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Climate Case Built on Thin Foundation: John McLean

ROSS Garnaut made it clear in his interim report that his climate change review takes as a starting point – not as a belief but on the balance of probabilities – that the claims made in the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are correct.

Had he made even a cursory examination of the integrity of those IPCC claims he would have found a very troubling picture.

The IPCC encourages us to believe that about 2500 climate scientists supported the claim of a significant human influence on climate. It fails to clarify that the claim was made in chapter nine of the working group one contribution and that the contributions of working groups two and three were based on the assumption that the claim was correct. The first eight chapters of the WG1 contribution were mainly concerned with climatic observations and the authors expressed no opinion about the claim made in chapter nine, and chapters 10 and 11 assumed the claim to be correct. The entire IPCC thesis therefore stands or falls on the claims of just one chapter.

We are also led to believe that chapter nine was widely supported by hundreds of reviewers, but just 62 IPCC reviewers commented on its penultimate draft. Only five of those reviewers endorsed it but four of the five appear to have vested interests and the other made just one comment for the entire 11-chapter WG1 contribution.

As is the normal IPCC practice, chapter nine has co-ordinating lead authors, who are responsible for the chapter as a whole; lead authors, who are responsible for sections of the chapter; and contributing authors, who provide their thoughts to the lead authors but take no active part in thewriting.

The IPCC procedures state that the authors at each level should reflect a wide range of views, but this is not true of chapter nine.

The expansion of the full list of authors of each paper cited by this chapter reveals that 37 of 53 chapter authors form a network of people who have previously co-authored scientific papers with each other: or make that 38 if we include a review editor.

The two co-ordinating lead authors are members of this network. So are five of the seven lead authors. Thirty of 44 contributing authors are in the network and two other pairs of contributing authors have likewise co-authored scientific papers.

In other words, the supposedly 53 independent voices are in fact one dominant voice with 37 people behind it, two voices each with two people behind them, and perhaps 12 single voices. A closer check reveals that many of those 12 were academic or work colleagues of members of that larger network. One lead author was from the University of Michigan, as were three contributing authors, two of whom were not members of the network. Another lead author was associated with Britain’s Hadley Centre, along with eight contributing authors, one of whom was not included in that network of co-authors.

All up, the 53 authors of this chapter came from just 31 establishments and there are worrying indications that certain lead authors were the superiors of contributing authors from the same organisation. The very few viewpoints in this chapter might be alleviated if it drew on a wide range of references, but among the co-authors of 40 per cent of the cited material are at least one chapter author.

Scientists associated with the development and use of climate models dominate the clique of chapter nine authors and by extension the views expressed in that chapter.

Perhaps the increase in the processing power of their computers has increased their confidence in the software they have been nurturing for years. Imagine, though, the consequences were they to imply that the accuracy of the models had not improved despite the extra funding.

These models are said to require a human component to reasonably match historical temperatures and the modellers claim that this proves a human influence on climate, but the human factor is an input so a corresponding output is no surprise. A more plausible reason for the mismatch without this influence is that the models are incomplete and contain errors, but of course chapter nine could never admit this.

Garnaut didn’t need to evaluate the science behind the IPCC’s claim to find that its integrity is questionable and that the report’s key findings are the product of scientific cronyism.

The IPCC has misled us into believing the primary claims were widely endorsed by authors and reviewers but in fact they received little support and came from a narrow self-interested coterie of climate modellers.

We should now ask what else the IPCC has misled us about and why Garnaut, a skilled academic, so blithely accepted its claims.

John McLean is a climate data analyst and a member of the Australian Climate Science Coalition.


Republished from the The Australian with permission from the author.  

Climate case built on thin foundation, John McLean, The Australian September 9, 2008


142 Responses to “Climate Case Built on Thin Foundation: John McLean”

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  1. Comment from: Michael

    Well, at least Brook is a very real “Professor of Climate Science”, and a very real and well respected research scientist.

    John is an architect aspiring to be a “climate data analyst”, whatever one of those is.

    Does anyone know what that is??

  2. Comment from: Irena


    I’m not sure how to interpret this statement?

    Its quite intriguing.

    Do you mean we are wrong and CO2 won’t affect climate? Great! That would be fantastic. I wouldn’t feel any sense of loss. Low probability though.

    Do you mean that we are losing the battle against mitigating against dangerous climate change? Well, that would be bad. Wouldn’t it?

    Or perhaps you mean we are losing the battle in converting the economy to a low polluting economy and an environmentally sustainable one. But thats OK, because CO2 just isn’t going to be a big deal.

    Yep. I think you stand for the last one.

    Dude, I’m not judging you, but thats a conspiracy theory mixed with good old fashioned hope. Nothing to do with science.

  3. Comment from: Irena

    This comment specifically:

    “Your mob definitely need to pick up your act cos its increasingly looking like a losing battle for you!”

  4. Comment from: Irena

    Richard S. Courtney

    Whaddaya know, I just found your peers in that link.

    Now, why would you deliberately withhold that?

  5. Comment from: cohenite

    Irena; you are obviously here to do mischief; the term ‘hotspot’ has been extrapolated from the AR4 terminology of Fingerprint; as defined in the AR4 glossary;

    Fingerprint The climate response pattern in space and/or time to a specific forcing is commonly referred to as a fingerprint. Fingerprints are used to direct the presence of this response in observation and are typically estimated using forced climate model stimulations.

    Fig 9.1(c) is here;

    This clearly shows a GHG caused ‘hotspot’ or fingerprint as predicted by computer modelling. The problem is MSU data shows no such fingerprint. You prove otherwise; or toddle back to troll-land.

  6. Comment from: ra

    ah not Mick, Brook is a professor of climate change, not climate science. Those two are not the same.

    This is what a undergraduate and graduate climate science degree looks like:
    From MIT

    1. Convection, Atmospheric Water Vapor, and Cloud Formation
    2. Oceans, Ocean-Atmosphere Coupling, and Carbon Cycling
    3. Land-Surface Hydrology and Hydrology-Vegetation Coupling
    4. Biogeochemistry of Greenhouse Gases and Reflective Aerosols
    5. Atmospheric Chemistry and Large-Scale Circulation

  7. Comment from: toby

    Irena, ive seen and heard lindzen and singer mention the missing hot spot, i have also read it in numerous articles, whether or not i can lay my hands on peer reviewed papers is a cop out, the truth is what i would like to find out. Do you think there shoudl be…and if you do as an obvious believer in AGW, doesn t its absence make you just a little bit sceptical?

    Your right at this stage I am in the boat of doing little. I am all for investing in R and D to find some viable alternative energy sources. We will need them at some stage anyway, so teh money is not wasted. But I am against a carbon tax or ETS , it will make traders wealthy and achieve no change in climate…as acknowledged by most. So why do it? So yes I am defintely against ETX or taxes on carbon.
    Lets award 1 even 10 billion dollars to the group or individual who finds a way of storing alternative energy to allow it to offer base load capacity.
    I say you guys are losing the battle to reduce co2 output in a significant way, because unless you can convince China, Russia, India etc to cut their own, anything the west does is irrelevant. So
    if the science is that strong, build a case that does not involve lies and obfuscation.
    You see whilst there is so much doubt about the degree of warming created by a doubling of co2, because we don t understand enough of teh science, you can t say we have anything other than a belief that additional units of co2 will warm the planet. All the science is , is an attempt to explain what we think is happening. The warming we have seen is nothing like what is predicted by the models….. so why believe the theory?…and it is after all only a theory, that more scientists agree with than don t.

  8. Comment from: toby

    Thx Cohenite, as usual your ability to lay your hands on the required material is exemplary.

  9. Comment from: Tim Curtin

    I have just sent this message (after Brook & Russell bragged about their Joint Submission to Garnaut with Peter Singer, over at Brook’s):

    Dear Peter Singer

    I know you have often implied that you are the born again Jesus Christ, but that does not justify you in lending your name to the farrago of nonsense that Barry Brook and Geoff Russell submitted to the Garnaut Review. Unless you confirm to me in writing that you now resile from the garbage in their Submission, I shall write to the relevant authorities at Princeton suggesting that you be put out to graze on non-CO2 grasses (i.e. Sahara sand) with immediate effect.

    Amongst many ludicrous statements you put your name to is the following: “Australia’s livestock produce about 3.5 mega tones of methane annually…” Out of thin air or by conversion from pastures that embody atmospheric CO2? If you don’t know that, you are unfit to hold down a Chair anywhere. For it is really beyond belief that you of all people is not aware that cattle graze on pastures that have converted oxygen, water, and CO2 into feed that the cattle use to sustain their lives even while producing methane and respiring CO2, just as you do, except I forgot that with your own immaculate conception, you have never breathed out a molecule of CO2 or farted a smidgeon of methane. Truly, you are as ludicrous a figure as Brook & Russell.


    Tim Curtin

  10. Comment from: Irena


    Yeah you’re right, I’ve pretty much lost interest now.

    Yeah- the MSU data is an anomaly in the context of the various patterns that match CO2 forced climate change with recent observations. Based on fingerprints that were taken from model phase space. These fingerprints are horizontal temperature profiles and vertical temperature profiles which have been filtered for intrinsic variability. The other fingerprints are in variables such as pressure and indices of climate.

    As outlined in Chapter 9- Almost all (but not all) of the fingerprints in model space match the spatial and temporal evolution of of the fingerprints in the observations.

    The upper troposphere temperatures are very difficult to estimate since there have been so many different instruments used- unlike surface temperature. Even the satellite records need careful calibration since they have had non-continuous instrumentation. Against this there are instrumental observations that show that upper troposphere is cooling- and the stratosphere certainly isn’t heating as one would expect from solar forced warming.

    This uncertainty is documented in the literature. Its published. And it attenuates the probabilistic attribution that CO2 has caused 20th century climate change. But the overwhelming conclusion remains in the mainstream science. No one has published different attribution results.

    The uncertainty in the MSU does not do anything to refute points 1-5 that I raised above. Nor does it remotely suggest that doubling and tripling atmospheric CO2 will have minimal impact on climate.



  11. Comment from: Michael

    “ah not Mick, Brook is a professor of climate change, not climate science. Those two are not the same.” – ra

    Yes, as I said earlier, he is “Professor of climate Change at Adelaide University”.

    So, that should have been “at least Brook is a very real ‘Professor of Climate Change’, and a very real and respected research scientist”.

    Alas, John remains an architect with an attitude.

  12. Comment from: Malcolm Hill


    It is the blathering and pompus nonsense being peddled by people like you that gets up my nose.

    There are several reasons why other people dont publish, one of which might just be that simple fact that real world measurements show that there is bugger all connection between C02 and temperature.

    The politics of climate change is another reason.

    The AGW position and campaiging is littered with lies, chicanery and opportunism by the main research bodies, including those here in Australia. Hansen though is in class of his own

    The IPCC white coats and others, have always been very quick to try and establish a link with any level of scepticism and supposed funding by big oil,( an absolute pittance in reality), but at the same time conveniently over look the fact that the alarmist industry is funded by $bns from taxpayers all over the world.

    When Al Gores dodgey doings are foisted on a gullible public, these self same people come out in support, backing the the many, many errors.

    He Gore alone had made more $’s out of this scam ( $200m was the last figure I saw) than has ever been claimed to have been paid to all the sceptics, world wide.
    This whole thing stinks to high heaven.

    A Pox on your dam 1600 century closed shop secret Peer Reveiw system. I object to my tax dollars being spent on research that is in effect being audited by such a flawed system

    When that gets brought into the 21st century you might start to attract some credibility.

  13. Comment from: gavin

    Irena; I’m a tad curious why you don’t show up elsewhere with Google.

    cold trail?

  14. Comment from: ianl


    “ianl, there was a brief written debunking by Brook and then the links for details. As to hyperlinking – that is exactly his point – why continually retread old ground when the arguments are already recycled? McLean has been on this meme for a while now.”

    My statement said that the detail of McLean’s analysis was not addressed by any of the papers in the links. Just ranting at his non-credentials.

    The devil is not in the detail – the truth is. McLean’s analysis, and similarly Wegman’s, cannot be rebutted by calling the authors unqualified – rebuttal requires a transparent fact or set of facts to show the analyses are wrong.

    The Achilles Heel of AGW is that the empirical data do not fit the hypothesis. The more “rebuttal” links supplied that ignore the detail of these analyses and instead attack the authors, the more convincing these analyses become.

  15. Comment from: MartinGAtkins

    Malcolm Hill


    Nice link. Thank you.

  16. Comment from: ianl

    Irena baby waited only a little over 4 hours (5:59pm to 10:20pm) before deciding that he’d won.

    I don’t mind his 5 points (I’ve only now had time to read them) and I’ve taken a copy to analyse when I have time – I do find his silly sarcasm quite risible, though. I wonder why he thinks it’s necessary ?

  17. Comment from: MartinGAtkins


    “Irena baby”

    This kind of address is uncalled for. Small wonder that women feel scientific study is out of bounds.

    “I don’t mind his 5 points (I’ve only now had time to read them) and I’ve taken a copy to analyse when I have time – I do find his silly sarcasm quite risible, though. I wonder why he thinks it’s necessary ?”

    I don’t know who you are referring too but you need to leave your condescending remarks for the street.

    By all means do the science.

  18. Comment from: Barry Moore

    In the mid 19th. century there were two leaders of opposite parties in the U.K., Gladstone and Disraeli. On one occasion when Gladstone was prime minister he had droned on for about 3 hours delivering a very boring speech and at the end Disraeli rose and said “Sir you are intoxicated with the exuberance of your own verbosity”. Reading Irena’s comments reminds me of that statement. It would appear that this person has swallowed a science dictionary and now every time the mouth opens the belly rumbles.
    The very foolish and childish statements regarding the lack of published papers and the constant reference to “mainstream science” clearly indicates that this person has not even attempted to research the vast library of papers, books, articles etc. which systematically and methodically expose the IPCC for the fraud that it is. In addition there have been a number of surveys which expose the claim of “Consensus” to be as idiotic as “mainstream science”. In addition petitions such as the Oregon petition have gained overwhelming support from the professional ranks. Perhaps Irena could point me to the Chapter? Page or even paragraph in the 4th. AR which refers to the evaluation, using the fundamental scientific laws, of the effect of CO2 on global temperatures, and I thought that was what the subject was all about. I have actually read the 4th.AR quite thoroughly.
    I note the references to Stefan’s law, Question how can you take a fourth power law and apply it to an average global temperature. I also note the complete absence of any reference to Beer’s law which quite clearly establishes that above 50 meters from the earth’s surface all the CO2 resonant frequencies in the surface radiation have been removed from the spectrum. Just analyzing the spectrum at any point in the atmosphere is meaningless since radiation is being generated and absorbed continuously within the atmosphere so it becomes a net zero balance exchange. The only meaningful energy exchange fluxes are those that take place at the surface which includes reflection, radiation, evaporation, conduction and convection compared to what takes place at the outer limit of the atmosphere which is radiation and reflection.

  19. Comment from: Peter


    Ah, yes! Wikipedia, that great peer-reviewed scientific journal.

    I suppose you also believe all the nonsense about passive smoking, or that salt kills (absolutely not a shred of actual evidence)

  20. Comment from: Louis Hissink


    There is no point into referring to the junksite Wikipedia to support your ad-hominems.

    I take it then you cannot refute Segaldstats point concerning the artifical missing carbon sink.

  21. Comment from: Malcolm Hill

    Isnt it interesting how those that call for anyone with a different view that they shoud prepare a paper and submit it to the Great Medieval Process called peer review, but they themselves have NO record of publication.

    Isnt it interesting how the sources of advice to the policy process such as the BOM/AGO and the CSIRO have a very poor record of publication in the very same GMP, so they are no different to anyine else.

    Isnt it interesting how the whole AGW story rests on a foundation of computer modelling, but nowhere can you find GMP published document that lays out ALL the assumptions, protocols and parametisations.

    Oh no that would never do, that would telling the punters a lot more than they could conceivably comprehend.

    Isnt it interesting how even a routine business analysis such as that performed by people like John Mclean’s herein, cops the call for a GMP document.

    What does that say about the standard of knowledge of basic management practices by the likes of Irena and David et al.

  22. Comment from: SJT

    “Isnt it interesting how those that call for anyone with a different view that they shoud prepare a paper and submit it to the Great Medieval Process called peer review, but they themselves have NO record of publication.”

    I am happy to go with the science. It’s the best tool we have for understanding the universe. I am more than happy to acknowledge my lack of expertise in those areas of knowledge, and defer to the experts. I have no self delusions about taking on the scientists at their own area of expertise and specialisation. Many here do, however. So, go on, take them on. I’d like to see you do so.

  23. Comment from: ra


    Are you happy to go with the science of nuclear power or do you have a phobia?

    I notice Barry Huckster, professor of Totally Massive Extinctions (and Climate Change) is now peddling vegan diets on his blog. What’s next olive oil cures to cancer? hahahahhahahaha

    What a huckster.

  24. Comment from: Graeme Bird

    “I am happy to go with the science.”

    No you are just lying SJT. You refuse point blank to go with the evidence.


    If I’m wrong lets have some evidence right here right now.

    You aint coming up with anything because I’m not wrong about you lying.

  25. Comment from: Graeme Bird

    “Irena; I’m a tad curious why you don’t show up elsewhere with Google.”

    Dig this. Now this anonymous jerk thinks he’s the FBI!!

    Come in under your own name gutless coward.

  26. Comment from: Graeme Bird

    “If the mainstream was truly scientifically controversial- then there would be many, many more papers showing that CO2 posed no danger to the atmosphere.”

    Lets have that evidence then Irena. We were after evidence for the likelihood of catastrophic warming. And evidence for the proposition that a little bit of human-induced warming is a BAD THING during a brutal and pulverising ice age.

    We don’t need a great volume of stuff. Just evidence, some evidence, any evidence.

  27. Comment from: gavin

    Worth a note; GB does show up on Google but whats the catch in that?

  28. Comment from: Graeme Bird

    Don’t be an idiot gavin. Just make good with the evidence or the admission that you have been both stupid and dishonest.

  29. Comment from: Graeme Bird

    “Do you mean we are wrong and CO2 won’t affect climate? Great! That would be fantastic. I wouldn’t feel any sense of loss. Low probability though.”

    No thats NOT right. Its not a matter of probabilities at all. And you cannot make that link. You don’t have the data at all that would make that link. Accept reality and stop the lying.

  30. Comment from: plover

    Oh dear – I had hoped that in Jen’s new style blog she would do some moderation of inflamatory language and ad hominem attacks. Unfortunately it is still the same – I really don’t understand how a respectable scientist would allow this sort vitriol and venom to appear under her name. It adds nothing to the debate and merely puts off those genuinely interested in the science.

  31. Comment from: ra

    Stop being an insidious jerk, Plover.

    Barry Huckster Professor of Totally Massive Extinctions and (Huge Global Warming), Macquarie graduate and 130,001 peer reviewed articles started it as a result of being a backstabbing little jerk by going over to Deltoid’s site trying to round up a posse to abuse McLean when he posted on the Mclean thread.

    That’s simply disgusting behavior but it’s what one would expect from a huckster.

    So go an ask the totally massive extinctions professor why he would do such a cowardly thing.

  32. Comment from: plover

    Ra/Graeme Bird(one and the same) – and you are the worst culprit with the foulest mouth – try engaging your brain before you speak. I have visited and found the people over there were, in the main, civilised, polite and well-informed – unfortunately the same can’t be said for this blog.

  33. Comment from: TrueSceptic

    Well said Plover.

    One has to ask whether the purpose of this blog is to discredit climate denialists. You won’t find a worse collection of foul-mouthed deluded incompetents anywhere.

    I salute all the rational people who try to educate the uneducable denizens here, but really, it is futile, isn’t it? Leave them to wallow in their own bog of Phantasy Physics and general ignorance.

  34. Comment from: Graeme Bird

    So you’ve got the evidence then idiot?’

    You are a moron mate. You and plover ought to be horsewhipped until you come up with the evidence.

    So lets have it and we can avoid the in-betweens.

    You see you and plover are just laying on the mindless bluff. Else you would have made good on the evidence already.

  35. Comment from: TrueSceptic

    You don’t get it do you? There is zero point in attempting any sort of reasonable discussion with you.

    There is no way of convincing someone like you of anything that conflicts with your predetermined and politically motivated beliefs, and your style here is hardly likely to convert any fence-sitters to your side.

  36. Comment from: Graeme Bird

    This is what happens when you don’t take my advice. It tires me. I feel weary. But lets go over it again.


    Did you have that brain transplant?


    Did you get have that SLUT-TUMOUR -REMOVAL?

    I don’t suppose so..


    Did you find that elusive evidence that you could not come up with before?

    No you didn’t even try.
    Face it sister. I’ve got you pinned down head first. Your hair knotted in my hand.

    I’m not fussy when it comes to evidence.

    Just start with SOME evidence and if you can get CONVERGENT evidence than I’ll be won over don’t doubt it.

  37. Comment from: truesceptic

    Evidence? It is funny that you would use such a word when you have no idea what it means.

    For instance, please show us the “evidence” for you apparently assuming that I am female.

    Not that this should have any relevance to “discussions” here anyway…

  38. Comment from: plover

    Well- Graeme Bird – finally comes out as a mysogynist – what a surprise! Add that to the rest of the list of people/things he hates.

  39. Comment from: Graeme Bird

    If people are going to be insulting than they can expect to get it back. You guys had it all one way for too long. I decided that those days are over.

    When people make claims for science and they are in contempt of evidence thats heretical for me. A lot of people may have become desenstized but its objectively insensitive behaviour amongst those who hold jealously those perogatives that had in the past been accorded to science.

    I know what evidence is. So this little bitch (male or female) is lying. And being insensitve. Matter of fact I’m getting all hurt thinking about it.

    Now lets have your several retractions. Why are you coming here (not this blog but this entire subject-matter) to a place where some people are NOT in contempt of evidence. Don’t you know that amongst those who still believe in scientific values that you are about as welcome as a KKK member at a Black Panther meeting.

    Gramscian Marxists are not at home with science. She is not for you…… this thing we call science. You don’t belong even so much as within the boundaries of the subject-matter.

    Science was probably practiced a lot better in the religious age when people just thought “well if this is how God made it we are happy with whatever it is we will find…”

    Now we have leftists trying to CREATE reality rather than just discover it.

    This is why you are not welcome in the subject-matter. You ought to be spectators or just go away. There are those who think that the observer tries to discover reality. Whereas there are those who think that the observer creates it. The latter ought to beat it.

    Everywhere we see ourselves overtaken by people not really interested in science for its own sake, as an expression of its own values. Instead they are interested only on the basis of what the “party” decision is. How it will affect politics. The Leninist concept of democratic centralism writ large.

    For the communists TRUTH was by definition what the decision of the party was. For you guys its the consensus. But the scientists saw natural reality as beyond the decision-making capacity of puny humans and our petty squabbles didn’t change reality even a little bit either way.

    Now the better exponents of some of the favoured tools are held up to be fine scientists but they are no such thing. Since in reality science is NATURAL PHILOSOPHY…. And maths and statistics are only tools of this discipline.

  40. Comment from: SJT

    “This clearly shows a GHG caused ‘hotspot’ or fingerprint as predicted by computer modelling. The problem is MSU data shows no such fingerprint. You prove otherwise; or toddle back to troll-land.”

    As fine an example of cherry picking as has ever been produced. The original claim by Christy et al was that the whole troposphere was not showing the correct fingerprint, according to their satellite data. Upon investigation, it was their satellite data that was wrong.

    They came back with a revised claim, the mid level, tropical troposphere hotspot was the problem now, a vastly reduced scope from the original claim. Their graph is highly misleading, as it shows the deviation from the modelled projections. The spot has warmed, but not as much, according to their measurements. The ‘missing’ is not missing, they are displaying the deviation from the projection. That the models have hot it 90% correct is not the problem for them. As it is, the deviation is within the bounds of error, and is being investigated, just as all the science is being investigated, and re-investigated. It’s an ongoing process, because it will never be finished. That is the nature of science. Given the evidence that has been collected, the convergent streams from the various sources referred to in the reports, AGW is still mostly correct. (And for science, that’s usually as good as it gets.)

  41. Comment from: Graeme Bird

    Come on SJT. You are crying wolf here. You are bullshitting us right? You read something over at Deltoid that you didn’t understand and you are running with it right?

    OK. What else have you got about this? Keep going. Make your case further.

  42. Comment from: Celebrity Paycut - Encouraging celebrities all over the world to save us from global warming by taking a paycut.

    [...] pundits – the Akermans, Devines, Marohasys, [...]

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