Consensus Climatology in a Nutshell: Betrayal of Integrity

Guest essay by Pat Frank

Today’s offering is a morality tale about the clash of honesty with self-interest, of integrity with income, and of arrogance with ignorance.

I’m bringing out the events below for general perusal only because they’re a perfect miniature of the sewer that is consensus climatology.

And also because corrupt practice battens in the dark. With Anthony’s help, we’ll let in some light.

On November third Anthony posted about a new statistical method of evaluating climate models, published in “Geoscientific Model Development” (GMD), a journal then unfamiliar to me.

WUWT readers will remember my recent post about unsuccessful attempts to publish on error propagation and climate model reliability. So I thought, “A new journal to try!”

Copernicus Publications publishes Geoscientific Model Development under the European Geosciences Union.

The Journal advertises itself as, “an international scientific journal dedicated to the publication and public discussion of the description, development, and evaluation of numerical models of the Earth system and its components.

It welcomes papers that include, “new methods for assessment of models, including work on developing new metrics for assessing model performance and novel ways of comparing model results with observational data.

GMD is the perfect Journal for the new method of model evaluation by propagation of calibration error.

So I gave it a try, and submitted my manuscript, “Propagation of Error and the Reliability of Global Air Temperature Projections“; samizdat manuscript here (13.5 mb pdf). Copernicus assigned a “topical editor” by reference to manuscript keywords.

My submission didn’t last 24 hours. It was rapidly rejected and deleted from the journal site.

The topical editor was Dr. James Annan, a climate modeler. Here’s what he wrote in full:

Topical Editor Initial Decision: Reject (07 Nov 2017) by James Annan


“Comments to the Author:


“This manuscript is silly and I’d be embarrassed to waste the time of reputable scientists by sending it out for review. The trivial error of the author is the assumption that the ~4W/m^2 error in cloud forcing is compounded on an annual basis. Nowhere in the manuscript it is explained why the annual time scale is used as opposed to hourly, daily or centennially, which would make a huge difference to the results. The ~4W/m^2 error is in fact essentially time-invariant and thus if one is determined to pursue this approach, the correct time scale is actually infinite. Of course this is what underpins the use of anomalies for estimating change, versus using the absolute temperatures. I am confident that the author has already had this pointed out to them on numerous occasions (see refs below) and repeating this process in GMD will serve no useful purpose.”

Before I parse out the incompetent wonderfulness of Dr. Annan’s views, let’s take a very relevant excursion into GMD’s ethical guidelines about conflict of interest.

But if you’d like to anticipate the competence assessment, consult the 12 standard reviewer mistakes. Dr. Annan managed many ignorant gaffes in that one short paragraph.

But on to ethics: GMD’s ethical guidelines for editors include:

“An editor should give unbiased consideration to all manuscripts offered for publication…”

“Editors should avoid situations of real or perceived conflicts of interest in which the relationship could bias judgement of the manuscript.”

Copernicus Publications goes further and has a specific “Competing interests policy” for editors:

“A conflict of interest takes place when there is any interference with the objective decision making by an editor or objective peer review by the referee. Such secondary interests could be financial, personal, or in relation to any organization. If editors or referees encounter their own conflict of interest, they have to declare so and – if necessary – renounce their role in assessing the respective manuscript.”


In a lovely irony, my cover letter to chief editor Dr. Julia Hargreaves made this observation and request:

Unfortunately, it is necessary to draw to your attention the very clear professional conflict of interest for any potential reviewer reliant on climate models for research. The same caution applies to a reviewer whose research is invested in the consensus position concerning the climatological impact of CO2 emissions.


“Therefore, it is requested that the choice of reviewers be among scientists who do not suffer such conflicts.


“I do understand that this study presents a severe test of professional integrity. Nevertheless I have confidence in your commitment to the full rigor of science.

It turns out that Dr. Annan is co-principal of Blue Sky Research, Inc. Ltd., a for-profit company that offers climate modeling for hire, and that has at least one corporate contract.

Is it reasonable to surmise that Dr. Annan might have a financial conflict of interest with a critically negative appraisal of climate model reliability?

Is it another reasonable surmise that he may possibly have a strong negative, even reflexive, rejectionist response to a study that definitively finds climate models to have no predictive value?

In light of his very evident financial conflicts of interest, did editor Dr. Annan recuse himself knowing the actuality, not just the image, of a serious and impending impropriety? Nope.

It gets even better, though.

Dr. Julia Hargreaves is the GMD Chief Executive Editor. I cc’d her on the email correspondence with the Journal (see below). It is her responsibility to administer journal ethics.

Did she remove Dr. Annan? Nope.

I communicated Dr. Annan’s financial and professional conflicts of interest to Copernicus Publications (see the emails below). The Publisher is the ultimate administrator of Journal ethics.

Did the publisher step in to excuse Dr. Annan? Nope.

It also turns out that GMD Chief Executive Editor Dr. Julia Hargreaves is the other co-principal of Blue Sky Research, Inc. Ltd.

She shares the identical financial conflict of interest with Dr. Annan.

Julia Hargreaves and James Annan are also a co-live-in couple, perhaps even married.

One can’t help but wonder if there was a dinner-table conversation.

Is Julia capable of administering James’ obvious financial conflict of interest violation? Apparently no more than is James.

Is Julia capable of administering her own obvious financial conflict of interest? Does James have free rein at GMD, Julia’s Executive Editorship withal? Evidently, the answers are no and yes.

Should financially conflicted Julia and James have any editorial responsibilities at all, at a respectable Journal pretending critical appraisals of climate models?

Both Dr. Annan and Dr. Hargreaves also have a research focus on climate modeling. Any grant monies depend on the perceived efficacy of climate models.

They will have a separate professional conflict of interest with any critical study of climate models that comes to negative conclusions.

So much for conflict of interest.

Let’s proceed to Dr. Annan’s technical comments. This will be brief.

We can note his very unprofessional first sentence and bypass it in compassionate silence.

He wrote, “… ~4W/m^2 error in cloud forcing…” except it is ±4 W/m^2 not Dr. Annan’s positive sign +4 W/m^2. Apparently for Dr. Annan, ± = +.

And ±4 W/m^2 is a calibration error statistic, not an energetic forcing.

That one phrase alone engages mistakes 2, 4, and 6.

How does it happen that a PhD in mathematics does not understand rms (root-mean-square) and cannot distinguish a “±” from a “+”?

How comes a PhD mathematician unable to discern a physically real energy from a statistic?

Next, “the assumption that the [error] is compounded on an annual basis”

That “assumption” is instead a demonstration. Ten pages of the manuscript are dedicated to showing the error arises within the models, is a systematic calibration error, and necessarily propagates stepwise.

Dr. Annan here qualifies for the honor of mistakes 4 and 5.

Next, “Nowhere in the manuscript it is explained why the annual time scale is used as opposed to hourly, daily or centennially,…

Exactly “why” was fully explained in manuscript Section 2.4.1 (pp. 28-30), and the full derivation was provided in Supporting Information Section 6.2.

Dr. Annan merits a specialty award for extraordinarily careless reading.

On to, “The ~4W/m^2 error is in fact essentially time-invariant…

Like Mr. andthentheresphysics, Nick Stokes, and Dr. Patrick Brown, Dr. Annan apparently does not understand that a time average is a statistic conveying, ‘mean magnitude per time-unit.’ This concept is evidently not covered in the Ph.D.

And then, “the correct time scale is actually infinite.

Except it’s not infinite, (see above), but here Dr. Annan has made a self-serving interpretative choice. Dr. Annan actually wrote that his +4 W/m^2 is “time-invariant,” which is also consistent with an infinitely short time. The propagated uncertainty is then also infinite; good job, Dr. Annan.

Penultimately, “this is what underpins the use of anomalies for estimating change…

Dr. Annan again assumed ±4 W/m^2 statistic is a constant +4 W/m^2 physical offset error, reiterating mistakes 4, 6, 7, and 9.

And it’s always nice to finish up with an irony: “I am confident that the author has already had this pointed out to them on numerous occasions…

In this, finally, Dr. Annan is correct (except grammatically; referencing a singular noun with a plural pronoun).

I have yet to encounter a single climate modeler who understands:

  • that “±” is not “+,”
  • that an error statistic is not a physical energy,
  • that taking anomalies does not remove physical uncertainty,
  • that models can be calibrated at all,
  • or that systematic calibration error propagates through subsequent calculations.

Dr. Annan now joins that chorus.

The predominance of mathematicians among climate modelers, like Dr. Annan, explains why climate modeling is in such a shambles.

Dr. Annan’s publication list illustrates the problem. Not one paper concerns incorporating new physical theory into a model. Climate modeling is all about statistics.

It hardly bears mentioning that statistics is not physics. But that absolutely critical distinction is obviously lost on climate modelers, and even on consensus-supporting scientists.

None of these people are scientists. None of them know how to think scientifically.

They have made the whole modeling enterprise a warm little pool of Platonic idealism, untroubled by the cold relentless currents of science and its dreadfully impersonal tests of experiment, observation, and physical error.

In their hands, climate models have become more elaborate but not more accurate.

In fact, apart from Lindzen and Choi’s Iris theory, there doesn’t seem to have been any advance in the physical theory of climate since at least 1990.

Such is the baleful influence on science of unconstrained mathematical idealism.

The whole Journal response reeks of fake ethics and arrogant incompetence.

In my opinion, GMD ethics have proven to be window dressing on a house given over to corruption; a fraud.

Also in my opinion, this one episode is emblematic of all of consensus climate science.

Finally, the email traffic is reproduced below.

My responses to the Journal pointed out Dr. Annan’s conflict of interest and obvious errors. On those grounds, I asked that the manuscript be reinstated. I always cc’d GMD Chief Executive Editor Dr. Julia Hargreaves.

The Journal remained silent, no matter even the clear violations of its own ethical pronouncements; as did Dr. Hargreaves.

1. GMD’s notice of rejection:


Subject: gmd-2017-281 (author) – manuscript not accepted

Date: November 7, 2017 at 6:07 AM


Dear Patrick Frank,

We regret that your following submission was not accepted for publication in GMD:

Title: Propagation of Error and the Reliability of Global Air Temperature Projections

Author(s): Patrick Frank

MS No.: gmd-2017-281

MS Type: Methods for assessment of models

Iteration: Initial Submission

You can view the reasons for this decision via your MS Overview:

To log in, please use your Copernicus Office user ID xxxxx.

We thank you very much for your understanding and hope that you will consider GMD again for the publication of your future scientific papers.

In case any questions arise, please contact me.

Kind regards,

Natascha Töpfer

Copernicus Publications

Editorial Support

on behalf of the GMD Editorial Board


2. My first response:

From: Patrick Frank

Subject: Re: gmd-2017-281 (author) – manuscript not accepted

Date: November 7, 2017 at 7:46 PM



Dear Ms. Töpfer,

Dr. Annan has a vested economic interest in climate modeling. He does not qualify as editor under the ethical conflict of interest guidelines of the Journal.

Dr. Annan’s posted appraisal is factually, indeed fatally, incorrect.

Dr. Annan wrongly claimed the ±4 W/m^2 annual error is explained “nowhere in the manuscript.” It is explained on page 30, lines 571-584.

The full derivation is provided in Supporting Information Section 6.2.

There is no doubt that the ±4 W/m^2 is an annual calibration uncertainty.

One can only surmise that Dr. Annan did not read the manuscript before coming to his decision.

Dr. Annan also made the naïve error of supposing that the ±4 W/m^2 calibration uncertainty is a constant offset physical error.

Plus/minus cannot be constant positive (or negative). It cannot be subtracted away in an anomaly.

Dr. Annan’s rejection is not only scientifically unjustifiable. It is not even scientific.

I ask that Dr. Annan be excused on ethical grounds, and on the grounds of an obviously careless and truly incompetent initial appraisal.

I further respectfully ask that the manuscript be reinstated and re-assigned to an alternative editor who is capable of non-partisan stewardship.

Thank-you for your consideration,


Patrick Frank, Ph.D.

Palo Alto, CA 94301



3. Journal response #1: silence.


4. My second response:

From: Patrick Frank

Subject: Re: gmd-2017-281

Date: November 8, 2017 at 8:08 PM



Dear Ms. Töpfer,

One suspects the present situation is difficult for you. So, let me make things plain.

I am a Ph.D. physical methods experimental chemist with emphasis in X-ray spectroscopy. I work at Stanford University.

My email address there is, if you would like to verify my standing.

I have 30+ years of experience, international collaborators, and an extensive publication record.

My most recent paper is Patrick Frank, et al., (2017) “Spin-Polarization-Induced Pre-edge Transitions in the Sulfur KEdge XAS Spectra of Open-Shell Transition-Metal Sulfates: Spectroscopic Validation of σBond Electron Transfer” Inorganic Chemistry 56, 1080-1093; doi: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.6b00991.

Physical error analysis is routine for me. Manuscript gmd-2017-281 strictly focuses on physical error analysis.

Dr. Annan is a mathematician. He has no training in the physical sciences. He has no training or experience in assessing systematic physical error and its impacts.

He is unlikely to ever have made a measurement, or worked with an instrument, or to have propagated systematic physical error through a calculation.

A survey of Dr. Annan’s publication titles shows no indication of physical error analysis.

His comments on gmd-2017-281 reveal no understanding of the physical uncertainty deriving from model calibration error.

He evidently does not realize that physical knowledge statements are conditioned by physical uncertainty.

Dr. Annan has no training in physical error analysis. He has no experience with physical error analysis. He has never engaged the systematic error that is the focus of gmd-2017-281.

Dr. Annan is not qualified to evaluate the manuscript. He is not competent to be the manuscript editor. He is not competent to be a reviewer.

Dr. Annan’s comments on gmd-2017-281 are no more than ignorant.

This is all in addition to Dr. Annan’s very serious conflict of financial and professional interest with the content of gmd-2017-281.

Journal ethics demand that he should have immediately recused himself. However, he did not do so.

I ask you to reinstate gmd-2017-281 and assign a competent and ethical editor capable of knowledgeable and impartial review.

Geoscientific Model Development can be a Journal devoted to science.

Or it can play at nonsense.

The choice is yours.

I will not bother you further, of course. Silence will be evidence of your choice for nonsense.

Best wishes,


Patrick Frank, Ph.D.

Palo Alto, CA 94301



5. Journal response #2: silence.


The journal has remained silent as of 11 November 2017.

They have chosen to play at nonsense. So chooses all of consensus climate so-called science.

via Watts Up With That?

November 12, 2017 at 02:08AM

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