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?


The Curse of “Not Evil, Just Wrong” — still evil and wrong

December 10, 2009

At the first post on this material, the thread got a little long — not loading well in some browsers, I hear.

So the comments are closed there, and open here.

In fashion we wish were different but seems all too typical, so-called skeptics of global warming defend their position with invective and insult.  But they are vigorous about it.  What do you think?  What information can you contribute?

Here’s the post that set off the denialists, anti-science types and DDT sniffers, and a tiny few genuinely concerned but under-informed citizens:

I warned you about it earlier. Crank science sites across the internet feature news of another cheap hit on Rachel Carson and science in movie form.

“Not Evil, Just Wrong” is slated for release on October 18. This is the film that tried to intrude on the Rachel Carson film earlier this year, but managed to to get booked only at an elementary school in Seattle, Washington — Rachel Carson Elementary, a green school where the kids showed more sense than the film makers by voting to name the school after the famous scientist-author.

The film is both evil and wrong.

Errors just in the trailer:

  1. Claims that Al Gore said sea levels will rise catastrophically, “in the very near future.” Not in his movie, not in his writings or speeches. Not true. That’s a simple misstatement of what Gore said, and Gore had the science right.
  2. ” . . . [I]t wouldn’t be a bad thing for this Earth to warm up. In fact, ice is the enemy of life.” “Bad” in this case is a value judgment — global warming isn’t bad if you’re a weed, a zebra mussel, one of the malaria parasites, a pine bark beetle, any other tropical disease, or a sadist. But significant warming as climatologists, physicists and others project, would be disastrous to agriculture, major cities in many parts of the world, sea coasts, and most people who don’t live in the Taklamakan or Sahara, and much of the life in the ocean. Annual weather cycles within long-established ranges, is required for life much as we know it. “No ice” is also an enemy of life.
  3. “They want to raise our taxes.” No, that’s pure, uncomposted bovine excrement.
  4. “They want to close our factories.” That’s more effluent from the anus of male bovines.
  5. The trailer notes the usual claim made by Gore opponents that industry cannot exist if it is clean, that industry requires that we poison the planet. Were that true, we’d have a need to halt industry now, lest we become like the yeast in the beer vat, or the champagne bottle, manufacturing alcohol until the alcohol kills the yeast. Our experience with Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, the Clean Air Acts and the Clean Water Act is that cleaning the environment produces economic growth, not the other way around. A city choked in pollution dies. Los Angeles didn’t suffer when the air got cleaner. Pittsburgh’s clean air became a way to attract new industries to the city, before the steel industry there collapsed. Cleaning Lake Erie didn’t hurt industry. The claim made by the film is fatuous, alarmist, and morally corrupt.

    When the human health, human welfare, and environmental effects which could be expressed in dollar terms were added up for the entire 20-year period, the total benefits of Clean Air Act programs were estimated to range from about $6 trillion to about $50 trillion, with a mean estimate of about $22 trillion. These estimated benefits represent the estimated value Americans place on avoiding the dire air quality conditions and dramatic increases in illness and premature death which would have prevailed without the 1970 and 1977 Clean Air Act and its associated state and local programs. By comparison, the actual costs of achieving the pollution reductions observed over the 20 year period were $523 billion, a small fraction of the estimated monetary benefits.

  6. “Some of the environmental activists have not come to accept that the human is also part of the environment.” Fatuous claim. Environmentalists note that humans uniquely possess the ability to change climate on a global scale, intentionally, for the good or bad; environmentalists choose to advocate for actions that reduce diseases like malaria, cholera and asthma. We don’t have to sacrifice a million people a year to malaria, in order to be industrial and productive. We don’t have to kill 700,000 kids with malaria every year just to keep cars.
  7. “They want to go back to the Dark Ages and the Black Plague.” No, that would be the film makers. Environmentalists advocate reducing filth and ignorance both. Ignorance and lack of ability to read, coupled with religious fanaticism, caused the strife known as “the Dark Ages.” It’s not environmentalists who advocate an end to cheap public schools.
  8. The trailer shows a kid playing in the surf on a beach. Of course, without the Clean Water Act and other attempts to keep the oceans clean, such play would be impossible. That we can play again on American beaches is a tribute to the environmental movement, and reason enough to grant credence to claims of smart people like Al Gore and the scientists whose work he promotes.
  9. “I cannot believe that Al Gore has great regard for people, real people.” So, this is a film promoting the views of crabby, misanthropic anal orifices who don’t know Al Gore at all? Shame on them. And, why should anyone want to see such a film? If I want to see senseless acts of stupidity, I can rent a film by Quentin Tarantino and get some art with the stupidity. [Update, November 23, 2009: This may be one of the most egregiously false charges of the film. Gore, you recall, is the guy who put his political career and presidential ambitions on hold indefinitely when his son was seriously injured in an auto-pedestrian accident; Gore was willing to sacrifice all his political capital in order to get his son healed. My first dealings directly with Gore came on the Organ Transplant bill. Gore didn’t need a transplant, didn’t have need for one in his family, and had absolutely nothing to gain from advocacy for the life-saving procedure. It was opposed by the chairman of his committee, by a majority of members of his own party in both Houses of Congress, by many in the medical establishment, by many in the pharmaceutical industry, and by President Reagan, who didn’t drop his threat to veto the bill until he signed it, as I recall. Gore is a man of deep, human-centered principles. Saying “I can’t believe Al Gore has great regard for real people” only demonstrates the vast ignorance and perhaps crippling animus of the speaker.]

That’s a whopper about every 15 seconds in the trailer — the film itself may make heads spin if it comes close to that pace of error.

Where have we seen this before? Producers of the film claim as “contributors” some of the people they try to lampoon — people like Ed Begley, Jr., and NASA’s James E. Hansen, people who don’t agree in any way with the hysterical claims of the film, and people who, I wager, would be surprised to be listed as “contributors.”

It’s easy to suppose these producers used the same ambush-the-scientist technique used earlier by the producers of the anti-science, anti-Darwin film “Expelled!

Here, see the hysteria, error and alarmism for yourself:

Ann McElhinney is one of the film’s producers. Her past work includes other films against protecting environment and films for mining companies. She appears to be affiliated with junk science purveyors at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an astro-turf organization in Washington, D.C., for whom she flacked earlier this year (video from Desmogblog):

Remember, too, that this film is already known to have gross inaccuracies about Rachel Carson and DDT, stuff that high school kids could get right easily.

Anyone have details on McElhinney and her colleague, Phelim McAlee?

More:

Related posts, at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:

Please spread the word:

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl


Astroturf as tool for (political) climate change – caught red handed

August 8, 2009

Bob Park’s weekly newsletter gives the story sharply and succinctly (August 6 edition):

WHAT’S NEW   Robert L. Park   Friday, 6 Aug 09   Washington, DC

CLIMATE: LETTERS TO CONGRESS ARE EXPOSED AS “ASTROTURF”.
They look like a grass-roots campaign, but they’re fakes.  The letters  purported to be from registered nonprofit groups.  Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), a sponsor of the climate bill, has begun an inquiry into whether the fake letters amount to fraud.  The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity disavowed the scurrilous tactic and said it was considering legal action against the Hawthorne Group, a firm it paid to make the climate bill disappear.  Hawthorne, however, is only a contractor.  It hired Bonner and Associates to make the hit.  The founder of the firm, Jack Bonner, laid the blame squarely on a wayward employee who has since been fired. Thus was the purity of the legislative process restored. But why had this employee taken it upon himself to do such a thing?  A lowly temp, he was paid according to the number of fraudulent letters he sent to congressional offices.  And nobody supervised his work?

Dr. Park offered facts only, no links.

Let me help you out.  But a word of warning:  This campaign against Al Gore and serious science is really, really sleazy.

Who can you trust?  It’s clear that we can’t trust claims from climate change sceptics and denialists, especially when they claim “thousands” of scientists and “thousands” of citizens oppose laws to mitigate the damage from climate change.

Please help spread accurate science reporting; tell friends about this post:

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl


Press release on polar bears the climate change skeptics hope you won’t read

August 2, 2009

Why did the self-proclaimed skeptics work so hard to discredit this meeting before it even occurred?  Why have they ignored this press release?

Take it easy! Calm down, stick to the facts! Polar bear photo by Kathy Crane, NOAA Arctic Research Office

“Take it easy! Calm down, stick to the facts!” Polar bear photo by Kathy Crane, NOAA Arctic Research Office

There is no dramatic finding in the release.  After you read it, you’ll probably wonder, too, why climate change skeptics don’t want you to read this press release:

15th meeting of PBSG in Copenhagen, Denmark 2009

PRESS RELEASE

The 15th meeting of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG), hosted by the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, was held at the Greenland Representation in Copenhagen Denmark , June 29-July 3, 2009.  The Polar Bear Specialist Group is composed of researchers and managers representing each of the five circumpolar nations that signed the International Agreement for the Conservation of Polar Bears of 1973.  Since the late 1960s, the members of PBSG have met every 3 to 5 years under the umbrella of the Species Survival Commission of the IUCN (the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) to review and exchange information, and make recommendations for research and management of polar bears throughout the Arctic.

The PBSG renewed the conclusion from previous meetings that the greatest challenge to conservation of polar bears is ecological change in the Arctic resulting from climatic warming.  Declines in the extent of the sea ice have accelerated since the last meeting of the group in 2005, with unprecedented sea ice retreats in 2007 and 2008. The PBSG confirmed its earlier conclusion that unabated global warming will ultimately threaten polar bears everywhere.

The PBSG also recognized that threats to polar bears will occur at different rates and times across their range although warming induced habitat degradation and loss are already negatively affecting polar bears in some parts of their range. Subpopulations of polar bears face different combinations of human threats.  The PBSG recommends that jurisdictions take into account the variation in threats facing polar bears.

The PBSG noted polar bears suffer health effects from persistent pollutants.  At the same time, climate change appears to be altering the pathways by which such pollutants enter ecosystems. The PBSG encourages international efforts to evaluate interactions between climate change and pollutants.

The PBSG endorses efforts to develop non-invasive means of population assessment, and continues to encourage jurisdictions to incorporate capture and radio tracking programs into their national monitoring efforts. The members also recognized that aboriginal people are both uniquely positioned to observe wildlife and changes in the environment, and their knowledge is essential for effective management.

The PBSG recognizes that where habitats are stable, polar bears are a renewable resource, and reaffirmed its support of the right of aboriginal groups to harvest polar bears within sustainable limits.  The PBSG noted that the population of polar bears in Baffin Bay, shared between Greenland and Canada, may simultaneously be suffering from significant habitat change and substantial over harvest, while at the same time interpretations by scientists and local hunters disagree regarding population status.  Similarly, the Chukchi Sea polar bear population which is shared by Russia and the United States is likely declining due to illegal harvest in Russia and one of the highest rates of sea ice loss in the Arctic. Consistent with its past efforts to coordinate research and management among jurisdictions, the PBSG recommended that the polar bear populations in Baffin Bay and the Chukchi Sea be reassessed and that harvests be brought into balance with the current sustainable yield.

A variety of management changes have occurred since the PBSG last met in 2005.  The PBSG members were particularly pleased that quotas for the harvest of polar bears in Greenland were implemented in January 2006, and that quota reductions have been implemented in some parts of Greenland.  Also since the last meeting, the government of Nunavut reduced the harvest quota in Western Hudson Bay because of the documented population decline.

The PBSG reevaluated the status of the 19 recognized subpopulations of polar bears distributed over vast and relatively inaccessible areas of the Arctic. Despite the fact that much new information has been made available since the last meeting, knowledge of some populations is still poor.  Reviewing the latest information available the PBSG concluded that 1 of 19 subpopulations is currently increasing, 3 are stable and 8 are declining.  For the remaining 7 subpopulations available data were insufficient to provide an assessment of current trend.  The total number of polar bears is still thought to be between 20,000 and 25,000.  However, the mixed quality of information on the different subpopulations means there is much room for error in establishing that range.  That potential for error, given the ongoing and projected changes in habitats and other potential stressors is cause for concern.  Nonetheless, the PBSG is optimistic that humans can mitigate the effects of global warming and other threats to polar bears, and ensure that they remain a part of the Arctic ecosystem in perpetuity.

Dr. Erik Born from the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources was elected as the new chairman of the group after Dr. Andrew Derocher from the University of Alberta, who has been serving as chair since 2005.

Well, there is that proclamation of optimism in the penultimate paragraph, that humans can mitigate threats to bears, including global warming.  Is that why they don’t want you to read it?

How are the polar bears?  They are in trouble.  The Polar Bear Specialist Group says we should help them out, that we can do things to save the bears.  Why would the “skeptics” not want us to know that?

Other resources:

Save


%d bloggers like this: