Parliament’s investigation: Stolen e-mails reveal no wrong-doing by climate scientists

March 31, 2010

As Galileo might have said, “Still the planet warms.”

A committee of England’s Parliament released its report on Hadley Climate Research Unit’s (CRU) stolen e-mails earlier today.  The reports you heard that the scientific case showing global warming with human causation had died, were exaggerated, significantly in error, and hoaxes themselves.

The report comes from the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee.  Press release with links and previous releases from the Committee, below:

The disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia


Report publishedThe Committee published ‘The disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia‘, HC 387-I, its Eighth Report of Session 2009-10, on Wednesday 31 March 2010. Volume II, the oral and written evidence, was published the same day.

CLIMATE SCIENCE MUST BECOME MORE TRANSPARENT SAY MPs

The Science and Technology Committee today publishes its report on the disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. The Committee calls for the climate science community to become more transparent by publishing raw data and detailed methodologies.

Phil Willis MP, Committee Chair, said:

“Climate science is a matter of global importance. On the basis of the science, governments across the world will be spending trillions of pounds on climate change mitigation. The quality of the science therefore has to be irreproachable. What this inquiry revealed was that climate scientists need to take steps to make available all the data that support their work and full methodological workings, including their computer codes. Had both been available, many of the problems at CRU could have been avoided.”

The focus on Professor Jones and CRU has been largely misplaced. On the accusations relating to Professor Jones’s refusal to share raw data and computer codes, the Committee considers that his actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community but that those practices need to change.

On the much cited phrases in the leaked e-mails—”trick” and “hiding the decline”—the Committee considers that they were colloquial terms used in private e-mails and the balance of evidence is that they were not part of a systematic attempt to mislead.

Insofar as the Committee was able to consider accusations of dishonesty against CRU, the Committee considers that there is no case to answer.

The Committee found no reason in this inquiry to challenge the scientific consensus as expressed by Professor Beddington, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, that “global warming is happening [and] that it is induced by human activity”. But this was not an inquiry into the science produced by CRU and it will be for the Scientific Appraisal Panel, announced by the University on 22 March, to determine whether the work of CRU has been soundly built.

On the mishandling of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests, the Committee considers that much of the responsibility should lie with the University, not CRU. The leaked e-mails appear to show a culture of non-disclosure at CRU and instances where information may have been deleted to avoid disclosure, particularly to climate change sceptics. The failure of the University to grasp fully the potential damage this could do and did was regrettable. The University needs to re-assess how it can support academics whose expertise in FoI requests is limited.


Committee announcementOn 22 January the Science and Technology Committee announced an inquiry into the disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.  Commenting on the material which the Committee has received since the announcement the Chairman, Phil Willis MP, said:

The Committee has been receiving a steady stream of contributions to the inquiry, for which it is grateful.  I would like to take this opportunity to emphasise that the focus of the inquiry is the implications of the disclosures for the integrity of scientific research and the terms of reference and scope of the Independent Review announced on 3 December 2009 by UEA.  It is not an inquiry into global warming. In the time remaining before the General Election the Committee would not have time to carry out such an inquiry.


Terms of Reference
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?

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 invited written submissions from interested parties on the three questions set out above by  Wednesday 10 February. The deadline has now passed.


Written correspondence

10 December 2009

Letter from the Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia to the Chairman of the Committee


Oral evidencePrevious session:

Monday 1 March 2010
The Rt Hon the Lord Lawson of Blaby, Chairman, and Dr Benny Peiser, Director, Global Warming Policy Foundation; Richard Thomas CBE, former Information Commissioner; Professor Edward Acton, Vice-Chancellor, University of East Anglia and Professor Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit; Sir Muir Russell, Head of the Independent Climate Change E-Mails Review; Professor John Beddington, Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Julia Slingo OBE, Chief Scientist, Met Office, and Professor Bob Watson, Chief Scientist, Defra


Press notices31/03/10 Report published
22/01/10 Inquiry announced

Tip of the old scrub brush to P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula and Watching the Deniers.

______________________

Update March 31, 20101: Is this a surprise?  Contrarians, dissenters and deniers say the report errs.

Update April 5, 2010: A little slower than I had imagined, Watts Up With That denies the accuracy of the report — but the denial is a doozy of denialist argument from authority.  It’s a “guest editorial” by S. Fred Singer. Among other things, Singer’s piece reveals why we don’t let partisan politicians run investigations.  He’s miffed because the investigation didn’t give Singer, nor any other denialist, a chance to malign Hadley CRU.  In listing reasons to put fingers in his ears and not listen, Singer said of the House of Commons report, “It did not take direct testimony from scientifically competent skeptics.” There’s no good reason Commons should have take direct testimony from “scientifically competent skeptics,” it wasn’t a news article where false balance was desired.  Instead, the question was whether Hadley’s scientists had done anything wrong.  Singer can’t know, since he has no direct involvement in Hadley’s work, nor would the biased claims of a denialist be able to shed any more light.  Perhaps critically, Singer can’t know whether the Commons committee took direct testimony from claimed skeptics or not.  That the report doesn’t mention the claims doesn’t mean the question wasn’t raised.   It means that in the end, it wasn’t relevant, and not supported by the facts.

Update April 6, 2010: Singer’s in error.  McIntyre has his say in Appendix 10 of the report.  How many other contrarians, denialists and self-proclaimed “skeptics” are in the report?


Education board shames Texas: Nick Anderson’s view from 2009, part C

March 31, 2010

Nick Anderson of the Houston Chronicle on Texas SBOE social studies standards, in 2009

Nick Anderson of the Houston Chronicle on Texas SBOE social studies standards, in 2009


Education board shames Texas: Ben Sargent and Texas education follies, part B

March 31, 2010

Ben Sargent, Austin American-Statesman, on Rick Perry and Texas social studies standards

Ben Sargent, Austin American-Statesman (GoComics) March 17, 2010

(I first saw a Ben Sargent cartoon published in the Daily Utah Chronicle in about 1974.  35 years of great stuff from that guy.  He officially retired from the Austin American-Statesman in 2009, running one cartoon a week now.)

Tip of the old scrub brush, again, to Steven Schafersman and What Would Jack Do.

Also note this January cartoon from Sargent:

Ben Sargent, Austin American-Statesman, January 24, 2010

Texas State Board of Education social studies curricula - Ben Sargent, Austin American-Statesman, January 24, 2010


Still killing recess

March 31, 2010

No Recess Today, from Flickr files of BamaWester

No Recess Today, from Flickr files of BamaWester

Trends to less recess only get more complicated.

David Elkind of Tufts wrote in the New York Times about the trend to getting recess coaches.  It’s probably much better than killing recess altogether, but still problematic, don’t you think?  Elkind said:

We have to adapt to childhood as it is today, not as we knew it or would like it to be. The question isn’t whether recess coaches are good or bad — they seem to be with us to stay — but whether they help students form the age-old bonds of childhood. To the extent that the coaches focus on play, give children freedom of choice about what they want to do, and stay out of the way as much as possible, they are likely a good influence.

In any case, recess coaching is a vastly better solution than eliminating recess in favor of more academics. Not only does recess aid personal development, but studies have found that children who are most physically fit tend to score highest on tests of reading, math and science.

Earlier at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:

Other sources:


Typographical error, a gift to creationists

March 31, 2010

Here’s a post at Ecographica about a typographical error in the Arizona Daily Wildcat, the newspaper of the University of Arizona.

How long before some creationist seizes on it to claim Darwin’s theories are dead?  5 . . 4 . . 3 . . 2 . . .

If you find it, will you note it in comments, please?

(Notice how the only stuff creationists can make hay out of, is error?)

Background

Debates over the evolution of hominin bipedalism, a defining human characteristic, revolve around whether early bipeds walked more like humans, with energetically efficient extended hind limbs, or more like apes with flexed hind limbs. The 3.6 million year old hominin footprints at Laetoli, Tanzania represent the earliest direct evidence of hominin bipedalism. Determining the kinematics of Laetoli hominins will allow us to understand whether selection acted to decrease energy costs of bipedalism by 3.6 Ma.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Using an experimental design, we show that the Laetoli hominins walked with weight transfer most similar to the economical extended limb bipedalism of humans. Humans walked through a sand trackway using both extended limb bipedalism, and more flexed limb bipedalism. Footprint morphology from extended limb trials matches weight distribution patterns found in the Laetoli footprints.

Conclusions

These results provide us with the earliest direct evidence of kinematically human-like bipedalism currently known, and show that extended limb bipedalism evolved long before the appearance of the genus Homo. Since extended-limb bipedalism is more energetically economical than ape-like bipedalism, energy expenditure was likely an important selection pressure on hominin bipeds by 3.6 Ma.

Update:  Wall of Shame

Here are creationists claiming the findings rebut, refute or befuddle Darwin:


Education board shames Texas: Social studies follies, part A

March 31, 2010

John Sherffius, one of my favorite editorial cartoonists, laid out the problem in his cartoon of March 18:

John Sherffius, Boulder Daily Camera, March 18, 2010 - Texas social studies standards

John Sherffius, Boulder Daily Camera, March 18, 2010

You may purchase a copy of the cartoon — or the original — here.

SBOE isn’t exactly asking that the Bible be rewritten — or at least, not directly.  Suggesting we replace Thomas Jefferson as a founder with John Calvin in high school standards, is just as silly.

Tip of the old scrub brush to What Would Jack Do, “Lone Star Laughing Stock,” and Steven Schafersman.


Millard Fillmore and the Indians of California

March 30, 2010

Some of the most interesting stuff of history can only be found accidentally.   You don’t know what you don’t know, and so the only way to find it is to stumble into it in the dark.

Pamela Bumsted sent me a link to this site, which describes the travails of the Winnemem Wintu, a band of people native to the area of California from Sacramento, going north.  It is an American Indian tribe, except under the view of the U.S. government.

Their troubles relate to their giving up claims to their traditional lands in a treaty with the U.S. government, during the administration of Millard Fillmore.  Alas for the Winnemem Wintu, the treaty was not ratified by the U.S. Senate, and their own claims to their own lands fell out of law and out of history.

In the 1851 Treaty at Cottonwood Creek, the Winnemem (represented by the signature of Numterareman), along with other Wintu bands, ceded a vast territory from Sacramento to near the Oregon border to the United States in exchange for a 25-square-mile reservation along the Sacramento River. The California legislature lobbied against the treaty to the U.S. Senate which, in turn, pressured President Millard Fillmore to refuse ratification of any of the 18 treaties signed “in peace and friendship.” As a consequence, the Winnemem never got their reservation and started losing their traditional lands to encroaching settlement and the designation of the Shasta National Forest in 1906.

Eighteen treaties were not ratified by the Senate?  Which 18?  What happened to those bands? Were they all California bands?

We know the Winnemem Wintu are fighting for recognition  now.  What happened to the other 17 nations, and the other 17 treaties?  Got resources?  List them in comments

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