I wanted to explain the position of wariness i have publicly taken on a potential collaboration with you.
First, i should have thanked you for offering it, because that implies that you believe i could contribute something useful. Quite a few people know vastly more about this subject – but it could also true that they might not be so open to collaboration outside of the tried “teams”. Hence my inexperience comes as both a blessing and a curse, but i am honored that you would even consider a collaboration with me – especially after some rather unsparing critiques. This alone is reason enough to respect you.
I have been prudent, however, to get involved in collaboration, as i wanted to be sure that you are after the answer to the old question “Was the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) a global signal and was it warmer than now ?” – and not just another dissenting publication to give fuel to the AGW-denying side, throwing away the standards of scientific publications that you seem to have upheld during much of your career (if i am to judge from a quick Web Of Science search, and browsing through a few papers).
You seem like a very creative scientist and i would never mean to downplay the contributions you have made to applied mathematics. The issue is, as far as i could judge from that one Energy & Environment article, you did not seem genuine and serious about answering the aforementioned question. This, some flamboyant prose notwithstanding, is the essence of my review.
Also, you referred in the 2007 article to a discussion of the MWP in “Loehle (2006)”, whereas upon closer examination, the paper lists only 2 references of yours : one in 2004, one in 2005….
– Loehle, C., (2004). Using historical climate data to evaluate climate trends: issues of statistical inference. Energy & Environment, 5, pp. 1-10.
– Loehle, C., (2005). Estimating climatic timeseries from multi-site data afflicted with dating error. Mathematical Geology, 37, pp. 127-140.
I just read the latter article and found it extremely interesting. I fully agree that the field of paleoclimatology has failed to taken dating uncertainties into explicit account (p137, top line). This is something i have recently started to work on, and yours is exactly the kind of contribution that could change this. The last paragraph, however, left me quite dumbfounded :
it is not sufficient to simply average historical data to produce a global or hemispheric timeseries, because dating error afflicts virtually all extant pre-instrumental reconstructions. There are two options available for obtaining statistically valid global or hemispheric timeseries. If better dating methods can be developed to reduce dating errors in proxy records, then simple averaging of series is valid. Given the many sources of dating error, this is a challenge. If, on the other hand, multiple series can be estimated, the estimation methods developed in this paper can be applied to identify trends and cycles in the historical record, even with dating errors.
So, if “it is not sufficient to simply average historical data to produce a global or hemispheric timeseries”, why did you do so in the E&E article ? And why didn’t you apply the two-stage nonlinear estimation technique you describe in the Mathematical Geology article, since it was so readily available to you ?
Have i been unfair to you while overly indulgent with my colleagues ? I have been accused at ClimateAudit.org and on this blog of not taking a “hard look in the mirror” – a fair criticism i mulled over this during the Thanksgiving break. As i’ve stated elsewhere, my criteria as a reviewer have been :
1) Is the result or approach original ? Does it recognize prior scholarly work on the topic ?
2) is the methodology described with enough detail ?
3) are all important choices substantiated by reference or discussion ?
4) are the uncertainties appropriately discussed ?
5) are the conclusions warranted by the analysis ?
(these would undergo minor adjustments according to the field of study, e.g. paleoclimate vs. recent climate vs. climate modeling. They are by no means universal, and i welcome suggestions from other adepts of peer-review to refine or correct them.)
Be that as it may ; in the case of you paper, i would answer by :
2) not for me
3) somewhat (yes for excluding tree-rings, no for why certain other problematic proxies were retained)
So that would lead me to ask for major revisions, or plainly reject the manuscript if i felt that the author were not of good faith. As i said in the review, a few other minor flaws hinted to the latter.
How would these criteria apply to other published reconstructions ? Let’s take the canonical “Team” global reconstructions (Mann, Bradley and Hughes, [98/99] ; Esper et al.  ; Moberg , Hegerl et al 2007), that i have read in sufficient detail. I state here, that while all of them have their own limitations, the same criteria i applied to your article would lead me to accept them as valid contributions to paleoclimatology – but obviously not as the Climate Gospel. In particular, much remains to be done to address uncertainties in time and temperature (X and Y, so to speak) and estimate error bars in a manner that truthfully reflects the uncertainty in the reconstructed temperatures. It is a problem in our field as a whole, one where i can only hope to make some advances myself. I never demanded you to miraculously solve all the problems of paleoclimatology in one fell-swoop ; i merely demanded proof that the basic homework had been done. Since your paper gave such a displeasing impression of the opposite, i labeled it as “pseudo-scientific gibberish”. This seemed to get quite a few people angry at ClimateAudit (although this is not a very hard thing to do ;-), so I re-iterate my definition :
Is pseudo-scientific any text or speech that wears the attributes of science while lacking the necessary rigor in the essential fulcrums of its reasoning.
and stand by the claim that the adjective applies to the E&E manuscript in its present form. I concede that “gibberish” was a somewhat excessive substantive, and i apologize for this unnecessary strike.
So, after this clarification, what do we do ? If you are ready to meet and address these issues in good faith, i would be more than happy to help in whichever little way that i can. I do believe that much is to be gained from a insightful application of mathematics to climate proxies, and would be thrilled to take part in it if our objectives are common. If you are still interested, you know where to find me.
Of course, you are perfectly free to ignore this call – after all this is only a blog and there are more important things in life.