Climate scientist Mann gets final exoneration from Penn State
Few if any American climate scientists have been as falsely accused — and thoroughly vindicated — over both their academic practices and scientific results as Dr. Michael Mann.
Today, Penn State issued its final and complete exoneration of Dr. Michael Mann in the matter of his scientific practices “for proposing, conducting, or reporting research,” primarily related to the famous — and thoroughly vindicated — “hockey stick.” We can be more confident than ever that the “Earth is hotter now than in the past 2,000 years”.
And this “Investigatory Committee of faculty members with impeccable credentials” not only exonerated him unanimously, they did so even though one of the scientists they interviewed in the course of their work was the much debunked, shameless defamer of climatologists, Richard Lindzen!
A number of major media outlets owe Mann an apology and retraction:
- Newsweek staff who play fast and loose with the facts
- CBS libels Michael Mann
- Defamatory WSJ piece by Jeffrey Ball and Keith Johnson
If the disinformer-friendly Sunday Times can retract and apologize for its shameful and bogus Amazon story smearing the IPCC, surely Newsweek, CBS, and the WSJ can.
UPDATE: The Washington Post has a flawed story on the exoneration that typifies how the media has blown the coverage of the stolen emails, discussed at the end.
Let’s back up and start with Mann’s scientific work — that’s what the anti-science crowd has been trying to undermine all these years. If Mann were an astrophysicist publishing papers on black holes, none of this would’ve happened. The disinformers have been desperate to prove that recent human-caused warming is not unusual and is not indicative of an important and dangerous trend — but it is. As climatologist and one-time darling of the contrarians Ken Caldeira said last year, “To talk about global cooling at the end of the hottest decade the planet has experienced in many thousands of years is ridiculous.”
The key point about Mann’s “hockey stick” work is that it was repeatedly attacked and utterly vindicated long before we saw any of the trumped up charges around the stolen emails:
- The “hockey stick” was affirmed in a major review by the uber-prestigious National Academy of Scientists (in media-speak, the highest scientific “court” in the land) — see NAS Report and here. The news story in the journal Nature (subs. req’d) on the NAS panel was headlined: “Academy affirms hockey-stick graph”!
- The “hockey stick” has been replicated and strengthened by numerous independent studies. My favorite is from Science last year — see Human-caused Arctic warming overtakes 2,000 years of natural cooling, “seminal” study finds (the source of the figure below).
- And then we have Penn State’s first review of Mann, which concluded: “After careful consideration of all the evidence and relevant materials, the inquiry committee finding is that there exists no credible evidence that Dr. Mann had or has ever engaged in, or participated in, directly or indirectly, any actions with an intent to suppress or to falsify data. While a perception has been created in the weeks after the CRU emails were made public that Dr. Mann has engaged in the suppression or falsification of data, there is no credible evidence that he ever did so, and certainly not while at Penn State.”
That first Penn State review also found “no substance” to these allegations:
- “Did you engage in, or participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions with the intent to suppress or falsify data? “
- “Did you engage in, or participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions with the intent to delete, conceal or otherwise destroy emails, information and/or data, related to AR4, as suggested by Phil Jones?”
But that first review did remand to a second panel the following question:
“Did Dr. Michael Mann engage in, or participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or other scholarly activities?”
On that charge, the “Investigatory Committee of faculty members with impeccable credentials” concluded:
The Investigatory Committee, after careful review of all available evidence, determined that there is no substance to the allegation against Dr. Michael E. Mann, Professor, Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University.
More specifically, the Investigatory Committee determined that Dr. Michael E. Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research, or other scholarly activities.
The decision of the Investigatory Committee was unanimous.
Here are some other key excerpts from the report, which should be required reading for any reporter who has ever written about Mann or the “hockey stick”:
This level of success in proposing research, and obtaining funding to conduct it, clearly places Dr. Mann among the most respected scientists in his field. Such success would not have been possible had he not met or exceeded the highest standards of his profession for proposing research….
The Investigatory Committee established that Dr. Mann, in all of his published studies, precisely identified the source(s) of his raw data and, whenever possible, made the data and or links to the data available to other researchers. These actions were entirely in line with accepted practices for sharing data in his field of research….
Thus, the Investigatory Committee concluded that the manner in which Dr. Mann used and shared source codes has been well within the range of accepted practices in his field.
Mann is clearly owed an apology from Dr. Judith Curry, a bit player in all this who has parroted the false charges against Mann by McIntyre and his ilk in her Discover interview, among other places.
Here’s more from the committee:
Most questions about Dr. Mann’s findings have been focused on his early published work that showed the “hockey stick” pattern of climate change. In fact, research published since then by Dr. Mann and by independent researchers has shown patterns similar to those first described by Dr. Mann. … In some cases, other researchers (e.g., Wahl & Ammann, 2007) have been able to replicate Dr. Mann’s findings, using the publicly available data and algorithms. The convergence of findings by different teams of researchers, using different data sets, lends further credence to the fact that Dr. Mann’s conduct of his research has followed acceptable practice within his field. Further support for this conclusion may be found in the observation that almost all of Dr. Mann’s work was accomplished jointly with other scientists. The checks and balances inherent in such a scientific team approach further diminishes chances that anything unethical or inappropriate occurred in the conduct of the research.
A particularly telling indicator of a scientist’s standing within the research community is the recognition that is bestowed by other scientists. Judged by that indicator, Dr. Mann’s work, from the beginning of his career, has been recognized as outstanding. For example, he received the Phillip M. Orville Prize for outstanding dissertation in the earth sciences at Yale University in 1997. In 2002, he received an award from the Institute for Scientific Information for a scientific paper (published with co-authors) that appeared in the prestigious journal Nature; also in 2002, he co-authored a paper that won the Outstanding Scientific Paper Award from the NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, and Scientific American named him as one of 50 leading visionaries in science and technology. In 2005, Dr. Mann co-authored a paper in the Journal of Climate that won the John Russell Mather Paper award from the Association of American Geographers, and in the same year, the website “RealClimate.org” (co-founded by Dr. Mann) was chosen as one of the top 25 “Science and Technology” websites by Scientific American. In 2006, Dr. Mann was recognized with the American Geophysical Union Editors’ Citation for Excellence in Refereeing (i.e., reviewing manuscripts for Geophysical Research Letters). All of these awards and recognitions, as well as others not specifically cited here, serve as evidence that his scientific work, especially the conduct of his research, has from the beginning of his career been judged to be outstanding by a broad spectrum of scientists. Had Dr. Mann’s conduct of his research been outside the range of accepted practices, it would have been impossible for him to receive so many awards and recognitions, which typically involve intense scrutiny from scientists who may or may not agree with his scientific conclusions.
My guess is that you didn’t know Mann’s work had been so highly recognized. The media certainly never writes about this because it doesn’t fit their disinformer-driven storyline that somehow his work is not first rate.
In fact, it is those who attack him whose work is far, far from first rate. Hmm. That might even be a good subject for an academic paper (see: New study reaffirms broad scientific understanding of climate change, questions media’s reliance on tiny group of less-credibile scientists for “balance”).
Dr. Mann’s record of publication in peer reviewed scientific journals offers compelling evidence that his scientific work is highly regarded by his peers, thus offering de facto evidence of his adherence to established standards and practices regarding the reporting of research. To date, Dr. Mann is the lead author of 39 scientific publications and he is listed as co-author on an additional 55 publications. The majority of these publications appeared in the most highly respected scientific journals, i.e., journals that have the most rigorous editorial and peer reviews in the field. In practical terms, this means that literally dozens of the most highly qualified scientists in the world scrutinized and examined every detail of the scientific work done by Dr. Mann and his colleagues and judged it to meet the high standards necessary for publication. Moreover, Dr. Mann’s work on the Third Assessment Report (2001) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change received recognition (along with several hundred other scientists) by being awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
Clearly, Dr. Mann’s reporting of his research has been successful and judged to be outstanding by his peers. This would have been impossible had his activities in reporting his work been outside of accepted practices in his field.
So Mann isn’t merely a competent researcher. He is one of the leading climate scientists in this country, which of course is precisely why the anti-science crowd has gone after him, much as they have with other leading climate scientists, including Hansen and Santer.
And that’s one more reason why the major media outlets who smeared and defamed him owe him an apology and a retraction.
The Investigatory Committee does have one obvious mistake in it, though. In its effort to bend over backwards to appear fair and balanced in examining the baseless charges against Mann:
The Investigatory Committee contacted, and subsequently interviewed, three eminent scientists from the field of climate research: Dr. William Curry, Senior Scientist, Geology and Geophysics Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Dr. Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Dr. Jerry McManus, Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University.
Lindzen may have been “eminent” a long, long time ago, but his big climate theory has been largely debunked — see Science: “Clouds Appear to Be Big, Bad Player in Global Warming,” an amplifying feedback (sorry Lindzen and fellow disinformers). For quite some time he has been doing little but spreading disinformation — see: “Re-discredited climate denialists in denial.” He’s even started publishing nonsense that has led to unusually strong debunkings by his colleagues:
- “Lindzen debunked again: New scientific study finds his paper downplaying dangers of human-caused warming is ‘seriously in error'”: Kevin Trenberth: The flaws in Lindzen-Choi paper “have all the appearance of the authors having contrived to get the answer they got.”
Lindzen tries to stick the knife into Mann:
Before the Investigatory Committee’s questioning began, Dr. Lindzen was given some general background information regarding the process of inquiry and investigation into
allegations concerning Dr. Mann, with a focus on the particular allegation that is the subject of the current review by the Investigatory Committee. Dr. Lindzen then requested, and was provided with, a brief summary of the three allegations previously reviewed. When told that the first three allegations against Dr. Mann were dismissed at the inquiry stage of the RA-10 process, Dr. Lindzen’s response was: “It’s thoroughly amazing. I mean these are issues that he explicitly stated in the emails. I’m wondering what’s going on?”
The Investigatory Committee members did not respond to Dr. Lindzen’s statement. Instead, Dr. Lindzen’s attention was directed to the fourth allegation, and it was explained to him that this is the allegation which the Investigatory Committee is charged to address.
It isn’t thoroughly amazing that Lindzen wants to retry Mann for charges he was completely exonerated on? What’s amazing is that the committee would even talk to Lindzen on a matter like this. Lindzen simply lacks credibility on climate science, and he has a penchant for going after the reputation of the top climate scientists in the country. At the Heartland conference of climate-change disinformers last year, Lindzen went from disinformation to defamation as he smeared the reputation of one of the greatest living climate scientists, Wallace Broecker (see “Shame on Richard Lindzen, MIT’s uber-hypocritical anti-scientific scientist“). And this year he slandered his one-time friend Kerry Emanuel, who asserted that Lindzen’s charge in Boston Globe is “pure fabrication.”
The bottom line is that every major independent investigation has exonerated Mann and his work — and his fellow climate scientists:
- Climatic Research Unit scientists cleared (again)
- House of Commons exonerates Phil Jones: Based on their inquiry and evidence, “the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact. We have found no reason … to challenge the scientific consensus … that ‘global warming is happening [and] that it is induced by human activity’.”
Let me give the final word to Mann from 2008 on the key scientific issue:
You can go back nearly 2,000 years and the conclusion still holds — the current warmth is anomalous. The burst of warming over the past one to two decades takes us out of the envelope of natural variability.
UPDATE: The Washington Post story, “Penn State clears Mann in Climate-gate probe” absurdly quotes one of the top anti-scientist disinformers in the country, Myron Ebell, for balance. Seriously, mainstream media, after all the false charges, can’t you just run a straight exoneration story without publishing yet another baseless defamatory smear by the paid disinformation specialists? And it’s time to drop the blame-the-victim moniker “Climate-gate” (see “Rename The Scandal Formerly Known As Climategate“).
The Project on Climate Science release is here.
Climate Science Watch interviewed Michael Mann on the Penn State Final Report and the “concerted, well-organized, and very well-funded campaign to attack climate scientists — not just the science but the scientists themselves,” as he puts it. Mann clears up the most recent misrepresentation about his work:
CSW: You were quoted recently with reference to the so-called ‘hockey stick’ graph from the temperature record study that you published in the late 1990s that is still a bête noire of skeptics, contrarians, and deniers; sometimes they try to talk about it as if there were not a whole body of paleoclimate literature and subsequent work. You apparently made a comment to the effect that you were skeptical about how much of an icon that particular graph had become. Some of the deniers have jumped on that and said, “Aha! Michael Mann is walking back his conclusions about the temperature record.” What should people make of what you said, what is the appropriate way to take your comment?
MM: Yeah, this is all too predictable. This is what the climate change denial machine has been doing for years. What they’ll do is they’ll quote a statement out of context. In this case it was a statement I did in the course of an interview for the BBC. Then it’ll be turned into a news article in a fringe media outlet, in this case the Telegraph – which, in my view, has engaged in the sloppiest and most slanted coverage of climate change now for years. So it’s no surprise to me that the Telegraph would again publish a very misleading, slanted piece that took what I actually said out of context.
All that I said in that interview was that it was somewhat misplaced for the hockey stick to be made the central icon of the climate change debate, for the obvious reasons: It isn’t that there’s just one study. In fact, there are more than a dozen studies now that come to the same conclusion as our original work. That’s beside the point though, because paleoclimatic reconstructions are really just one line of evidence among multiple lines of evidence that indicate the Earth is warming, that the climate is changing in a way that is consistent with that warming, and that it can only be explained by the human influence on climate.
So, to pretend, as deniers like to do, that all of our understanding of human caused climate change rests on the so-called hockey stick is disingenuous, to say the least. I was simply pointing out in my interview just how disingenuous that argument is. Of course, it was twisted and contorted in the way that we now have come to expect: To imply that I was saying something other than I was actually saying. It’s really quite sad.