(Update 5th Aug 2010 09:15 – Andrew Montford tells me that he has now contacted Professor Steve Jones who is conducting the review for the BBC, and that he says that the rumour is not true. This makes the BBC’s behaviour even more difficult to explain)

On 17th November 2009, over a thousand emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) were published on the internet triggering the scandal that has now become known as Climategate.

Between 8th and 18 of December, hopes of a globally binding agreement on carbon emissions reduction died at the Copenhagen Summit. On 3rd December, the UEA appointed Sir Muir Russell to conduct an ‘independent’ review of the activities at the CRU.

And on 6th January 2010, Professor Richard Tait, a BBC trustee and chairman of their flagship Editorial Standards Committee  (ESC) announced a review of the accuracy and impartiality of science coverage, with particular attention to climate change, and a report was scheduled for Spring 2011. For climate sceptics this was a timely and welcome development. Over the last few years, bloggers have been reporting on an apparent synergy that exists between the BBC and the environmental movement which has led to blatant distortion in reporting climate change.

During the following few weeks, an extremely rushed inquiry into Climategate by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee took place and, while giving evidence to the Committee, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Edward Acton, announced yet another review, specifically concerned with the scientific research undertaken by the CRU. This was to be chaired by Lord Oxburgh.

The IPCC also announced that a review, limited in scope to the procedures under which their assessment reports are compiled, would report in August.

The prospect of all these inquiries being set up to consider what had become a major scandal, which by now was doing immense damage to the credibility of climate science in particular, but also to public confidence in science as a whole,was welcomed by sceptics. But as details of how the various inquiry panels were to conduct their reviews emerged, this turned into ever growing concern. It became clear that sceptical opinions would not be represented on any of the inquiry panels, and that although sceptics would be permitted to make written submissions, there would be no opportunity for them to ensure that their concerns were fully understood and investigated.  By the end of March the credibility of the inquiries was in doubt.

On 7th April, Andrew Montford of Bishop Hill fame and I sent a joint letter to Professor Tait in his capacity as a BBC Trustee and chairman of the all important ESC in an attempt to ensure that sceptical views were fully represented in the course of the BBC Science review. Continue reading »

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