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« Josh 38 | Main | Quote of the day »
Wednesday
Sep082010

Oxburgh live blog

I'll try to live blog Lord Oxburgh's performance, which should be starting shortly.

11:28 Oxburgh talks about FoI act and its interface with scientific research. Says anyone can cause scientist to spend great deal of time answering responses.

11:27 Waffle. I notice the press gallery is virtually empty.

11:24 What damage could sceptics do to climate change? Oxburgh says commercial lobbies have had an influence. Says academics have been patronising. Some interesting doubts over computer models.

11:20 Why were sceptics criticised. What evidence was used? Says some sceptics are extremely able. Doesn't read blogs. Discusses links to commercial interests. Link to tobacco lobbying.

11:17 Metcalfe asks about raw data. Oxburgh says raw data was useful. Discussing availability of data. Says data normally available for journal peer review!!

11:14 Miller asks about the Nature trick. Did the panel look at this question. Oxburgh says they did not look at the emails, since this was for Russell's inquiry. Oxburgh says he was aware. Refers to dictionary definition of "trick" as "way of doing something". Oxburgh says it was not an attempt to deceive. Says presentation of data is difficult - how much should you simplify? Says users of CRU data have not shown uncertainty.

11:11 Asked if primary focus was on integrity. Oxburgh says yes. Asked about levels of statistical skills. Are they out of their depth statistically? Oxburgh talking about use of inappropriate statistical methods per Hand. Says more appropriate methods would not have made a difference. How does he know?

11:08 Asks if Jones said that it was impossible to recreate temperatures over the last 1000 years. Oxburgh says he thinks he didn't. Oxburgh says concept of global temp is a subtle one. Lots of waffle about how temp records are created. Mentions massive uncertainties.

11:06 Could CRU staff recreate studies from raw data? Oxburgh says "not always". Stringer expresses surprise. Oxburgh says culture different in industry to academia. Industry always documents and records everything. Says not so in academia.

11:03 Oxburgh says the 11 papers were not chosen by his panel. Says came via the university and "I believe" the Royal Society. They were just a start.  Stringer asks about Jones choosing the paper. Oxburgh says Peter Liss was involved but notes he was an oceanographer. Oxburgh dries when pressed on who provided the list.

11:02 Asking about Keenan's accusations. Oxburgh doesn't recall looking at them.

10:59 Stringer talking about Kelly's notes and failure to publish working documents. Oxburgh says nothing would have been added. Oxburgh says he hasn't seen the notes recently. Stringer quoting from the notes. Oxburgh repeats that it would not have added anything.

10:57 Stringer asks about independence. Asked about being based in the UEA registrars office (missed the point here!). Oxburgh says no. Oxburgh says university did not want a cover-up.

10:56 Oxburgh says no coordination with the Russell panel.

10:54 Asked about standards of honesty and whether the panel chose their work programme. Talking about getting key staff to relax.

10:53 Oxburgh still being pressed on amount of time. Says they didn't need more time given limited remit.

10:52 Oxburgh asked how much time each committee member spent on the report. He said they put in a lot of work beforehand. Mentions the 15 person days figure.

10:51 Oxburgh asked about superficiality of the report. Oxburgh says they worked hard and efficiently.

10:50 Oxburgh asked who sets terms of reference. Oxburgh says the terms emerged from discussions at his house with the university. Says they are set out in the first paragraph of the report.

10:48 Another member asks about the discrepancy between UEA press release and what Oxburgh did. Oxburgh says assessment of the science would not have been possible. Oxburgh says he was very clear.

10:46 Stringer asks about Acton's statement that the panel was reassessing the science. Oxburgh says that "was innaccurate". Said the UEA press release was clear. Said Acton only in post for a month at the time.

10:45 Miller says no sceptics. Oxburgh says it is not for him to discuss private views of panellists but there was one person who had been active as a sceptic. Says panel selected to have no point of view.

10:42 Oxburgh says asked to conduct brief inquiry into honesty. Reluctant to take it on. Put together panel in consultation with various people. Panel were people outside the field. Wanted people with no formal position on the field but understood the methods. Choice of panel members was Oxburgh's but in consultation. Three people with no connection to climate. Others were closer.

10:40 Miller says Oxburgh has been poorly. Asks how the panel was chosen. Oxburgh  explains background - Russell panel appointment and the subsequent split into two panels.

10:38 Miller just announcing a 30second intermission

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Reader Comments (53)

Yes, 10.39 and it's starting

Sep 8, 2010 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

'He was reluctant to take it on' - ah well, the small matter of £40.000 must have changed his mind powerfully.

Sep 8, 2010 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

Who was the 'panel member' who had 'sceptic' views, according to Oxburgh?

Anybody know?

Sep 8, 2010 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

So at my counting no panel has done anything about validating the science, so can we stop hearing people handing off to other people, off-stage in a circular way, saying it has been?

Sep 8, 2010 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve2

wriggle, squirm

Sep 8, 2010 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered Commentermartyn

Thoughts so far.. It's worse than we thought. Lots of time spent, 15 man days in total, 4 days round table assembling the report. Doesn't leave much time for 'looking for evidence of deliberate manipulation of data.. we found none'. They really don't seem to have looked very hard.

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

He forgot Keenan. A specific accusation like Keenans getting lost in the paper work?

Was he made aware of Keenan?

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve2

This looks bad for Oxburgh.

How embarrassing for UEA and CRU.

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Oxburgh just said that keeping all notes, lab books etc is what happens in industry, and it is what engineers do - but it isn't really done at universities.
Leaving aside the slightly arrogant attitude of 'proper scientists' like Oxburgh, in regard to mere engineers, this is actually not true.

My late husband, an archaeologist, kept everything, even and especially the working notebooks from his excavations, mud traces and all. They went into the University archive after his death. There would have been uproar in the department if notes, working papers, plans etc had not been kept in their entirety.
Of course such 'old' material is kept in other scientific disciplines - so why should CRU be exempt?
Sloppy indeed!

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

Oxburgh admits he has not read the e-mails but states he takes the kindest view of the "Trick" surely if you cannot place it in context you cannot pass that sort of comment on it.

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterChrisM

11.14 JHe say they did not look at the emails but "the trick was not an attempt to deceive"

Squirm, squirm! Oh the webs we weave!

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete Hayes

Just repeated the big lies of 'mad old ladies', 'tobacco lobby' blah blah blah. Straw men. Ad Hom.

Comes across as a true believer. Hardly the impartial pair of hands.

Oh God! He's just about to launch in the Venus nonsense.

Give me strength!!

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record

Venus and Mars..

For God sake.

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterAdrian

Viv, you will find that Oxburgh is being highly disengenious on this point.

If CRU scientists didn't keep data, records, or were sloppy in doing so then that impacts on their integrity. It could also be that Oxburgh in his rush not investigate this matter properly and is now covering his own back.

It is pity Oxburgh doesn't have his own notes at hand to remind him of what he did or did not do. He appears to be as bad as CRU in keeping proper records.

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

I don't know what the woman questioners stance is but she has asked the best questions that really allow Oxburgh to expound his position. He showed clearly why he was the worst person to chair the enquiry.

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve2

if he's going to talk about tobacco lobbies, could someone please ask him about his carbin capture company ...

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterFreddy

Uh oh.. he's mentioning revising FOI based on Blair's comments. The fix is going in..

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Almost live cartooning...

http://www.cartoonsbyjosh.com/Lord_Ox.jpg

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

Watch him, he's just raised the FOI meme. There is now the beginnings of a concerted campaign to get FOI amended. It's appearing all over the place. Instead of learning their lessons the swine are going to try and turn the tables and get rid of the meddlesome FOI.

Watch them go. Bureaucracy in action.

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record

Re-post from the thread on FOI:

You wrote: "If I discern things correctly, there are moves afoot to start reining back on the scope of the Act."

Right at the end of the hearing, Lord Oxburgh said that the FOIA needs to be re-thought because he found it incredible that 'anyone, not even from this country, and without good cause' could ask for information on work in progress. He hoped the HoCSC would look at this - and the chairman said they'll be meeting with the HoL committee in October to talk about that.

Your discernment is spot on, Bish!

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

11:06 - Isn't one of CRU's primary purposes as a data archive. I would hope that proper storage and maintenance of the archive was one of the major priorities. It isn't like there is that much to store anyway.

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob B

Lord Oxburgh says they didn’t investigate Keenan’s allegations of fraud, so how can he give a clean bill of health to Prof Jones’ integrity? He doesn’t see any problem with the fact the University effectively chose the papers to be looked at. He admits they were “novices”! He comes across to me as a bumbling idiot, or perhaps deliberately evasive. He certainly doesn’t seem able to give definitive answers to specific questions. He seems to think we should just accept that record keeping in academia is muddled. But decisions are being made affecting the future of mankind on the back of this muddled thinking! I'm sure Sir Humphrey in "Yes Prime Minister" would have regarded him as a very safe pair of hands to chair an enquiry.

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterJockdownsouth

Interesting the first question was about panel composition, pre-determined views. no conflicts of interest etc. Said there were 3 people unconnected with the issues, 4 including his good self. The mentions the little old lady at one of the talks he was giving, presumably about the evils of climate change. Or, as wiki describes him-

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

This is the man judging honesty and integrity impartially? No wonder Kelly's concerns weren't highlighted in his report.

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Almost live cartooning...

http://www.cartoonsbyjosh.com/Lord_Ox.jpg

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:31 AM | Josh

Excellent, as always, Josh!

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

Did Oxburgh actually take part in his review or did he just read about it later and was briefed on a few bullet points to repeat in front of the Parliament Committee?

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered Commentermartyn

Pamela Nash asked some surprisingly good questions. Nash is the official Baby of the House (youngest member of parliament). Out of the mouths of babes....

Graham Stringer was alright too.

Oxburgh was poor, but nobody really drove the points home. I would have liked to have seen a stake driven through his lying heart.

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterSara Chan

If our universities are not open and transparent about the science conducted in our name then public trust will be destroyed on climate change policy and there will be a public backlash against the funding of such institutions.

This is not a game.

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

This newly established committee seems, on today's evidence, not quite as much of an old boy's club as the last one. The questions asked were not comfortable for Oxburgh.

MP Stringer, just as last time, asked the best questions and had Oxburgh on a permanent squirm.

The young lady (some NuLab first-time Scottish MP) had questions which allowed Oxburgh to end on a high AGW note, polar bears included ... aww ...
Mind - he's got to work on not being patronising to females whose age would be similar to his granddaughters, if he has any.

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

It was great to hear Stringer refer to Kelly's comments! That really coaxed out of Oxburgh the disparity between traditional and climate sciences. So important to the debate!

I would have loved for Stringer to have kept going for Oxburgh but at least he made it abundantly clear to Oxburgh that he didn't agree with Oxburgh's assessment or assertions.

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterSimonH

What I find astonishing is that Oxburgh, Watson, Davies and Russell all say that Freedom of Information Act is a problem whereas they all used its exemptions to avoid disclosure. Their real problem is the Aarhus convention and the Environmental Information Regulations that were brought in to meet the EU Directive. Getting any change to weaken that will be far more difficult.

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland

Note the point at the end where he goes on about how he would be happy to see global warming proven to be no problem ... carefully shifting the burden of proof away from his alarmist faction and onto the other side ...

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterFreddy

Its about time that the FOI BS was nailed down , Jones planned to avoid FOI requests before he got a single one , for most of the time there very few actual FOI request and these where related to the CRU failing to meet the normal demands of data release, While the CRU have been found in breach of FOI requests, Jones is trying to claim ignorance over the FOI but was clearly aware of the problem as the e-mail shows. The troubles CRU’s has had over the FOI have been issue they have brought on their own head.

What is most interest from Oxburgh interview is that as thought , CRU and Jones controlled what research was looked at in the review not the RS. How often do the people being investigated get to decided what evidenced the investigators are allowed to see?

Sep 8, 2010 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

So it transpires that Phil Jones was involved in picking the papers that Oxburgh was to judge Jones's own integrity.

Independent review? What independent review?

A whitewash from start to finish.

Sep 8, 2010 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Viv.. I think his waving away of CRU's data management is going to come back and bite him. During my first term at University (ok, an engineering degree) we were given our log books and told why it was important to record and retain everything. I doubt many scientists or academics will be too happy about Oxburgh's comments and brushing aside the evidence of CRU's sloppy data management.

Sep 8, 2010 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Scouse Oxburgh turned out to be even more of a bumbler than I'd anticipated. What was all that about Venus CO2 atmosphere, v. hot. Earth small CO2 atmosphere, not hot. What about Mars CO2 atmosphere, cold?

He also mislead the committee, there's an email from Trevor Davies to the RS asking them to endorse the papers at the request of the old "Scarse git", so he clearly knew that the papers weren't picked by the RS.

My general impression was that he hadn't prepared for the inquiry suggesting he knew the result in advance. If he was investigating the integrity of the scientific community then why didn't he tell us what allegations had been made against the chosen papers and how he'd refuted them?

Sep 8, 2010 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Viv, Atomic, just sent Oxburgh’s comments re notes etc to scientist friend of mine (physicist), unfortunately the reply isn't printable ;o)

Sep 8, 2010 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterH

@ Atomic Hairdryer, Sep 8, 2010 at 12:06 PM :

Indeed - and I do hope it will come back and bite them with some speed.

It would have been absolutely unthinkable for any of us doing our theses in Zoology not to have our lab books present and up-to-date, at all times. And by heck, just writing 'made up the usual solution' did most definitely not cut it!
I can't imagine what our supervisors would have done if we'd thrown our lab books away when writing up our Ph.D.'s - keeping everything is standard procedure, pre- and post write-ups.

One wonders what sort of training those climate 'scientists' had - and one shudders to think how their students will be handling data once released into the wide open academic world.

Sep 8, 2010 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

@ H, Sep 8, 2010 at 12:25 PM

I can well imagine!

Every properly trained scientist, of whichever discipline, applied or 'pure', would come up with similar unprintable comments.

Sep 8, 2010 at 12:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

It's quite simple for me. If work is related to changing public policy, then it is subject to FOI requests so that the public can review what's there. It's not about intellectual property rights when it becomes policy. If the work is still continuing but is being used as part of the evidence to push the policy, then it is still subject to FOI.

Sep 8, 2010 at 12:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss H

Oxburgh has Acton left out to dry on his scope of the enquiry as Acton stated to committee not being his scope.

Sep 8, 2010 at 12:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnH

"Says panel selected to have no point of view."

Kerry Emanuel has no particular point of view concerning global warming? Hah!

Sep 8, 2010 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterDrCrinum

Oxburgh has Acton left out to dry on his scope of the enquiry as Acton stated to committee not being his scope.

Sep 8, 2010 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnH

Hard to 'play a blinder' following an excellent presentation on UK space capability.

Sep 8, 2010 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

JohnH, you're absolutely right! If Oxburgh's efforts were, as he indicates, the extent and limit of the remit from Acton - and there have been only compliments, no complaints, about Oxburgh's enquiry from Acton as far as I can find - then Acton's assurances to the HoCSC were patently disingenuous and misleading.

Is "Yes, I made assurances to the Committee about a science appraisal enquiry, but then changed my mind" going to cut it with them? Will he even be called to account? I have no idea.. but it seems he should.

Perhaps the committee will hear from Sir Muir and then summon Acton in November.

Sep 8, 2010 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimonH

hi Bish - thanks for having the stomach to watch yet more of this charade. I went to the first session but couldn't face more of the same. If I can find the will I'll watch the session later. From your report thanks also to Graham Stringer for continuing the search for truth.

The comment re: the press gallery is interesting - who was there, bringing this to the public at large? Future of the planet at stake and all that ....

Re: Muir "Says anyone can cause scientist to spend great deal of time answering responses." - how many times can this cr*p stand repeating? It needs to get before a barrister who actually walks this drivel through a blow by blow dissection of the simple reality of copying and sending data in the digital age. In a different context there was a comment on WUWT from wsbriggs about wilful ignorance being worse than stupidity - Muir has one or the other in spades.

Oh, and wouldn't you think that journalism would have an interest in the brewing FOI reform that Muir is helping tee up? Or maybe they are too busy pushing strings of vowels and consonants together on the rooming arrangements of politicians?

Sep 8, 2010 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Just watched it. Made me want to puke. Oxburgh plainly came across as anything but a disinterested party.It's also sickening that the signs are there will be efforts to curtail the scope of FOI.

Hence the response to Climategate etc. seems in the end less to learn to be more open, and more to find ways to be more careful not to get caught.

Only Stringer seems to have a decent head on his shoulders. I wait to hear what he might have to comment about the meeting.

Sep 8, 2010 at 4:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterMichael larkin

Sorry bish - ahem, re: me above - replace Muir with Oxburgh. I'll wake up later...

Sep 8, 2010 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Oxburgh tells us at length how he and his committee members came to this issue with 'no opinion' but then after some time he starts to forget himself and make all sorts of wild statements
- equating critics with unsalubrious elements in the tobacco industry who only hold their opinions because they are paid
- suggesting that the fact the models all show the same thing is significant when all it actually means is that runs which showed anything else would have been immediately aborted
- equating the warmth of Venus with CO2, but not the cold of Mars
- lovingly quoting the nonsense Crispin Tickell fed to Thatcher
..... and so on.

Many people have said all of these things before, but few if any of them would then go on to claim to be unbiased.

Oxburgh really is much more of a bumbling old fool quoting common room gossip than I had ever imagined he would be. And how can anyone with any claim to be a "scientist" think that it is normal and somehow OK for any self respecting scientist to lose his original data.

Sep 8, 2010 at 4:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiggerjock

I had visitors arrive just after it started, so I will listen later. But reading the above comments and yours Bish, it seems to me unforgiveable that data and notes (of both academic work and this inquiry) are not retained - most unprofessional. This behaviour is totally unacceptable to a real scientist who worked for years in engineering. My work from 30 or so years ago is still available in archives, despite several office moves and relocations. Very sloppy by Oxburgh and CRU. Where is Oxburgh's written brief for the inquiry from Acton? If it is not available or never existed, then the whole inquiry was a fiasco or farse - but I guess we already knew that.

Sep 8, 2010 at 6:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Well I've just had the misfortune to listen to it all. Oxburgh is a master of waffle, obfuscation and personal opinions not based on any knowledge of the subject. He certainly knows how not to answer a question. One can see why he was chosen to head a whitewash inquiry.

He certainly didn't get to where he is today due to his intellectual ability and logic.

Sep 8, 2010 at 9:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

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