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Climatic Research Unit Shameful Peer-Review Control Tactics: The Soon/Baliunas Debacle.

by DR. TIM BALL on NOVEMBER 28, 2011


I noticed a few phrases repeated in attacks against anyone challenging ‘official’ science created at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). One phrase said the person had no peer-reviewed work – it was falsely used against me. Another, also used against me, claimed the person was not a “working climate scientist”. This was necessary because they and many supporters were unqualified. I suspected it was a chosen strategy, which was confirmed in a leaked email from Michael Mann.

“This was the danger of always criticising the skeptics for not publishing in the “peer-reviewed literature”.

The strategy reflected their ability to control peer-review of their publications and restrict publication of unfavorable articles. Among the most egregious examples of both abilities involved attacks on Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas.

Behavior of the CRU disclosed in the newly released emails are an intellectual and academic disgrace. What follows is a classic example of the activities of those involved with the CRU and the IPCC.

I published an article on December 5, 2009 shortly after the first leak of emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) occurred identifying one action by John Holdren, Obama’s Science Czar, when on faculty at Harvard. It’s reproduced on my website. Holdren wrote,

“I’m forwarding for your entertainment an exchange that followed from my being quoted in the Harvard Crimson to the effect that you and your colleagues are right and my “Harvard” colleagues Soon and Baliunas are wrong about what the evidence shows concerning surface temperatures over the past millennium.”

Recent release of 5000+ emails provides further evidence of the deliberate efforts to silence them.

Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” was pivotal evidence in the 2001 IPCC Report. It counteracted Figure 7c in the first (1990) IPCC Reports that showed global temperature warmer in the Medieval Warm Period than today.

Figure 7c from IPCC 1990

Elimination was necessary as Professor David Deming explained in his 12/06/2006 presentation to the U.S Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works Hearing Statements.

“I received an astonishing email from a major researcher in the area of climate change. He said, “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.””

CRU member Jonathan Overpeck was identified as the researcher. He didn’t deny, just said he didn’t recall.

An article by Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas (S&B) in Climate Research (CR) on Jan 31, 2003 was a direct challenge. They concluded that,

“Across the world, many records reveal that the 20th century is probably not the warmest or a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last millennium.”

They published a more expansive article with three additional people in Energy and Environment (E&E ) on March 31, 2003. This connected temperatures with solar variations – unacceptable in IPCC dogma. Ironically, primary CRU concern was the first article because it was peer-reviewed.

CRU member Tim Osborne’s email brought the S&B article to Phil Jones attention on March 12, 2003. Jones advises the others,

“Best to ignore probably, so don’t let it spoil your day. I’ve not looked at it yet. It results from this journal having a number of editors. The responsible one for this is a well-known skeptic in NZ. He has let a few papers through by Michaels and Gray in the past. I’ve had words with Hans von Storch about this, but got nowhere. Another thing to discuss in Nice!”

Another email from Jones sketches a strategy to counteract the potential damage. It also contains a stunning admission.

“Even with the instrumental record, the early and late 20th century warming periods are only significant locally at between 10-20% of grid boxes.”

This quote contradicts almost the whole IPCC work. He decides action is required.

“Writing this I am becoming more convinced we should do something – even if this is just to state once and for all what we mean by the LIA and MWP. I think the skeptics will use this paper to their own ends and it will set paleo back a number of years if it goes unchallenged.”

Standard personal attacks appeared about author’s funding, and affiliations, but the journal was corrupted because “well-known skeptic in NZ” Chris de Freitas, was a CR editor. After discussion the plan was to get outside friendly people to criticize, and to produce a paper in Eos. Mann wrote,

“… Eos is an especially good idea. Both Ellen M-T and Keith Alverson are on the editorial board there, so I think there would be some receptiveness to such a submission.”

And later,

“If there is group interest in taking this tack, I’d be happy to contact Ellen/Keith about the potential interest in Eos”.

This proved correct and happened because it appeared quickly with Mann leading and 12 others most identified in S&B.

“Writing in the 8 July issue of the American Geophysical Union publication Eos, Michael Mann of the University of Virginia and 12 colleagues in the United States and United Kingdom endorse the position on climate change and greenhouse gases taken by AGU in 1998.”

A characteristic of CRU behavior is to counterattack, usually through RealClimate, but also to force change at journals that publish articles they don’t like. Here are disturbing comments from Michael Mann.

“The Soon & Baliunas paper couldn’t have cleared a ‘legitimate’ peer review process anywhere. That leaves only one possibility–that the peer-review process at Climate Research has been hijacked by a few skeptics on the editorial board. .The skeptics appear to have staged a ‘coup’ at “Climate Research” .

“My guess is that Von Storch is actually with them (frankly, he’s an odd individual, and I’m not sure he isn’t himself somewhat of a skeptic himself), ”

“This was the danger of always criticising the skeptics for not publishing in the “peer-reviewed literature”.

Obviously, they found a solution to that–take over a journal! So what do we do about this? I think we have to stop considering “Climate Research” as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board…”

Von Storch tried to change the review process but was opposed and resigned as did half the Board. Von Storch’s words suggest Mann’s influence when he said skeptics,

“had identified Climate Research as a journal where some editors were not as rigorous in the review process as is otherwise common”.

That, in CRU speak means they were publishing peer-reviewed articles they didn’t like. It is now even more clear what the CRU people were doing. I won’t call them scientists because almost everything they did was anti-science.

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