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


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?

About these ads

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

  1. [...] revealed wrong-doing only by accomplices and friends of the thieves, and revealed no wrong-doing on the part of climate [...]

    Like

  2. Ed: Some interesting stuff in the Act, my displeasure with the current govt’s handling of various constitutional affairs notwithstanding.

    Like

  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Thanks, Mike. Not something I was following, but something I should have been following, no doubt.

    Like

  4. In England, the House of Lords is a kind of Supreme Court

    Actually, not since 1st October last year. That was the date that certain provisions of the Constitutonal Reform Act 2005 went into effect, creating the Supreme Court of The United Kingdom, which took over the functions of the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary (better known as the Law Lords) as court of final resort.

    Like

  5. Ed Darrell says:

    Easily as authoritative as a U.S. Congressional investigation. Maybe moreso: In England, the House of Lords is a kind of Supreme Court.

    More authoritative in any case than WUWT, or any denialist or contrarian blog.

    And, critically, the only “investigation” of any governmental authority since the things were stolen, and so the “investigation” that the contrarians and denialists were referring when they called for resignations of the scientists and when they called for a sound ignoring of the science “because it’s tainted — under investigation, you know.”

    So, this report means that warming is back on, that all the contrarians and denialists were wrong.

    Of course, you shouldn’t expect any of them to admit that.

    Like

  6. James Hanley says:

    No comment on the emails themselves, but…a parliamentary investigation? Not the most authoritative source for investigating wrongdoing (although, given the structure of Parliament, undoubtedly marginally better than a Congressional investigation).

    Like

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

    Like

  8. [...] Science Remember so-called “climate-gate” e-mail “scandal”? Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub points out that Great Brittan Parliament investigation revealed no …. [...]

    Like

Play nice in the Bathtub -- splash no soap in anyone's eyes.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,150 other followers

%d bloggers like this: