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« The wonders of the internet | Main | Russell report imminent? »

The Climate Files

Fred Pearce has new book out on Climategate and will be speaking about it at the Royal Institution on Monday. Readers will remember Pearce as the author of a detailed series of postings on the Climategate emails in the Guardian at the start of the year. The book sounds pretty interesting...

To coincide with the launch of his new book, The Climate Files, the veteran environment journalist Fred Pearce discusses how the emails raise deeply disturbing questions about the way climate science is conducted, about researchers' preparedness to block access to climate data and downplay flaws in their research."

Blimey. That will set the cat among the pigeons.

Or will it? Looking at the Guardian's page on the book, it appears that Monbiot likes it..

"Fred Pearce has used his brilliant investigative skills to get to the heart of this issue. This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what the hacked University of East Anglia emails mean - and what they don't" George Monbiot

Mind you, given where Monbiot left off on the story of Climategate, it could be that this is just a reflection of his current understanding of the meaning of the affair - ie that it doesn't disprove AGW but that there are some pretty serious problems with the conduct of individual climatologists.

The other thing to bear in mind is that Pearce's talk may well be set against the background of the Russell panel's findings having just been made public. How is it going to look if there is a whitewash and then Pearce jumps up and says there's a problem?

Exciting times...

(Pearce's book can be pre-ordered at There doesn't seem to be US availability yet, so American and other non-UK readers who want to get a copy should probably try here. )

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Reader Comments (24)

OMG, if Monbiot agrees with the conclusions of this book... I once saw comments of him on this matter and he seemed genuinly angry at the attitude of the scientist involved. But he has never expressed any negative comments on their hidden agenda, as to promote AGW at all costs.

I therefore prefer this review of the climategate emails:

Jun 9, 2010 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterScarface

Real Climate is not going to be pleased about this.
Cue much ad hominem aimed at Fred, just like when he did his last honest appraisals in the Grauniad.
Predictable or what?

Jun 9, 2010 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterWeeWillie

The book came out of the series of articles that The Guardian ran during the first week of February—and was planned that way. You might recall that the main participants for the articles were invited to post annotations on the articles (e.g. in the article about the Chinese weather stations, Gavin Schmidt and I exchanged annotations). One purpose of that, which I was told at the time, was to ensure accuracy in the forthcoming book.

This is an innovative approach to writing a book. And it suggests that the book will be of very good caliber.

Jun 9, 2010 at 9:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

Have ticket, will travel. Will also model Josh's t-shirt :)

Jun 9, 2010 at 9:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Ahhh.. I see, Fred... Just because someone lies doesn't mean they're not telling the truth. I get it now.

Jun 9, 2010 at 9:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimonH

You’ve got to wonder about someone’s grip on reality if they think the BBC gives “50% amount of time to climate sceptics”. It’s that kind of casual abuse of facts that really drives me towards scepticism. If AGW supporters can get simple stuff like that wrong, how can anyone trust them on the complex stuff?

Jun 9, 2010 at 10:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

As a retired lawyer, I find it incomprehensible that a rational person could say that the science is solid while the scientists involved have misbehaved. Particularly when we have seen numerous challenges to the science per se. But maybe I am just losing it...

Jun 9, 2010 at 11:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimB

Of all the theories of climate drivers, the one giving CO2 a dominant role is, to say the least, not the most plausible. But CO2 gives industrial society a role, and that has motivated UNEP, the IPCC and others to pursue this particular theory to absurd levels of prominence.

This in turn has provided funds and motivation for the schemers of the CRU and elsewhere. The science was sidelined a long time ago, displaced by environmentalists, geographers and computer programmers intent on making a case around CO2 at almost any cost, reinforced by political and other opportunists seeing advantage in the widespread concern being generated. They had a good run for their money - 20 years or more of prominence, but the climategate exposure finally brought the run to an end. An end illustrated dramatically by the fiasco in Copenhagen, where you might say that some headless chickens came home to roost.

I will probably buy and read Pearce's book, but these first snippets of information about it suggest he has not seen the light. The glory days of saving the planet may be over for the AGW crew, but their impact could still take make years to unravel and at least partially recover from.

Jun 9, 2010 at 11:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Pearce's comment:

What did shock me personally was some of the methods used by some of the scientists to silence their opponents, such as trying to stop people getting into the Scientific Journal. They were using reprehensible tactics, but that doesn’t change the basic climate science that the world is warming, and it’s warming because of what we’re doing.

is one you often hear repeated, and I always find it frustrating. Given that 'the science' is based heavily on what the peer-reviewed literature says, and if the reprehensible tactics he rightly identifies succeed in keeping out those not in 'the club', then 'the basic climate science' quite clearly is affected.

Jun 10, 2010 at 12:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterDougieJ

Pearce is a committed Warmist. This will be just one more attempt at damage limitation.
No doubt it will include severe criticism of Climategate issues that cannot be disputed, followed by calls for more transparency and debate, concluding with "the science is settled", and "urgent action is required".

Hopefully, those who now have doubts about the "consensus" in the wake of recent revelations will see through the thinly veiled proselytism.

Pearce and Monbiot's feigned outrage is carefully calculated for effect.

Jun 10, 2010 at 12:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris S

Pearce and Monbiot's feigned outrage is carefully calculated for effect.


However, it is an interesting tactic if true. Sounds like they realize their house of cards is falling in.

Very much the same as SimonH's observation of:
Ahhh.. I see, Fred... Just because someone lies doesn't mean they're not telling the truth. I get it now..

Sort of like the kid caught with chocolate smeared all over his lips claiming that his younger brother forced him to eat the candy bar and it wasn't his fault.

Jun 10, 2010 at 2:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

To continue to give credibility to the climate 'scientists' involved in the CRU emails, one must believe in compartmented integrity. This is the concept that a person can behave dishonestly in one environment, such as falsely trashing and opponents article in a peer review or lying in a FOIA response, and then deserve our trust in other environments.

My personal experience is that people who believe that their ends justify their means, and that lying about climate data is justified to 'save the world' cannot be trusted at all. Compartmented integrity is what costs inside traders a lot of money when the SEC shows up; they believed that they could steal money by dishonest stock trades because the source of the inside information could be 'trusted'.

Jun 10, 2010 at 7:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterAGW_Skeptic00

Pearce is a committed Warmist. This will be just one more attempt at damage limitation.

Chris, the tenses give you away. You haven't read the book, that's in the future for you. When you do there will be plenty of detail and the detail will really matter, as it always does in this area.

It's better in my view not to use phrases like 'committed Warmist' because they obscure the enormity of what has gone on since 17th November. Who would have predicted on that date that Fred Pearce of The Guardian would be producing a book this critical of mainstream climate science within seven months - and earning a glowing review from George Monbiot for doing so? We do well to remind ourselves each day how much the debate has shifted. Commitment to the cause doesn't mean what it did last October - may the same be true in January 2011!

It's how we manage this stage that is crucial. It's pointless, for me, to insist that everyone adopts exactly the same view of the risks - of CO2 emissions or anything else we do to affect climate - as I have. That would simply be to replace one false consensus with another. That will never happen, nor should it.

As usual it seems to me Steve McIntyre is on the right track. The thing that has been avoided like the plague by the two Climategate 'inquiries' so far - and there's every reason to believe this will be followed by Russell - is the closeness of the links between UEA scientists and the inner circle of the IPCC. The bad behaviour related to the IPCC process is of the essence but has been ruled out of bounds by all. This is the critical factor in Pearce's book for me. If he does justice to this point, all power to his elbow. If not, it's back to Hockey Stick Illusion and other such expositions.

Finally, I don't think the new emphasis on transparency is a small thing. We need to hold climate science to this. It will make a tremendous difference to everything downstream when they take it seriously.

Jun 10, 2010 at 7:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Based on the 'update' this would seem to reflect Moonbat's views entirely, ie that some scientists were a bit naughty but we can overlook this because the 'science is robust' (a phrase used by
Harrabin on this morning's Today when he mourned the failure of the Bonn talks)
In his view Science = Computer models.

The talk at the RI will probably be along the lines 'keep calm and carry on', skeptics are a nuisance but ignore them and they will go away.

Jun 10, 2010 at 8:32 AM | Unregistered Commenterjazznick

It's interesting to see how people like Pearce, who have to make a living by continuing to be invited to write about their subject, are adapting. Pearce and I are of that era, now long departed, when to become a scientist you studied and copied how the great scientists did their work.

Unfortunately, many of the successor generation have gone for broke to get power and prestige. It's time for climate science to be restructured with fixed-term tenured posts so that there is less incentive to play politics.

After all, fear sells. Remove the need to chase research grants and you remove the incentive to be economical with the actualite or even to lie as appears to be the case in some instances.

Jun 10, 2010 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander Davidson

Since Fred Pearce is the man who gave the IPCC the erroneous citation of the Himalayan glaciers melting by 2035 his comments about the BBC being confused over the ethics of doing science with judgement about the balance of the science shows him up to be a fool.

Pearce is just another eco-loon like the Batty Monbiot.

Jun 10, 2010 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

I shan't be buying this book.

Jun 10, 2010 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered Commenteraurelian

I tend to be with those who are maybe sceptical of this book. There is no escaping the basic premise that climate scientists have been less than robust with their research, especially those trying to convince us there has been dangerous warming. To argue otherwise today risks public ridicule. However yet to be demonstrated with any convincing evidence is any of this dangerous warming, or indeed the physical mechanism whereby CO2 is the fundamental cause.

That we did not challenge the science earlier was more a symptom of the last 15 years or so of funny money and “big” Government than of any fundamental understanding of our atmosphere.

If we were still a year away from 2007 and the first ruptions of the financial crisis climategate would have been but a small bump in the road for the AGW camp. Cap and trade would have passed in the US, as would other measures in the EU. Prior to 2009 we were living in an era where politicians all over the Western World completely ignored their electorates, and this fed back into those who were funded by the public purse. Even getting Joe Public to take anything seriously was a problem as they watched their houses grow in value and figured out how many holidays they could take that year. This has all changed and lack of money was one of the fundamental reasons why Copenhagen failed, (although this will never be admitted) and any subsequent climate summits will go the same way.

I don’t believe we have seen the worst of the financial meltdown yet, and you will note politicians coming out with phrases such as “it’s worse than we thought” when the figures they quote have been well known for some time. Lack of money will crush AGW far more effectively than any challenge to the science was able to; given the political climate I have described above.

The book that will be really worth reading is the book that describes how we almost lost our democracy, and how a select band of politicians and bankers thought they had “cracked it”, with unlimited money for the wealthy to get them on side, high indirect taxes to pay off the poor with welfare and to keep them quiet. I believe AGW and the proposals to control the climate were but a part of this agenda of large government.

The Sceptical campaign against AGW could be seen as a model for ensuring that all spending by Government is completely transparent in future. This then will feed back into those who spend “our” money.

Jun 10, 2010 at 1:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeterMG

We do well to remind ourselves each day how much the debate has shifted.

I fully support Richard Drake's comment. Given what Fred Pearce has written in the past, for him to have written such as book with criticism of the climate process is a significant step.

No doubt it will have caveats and platitudes but, such is human nature, it will be the critical comments which will stick in readers' minds.

(Web site )

Jun 10, 2010 at 2:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterRon Manley

If anyone who is going to the Royal Institution lecture and would like to do a guest post, please drop me a line.

Jun 10, 2010 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterBishop Hill

“Lack of money will crush AGW far more effectively than any challenge to the science was able to”

Very well put. However, I hope it doesn’t distract attention from the behaviour of the hockey team et al - I’m a bit surprised that scientists from other disciplines haven’t yet rounded on them for bringing their profession into disrepute.

Jun 10, 2010 at 3:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

This 'act' is already tired and predictible.


Fred Pearce stole this act from Monbiot, who stole it from Revkin, And thousands of other posers on blogs from here to kingdom come invoke this same bankrupt rap every day. Even Recall that even Al Gore spun this same yarn in his NYT editorial not long after Copenhagen bombed.

I didn't even need to read Pearce's comments to know, almost word for word, what they were going to say. Pathetic, pathetic, pathetic. Pearce wouldn't know science if it punched him in the face. And man do I wish I could be Science on that day...

Jun 11, 2010 at 12:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterDeuce


Is that right? I'm not sure there have been any admissions that the charges levelled against CRU scientists are true.

Also, could you please tone down the rhetoric.

Jun 11, 2010 at 7:05 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

I'm afraid I'm with Deuce on this one. Maybe no outright admissions that the major charges levelled were true, but many minor criticisms in the face of damning evidence.

If you take this book in isolation, you might be optimistic that attitudes are shifting somewhat.
But considering the broader context of whitewashed enquiries, broadsheet scare stories, IPCC press releases, statements by Politicians, letters to the media by Scientists and Scientific Societies, there is a massive effort to get the AGW train back on the rails.

Pearce and Monbiot are playing their role for ideological reasons. They may come across as angry and disappointed with poor science and shady practices, they're old and wise enough to know it's much more convincing than an outright denial of the undeniable..

I've read most of their work over the years. I will read this book very soon, and if I'm wrong in my prejudging, I will spend the rest of my days in repentance (once I've caught that flying pig;).

Jun 12, 2010 at 4:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris S

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