The BBC seems to be first out of the block in reporting on the Russell Review's first appearance at a news conference an hour ago.
The most interesting part is the identities of the panellists:
- Geoffrey Boulton, general secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (Professor of Geology)
- Dr Philip Campbell, editor-in-chief for Nature journal
- Professor Peter Clarke of the University of Edinburgh (a particle physicist by background, he now heads the e-Science Centre at Edinburgh)
- David Eyton, head of research and technology at BP
- Professor Jim Norton, vice president for the Chartered Institute for IT.
There seem to have been no changes to the scope of the review.
My first reaction is that the appointment of Philip Campbell will be severely criticised, given Nature's highly questionable role in some of the back story to the Hockey Stick affair and earlier scandals like the Huang borehole paper. (Update: and of course there was the legendary "deniers" editorial in Nature too). This is a big mistake by Sir Muir. The others are unfamiliar names, however, which is probably a better sign.
There is still a great deal about the review that gives me cause for concern: the fact that there is still no indication of whether evidence will be taken from sceptics or whether evidence will be taken in public. The apparent absence of statistical expertise on the panel.
Another worry is that the terms of reference still seem remarkably unclear - does consideration of UEA's "policies and practices for acquiring, assembling, subjecting to peer review and disseminating data and research findings" include consideration of whether individual scientists have engaged in intimidation of journals? Who knows?
Another interesting feature of the review is that they are passing on assessment of the past scientific work of the CRU to a special investigative panel put together by the Royal Society. I think most people will shrug their shoulders at this. This is the twenty first century and arguments from authority don't carry much weight any longer. The Royal Society is a body closely associated with global warming promotion. Its advisory panel on global warming is full of CRU people, including Phil Jones and his replacement as CRU director, Peter Liss. There are many other global warming promoters in there too. I think most people on the sceptic side are simply not going to take the Royal Society's word for it.
One can't help but be reminded of the NAS panel in 2006, where they announced that they were going to set up a separate panel to look at the question of data availability. The panel finally reported two years late in 2009, failing to answer any of the questions they were tasked with answering. I wonder when the Royal Society is going to report. Balls being kicked into long grass here I would say.
There's only one solution: free the data and free the code.
Splice in the comments notes that Geoffrey Boulton is an ex-UEA School of Environment man. Dear oh dear.
Geoffrey Boulton on global warming:
We have the evidence, we have a consensus on scientific interpretation, we have the investment, we know (Stern) that mitigation now rather than later is cheaper. But, we have not sorted out the politics and started to adapt behaviour to minimize risks. We cannot do this without public support. If we fail, we will be risking the consequences of catastrophic climate changes.
BP paid to help set up the CRU too, didn't they?
In the comments, this wonderful interview with Philip Campbell, shortly after the Climategate story broke:
INTERVIEWER: I think you must have heard of the Climategate scandal recently. Some renowned global warming proponents showed a conspiracy to produce fraudulent data to support the global warming scenario. How do you see this scandal? Some say that this breaking couldn't come at a worse time because of the upcoming Copenhagen conference. What's your opinion.
CAMPBELL: It's true that it comes at a bad time but it is not true that it is a scandal. The scientists have not hidden the data. If you look at the emails there is one or two bits of language that are jargon used between professionals that suggest something to outsiders that is wrong. In fact the only problem there has been is some official restriction on their ability to disseminate their data. Otherwise they have behaved as researchers should.
INTERVIEWER: So you think there has been some misunderstanding between the scientists and the outsiders?
CAMPBELL: Absolutely, absolutely.
H/T Mac in the comments.
Interesting to compare this to the FAQ on the Russell Review website
Do any of the Review team members have a predetermined view on climate change and climate science?
No. Members of the research team come from a variety of scientific backgrounds. They were selected on the basis they have no prejudicial interest in climate change and climate science and for the contribution they can make to the issues the Review is looking at.
The Independent is reporting that evidence submitted to the inquiry will be published on an official website, provided it is relevant to the review - i.e. they don't want to debate the truth or otherwise of AGW.
This, at least, is welcome news.
The website for the inquiry is here.