The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee are to investigate Climategate with terms of reference that should send a chill down a few spines at UEA:

THE DISCLOSURE OF CLIMATE DATA FROM THE CLIMATIC RESEARCH UNIT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF EAST ANGLIA

The Science and Technology Committee today announces an inquiry into the unauthorised publication of data, emails and documents relating to the work of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA). The Committee has agreed to examine and invite written submissions on three questions:

– What are the implications of the disclosures for the integrity of scientific research?

– Are the terms of reference and scope of the Independent Review announced on 3 December 2009 by UEA adequate (see below)?

– How independent are the other two international data sets?

The Committee intends to hold an oral evidence session in March 2010.

Background

On 1 December 2009 Phil Willis, Chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, wrote to Professor Edward Acton, Vice-Chancellor of UEA following the considerable press coverage of the data, emails and documents relating to the work of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU). The coverage alleged that data may have been manipulated or deleted in order to produce evidence on global warming. On 3 December the UEA announced an Independent Review into the allegations to be headed by Sir Muir Russell.

The Independent Review will:

1. Examine the hacked e-mail exchanges, other relevant e-mail exchanges and any other information held at CRU to determine whether there is any evidence of the manipulation or suppression of data which is at odds with acceptable scientific practice and may therefore call into question any of the research outcomes.

2. Review CRU’s policies and practices for acquiring, assembling, subjecting to peer review and disseminating data and research findings, and their compliance or otherwise with best scientific practice.

3. 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.

4. Review and make recommendations as to the appropriate management, governance and security structures for CRU and the security, integrity and release of the data it holds .

Submissions

The Committee invites written submissions from interested parties on the three questions set out above by noon on Wednesday 10 February:

Each submission should:

a) be no more than 3,000 words in length
b)be in Word format (no later than 2003) with as little use of colour or logos as possible
c)have numbered paragraphs
d)include a declaration of interests.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to scitechcom@parliament.uk and marked “Climatic Research Unit“. An additional paper copy should be sent to:

The Clerk
Science and Technology Committee
House of Commons
7 Millbank
London SW1P 3JA

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals submitting written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please supply a postal address so a copy of the Committee’s report can be sent to you upon publication.

A guide for written submissions to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website at: www.parliament.uk/commons/selcom/witguide.htm

Please also note that:

-Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.

-Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organisation submitting it is specifically authorised.

-Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

-Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases.
http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/science_technology/s_t_pn14_100122.cfm

Membership of the committee is here:

There are 14 in total: LAB 8, CON 3, LIBDEM 2, INDEPENDENT 1

Of course it is not unknown for Select Committees to come up with some very uncomfortable findings.

I think that the danger here is that the warmists are sufficiently well coordinated, and have the resources, to swamp the committee with very persuasive submissions, and we poor sceptics are not.

Whatever the outcome, Climategate is assured of a place in the headlines for months to come.

  UPDATE 23/01/2010:

Alex  Cull has contributed this information abut the members of the committee. It makes fascinating reading:

Looking at the 14 MPs’ profiles on theyworkforyou, their voting records and also their own web sites and blogs (where available), some interesting patterns emerge. For instance, I looked at all of them with regard to the voting record (from PublicWhip) concerning laws to stop climate change, and here is a breakdown (any errors are probably mine, please feel free to correct me!)

Voted very strongly for laws to stop climate change: 2 (Tim Boswell: Con, Evan Harris: LibDem).
Voted strongly for laws to stop climate change: 3 (Nadine Dorries: Con, Bob Spink: Ind, Rob Wilson: Con).
Voted moderately for laws to stop climate change: 1 (Phil Willis: LibDem).
Voted a mixture of for and against laws to stop climate change: 1 (Brian Iddon: Lab).
Voted moderately against laws to stop climate change: 6 (Roberta Blackman-Woods: Lab, Ian Cawsey: Lab, Gordon Marsden: Lab, Doug Naysmith: Lab, Ian Stewart: Lab, Desmond Turner: Lab).
Voted strongly against laws to stop climate change: 1 (Graham Stringer: Lab).

So those who voted for laws to stop climate change turn out to be mostly Conservative, LibDem or Independent, and those who voted against, turn out to be Labour, very curious! It is interesting then to look at the laws that were voted on. Nine are listed, from 2007 to 2009 5 of these relating to the Climate Change Bill – including its second and third readings -and the others including an Energy Bill in 2008 and the campaign last year for the Government to sign up to 10:10. And here a pattern emerges of the Labour committee members voting for the Climate Change Bill but mostly against the other motions. Which is perhaps less controversial than it sounds, given for instance that the campaign to get the Government to commit to 10:10 was initiated by the LibDems, and in fact Government ministers such as Ed Miliband and Joan Ruddock were opposed to it. So maybe it’s possible to read too much into the voting record results.

Looking at the blogs and websites, and also skimming through transcripts of various debates, here are some impressions.

a) Some appear to be more on-message about AGW than others, and I’d say that Roberta Blackman-Woods, Tim Boswell, Evan Harris, Bob Spink, Desmond Turner and Rob Wilson are probably in this category. Dr Blackman-Woods supports the Climate Durham organisation in her constituency, Desmond Turner attended COP15 (”this Conference is a turning point for global efforts to reduce carbon emissions and tackle effectively the threat of catastrophic climate change. It is vital that real progress is made and binding targets are set”) and Rob Wilson supported the Climate Change Action Group and CAFOD as they took part in “The Wave” climate change march on 5th December last year (“It’s great to see so many local people getting involved and keeping the issue of climate change high on the political agenda.”)

b) Others appear not particularly interested in the climate question and chiefly get involved where projects such as wind farms could impact on their constituents (e.g. Ian Cawsey).

c) Some more than others come across as interested in science; in June last year, for instance, Graham Stringer debated with Joan Ruddock about the need to protect infrastructure against violent solar storms, e.g. Carrington Events. He’s also a supporter of the aviation industry and also appears not to be afraid to hold controversial views, e,g., about dyslexia. And Brian Iddon seems to have mixed views: “Whether one believes that emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere produce climate change is a big argument, but does my right hon. Friend agree that there are two other important reasons why we should not be burning fossil fuels? First, we are acidifying the sea almost beyond the point of no return. Secondly – I speak passionately as a chemist – producing energy from carbon fuels is a very inefficient process, and we need those carbon fuels as larders of chemicals for the generations of the future, so it is a sin to burn them.”

I think it will be fascinating to see how they proceed with this.

Many thanks Alex!

32 Responses to “Commons Committee to investigate Climategate”

  1. I hope they read John Costella’s analysis. Is it possible to circulate to them?

  2. TonyN

    Does anyone know how the individual committee members’ stand on the AGW issue?

    Have any of them taken a stand on this?

    Are they obliged by party affiliation to represent the official stand of the parties they represent?

    The fact that the incident is labeled as “CRU email hack” rather than “CRU email leak” leads to the apparent presupposition that the leak was not from an inside whistle-blower. Is the source of the leak part of the investigation, as well?

    I believe “inside whistle-blowers” are protected under UK law. Do you know if this is actually the case, and have there been legal precedents that could apply for this case?

    Realize you may not have answers to these questions, but maybe another poster here (such as Robin) might.

    I think it is important, since it may point to whether the investigation is a true inquiry into possible malfeasance or simply a whitewash job.

    Max

  3. Max:

    There is a website called http://www.theyworkforyou.com from which it is possible to build up quite a good picture of MP’s interests and leanings.

    When I did British Constitution at school we were taught that Parliamentary committees were completely non-partisan. I think this may have changed a bit since 1997, but the principle is still is still floating around the place somewhere.

    I doubt whether the reference to ‘hacked’ is more than slack drafting. Most people, including me I’m afraid, are getting pretty sick of saying ‘hacked or leaked’ over and over again. The header refers to ‘disclosure’.

    There certainly are laws that protect whistle-blowers in this country, and I expect that there are a lot of people at UEA praying that no one is prosecuted. Just think what a plea in mitigation might bring out in open court. Robin would know better than I whether UEA is likely to have any say in whether a prosecution is brought in the event of a culprit being identified.

    I think that what really matters about this inquiry is the continuing media coverage that it will guarantee and the declared intention to monitor the UEAs ‘independent’ review. Their interest in the independence of the other HGMT datasets might suggests that they are prepared to stray into IPCC territory, which could be seismic. I say might because I can think of a less encouraging reason for this being on the agenda.

    James:

    I hope that they will read Costella’s analysis too, but note what the announcement says about previously published evidence.

  4. A few initial thoughts about this interesting development:

    1. I am intrigued that this has happened at all. What prompted it, I wonder?

    2. The timescale is very short – submissions by 10 February. That’s less than three weeks.

    3. The last point is important also because it means the Committee may complete its report before it is overtaken by the General Election. (If it is and there was a change of government, I think its efforts (if incomplete) would be aborted. But, in any case, once an election is called, most members of the Committee (although at least 3 are standing down) will have more pressing concerns.)

    4. The three questions to be considered are very precise and (quite properly in my view) will focus the scope of the Committee’s deliberations. I agree with TonyN that the third (re the independence of the other HGMT datasets) is a really remarkable development.

    5. Anyone submitting evidence should bear this (focus) in mind: keep to the questions.

    6. Also remember this is not an opinion poll: the Committee will not be influenced by the numbers of submissions but by the quality of submissions. Therefore, it would in my view be best if submissions were made only by people with an “expert” view of the questions. General observations are unlikely to be effective. For example, observations about the “integrity of scientific research” will come best from serious, established and practising scientists/academics.

    7. In a similar vein, note how the requirement that “Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission” limits the scope of any submission – the Committee will expect original material to be submitted although a reference, for example, to the Costella analysis would be possible provided it was attached as a hard copy.

    8. Those who do submit evidence should keep it short, precise and to the point – and, above all, cool and courteous. (I have some experience of this having submitted evidence to the Public Accounts and the Health Select Committees – but, above all having given oral evidence to this Committee (Science and Technology) where, interestingly, I was accompanied and advised by Rob Wilson – now a member of the Committee.)

    9. For what it’s worth, I’m encouraged that this announcement refers to “unauthorised publication” of data – not to “hacked” data, as do the EAU “Independent Review” ToRs. Maybe (just maybe) this Committee’s approach will be truly objective.

    10. Don’t get too excited about this generating much media coverage: Select Committee work is commonly done without the media taking any notice – unless, that is, it comes to an explosive conclusion.

    I’m out all day today – but will give this some more thought. And perhaps come up with a more considered view later.

  5. To put this piece into context it might be helpful to repost the article I wrote about the politics of Climate change in the UK.

    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/crossing-the-rubicon-an-advert-to-change-hearts-and-minds/#comments

    The British Govt – long time leaders in funding research into the subject – were very heavily implicated in making it a political issue in order to promote their own agenda.

    There are numerous links and quotes from such bodies as the Environmental Audit Committee of the House of Commons. I don’t have the time today, but a search through the Environmental Audit Committee might reveal if any of the players sit on the Science committee also.

    I think it would be useful to make a submission but on what aspect I dont know until I have more tiome to read through your post and re read my own article.

    Tony

  6. Some reasons to be optimistic:
    -Nobody asked them to do this, so it’s unlikely to be a whitewash. It’s not as if there is any political or media pressure to investigate this.
    -Vinny Burgoo, commenting at Bishop Hill (just after TonyN’s comment) points out that “The head of the committee holding the inquiry was a particularly dastardly expenses-fiddler and is standing down at the next election, so he has nothing to lose and, perhaps, something to prove”.
    -There’s a lot of Doctors on the committee (medical?) probably people who can add up and read a graph, anyway.
    -We’ve seen from the emails how terrified the main actors were of being asked to testify. I can’t see any British scientists doing so willingly, but their refusal would be newsworthy.

    Robin #4 is surely right about the submission of evidence being limited to those with expertise (which certainly includes TonyB and TonyN). But the rest of us can post helpful hints to MPs on the committee by private letters. These will no doubt be read by parliamentary assistants / researchers, who might be happy to have some help with their internet research. The Costella analysis mentioned by JamesP #1 is ideal, since it’s simply a “best of” compilation, which takes the analysis far beyond the superficial “hide the decline” comments available in the media.

    Nothing about this in the mainstream media, as far as I can see, except the Telegraph’s Delingpole on-line. Curiously, the Guardian’s labyrinthine Environment section has a subsection
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/hacked-climate-science-emails
    with 38 articles, of which the latest dates from 18th December. Time to update it.

  7. TonyN

    You mean this?

    Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.

    Sounds like John Costella’s piece could be ‘referred to’.. :-)

  8. I suggest that all refer to the work of Dr. John Costella. We can’t include it but we can mention it.

    That work is just about as well done as one could possibly do.

    Google: climategate Costella

  9. Looking at the 14 MPs’ profiles on theyworkforyou, their voting records and also their own web sites and blogs (where available), some interesting patterns emerge. For instance, I looked at all of them with regard to the voting record (from PublicWhip) concerning laws to stop climate change, and here is a breakdown (any errors are probably mine, please feel free to correct me!)

    Voted very strongly for laws to stop climate change: 2 (Tim Boswell: Con, Evan Harris: LibDem).
    Voted strongly for laws to stop climate change: 3 (Nadine Dorries: Con, Bob Spink: Ind, Rob Wilson: Con).
    Voted moderately for laws to stop climate change: 1 (Phil Willis: LibDem).
    Voted a mixture of for and against laws to stop climate change: 1 (Brian Iddon: Lab).
    Voted moderately against laws to stop climate change: 6 (Roberta Blackman-Woods: Lab, Ian Cawsey: Lab, Gordon Marsden: Lab, Doug Naysmith: Lab, Ian Stewart: Lab, Desmond Turner: Lab).
    Voted strongly against laws to stop climate change: 1 (Graham Stringer: Lab).

    So those who voted for laws to stop climate change turn out to be mostly Conservative, LibDem or Independent, and those who voted against, turn out to be Labour, very curious! It is interesting then to look at the laws that were voted on. Nine are listed, from 2007 to 2009 5 of these relating to the Climate Change Bill – including its second and third readings -and the others including an Energy Bill in 2008 and the campaign last year for the Government to sign up to 10:10. And here a pattern emerges of the Labour committee members voting for the Climate Change Bill but mostly against the other motions. Which is perhaps less controversial than it sounds, given for instance that the campaign to get the Government to commit to 10:10 was initiated by the LibDems, and in fact Government ministers such as Ed Miliband and Joan Ruddock were opposed to it. So maybe it’s possible to read too much into the voting record results.

    Looking at the blogs and websites, and also skimming through transcripts of various debates, here are some impressions.

    a) Some appear to be more on-message about AGW than others, and I’d say that Roberta Blackman-Woods, Tim Boswell, Evan Harris, Bob Spink, Desmond Turner and Rob Wilson are probably in this category. Dr Blackman-Woods supports the Climate Durham organisation in her constituency, Desmond Turner attended COP15 (“this Conference is a turning point for global efforts to reduce carbon emissions and tackle effectively the threat of catastrophic climate change. It is vital that real progress is made and binding targets are set”) and Rob Wilson supported the Climate Change Action Group and CAFOD as they took part in “The Wave” climate change march on 5th December last year (“It’s great to see so many local people getting involved and keeping the issue of climate change high on the political agenda.”)

    b) Others appear not particularly interested in the climate question and chiefly get involved where projects such as wind farms could impact on their constituents (e.g. Ian Cawsey).

    c) Some more than others come across as interested in science; in June last year, for instance, Graham Stringer debated with Joan Ruddock about the need to protect infrastructure against violent solar storms, e.g. Carrington Events. He’s also a supporter of the aviation industry and also appears not to be afraid to hold controversial views, e,g., about dyslexia. And Brian Iddon seems to have mixed views: “Whether one believes that emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere produce climate change is a big argument, but does my right hon. Friend agree that there are two other important reasons why we should not be burning fossil fuels? First, we are acidifying the sea almost beyond the point of no return. Secondly – I speak passionately as a chemist – producing energy from carbon fuels is a very inefficient process, and we need those carbon fuels as larders of chemicals for the generations of the future, so it is a sin to burn them.”

    I think it will be fascinating to see how they proceed with this.

  10. Alex Cull

    Very interesting analysis. Thanks.

    Looks like there is enough diversity to make this inquiry interesting.

    Max

  11. Robin’s comments are very helpful in as much the submissions must keep to the specific questions asked, which are as follows;

    1 What are the implications of the disclosures for the integrity of scientific research?

    2 Are the terms of reference and scope of the Independent Review announced on 3 December 2009 by UEA adequate (see below)?

    3 How independent are the other two international data sets?

    These three links give very useful background;
    The first is the report from John Costella referenced already.

    http://api.ning.com/files/IoqRcEsjL6zzq2T2knr*8PNdToxxIm5nhPSAyqnaoCiuizVYKKf8pL77DxJh*58NPuCfYhes60aZTpwsIpV9bZReE8fpjlkP/climategate_analysis.pdf

    This next is a report on climate hange from the House of Lords ignored by the MSM and which contains many good points.

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200506/ldselect/ldeconaf/12/12i.pdf

    This next is from the Science committee which gives more background to their investigations and their position on the topic;

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200001/cmselect/cmsctech/14/1404.htm

    Now there are several subjects I would like to consider making a submission on which illustrate the nature of scientific errors including sea level rise, co2 levels and Natural Variabilty in the climate.

    However, it sems to me that none of these are at all relevant as the questions asked are so precise they give no leeway at all to submit information of this nature.

    So assuming you are not mentioned in the CRU emails personally and are not privy to who has an input into the other data sets (such as Giss)what angle can be taken that would provide the type of information they are looking for?

    Some input from Robin would be very helpful as to what he would be writing if submitting something.

    Tonyb

  12. The comments on this subject at
    http://climateaudit.org/2010/01/22/uk-parliamentary-inquiry-into-cru/
    contain much useful information, particularly those by Jim Edwards, suggesting that a large number of disparate complaints would be counter-productive, since they would tend to justify CRU’s stance that they were being hounded by an organised campaign of fossil-fuel-financed deniers etc.
    Further to my suggestion (#6) on writing to the individual members of the committee, it might be better to write to your own MP, showing your interest in the subject, and providing information which could be forwarded to interested members of the committee. (You can contact your own MP on-line by providing a reference to the electoral register). We’re talking party politics here, and any MP has an interest in helping out a colleague with information which could raise his profile and further his career. This might be a good route for those like TonyB, who obviously have something to offer to the debate, but can’t claim a specific interest in the CRU email story.
    Alex’s (#9) breakdown of voting history by party is particularly interesting, since it goes against the media tendency, where sceptical journalists are found only in rightwing papers, and leftwing papers are ignoring the story. Events like the Redcar steel plant closure should bring many Labour MPs to their senses, and a healthy defeat in May should allow them to wipe their slate clean of any remaining green tendencies. Where will that leave the Green chatterati at the Guardian, Independent, and BBC?

  13. Alex Cull, #9,

    I’ve copied your comment into the header post as an update. It is a very helpful contribution.

  14. Louise Gray in today’s Daily Telegraph quotes chairman Phil Wills:

    “There are a significant number of climate change deniers, who are basically using the UEA emails to support the case this is poor science that has been changed or at worst manipulated.

    We do not believe this is healthy and therefore we want to call in the UEA so the public can see what they are saying”

    h/t Richard M at Bishop Hill

    I think that Geoff Chambers is right to council caution about making representations to the committee. There is a very real opportunity for climate sceptics to shoot themselves in the foot.

    In my header post I said that:

    I think that the danger here is that the warmists are sufficiently well coordinated, and have the resources, to swamp the committee with very persuasive submissions, and we poor sceptics are not.

    Robin says:

    … observations about the “integrity of scientific research” will come best from serious, established and practising scientists/academics.

    And I am sure that this is right too. Those who support the orthodox view of climate change an no doubt rely on the likes of Lord May, Sir David King, Lord Reese, and a host of others to attempt to minimise the implications of the CRU emails. Whether one agrees with their views or not, they can speak with the authority of scientists who have distinguished academic careers to their name. The chances of the sceptical side being able to field a team of similar standing are slim indeed. How many “established and practising scientists/academics” are likely to risk their reputations, their funding and their careers by publicly expressing extremely unfashionable doubts about the conduct of their peers – whatever they may think privately?

    Perhaps the Global Warming Policy Foundation will come into its own. For instance a submission from someone like Lord Turnbull, who has a good grasp of the sceptical arguments and must be well used to speaking the kind of language that select committees understand, would be useful, even if he is not a scientist but a very senior civil servant.

    It would also be useful for the sceptics who are mentioned in the emails to give evidence: David Holland, Doug Keenan, Steve McIntyre, and perhaps particularly Ross McItrick.

    I can’t remember who suggested that I should make a submission, and I am certainly flattered, but I will not be doing so.

    On the other hand the more people who write to their own MP’s saying that they are delighted that the inquiry is taking place, and giving reasons, the better. There’s an election coming and our representative are likely to be particularly interested in what their constituents think.

  15. I see this as a seemingly small but potentially hugely significant opportunity. Get it right and it could be the beginning of a real change in understanding. Get it wrong and it could a setback for the sceptic cause – a setback from which it might be hard to recover.

    The important thing to understand is that none of the three questions is about whether or not the dangerous AGW hypothesis is valid. We should welcome that: this issue can only be unravelled one step at a time. Nor, as TonyB has pointed out, are the questions concerned with alleged scientific errors – they are for later.

    The questions are about only one thing: has the science of this matter been properly conducted? Importantly, because this is the question, the public views of members of the Committee on climate change (as analysed by Alex) should be irrelevant: there is no reason why someone who has voted for the Climate Change bill, and even someone who truly believes that man’s CO2 emissions are a major threat, should not wish to be sure that the science at EAU has been properly conducted.

    Therefore submissions to the Committee should be strictly confined to that question. And the way the questions are (most interestingly) phrased provides scope for surprisingly wide-ranging comment. Just take the first: “What are the implications of the disclosures for the integrity of scientific research?” Think about it: not AGW research – but scientific research. In other words, could sloppiness here reflect on the perceived validity of other areas of science. My personal view is that it could: here’s an essay I posted on the NS thread last year:

    The economic, intellectual and cultural success of Western society is based, to a substantial extent, on the development and application of science and technology over the past 300 years. And that, in turn, has depended on the rigorous application of the principles of the scientific method as developed during the Enlightenment. Those principles (a problem is identified / a refutable hypothesis explaining it constructed / the hypothesis is tested against empirical evidence / if the evidence supports the hypothesis, the hypothesis is validated) are beautifully characterised by these quotations from Thomas Huxley (whose debate with Bishop Wilberforce established the pre-eminence of Darwin’s theory of evolution):

    My business is to teach my aspirations to confirm themselves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonize with my aspirations.

    The man of science has learned to believe in justification, not by faith, but by verification.

    The ultimate court of appeal is observation and experiment … not authority.

    … what you get out depends on what you put in; and, as the grandest mill in the world will not extract wheat flour from peasecod, so pages of formulæ will not get a definite result out of loose data.

    In my view, therefore, we should be very concerned that, regarding the hypothesis that the continuation of mankind’s emissions of “greenhouse” gases will cause dangerous global warming, we seem to be abandoning these principles. Instead of clear references to empirical evidence as the validation of the hypothesis and the admission of any uncertainty, there are assertions of “consensus”, reliance on authority, statements that “the science is settled” and the demonisation of critics. Yet it was precisely science’s escape from the tyranny of the consensus of authoritative opinion that underpinned the Enlightenment and hence our society’s success.

    Over recent years, global temperatures have stabilised (most recently they have fallen slightly) despite the continued rise of greenhouse gas emissions. Were that to continue for, say, another five or ten years the hypothesis could be fatally damaged and the scientific establishment lose the moral authority on which our society depends. It is, in my view, a dereliction of duty for scientists to have allowed such a possibility to have come about.

    Because I have no standing in this subject, I think my views are unlikely to impress the Committee. One key to success, therefore, is to find people with scientific standing to express views on these lines. I suspect there are many who would were they to understand the facts – the challenge is to identify them in time for an authoritative response within three short weeks.

  16. Robin

    I agree with you that this is a potentially huge opportunity. It is how to approach it that is the problem!

    I suspect that potentially many sceptics may write in with their pet theories but the committee are only interested in hearing answers to three specific questions.

    Presumably graphs/graphics/links (to support an idea) would not be permitted? It needs to be purely text? (see b) of ‘submissions’ in the criteria above

    Tonyb

  17. Does anyone know what role (if any) Christopher Monckton will have here?

    He has studied the AGW story intensively and appears to know what he is talking about, when it comes to the weakness in the “science” behind the AGW premise.

    Will he be able to provide credible testimony (on the “science” rather than the “politics”) to the committee, or will he be disqualified “a priori” as a “denier”?

    With the backup of someone highly qualified, such as Richard Lindzen, Monckton could be a powerful spokesman for the truth here.

    TonyN, do you have any contact with Monckton?

    Max

  18. A footnote to my post 15:

    One member of the Committee is the Conservative Rob Wilson, who (see Alex’s post 9) “Voted strongly for laws to stop climate change [and] supported the Climate Change Action Group and CAFOD as they took part in “The Wave” climate change march on 5th December last year”. I was not surprised therefore at this report about Rob’s visit to and support for the Walker Institute (“for climate change research and innovation”) in his constituency at Reading.

    I know Rob well – he and I worked closely together for four years. He’s an intelligent man with an open mind. Nonetheless, he’s not a scientist and I can imagine him being impressed by the work done at the Walker Institute, especially as it’s in his constituency. But, as I have noted, the Committee is to investigate, not the science itself, but the manner in which it was conducted at CRU and the impact of that on wider scientific issues. Therefore, it is perhaps encouraging that the report on Rob’s visit concludes by saying, “His recent visit demonstrated Rob’s commitment to the importance that he attaches to scientific evidence-based research into climate change“.

    There is no reason why even a strong supporter of our taking action to “prevent climate change” should not also be critical of a scientific organisation that has, it seems, suppressed, manipulated and hidden data, refused to disclose data to independent scientists and conspired to undermine peer review.

  19. Max (your 17):

    I fear you (and many others) may have misunderstood the essential nature of this investigation: see my posts 4 (point 4), 15 (paras 3, 4 and 5) and 18 (and TonyB’s post 16 (para 2). Monckton may be able to “provide credible testimony on the “science”” but that’s not what’s at issue here – and I suggest his views on the proper conduct of the Scientific Method (though doubtless excellent) would carry no more weight than yours or mine. What is really needed is the testimony of an established, recognised and senior scientist. And there’s the problem: in the UK at least, most such people seem to have got themselves into the awkward position of having strongly supported the AGW cause, although I suspect many may now be feeling increasingly uncomfortable about that. It may be, at this stage (this is just a first step), that the ideal witness would be a senior scientist, probably from overseas, who, to avoid any hint of prejudice, has no specific view on AGW (perhaps he/she might come from a different discipline) but who can speak with authority about how science should be done and express strong concern about the CRU disclosures.

    Also your view that Monckton (or anyone) might be disqualified “a priori” as a “denier” is wide of the mark. Select committees are completely independent of Government and can (and commonly are) very critical of Government policy. These questions have been thoughtfully drafted and I see no evidence whatever of the prejudice you fear. The problem with select committees is that they have no power and their findings, however forthright, are easily ignored by Government – and the media.

  20. Robin,

    You write:

    “….in the UK at least, most such people [established, recognised and senior scientists] seem to have got themselves into the awkward position of having strongly supported the AGW cause..”

    They are, of course, all be part of the general hoax, conspiracy and scam to subvert the free democracies of the world and replace them with the tyrany of a UN led world government. You can see this, so why can’t everyone else see this too?

  21. PS. Of course, another possibility would be that their genuinely held and considered opinion is that the ever increasing build up of C02 and other GHG’s is indeed a real danger.

    But, that, surely, is too far fetched a possibility to be taken seriously.

  22. PeterM:

    Er … and precisely when am I supposed to have said that the AGW hypothesis is a “hoax, conspiracy and scam to subvert the free democracies of the world and replace them with the tyrany of a UN led world government”?

    Of course, I’m concerned here with the embarrassing (to warmists) CRU disclosures. Or perhaps you think that suppression and manipulation of data, refusal to disclose data to independent scientists and attempts to undermine peer review are the correct way to conduct science?

  23. Oh and PeterM – although it’s not my view that free democracies should be replaced with a UN led world government, it is the view of at least one campaigner that “the best thing corporations and governments can do is to shut up shop and leave humans to go back to the emphatically less destructive beings they were before Industrial Civilization took control”. And how might that be achieved? Easy really: “create catastrophic collapse within an economy, and thus bring down a major pillar of Industrial Civilization.” The author agrees that these ideas are “radical, fundamental and frightening.”

    These quotations are from a book, entitled “Time’s Up!” by Keith Farnish. It was endorsed by James Hansen thus:

    Keith Farnish has it right: time has practically run out, and the ‘system’ is the problem. Governments are under the thumb of fossil fuel special interests – they will not look after our and the planet’s well-being until we force them to do so, and that is going to require enormous effort.

    No doubt you share these views. But “you can see this, so why can’t everyone else see this too?”

    Now I suggest we get back on topic.

  24. Robin

    Thanks for clarification.

    Does the “scientist” providing evidence (that there has been corruption or sloppiness in the “scientific method” supporting the AGW premise) have to be British?

    There appear to be several highly qualified scientists from other countries (USA, Canada, Germany, France) that could do this.

    But maybe this becomes sort of like calling in a physician to testify in a medical malpractice case – no one wants to “foul his own nest” until it becomes clear that there will be no resulting incriminations.

    Max

  25. PeterM

    the ever increasing build up of C02 and other GHG’s is indeed a real danger.

    But, that, surely, is too far fetched a possibility to be taken seriously.

    Looks like that’s correct, based on the temperature record after 2000, despite record CO2 levels. What do you think, Peter?

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