UKTC Archive

RE: CAVAT .....not really....climate change, peer review, bristlecones, hockey sticks, PCA......

Subject: RE: CAVAT .....not really....climate change, peer review, bristlecones, hockey sticks, PCA......
From: Jon Heuch
Date: Dec 21 2010 17:02:39
Peer review may have its flaws, but it does help an editor weed out problem 
papers - just that,
help, not guarantee. However, just because it may have flaws shouldn't put 
you off it. On the other
hand, having CAVAT "peer" reviewed by arborists would have its limitations - 
it needs to be reviewed
by a wider group of professionals.


For those of you interested in the peer review process on a current theme 
read The Hockey Stick
A fascinating book which I could hardly put down. Mind you if the term 
"principal components
analysis" doesn't mean much to you you might find it hard to judge the spin 
being put on by the
various players, editors etc. Just goes to show that between the black and 
the white of science
there is an awful lot of grey stuff. <> 


Is this a red herring? Think again. The re-creation of past climates has been 
heavily dependent on
tree ring (dendro)chronologies, and due to the statistical technique used 
these have been heavily
weighted towards a few bristlecone pines and related species in western USA. 
Late on in the book
there is a reference to finding out that tree ring width may be affected by 
the condition of the
tree...hold on a minute, I thought, this is standard stuff for arbs, but 
there has been no mention
to the texts we all know. The assumption had been that any change in ring 
width was due to changes
in temperature. It appears that the rings of the bristlecones are highly 
sensitive to increases in
CO2 so their recent increase in growth is not due to increases in temperature 
alone but also to the
known increases in CO2.  In addition, the bristlecone data was not a random 
sample but from a few
trees with defects or some morphological trait that I didn't quite have to read a
good 75% of the book to get to this.


And why is this relevant to CAVAT - well the peer review process (and we are 
talking about serious
scientific journals here) appeared to be flawed. Quite what went wrong is 
difficult to gauge but
there is enough in this book to show you something of the reality of peer 
review. Not so much the
blind leading the blind, but some blinkered thinking perhaps.


So when someone tells you the last few years have been the hottest ever, you 
will have doubts once
you have read this book. Did the medieval warm period ever exist? Did 
scientists quash it? You will
have serious doubts about the workings of the IPCC too. A copy should be in 
every stocking this


 Jon Heuch Tel:          +44 (0)1233 XXX XXX Mob:    +44 (0)7810 XXX XXX


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