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Oxburgh transcript

The transcript of Lord Oxburgh's evidence to the Science & Technology Committee is now available, here.

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Reader Comments (43)

Quote, Stephen Mosley, "But the UEA press notice did say that it would be : "An independent external re- appraisal of the science in the CRU’s key publications." "

Quote, Lord Oxburgh, "if you wanted the science validated you’d actually appoint a different panel"

Well, well, well!

It begs the questions:

Why did UEA want this matter wrapped as soon as possible?

Why was Lord Oxburgh approached by UEA?

Why did UEA insist that Lord Oxburgh take up the chair?

Why did UEA change it's published stance on the nature of the review?

Sep 20, 2010 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Music to read by:


Sep 20, 2010 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Q38 Pamela Nash: "The report suggests that the key task of the CRU was to analyse the data sets of others. However, the CRU scientists did not have the level of statistical skill to do this. Do you think that the CRU scientists are people of integrity but out of their depth when it comes to statistical analysis"?

Lord Oxburgh: "You are quite right..."

This part to me is quite telling. It is building a foundation to reassign blame. After all, CRU can't be blamed for all of this, they were not smart enough to do the math given to them. OR CRU are simply the custodians of the information. They are not the ones who made the formulations. OR We were just following orders sir.

Sep 20, 2010 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeterK

This part to me is quite telling. It is building a foundation to reassign blame. After all, CRU can't be blamed for all of this, they were not smart enough to do the math given to them. OR CRU are simply the custodians of the information. They are not the ones who made the formulations. OR We were just following orders sir.

It wos Arry Sir :)

The poor programmer will get it in the neck again I think

Sep 20, 2010 at 5:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnH

@Mac - given the rising crescendo of hysteria as we approach Cancun (Copenhagen Reloaded?), it's clear to me that this "distraction" had to be neutralised at whatever cost and as quickly as possible.

Now the CAGWers can simply point to all the reports and say "ignore the skeptics they're bad losers, and save for a few piddling issues to do with handling FOI requests and sharing data the science has been found to be robust".

That's sufficient for the BBC and (most of) the rest of the MSM it would seem.

Sep 20, 2010 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterwoodentop

Wow, my jaw is sore from falling open and to the floor so often having read that. Thanks for pointing us that way! I'd cite quotes that flabbergasted me, but doing so would mean restating the entire interview.

Sep 20, 2010 at 5:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterCurious Canuck

Still a long way to go:-

"We are actually, of course, formally meeting your Committee in October"

Not sure if this is before, after or with Acton

Sep 20, 2010 at 5:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

"Q16 Alok Sharma: Yes. The only comment I would make is that Sir Muir Russell’s report took seven months and it just contrasts with the fact that yours took three weeks. But perhaps you feel that you spent enough time on it?

Lord Oxburgh: We were meeting a deadline. We were there for a purpose, to help the university with a particular problem. In fact, given our limited remit, I don’t think we needed any more time. "

They were there for a purpose - to help the university with a particular problem.
He didn't need any more time, he knew what the report would say whatever the input!

Sep 20, 2010 at 5:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterSparklet

I thought that Stringer talked about it being "literature" rather than science - I can't find any reference to it in the transcript. Am I mistaken? Did he say that somewhere else?

[BH adds: at my press conference]

Sep 20, 2010 at 5:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterMichael larkin

This is hilarious:

"You will see that we ended up with only three people who had absolutely no connection with climate work, meteorology or anything of that kind-well, four, really, including me-"

Er, Lord Oxburgh, what do you do for a living? From Wikipedia: "He is honorary president of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, chairman of Falck Renewables, a wind energy firm, an advisor to Climate Change Capital. He was chairman of D1 Oils, plc, a biodiesel producer, in 2007, and a director of GLOBE, the Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment."

Another one:

"Similarly, the other two people who had some professional knowledge in the adjacent area would be Huw Davies and Kerry Emanuel, both of whom were meteorological people, which is different from climate and ..."

Meteorology is different from climate?

I can't read anymore of this transcript. ROTFLMAO

Sep 20, 2010 at 5:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterDrCrinum

Michael larkin

My understanding is that the comment was made at the Press Conference re The Bishop's "Review of the Reviews."

Sep 20, 2010 at 6:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

A most fascinating fair tale! I should publish it!

What I found most interesting was the following:

Lord Oxburgh: If I may comment, I am no expert on the Freedom of Information Act but I do think that there are very interesting questions to be asked about the interface between the Freedom of Information Act and scientific research in progress, which either your Committee or our Committee might look at. I do find it extraordinary that any individual in any part of the world, with or without good cause, can cause people in this country to spend a great deal of time answering inquiries and so on. I think we haven’t got it quite right yet, and I think that is, maybe, what Tony Blair meant in one of his comments recently in his book.

Translation: We have to gut FOIA.


Sep 20, 2010 at 6:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra


with or without good cause

This is the killer. I think checking it is correct seems good cause to me.

But then again maybe not to 'them'.

Sep 20, 2010 at 6:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris

Lord Hamburger lies even within this transcript

In his opening statement:
"You will see that we ended up with only three people who had absolutely no connection with climate work, meteorology or anything of that kind-well, four, really, including me"

In answer to this question:
" Q46 Pamela Nash: The p anel ’s report criticised the climate change sceptics. Could you tell us on what evidence this was based?"

hamburger includes the following:
"I was completely floored by an elderly lady, after I had given a talk on this sort of thing, and she said, "You’re quite wrong." I said, "Well, thank you. I’m keen to know about that." She said, "It is totally presumptuous to think that human beings can have any influence on the Lord God’s construction","

In order to get that response Hamburger had to be giving a talk that stated that man was warming the planet.

But actually there are more profound reasons for concern than the models. We are in the Thatcher Room at the moment, and I was sitting about as close as you are to me on the occasion when Mrs. Thatcher gave her astonishing green speech. I can’t remember the words exactly, but she said, "We are performing an enormous experiment on our earth or on our environment, and that is really what’s happening".

If we look at the behaviour of the planets, the four terrestrial planets Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, only two of those have got temperatures which really are above the temperature that you would expect at their distance from the Sun. Those are Venus, which has got an atmosphere almost entirely composed of C02, and Earth which has got an atmosphere with a little bit of C02. The whole idea of the greenhouse effect controlling the temperatures of the atmospheres of the terrestrial planets is a hundred years old. What that simple observation tells you is that if we increase the C02 in our atmosphere, we are actually into pretty uncertain territory. I suspect that the modelling is right but although I don’t believe it 100%, but I do believe that we are actually doing something pretty dangerous.

"no connection with climate work, meteorology or anything of that kind"??

He is without doubt a liar and will hopefully be exposed.

Sep 20, 2010 at 6:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterDung

After reading transcript it is obvious that dear Lord's career will look like this:

1. Make an idi0t of yourself ( nobody care about it)
2. Make the members of your inquiry look like idi0ts ( they don't care because of 1.)
3. Make the members of Science & Technology Committee look like idi0ts ( after all you are a Lord see 1)
4.Cash a cheque, have a beer, wait for next opportunity to chair an inquiry
5. Go to 1.
6. 3 years later become a Gen Secretary of the UN

Sep 20, 2010 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterML

There are many, many points to be picked up on from this and it has started in the posts above. However, Oxburgh's un-asked for parting shot, seemed rehearsed and contained this nugget (also mentioned by Don Pablo);

"I do find it extraordinary that any individual in any part of the world, with or without good cause, can cause people in this country to spend a great deal of time answering inquiries and so on."

Please note: "WITH or without good cause". And invoking Blair, recently subject to an enquiry himself, for support!

The considerable time was caused BY the university by giving people the run-around!

This man has an agenda. It is as clear as day.

Sep 20, 2010 at 7:44 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Oxburgh is 'inconsistent'.

E.g. driving his team so very hard, but doing the report in an afternoon; doing lots of background research, but sticking to a CRU cherry picked collection of papers; keeping an open mind, but scoffing at the standard practices of scientists and engineers; spending 2 days in Norwich, but pretending to spend most of his team's 3 weeks in Norwich; being entirely independent, but having UEA personnel involved in the work (e.g. Lisa William's handling his email, Annie Ogden working on the report); not having a position on climate change, but proceeding to expound on that precise topic; not having kept written records, but sending out detailed missives to his team (e.g. here).

Incidentally, that last note is where the impression was formed that his 'independent' inquiry was run from the UEA: "As soon as panel members accept we shall be in touch about detailed logistics. I look forward to hearing from you. Please reply by e-mail to Lisa Williams in the Vice-Chancellor's Office at UEA. Yours sincerely, Ron Oxburgh". How else should this be interpreted?!).

Sep 20, 2010 at 8:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

In Q36;
A: "So it is a pretty difficult business. That is why on the serious publications massive uncertainty bands are associated with temperature reconstructions."

In Q40;
A: "I, personally, think that in various publications for public consumption those who have used the CRU data and those who have used other climatic data have not helped their case by illuminating the very wide uncertainty band associated with it."

Is he saying that there is massive uncertainty which should not be conveyed as it does not help the case for a warming?


In Q38;
Q: "Do you think that the CRU scientists are people of integrity but out of their depth when it comes to statistical analysis?"
A: "You are quite right. We were fortunate in having a very eminent statistician on our panel. ........ And he was really quite serious in saying that this was not the best way to do it. Having said that, even though they had adopted their own methods, he said, actually, had they used more sophisticated and state of the art methods, it wouldn’t have made a great deal of difference."

So, it wouldn't have made a great deal of difference BECAUSE of the massive uncertainty!

Oxburgh's first name is Ernest. May I use that as an adjective; ernest apologist!

Sep 20, 2010 at 8:34 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

In response to the first question

'I was pretty reluctant to take this on because I had all sorts of other things planned but, in the end, I did. We put together a panel in consultation with various people, of people who were outside the field.'

That 'various people' really screamed out for clarification, at least affiliation, but preferably names. An opportunity missed. The committee moved on.

Sep 20, 2010 at 9:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Still on Q1

'we wanted people who...'
'we ended up with...'

Who is 'we'

Sep 20, 2010 at 9:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

As the fan
and its flying foe meet
lawyers look on

Sep 20, 2010 at 9:17 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Well! It is pretty obvious that the committee regard Oxburgh's Report as not quite playing a blinder, more an ignominious duck.

Sep 20, 2010 at 9:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

ZT at 8:07

"not having a position on climate change, but proceeding to expound on that precise topic"

Quite. He thought he was getting an easy ride and his true intent came out (how could he resist as he has financial interests in alternative energy). And his parting shot on FOI which is proving to be his achilles heel. Ernest by name, self-interested by nature.

Sep 20, 2010 at 10:00 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Curious Canuk says;
"I'd cite quotes that flabbergasted me, but doing so would mean restating the entire interview."
Dung says;
"no connection with climate work, meteorology or anything of that kind"??

Curious Canuk, yes, the more you read it the more there is to be astonished at.
Dung. Well spotted.

The man is an out & out apologist for the cause. But will Stringer see it? Anybody reading this have Stringers ear? Stringer: "You have surprised me over a number of things you have said, Lord Oxburgh. That is very surprising, isn’t it?" I think stringer is open to listening. I certainly hope so.

Sep 20, 2010 at 10:36 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

A quote from 2005 (interestingly on

Lord Oxburgh, insisted that “Governments in developed countries need to introduce taxes, regulations or plans … to increase the cost of emitting carbon dioxide.”(9) He listed the technologies required to replace fossil fuels, and remarked that “none of this is going to happen if the market is left to itself.”

9. Lord Oxburgh, 27th January 2005. Quoted in Greenpeace press release: Shell Chair urges government to act now on climate change.

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:14 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

ZT - many thanks for the link with the detailed missives - the bias they demonstrate could only ever have resulted in a whitewashing exercise.

Also it is very clear Muir Russell was under no doubt the Scientific Appraisal Panel (!) were to look at the science (!)

MR p3 Summary:

"On 22 March UEA announced the Scientific Appraisal Panel to be chaired by Lord Oxburgh. This Panel should determine whether the work of CRU has been soundly built"

MR p50 para23:

"It will be for the Scientific Appraisal Panel to look in detail into all the evidence to determine whether or not the consensus view remains valid. (Paragraph 137) and it would be premature for us to pre-judge its work."

"It will be for the Scientific Appraisal Panel to look in detail into all the evidence to determine whether or not the consensus view remains valid."

So given Oxburgh's testimony that he sorted the brief out at his house with "deputy vice- chancellor and another senior member of the university" I'm guessing these two will be in the firing line for not sticking to the script. I wonder how they recall their meeting with Ron?

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:20 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Ernest Ronald Oxburgh, Baron Oxburgh, KBE, FRS (born 2 November 1934) is an eminent geologist and geophysicist.[1] Lord Oxburgh is well known for his dedicated work as a public advocate in both academia and the business world in addressing the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and develop alternative energy sources[2] as well as his negative views on the consequences of current oil consumption.,_Baron_Oxburgh
Yes! Wikipedia. Whowouldathoughtit?

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:40 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Bish and Green Sand, thanks for jogging my memory about the "literature" quote.

Sep 21, 2010 at 12:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterMichael larkin

@not banned yet
Yup, quite how Oxburgh managed to morph his 'Scientific Appraisal Panel' inquiry into "Not too much wrong with these 11 obscure but cherry picked papers - or how we spent 45 hours in Norwich (and let's ignore Kelly's views he is an engineer, after all" is a mystery to many people, up to and including Muir Russell.

Sep 21, 2010 at 12:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterZT

"We were not expected to go into the e-mail saga or what have you, but they really wanted to know whether there was any evidence that their people had been behaving dishonestly."

So they were "not expected to go into" prima facie evidence that CRU scientists were colluding to block FOI requests, pressure editorial boards, redefine peer review, "hide the decline" and delete their own emails?

Sep 21, 2010 at 1:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Maloney

How could one possibly call this a "white wash" for it is caked on so thick. Indeed, one would need a JCB digger (aka backhoe in the States) to just scratch the surface of this opulently corpulent opalescent obscuration.

A pity that "Oxburgh" isn't at all Celtic. I am still looking for a name for me evil spider. Anglo Saxon doesn't fit at all.

Sep 21, 2010 at 2:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

george is not feeling well:

20 Sept: Guardian: George Monbiot: Climate change enlightenment was fun while it lasted. But now it's dead
The collapse of the talks at Copenhagen took away all momentum for change and the lobbyists are back in control. So what next?
It's not just that we have lost 18 precious years. Throughout the age of good intentions and grand announcements we spiralled backwards.
Nor do regional and national commitments offer more hope. An analysis published a few days ago by the campaigning group Sandbag estimates the amount of carbon that will have been saved by the end of the second phase of the EU's emissions trading system, in 2012; after the hopeless failure of the scheme's first phase we were promised that the real carbon cuts would start to bite between 2008 and 2012. So how much carbon will it save by then? Less than one third of 1%.
Worse still, the reduction in industrial output caused by the recession has allowed big polluters to build up a bank of carbon permits which they can carry into the next phase of the trading scheme. If nothing is done to annul them or to crank down the proposed carbon cap (which, given the strength of industrial lobbies and the weakness of government resolve, is unlikely) these spare permits will vitiate phase three as well. Unlike the Kyoto protocol, the EU's emissions trading system will remain alive. It will also remain completely useless...
Missing from the proposed (British) cuts are the net greenhouse gas emissions we have outsourced to other countries and now import in the form of manufactured goods. Were these included in the UK's accounts, alongside the aviation, shipping and tourism gases excluded from official figures, Britain's emissions would rise by 48%. Rather than cutting our contribution to global warming by 19% since 1990, as the government boasts, we have increased it by about 29%....
Greens are a puny force by comparison to industrial lobby groups, the cowardice of governments and the natural human tendency to deny what we don't want to see...

Sep 21, 2010 at 2:37 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

Oxburgh says: "This is perhaps one of the cultural differences between the work of the unit and many of those who, I think, legitimately criticise it, who frequently come from an industrial background or an engineering background, where the culture and the patterns of working are very different-in which, particularly in industry, everything is documented."

[Translation: This is just the university way, to be sloppy and chuck out data]

My question would have been: "But Lord Oxburgh, with tens of billions of pounds in funding of public policy resting on the recommendations of this unit, wouldn't you hope they might have been more scrupulous in the way they went about things?"

And later, Oxburgh acknowledges the point: "...let me just say that I would just love climate change to be proved wrong, because it is so, so important, and it is going to affect the way we live and the way we do things."

It's so, so important, but despite that, he doesn't care that CRU throws away important data?

Cannot compute.

Sep 21, 2010 at 2:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

re: 'Lord Oxburgh: ... I looked up "trick" in the Oxford English Dictionary, actually, at that time, and, if I remember rightly, the Oxford English Dictionary gave it nine different meanings, one of which was "Special technique or way of doing something." I think, having looked at that, that anyone in the field reading that with an open mind, would actually take that meaning of the word "trick".'

Okay, this is pretty simple Lord O'. Yes the dictionary has the above as an alternate definition of 'trick'. When you delete data that disagree with your desired conclusion, and then boast about it as a 'trick' to your cronies, that is not the intended usage.

If you can't connect those dots you are not qualified to lead an investigation into anything.

There is no doubt they deleted the data. There is no doubt the data was contrary to their agenda. There was no scientific justification for deleting the recent data that would have weakened the hockey stick shape; it was every bit as valid as the older data from the same proxy that helped shape the hockey stick.

Sep 21, 2010 at 2:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Norris

We judge based on appeals to honesty, integrity, competence, appropriate choices of dictionary definitions .... pshaw..... this man is speaking the language of Power. Allow me to translate:

Oxburgh: These questions are impertinent. Like that of my friend and our former Prime Minister, my conclusion is that this Freedom of Information Act must be repealed forthwith. I shall have a word with the new man on this topic. We shall also speak of this...... Stringer.....

Sep 21, 2010 at 4:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterdkkraft


"not quite playing a blinder"

I wonder what Sir John thinks now? Perhaps the committee could ask him...

Sep 21, 2010 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

I don’t know if it was pressure of time, or maybe it is just bad form to insist on a clear answer from a Lord, but it looks like Stringer let Oxburgh off the hook too easily. Looking at Stringers questioning from Q28 to Q35 they are indeed hard-hitting questions, but the replies he gets are ridiculously evasive.

I suppose Stringer may have been sympathetic to Oxburgh’s clear illness or just stunned by the sheer vacuity of his replies.

Sep 21, 2010 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve2

Apart from UEA, who IS satisfied with this review?

'The appointment process and selection conducted by UEA was informed by
advice from the Royal Society, to ensure appropriate rigour, expertise and
objectivity.' (Ref: FOI 10/0744 to Mr Montford,19 May 2010, from Information Rights Unit, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills)

So does it honestly pass muster with the Royal Society for appropriate rigour, expertise and

Sep 21, 2010 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Q48 and Q49.

It would be very interesting indeed to know what the Secretary of State for Climate Change, Chris Huhne, was writing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer which would have been the basis for further questions to Lord Oxburgh.

How can we find out ?

Sep 21, 2010 at 5:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Edmonds

Pharos, James P - looking at my keyboard, I think that the only plausible explanation is that, in fact, Sir John fell foul of that spell checking scourge of a single letter inverting intended meaning: 10mm to the left of "i" lies the key to this mystery..... :-)

Sep 21, 2010 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

David Edmonds

You can find Chris Huhne's letter to George Osborne here

Sep 22, 2010 at 1:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

"10mm to the left of "i" lies the key to this mystery..."

So it does. Well spotted! :-)

Sep 22, 2010 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P


What a shame that comments aren't allowed...

Sep 22, 2010 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

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