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« The Inquiry Team | Main | What a night.. »

Boulton braced for trouble

The Scotsman has been reading the blogs it seems, picking up on the work of readers here in unearthing Professor Boulton's background in global warming alarmism. Some recognition of this blog would have been welcome, but such is life.

Professor Boulton makes an attempt to defend himself:

Last night, on being questioned by The Scotsman, Prof Boulton insisted he was a "sceptical scientist" prepared to change his views "if the evidence merited".

...and we must of course take him at his word on this. However, the panellists must be free of even the appearance of bias if they are to win the confidence of sceptics, and it is for that reason that Professor Boulton is unsuitable.

I think there now has to be a major question mark over the whole of the Russell Review. With two of the five panellists appointed having been shown to have been wildly unsuitable, many will conclude that Muir Russell has set out to produce a predetermined result, not to reach the truth.

Maybe they need to start again.


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Reader Comments (21)

Apart from checking their blogs, the Scotsman also ought to check one of their reporter's notes/tapes - the reporter in question being Jenny Fyall.

An article by Jenny Fyall appeared in the Scotsman at 11 Dec 2009 -

There is little direct quoting in the article of Prof. Boulton, but there are a couple of very interesting paragraphs. Which I cite below.

My questions are these: Did Prof. Boulton take a position on the integrity of the research at CRU specifically (as opposed to climate science generally)? If so, what precisely did he say? If he has already taken a position on the CRU will does it affect his ability to form a judgement in the inquiry?

Some of the scientists who signed the Met Office petition told The Scotsman they were wary of adding "flames to the fire", but thought it was right to stand up for the integrity of climate research.

Prof Boulton said he was worried the scandal might have damaged progress on thrashing out a deal to tackle global warming at the summit in Copenhagen.

Feb 13, 2010 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterAWatcher

Seems to me that

Sir (Alastair) Muir Russell[1] KCB DL FRSE is a former civil servant and former Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, and Chairman of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland.

really should have Humphrey, not Muir, as his middle name.

A more established pillar of the establishment it would be hard to find. But as he is so far incapable of understanding the meaning of 'impartiality' when choosing his chums to help him, perhaps he should stand down in favour of a more obviously neutral candidate.

Or he should get a very quick refresher course in openness and transparency

Feb 13, 2010 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

As Lady Bracknell might have put it:

"To lose one Committee member, Mr Russell, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness."

Perhaps that's why it won't happen.

Feb 13, 2010 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterTom Parker

"many will conclude that Muir Russell has set out to produce a predetermined result, not to reach the truth."

As I have posted previously, BH, is this not the outcome of every inquiry or consultation process?
The outcome is one that the government of the day wants. Witness Hutton amongst others.

Feb 13, 2010 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterWitteringsfromWitney

Why not email Sir Muir Russell here
and request that he drops Prof Boulton from his team?

After all, his remarks quoted in The Times 3rd December must surely apply to the advisers as well as the leader of the review?

He said, “Given the nature of the allegations it is right that someone who has no links to either the university or the climate science community looks at the evidence and makes recommendations based on what they find.”

Feb 13, 2010 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered Commentermarchesarosa

That's an interesting quote from Bouton, shows without doubt he was showing concern about the politcal knock on effect on Copenhagen last year, yet only had the chance to sign that petition in the hopes of reducing that doubt then, how much better to be on the panel that investigates the same issue this year before the November COP16 Mexico conference?

It's clearly as big a joke having Boulton on the panel as it was having Campbell on it.

I guess some will say that no one from that petition is elligible and I would have to agree, the whole thing was lame PR stunt. The fact that at the time a few more sceptical stories managed to creep into the media just before Copenhagen obviously panicked them, shows what a rent seeking self interested political lot they all were on that list.

Feb 13, 2010 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve2


I've written to Sir Muir twice since he was appointed but he has not responded.

Feb 13, 2010 at 11:20 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

The Scotsman editorial today attributes the following quote to Professor Boulton:

". . . denial is equivalent to saying, "I don't know anything about science, so given the chance of trusting 99.9 per cent or 0.1 per cent of the experts, I'll go with the 0.1per cent"

Given the comments attributed to him in the Scotsman today and the above quote, Professor Boulton just does not get one of the main issues, namely that there has been 'gatekeeping' which has distorted the playing field. Gatekeeping by the CRU, and by some of the peer review journals. The question of gatekeeping is wholly relevant even to the limited terms of the Russell Review.

The fact that Sir Muir seems to have been oblivious to this and to Nature's role, means he has some ground to make up to restore credibility to his work.

Feb 13, 2010 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterCameron Rose

O/T a little I'm afraid, but related. Over at Lucia's Blackboard a very interesting piece on a UN related body and it's PR approach.

Feb 13, 2010 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

It will be difficult to find someone who is neutral. The AGW thesis has been the received gospel in scientific and political establishment circles for more than the past decade. It was widespread in the late Thacher/Major years but I think it acquired rocket boosters with the advent of the Blair government. For example Prescott went into overdrive at Kyoto and Greenpeace et al pushed the political agenda very hard. The leaked emails provide evidence of this - not to mention the evidence of our own eyes and ears.

Thus the official line will be to try to limit the damage but continue to assert that the science is "settled". It will be difficult to persuade the public of this. Trust has been shaken, if not shattered, in the scientists. It has already been shattered in the case of the politicians.

Lord Lawson has already criticised the fact that the review is to be held in private - unlike the Chilcott enquiry. The pressure will remain on to make it public. In the meantime, just step back and consider the ramifications of all of this. Was not the drive to a low carbon economy to be the industrial and scientific salvation of the UK? The source of all those new jobs for the unemployed? If the AGW thesis collapses like a pack of cards, the politicians will need to think up some new lines very quickly indeed.

Feb 13, 2010 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

I sent an email to Sir Alastair, this morning, Bish. It won't do any harm. I encourage others to do the same. Make him aware that HIS team is under scrutiny as well as the CRU team.

Hey - that round robin letter of support was a mistake, what? Talk about unintended consequences in sorting sheep from goats! Well done, Paul Dennis, for not signing.

Feb 13, 2010 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered Commentermarchesarosa

Perhaps you should paraphrase and send to Sir Muir the "seasonal river' error that has yet to make to the MSM at CA here if true. Especially that sure an expert as Boulton had to know some of his comments were untrue alarmism. If he cannot know from one his areas of expertise that what he is saying a horribly incorrect exaggeration, how can he be fit for the panel in the manner it was described?

Feb 13, 2010 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn F. Pittman

They really couldn't organise a fermented adult beverage party in an adult beverage fermenting workshop could they?

Months in gestation then less than 24 hours before it all falls apart.

Feb 13, 2010 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

I have already written to Sir Muir Russell as follows; I think we need to point out that this is hardly going to be seen as an objective inquiry as it is currently constituted and any results are likely to be looked at suspiciously

"Can I respectfully point out that the panel, as currently constituted, has no possibility of persuading sceptics, and the general public, of its impartiality when it is still biased towards those who have clearly stated their support for the AGW hypothesis and for the scientists involved in the matter you are investigating.

By now you must have received numerous emails about the background of Prof Boulton-no doubt an eminent and learned man- but one who has enthusiastically supported the science and lectures widely on its accuracy.

Geoffrey Boulton signed the petition on 25th November which was specifically circulated in support of CRU. As you know it states:

"The evidence and the science are deep and extensive. They come from decades of painstaking and meticulous research, by many thousands of scientists across the world who adhere to the highest levels of professional integrity. That research has been subject to peer review and publication, providing traceability of the evidence and support for the scientific method."

The controversy will continue about the matters detailed in your terms of reference until it is seen that there has been a genuinely independent enquiry carried out by objective people. Regretfully I must say this does not appear to be happening at present. Can I suggest that rather than ask Prof Boulton to stand down-he does after all have considerable expertise in the area-that you instead appoint a well known and qualified sceptic to the vacant place?

There are far more of these than the scientific community likes to admit to.

Thank you for your time

Tony Brown

Ps I write on the Historic variability of the climate on my web site here;

Feb 13, 2010 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered Commentertonyb

How are you going to find scientists that are in a position to pass judgment, but haven't done so already?

Feb 13, 2010 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeN

Why has he not resigned yet?
He was at UEA 18 years.
Clear conflict of interest.
It's a no-brainer.

Feb 13, 2010 at 4:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterBoulton_Must_Go

They'll never get a "neutral" panel. It's impossible. Have both sides choose their representative for each discipline, take a vote to determine "consensus" and allow for a majority and minority opinion.

Feb 13, 2010 at 4:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterRott

As a measure of the attitude of the Russell inquiry, here are the www links given on the inquiry's website:

"You may find the following links helpful:

-----The Royal Society:
-----The Met Office:
-----BBC Weather:
-----Wikipedia: "

Last time I looked, all of these websites were firmly on-message.

From the inquiry's FAQ:

-----"Do any of the Review team members have a predetermined view on climate change and climate science?

-----No. (blah blah)"

Feb 13, 2010 at 8:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Ackroyd

Did Sir Muir's mummy and daddy not teach him about Caesar's wife? How unScottish.

Feb 13, 2010 at 9:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

John F. Pittman ..' If he cannot know from one his areas of expertise that what he is saying a horribly incorrect exaggeration, how can he be fit for the panel in the manner it was described?'

It does make me wonder.

Feb 13, 2010 at 11:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterTony Hansen

Martin Ackroyd,
The inclusion of BBC Weather and Wikipedia are somewhat surprising.
Who is responsible for placing those links?

Feb 13, 2010 at 11:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterTony Hansen

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