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Climate Money: Auditing is left to unpaid volunteers July 26, 2009

Posted by honestclimate in Discussions.
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Climate Money: Auditing is left to unpaid volunteers

Jo Nova, July 26, 2009

Billions for “the climate” but nothing left for audits?

It’s the most “important crisis” on Earth today, and we must rely on the science, yet it’s not quite important enough for anyone to independently double check those results. And just in case you think that the peer review process does that double checking, think again. Most papers are reviewed by only 2 or 3 colleagues who may be hoping to prove the same “theory” as the authors (so not especially keen to find holes in it), and who are unpaid and anonymous. (The saying “you get what you pay for” comes to mind. We pay to find a crisis, and we don’t pay to check the results).

The best examples of unpaid auditing are the work of independent scientists Steve McIntyre, and Anthony Watts. The irony is that skilled workers are providing a pro bono service, normally a service to help those who can’t afford it, but in this case, to assist the largest single financial entity on the planet.

Steve McIntyre and the misleading “Hockey Stick” graph

Steve McIntyre was trained in mathematics and worked in mineral exploration for 30 years (and despite claims to the contrary has never worked for the oil industry). Below is the Hockey Stick Graph from the 2001 IPCC Assessment Report.

McIntyre became suspicious of the Hockey Stick Graph because it was described in terms that reminded him of the Bre-X fraud. He is retired, and worked at considerable personal expense and without funding.

The infamous Hockey Stick Graph (Michael Mann et al 1998)

After dogged persistence to obtain the original data, McIntyre found embarrassing, crippling flaws in the Hockey Stick graph, a graph that wiped out centuries of recorded anecdotal history, archaeological finds, and data from almost every other source except unreliable “tree rings”. (Tree rings not only grow wider in warm years, but also grow wider in wet years, as well as being affected by soil nutrients, and by the level of CO2 in the air.) McIntyre found that the graph Michael Mann had produced, which was used repeatedly through the IPCC 2001 report, was so poorly constructed statistically that it was possible to feed in random “red noise” data and it still produced a hockey stick shape. A true peer review ought to have picked this up. Instead the graph occupied center stage for three or four years until a determined skeptical individual demanded the data (which was misplaced, then inaccurate, then inconsistent) and checked the statistics.

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