Thursday, December 24, 2009

No external pressure back in 2003 at Climate Research

Hans von Storch and Clare Goodess, two former editors of Climate Research, who stepped down in 2003, have responded to Pat Michael's comment on Wall Street Journal online, 17 december 2009:

In his article, Pat Michaels claimed: "After Messrs. Jones and Mann threatened a boycott of publications and reviews, half the editorial board of Climate Research resigned." Indeed, Hans von Storch resigned at first and four others, among them Clare Goodess, followed shortly afterwards. These resignations took place spontaneously and independently. We had indeed earlier been confronted with claims that unacceptable articles had been published in Climate Research – as documented by the stolen CRU e-mails – but also our non-direct response to the complainants was documented by these e-mails.

The action we took was to demand published evidence that the criticized articles were methodically flawed. Such evidence was after a while presented (On Past Temperatures and Anomalous late-20th Century Warmth by Mann et al. in EOS 84, No. 27, 256, 2003). Thus it became clear that the review process of the criticized article had been insufficient, since a number of relevant issues had not been dealt with in the article and its revision. That is, the peer-review process in Climate Research had been compromised to the extent that a change of procedures was needed. In order to do so, Hans von Storch was appointed as chief editor by the publisher. As such, he wanted to publicly explain that there had been a quality control problem with the journal – when this was not accepted by the publisher, Hans von Storch stepped down – coincidentally on the day before a hearing in the Senate environment committee. Since such hearings are of no interest in Germany, Hans von Storch had no idea of this coincidence.

At the time of the events in 2003, Hans von Storch prepared a web-page, which apart from some additions (marked as such) is unchanged since then: Clare Goodess also wrote an independent account shortly afterwards:

In conclusion, the resignation of the two of us, Clare Goodess and Hans von Storch, was related only to events and decisions internal to Climate Research, and had nothing to do with any pressure exerted by peers. Certainly its timing had nothing to do with political events in Washington D.C.. We find it annoying that interested groups are now misrepresenting our motives. Those who know us will be aware of the fact that forcing anything on us is pretty difficult. Indeed our motivations for resigning were vindicated shortly afterwards in a statement from the publisher printed in the journal that Climate Research ‘should have requested appropriate revisions of the manuscript prior to publication’.