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« Media notice Keenan | Main | Oxburgh addendum »
Tuesday
Apr202010

Understanding Oxburgh

Speculation alert

I struggle to make sense of Lord Oxburgh and his report. The investigation they performed was so cursory and the report they produced so brief, it is hard to credit that they thought that they would get away with it. The report is a whitewash, but it's a really bad one, since there is no attempt to make it look as if they looked diligently into the question of the integrity of the CRU. Why would a group of intelligent people involved in a coverup not make more effort to cover their tracks?

Then there is the question of David Hand. At the time the panel was announced, more than one person spoke to me of Professor Hand's integrity. There was therefore a great deal of surprise that he allowed himself to be associated with a report that was quite so shameful.

With these facts in mind, should we perhaps be wondering if the scant nature of the report is not an insult to the public per se, but was in fact a sign of the unhappiness of the panel, finding themselves involved in a whitewashing of which they wanted no part? Could it be that, by writing just five pages, the panel were almost sending a signal to us observers of the climate scene?

Looked at in this way, at least one other curiosity of the Oxburgh story starts to make more sense. We know from Ben Webster's story in the Times that Lord Oxburgh was aware of his conflict of interest before his appointment was confirmed. It was an issue discussed between him and UEA:

The sceptics have questioned Lord Oxburgh’s independence because he has close links to companies that stand to profit from global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Royal Society had recommended him, but it was the university’s final decision to appoint him to chair the panel.

Lord Oxburgh says he told the university, when it approached him, that people might question his independence.

“I said undoubtedly people will point at this and their answer was, after they consulted, that I was the best person to do it.”

So the conflict of interest was not an accident that only came to light after Lord O's appointment. It was an issue that was discussed beforehand. Why, of all the scientists in the world, should UEA so badly want Oxburgh, with his glaring conflicts of interest? Why was such a man "the best person to do it".

In the light of the analysis above, is the answer that a man with interests in renewable energy is a man whose financial future depends on remaining in the good books of the government? Was Lord Oxburgh a man who could be leant on?

And if so, what leverage might have be applied to the other panelists?

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Reader Comments (53)

Here's a thought experiment: The bewildered investigators were given helpful advice on how to conduct the investigation by someone who might have seemed like an independent agent, but who happened to have spoken to some of the suspects. The helpful advice seemed superficially logical (what could be a fairer way to assess the conduct of scientists than a "fair selection" of their publications?), but was actually tailored to avoid the most troubling questions. They chose to heed the helpful advice, thinking that they had chosen the procedure for its inherent reasonableness, not because it had been suggested by someone who might be trying to manipulate them.

This is pure speculation; a have no evidence that this is what actually happened. But as a thought experiment, it serves to illustrate how there might be unwitting participants in a minor conspiracy.

Apr 20, 2010 at 8:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterDagfinn

With so many dodgy dossiers coming out of this government - I doubt that anyone would want to put their name anything.

The main point I see from this deeply flawed report is its scathing words on the statistics and the organisation within the CRU.

If they could not organise the proverbial in a brewery, then analyse what data they haven’t yet lost or let the dog eat using substandard statistics, why the hell should the world commit £$Billions to a notion seemingly driven by a disorganised one man and his dog outfit? (tho I am sorry for the dogs eating disorder)

As for blaming the IPCC!!

Delicious irony.

Apr 20, 2010 at 8:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterDarce

you mean blackmail!

Apr 20, 2010 at 8:44 AM | Unregistered Commentermartyn

I very much share the concerns expressed regarding the Oxburgh report and am very pleased BH has pursued this matter. However, I'm equally concerned about seeming failings in due process with regard to the Wegman report. It seems to me that if one is genuinely concerned about due process in science, then one has to be prepared to call out both sides if necessary.

Apr 20, 2010 at 8:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichieRich

Bishop, I think you may be making it way too complicated. I think it may be as simple as this: for the most part, the members of the panel were out of their depth; the whole exercise was always understood - by everybody involved - as a "protect our own" thing, under the assumption that the scientists were essentially victims (despite some minor errors they have made etc); the reference to statistical methods was included because those flaws had been noticed by the panel and it would be too ridiculous not to mention them at all (even as the panel probably does think they were overblown by McIntyre etc); and the report is so brief because that's all they could be bothered to do.

Apr 20, 2010 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter B

As Lord Oxburgh said (in Ben Webster's Times article) : “I don’t think they even minded what the outcome of their work was, as long as it was as close to the truth as possible.”

Is this meant to apply to the work of the CRU or the work of the Oxburgh panel?

Apr 20, 2010 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Pearce

Here is paper by David Hand awaiting publication.

Hand D.J. (2010) Monitoring large data sets to detect fraud: discussion of the papers by Becker et al and Sudjianto et al. To appear in Technometrics.

It is hard to believe that someone so immersed in detecting fraud could have easily had the wool pulled over his eyes by UEA's deliberate selection of non-controversial CRU papers to review.

Did Prof hand smell a rat, but in the end chose to hold his nose?

Oxburgh's addendum highlights that outside pressure has been brought to bear on the panel. What other pressures did the panel have to face?


Maybe it is time to fire some FOIA requests to UEA and the Royal Society on who said what to who regarding this so called 'independent' review of climate science.

Apr 20, 2010 at 9:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

The link to the yamal implosion is not working :(

Apr 20, 2010 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterMark Nutley

Nor the one for caspar and the jesus paper? Do you need a host for these files? I`ll stick them on my server if needed

[BH adds: All fixed now]

Apr 20, 2010 at 9:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterMark Nutley

I share your suspicions. The first two words of the conclusion are interesting. "We saw no evidence of deliberate scientific malpractice". It would have been more reassuring to say "There is no evidence...". This could mean nothing, or it could be code for saying that they were directed to look at pre-selected sanitised evidence. This takes us back to your enquiries concerning selection of the papers.

Perhaps a well constructed question to David Hand or one of his associates might produce a result? I don't know the man.

Apr 20, 2010 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

"We saw no evidence of deliberate scientific malpractice", means exactly that.

Why was that?

It was due to the fact that this panel only reviewed non-controversial CRU papers as selected by UEA. Oxburgh were led by the nose and it's panel members took a blinkered approach.

I do think that Prof Hand's reputation has been damaged by this report. He was either ignorant of the scientific controversy, or chose to hold his nose at the attempt by UEA to mislead through the selection of CRU papers. Either way it makes him look bad.

Apr 20, 2010 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

It was never anything but a fig-leaf. Don't for a moment believe we are winning this thing, just because we have drawn blood in a skirmish or two. The political and fiscal prize for the statists are far too vast for them to brook frustration. They'll try it by guile, as they have done; but if that fails, the steamroller will roll.

Apr 20, 2010 at 10:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterThon Brocket

How about this statement: "And I think that some of the sceptical comment was in fact justified, and some of it was just plain nasty and ill-informed."? What was that about, he was supposed to be exhonerating, sorry, investigating, the science.

And where is the evidence that some sceptical comment was justified and some plain nasty and ill-informed?

@Richierich: The failures of due process in the Wegman Report are the ramblings of one anonymous blogger, who accuses Wegman of plagiarism for including sentences out of textbooks written by Bradley and someone else whose name eludes me, in his report. The texts were necessary reading for Wegman and his panel to fully understand the dendrology issues. They were relevant, but not pertinent to the issue of the misuse of statistical methods that the report eventually concluded was the case.

Apr 20, 2010 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

It is now clear that the panel decided early on to get their report out asap. They were ad hoc, appearing at the request of the UEA, and provided with the carefully selected papers that would cause least embarrassment to the UEA. The RS pointedly said it was not a RS enquiry.

Their report does not satisfy this conclusion of the HoC report:
" 138. Conclusion 3 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."

In so far as the panel did reach a conclusion, they most certainly did not say that the science was "irreproachable" only that "We saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice". Indeed they went out of their way to say "The Panel was not concerned with the question of whether the conclusions of the published research were correct."

So what next? Much will now depend on the outcome of the next general election and the composition of the HoC Science and Technology Committee. I suspect that to get the kind of enquiry that the HoC was looking for will require more public pressure on the next cohort of MPs. The reported responsibility of the Met Office for grounding all flights in Europe, at great cost and inconvenience to the general and business, on the basis of suspect computer models, will help add to this pressure. Especially when it starts to dawn on the public at large that the losses incurred now are but mere chicken feed compared with costs of the Climate Change Act.

A hung Parliament will, in this respect, be bad news because of political horse trading over who gets what job and for which policy. Nevertheless I will again write to my next MP (a shoo in like last time) as soon as he is sworn in.

Apr 20, 2010 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

I should perhaps add to my comment at the beginning that the scenario I suggest would allow them to do their job conscientiously and not find anything because in practice they had outsourced the premises to the people they were investigating. While never having any clear awareness of having done that.

Apr 20, 2010 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterDagfinn

Geronimo writes

The failures of due process in the Wegman Report are the ramblings of one anonymous blogger, who accuses Wegman of plagiarism for including sentences out of textbooks written by Bradley and someone else whose name eludes me, in his report. The texts were necessary reading for Wegman and his panel to fully understand the dendrology issues. They were relevant, but not pertinent to the issue of the misuse of statistical methods that the report eventually concluded was the case.

Yes, "Deep Climate" posts anonymously, but then so do you and you expect me to take seriously what you write. And I didn't at all regard DC's writings as "ramblings". Rather, they include an in-depth investigation of possible gatekeeping by a Barton staffer and a very close textual analysis of sections of Wegman's report. But, of course, I agree that even if Wegman is guilty of not making the relevant attributions, his point about the misuse of statistical methods stands.

It does seem to me that there is a regrettable tendency on the part of some to deny the possibility that anyone in their "camp" could possibly be guilty of less than stainless/exemplary conduct and to see all instances of less-than-stainless/ exemplary conduct as emanating from the other "camp". In my book, neither camp is composed solely of angels and so, inevitably, there's been less-than-exemplary conduct from both. Why is it such a big deal to concede that not everything around the Wegman report may have been absolutely exemplary?

Apr 20, 2010 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichieRich

It is a tautology in statistics that low-powered investigations are unlikely to detect effects of interest which may exist in the item being studied. With a slight leap of the imagination, and a big increase in informality, the Oxburgh investigation appears to have been quite low-powered given the modest output - if, in fact, more interesting 'effects' really exist. This is not to attack the individuals involved, merely to note that they may not have been allowed sufficient time and resources to do their job effectively.

Coming back to the simpler world of basic statistics, a proposal to conduct a low-powered investigation would usually be denied funding by any committee with that insight.

And back to the messier world of politics etc, what assessment was made of the potential of the Oxburgh investigation before it went into action? The examination of the published output of CRU for example could presumably have been roughly quantified as a task.

The choice of Oxburgh is by itself an indication that a high-powered investigation was not being sought, given his acknowledged conflict of interest. Who chose the timescales, and the other resources deployed? Who specified the objectives, and who specified the criteria by which the progress towards these objectives would be judged? In other words, what might the enquiry have been expected to achieve, and how were we to tell if it had?

Prof Hand is an extremely distinguished statistician, whom I would automatically trust. I suspect he and the others were working under pressure of time and other constraints (such as the chosen papers) imposed by Oxburgh. So if I am right, there is no need here to impugn the motives and the competence of the panel members - my supposition is that they had little chance to do a more thorough job.

Apr 20, 2010 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterJS

I have read many fictional stories based on facts but this recent trend to base fact on fiction must be a post modern approach to life. Lord of the tree rings will be in ths shops next year.

Apr 20, 2010 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

Why would a group of intelligent people involved in a coverup not make more effort to cover their tracks?

Perhaps because the media will do that job for them. Here's Johann Hari writing in the Nation last week:

Look at the deniers' greatest moment, Climategate, hailed by them as "the final nail in the coffin" of "the theory of global warming." A patient study by the British House of Commons has pored over every e-mail from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia and interviewed everyone involved. Its findings? The "evidence patently fails to support" the idea of a fraud; the scientists have "no case to answer"; and all their findings "have been repeated and the conclusions have been verified" by other scientists. That's British for "it was a crock."

This also appeared in the Huffington Post. It's a complete fabrication of course. They didn't pore over every email, and they didn't interview everyone involved. But that doesn't matter. Just saying that they did is sufficient. What Hari has done for the HoC inquiry can be done for Oxburgh, and any other inquiry. Move along now. Debate over.

Apr 20, 2010 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank Davis

JS: I suspect he and the others were working under pressure of time and other constraints (such as the chosen papers) imposed by Oxburgh. So if I am right, there is no need here to impugn the motives and the competence of the panel members - my supposition is that they had little chance to do a more thorough job.

--------------------------------------------------

Consider the vast importance and complexity of the subject, the potential political, social and economic effects of the report's conclusions and the use which would be made of them.
If you felt that you were not able to do a thorough, honest and straightforward investigation for whatever reason, would you want to be involved in such an exercise? Would you want to have your name on a 5 page skim over the subject, carefully skating round the major points of controversy?
I wouldn't, and I am making no claim to sainthood.

Sorry, but Prof Hand and others don't get off that lightly. They may have "had little chance to do a more thorough job" but they did have the chance to decline to be involved, resign and/or make public any objections they may have had to the enquiry and the way it was conducted.
They haven't so have to be presumed to be satisfied with their work and take whatever flak that deserves.

Apr 20, 2010 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

RichieRich:
Is the 'close textual analysis' - an euphemism for Googling? I've mentioned this elsewhere too - but did you last take a look at the DeepClimate thread and the furious backpedalling therein?

Of course the skeptics camp is thoroughly 'tainted' with big oil, king coal, papa natural gas etc etc. There are no angels here. All of them are presently fluttering around carbon trading maybe? :)

Apr 20, 2010 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub Niggurath

I have to agree with Peter B.

If we start to imagine this is some global conspiracy it undermines our side.

It's far more plausible to assume that the establishment have a default narrative which is that they the scientists are trying to do good. They care for the planet and if they make a few mistakes or exaggerate a tad it's understandable. On the other hand we are evil people in the pay of big oil or too stupid to realise that we are fooled by them. If you buy that narrative, then you wouldn't give too much time to such an enquiry.

The shortness of the enquiry was a measure of the contempt the establishment holds us in.

Apr 20, 2010 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterTDK

RichieRich:"Why is it such a big deal to concede that not everything around the Wegman report may have been absolutely exemplary?"

Because it was exemplary, I don't know what the Barton gatekeeper did, so can't comment. Nor do hold the the theory that everyone is perfect in my "camp", or that there aren't nutters in it. Just not Wegman, who I didn't know was in anyone's camp by the way.

Oh, and I don't post anonomously, I use a pseudonym.

Apr 20, 2010 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

re: "So if I am right, there is no need here to impugn the motives and the competence of the panel members - my supposition is that they had little chance to do a more thorough job." - JS


... but of all the panel members Prof Hand would/should have been the most worried by the very limited scope of the review and the highly selective process used. His rigorous professional training and depth of experience and knowledge would have/should have made some alarm bells ring in his head.

Did Prof Hand hold his nose or was he found wanting?

Prof Hand actually evaluates fraud detection systems and he has stated professionally detecting malpractice is very much dependent on the monitoring system employed. Reviewing 11 non-contentious papers selected by the institution under investigation over a matter of few days is no way to detect malpractice. The review panel could not have detected any malpractice under those conditions. As such Prof Hand failed professionally because he lent his authority to the final report.

Apr 20, 2010 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Shub Niggurath

Is the 'close textual analysis' - an euphemism for Googling? I've mentioned this elsewhere too - but did you last take a look at the DeepClimate thread and the furious backpedalling therein?

Shub, there is no "furious backpedalling" in the post I linked to but there is some close texutal analysis. There is some backpedalling in another post, but I don't see that this necessarily invalidates everything written in other posts. Shouldn't one take each post on its merits.

Geronimo

My post was not just relating to the content of Wegman's report but to events "around the Wegman report". One of those events was clearly the activity of a Barton staffer. It seems to me that you can't, on the one hand, claim that you don't know about that and then, on the other, claim that all events around the report were "exemplary".

Your unsupported assertion that all was exemplary does not, I'm afraid, convince me. And clearly your original description of DC as an "anonymous blogger" was incorrect: your most recent post makes clear that he/she is in fact a pseudonymous blogger!

Apr 20, 2010 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichieRich

At this point AGW is far past the idealism of 'saving the planet' by use of good science.
AGW is now about imposing policy, making profits, and quashing those nasty denialists.
Oxburgh is perfect from the point of view of the university selecting its own reviewer because he moves seamlessly from the scientific veneer AGW maintains to the power to the money.
In the US the saying is 'follow the money' to understand a scandal.
I would suggest that this is certainly the case here as well.

Apr 20, 2010 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

RR - the bottom line of the Wegman report is that in the Mann papers they examined the maths was wrong and the work was sloppy. One of the conclusions was that the involvement of more skilled statisticians from outside the immediate group of authors should be mandatory for work with large repercussions on public policy. Another conclusion was that rata and code should be available to other researchers. It is hard to see what, some four years on, Oxburgh has added by agreeing with Wegman and yet at the same time still managing to claim all is well.

Apr 20, 2010 at 1:29 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

This report has already been used in the several media outlets to say that CRU has been exonerated. That is the purpose of this lame report. So now skeptics not only have to take on the science, they have to take on the court of public opinion. While skeptics have already been doing that...this just adds to the current which they must swim against.

This is discouraging. The government has failed.

There are no facts, only interpretations. -Friedrich Nietzsche

Apr 20, 2010 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

RichieRich: I said the Wegman report was exemplary, it covered all the bases and wasn't challenged by Dr. North, who claimed to have come to the same conclusion. Accusing him of plagiary for having sentences in his report that resemble phrases in two text books on the topic, and which were only meant as background to the readers is, I would suggest, disingenuous and a deliberate attemp to deflect attention away from the damning report on Mann's methods.

I didn't say the blog was anonymous, it isn't, but the blogger, in his "about me" page tells us he's anonymous. I suppose as I'm not taking his word for anything else, I should of course have not taken his word on his anonymity. Got to go now thanks for the posts.

Gerry

Apr 20, 2010 at 2:49 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Imagine that the UK establishment organogram for 'climate change' is a living beast. The cardiovascular system supplying all organs is NERC. The central nervous system is the Royal Society. The beast has a built-in resistance to attacks aimed at any of its organs: especially its most sensitive ones.

Apr 20, 2010 at 3:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

RichieRich

The link you posted is a typical warmist innuendo-fest, full of "someone with links to this think-tank, or worse, to a conservative politician, did this" type insinuations, but absolutely nothing to question the validity of the Wegman reports findings. I am surprised you think anyone will find this convincing.

I'm not a conservative, but I fail to see how an association with conservative politics invalidates a scientific argument. Only conflicting with the observed evidence can do that. Wegman was just plain right, as Richard North was forced to agree.

Apr 20, 2010 at 3:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Wilson

It was predictable that the warmists will use the tactic of investigations to prove the point "there is nothing to see here". The skeptics have taken their eyes off the ball. The important, in fact the all important question is: does CO2 contribute to global warming as the warmists claim?

Once this question is put to sleep the rest of the house of cards will collapse. The other arguments are just pedantry.

Apr 20, 2010 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Steiner

Yer Grace:

I don't think much needs to be read into the output of the Oxburgh Panel. It is exactly what it appears to be: an expression of contempt for the people.

Apr 20, 2010 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert E. Phelan

The theory sounds plausible to me.

The inquiry team knew what they had to do and tried to do it as quickly and with as little direct dishonesty as feasible, so that the scientific ignominy on their records would be as slight as possible, prior to picking up the knighthoods and other rewards for service that accrue to those who 'make themselves useful' to the establishment.

As required the inquiry threw up a solitary whitewash daub and ran for cover behind the media. Despite all this, the report is hardly a ringing endorsement of the CRU.

As in much of 'climate science' this seems like a rearguard action - designed to prop up the cause long enough for major legislative change to occur - after that it will have served its purpose.

Apr 20, 2010 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

I would like to add two pieces of anecdotal evidence that may be relevant.

I am fairly well acquainted with the inner gossip in a major university in one very major continental European country. Senior professors do see themselves as an intellectual and moral elite - the idea that students, or the government, or the general public should have any say in what they do or not, or in the evaluation of their work, would be seen as preposterous. If a senior professor - "one of them" - is shown to be incompetent or of somewhat loose morals, the others may avoid him socially, mock him behind his back, or even reprimand him - privately, But short of some hedious crime, they would *never* support an outside enquiry: their first instinct is to close ranks - whatever they may think of that particular professor privately. By protecting him, they think they are protecting their whole "class" and therefore, themselves.

Also: recently I was approached by a senior member of a British professional association, urging me to apply for a certain rank granted by that association. What is interesting is that *all* of his arguments for why I should do it were related to "protection" (his words): you get easy access to people like barristers, people give you more credibility in any hearings, etc. In other words: you become member of a privileged group.

Some people see nothing wrong with this kind of thinking, they take it for granted. I don't think there is any need to look further than this.

Apr 20, 2010 at 5:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter B

My own speculation would be that this was an enquiry too many. I got the impression it was a knee jerk reaction by UEA to concerns raised through Climategate that the CRU research output was suspect.

Whilst I have some sympathy with Steve McIntyres view that the papers selected were not representative I am not convinced that substituting a different set of CRU papers would have changed the result of this particular enquiry.

For me the major issues raised by Climategate were

1. Lack of sharing of data and in particular flouting of FOI requests.
2. Manipulation and intervention in peer review eg review by commitee of sceptic papers but free passes given to "collegues" papers
3. Unreasonable handling of IPCC related input with a lack of objectivity and a desire to exclude valid alternative views and unfavourable information such as "hide the decline".

I dont see any of these issues as being in the scope of the Oxburgh enquiry and as a result it does not surprise me that the report is superficial.

The parlimentary enquiry has to some extent covered and ruled on issue 1 though I am perplexed that they let Phil Jones completely off the hook on that one.

My concern is whether any enquiry will get to grips with issues 2 and 3.

Apr 20, 2010 at 6:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterclivere

I'm puzzled that after such a distinguished career Oxburgh should choose to make such an arse of himself. All very odd. What can it mean?

Apr 20, 2010 at 7:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

Dearieme

That's exactly my point. If the real reason was to protect the priesthood, they would surely have done a better job of covering up.

Apr 20, 2010 at 7:19 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

A review of the facts might be illuminating

(1) On January 26th the CRU was visited by His Royal Highness The Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of Scotland, Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Great Master and First and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Member of the Order of Merit, Knight of the Order of Australia, Companion of the Queen's Service Order, Honorary Member of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, Chief Grand Commander of the Order of Logohu, Member of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, Canadian Forces Decoration, Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty -- for the principal purpose of showing his public support and solidarity with the beleaguered CRU.

(2) On February 11th, Trevor Davies announces a new CRU Scientific Assessment Panel

(3) On March 22nd, Sir Ernest Ronald Oxburgh, Barron of Liverpool, Order of the British Empire, Fellow of the Royal Society is announced to lead the Assessment Panel. Oxburgh and Charles are members of the House of Lords and Charles is active in the Royal Society.

So the question being posed is, who is the world could possibly hold sway over the Barron of Liverpool? And who could get Sir Ronald to issue a "clarification" of a decree already issued?

Apr 20, 2010 at 9:58 PM | Unregistered Commentermpaul

I struggle to make sense of Lord Oxburgh and his report.

I don't.

The people in UK government and the UEA are all - understandably - following the overwhelming narrative that any questioning of the catastrophe narrative is either poorly informed or mischievous.

It's going to take some time.

Apr 20, 2010 at 10:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterO'Geary

jeeeza mpaul can't we just call 'im charlie

Apr 20, 2010 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered Commentermartyn

Dearieme - it means they are the untouchables. It matters not one jot what you, Bishop, I and any other onlooker thinks or knows about this affair there is noone to hold them to account and they know it. The only thing that would sink this ship is if someone turns "Queen's Evidence".

Apr 20, 2010 at 10:42 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

5 pages of prose, no facts not even a single quotation.

The only explanation is that the facts were simply uncompatible with the intended message. In the end it is nothing more than "don't care, trust us".

Apr 21, 2010 at 7:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterManfred

I blame politics, and Thatcher. A long time ago in a UK far far away and after the '70s scare about an impending Ice Age, the global warming meme took hold. Thatcher seemed to view it as a threat, set up the Hadley Centre and helped start the gravy train rolling. The weight of money increased momentum, more people jumped on board and the train rolled on.

Enron came along and found new ways to create weather based derivatives, financial instruments and gambling games. Our government saw the revenues to be made from carbon trading and extra tax on energy bills, so has been a strong champion of AGW throwing large amounts of our money at promoting the meme instead of spending it on adaptation or mitigation. Business opportunities sprouted up and grew faster than seedlings exposed to CO2 at 1000ppmv seeking to profit from subsidies, carbon trading or offsetting, or creating 'green' investment funds to invest people's savings or pensions into.

A few tens of billions in seed R&D capital turned into hundreds of billions of investments and may turn into tens or hundreds of trillions in future revenues. Life was loooking good, at least until people started asking akward questions about how anomalous our current climate is compared to prior climates, and how accurate or reliable the data supporting Thermageddon might be.

With billions or trillions at stake, along with senior politician's reputations, how can it be wrong? It's too big and too embarrassing to fail, or it at least needs some time to shuffle deckchairs and identify scapegoats and assign blame for all the time and money that's been wasted.

I'm wondering if we're seeing signs of this with the EU blaming the Met Office for using SimScience to close their airspace, the same kind of SimScience we're betting our economic future on, and the same institution that's been such an enthusiastic supporter for AGW. How does the UK save face and avoid admitting it was conned, or overreacted? So far this government seems to have responded in it's usual way by trying to sweep it under the carpet. Unfortunatly the next government also seems heavily invested in the meme, but at least they have the option of blaming the current one for most of the mess.

Apr 21, 2010 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Absolutely correct Atomic Hairdryer. Now all we have to do is work out how to stop the gravy train that is spread through the UN and EU with “jobs for the boys” no doubt promised for the future.

Apr 21, 2010 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered Commentermartyn

To answer your question-
The whitewash is so tawdry and transparent because the target audience is so willing to be deceived.

Apr 21, 2010 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

I'm puzzled that after such a distinguished career Oxburgh should choose to make such an arse of himself. All very odd. What can it mean?

Not very surprising, Dearieme. He did what he was told. How else do you become the Lord of the Queen's Navy? Why you polish the brass until it shines. Sometimes you clean out the stables. I do hope he had a good pair of wellies.

Apr 21, 2010 at 2:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

"...Why would a group of intelligent people involved in a coverup not make more effort to cover their tracks?.."


Because there is no requirement to pretend to skeptics that a fair examination has taken place.

However, there is a need to send a strong signal to the establishment that Lord Oxburgh and his chums are 'sound' - that they can be relied upon to 'do the right thing'. Thus, when the next chairman of an enquiry is called for, or a malleable head of a quango is sought, Lord Oxburgh will be in the frame as a suitable candidate...

Apr 22, 2010 at 8:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

The most likely explanation appears not to have been considered by anyone. Maybe Oxburgh wanted to get caught. Here's a scenario. Oxburgh, once appointed, figures out that if he is neutral, or <gasp!> sides with the skeptics, his social life will be trashed. So, rather that risk ostracism, he decides to publish a very weak defense of the AGW consensus, hoping that the readers will figure it out.

Apr 22, 2010 at 5:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterPink Pig

It seems everyone is pointing a finger at Oxburgh for this whitewash but lets not forget there were a few other people on the panel who were supposed to be involved, including one Prof from M.I.T. which I guess is the same M.I.T. as Richard Lindzen.

Apr 22, 2010 at 8:07 PM | Unregistered Commentermartyn

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