Ever since I nervously downloaded a file named FOI2009.zip from a rather dodgy sounding Russian server one November night last year, there has been a nagging question troubling me. When the terms of reference for the Russell Inquiry were announce it seemed certain that, whatever shortcomings this so-called independent inquiry might have, an answer to that question must be forthcoming,

Examine the hacked e-mail exchanges, other relevant e-mail exchanges and any other information held at CRU …..


Review CRU‘s compliance or otherwise with the University‘s policies and practices regarding requests under the Freedom of Information Act (?the FoIA‘) and the Environmental Information Regulations (?the EIR‘) for the release of data.

Russell Report page 22, paragraph 1

The FOI2009.zip file contained the Climategate files, and the  question was, where did it come from? I did not, of course, expect that the Russell Inquiry would reveal the precise circumstances of the leak or hack unless the Police investigation was over. However determining whether a folder with the name FOI2009, or one with the same contents as the file on the Russian server, existed on a University of East Anglia computer must surely be one of the main stepping-stones to unravelling just what the great scientific scandal known as Climategate was all about. If it did exist on a CRU server, then there would be many questions to ask about how and why it was created. No credible investigation of the university’s handing of FOI requests could be carried out otherwise.

From what I can see in the Russell Report, that mystery still persists. Continue reading »

(Here is another take on last night’s proceedings, this time from Alex Cull. He confirms some of Robin’s impressions, but with some very perceptive comments on the impression made by some of thevspeakers too. I’ve posted it at the top of the page as it’s newer, but things are getting a bit chaotic I’m afraid. Both accounts are well worth reading.)

I found the debate fascinating in its way, and wouldn’t have missed it – £12 well-spent, in my opinion. I would agree, however, with Robin’s assessment of the discussions and QA session as being disjointed – there was no particular depth to the discussions and it would have been nice to have had some of the important points well and truly thrashed out between the panellists.

I have a sound recording of the whole thing (hopefully!) but it will take a while to extract some worthwhile quotes – my device was very good at picking up coughs and throat-clearing from the next row, not so good with sounds from further off. In the meantime, some impressions:

  • George Monbiot came across as personable and articulate, and I think he handled the proceedings well; while he was in no way a neutral party, I think he gave Steve McIntyre and Doug Keenan as much airtime as the others; it wasn’t a Guardian stitch-up, in other words. I found the selection of who got to ask the questions reasonably fair, although it could be argued that with a minority of women in the audience, his rule of man-woman-man-woman was a little unfair to the blokes. And yes, fellow journalists Roger Harrabin and Jonathan Leake got to ask questions, but then so did the rather eccentric-looking chap who brought an actual hockey stick, and so did the acerbic Piers Corbyn (rather mischievous on George’s part, as he would have known what sort of mayhem might ensue!) So it could have been managed far worse. The audience was lively, with some shouting a commentary (“No!” “Shame!” “Answer the question!”) but there was no danger of  things actually getting out of hand.
  • Steve McIntyre was polite, soft-spoken, not a natural public speaker but came across as a gentleman. At times he appeared rather diffident, and I’m sure that someone who was unacquainted with ClimateAudit or the Hockey Stick controversy might have been forgiven for wondering exactly what all the fuss was about and why this man was so central to the whole business. He also floundered a bit when asked as to how he would account for the warming since 1980; yes, he could have quite easily parried this question in a number of ways, but I know from my (thankfully limited) public speaking experiences what it is like being put on the spot, and how easy it is to prepare the perfect answer, with hindsight.  Ironically, his answer was all about the uncertainties, and acknowledging the uncertainties was one of the evening’s big themes; another questioner from the audience had asserted that sceptics were full of a sense of certainty about climate change themselves, and here was, in a way, an appropriate response. I thought Steve McIntyre shone, though, when it came to the question of who actually questioned Phil Jones during the Muir Russell inquiry, and made the point that Sir Muir Russell had not interviewed Dr Jones after the introductory meeting in January (this was the point in the debate where Professor Trevor Davies came somewhat unstuck.) He demonstrated an excellent memory and an attention to detail that was lacking in the UEA administrator.
  • Prof. Trevor Davies, I thought was the least convincing of the panellists.  About the one thing in his favour was that he said he avoided using the “denier” epithet. Although he insisted that the inquiries were truly independent, listening to him it was difficult to escape the impression that they had been carefully set up to absolve the UEA of blame and to not probe too deeply into that which should not be probed. I actually felt a bit sorry for him when he was put on the spot re the Phil Jones interviews and had to riffle hurriedly through his notes. During the whole Climategate affair, people have often said it showed that scientists were “only human” – the same can also be said for administrators. Mind you, he should really have been a lot better prepared.
  • *Fred Pearce was a good speaker and made basically similar points to the ones he makes in his book, i.e., that he found some of the e-mails unsettling, that he is entirely convinced that the way climate science is carried out needs to be overhauled, but at the same time certain that the case for AGW remains absolutely unchanged. His message was not essentially different to that of Bob Watson, except that he has been openly critical of the UEA administration – in his book, for instance, he describes Prof. Edward Acton as being “smooth and slippery.”
  • Bob Watson was also an effective speaker, as he was in last week’s Newsnight programme. But there was no attempt to get into the details, really – mainly authoritative, big-picture statements about human influences on the climate.  Curiously he revealed that he had not read many of the e-mails (vocal incredulity from the audience!) Also he praised the IPCC as an institution and asserted that it was indeed the best that it could be in the circumstances (I’ll have to check the actual wording, but that’s basically what I seem to recall him saying.) Fine rhetoric indeed, but little or no analysis or reasoning to lay out in support of it – the perfect argument from authority.
  • Doug Keenan was very interesting; he came across as intense and slightly nervous, causing a stir when accusing Phil Jones of outright fraud and standing by his statement when asked by George Monbiot whether he would reconsider. One point that he made – that climate science needs to have the same kind of procedures of due diligence that the business world already has in place – was right on the mark, I think. Another interesting thing that he said was that scientists now appear to be using private e-mail (Gmail) rather than the university’s e-mail system, in order to avoid having to comply with FOI requests; Bob Watson said he knew nothing of this.

A general observation – the debate seemed to be divided into those who wanted to focus on the detail (McIntyre and Keenan) and those who wanted to look at the big picture (Watson and Pearce.) Some of the audience who asked questions seemed to be more concerned with the big picture, and the message from Watson and Pearce was that the picture (the science underpinning the theory of man-made global warming) has not fundamentally been affected by Climategate (although they allow that public perception has changed, and trust has to be restored,  etc.) But in my opinion, what those who talk of “overwhelming evidence” might not appreciate is that whenever the detail people (McIntyre and Keenan) start getting close up and inspecting the nuts and bolts, they start to find errors.  In a way, I think the venue was appropriate (RIBA, the The Royal Institute of British Architects) – if people with architectural knowledge started to examine the foundations of a grand building and consistently found problems, serious questions would need to be asked about the safety of the entire edifice.

Another observation (and this is something that Robin and I discussed yesterday)  – listening to the various speakers, it would be very good if there had been a sceptic who had both the science background and the debating ability and rhetorical skills to hold his/her own against the relative eloquence of the AGW proponent side. Despite the (on the whole) courteous and even-handed tone of yesterday’s debate, this was something that we both felt was lacking.


The Guardian has posted an audio recording of the debate here and some video here

h/t  to Alex for the links.


(Since putting up this post early this morning, I have received an excellent report of the proceedings from Robin Guenier. I have therefore changed the layout considerably in order to accommodate what he has to say. I will be updating this post as more information emerges. It may be worth checking the bottom of the page from time-to-time to see if anything new has been added.)

Guardian Debate

Climategate: The greatest scandal to hit climate science or a storm in a teacup?”

The debate, hosted by the Guardian, was held in the RIBA, London, on Wednesday, 14th July 2010. It was described on the Guardian website as a discussion about “what the affair has – and has not – revealed about the study of global warming”. Did it achieve that? Yes, I think so – and the mood of the meeting (it wasn’t a debate as such and much of the discussion was disjointed, inconclusive and bitty) was that the study of global warming would never be the same again. More openness and communication of uncertainty were essential and would happen in future. There was agreement that none of the recent enquiries had done an adequate job.

The event was well attended – several hundred people. George Monbiot, Guardian columnist, was chair and did a good job: fair, clear and amusing. The Panel (mutually friendly and respectful) consisted of Professor Trevor Davies, pro-vice-chancellor (research), UEA and former director of the CRU; Professor Bob Watson, chief scientific advisor, Defra, visiting professor at the UEA and former head of the IPCC; Fred Pearce, environment journalist and author of “The Climate Files”; Steve McIntyre, proprietor of climateaudit.org; and Doug Keenan, blogger and independent researcher.

Hardly a balanced Panel – and it showed. This was especially so as Bob Watson, who spoke strongly and well, used the event as an opportunity to emphasise several times that Climategate had done nothing to undermine what he was clear was the basic problem: that man-made climate change was real and a huge challenge for the mankind. Fred Pearce, who also spoke well, was more subtle – and engaging – but implied that that was obviously his view also. Unfortunately, neither Steve McIntyre nor Doug Keenan seemed really interested in addressing that wider issue, keeping instead to a narrow focus on the CRU’s failures (where they were very convincing). Steve even refused to answer when challenged (by a member of the audience) to say whether or not he believed that man-made global warming was happening. That looked bad. Trevor Davies was surprisingly poor – he spoke badly and seemed, to me, not really to have a sound grasp of the facts or issues.

A few other observations:

Davies, Watson and Pearce agreed that scientists needed to explain uncertainty better than they had. Davies and Watson, however, stressed that, although there was uncertainty, that didn’t mean there was anything wrong with the basic science. Watson said that, although he accepted the need for more balance in public discussion, that didn’t mean that a sceptical view should be given an equal hearing to what he regarded as the established scientific view, based on a 90/95% majority of scientific opinion. He wasn’t challenged on this.

Steve McIntyre assumed that the audience was familiar with the nuances of the CRU affair – and concentrated (very well) on specific issues such as the hockey-stick affair, the “Nature trick”, the absurdity of Russell not being present when evidence was taken from Phil Jones (where McIntyre had a clear grasp of the facts and Davies looked rather foolish by not seeming to know what really happened) and how data released to one researcher was denied to him because of alleged confidentiality. His conclusion that none of the enquiries had done an adequate job went unchallenged.

Bob Watson’s slipped up when he said that he hadn’t read many of the emails. But he rejected claims such as the suggestion that CRU had interfered with peer review and stressed that the integrity of the CRU’s temperature data could not be in doubt as two independent data sets showed the same trends. He insisted that much of the data that was said to be hidden was, in fact, publicly available; there had been multiple reviews of these data and no errors had been found. He gave credit to UEA for initiating the CRU reviews and stated that, yes, mistakes had been made and lessons had been learned. He praised the IPCC for dealing with the Himalayan glacier mistake quickly and professionally. No one challenged him on these issues. He said that there would always be uncertainties in science (McIntyre agreed) and politicians in his experience had no difficulty in handling that. So it was inevitable that the IPCC would adopt a position, bringing together “thousands of the world’s best climate scientists” to do so. We had, he said, to balance “the cost of action against the cost of inaction”. It was a classic case of risk management. But the basic point was that the magnitude of what was happening to climate now was essentially unprecedented and could be explained only by human activity. Certainly he wouldn’t trust any one paper – but he would certainly do so when the same message emerges (as it does) from a range of papers. He didn’t, however, seem able to answer a questioner who couldn’t see how any degree of certainty was possible when economists seemed to have no part to play in IPCC deliberations.

Doug Keenan was scathing. He insisted (after Monbiot’s probing) that Jones was guilty of fraud (over the Chinese weather station affair), speaking of “widespread bogus research” and a failure to report problems he knew to exist. He said that, when challenged, Jones simply didn’t reply. The basic problem in his view was a lack of systemic accountability in climate science. None of the reviews should have happened – instead a system to ensure proper accountability should have been established. He claimed that much of the mathematics done (by the IPCC) was erroneous – if, he said, government policy was based on mathematical error, how many poor people in the world were going to die? (This was a rare flash of genuine sceptic anger.) Trevor Davies commented that the Chinese weather stations represented a tiny aspect of an overall issue and, in any case, it had been shown that what Keenan had identified made no practical difference to the global picture as weather station changes “cancelled each other out”. This wasn’t very convincing – as Keenan made plain.

Fred Pearce said a problem with reviews was that they simply accepted the science and were concerned only with process. He was disturbed by the emails when he read them – and he still is. (Monbiot agreed that he felt, and feels, betrayed.) Some of it was “grubby” but, although climate science had been damaged, there wasn’t, he insisted, a conspiracy. No, it was a tragedy: the researchers, adopting a siege mentality in the belief that they were assailed by financially and politically motivated “enemies”, made bad mistakes. They overlooked the reality that some of their critics (such as Steve and Doug) were honourably motivated. As a result, the whole affair became an unnecessary war. Nonetheless, the way, for example, FOI was ignored was unacceptable – although he felt there was a danger that FOI, though well intentioned, could “have a chilling effect on science”. (He observed that science was asleep when FOI was “coming down the track”.) Although none of the reviews got properly to grips with all this, none was a whitewash. Looking to the future, he said, we needed to let people with different views argue it out openly and without rancour although he agree with Bob that it wasn’t possible or sensible to expect the IPCC to reconcile all viewpoints and the public needs to be more “grown up” about uncertainty. He accepted, however, that there were real issues with feedbacks – a point Steve McIntyre strongly endorsed.

Trevor Davies totally rejected Steve’s implication that the reviews were set up to get a predetermined outcome and insisted they were “wholly independent”. He insisted also that the science was addressed. All this sounded hollow. As did his assertion that, although the engagement of sceptics sounded desirable, it was difficult in practice as they represented such a wide range of opinion and many were poorly informed and, although he wouldn’t use the term himself, “deniers” of the essential facts.

Overall the evening was entertaining, not very informative (participants’ views being well known) and, as Monbiot said, totally inconclusive. Nonetheless, I’m inclined to think it indicated that Climategate will have a beneficial effect on climate science in the long run. Time will tell.

RWG: 15vii.2010

Geoff Chambers has also provided a couple of useful links:

Trevor Davies, the Pro-Vice Chancellor of UEA who was closely involved in organising the Oxburgh and Russell inquiries has this take on Climategate in today’s Guardian:


And here is a pretty fair sketch of the event from what appears to be a warmist blogger:


One of the points he reports  from Fred Pearce’s presentation caught my eye.

 The reviews were done with relatively little grasp of the context

This criticism could easily have been averted if sceptics had been allowed to play a full part in the inquiry process, and I have posted about this problem here.

This site is run by Jim Durdin, a post grad. who is studying sustainability and climate change.  I wonder how it feels when the foundations of the subject that you have chosen to put a hell of a lot of work into studying, and presumably hope to build a career on, begin to look wobbly? This is not a snark in any way, just an observation.


(For completeness, and because I adhere to the convention that once a post is put up there should be no substantial changes (other than correction of spelling, typo’s, grammar etc) which are not notified to readers, I have copied the text that was originally at the top of this post below.)

Here is a brief summary of what happened at the debate last night which Latimer Adler posted at Bishop Hill. I hope that neither he nor the Bishop will mind me using it.  Transcripts of some of the highlights may be available later today and I will be updating this post as more information emerges. It may be worth checking the bottom of this post from time-to-time to see if anything new has been added. Continue reading »

In Chapter 3 of the Independent Climate Change E-mails Review (otherwise known as the Russell Report), which is entitled Terms of Reference and Method of Enquiry, the authors have this to say:

We recognise that natural justice requires that those in respect of whom findings will be made should have an opportunity to be heard: this does not apply to the authors of submissions and other parties, in respect of whom the Review has made no findings.

Report page 23, paragraph 6

This is, of course, complete rubbish. Perhaps the most fundamental requirement of natural justice is that all parties are given a fair hearing. It is inconceivable anywhere that a fair judicial system exists for only one side to be allowed to make written submissions while the other parties are permitted to give evidence in person as well.

In the case of the Russell Inquiry, sceptics who made submissions were not interviewed, while Professor Phil Jones and his colleagues were interviewed, along with other mainstream climate scientists close to the IPCC process like Sir Brian Hoskins and John Mitchell.

Without Steve McIntyre, Ross McKittrick, David Holland and Doug Keenan there would have been no Climategate. It was their persistence in requesting data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia that overshadows almost every email that makes up the Climategate files. Indeed they are the subject of many of them. Yet they were not invited to give evidence so that the inquiry panel could ensure that all their concerns were addressed. This must be the essential first step in any genuinely independent review process that could lay claim to independence, let alone the application of natural justice, for far more was at stake in this inquiry than just the reputations of the CRU and its scientists.

For the Russell Inquiry there would seem to have been a two level approach to concern about the reputations of those who would be affected by their report. On the one hand there were climate scientists, for whom adverse findings would have dire consequences in terms of their careers and the credibility of climate science, and on the other hand there were sceptics whose reputations would seem to have been of no concern to the inquiry whatsoever.

The validity of the sceptic’s work, and the allegations that they have made, are equally material to the deliberations of the inquiry as the activities at CRU and the defence offered by those implicated in Climategate. The Russell report’s findings, and the impact that they have, are not limited to the CRU staff who wrote the emails. Exonerating them implies that their accusers were at best wrong, and at worst that they have acted unreasonably or even maliciously. Yet they have not had an equal opportunity to present their case.

The effect of the Russell Inquiry report is to shift blame for a scandal that has had a devastating impact on the image of science from the accused to the accusers, while only giving one side a fair hearing.

Holland and Keenan were maligned in many of the emails, and their activities and integrity criticised, ridiculed, or disparaged. They, like McIntyre and McKittrick, were acting in a private capacity while their detractors were public employees writing emails in the course of their day-to-day work.  Was it really the intention of the Russell Inquiry, and the University of East Anglia who commissioned the report, to skew the proceedings in such a way that those who should be most accountable had an advantage? It certainly looks that way.

I have not finished a detailed examination of the report yet, but it is already clear to me the authors were far more concerned about the reputation of the CRU and its staff than they were about the reputations of those sceptics who have become part of the Climategate scandal.  It seems possible that the panel were following the well-worn line taken by climate alarmists that merely talking to sceptics gives them a prominence and credibility that they do not deserve. If this is the case then the Russell Inquiry was exhibiting a degree of prejudice that makes them unfit for their task, and any claim to have applied the standards of natural justice would be ludicrous. It is also possible that they were concerned that, if they came face to face with the sceptics, then there might be no choice about the issues they would have to consider and the questions that they would have to put to the CRU scientists. Such concerns would reveal a breathtaking degree of cynicism.

The Russell report does concede that, to some extent, the CRU brought the deluge of FOI requests that that they received on themselves. Had they responded willingly to the initial requests for data that they received from sceptics, then their suspicions would not have been aroused. This is a lesson that UEA and their inquiry panel seem not to have learned themselves. Russell’s failure to address the perfectly legitimate issues raised by sceptics will feed and perpetuate suspicions that coat after coat of whitewash is being applied to this problem without any genuine attempt to either establish exactly what was going on at CRU or why it matters.

Of course the Russell inquiry was not a judicial process, but if its organisers are going to lay claim to having applied the same rigorous standards of fairness that would be required if it had been, then they must justify their decision not to allow McIntyre, McKittrick, Holland and Keenan to play an equal part their deliberations in credible terms. It does not seem possible that they can do so. To imply in their report that they are making no findings against the sceptics is disingenuous. Their allegations about malpractice at CRU, and the evidence that they offered to back them up, have been largely rejected. That is a finding, ever bit as much as determining that the CRU’s ‘rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt’ or that ‘we did not find any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of he IPCC assessment’ is a finding.

The only difference between the two findings is that one side of the dispute had a very fair hearing, and the other side was very effectively gagged.

An edition of BBC’s Newsnight programme was aired late on Wednesday 7th July, the same day that we heard the conclusions of the Muir Russell inquiry into the UEA’s “Climategate” affair. Although the programme itself did not offer dramatic new evidence or revelations, it is very interesting for several reasons.Firstly, it was accepted by those taking part, including BBC Newsnight’s Science Editor Susan Watts, and former IPCC head Bob Watson, that despite an insistence that the science itself has not changed, the rules under which climate science is conducted will have to undergo radical change, with a new emphasis on openness and accountability.

Secondly, BBC viewers were treated to the unfamiliar experience of seeing two of the most prominent, senior proponents of Anthropogenic Global  Warming in the political arena – Yvo de Boer and Bob Watson – sitting with an equally prominent and senior sceptic – Nigel Lawson – in a debate where Lord Lawson’s views were given equal credence and weight to those of his opponents.

We also had the positive experience of a BBC reporter asking reasonably searching questions on the subject of policy, and a general sense that the debate over “what to do” about climate change, far from being over at last, has simply entered a new and unpredictable stage.

Here is a transcript of last week’s programme. Continue reading »

One of the most sensational emails brought to light by Climategate concerns Phil Jones’ intention to delete emails relating the IPCC’s Fourth Asessment Report and asking others to do likewise. It was addressed to Professor Michael Mann who, like Jones, has played a leading role in the IPCC process:29th May 2008: -Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re

AR4? Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis. Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address. We will be getting Caspar to do likewise”.

Russell report page 92, paragraph 28

On the same day when the Russell Report declared that the ‘rigour and honesty as scientists’ of CRU staff was ‘beyond doubt’, it was also announced that Jones would continue to work at the university, although not as its director of CRU. Inserting the qualification ‘as scientists’ after ‘rigour and honesty’ looks like a very cautious nuance.

Given this prima facie evidence of an intention to suppress information about the way in which part of an IPCC report was drafted, surely it must be a priority of any independent inquiry into the conduct of the CRU scientists to find out whether the deletions mentioned took place. This matters because if the culture among scientists involved in assessing the evidence for AGW condones subterfuge, then it is right that this should be generally known.

This is what the Executive Summary of the Russell Report has to say about the deletion of emails:

On the allegation that CRU does not appear to have acted in a way consistent with the spirit and intent of the FoIA or EIR, we find that there was unhelpfulness in responding to requests and evidence that e-mails might have been deleted in order to make them unavailable should a subsequent request be made for them. University senior management should have accepted more responsibility for implementing the required processes for FoIA and EIR compliance. [my emphasis]

Russell report page 14, paragraph 27

The report is very detailed, running to 160 pages. It has taken months to produce, and is rumoured to have cost several hundred thousand pounds. Yet the inquiry has apparently failed to determine whether the then director of CRU deleted emails, and incited other to do likewise, because their content might prove embarrassing if they became public knowledge. I can find no evidence in the report that the inquiry panel even attempted to do so. How could this be? Continue reading »

Jul 092010

Alex Cull has made this very useful transcription of Professor Edward Acton’s interview on Chanel 4 News soon after the Russell Report was published. The first part is fairly predictable, but see what happens when the presenter asks about deleted emails.

Channel 4 News: Wednesday 7th July, 2010

Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy (KGM) and Professor Edward Acton, UEA Vice Chancellor (EA)

KGM: Well, joining me now is Professor Edward Acton, Vice Chancellor of the University of East Anglia. We saw you in that report saying that this was insufficient helpfulness. It doesn’t sound like you think what happened and what Phil Jones did was terribly serious.

EA: I think it is very serious. I think that the shift to an atmosphere in which scientists are proactively making their conclusions, their data available is extremely progressive and I’m very supportive of it. What I would stress, though, is the fact that the scientists’ honour and integrity has been fully vindicated, means that they had nothing to hide, and the message to take away is that – even when you have nothing to hide, that’s not enough, should you find enquiries… should you be impatient with them, or be…

KGM: Has that honour been completely vindicated if they’ve been guilty of a failure of openness? And Phil Jones himself says he was guilty of some awful e-mails.

EA: I think many people are probably guilty of awful e-mails. On the issues of integrity and honesty, yes, Sir Muir’s panel found they were fully vindicated. On the issue of openness he was critical, and I think rightly so, then I think there’s got to be a shift towards a much more active openness and I’m determined that UAE should lead on it.

KGM: What do you think was the purpose of trying to hide e-mails, or delete e-mails, by Mr [sic] Jones? Continue reading »

Jul 072010

The report is now online and you can find it here

The first thing to say that it is big, running to 160 pages, so it will be a few days before anyone will be able to make a comprehensive assessment. The following comments are confined to reading the executive summary only.

Here are the bits that will undoubtedly catch the headlines ahead of detailed reading of the report: Continue reading »

The report of Sir Muir Russell’s Independent Climate Change Email Review will be published today.

Let’s get one thing straight right at the outset: an inquiry that is set up, funded, and has its terms of reference set by the institution that it is intended to inquire into cannot be described as independent. Not under any circumstances. Not even in the fairy-tale world of climate politics.

Such an inquiry might just might come up with a report that is fair-minded and thorough, but that still does not mean that it is independent, nor is it likely to be effective in restoring confidence. Just imagine public reaction if BP announced that they had set up an independent inquiry into the causes of, and responsibility for, the Gulf oil spill.

There have already been two reports on the Climategate scandal. An extremely hasty and superficial report from the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee failed to address the issues that really concern sceptics. It did, however, set out some sensible recommendations as to how the University of East Anglia’s other inquiries should be conducted, and these were made very clear to Sir Muir Russell both when he gave evidence to the committee and in the published report. I will probably be returning to this later today.

The inquiry into the science produced at the CRU, which the university entrusted to Lord Oxburgh, has already become a laughing stock with, apparently, no written terms of reference and no record of the evidence taken.

So far, the Climategate scandal has been seen as a problem affecting only the climate community. It provided a window on a tribal culture in which it is very difficult to see how objective and effective scientific research could be carried out. This is clear to anyone who has browsed the emails that were released on the internet last November.

If the Russell inquiry now fails to address the real issues raised by Climategate, and there has been plenty of time for them to do so, then the scandal will no longer be confined to the climate science community. It will tell us that the scientific and political establishment, who are ultimately responsibility for ensuring that scientific research which has a massive impact on public policy is properly conducted, dare not lift the lid on climate science and have a very careful look at what is happening.

A while ago, I contacted a journalist on a national broadsheet about something that I thought might interest him. Later he rang me to say that the story would appear in a prominent position in the next day’s edition of his newspaper, but he was upset; in fact he was furious.

As part of his research he had phoned a very senior government adviser on climate change to ask for a reaction to the story. Five minutes after this conversation he got a phone call from what he described as ‘a friend’ who works for a multinational environmental NGO. It was either Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth, but I don’t remember which, and it doesn’t really matter.

The purpose of the friend’s phone call was to express disapproval about the newspaper covering the story. Apparently a considerable row ensued. The upshot was that they were friends no longer, and that was the end of any more stories that the journalist would get from that source. This had upset him, but there was more. Continue reading »

Back in February, I signed a www.number10.gov.uk petition to the Prime Minister concerning the scandal at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia. This was set  up by Mike Haseler and received 3296 signatures (or 3273 depending on which page on their site you look at).

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to suspend the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia from preparation of any Government Climate Statistics until the various allegations have been fully investigated by an independent body.”

The detailed version can be found here

On the 24th March, some six days before the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee published the findings of its very cursory inquiry into the goings on at CRU, Number 10 circulated its response to the petition:

The Government believes that all these allegations should be investigated transparently.

An independent review is currently examining the scientific conduct of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and is due to report its findings later in the spring.  More information on the review can be found at: http://www.cce-review.org/.  The University of East Anglia also recently announced that there will be a separate review to examine the CRU’s key scientific publications.  The findings of both these reviews will be made public.

The House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology is also investigating the matter.  On 1 March the Select Committee heard evidence from a wide range of contributors, including Professor Jones, who has temporarily stepped down from his post as Director of CRU.

CRU’s analysis of temperature records is not funded by, prepared for, or published by the Government. The resulting outputs are not Government statistics.

Our confidence that the Earth is warming is taken from multiple sources of evidence and not only the HadCRUT temperature record, which CRU scientists contribute to.  The same warming trend is seen in two independent analyses carried out in the United States, by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Goddard Institute of Space Studies at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  These analyses draw on the same pool of temperature data as HadCRUT, but use different methodologies to produce analyses of temperature change through time.  Further evidence of this warming is found in data from instruments on satellites, and in trends of declining arctic sea ice and rising sea levels.

Science is giving us an increasingly clear picture of the risks we face from climate change.  With more research, we can better understand those risks, and how to manage them.  That is why the Government funds a number of institutions, including the University of East Anglia, to carry out research into climate change science.


It is, no doubt, true to say that Phil Jones’ global temperature estimates are not, strictly speaking, government statistics, but they are certainly statistics that the government relies very heavily in formulating policy and in AGW propaganda. There also appears to be a blatant contradiction concerning government funding of the CRU: Continue reading »

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