19 Feb. 2010 (updated): Recently, the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit's director (now under investigation), Phil Jones, agreed to an extensive "Question and Answer" dialogue with the BBC reporter Roger Harrabin. For the moment, we offer the following links and a few quick notes...
This first link is to PJTV's interview with Steven Mosher, Author, "Climategate: The CRUtape Letters." (Length: 11 minutes) Mosher suggests that these questions were most likely orchestrated as part of an apparent media strategy to throw a few bones to "skeptics," avoid major discrepancies, and ultimately allow the CRU to return to normal operations.
Our second link is to the actual BBC article, in which there are a number of important acknowledgements:
- A comparison of the "rates of warming" trends for 1860-1880, 1910-1940, 1975-1998 and 1975-2009. According to Jones, they "are similar and not statistically significantly different from each other."
- The trend for the period 1995-2009 is, in Jones estimation, a positive trend, but not statistically significant.
- Jones confirms that "we would all accept that palaeoclimatic data are considerably less certain than the instrumental data." Jones does goes on, however, to say that he is convinced that the most controversial data (Briffa, et al.'s work involving "Yamal") is "sound."
- Also regarding uncertainties, Jones says: "There is still much that needs to be undertaken to reduce uncertainties, not just for the future, but for the instrumental (and especially the palaeoclimatic) past as well."
- The main factors Jones apparently relies on in his yet unwavering support for the AGW theory are that "we can't explain the warming from the 1950s by solar and volcanic forcing." Those are pretty limited natural factors to consider, especially when the IPCC acknowledges in its 2007 report (AR4) that before 1950 the sun explained over 50% of the temperature increase.
- Jones asserts that the main reason he does not believe the Medieval Warm Period was not global is the that "the MWP would need to be seen clearly in more records from the tropical regions and the Southern Hemisphere. There are very few palaeoclimatic records for these latter two regions." (emphasis added)
- Jones also notes, with regard to the assertions of "unprecedented" warming/warmth during the late-20th century, that "Of course, if the MWP was shown to be global in extent and as warm or warmer than today (based on an equivalent coverage over the [Nothern Hemisphere] and [Southern Hemisphere]) then obviously the late-20th century warmth would not be unprecedented."
The last point would certainly seem to explain why the MWP could not possibly be considered global in extent, even though "The MWP is most clearly expressed in parts of North America, the North Atlantic and Europe and parts of Asia." The impression we get is that the MWP was local to only those areas for which there are records of it, and it quickly became "normal" everywhere else between those areas. Interestingly, Jones does admit there is much debate about if the MWP was a global event. (So much for consensus and the science being settled?)
We still don't seem to be seeing the American mainstream media dig into the issue beyond a few sound bites. Mosher believes that the "bunker mentality" adopted by the CRU leadership lead to an "erosion of scientific ethics and scientific practices."
An excellent article by Prof Tim Ball, that initially ties to Jones' "interview" with BBC reporter Harrabin, should also be read. It digs deeply into several critical aspects of both research and the application of research findings or developments into the GCM models that the IPCC relies upon so heavily. Included are comments about Earth tilt and orbit, and precession of the Equinox.
Finally, we highlight a guest post by Indur Goklany on the highly-rated science blog, WattsUpWithThat, which provides excerpts of the BBC "interview" with Jones with annotations by Goklany.