Final ‘forensic’ UK report on emails vindicates climate science and research underlying the Hockey Stick

Posted on  

"Final ‘forensic’ UK report on emails vindicates climate science and research underlying the Hockey Stick"

Muir Russell investigation “did not find any evidence of behavior that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC” and says of CRU, “Their rigor and honesty as scientists are not in doubt.”

UPDATE:  Great Newsweek story, “Climategate: The Heat Is Off.”  A third inquiry clears British scientists of serious wrongdoing. What exactly was the scandal? A guide to the allegations of global warming shenanigans, and why they’re overblown.

On the allegation of withholding temperature data, we find that CRU was not in a position to withhold access to such data or tamper with it.

On the allegation of biased station selection and analysis, we find no evidence of bias.

The overall implication of the allegations was to cast doubt on the extent to which CRU’s work in this area could be trusted and should be relied upon and we find no evidence to support that implication.

On the allegations that there was subversion of the peer review or editorial process we find no evidence to substantiate this in the three instances examined in detail.

On the allegations that in two specific cases there had been a misuse by CRU scientists of the IPCC process, in presenting AR4 [the Fourth Assessment] to the public and policy makers, we find that the allegations cannot be upheld.

In particular, on the question of the composition of temperature reconstructions [in AR4], we found no evidence of exclusion of other published temperature reconstructions that would show a very different picture. The general discussion of sources of uncertainty in the text is extensive, including reference to divergence.

Recent media coverage of climate scientists and the phony scandal of “Climategate” has been driven by the old adage, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”  And the anti-science crowd is nothing if not brilliant at blowing smoke, which is no surprise since they have borrowed the disinformation tactics of the Tobacco industry.

My father, a newspaper editor for over 30 years, had a wall-hanging that read “Nothing can stand the light of day.”  Well, it turns out one thing can stand the light of day — climate science.

Sure, individual climate scientists are mere human beings, and they can sometimes act like homo ‘sapiens’ sapiens when persistently harassed by anti-science disinformers who are never held accountable for their smears and misrepresentations.  And yes, scientists should be held to a much higher standard than the disinformers [the report is critical of the openness of CRU scientists, but utterly eviscerates the key charges of McIntyre and McKitrick and their ilk].

And so when the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) e-mails were stolen and a massive smokestorm of misinformation was spread about them, the University of East Anglia (UEA) launched an independent review led by Sir Alastair Muir Russell KCB  DL FRSE “a former civil servant and former Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, and Chairman of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland.”

The panel conducted what one contributor to the report called a ‘forensic‘ review.  You can judge for yourself by reading the exhaustingly thorough 160-page report (click here).  It has excellent discussions of many key issues, including peer review.

I would call this a CSI-type review, because of its incredible forensic thoroughness, except that it didn’t look at the actual crime — the hacked emails — only the charges against climate scientists.  The investigation found there was no fire, only smoke.  Yes, the report found “that there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness, both on the part of the CRU scientists and on the part of the UEA” — and they made many useful suggestions to improve that important failing.

But they found no evidence of any wrongdoing that undermines climate science.  And that is what this is all about — the science — not the scientists, no matter how much the anti-science crowd tries to change the subject.

Let me focus on the charges surrounding the Hockey Stick, since that was the driver for many of the disinformers.  This report underscores a point I made last week in discussing Michael Mann’s final exoneration from Penn State: We can be more confident than ever that the “Earth is hotter now than in the past 2,000 years.”

Muir Russell didn’t try to reproduce the scientific analysis, but it did smash into tiny pieces those who had tried to undermine the key conclusions — and those who tried to claim that the IPCC downplayed the relevant uncertainties.  On the subject of “Temperature Reconstructions from Tree Ring Analysis,” the panel found:

The central implication of the allegations here is that in carrying out their work, both in the choices they made of data and the way in which it was handled, CRU scientists intended to bias the scientific conclusions towards a specific result and to set aside inconvenient evidence. More specifically, it was implied in the allegations that this should reduce the confidence ascribed to the conclusions in Chapter 6 of the IPCC 4th Report, Working Group 1 (WG1).

We do not find that the way that data derived from tree rings is described and presented in IPCC AR4 and shown in its Figure 6.10 is misleading. In particular, on the question of the composition of temperature reconstructions, we found no evidence of exclusion of other published temperature reconstructions that would show a very different picture. The general discussion of sources of uncertainty in the text is extensive, including reference to divergence. In this respect it represented a significant advance on the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR).

On the allegation that the phenomenon of “divergence” may not have been properly taken into account when expressing the uncertainty associated with reconstructions, we are satisfied that it is not hidden and that the subject is openly and extensively discussed in the literature, including CRU papers.

The report goes into more detail on this:

What is clear is that the uncertainty associated with any estimate of past temperatures from reconstructions is much larger than that of recent instrument temperature data. This is demonstrated in the figure below taken from IPCC AR4 Figure 6.10. The middle plot shows the variability both within and between different reconstructions each using an aggregation of proxy data (i.e. several tree and non-tree proxies). The lower plot gives an indication of uncertainty bands from those reconstructions. Simply looking at any individual reconstruction line alone makes only a partial statement about Northern Hemisphere temperatures with a large uncertainty. It is obviously even less meaningful to look at an individual tree series in isolation.

For some reason, Figure 6.10 doesn’t come through, at least in my download of the report, so here it is (click to enlarge):

Figure 6.10

Figure 6.10. Records of NH temperature variation during the last 1.3 kyr. (a) Annual mean instrumental temperature records, identified in Table 6.1. (b) Reconstructions using multiple climate proxy records, identified in Table 6.1, including three records (JBB..1998, MBH..1999 and BOS..2001) shown in the TAR, and the HadCRUT2v instrumental temperature record in black. (c) Overlap of the published multi-decadal time scale uncertainty ranges of all temperature reconstructions identified in Table 6.1 (except for RMO..2005 and PS2004), with temperatures within ±1 standard error (SE) of a reconstruction ‘scoring’ 10%, and regions within the 5 to 95% range ‘scoring’ 5% (the maximum 100% is obtained only for temperatures that fall within ±1 SE of all 10 reconstructions). The HadCRUT2v instrumental temperature record is shown in black. All series have been smoothed with a Gaussian-weighted filter to remove fluctuations on time scales less than 30 years; smoothed values are obtained up to both ends of each record by extending the records with the mean of the adjacent existing values. All temperatures represent anomalies (°C) from the 1961 to 1990 mean.

The anti-science crowd and their enablers have tried to attack the science behind this much-vindicated reconstruction — and failed ]see NAS Report and here — the news story in the journal Nature (subs. req’d) on the NAS panel was headlined:  “Academy affirms hockey-stick graph“].

And they have also tried to claim that the IPCC somehow misrepresented the uncertainties.  But as anyone who looks at the figure can see, that is not the case, and the UK panel dismissed that notion:

Finding: We do not find that the data described in IPCC AR4 and shown in Figure 6.10 is misleading, and we do not find that the question marks placed over the CRU scientists’ input casts doubt on the conclusions. In particular:

  • The variation within and between lines, as well as the depiction of uncertainty is quite apparent to any reader.
  • It presents all relevant published reconstructions we are aware of, i.e. there has been no exclusion of other published temperature reconstructions which would show a very different picture.
  • The general discussion of sources of uncertainty in the text is extensive, including reference to divergence and it therefore cannot be said that anything has been suppressed. Presenting uncertainty in this way is a significant advance on the TAR.

In short, the Hockey Stick lives!  Indeed, it has been replicated and strengthened by numerous independent studies.  My favorite is from Science last year “” see Human-caused Arctic warming overtakes 2,000 years of natural cooling, “seminal” study finds.

We know with increasing confidence that, as climatologist and one-time darling of the contrarians Ken Caldeira said last year, “To talk about global cooling at the end of the hottest decade the planet has experienced in many thousands of years is ridiculous.”

Finally, here are the comments of those who were the targets of the email hacking and disinformation campaign.  The vice chancellor of UEA said,

Nine months ago there was an unjustified attack on the scientific integrity of researchers at the University of East Anglia and, as a result, on climate science as a whole.

Emails stolen from this university were selectively misused to make serious allegations about the work of the Climatic Research Unit and the people who worked there or were connected to it.

Some people accepted those misrepresentations at face value without question and repeated them as fact.

Today, for the third and hopefully for the final time, an exhaustive independent review has exposed as unfounded the overwhelming thrust of the allegations against our science.

We hope that commentators will accurately reflect what this highly detailed independent report says, and finally lay to rest the conspiracy theories, untruths and misunderstandings that have circulated.

Sir Muir Russell’s team concludes about the staff of CRU that “their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt”.

Furthermore, they “did not find any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments” and, the report states, there was “no evidence to substantiate” allegations of perversion of the peer review or editorial process.

In summary, the report dismisses allegations that our scientists destroyed or distorted data, tried to pervert peer review and attempted to misuse the IPCC process.

We hope this exoneration of UEA climate scientists and their research collaborators around the world, some of whom have suffered considerably during this experience, will be widely reported.

I am also pleased to announce that Phil Jones has accepted the new post of Director of Research in the Climatic Research Unit with immediate effect. This will provide him with the opportunity to continue the world-leading research which has made CRU a household name.

Phil Jones said:

I am, of course, extremely relieved that this review has now been completed. We have maintained all along that our science is honest and sound and this has been vindicated now by three different independent external bodies.

There are lessons to be learned from this affair and I need time to reflect on them before speaking in public, particularly given the scope of this report.

Meanwhile, I would like to thank those who have supported me over this period and now I would like to concentrate on my new role as Director of Research in the Climatic Research Centre, which will allow me to focus my full attention on the science of climate change.

And Michael Mann says:

I am pleased that the final of the now 5 investigations connected with the hacked CRU emails has come to completion and, like all of the previous investigations, has found that there was no scientific misconduct by any of the scientists.  I was pleased to see the committee confirm that there is nothing in the stolen emails that in any way calls into question the validity of their science. or that of their collaborators and the broader climate research community. The committee found that there was no attempt to misrepresent or falsify data, and no withholding of access to raw climate data, despite the repeated accusations to the contrary by climate change deniers. The committee  specifically rejected the allegation that tree-ring data have been either inappropriately used, manipulated, or withheld by CRU researchers and their colleagues. Finally, the committee rejected the claim, made frequently by climate change deniers that CRU scientists and other climate scientists have in any way subverted the peer review process or sought to inappropriately influence that process.
It is my hope that we can now put this bogus, manufactured scandal behind us, and move on to a more constructive conversation about climate change. It seems particularly ironic that climate change deniers continue to harp over their now discredited claims regarding decade-old emails while we’re experiencing almost daily reminders of the reality of global warming and climate change. We’re currently witnessing the warmest temperatures ever globally, and are in the midst of a record-setting heat wave in the U.S. associated with the warmest early summer temperatures ever. Meanwhile, the warmest-ever tropical Atlantic ocean temperatures ever are likely to lead to a hyperactive Atlantic hurricane season this summer, and Arctic sea ice is on course to plummet to its lowest levels ever this summer/fall.  Human-caused climate change is a reality, and its about time we get on to a meaningful discussion about what to do about it.
And I’ll end with this from the BBC piece, which again eviscerates McIntyre and his enablers — are you reading Dr. Judith Curry?

Critics have alleged that the unit’s scientists withheld temperature data from weather stations and also kept secret the computer algorithms needed to process the data into a record of global temperature.

The review concludes these allegations are unfounded.

“We find that CRU was not in a position to withhold access to such data or tamper with it,” it says.

“We demonstrated that any independent researcher can download station data directly from primary sources and undertake their own temperature trend analysis”.

Writing computer code to process the data “took less than two days and produced results similar to other independent analyses. No information from CRU was needed to do this”.

Sir Muir commented: “So we conclude that the argument that CRU has something to hide does not stand up”.

Asked whether it would be reasonable to conclude that anyone claiming instrumental records were unavailable or vital code missing was incompetent, another panel member, Professor Peter Clarke from Edinburgh University, said: “It’s very clear that anyone who’d be competent enough to analyse the data would know where to find it.

“It’s also clear that anyone competent could perform their own analysis without let or hindrance.”

Anyone competent — ’nuff said.
« »

63 Responses to Final ‘forensic’ UK report on emails vindicates climate science and research underlying the Hockey Stick

  1. BB says:

    Wow…you’re a quick reader/analyzer :) I’m only on page 42. (I suppose it is your job) ;)

    Seems like it’s the closest to independent review there may be out of this.

  2. Chris S says:

    Hooray for the truth! This needs to be shouted from the rooftops. How much you want to bet it will be buried somewhere at the bottom of page A24?

  3. Mike #22 says:

    on page 103

    “We found that the basic security processes had been appropriately specified and documented by the UEA‘s Information Systems Strategy Committee. We are constrained in our detailed findings by the fact that a police investigation into the unauthorised release of information is ongoing.”

    Who paid these hackers?

  4. Mikel says:

    I’d like to add finding 10.5.28:

    “There seems clear incitement to delete e- mails, although we have seen no evidence of any attempt to delete information in respect of a request already made. ”

    This means that no evidence was seen that would imply an offence under Section 19 of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 or Section 77 Freedom of Information Act 2000. Since, the Information Commissioner’s Office is not going to investigate this due to the expiry of the time for prosecution, this is the last word (officially).

    I would not expect to see any apology from any journalist though.

  5. Berbalang says:

    It is a shame that the hacker responsible has not been brought out into the light of day. I have a strong feeling the hacker’s identity would be quite revealing.

  6. John Mason says:

    I’ve got as far as page 68!

    I am pleased to see this rigorous review in publication at last, and to me it contained no surprises. I said right back at the beginning that in real-world terms this was a non-story, just a lot of smoke and noise from the anti-science crowd.

    I think the report does make some valid points regarding the changing relationship between science and the public domain, now that the blogosphere is so active. Science in general needs to consider how it disseminates its findings. The journals are and always will be the core area, but we need to develop better public communication strategies across the board rather than rely on the media to do this job for us. Until recent years, this was not deemed that essential but we need to keep up with a changing world. It is vital that the public understand as clearly as possible where the certainties and uncertainties lie – we need them and they need us, so that relationship needs to be developed by us.

    I should add that CP does an admirable job on that front already! It’s just an area that requires expanding. If the mass media can’t be relied upon to get it right all of the time, then let us – the scientists – make time to ensure that the information is good.

    Cheers – John

  7. Rob Coleman says:

    Funny, I see no mention of this on the front page of the NYT, or any other corporate media outlet. Journalistic integrity seems to have become an oxymoron…

    Is there any investigation into the perpetrators of this crime? Because this was a criminal conspiracy if there ever was one. and like Berbalang, I’d just love to see where the trail of stink coming from this crime leads…

  8. Peter Mizla says:

    The MEDIA was responsible for much o the static regarding climate gate

    yu know they want to ‘balanced’ like the scientific community is about climate change- yep by 97 to 3% lol

    The medias failure at every level to come clean about the dire consequences we face is tragic- but then again they make lots of $$$$
    FRPM many of their very ungreen and conservative sponsors (who they do not want to lose)

  9. PSU Grad says:

    It’s been prominently mentioned on the home pages of CNN.com, NYTimes.com and MSNBC.com. Foxnews.com has chosen to suppress the story (at least I can’t find it), apparently thinking Lindsay Lohan’s travails are more important.

    How much do you wanna bet Fox News would have had a different take had the review revealed some sort of misconduct?

  10. Leif says:

    I sent the NYT a link to this article and a note of my past dissatisfaction with the NYT coverage of climate science.

    Just in case the NY Times has not been paying attention.

  11. PSU Grad says:

    To add to the collection, CBSNews.com prominently mentions the story, while ABCNews.com suppresses (again, at least I can’t find it, it was easy to find on CNN, NY Times, MSNBC and CBS).

  12. mike roddy says:

    Thanks, another great job. This is the definitive reference on the subject.

    I would like to see this post broadcast immediately to all media outlets. Then, their responses in the form of communicating this vital information should be noted, in detail.

  13. Andy says:

    NPR is covering the story in the US, with quite a bit of commentary from readers, here:

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128353720

    I know they’re not a “major” media outlet, but at least it is getting some visibility.

  14. Bob Lang says:

    According to an MSNBC poll on their home page, 65.4% of their readers (as of 1:10 PM ET) still believe the scientists fabricated data:

    http://msnbc.newsvine.com/_question/2010/07/07/4630892-are-you-satisfied-with-the-british-panels-conclusion-that-while-climategate-scientists-were-not-always-forthcoming-their-science-was-sound

    Those same readers probably also believe the earth is 6,000 years old.

  15. Lou Grinzo says:

    Sorry to be the wet blanket here, friends, but this changes nothing.

    Did the scientists involved do anything wrong? No.

    Is this a surprise? No.

    Will the deniers keep using “climategate” as if they had the facts on their side? Of course they will.

    They wanted a PR lever, which means the instant they got their headlines from the original (non-)revelation and the initiation of the investigations, they won. These are the same people who send death threats (and stop and ponder that for a moment what it would take for you, personally, to do such a disgusting and illegal thing). These are the people who routinely lie about and misrepresent data, and claim that published studies say things they don’t. Why should any of us think a little thing like being found to be totally wrong by multiple investigations should slow them down?

    They won the bumper sticker, we won the 160-page report. In the battle for the beliefs of newcomers (which is all that matters in this situation), they came out far better than we did.

  16. MapleLeaf says:

    CBC radio in Canada has covered this story.

    Joe really did save the best for last in his post, and it needs to be repeated over and over again IMO.

    “Asked whether it would be reasonable to conclude that anyone claiming instrumental records were unavailable or vital code missing was incompetent, another panel member, Professor Peter Clarke from Edinburgh University, said: “It’s very clear that anyone who’d be competent enough to analyse the data would know where to find it.

    “It’s also clear that anyone competent could perform their own analysis without let or hindrance.””

    Here here! Are you reading this Stephen McIntyre?! Probably not, probably too busy lamenting about how this is another “whitewash”, and thinking of other ways to attack science and climate scientists.

  17. The problem with evidence, graphs and 160 page exhaustive reports is that the audience of reactionaries who would rather than believe in science don’t actually bother to ever waste any time learning anything about science. Climate change is suffering from a lack of adequate evidence. The evidence is simply rendered irrelevant by the devout ignorance of the deniers.

    This same problem occurs routinely in talking to creationists about the scientific evidence on behalf of evolution. I was talking to a man yesterday who responded to my mention of the massive geological evidence for the Earth’s history spanning billions of years by claiming that God created all that history ex nihilo just as the pine trees in the Garden of Eden were created fully grown and Adam was created with a belly button.

    By that one simple argument alone 300 years of intense rigorous geological research evaporated away into another fairy tale. Once you’ve dismissed the evidence no further rational argument is possible.

    The professional climate change deniers can repeat the same old tired discredited arguments a thousand times and you won’t hear their followers or even journalists express any skepticism about their lies. They have framed the argument in such a manner as to demand absolute perfection from the scientists without needing to adhere to the same standard.

  18. Ron Broberg says:

    MapleLeaf, I left a post with multiple links addressing the ‘anyone competent’ point. Maybe a moderator will rescue it. :)

  19. dhogaza says:

    I’m with MapleLeaf regarding the importance of that last bit. I’m impressed that the review committee performed their own temp reconstruction, that it only took a couple of days, and that Professor Clarke worded his statement regarding competency so strongly.

    Nice article, Joe.

  20. dhogaza says:

    And I bet steam is spurting from McIntyre’s ears, like some angry cartoon figure …

  21. Will Koroluk says:

    Wonderful news, and an excellent post, Joe. I wish that this result would satisfy at least some of the deniers about the strength and honesty of the science. Unfortunately, a lot of comments on the discussion boards of papers like the Guardian and the Globe and Mail, show otherwise.

  22. Wit'sEnd says:

    In advance of the release of this report, the UK Guardian ran a story by the apostate Fred Pearce, with the following quotes, which I will reproduce without comment:

    The climate scientist most associated with efforts to reconciling warring factions, Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology, said the idea of IPCC scientists as “self-appointed oracles, enhanced by the Nobel Prize, is now in tatters”. The outside world now sees that “the science of climate is more complex and uncertain than they have been led to believe”.

    Some IPCC scientists are in denial on this issue, she said, arguing that they would like to see the CRU incident as “an irrelevant blip” and to blame their problems on “a monolithic denial machine”, but that won’t wash.

    Roger Pielke Jr of the University of Colorado agreed that “the climate science community, or at least its most visible and activist wing, appeared to want to go back to waging an all-out war on its perceived political opponents”.

    He added: “Such a strategy will simply exacerbate the pathological politicisation of the climate science community.” In reality, he said, “There is no going back to the pre-November 2009 era.”

    Curry exempted from this criticism Phil Jones, CRU director and the man at the centre of the furore. Put through the fire, “Jones seems genuinely repentant, and has been completely open and honest about what has been done and why… speaking with humility about the uncertainty in the data sets,” she said.

    The affair “has pointed out the seamy side of peer review and consensus building in the IPCC assessment reports,” she said. “A host of issues need to be addressed.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jul/04/climatechange-hacked-emails-muir-russell

  23. mike roddy says:

    Lou Grinzo and others: thanks for bringing us down to earth.

    Those who believe in reality are a niche interest group, it seems, who may be powerful beyond their numbers- or, perhaps, the opposite.

  24. MapleLeaf says:

    Will Koroluk @21,

    I’m afraid that you are right. You should read the outrageous (for the most part) comments over at CBC.

    http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2010/07/07/climategate-report-east-anglia.html

    Downright depressing. I had no idea that there were so many conspiracy theorists out there or people in denial about AGW, and today it seems they have been called to action. So very, very sad.

    Why do I feel like the truth is akin to a Salmon swimming upstream….a fight all the way.

  25. Michael W says:

    “I would like to see this post broadcast immediately to all media outlets”

    So trust in scientific authorities could be restored? Why would you want that? If this investigation report doesn’t get out, and people go on with their lives thinking the system is prone to corruption, isn’t that a good thing?

  26. Let’s review the score of this game

    – News media completely diverted off the issue onto the pseudo coverup
    – Copenhagen and other conferences crippled and dismissed
    – Huge expenditure of time to investigate email issue
    – Universities diverted from investigating anything else, or from doing science.
    – Effectively delay and derailment is at least a year
    – This vindication report will be ignored by any news media that is advertiser supported (most all)

    The carbon fuel industries and supportive carbon economy will lose the war, but they have won most of the battles.

  27. Wit'sEnd says:

    rpauli, your comment makes it glaringly obvious that this was an orchestrated, well-funded, carefully considered plot. Instead of defensively reporting on official vindications, it’s time to start demanding that the criminals who concocted this illegal act be exposed and punished!

  28. Tony Sidaway says:

    I hope people are going to be a little more kind to the American paper news media’s lack of coverage. The report was released at 1300 BST today, that’s just 5 hours ahead of EDT (0800) so it was far too late for the morning print deadlines of most major US newspapers.

    Online, the New York Times, CBS, Associated Press, CNN and many other major news coverage organisations covered this quite early all headling the vindication (yes, even Fox News).

    Now is not the time to be sour. That time is over. The truth has won. The liars are once again exposed.

  29. toby says:

    I am delighted in particular for Professor Phil Jones who was vilified so unjustly.

    He can now look forward to working in his new job.

  30. John Mason wrote in comment 6:

    I am pleased to see this rigorous review in publication at last, and to me it contained no surprises. I said right back at the beginning that in real-world terms this was a non-story, just a lot of smoke and noise from the anti-science crowd.

    All part of one long multi-threaded smear campaign aimed not at any one single person or organization, but at the science of climatology as a whole by those who regard any damage done to science, democracy or civil society as entirely acceptable collateral damage. The anti-science crowd? Not simply willing but enthusiastic tools who had largely demonstrated long ago their willingness to ignore evidence and attack science in the service of ideology decades ago. They have used — and encouraged in the irrationalism and extremism which made them such passionate pawns — whenever certain interests found the discoveries of science in one area or another increasingly inconvenient. Climatology is simply the latest front.

  31. Peter Mizla says:

    The general public is still sadly uniformed on what we are facing. And many are not hicks without education.

    I went to the Dentist yesterday for my 6 month cleaning and I discussed with the hygienist the subject of cliate change.

    She brought up the fact that at least ‘half’ of the scientists say that nothing is wrong-

    So there you go- its not the first time I have heard this. I have another friend with a graduate degree (not science) but whose brother is a scientist’ who told her that earths climate has always ‘fluctuated’ ……..

    As uniformed as he is- and the others with no science background- the MEDIA has done a wonderful job of causing distortion and lies to confuse the public. The Damage is done-

    Add to this the FOX News troops and their associated sites-

    Question is this? What will it take for things to turn and the media begins to level with the public?

  32. PSU Grad says:

    If Fox News on-line has the story, they’re making it difficult to find. It is not on their home page. It is not on the SciTech/Planet Earth page. I’m not sure where else it would be.

  33. caerbannog says:


    #

    I am delighted in particular for Professor Phil Jones who was vilified so unjustly.

    He can now look forward to working in his new job.
    #

    And as a bonus, he’ll no longer have to deal with all the administrivia stuff that scientists would rather not bother with. He definitely got there the hard way, but now Jones will actually have an administrative support staff to take care of all the boring stuff (frivolous FOI requests, etc).

  34. P.F. says:

    Muir Russel concluded that CRU did not “hide the data.”
    So please resolve this for me . . .
    Phil Jones said in 2005, “Even if WMO agrees, I will still not pass on the data.”
    He effectively hid the data from independent review.
    Then when pressed for the data later, he revealed the original raw data had been destroyed. The only “data” available was that acquired through the computer models.
    It appears what Dr. Jones has said is inconsistent with the conclusion of the Muir Russel investigation. Please explain why this isn’t so.

  35. Donald says:

    It appears what Dr. Jones has said is inconsistent with the conclusion of the Muir Russel investigation. Please explain why this isn’t so.

    See section 6.6 (35-38) of the report

  36. Donald says:

    It appears what Dr. Jones has said is inconsistent with the conclusion of the Muir Russel investigation. Please explain why this isn’t so.

    See section 6.6 (35-38) of the report

    Sorry, I’ve just tracked down the specific email, and it wasn’t about what I thought it was about.

    The relevant section in fact appears to be this one:

    13. (15)

    “But we do find that there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display
    the proper degree of openness…”

    Muir Russell concluded that CRU hadn’t been sufficiently open, and Phil Jones’ email is an example of that.

  37. The BBC in their evening news played to form by leading with Climate Scientists criticised for nor being more open?

    BBC behave, the CRU were not staffed as a PR outfit!

    David Shukman again made porridge of a report and this is on the BBC web site:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/opensecrets/2010/07/climate_emails_review_condemns.html

    Climate e-mails review condemns lack of openness

    ‘There was “an ethos of minimal compliance (and at times non-compliance)” with both the letter and spirit of the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit.’

    Sad.

    The media are still to understand how research institutes work. They would know by know if they had been paying attention to critics of their woeful reporting.

  38. Donald says:

    He effectively hid the data from independent review.
    Then when pressed for the data later, he revealed the original raw data had been destroyed.

    This is covered by 1.3.1 (16)

    “On the allegation of withholding temperature data, we find that CRU was not
    in a position to withhold access to such data or tamper with it. We
    demonstrated that any independent researcher can download station data directly
    from primary sources and undertake their own temperature trend analysis.”

    Phil Jones’ original email makes this clear- to paraphrase, he says, go away and get the data for yourself, it’s available elsewhere, why should I help you when you’re just trying to undermine my work?

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/387b/387we37.htm

  39. pete best says:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19143-climategate-inquiry-no-deceit-too-little-cooperation.html

    Makes you wonder why Fred Pearce has turned skeptic but it also shows that once a journalist always one and a good story can always be concoted from a report that vindicates the science even where there are 5 of them.

  40. MapleLeaf says:

    Thanks Donald for clarifying. I wonder if P.F. will acknowledge your posts? Or maybe s/he was just out fishing……

  41. I notice that George Monbiot has changed his mind (mostly) about whether Phil Jones should have resigned:
    http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2010/07/07/filth-and-fury/

    Personally, I thought the Russell report was a huge wasted opportunity. In concentrating only on rebutting the allegations, it misses the wood for the trees. All it needed was one recommendation, anywhere in the report, that someone investigate this sickening pattern of unfounded allegations and where they come from. Here’s my take:
    http://www.easterbrook.ca/steve/?p=1774

  42. DavidCOG says:

    Despite the findings of this report, Fred Pearce continues his campaign against the scientists unabated. He won’t let it go. He continues to insinuate dishonesty despite the unequivocal findings of the report:

    > “…we find that their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt … we did not find any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments.”

    I’ve seen people describe Pearce as an excellent science journalist. I see no sign of it, just a man with a pre-determined narrative – and a book to sell! – who won’t be influenced by minor trifles, such as evidence or lack of it.

  43. Philip says:

    Evidently some still believe that this is a debate between true and false science. It isn’t. It’s a debate that’s based on science on the one side and on a combination of economic interests and an ideological world-view that is threatened by the implications of that science on the other. Discussing with committed deniers is futile – they cannot be persuaded because they will not be persuaded.
    Instead of focusing on these people, I think it would make more sense to focus on those who are genuinely confused and in doubt. As most people (like myself) are not well founded in science and are easily confused by conflicting ‘scientific ‘ arguments, I think it terribly important that we draw on the widespread evidence that things are no longer as they were and that a common sense risk assessment – what do we risk by taking or not taking action – falls to our advantage. Regarding this last point, the increasing concern of the military establishment shows how seriously the dangers of climate change are taken by people who cannot be accused of harboring a ‘liberal’ or ‘left-wing’ agenda. Insurance company data is another solid indication of the problem’s magnitude.
    Our position is based on the work of climate scientists, but if we solely rely on the cogency of scientific arguments, I’m afraid the disaster will overwhelm us before we’ve made our case. The vindication we’ve seen today, while welcome, is of limited value.

  44. MrPete says:

    As some have noted, these inquiries change nothing… but perhaps not for the reason most here seem to think.

    The inquiries change nothing, because they were not open and honest inquiries into the issues raised. Why? Because any such inquiry would normally accept testimony from both sides of a dispute. That did not happen.

    What these inquiries demonstrate is the continued politicization and policy-ization of climate science. To the detriment of us all.

  45. Wayne Delbeke says:

    If UEA had nothing to hide, why would they tell people to go find their own data? If you do that, how do you know if you are analyzing the same data? Of if they adjusted the data. And we already know that temperature data is regularly adjusted in most countries using algorithms that seem to have originated at CRU. So the fact that Jones refused to release his data to Mcintyre and others raises a red flag even if there was no intent to hide anything. Read the emails. And the FOI commissioner has said that UAE broke the law but the 6 month statute of limitations has expired. Bit of a joke that. Stall fro 6 months and you are free from prosecution. Neat “trick”.

  46. Donald says:

    If UEA had nothing to hide, why would they tell people to go find their own data? If you do that, how do you know if you are analyzing the same data?

    Because they are not the source of the data. The data comes from national meteorological institutions. To get the data you have to ask nicely, show you want it for scientific research and possibly pay for it. If you go to the same source, you can be sure of getting the same data.

    Read the emails.

    No, read the enquiry report- it explains in great detail why all your claims and all the other claims about the emails are unfounded.

  47. Donald says:

    Steve Easterbrook has a quote which nails it:

    “To carry out the analysis we obtained raw primary instrumental temperature station data. This can be obtained either directly from the appropriate National Meteorological Office (NMO) or by consulting the World Weather Records (WWR) …[web links elided] … Anyone working in this area would have knowledge of the availability of data from these sources.” (Page 46, paras 13-14)

    “Any independent researcher may freely obtain the primary station data. It is impossible for a third party to withhold access to the data.” (Page 48, para 20).

    http://www.easterbrook.ca/steve/?p=1774

  48. MapleLeaf says:

    Oh FFs! I just watched the CBC’s “The National”, their premier news program. They covered the Muir-Russell report, but mangled it horribly. The final straw is when they interviewed, wait for it, McIntyre. Not a climate scientist in sight! What on earth is going on CBC?

    I urge others to please take CBC To task on their sloppy reporting on this story.

  49. BB says:

    #45 and #46… The way I read the report was that there were serious issues with regard to the timely availability of full data, and even the official pronouncements with regard to this sector of remit preferred to urge policy changes rather than specifically damn those charged. Some aspects of the charges appeared to be cleared with regard to the availability online regarding temperature data, and the ability to manipulate them…but it was no ‘clearing’ with regard to the lack of availability of separatable station IDs or unhelpfulness regarding FOIA requests.

    Further, the inquiry recommendations strongly urged that conditions like this:

    “…ask nicely…”
    “…show you want it for scientific research…”

    NOT be the requirement for receiving FOIA information, and highlighted the stonewalling and behavior of the team members as a preceding and instigating factor in the torrent of FOIA requests that followed. Given the digital age and serious public interest and policy considerations riding on the subject (and noting its public funding), it seems clear from the report that any data used in constructing 5×5 grids, tree-ring proxies, and including Chinese climate data, etc…be available to all regardless of motive, and/or within the published record, else not to be relied on.

    It also seems possible, given the recommendations from the Muir Inquiry, that if anyone skeptical of various temperature reconstructions and/or proxies, should they undertake their own tree-coring adventure, or attempt to carry out their own temperature reconstruction, that it too would be eligible for peer-review publication, and not dismissed out-of-hand because of its disagreement with the prevailing understanding.

    I was particulary pleased with the relation to the medical field (though I would add economics as well) where highly contentious matters of opposing viewpoints on a number of issues are all through the peer-review literature…and, to a large extent, manifestations of an open process.

    Since phrases like “very likely” should not be ascribed to matters of ‘settled fact’, and unfalsifiable hypotheticals like “setting the table” should not be regarded as a certain scientific conclusion, there should arise a smattering of papers and studies in the peer review that bear out this uncertainty, not necessarily attempting to completely eliminate it.

    Hopefully, even if advocacy interests attempt to place this out of reach, mandating that central tenants always be held as valid, lest we risk the impact on policy outcomes (which seems at times the highest calling), there should still be papers getting into the record that show alternative understandings, and therefore organizations with a mission like that of the IPCC would be charged with conveying.

  50. MapleLeaf says:

    Here is a video of the CBC story, they are doing OK until about 1 min 30 sec, after that the wheels come off.

    http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/Technology_and_Science/ID=1539081309

  51. Philip says:

    pete best #39
    DavidCOG #42

    Before going to bed last night I read your link, and I reread it again this morning. I find your criticisms and characteristic of Pearce unwarranted. The skeptics impugn climate science itself and attempt through a variety of subterfuges to deny its validity. This is not what Pearce has done. He has defended the integrity of the scientific process and has shown that the response of especially Phil Jones and the UEA to FoI requests has been counterproductive.

    “The emails reveal repeated and systematic attempts by him and his colleagues to block FoI requests from climate sceptics who wanted access to emails, documents and data. These moves were not only contrary to the spirit of scientific openness, but according to the government body that administers the FoI act were “not dealt with as they should have been under the legislation”.

    But the emails also reveal deep and understandable frustration among the scientists at the huge amount of time and energy they were being asked to give up to deal with the requests. This was particularly galling as the sceptics making the requests were, in the scientists’ eyes, more interested in picking holes in their analyses to suit an anti-global warming agenda, than carrying out research that would advance human knowledge.”

    Your own response to this reminds me of those who proclaim that America is the freest country in the world and then denounce those who criticize e.g. the war in Iraq as being anti-American. There’s a difference between constructive and destructive criticism, and to the extent that Pearce has made climate scientists aware of the need to develop better communicative skills, his contribution has been positive. I would also add that he has done his job as a critical journalist.

  52. John Mason says:

    Mr Pete #44:

    “The inquiries change nothing, because they were not open and honest inquiries into the issues raised. Why? Because any such inquiry would normally accept testimony from both sides of a dispute. That did not happen.”

    The inquiry took submissions from McIntyre & McKitrick – I think they are normally regarded as The opposition”….

    Cheers – John

  53. toby says:

    Roger Harrabin has a horrible report on the BBC which McIntyre likes because Harrabin acts as if McIntyre’s opinion is important.

    Harrabin falls into the same “balance” trap – because McIntyre and his ilk go on blogs and criticise scientists, he is obliged to treat them as equal in the interests of balance. What sort of review is McIntyre and Watts etc subject to? As if so often pointed out, any old garbage can be (and is) written on a blog. Scientists must subject their work to the scrutiny of peer-review.

    However, it may be no harm for McIntyre and others to obsess over “Climategate”. I think the public have already moved on, and are bored with rehash after rehash about Michael Mann and hockey teams. Meanwhile, the science has also moved on, and what people wrote in papers or e-mails several years ago is becoming less and less relevant.

  54. Heraclitus says:

    Philip, whilst it may be unfair to accuse Fred Pearce of being a sceptic I think you are wrong not to be critical of his reporting.

    It is Pearce’s choice of emphasis that is the issue and throughout he has emphasised the negatives in the findings even though they are clearly outweighed by the positives. No-one doubts that there were issues over FOI and it didn’t need Pearce pointing these out over and again, and still pointing these out now, for anyone to know this.

    Pearce picks out the “complete exoneration” quote from Acton as a deliberate attempt to imply that Acton dismissed the criticisms that were in the inquiry report, but reading Acton’s statement this is clearly not the case. http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/CRUstatements/muirrussellreport

    What annoyed me most about Pearce was that he seemed to go on the attack before the report was published for us to read (he apparently received a copy in advance), hinting at all of the negatives before we could put these into context.

    It is difficult not to think that the similarities between the way Pearce chooses to report this inquiry and the contents of his recent book are not entirely unconnected….

  55. Even the Times Higher Education (Suppliment) leads with this headline:

    Opacity of UEA’s actions contributed to Climategate scandal, says Russell report

    and

    first para’

    The University of East Anglia was responsible for creating an environment of opacity which preceded the “Climategate” scandal, however the “rigour and honesty” of the scientists involved is beyond question, a long-awaited review has concluded.

    A opening clause being upon a theme which Hannah Fearn repeats with monotonous regularity in this vapid article:

    http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=412444&c=1

    So much for Higher Education and standards of real balance of presentation. How things have changed since I was involved.

  56. Lars smith says:

    Phil Jones, Dec 3, 2008:

    About 2 months ago I deleted loads of emails, so have very little – if anything at all.

    Phil Jones, Nov 24, 2009 Guardian

    We’ve not deleted any emails or data here at CRU.

  57. Rob Honeycutt says:

    Lars Smith… If you are trying to make a point please provide better references so that people can confirm what you are trying to post is not taken out of context.

  58. Philip says:

    Haraclitus #55

    I agree that Pearce should have been more even-handed. I also agree that, in light of Acton’s statement:

    “The report makes many important and salutary points which require detailed consideration by the university, the wider research community and other bodies involved in this matter.

    We accept the report’s conclusion that we could and should have been more proactively open, not least because – as this exhaustive report makes abundantly clear – we have nothing to hide.

    The need to develop a culture of greater openness and transparency in CRU is something that we faced up to internally some months ago and we are already working to put right. The report gives sound advice in this area.”

    that Pearce should have given Acton credit for these conclusions. I do think, however, that Acton’s use of the expression “complete exoneration” was ill-advised because the report was more nuanced than that. And please note that one of the comments I took exception to uses the words “unequivocal findings.” It wasn’t quite that simple.

  59. David says:

    I just feel really bad for climatologists and other geoscientists researching climate change. No other branch of science faces this level of public scrutiny, and it’s all because of the political implications of their research. And yet there are those out there in the field like Dr. Curry just adding fuel to the fire by not sticking up for their colleagues. The bad-faith FOIA requests, computer hacking, harrassment, libel and slander, even political inquisitions (like that undertaken by the Virgina AG) – it’s really ridiculous. I hope all of this doesn’t have a chilling effect on scientific research. It’s funny to see the “skeptics” claim they are being persecuted, considering the BS they launch at mainstream scientists.

  60. BB says:

    #60. I may see it slightly differently, because, as the MR Report clearly stated, a lot of the ‘public scrutiny’ that you’re referencing (“bad faith FOIA requests”, “harrassment”, “political inquisitions”, etc.) are to some degree brought upon the industry itself (as it relates to CRU and the leaked emails).

    If there isn’t an open process for FOIA requests (especially one that doesn’t discriminate between what it thinks as ‘good faith’ or ‘bad faith’ requests); if opposing or alternating views feel that they aren’t going to be able to be entered into the peer-review literature– something that the fields of economics and medicine both greatly enjoy with respect to polar-opposite viewpoints on which billions of potential dollars rest… (which the MR review clearly indicated incitement to that point by the Jones et al, even if it found no basis in fact); then there is going to be a retreat to the blogosphere (an arena the MR review urged to embrace rather than discount).

    Any ‘chilling’ effect it has on research would be one under which a research project would need to be re-evaluated in light of new requirements of openness, availability of data, and reproduction of results by all scientists who wish to do so. These do not seem to me to be very scary. In fact, it seems closer to the way it should be.

    If, on the other hand, scientific research, especially that which is publicly funded and has a deterministic effect on public policy, is some protected endeavor that can instantly aquire secrecy and immunity until a final published record appears, then it is no better than something like Bush/Cheney’s “Energy Commission” or some other entity that’s often complained about.

  61. frank says:

    BB:

    Any ‘chilling’ effect it has on research would be one under which a research project would need to be re-evaluated in light of new requirements of openness, availability of data, and reproduction of results by all scientists who wish to do so. These do not seem to me to be very scary.

    The Muir Russell report makes it clear that improving the documentation process of climate research to the standards you like will require, ahem, more money.

    You can now go ahead and scream ‘Get your hands off my tax dollars!’ Thank you.

    * * *

    Meanwhile, Anthony Watts responds to the Muir Russell report by attacking, of all people, Michael Mann. Why do they spend so much time attacking Mann instead of someone actually working at CRU? Maybe they’re just plain obsessed with him?

  62. BB says:

    I doubt you prefer the ‘standards’ that the CRU had been using, because the MR review didn’t either. If bringing the CRU into a more helpful FOIA stance, with less incitement to delete data and emails, requires more money, then so be it (this also goes for the documentation process of archiving data and methods so that they can be independently reproduced).

    If a research facility wishes to apply for public funding for some venture, I’m sure they can include these costs as part of what they need to operate with. The funding award goes to the objective of the research, according to the standards presented; it is up to the receiving research facility to figure out how to meet the standards while achieving the objectives laid out in the funding application with the funding provided.

    All of that notwithstanding…if even that requires more money, lest all failure to meet the MR Review recommendations is somehow justifiable, then so be it with more funding. I don’t think I’ve presented any ‘anti-tax-dollars-for-research’ stance.