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« Bjorn Lomborg on the Dara report | Main | Ouch »

Saint George

The BBC's FOI correspondent Martin Rosenbaum has persuaded DECC to unredact part of the FOI release about Climategate that we discussed here the other day. The document was the one which was noted for (a) its appalling standards of literacy and (b) that it was written all in capital letters. Rosenbaum reveals that it was written by the then head of climate science at DECC, Nafees Meah. The particular extract was this:

It was recently reported in the Sunday Times that Professor Phil Jones, who’s been at the centre of the firestorm, actually contemplated sucide after his experience of sustained pillory by the media – indeed, redacted redacted George Mombiot demanded his head on a plate in the Guardian.

The words redacted were "the saintly".

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Reader Comments (40)

Redact means make ready for publishing, not censor.

Sep 28, 2012 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterAC1

I hesitate to challenge the Bishop in his own Holy See, but clearly the document was written for a speech, and as such the poor literacy, spelling and upper case aren't relevant. I don't know about anyone else, but when I make notes to a speech that I don't intend to see in print I don't take too much care about the spelling and grammar, knowing I can fix them on the day. As it happens I think Mr. (Dr.?) Meah gave the scientists sound advice. Read it carefully, he's telling them to be truthful by saying they should be able to defend their public comments, he tells them it's not there job to tell us that: THE PROBLEM IS X SO THE SOLUTION IS Y" and lots more sound advice. I was left with the impression that Mr. (Dr.?) Meah was him/herself a sceptic, and now I have added more evidence that s/he has contempt for George Monbiot, which cannot be the judgement of a fool. Surely?

Sep 28, 2012 at 5:33 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Sorry to be a bit off topic but been catching up after holiday. Loads and loads recently on shale gas/fracking - maybe going in the right direction. But, please, can anybody out there clarify for me what is/are the composition/s of typical UK shale gas? Let's at least start out knowing what we are talking about.

Sep 28, 2012 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

OK, this definitely needs a Josh cartoon.

Sep 28, 2012 at 5:44 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

>>Redact means make ready for publishing, not censor.


Sep 28, 2012 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob

I concur! Such a temptation to cartoon must be given in to...

Sep 28, 2012 at 6:11 PM | Registered CommenterJosh

Geronimo: I knew Naf when he was a lowly scientist at the now extinct Min of Ag, where he was involved in food science. As far as climate change goes, I doubt if he is either a sceptic or warmist, rather he would say whatever his masters want him to say in order for him to crawl another rung up the promotion ladder. And I see that his literacy skills have not improved over the past 20 years.

Sep 28, 2012 at 6:21 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

As far as I am aware Naf is still Head of Climate Science at DECC, not then Head, unless this marvellous bit of prose got him another promotion. There is a saying in the Civil Service that the best way to deal with incompentents, is to keep promoting them until they reach a point where they can do no damage.

Sep 28, 2012 at 6:23 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

"Redact means make ready for publishing, not censor."

Does it?

According to the English I know it means to 'edit/censor/obscure' for publication.

Sep 28, 2012 at 6:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterfretslider

Possible idea for Josh:

"the Saintly Mom Biot"

You know, like "the Mother Teresa of Climate Change"

Sep 28, 2012 at 6:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterBebben

Am I the only one who speculated that the redacted words were really rude and insulting swearwords? It seems to me that by blanking two quite innocuous words out they were inviting speculation as to what the words were. Of course, if the statement was read aloud or typed up without the words redacted redacted, no-one would be aware that any words had been removed.

Sep 28, 2012 at 6:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground

The creation of new job opportunities for a great many people is one consequence of the political success of those who have agitated for alarm over carbon dioxide. It seems inevitable that this rising wave will bring poorly qualified people into positions of influence provided they are good at talk valued by alarmed people in search of assurance and leadership. As this rising wave breaks and fizzles, as indeed it seems to be doing (vide Rio, vide the speed at which sloppy papers and articles are shredded by the better informed about climate and/or energy, vide the German coal-fired power station plans, vide the reduced or even absent exploitation of the topic by leading politicians in the US and the UK, vide global temperatures, sea levels, ice extents, etc etc) they may dig-in if it lifted them high enough, or cast an eye around for the next rising wave if they want more. In either case, they are likely to have the fluency required to distance themselves from whatever sounded good during the previous wave.

Ben Pile has just published a very interesting analysis on the kind of mediocrity of thought and action that can thrive when there is so much superficial analysis and leadership in politics: "...mediocrity is most troubling where it grips our political, democratic institutions. Political parties have over the last few decades lost their ability to connect with the public, and struggled to identify themselves at all, let alone as distinct to the others, leading, it has been argued on this blog, to a banal political consensus on climate change emerging over the course of the 1990s and 2000s. It at first seemed like a way to connect with the public — through fear, and through the growing network of NGOs. But also, it emerged because the possibility of being responsible for saving the planet is far more attractive a proposition to the vacuous politician than is responding to a disconnected constituency’s wants and needs. [my italics]. Well worth a read: He finishes thusly "The phenomenon of Miliband is mediocrity gone supernova. But let’s not single him out. He epitomises the problem that afflicts many public institutions, and so makes visible for a moment the nothingness that passes for politics in today’s UK. The political establishment’s absorption of environmentalism is primarily, a response to its own vacuity, and to the problems caused by its own vacuity. Stories about crises take the place of ideas and vision. Nebulous conceptions of the natural world serve in lieu of an understanding of the human world. It is fitting that a cipher should stand as the leader of such a hollow political party, in such a turgid political contest as the one that exists between them and the coalition. "

Sep 28, 2012 at 6:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Who's intelligence-challenged robotic mother?

Sep 28, 2012 at 7:04 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Readact, number one weasel word, evidently proposed by some brainy civil servant in the wake of the MPs' expenses scandal, in fact means:

to compose or draft or to put a literary work into 'appropriate form' for publication.

I was always amazed how this otherwise entirely obscure word, however precise its meaning, was suddenly deployed when the expenses scandal broke.

I take my hat off to whoever proposed it as, apparently, a daintier meaning of information reluctantly withdrawn so as not to trouble us, the plebs, too greatly. But it is yet another example of the verbal sleight of hand so beloved by our masters.

As a grand-sounding catch-all for hiding inconvenient truths, this new usage is positively masterly. It is
also 1) an abuse of language; 2) accordingly an abuse of truth.

Never believe anyone who uses it in its new 'improved' sense.

Sep 28, 2012 at 7:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

I tweeted on 10 Sept that I thought the redaction was probably "useful idiot". I don't think I was too far wide of the mark.

Sep 28, 2012 at 7:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

It is rare that the down and dirty climate war has a shaft of pure comedic sunlight...but I put it to you all that this is one of those times.


Sep 28, 2012 at 7:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

If you are crossing words out so that they cannot be read, surely that is censorship. If redaction is something else, it is being used as a euphemism, like rendition and collateral damage.

Sep 28, 2012 at 7:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger


Well, yes.

And that is precisely the point. Uncomfortable (for some) truths hidden behind grown-up sounding words deliberately mis-used.

Sep 28, 2012 at 7:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

Ugh: Over-hasty typing, Messenger. Apologies for getting your name wrong.

Sep 28, 2012 at 7:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

According to

"Dr Nafees Meah currently leads the Climate and Energy: Science Analysis Team in the Department of Energy and Climate Change."

A chemist who has managed research on food - perfect for climate science!

Sep 28, 2012 at 8:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

ICO guidance template:

Justifying redaction: does a public authority need to justify every redaction separately?

Redaction is the process of editing requested information to remove exempt or excepted material.

When a public authority decides to redact part of the requested information, it must justify each individual redaction by reference to a specific exemption or exception, explaining why it applies.

The Information Commissioner has applied this principle when investigating complaints made under the FOIA or the EIR and in Decision Notices.

So under what exemption did they make the original redaction?

Sep 28, 2012 at 8:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

There’s a lot of people missing the point here. Meah was being rude about Monbiot, because, in the immediate aftermath of Climategate, Monbiot had dared to stand up for science and demand Jones’s resignation.
“Pilloried”, in the quote can only mean “criticised by Monbiot” since the Guardian was the only paper to give the story significant space, and Monbiot was the only journalist to criticise Jones. It took Monbiot about a week, I think, to get back on message. Before the official UEA-commissioned reports were out, he had already made a Maoist-style confession, and was promising to cease all criticism if Russell and the other bloke exonerated Jones. This is a top investigative journalist, remember, promising to believe the official report, whatever it says, and cease all criticism if Jones and his colleagues are found not guilty by commissions set up by their own employers.
Monbiot’s behaviour was contemptible, and continues to be so. The readaction of two words which expressed a little ironic criticism of Monbiot demonstrates how useful he is still considered to be.

Sep 28, 2012 at 8:20 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Spot on Geoff. This was the one time George, briefly, almost was a saint. And we also see that the inside of DECC by now was ringing with concerns about the suicidal Jones, son of David Kelly, a message suggested and massaged for public consumption by PR guru Neil Wallace. So the 'pilloried' is less than subtle emotional pressure on Monbiot or anyone else to let the poor guy off, lest he do away with himself. Not good emotional blackmail anywhere, but especially not in the halls of government.

Sep 28, 2012 at 9:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Sep 28, 2012 at 5:38 PM | Vernon E

Shale Gas

Best resource is

Nick Grealy is a bit of a warmist but he certainly knows about shale gas. And he's finding out about those nice, well meaning Greenies (the hard way!!)

Haven't poked about looking for analyses of shale gas from different sources (it will be on the Nohotair site somewhere) but it will be predominantly Methane (CH4) with probably a bit of Carbon dioxide and traces of higher hydrocarbons (Ethane = C2H6) and so on.

Not greatly different from "Natural Gas".

Sep 28, 2012 at 9:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

"George Mombiot": must everything be Americanised? Mumbiot.

Sep 28, 2012 at 10:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

Why does a food scientist have anything to do with energy policy...?

Sep 28, 2012 at 11:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Wow, faceless bureaucrats doing subjective FOIA redactions of relatively straight forward and innocuous climate science communications . . .

It is worse than we thought. It is more absurd than we could possibly imagine.

What have serious democracies and serious science been reduced to? I think they have been reduced to a theatre of the absurd when it comes to anything to do with CAGW memes.


Sep 28, 2012 at 11:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Whitman

bish, this might interest you. from the conservative heritage foundation:

28 Sept: Heritage: Lachlan Markay: Matt Damon’s Anti-Fracking Movie Financed by Oil-Rich Arab Nation

Sep 28, 2012 at 11:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterpat


Before the official UEA-commissioned reports were out, he had already made a Maoist-style confession, and was promising to cease all criticism if Russell and the other bloke exonerated Jones.

Great sentence and astute observation.

George, would never be allowed to recant.

At times, old George has come close to reversion and back to the truth and to giving up with the fantasy of the CAGW supposition.
However, like all Socialists he [Monbiot] has a particular skill set which is; an ability to deny empiricism, fly in the face of logic and shut his brain off, to be able to maintain his ideological beliefs.

George, was obviously quickly taken aside and 'sent' on a re-education course where he was read the mantras anew. CAGW, is one of the basic tenets of the new order; statism, mass immigration, political correctness + common purpose, intricate micro-management are the others. Yes, he wobbled but the 'brothers' of the new order set him straight.

Give them a bit of perceived power and they become really twisted cases - this country is ruled by a political elite of shades of various red [of Lib/lab/Con] - is cheered on by useful idiots like George. Newspapers propaganda sheets - like the Guardian, and broadcasters like the BBC are mouthpieces of the EU Nomenklatura and Brussels politburo - which is well down the road to a totalitarian super state.

The Britain we all knew, is fast disappearing before our eyes - I should know I travel the country regularly but what is coming in the near future will make what alterations we see now seem as ornamental frippery.

Sep 29, 2012 at 12:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

I can't keep up! The man's allegiance jumps about, from "Free Wales" to now being a Southampton fan!

What next for "Curious George"?

Sep 29, 2012 at 1:09 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

St Monbiots' current article in the Grauniad has some interesting points

My comments in brackets (square brackets[])

Title:"The case for expanding UK airports is based on fallacy"
Subtext: "The likes of Tim Yeo and George Osborne have two clear justifications [increase in flying for both business and plebian classes] for expansion [of UK airports]– both of which are false"

"When politicians say that we need more runways and more airports, they invariably claim that "the economy" depends on them.
[Dunno about Osborne but am in little doubt that 'my economy' should be substituted for 'the economy' in the case of the likewise, almost-sainted Mr Yeo]

"They seldom specify what they mean by this, but in most cases they seem to have business flights in mind"
[He then goes on to illustrate, quite reasonably IMHO, why this is probably a lost cause thanks to new-technology takeup by many private-organisations. It's interesting that he somewhat dilutes his points by exposing statistical revelations about how so few of the 'poor' take up flying compared with richer people and forgetting to remind us of the boost given to airlines by 'climate-conferences' etc]

Slightly Snide Comment after a wee Whiskey:
[Smart-meters will introduce another business-class experience for society in future. If you can't afford to pay your energy-bills, George, then you'll no be flying laddie. Currently, many of the poorest sectors of society, pay the highest rates for their energy thro' pre-payment metering. Yup mate. The plebs are greener than you and have a carbon-footprint less than your bi-cycle! But unlike you they have no da**ed choice]

"In other words, the construction of new runways and new airports, which can devastate the lives of those who live under flight paths (who are likely disproportionately to be poor, as they cannot afford to move away
[What? Just like those unfortunates who find themselves proximate to a wind-farm in a house worth 25-45% less than hitherto!])
and which, through climate change, will devastate lives all over the world."

[Dear putative Dragon-Slayer, Climate change is ALREADY devastating lives all around the world. Increased prices thro' bio-fuels, re-location of jobs, thro' climate-guilt, to second and third-world countries reducing subscriptions to western-media income, 'food or fuel' decisions plunging the most vulnerable in society into even deeper-depression, gangsters evicting and, sometimes with the lives intact of, third world inhabitants to claim officially sanctioned bribes by stealing their land.
I have to cut this short. It's too damned depressing for me. Where does the 'ragged-trousered philanthropist' fit in all of this? When did 'socialism' turn into "Socialism"?
And we base these actions on what. Morally-comforting mathematical models that only seem to provide definite conclusions when backed by consensus and protected from dissent!

Sep 29, 2012 at 1:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

So in actual fact "Moms the word"!

Sep 29, 2012 at 4:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterAmoorhouse

I believe George's words after the Russell and the scouse bloke with the windfarm interests exonerated Jones et al were something to the effect of, "If the inquiries have exonerated Dr. Jones, then so must I."Geronimo: I knew Naf when he was a lowly scientist at the now extinct Min of Ag, where he was involved in food science. As far as climate change goes, I doubt if he is either a sceptic or warmist, rather he would say whatever his masters want him to say in order for him to crawl another rung up the promotion ladder. And I see that his literacy skills have not improved over the past 20 years.

"Geronimo: I knew Naf when he was a lowly scientist at the now extinct Min of Ag, where he was involved in food science. As far as climate change goes, I doubt if he is either a sceptic or warmist, rather he would say whatever his masters want him to say in order for him to crawl another rung up the promotion ladder. And I see that his literacy skills have not improved over the past 20 years."

For sure he would have to be giving the impression to his masters that he's a true believer, in whatever the the current view from the top was. My boss once asked me how a certain person, who had admirable personal attributes, but in terms of business attributes was somewhat deficient, had risen so effortlessly to the top, while, men, like my boss, blessed with insight, drive and leadership qualities had languished in positions down the corporate ladder. I told him the answer was simple, he was always on song, and that oicks like us were still singing "Roll out the barrel, " while the CEO had switched to "Abide with me" and the oily ones had switched effortlessly with him because they had no skin in the game other than rising to the top.

Clearly Nef falls into this category. Nonetheless, read his advice, he's telling them that the people opposed to them aren't "all fools and knaves", he's telling them that it isn't a scientific knowledge deficit that's causing the opposition, he's telling them to put their science out there and be open and honest and he's telling them that they will get nowhere telling us that "X is the problem and Y is the answer." That's good advice, it's even more remarkable that it's coming from a Chemist and not a PR man.

As for calling Georgie Porgie "saintly", I must say that's something of a risk in the irony free zone that is climate alarmism where he's generally regarded as a Saint - Oh I get it now, they'd take him literally so he was safe!

Sep 29, 2012 at 6:22 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo


So sayeth Merriam-Webster

to select or adapt (as by obscuring or removing sensitive information) for publication or release

So Yes, it does mean censor.

Sep 29, 2012 at 8:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterTomcat

Well, says:

"Definition of REDACT
1: to put in writing : frame
2: to select or adapt (as by obscuring or removing sensitive information) for publication or release; broadly : edit
3: to obscure or remove (text) from a document prior to publication or release
Origin of REDACT
Middle English, from Latin redactus, past participle of redigere
First Known Use: 15th century"

The word "redact" has the same origin as the word "edit".

Sep 29, 2012 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

In case people weren't aware, there is also an Oxford Dictionaries website:

Sep 29, 2012 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterSJF

Right, so let's have no more redacting of "redact".

Sep 29, 2012 at 11:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterTomcat


When did 'socialism' become 'Socialism?'

Back in the 1930's, when 'the party of the horny-handed became the party of the horny-spectacled.'

Sep 29, 2012 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterOswald Thake

@Oswald Thake
Great answer! Many thanks for that. Made me chuckle anyway

Sep 29, 2012 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

Martin Brumby - thanks for trying but I don't think its that simple. I've found a few US shale gas compositions and they vary widely. Some have a lot of nitrogen (expensive cryogenic processing) and some have a few (very) nasties. So I still don't know.

Oct 2, 2012 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

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