Wednesday, November 30, 2011


cc: Tom Wigley <>, Jonathan Overpeck <>, Caspar M Ammann <>, Raymond Bradley <>, Keith Briffa <>, Tom Crowley <>, Malcolm Hughes <>, Phil Jones <>, Tim Osborn <>, Kevin Trenberth <>, Ben Santer <>, Steve Schneider <>
date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003 09:38:13 -0700
from: "Malcolm Hughes" <>
subject: Re: letter to Senate
to: "Michael E. Mann" <>, Michael Oppenheimer <omichaelatXYZxyznceton.EDU>

I'm very torn between being drawn into endless exchanges outside normal
scientific discourse (e.g. tit-for-tat with the Idsos group) and leaving the field
open to them. They clearly have the resources to do fairly careful literature
searches, even if there are some serious conceptual problems in their writings,
and there is a real audience for their kind of materials, both in print
publication and on the web. I fear that you would find more colleagues and
grad students than you would like to think read their materials and are
influenced by them. Apart from anything else they respond better to the
heavily referenced articles by Idso or Soon than to "ex cathedra" statements
like the recent editorial by Barnett and Somerville. I know this to be the case
in the paleo community, although there the picture is complicated by the
differences in scientific approach of those working on interannual to century
time scales (i.e. folks like us) and those working on millennial and longer
time scales (notably Wally Broecker, Wijbjorn Karlen, but many others too).
One consequence of this intersection of differing sources of scepticism (sensu
stricto) is that an appeal to the NAS could be counterproductive - remember
the poor treatment of high-res paleo in the NAS report requested by the White
House the other year.
Let's learn from these guys. We don't have to strain to publish in the peer-
reviewed literature - it's our normal way of working. We do have to find a
more effective way of publicizing and interpreting these publications, when
appropriate, to a wider audience, including policy makers. How best to do
Cheers, Malcolm

> Tom, Mike et al:
> 1. Making the S B papers the sole or main subject of an NRC committee
> would be a mistake. 2. But dispensing of them as a minor part of an
> NRC examination of paleoclimate makes sense. Some of you may recall
> the Idso, Newell contratemps of 20 years ago, and as I recall, this is
> how it was handled. 3. For the near term, the rebuttal paper in Eos is
> a terrific example of what can and should be done in such
> cirumstances, and the AGU press release is more than I would have
> expected. We've provided all the necessary ammunition. The best you
> can do now is be responsive if reporters or Congressional staff call.
> 4. For the long haul, in additon to the NRC committee route, some
> thought needs to be given to more formal ways to respond to such
> situations, which I expect to continue to arise indefinitely. This is
> one role for IPCC and NRC, but both are painfully slow. Perhaps AGU
> and AMS and AAAS need to see their roles as partly to provide a venue
> for such clarifications. The key this time was rapid turnover. Maybe
> Don Kennedy and Science could be engaged in this somehow. Michael
> "Michael E. Mann" wrote:
> Tom,
> Thanks for your email, and your (and Ben's) thoughtful comments on
> all of this... I think the Eos piece has gone a long way to
> discrediting the 'science'behind the "BS" papers (well,
> technically, "SB", but I prefer the reverse order too). The paper
> Phil and I have in press in GRL (hopefully to appear within a few
> weeks now) will reinforce this. But the BS papers certainly got a
> lot more mileage than they should have. The fact that the forces
> of disinformation were able to get that much mileage out of these
> two awful papers written by those clowns should remain a real
> cause for concern. Their ability to repeatedly co-opt the Harvard
> news office remains a real problem. Nobody I've talked to at
> Harvard is happy about this, and there's been talk of action on
> the part of various of the faculty, but nobody seems willing or
> able to mount enough of an effort to get anything done about this.
> Apparently there was a threat of a lawsuit against Harvard last
> time folks there tried to do something about Baliunas, and so they
> may have lost their nerve. But I know our Harvard colleagues are
> not happy about continually having their institutional name
> dragged through the mud. If someone has close ties w/ any
> individuals there who might be in a position to actually get some
> action taken on this, I'd highly encourage pursuing this. Re, an
> NAS committee--this is an interesting idea. But I wonder if a
> committee on BS would be overkill, perhaps giving these fools just
> the stage that they're looking for. An alternative would be, as
> you say, to take this on in the context of another more general
> NAS panel. Coincidentally, there is already a panel on "Radiative
> Forcing Effects on Climate" which convenes this falI. I believe
> the panel makeup is now in the public domain (or will be within
> days, on the NAS website) so there's no secret here. I'm on the
> panel. Daniel Jacob will be chairing it, and others on it are Jeff
> Kiehl, Francis Zwiers, Roni Avissar, Judith Lean, Stuart Gaffin,
> Lynn Russell. Also on the panel will be Ramanathan, Pielke Sr,
> Gerard Bond, Ulrike Lohmann, and Hadi Dowlatabadi (whom I don't
> know). Its a somewhat odd makeup, and I suspect that consensus
> will not be easy (there are at least a couple obvious trouble
> spots), but there is certainly a core group of reasonable folks on
> the panel, and this could be an opportunity to clarify the state
> of the science on long- term forced variability (including e.g.
> comparisons of model simulations and reconstructions of the past
> 1000 years). This, at least indirectly, would deal w/ the BS
> issue. I'm interested in the thoughts of others on any of the
> above. cheers, mike At 08:13 PM 7/23/2003 -0600, Tom Wigley wrote:
> Folks, Here are some thoughts about the Soon issue, partly arising
> from talking to Ben. What is worrying is the way this BS paper has
> been hyped by various groups. The publicity has meant that the
> work has entered the conciousness of people in Congress, and is
> given prominence in some publications emanating from that sector.
> The work appears to have the imprimateur of Harvard, which gives
> it added credibility. So, what can we as a community do about
> this? My concerns are two-fold, and I think these echo all of our
> concerns. The first is the fact that the papers are simply bad
> science and the conclusions are incorrect. The second is that the
> work is being used quite openly for political purposes. As
> scientists, even though we are aware of the second issue, we need
> to concentrate on exposing the scientific flaws. We also need to
> do this in as authoritative a way as possible. I do not think it
> is enough to speak as individuals or even as a group of recognized
> experts. Even as a group, we will not be seen as having the
> 'power' of the Harvard stamp of approval. What I think is
> necessary is to have the expressed support of both AGU and AMS. It
> would also be useful to have Harvard disassociate themselves from
> the work. Most importantly, however, we need the NAS to come into
> the picture. With these 4 institutions, together with us (and
> others) as experts, pointing out clearly that the work is
> scientific rubbish, we can certainly win this battle. I suggest
> that we try to get NAS to set up a committee to (best option)
> assess the science in the two BS papers, or (less good, but still
> potentially very useful) assess the general issue of the paleo
> record for global- or hemispheric-scale temperature changes over
> the past 1000 years. The second option seems more likely to be
> acceptable to NAS. This is arguably an issue of similar importance
> to the issue of climate sensitivity uncertainties which NAS
> reviewed earlier this year (report still in preparation). I am not
> sure how to fold AGU and AMS into this -- ideas are welcome.
> Similarly, perhaps some of you know some influential Harvard types
> better than I do and can make some suggestions here. The only way
> to counter this crap is to use the biggest guns we can muster. The
> Administration and Congress still seem to respect the NAS (even
> above IPCC) as a final authority, so I think we should actively
> pursue this path. Best wishes, Tom.
> Michael Oppenheimer wrote:
> Dear All:
> Since several of you are uncomfortable, it makes good sense to
> step back and think about a more considered approach. My view is
> that scientists are fully justified in taking the initiative to
> explain their own work and its relevance in the policy arena. If
> they don't, others with less scruples will be heard instead. But
> each of us needs to decide his or her own comfort zone. In this
> case, the AGU press release provides suitable context, so it may
> be that neither a separate letter nor another AGU statement would
> add much at this time. But this episode is unlikely to be the last
> case where clarity from individuals or groups of scientists will
> be important. Michael Tom Wigley wrote:
> Folks,
> I am inclined to agree with Peck. Perhaps a little more thought
> and time could lead to something with much more impact? Tom.
> _____________________________ Jonathan Overpeck wrote:
> Hi all - I'm not too comfortable with this, and would rather not
> sign - at least not without some real time to think it through and
> debate the issue. It is unprecedented and political, and that
> worries me. My vote would be that we don't do this without a
> careful discussion first. I think it would be more appropriate for
> the AGU or some other scientific org to do this - e.g., in
> reaffirmation of the AGU statement (or whatever it's called) on
> global climate change. Think about the next step - someone sends
> another letter to the Senators, then we respond, then... I'm not
> sure we want to go down this path. It would be much better for the
> AGU etc to do it. What are the precedents and outcomes of similar
> actions? I can imagine a special-interest org or group doing this
> like all sorts of other political actions, but is it something for
> scientists to do as individuals? Just seems strange, and for that
> reason I'd advise against doing anything with out real thought,
> and certainly a strong majority of co-authors in support. Cheers,
> Peck
> Dear fellow Eos co-authors,
> Given the continued assault on the science of
> climate change by some
> on Capitol Hill, Michael and I thought it would be
> worthwhile to send
> this letter to various members of the U.S. Senate,
> accompanied by a
> copy of our Eos article.
> Can we ask you to consider signing on with Michael
> and me (providing
> your preferred title and affiliation). We would like
> to get this out ASAP.
> Thanks in advance,
> Michael M and Michael O
> __________________________________________
> ____________________
> Professor Michael E. Mann
> Department of Environmental Sciences, Clark
> Hall
> University of Virginia
> Charlottesville, VA 22903
> __________________________________________
> _____________________________
> e-mail: Phone: (434) 924-
> 7770FAX: (434) 982-2137
> html
> Attachment converted: Macintosh HD:EOS.senate
> letter-final.doc
> (WDBN/MSWD) (00055FCF)
> --
> Jonathan T. Overpeck
> Director, Institute for the Study of Planet Earth
> Professor, Department of Geosciences
> Mail and Fedex Address:
> Institute for the Study of Planet Earth
> 715 N. Park Ave. 2nd Floor
> University of Arizona
> Tucson, AZ 85721
> direct tel: +1 520 622-9065
> fax: +1 520 792-8795
> ml
> _______________________________________________________
> _______
> Professor Michael E. Mann
> Department of Environmental Sciences, Clark Hall
> University of Virginia
> Charlottesville, VA 22903
> __________________________________________________________________
> _ ____ e-mail: Phone: (434) 924-7770FAX: (434)
> 982-2137

Malcolm Hughes
Professor of Dendrochronology
Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721
fax 520-621-8229

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