Tag Archives: Phil Jones

Climategate – Journalist withdraws and apologises

George Monbiot

George Monbiot: Image via Wikipedia

Hot Topic has an informative article covering the the Independent Climate Change Email Review chaired by Sir Muir Russell (see Climategate’s final fizzle). The report can be downloaded here (FINAL REPORT). It’s 160 pages and appears very thorough. But it will take a little time to read.

Listen to the press conference where the report was launched this morning (download mp3 file Audio recording of the press conference (mp3 format approx 14MB). I think this gives a good idea of the flavour of the report and the effort that went into it. There is also of Transcript of Sir Muir Rrussell’s opening remarks.

Hopefully this report will do a lot to help reverse some of the misleading press and internet coverage of this unseemly climategate affair.

One journalist who has already admitted to have been mistaken is George Monbiot. Back in November he called for professor Phil Jones resignation. Now he says  he was wrong to call, soon after this story broke, for Jones’s resignation? (See The ‘climategate’ inquiry at last vindicates Phil Jones – and so must I).

There were a few local bloggers who echoed Monbiot’s mistaken call – I wonder if they will now withdraw and apologise. At least Monbiot has the honesty to admit his mistake.

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A more transparent approach

A recent statment from the Royal Society of NZ has drawn out some comment. Entitled Science, Climate Change and Integrity it is by  Professor Keith A Hunter.

Of course some of the local climate change deniers have been busy raking up pseudo-scientific arguments to discredit the article (see Errors in Royal Society of NZ climate change paper and Emanations from Royal Society less than lordly). We have come to expect this. But they have been so busy arrogantly trying to discredit the Royal Society they missed the most important content – the comments on disclosure of information and adopting a more transparent approach.

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Getting to the truth – gradually

I guess reaction to the UK Parliamentary report on “climategate” (see Climate scientist Phil Jones exonerated) is predictable. The more extreme climate change denier blogs are shouting “whitewash.” Scientific blogs are generally accepting the conclusions.

No scientific dishonesty

Anybody who had objectively read through the emails and explanations could not have been surprised.  The report rejects the charges of scientific dishonesty. It says of the much publicised use of the word “trick”: Continue reading

Climate scientist Phil Jones exonerated

The UK Parliament Science and Technology Committee has released its report into “climategate” – some of the issues surrounding the release of stolen emails from the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit.

It effectively exonerates Phil Jones from  charges of withholding data and questionable scientific ethics.

The text of the press release is below and the committee’s report [PDF] provides detailed responses on each of the issues raised in its investigation.


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.

via UK Parliament – S&T PN32/100331.

Download the full report: “The disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.”

YouTube – ‘Climategate’ row scientist cleared of wrongdoing.

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See also:
The rickety bandwagon of climate change denial
Climategate inquiry: no proof of fraud, better disclosure called for

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Swiftboating science

“Swiftboating” is a new term for me – and for science, I guess. But it is part of US political jargon.

To quote Wikipedia:

“Swiftboating . .  is used as a strong pejorative description of some kind of attack that the speaker considers unfair or untrue—for example, an ad hominem attack or a smear campaign.

The term comes from the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth (formerly “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth,” or SBVT) and that group’s widely publicized campaign against 2004 US Presidential candidate John Kerry.

Originally, terms like “swiftboating”, “Swift Boating”, “Swift Boat tactics”, etc. were mostly used by people who disapproved of the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth. It is now in mainstream use. Some American conservatives have strongly objected (see below) to the criticism of SBVT implied by such negative usage.”

It appears, mainly, to be a tactic of political conservatives. So it’s not surprising they describe the process differently. This from Conservapedia:

Swift-boating is an idiomatic catchphrase generally taken to mean exposing hard truths about Democrats who have distorted the truth or lied about their own activities.

Here on Conservapedia, the term is used to mean exposing hard truths about liberal editors who censor, distort the truth, or engage in deceit.”

So – its a synonym for “character assassination” and “smear.” With particular connotations of calling into question one’s honourable status.

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Anti-science lies being exposed – slowly

This is a sane word of advice at the time of hysterical attacks on climate science and scientists under the “climategate” tag.

It comes in a submission from the  University of East Anglia to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Science and Technology investigating the “climategate” business. It finishes with the comment:

“Given that the stakes for humanity are so high in correctly interpreting the evidence of global warming, we would meanwhile urge scientists, academics, journalists and public servants to resist the distortions of hearsay evidence or orchestrated campaigns of misinformation, and instead to encourage open, intelligent debate.”

Ah, if only! Recently on another thread we had a denier accusing scientists of “Lying” and being “eco-fascists,” “lying parasites,” and “parasites of the environmental movement.”

For those of you who want a bit more sanity in this discussion have a read of the university’s submission. It’s avalable as a word document (submission) and together with an appendix.

The submission covers the key accusations being made by the climategate deniers and might be an eye-opener to some.

They say “Lies get half way around the world before truth gets its boots on.” It takes time but truth will eventually out.

I look forward to the time that all these inquiries report their findings.


Update (or BREAKING NEWS as Ian Wishart would claim): It’s also worth having a read of this statement Climate change and the scientific process from the Office of the NZ Prime Minister’s Science Advisory Committee. A printable version of “Climate change and the scientific process” is available for download here ( PDF file, 139 kb).

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Deniers distort Phil Jones

Let’s differentiate again between climate change sceptics (who are prepared to rationally consider and discuss the science) and climate change deniers (who have an emotional commitment to denying climate change and see the science as just the result of a huge conspiracy). Currently there is a feeding frenzy amongst the deniers. Hysterical claims are being made and promoted on the flimsiest of evidence, even against the evidence. They are promoting anything and everything that can possibly be misinterpreted to discredit scientific conclusions and scientists. And, yes, these attacks do get nasty and personal.

This must be making the true climate change sceptics very uncomfortable. More of them should publicly dissociate themselves from this hysterical anti-scientific campaign.

Warming since 1995?

Predictably, several local blogging deniers took on the misreporting of the recent BBC interview with climate scientist Phil Jones. Several of his statements have been used to make distorted, even completely fraudulent, claims. Here I only consider the misreporting of Jone’s comment on global warming since 1995:

Here is the question and answer (see Q&A: Professor Phil Jones for full interview):

Question: Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

Answer: Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.”

At least three local bloggers reported this as a u-turn. A concession that warming was no longer occurring. A denial of previous work! Essentially they were repeated the headlines of overseas conservaqtive and denier newspapers and blogs.

Now you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see these bloggers are completely distorting the whole meaning of Phil Jones’ comment. But, if you want to dig a bit deeper and get your head around the implications of statistical comments like this watch this video by potholer54. It deals specifically with this distortion:

YouTube – 8a. Climate Change – supplement.

An earlier video from potholer54 deals with the more general question. See  8. Climate Change — Has the Earth been cooling?

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Climate change confusion – a conspiracy of sorts

The current “climategate” attacks on science must bewilder many scientists. Why the hysteria? Why the wild claims? The facts don’t warrant that sort of reaction!

One is tempted to see a conspiracy – and no doubt there are all sorts of links between organisations and campaigns are easily plotted. But I think what we have is something a bit more uncoordinated. More an accident of history.

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