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Pielke Sr.: Climategate Emails Just a Small Sample of a Broad Issue (PJM Exclusive)

PJM: George Monbiot has suggested that Dr. Jones should resign his position, and several people (ex. Hans von Storch, Eduardo Zorita) have suggested that Dr. Jones, Dr. Michael Mann, and others should be removed from the IPCC and excluded from the peer review process in the future. Indeed, Dr. Michael Hulme has suggested that the IPCC itself be abandoned for structural politicization of science. Do you agree with any or all of these suggestions?

Pielke: I am more concerned with the broader issue in this email exposure, of which these emails are just a small sample.

The IPCC process itself is inadequate, as we report in our new paper (Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell, W. Rossow, J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian, and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. An edited version of this paper was published by AGU. Copyright 2009 American Geophysical Union). We report that the IPCC assessment did not consider all perspectives on the role of humans in the climate system.

This supports the viewpoint expressed by Dr. Michael Hulme that you listed in your question. We need a new assessment process.

PJM: Do you think these revelations should cause us to question the case for global warming -- that is, for a general rise in average temperature over the last 400 or 1000 years -- irrespective of cause?

Pielke: The data is quite convincing that there was warming at many locations around the Earth over the last hundred years. However, it is also convincing that warming has ceased, at least for the time being, since mid-2003.

Our research, however, has shown a warm bias in the surface temperature record over the last several decades, as reported most recently in this paper: Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2009: An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841.

We also document a set of unresolved uncertainties and biases in the surface temperature data in several of our other research papers. For example: Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229.

Thus the magnitude of global warming using the surface temperature data trends overstates recent warming.