Politics and the hockey stick

While we’re awaiting the decision to come out of the G8 summit on the issue of climate change, here’s the political dimension to the hockey stick controversy posted previously. It illustrates why this isn’t just a healthy debate between two groups of scientists but a case of harassment, the goal of which is likely the elimination of their federal research funds.

From Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science:

[US House of Representatives] Energy and Commerce Committee chair Joe Barton has sent a threatening letter [on June 23rd] to the heads of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Science Foundation, as well as to the three climate scientists who produced the original “hockey stick” study. Barton isn’t simply humoring questionable contrarian attacks on the “hockey stick” graph; he’s using his power as a member of Congress to intimidate the scientists involved in producing it.

You can read the actual letter here.

In what I would call, “death by a thousand forms”, this is what the head of the Congressional Committee is demanding:

  1. Your curriculum vitae, including, but not limited to, a list of all studies relating to climate change research for which you were an author or co-author and the source of funding for those studies.
  2. List all financial support you have received related to your research, including, but not limited to, all private, state, and federal assistance, grants, contracts (including subgrants or subcontracts), or other financial awards or honoraria.
  3. Regarding all such work involving federal grants or funding support under which you were a recipient of funding or principal investigator, provide all agreements relating to those underlying grants or funding, including, but not limited to, any provisions, adjustments, or exceptions made in the agreements relating to the dissemination and sharing of research results.
  4. Provide the location of all data archives relating to each published study for which you were an author or co-author and indicate: (a) whether this information contains all the specific data you used and calculations your performed, including such supporting documentation as computer source code, validation information, and other ancillary information, necessary for full evaluation and application of the data, particularly for another party to replicate your research results; (b) when this information was available to researchers; (c) where and when you first identified the location of this information; (d) what modifications, if any, you have made to this information since publication of the respective study; and (e) if necessary information is not fully available, provide a detailed narrative description of the steps somebody must take to acquire the necessary information to replicate your study results or assess the quality of the proxy data you used.
  5. According to The Wall Street Journal, you have declined to release the exact computer code you used to generate your results. (a) Is this correct? (b) What policy on sharing research and methods do you follow? (c) What is the source of that policy? (d) Provide this exact computer code used to generate your results.
  6. Regarding study data and related information that is not publicly archived, what requests have you or your co-authors received for data relating to the climate change studies, what was your response, and why?
  7. The authors McIntyre and McKitrick (Energy & Environment, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2005) report a number of errors and omissions in Mann et. al., 1998. Provide a detailed narrative explanation of these alleged errors and how these may affect the underlying conclusions of the work, including, but not limited to answers to the following questions:
    a. Did you run calculations without the bristlecone pine series referenced in the article and, if so, what was the result?
    b. Did you or your co-authors calculate temperature reconstructions using the referenced “archived Gaspe tree ring data,” and what were the results?
    c. Did you calculate the R2 statistic for the temperature reconstruction, particularly for the 15th Century proxy record calculations and what were the results?
    d. What validation statistics did you calculate for the reconstruction prior to 1820, and what were the results?
    e. How did you choose particular proxies and proxy series?
  8. Explain in detail your work for and on behalf of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, including, but not limited to: (a) your role in the Third Assessment Report; (b) the process for review of studies and other information, including the dates of key meetings, upon which you worked during the TAR writing and review process; (c) the steps taken by you, reviewers, and lead authors to ensure the data underlying the studies forming the basis for key findings of the report were sound and accurate; (d) requests you received for revisions to your written contribution; and (e) the identity of the people who wrote and reviewed the historical temperature-record portions of the report, particularly Section 2.3, “Is the Recent Warming Unusual?”

One Response to “Politics and the hockey stick”

  1. liam says:

    Indeed a charming letter. I wonder if the people in question will be allowed to bill the house for expenses incurred while producing such a report. Sadly, one would suspect it’s already included in some clause of their funding agreements.

    Frankly, with a republican majority in all three elected bodies, I’m surprised they even bother with formalities.