2003, is mentioned more than 100 times.


McIntyre first became notorious in 2003 for his statistical critique, co-authored with economist Ross McKitrick, of the “hockey stick graph” that showed global temperatures rocketing upward in the 20th century. The hockey stick, featured in the 2001 report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, had a profound influence on policy worldwide, and played a starring role in presentations like Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. The McIntyre-McKitrick critique called attention to uncertainties in its temperature reconstructions dating back before 1600, to certain problems with dendrochronology (the use of tree rings to estimate past temperatures), and to issues with the statistical calculations underlying the hockey stick. Some climatologists insist that the graph tells the same story when you correct for all this, but much of the critique is now accepted, and the hockey stick, whose weaknesses are better understood, has itself become a somewhat inconvenient distraction for climatologists and environmentalists.


McIntyre went to work for Noranda when the mining giant was in its heyday...[t]he world of mining is one in which everyone is constantly aware of how engineering results can be tampered with or misrepresented to rip off investors. And in 2003, when McIntyre first saw the hockey stick graph, it reminded him uncomfortably of some stock promoter’s over-optimistic revenue projection. McIntyre asked lead “hockey stick” author Michael Mann for the underlying data and was startled when Mann had trouble remembering where he had posted the files to the Internet. “That was when the penny dropped for me,” McIntyre says. “I had the sense that Mann was pulling together the data for the first time—that nobody had ever bothered to inquire independently into the hockey stick before.”


To McIntyre, a scientist’s data and code stand in the same relationship to a finished paper that drilling cores do to a mining company press release. “If you’re offering securities to the public,” McIntyre observed in a May 2008 talk at Ohio State University, “there are complicated and expensive processes of due diligence, involving audits of financial statements, independent engineering reports, opinions from securities lawyers and so on. There are laws requiring the disclosure of adverse results.” Peer review in scientific journals is good, he suggested, but it is limited and vulnerable to compromise. “There is far more independent due diligence on the smallest prospectus offering securities to the public than on a Nature article that might end up having a tremendous impact on policy.”

[bold mine] Read the entire article here.

h/t @JTlol (via Tim Blair)