Tuesday, March 30, 2010

CRU Inquiry Report

UPDATE: Visitors from Eschaton might be interested in this post on tone trolling, Broderism and how to spot it.

The UK Parliament Science and Technology Committee has issued its report on the Climate Research Unit inquiry. In a statement issued with the report

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.

Here are some links that go beyond the basic press release

Big City Lib has more

The full report is at deSmog Blog

The oral and written evidence is now available as a single Acrobat file

More at Climate Progress

Stoat will be chiming in when he gets out of the river

Real Climate has a discussion but more is anticipated

Policy Lass includes a comment from Yrs Truly

James Annan gleefully points out the mote in the committee's eye

Deep Climate lands on Graham Stringer's reading list

Richard Black makes some important points, which enrages the trolls.

Thanks to Helen Cotterill for the tip

Eli's general conclusion is that we should have aggressively submitted evidence to the Committee dealing with the way Prof. Jones and the CRU had been attacked for many years, and how the denialists have systematically distorted his and others work. The denialists did not make this mistake and their fulminations crept into the Science and Technology Committees report.

However, importantly, the basic AP and other news service, reports really hammer on the denialist campaign to vilify Phil Jones and that the science has been reaffirmed. Even Sky News follows that tack


Anonymous said...

Perhaps some pro-science-types out there should consider submitting "friendly" FOI requests to CRU, NASA/GISS, etc. asking for details about who has submitted previous FOI requests for data/code, what data/code they were provided, and when.

Then perhaps a "wall-of-shame" of FOI requesters who haven't done anything with the material they requested could be put up somewhere.

Something like,

John XXX of YYY Co. requested such and such data/code on these dates, and he hasn't done squat with any of it in XX months/years.

caerbannog the anonybunny

FancyRat said...

Full vindication on the science.

Another fail for the Institute of Physics crank subgroup.

I'd give the committee low marks for "The leaked e-mails appear to show a culture of non-disclosure at CRU" since leaked emails "appear to show" is pretty weak - is there or isn't there such a culture, what does other evidence show? E.g. check how they released info to real academics and honestly motivated FOI requests.

Deech56 said...

Oh, this will certainly calm the controversy and placate the deniers. Not.

But in the reality-based world, it is good to see the committee support Jones. From BCL:

"[Prof Jones] probably wishes that emails were never invented," said Willis at a press conference. "But apart from that we do believe that Prof Jones has in many ways been scapegoated as a result of what really was a frustration on his part that people were asking for information purely to undermine his research."

bluegrue said...

UTV News, via BigCityLib

Professor Myles Allen, a leading climate scientist at Oxford University, said that free exchange of data with fellow scientists was a fundamental requirement of academic research. But he added: "There was an assumption within the climate science community that we could use our professional judgment to distinguish between professional scientists and activists or members of the public."

"The big implication in all this for science is that the [FOI Act] is taking away our liberty to use our own judgment to decide who we spend time responding to. And that has a cost," he said.

So the hunting season on scientists is confirmed open. The denialists have the go-ahead to tie up the time of working scientists. Not good.

Sou said...

The media report was good in that it exonerated Dr Jones and CRU and found the science held up. I agree it would have helped if there were more submissions to support the CRU and Dr Jones and provide background.

Academics may become more cautious in how they use email. Maybe VoIP is the answer although crossing timelines poses problems.

Let us hope the UK takes a hard look at FOI regulations and amends them to more strongly prevent frivolous requests. Should university researchers even be included in FoI? Should private emails be included? (In my opinion they should not.)

Legislation around the world is inconsistent and mostly deficient in how it addresses such questions. In some countries emails are considered private, but there are other legalities to consider as well.

I support making available data relatig to climate research, but it's not straightforward. There is still the need to protect research prior to publication. There will remain ownership issues in regard to international data.

Anonymous said...

I am not surprised. This is great news for science and for Dr. Jones. He has had a rough four months or so since the hack. Scapegoat indeed.

Of course the deniers will not buy a word, well maybe the part about having to share the code. So let me see-- scientists have to now hold everyone's hand including Mr. McIntyre b/c he is incapable of reproducing the results by reading the methodology section of the papers!? Good God, what is the world coming to?! How the heck are people meant to independently verify the science and methods if they are all using the same code?

Anyhow, this is cheering news. Hope it ruined Marc Morano's evening, he and McIntyre and Watts and JeffId and Bishop Hill will be spinning like a hamsters on their exercise wheels tonight to try and distort this and spin it in their favour.


Anonymous said...

"How the heck are people meant to independently verify the science and methods if they are all using the same code?"

Exactly the problem with the whole damn thing.


J Bowers said...

Makes me proud to be British ;)

Of course, the Global Warming Troofers are calling it a whitewash, but ooooohhhhh it's gotta smart :) Bless.

Once again the Troofers have demonstrated their inability to grasp reality, and been knocked down by reason and balance. Reality bites.

Martin Vermeer said...




and here.

Deech56 said...

The WUWT crowd is sputtering, so this must be good. I will be interested to see what George Monbiot has to say.

Horatio Algeranon said...

"The WUWT crowd is sputtering, so this must be good"

Ah, the fine art of divining emotions from the subtle details of meaningless banter.

Sounds like a psychology PhD thesis to Horatio.

Horatio visited WUWT once and nearly got lost in the rat's nest of criss-crossing and mostly dead-end intertubes.

Needless to say, panic was setting in...

and the only thing that saved Horatio from certain "death by a thousand confusions" was a link to Twitter, which Horatio grabbed onto as a drowning man might grab onto a life-saver (not the kind you eat, but the kind tossed by a lifeguard)

Anonymous said...

I can't recall what Monbiot got his knickers in a twist about exactly, but I imagine he might say he's more concerned with the outcome of the Muir Russell review, rather than this report's findings.

Cymraeg llygoden

Horatio Algeranon said...

It would appear from the report that the House of Commons Science and technology Committee at least made an effort to set the code-diddlers (and the Institute of Physics) straight as to the real meaning of scientific "replication and verification" Hint: it's not re-running the same code on the same data (and expecting a different result?)

from the report:

"science is more than individual researchers or research groups. One should put research in context and ask the question: what would one hope to find by double checking the processing of the raw data? If this were the only dataset in existence, and Professor Jones’s team had been the only team in the world to analyse it, then it might make sense to double check independently the processing of the raw data and the methods. But there are other datasets and other analyses that have been carried out as Professor Jones explained:

There are two groups in America that we [CRU] compare with and there are also two additional groups, one in Russia and one in Japan, that also produce similar records to ourselves and they all show pretty much the same sort of course of instrumental temperature change since the nineteenth century compared to today.67"

[the committee continues]
"Even if the data that CRU used were not publicly available—which they mostly are—or the methods not published—which they have been—its published results would still be credible: the results from CRU agree with those drawn from other international data sets; in other words, the analyses have been repeated and the conclusions have been verified.

but, of course, whether the committee succeeded in their effort to educate the Institute of Physics officers and others of the meaning of scientific replication is another matter entirely.

Angliss said...

Thanks for the link to the complete evidence. Something tells me that it'll prove to be a cornucopia of useful tidbits, especially to anyone who enjoys proving prominent deniers wrong.

I'm looking forward to this....

Anonymous said...

Snow Bunny says:
I peeked a ClimateAudit (a pain I usually spare myself) and he's whining Parliament didn't ask him about his points, just ignored him.
McIntyre doesn't get it -- the tree rings were a good measure of temperature (compared to other indicators, dendrochronology is more than I want to delve into in detail). Then something happened -- more CO2 or more pollution -- and scientists found that the correlation was no longer working, temperature was OBSERVED to be diverging from the tree rings, the trees are growing as fast. But McIntyre has it in his head that ceasing to use what had turned into a bad proxy is cheating, rather than common sense.

He doesn't get it, can't get it.

rumleyfips said...

Not having a real life I just finished the whole file. One thing jumped out.

Most deniers who sent written submissions have an overdeveloped sense of self importance. While thinking that they have something to say, they destroy their arguments by unthinkingly parrotting Watts or M&M&M. After the first few you start laughing: they don't realise they are showing the shallowness of their case.


chek said...


I saw the logo on the header and thought for one reckless moment that Monckton had apologised to Phil Jones - in writing on his special Lordly headed paper.

Then I looked more closely and saw it was merely a derivative gash version from the mother of Parliaments.

Still, I'm sure it's just a matter of time.