17 February 2010

RMS on the "Mystery Graph": Should Not Have Been Included

Thanks to an eagle-eyed reader, it appears that soon after I observed that in its public statement on the IPCC RMS was silent on the "mystery graph," RMS updated its statement as follows (PDF):
A graph showing averaged global temperature and averaged catastrophe loss since 1970 was included in supplementary material rather than the IPCC report itself and was not itself published. RMS believes that the graph could be misinterpreted and should not have been included in these materials.
RMS of course is the company that employs Robert Muir-Wood, contributing author to the AR4 IPCC WGII Chapter 1. The "mystery graph" appears above. It can be found in IPCC WGII in the Supplementary Material to Chapter 1, available here. The idea that the Supplementary Material is not part of the IPCC report is an interesting notion, but one that doesn't pass a common sense test, as the only place that it appears anywhere is in the IPCC report . As RMS explains, the graph was never published outside the IPCC -- in the peer or grey literature. In any case it is nice to see RMS come forward and admit that the graph "should not have been included" due to its potential misleading nature.

UPDATE: In the comments Ian Castles observes:
Of course the Supplementary Material to Chapter 1 of the WGII contribution is part of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report. The Chapter supplementary material is included in on the CD-ROM accompanying the WGII contribution as published by Cambridge University Press (inside the back cover, according to the Contents page). In fact, the Errata to the WGI contribution includes errors which ONLY appeared in the CD ROM version of that Report, which had to be finalised before the printed volume.

Now that it has become clear that neither Robert Muir-Wood nor RMS believed that the graph should have been included, the IPCC should be investigating and explaining how the apparent failure of process occurred. The RMS statement is disingenuous in stating that the graph "was not itself published".
In short, RMS has now independently confirmed that the IPCC willfully miscited the graph to avoid a publication deadline and admits that the IPCC shouldn't have included the graph in the first place, because it was misleading. Not good for the IPCC.