23 November 2011

FOIA2011 on The Shameful Paper

[UPDATE: Andy Revkin started an email discussion with relevant parties on this post and the following response from Kevin Trenberth and my rejoinder are part of that exchange. Posted here with Revkin's permission.


I am just back from travel and I have not seen any of the new batch of emails yet.  Whatever is there is highly selective.

The full story wrt the hurricanes is given on this web page and all the related links:


The paper by Pielke et al was not pertinent to the material in Chapter 3 and neither it nor the Anthes et al paper were included.  It did not deal with physical science topics included in chapter 3 and was countered by Anthes et al.   There is a huge trail of emails between the Anthes et al authors and the editors of BAMS related to all this and the difficulties we had even getting a comment published.

Far more shameful is the fact that of the 5 papers listed at the bottom of the page given above, not one was included in SREX!

SREX is a sham. 

My reply to Trenberth:
 Hi Kevin-

The webpage that you link to does not discuss Pielke et al. 2005.

The section of IPCC Chapter 3 (3.8.3) that is relevant deals with hurricanes and climate change.  Pielke et al. 2005 is a peer-reviewed literature review of ... hurricanes and climate change. I have no problem with your objections to the paper, however I find the decision making process employed to exclude it from your chapter a bit lacking.

Given that you were a co-author of Anthes et al. 2005 critical of Pielke et al. 2005 at the time you were deciding what literature to include in the IPCC, did you ever think that it may have been good sense to recuse yourself on this topic?  Lest one get the impression that you were waging a bit of a personal or academic vendetta against others?

Your comments on SREX help to underscore this.

Perhaps the IPCC should have better procedures in place under such circumstances.

All best,

SREX was a sham!?! Whoa.]

[Note: This post has been updated to link to the Chapter 3 of the IPCC AR4 WG I which was responsible for reviewing the science of hurricanes and climate change.]

Long time readers will recall that  in 2004 and 2005 (before Katrina), I led an interdisciplinary effort to review the literature on hurricanes and global warming. The effort resulted in a peer-reviewed article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (here in PDF).

That paper, despite being peer-reviewed and standing the test of time (as we now know), was ignored by the relevant part of the IPCC 2007 that dealt with extreme events. Thanks to the newly released emails from UEA (hacked, stolen, donated, or whatever) we can say with certainty why that paper was excluded from the IPCC 2007 report Chapter 3 which discussed hurricanes and climate change. Those various reviews associated with the release of the UEA emails that concluded that no papers were purposely kept out of the IPCC may want to revisit that particular conclusion.

First though, a bit of backstory ...

Upon our paper's acceptance for publication by BAMS in 2005 Kevin Trenberth, a scientist at NCAR here in Boulder and the person (along with Phil Jones) in charge of the 2007 IPCC AR4 chapter that reviewed extreme events including hurricanes, said this in the Boulder Daily Camera (emphasis added) about our article:
I think the role of the changing climate is greatly underestimated by Roger Pielke Jr. I think he should withdraw this article. This is a shameful article.
Trenberth personally disagreed with the paper, which is fine and appropriate -- academics disagree about the most trivial stuff all the time.  To get a sense of this issue, here is what we concluded in the "shameful article"and Trenberth disagreed with (more on Trenberth's views below):
To summarize, claims of linkages between global warming and hurricane impacts are premature for three reasons. First, no connection has been established between greenhouse gas emissions and the observed behavior of hurricanes . . . Second, the peer-reviewed literature reflects that a scientific consensus exists that any future changes in hurricane intensities will likely be small in the context of observed variability . . . And third, under the assumptions of the IPCC, expected future damages to society of its projected changes in the behavior of hurricanes are dwarfed by the influence of its own projections of growing wealth and population . . . While future research or experience may yet overturn these conclusions, the state of the peer-reviewed knowledge today is such that there are good reasons to expect that any conclusive connection between global warming and hurricanes or their impacts will not be made in the near term.
In the newly released emails there is a 2005 exchange between Trenberth and Phil Jones about this paper which shows them deciding together to exclude the paper from the IPCC for "political" reasons, and it was indeed excluded.

Jones to Trenberth on 22 June 2005:

I'll read the Pielke et al piece for BAMS that came over the skeptic email today. Presumably we'll get forced to refer to it [in the 2007 IPCC report].
Trenberth replies:
Don't see why we should refer to the Pielke piece. It is [n]ot yet published. It is very political and an opinion.
Jones soon comes around, despite noting its peer-reviewed status:

Read the article on the new patio at home with a glass of wine. I thoroughly agree that we don't need to refer to it. Wrote that on it last night. It is very political. Several sentences and references shouldn't be there. I don't know who was supposed to have reviewed it - maybe Linda [Mearns] will know, as she used to or still does have something to do with BAMS. The inference in the email (from whence it came) is that it has been accepted !

The gatekeeping of the IPCC process is abundantly clear, and the shadowy suggestion that they can find out who the reviewers are from another colleague is a bit unsettling as well.

Here is some further background on the "shameful paper," which despite being ignored by the the IPCC, has been cited 179 times according to Google Scholar and appears to be consistent with the most recent IPCC report on the subject.

Even though the IPCC in 2007 didn't see the paper as worth discussing, a high-profile team of scientists saw fit to write up a commentary in response to our article in BAMS (here in PDF). One of those high-profile scientists was Trenberth.

Trenberth and his colleagues argued that our article was flawed in three respects, it was they said,
. . . incomplete and misleading because it 1) omits any mention of several of the most important aspects of the potential relationships between hurricanes and global warming, including rainfall, sea level, and storm surge; 2) leaves the impression that there is no significant connection between recent climate change caused by human activities and hurricane characteristics and impacts; and 3) does not take full account of the significance of recently identified trends and variations in tropical storms in causing impacts as compared to increasing societal vulnerability.
Our response to their comment (here in PDF) focused on the three points that they raised:
Anthes et al. (2006) present three criticisms of our paper. One criticism is that Pielke et al. (2005) “leaves the impression that there is no significant connection between recent climate change caused by human activities and hurricane characteristics and impacts.” If by “significant” they mean either (a) presence in the peer-reviewed literature or (b) discernible in the observed economic impacts, then this is indeed an accurate reading. Anthes et al. (2006) provide no data, analyses, or references that directly connect observed hurricane characteristics and impacts to anthropogenic climate change. . .

In a second criticism, Anthes et al. (2006) point out (quite accurately) that Pielke et al. (2005) failed to discuss the relationship between global warming and rainfall, sea level, and storm surge as related to tropical cyclones. The explanation for this neglect is simple—there is no documented relationship between global warming and the observed behavior of tropical cyclones (or TC impacts) related to rainfall, sea level, or storm surge. . .

A final criticism by Anthes et al. (2006) is that Pielke et al. (2005) “does not take full account of the significance of recently identified trends and variations in tropical storms in causing impacts as compared to increasing societal vulnerability.” Anthes et al. (2006) make no reference to the literature that seeks to distinguish the relative role of climate factors versus societal factors in causing impacts (e.g., Pielke et al. 2000; Pielke 2005), so their point is unclear. There is simply no evidence, data, or references provided by Anthes et al. (2006) to counter the analysis in Pielke et al. (2000) that calculates the relative sensitivity of future global tropical cyclone impacts to the independent effects of projected climate change and various scenarios of growing societal vulnerability under the assumptions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This series of exchanges was not acknowledged by the IPCC even though it was all peer-reviewed and appeared in the leading journal of the American Meteorological Society. As we have seen before with the IPCC, its review of the literature somehow missed key articles that one of its authors (in this case Trenberth, the lead for the relevant chapter) found to be in conflict with his personal opinions, or in this case "shameful." Of course, there is a deeper backstory here involving a conflict between my co-author Chris Landsea and Trenberth in early 2005, prompting Landsea to resign from the IPCC.

So almost seven years after we first submitted our paper how does it hold up? Pretty well I think, on all counts. I would not change any of the conclusions above, nor would I change the reply to Anthes et al. Science changes and moves ahead, so any review will eventually become outdated, but ours was an accurate reflection of the state of science as of 2005.

Papers and links

Pielke, Jr., R. A., C. Landsea, M. Mayfield, J. Laver and R. Pasch, 2005. Hurricanes and global warming, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 86:1571-1575.

Anthes et al. 2006, Hurricanes and global warming: Potential linkage and consequences, BAMS, Vol. 87, pp. 623-628.

Pielke, Jr., R. A., C.W. Landsea, M. Mayfield, J. Laver, R. Pasch, 2006. Reply to Hurricanes and Global Warming Potential Linkages and Consequences, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 87, pp. 628-631, May.


  1. Brilliant post. Your critics are stuffed, mounted and now inhabit a museum presentation case for posterity.

  2. Donna Laframboise's book on the IPCC goes into Trenberth's role in corrupting the IPCC as well.
    When you add in his recent sad effort to invert the falsification process, the image of Trenberth as a partisan hijacking science clearly emerges.

  3. So what's the whole rub about it being "political"? That seems to be the primary rationale in their deliberation for excluding it. If the IPCC is supposed to be making recommendations for policy-makers...is that not political as well?

  4. -3-Salamano

    Good question, I have no idea what that means. Do they mean that it was politically inconvenient? That we place our results into political context? That they don't like our politics? That they do not understand the word? ;-)

    Hard to say ...

  5. It well documented that Trenberth hijacked the weather impact sectionand either used dubious, non-peer reviewed or unreliable papers, or simply winged it to get the point he liked into the IPCC report.
    The IPCC leadership supported Trenberth in this.
    Now, this is just one small part of the IPCC work.
    How many times in how many other parts of the IPCC publications has this occurred?
    Roger has documented that it has happened again in the attribution/impact section in the current edition.How many other areas have been similarly degraded to meet the political demands or goals of those who have put themselves in charge?

  6. you might also be interested in the lower part of email 0170 - http://di2.nu/foia/foia2011/mail/0170.txt - where Kerry Emmanuel defends his association with you (I think) in one of these papers

  7. Nice exposure of the IPCC's triumph of petty politics and personal preferences over published, peer reviewed science.

    Multiply your experience many times over and you get the degradation of the IPCC as so well documented by Donna Laframboise.

    Models that don't predict reality, personal enmities that trump scientific process, a proclivity to warp the outcome to match preferred policy outcomes and voila, modern climate science is turned into a gong show as exposed by the dialogues in the emails.

  8. The email is number 4972.txt in case people want to read the while thing.

    This is by no means the only paper on hurricanes that Phil and Kev decided to leave out of AR4 because it didn't tell the story they wanted to tell.
    There's also Henderson-Sellers et al 1998, "Tropical Cyclones and Global Climate Change:A Post-IPCC Assessment" which found 'no clear evidence of long-term trends', and Wu et al 2006, "Trends in Western North Pacific Tropical Cyclone Intensity" which also found no trend.

  9. Roger -

    "Good question, I have no idea what that means."

    It is virtuously impossible to find any input into the climate change debate that isn't political - and yet both sides in the debate disavow any politicization on their own side (while finding it to be ubiquitous on the other side).

    Trenberth saying that Landsea's perspective is political is no different than what we see from "skeptical" climate scientists all the time when they point the finger and criticize "politicization" on the other side.

    Do you also have "no idea" what it means when "skeptics" say that climate science has been politicized (by socialists, eco-Nazis, frauds seeking funding, etc.)?

  10. The corruption and conflicts of interest in the IPCC have fatally infected it. Ross McKitrick is right.

  11. just one question: chapter nine does reference and shortly mention that paper ...? i'm confused. sorry.

  12. -10-ob

    Thanks ... I will update to note that that the relevant IPCC chapter is Chapter 3 on extreme events:


    I think that the paper was cited in WG II as well. Thanks!

  13. Email 0890.txt is also interesting, giving the discussions that led up to Landsea's resignation. Before the Trenberth press conference Landsea writes
    "I'm all for scientific debate about important issues like how might global warming impact hurricane activity... However, i am concerned that this news conference may stray from science into the realm of hyperbole. Please don't let that happen."
    Then after the conference:
    "My concerns are: Where is the science, the refereed publications, that substantiate these pronouncements?...the evidence just is not there with hurricanes no matter how much it is trumped up for the media and the public....it was out of control the minute that he and his fellow panel members decided to forego the peer review scientific process and abuse science in pursuit of a political agenda. "

  14. Roger, can you explain what's going on in 0170.txt, which discusses your BAMS paper?
    Emanuel seems to be trying to persuade one of the authors (not sure who) to drop out of it.
    "Finally, let me just say that I am puzzled and disappointed that you are an author on the Pielke et al BAMS article, with its biased rhetoric that does not confine itself to science."

  15. Any way to get some media attention to it?

  16. Roger, you were so hung up on being substantive, fact-based and scientifically valid that you neglected to serve the preferred narrative.

    The fact that your work is actually accurate and validated by subsequent observations and studies only compounds the original offense. I think Dr. Trenberth expects an apology.

  17. It now seems that the team had just "cause" to reject it

  18. -14-PaulM


    What is new in the emails is evidence of some pressure being placed on KE to take his name off of our paper. I have a lot of respect for Kerry and have no hard feelings over that episode. Thanks!

  19. It's funny, isn't it how such marvellous men of "science" have over the years become imbued with the authority to redefine the English language to (coincidentally) suit their purposes.

    They've done it with "trick", "decline", "peer review", "null hypothesis" and now "sham" and "shameful".

    At this point I can't quite decide whether it is Trenberth's false memory syndrome in overdrive, that is causing him to make such outlandish claims, or whether he's been engaged in "revisionist" scholarship for so long - and he's so agenda-driven - that he's completely lost sight of the need for humility and intellectual honesty, both of which appear to be in very short supply in his correspondence and public utterances.

  20. I just read an article in the NYT by Gillis about the latest emails. He glosses over the whole thing as if there is nothing of importance. He is a real Greenie so I would expect that.

  21. Interesting that in the same email thread, Phil Jones is happy not to have to include two papers in which Pat Michaels was the lead author. One on hurricanes (which included Chris Landsea as an author) "Michaels et al (2005)" was dismissed as being about "models" (Chapter 3 was about observations after all) and the other about "heavy precip" was dismissed simply as "Michaels is wrong" (that paper was Michaels et al. 2004, IJC). Neither of these papers was cited in the final IPCC AR4.

    -Chip Knappenberger

  22. @14 Roger,

    There are two sentences in this joint statement that jump out at me:

    "We hope that the media will recognize that science is complex and legitimate, differing perspectives often co-exist simultaneously. This diversity of perspective is one feature that motivates the advancement of knowledge."

    Seems to me that both the IPCC (as demonstrated by both Donna Laframboise's The Delinquent Teenager ... and Ross McKitrick's What Is Wrong With The IPCC? Proposals for a Radical Reform) and its army of media maven cheerleaders have failed to get this very important message.

  23. So, from this lay view it appears the sum total of their objections were that you didn't account for the prevailing AGW biases as part of your research and instead based it's conclusions only the data you actually analyzed.

    How dare you.

  24. #0297

    You will like this Roger;-

    "13:38:32 2004
    from: Phil Jones
    subject: Re: Fwd: RE: IJOC040512 review
    to: "Michael E. Mann"

    I'd rather you didn't. I think it should be sufficient to forward the para from Andrew
    email that says the paper has been rejected by all 3 reviewers. You can say that the
    paper was an extended and updated version of that which appeared in CR.
    Obviously, under no circumstances should any of this get back to Pielke.
    At 08:11 13/08/REDACTEDyou wrote:

    Thanks a bunch Phil,
    Along lines as my other email, would it be (?) for me to forward this to the chair of
    our commitee confidentially, and for his internal purposes only, to help bolster the
    case against MM??
    let me know...
    At 03:43 AM 8/13/2004, Phil Jones wrote:

    The paper ! Now to find my review. I did suggest to Andrew to find 3 reviewers.

  25. AGW is in a sense a symptom of a larger breakdown. It has taken journalists devolving to cheerleaders, politicians buying into transparent sales and marketing ploys, Universities tolerating group think and money grubbing, and tax payers/citizens being distracted by scary stories, pretty pictures of polar bears and shyster has beens.
    That even now journalists seem to feign disinterest and boredom with treasure troves of candid information and choose to buy into the massaged spin they are spoon fed speaks volumes about the power of AGW as a corrosive force in our society.

  26. @hrooo1,
    You make an interesting point:
    The "team" is choosing revealing adjectives and and adverbs to describe their work. They seem to know at some level that they are engaged in deceptive practices.

  27. Over at Real Climate Gavin Schmidt provides a clear explanation of the political basis for his view why certain papers should be prevented from appearing in the literature:


    Commenter to Gavin: ". . . so I don’t see how some of what your saying should justify keeping ‘contrarian papers’ out of press if they are advancing conclusions that arise out of reproducable methodology, etc."

    Gavin's response:

    [Response: In most fields you would be correct. But in climate science and a few other highly politicized fields, "crap" papers are forever being plucked out of obscurity and thrust into the public domain with highly misleading press campaigns, often with the support of the authors. When that happens, scientists who write "non-crap" papers are assailed left, right and center (though mostly right) with demands to respond to the "crap" results. It is unfortunately unavoidable - it comes in congressional hearings, radio talk shows, journalists, members of the public, concerned colleagues etc. Every time this happens, someone usually has to go to the trouble of outlining in excruciating detail when such a high-profile media-backed politically-connected piece of "crap", is indeed a piece of "crap". This takes time and effort that would be far more productively spent on doing "non-crap" research. It is frequently personally distressing, because the person or persons who take this on, then become targets of said campaigners. Singer, Lindzen, Spencer, Miskolczi, Soon and Balinuas etc. have all produced "crap" to order with exactly this intention, and effect. Ignoring it is generally untenable. - gavin]

  28. @28 Roger cites a designated gatekeeper and arbiter of all that is great and good in "climate science":

    "In most fields you would be correct. But in climate science and a few other highly politicized fields, "crap" papers are forever being plucked out of obscurity and thrust into the public domain[...]"

    I've often wondered what the scientific "criteria" for "crap" might be. The picture that's emerging is becoming clearer by the day:

    - the paper must not be authored by someone whom We have decided to blackball

    - the conclusions must not diverge from that which We have decided is "the truth"

    - if the paper has been peer-reviewed, unless at least one of the reviewers is one of Us (or one of whom We approve), the peer-review process has failed

    - if the paper has been published in a journal of which We disapprove, it should never see the light of day

    [the "crap" dictum continues:]

    "someone usually has to go to the trouble of outlining in excruciating detail [...]

    Translation: one of Us is obliged to find innovative and creative ways (often tying Ourselves up in linguistic gymnastic knots) in order to stamp-out these blights on the integrity of Our work.

    Looks like I wasn't too far off the mark when I wrote (circa June 18, 2010):

    "Once upon a time, there was an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They put their heads together with those of a number of climate scientists and decided in their wisdom (for they were very wise, or so they told us) that what the world really needs is a consensus.

    "Not just any old consensus, of course – this one would be a “scientific consensus”. It was introduced with much fanfare. And lots of scary stories – one of the scientists called it a “barrage of intergalactic ballistic missiles“. How scary is that, eh?

    "The climate scientists had written and read lots of papers produced by themselves, or their friends who had also written and read lots of papers. If special readings of a paper had resulted in the paper being published in a Journal, this meant it had been “peer-reviewed” – and therefore was the right kind of paper. But if a paper was peer-reviewed and they didn’t like what it said (or the person who wrote it) then, they declared, it was the wrong kind of Journal.

    "And they had meetings and sent out press releases and travelled to nice places making presentations to each other about the cherries they’d picked and the data they’d smoothed and/or fudged – and the tricks of their noble trade.

    "They weren’t very happy when some people bothered them by asking questions about the computer programs, methodology and data they were using for their papers. They were even less happy when anyone found a mistake in their work. The mistake doesn’t change anything, they invariably declared; the science is sound and the consensus is scientific."