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Another toothless review of the BOM?

Posted By Joanne Nova On September 30, 2014 @ 9:11 am In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

In last week’s news we find — by golly — that the BOM are going to “rush” to set up an oversight panel that they were told to set up back in 2011 or 2012. Hey, it was going to take three years to set up the panel, but now they’re doing it in two! That’s what I call “action”.

So the BOM knows it’s in trouble, and they shift to Stage 2.  They’ve avoided the skeptical questions, the FOIA’s, and the request for explanations for as long as they possibly could. But now the mainstream media is involved, something has to change — because nothing is worse than playing out the questions and answers in an uncontrolled way in public. To pack away those contentious points, what better method than by appointing a committee, review panel, or some kind of “independent” assessment? The right committee can produce toothless recommendations, vague praise, and a weak slap on the wrist and it can take years to do it.

Thus and verily do Ministers sometimes palm off problems, and responsibility. All decision-making power seemingly goes to the “review” (unless it somehow produces an undesirable result). Should the review churn out the conclusion the Minister wanted, he or she can fob off hard questions by dutifully claiming to be “following expert advice”. So public debate stalls superficially at the he-said, they-said stage — unless the media actually asks hard questions.

So whether or not a review is useful depends largely on who runs it, and their motivation for doing it.

Senator Birmingham appointed to oversee BOM review

So how motivated is Birmingham to get a real answer? Allegedly, he was one of the “keenest” for an ETS in 2009. In May 2013 he again made it clear he thinks we need global action for CO2 reduction:

“Senator Milne is right: the challenge of climate change remains one of how you get a global solution; how you get global action; how you get emissions down from those who are far bigger emitters than Australia…. Should we try to reduce carbon emissions? Absolutely. … We should be seeking, of course, to reduce their emissions” — Senator Birmingham

Birmingham may have little incentive to do a real review that shows up his former less-than-skeptical attitude. But if Cory Bernardi or Dennis Jensen were put in charge, no one would be asking whether the review was serious.

I’ve seen an email about this review saying that the BOM will be vetting nominations: (Dated Sept 23rd) Public nominations are not being called for, however any nomination will be passed on the Director of the Bureau of Meteorology for consideration. Nominations must be received within the next fortnight and all nominations must be verified by the person concerned and include academic resume and relevant reviewed scientific publications to ascertain credentials. 

In other words, a whitewash. If the BOM was so sure it was doing world class, impeccable research, it would be demanding independent replication of its work to clear its name and assure Australians of the high standards. All methods fully published, testable, and reproduced. Anything less is not science.

The Australian Sept 16, 2014

Birmingham brings early change to bureau review

THE Bureau of Meteorology has been ordered to bring forward the creation of a panel of external ­experts to oversee the national homogenised temperature record, ACORN-SAT.

The federal government will monitor the technical advisory group to ensure it includes ­respected external scientists and statisticians as recommended by the peer review panel that originally approved the ACORN-SAT methodology.

Simon Birmingham, the parliamentary secretary with responsibility for the weather bureau, said yesterday it had advised that establishment of the oversight panel was “in progress” and due to be completed by next year.

“However, the parliamentary secretary in reviewing the recommendations has brought the completion date forward to the end of 2014,” a spokesman said.

Senator Birmingham would be briefed on the proposed composition of the panel and would “ensure” it had the independence envisaged in the original recommendation, he said.

The bureau has been under pressure to meet the recommendations of its independent peer review panel, which praised the ACORN-SAT program two years ago but said greater transparency was needed.

Last week, the bureau published a full list of adjustments after criticisms that homogenisation had changed cooling trends at some regional weather stations to warming trends.

The bureau has said adjustments are necessary to compensate for changes in equipment or location or after comparisons are made with nearby stations.

The BOM are still telling us their adjustments don’t affect the trend when it is obvious they do:

“The bureau says while homogenisation had changed temperature trends at some stations, the overall national trend for warming has not been affected.”

Oh joy, a technical advisory group too?

In addition to the publication of reasons for adjustments, the peer review panel recommended two years ago a technical advisory group meet annually to review progress on the development and operation of ACORN-SAT.


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