Thursday, April 01, 2010

House of Commons: "The scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact"

[I]nsofar as we have been able to consider accusations of dishonesty—for example, Professor Jones’s alleged attempt to “hide the decline”—we consider that there is no case to answer. Within our limited inquiry and the evidence we took, the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact. We have found no reason in this unfortunate episode to challenge the scientific consensus as expressed by Professor Beddington, that “global warming is happening [and] that it is induced by human activity”.---House of Commons Science and Technology Committee

The Science and Technology Committee of the U.K. Parliament (see everything here) has 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.

The vicious attempts by dishonest climate change denialists like the Heartland Institute, meretricious witch-hunters like Senator Inhofe, pseudo-scientific conspiracists like John Costella, and moronic blogger-journalists like James Delingpole to assassinate the reputations of educated and dedicated scholars like Phil Jones and other climate scientists have been rebuffed by the British House of Commons.

I hope we will also soon learn the identities of the arrogant morons who hacked into the server of the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU), stole the scientists' e-mails, and posted them on a server in Tomsk, Siberia.

People who want to understand the science of climate change should read periodicals like Nature, not kompromat posted on Russian servers for the benefit of propagandististic "think tanks," greedy politicians in the pockets of energy interests, crackpot pseudo-scientists, or ignorant hack journalists.

The Science and Technology Committee of the British House of Commons has released its investigation of the so-called "Climategate" scandal. The report is titled The disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (3-31-10).

The University of East Anglia responded to the report in a press release titled Statement in response to the Science and Technology Committee Report.

Here are the Science and Technology Committee's Summary and Conclusions, but read the whole document:

Summary

The disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in November 2009 had the potential to damage the reputation of the climate science and the scientists involved.

We believe that the focus on CRU and Professor Phil Jones, Director of CRU, in particular, has largely been misplaced. Whilst we are concerned that the disclosed e-mails suggest a blunt refusal to share scientific data and methodologies with others, we can sympathise with Professor Jones, who must have found it frustrating to handle requests for data that he knew—or perceived were motivated by a desire simply to undermine his work.

In the context of the sharing of data and methodologies, we consider that Professor Jones’s actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community. It is not standard practice in climate science to publish the raw data and the computer code in academic papers. However, climate science is a matter of great importance and the quality of the science should be irreproachable. We therefore consider that climate scientists
should take steps to make available all the data that support their work (including raw data) and full methodological workings (including the computer codes). Had both been available, many of the problems at UEA could have been avoided.


We are content that the phrases such as “trick” or “hiding the decline” 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. Likewise the evidence that we have seen does not suggest that Professor Jones was trying to subvert the peer review process. Academics should not be criticised for making informal comments on academic papers.

In the context of Freedom of Information (FOIA), much of the responsibility should lie
with UEA. The disclosed e-mails appear to show a culture of non-disclosure at CRU and instances where information may have been deleted, to avoid disclosure. We found prima facie evidence to suggest that the UEA found ways to support the culture at CRU of resisting disclosure of information to climate change sceptics. The failure of UEA to grasp fully the potential damage to CRU and UEA by the non-disclosure of FOIA requests was regrettable. UEA needs to review its policy towards FOIA and re-assess how it can support academics whose expertise in this area is limited.


The Deputy Information Commissioner has given a clear indication that a breach of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 may have occurred but that a prosecution was timebarred; however no investigation has been carried out. In our view it is unsatisfactory to leave the matter unresolved. We conclude that the matter needs to be resolved conclusively—either by the Independent Climate Change Email Review or by the Information Commissioner. [See Correspondence between University of East Anglia and the Information Commissioner's Office]

We accept the independence of the Climate Change E-mail Review [more here] and recommend that the Review be open and transparent, taking oral evidence and conducting interviews in public wherever possible.

On 22 March UEA announced the Scientific Appraisal Panel [more here] to be chaired by Lord Oxburgh. This Panel should determine whether the work of CRU has been soundly built and it would be premature for us to pre-judge its work.

...

Conclusions

22. 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, we consider that his actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community. We have suggested that the community consider becoming more transparent by publishing raw data and detailed methodologies. On accusations relating to Freedom of Information, we consider that much of the responsibility should lie with UEA, not CRU. (Paragraph 136)

23. In addition, insofar as we have been able to consider accusations of dishonesty—for example, Professor Jones’s alleged attempt to “hide the decline”—we consider that there is no case to answer. Within our limited inquiry and the evidence we took, the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact. We have found no reason in this unfortunate episode to challenge the scientific consensus as expressed by Professor Beddington, that “global warming is happening [and] that it is induced
by human activity”. It was not our purpose to examine, nor did we seek evidence on, the science produced by CRU. It will be for the Scientific Appraisal Panel to look in detail into all the evidence to determine whether or not the consensus view remains valid. (Paragraph 137)


24. A great responsibility rests on the shoulders of climate science: to provide the planet’s decision makers with the knowledge they need to secure our future. The challenge that this poses is extensive and some of these decisions risk our standard of living. When the prices to pay are so large, the knowledge on which these kinds of decisions are taken had better be right. The science must be irreproachable. (Paragraph 138)

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