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« Parliamentary links day | Main | Inhumanity again »

Help needed

This is a guest post by David Holland

Readers may be aware that after WGI’s AR5 Report was released last year, I requested the Review Editors’ Reports from DECC, and from the Universities of Reading and Cambridge. The officials at DECC, who had moved across from Defra, followed their custom of making sure they do not to hold anything they might have to disclose. They took no steps to possess them and denied holding them. Reading appeared to have learnt from its AR4 experience and released the ones it held without a fuss. But Cambridge refused. I did not choose the title, “Regulator Capture”, in the Bishop Hill post on this matter, but now as I deal with my Tribunal written submission on Cambridge, it looks appropriate. The University of Cambridge claim that Professor Peter Wadhams’ records were not held to any extent for its own purposes because he had served the IPCC in a private capacity - just as Met Office Chief Scientist, John Mitchell, and others had claimed, unsuccessfully, in 2008. For this excuse Cambridge are relying on a relatively new Advice Note that I hope to convince the Tribunal has no basis in law.

However, as a second string to my bow, I think the claim that IPCC assessment records are not held to any extent for the purposes of the University looks improbable as its employees have contributed to all 5 IPCC reports and Peter Wadhams’ papers are are cited in them all. Moreover, the University has published every IPCC report including AR5. The copyright agreement, which all working group members including Review Editors had to sign in AR4, and will have had to sign for AR5, implies a formal agreement between the IPCC and the University of some kind, or it would not have been mentioned. In the email from WGI TSU to which the agreement was attached it stated:

The publisher, Cambridge University Press, requires a certain format for this and will require that we have everyone's signature before the report can go to press

The agreement itself includes this recital:

WHEREAS the Syndicate of the Press of the University of Cambridge on behalf of the Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge has decided to publish at its own risk and expense a work edited by Susan Solomon, Qin Dahe, and Martin Manning (hereinafter called “the Editors”), and entitled Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (hereinafter called “the Work”)

To establish the facts, I asked DECC to let me see the AR5 WGI application form, redacted if necessary, which Wadhams had submitted. If DECC were to refuse to disclose the form, I had asked to be informed if Wadhams did use his private postal address and a private email on the form. However, DECC have refused, saying whether he applied privately, or as a University employee is personal information. I have some trouble with this. All 250 WGI writing team members are listed as affiliated to universities or public research establishments and I can’t see how WGI could have listed them all correctly if the individuals had not written the information on their forms. If, as I suspect, Wadhams put the University and his department down on the form as his address and used his University email, I do not see how that could be personal information as it's on his public web page and it is what the IPCC Report suggest he must have used. If he really did use his private address and a private email, that is what the University have stated publicly as being Wadhams’ claim. So as far as I can see, the only personal information DECC are withholding is whether or not someone is lying.

I may appeal DECC’s refusal, but a thought crossed my mind to ask if any reader out there has an email that will show which email server Wadhams sent and received his AR5 IPCC documents by. He certainly used his University email address in AR4 and earlier.

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Reader Comments (23)


"However, as a second string to my bow, I think the claim that IPCC assessment records are not held to any extent for the proposes of the University ...."[Corrected BH]

Jun 23, 2014 at 4:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

It's not the crime, it's the cover-up.

Jun 23, 2014 at 4:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

If these guys used University property to carry out any IPCC work then it shouldn't be here nor there whether this is private information or not. The university should HAVE to hand over anything it has!


Jun 23, 2014 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

I hope he paid back part of salary for the time he was away from his University job. If he didn't that might be fraud.

Jun 23, 2014 at 5:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

"So as far as I can see, the only personal information DECC are withholding is whether or not someone is lying"

I can't wait to find out, the suspense is killing me.

Jun 23, 2014 at 6:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterjaffa

It is extraordinary and dismaying how otherwise reputable institutions, apparently because dependent on state funding , will tie themselves in knots to avoid admitting basic truths if this means any kind of loss of face and potential loss of future revenues. Plainly, this is not a problem exclusive to academia, though in general universities across the West seem to have been particularly ready victims.

But it is properly worrying that every kind of legal hoopla, however preposterous, will be deployed in defence of this privileged status without the slightest regard to any kind of objective truth when it was precisely objective truth that these bodies were founded to promote and sustain.

They are corrupting themselves from within. As such, they will inevitably crumble. My fear is that they will take down with them those standards, beliefs and truths that have underpinned the conspicuous success of the West, however fitfully attained, over the last 300-plus years.

Has any society in any period of human history embarked on so obvious a death wish?

Jun 23, 2014 at 6:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts


It is with great sadness that I agree with you.

Jun 23, 2014 at 7:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

If Cambridge uses any of Wadhams work done for the IPCC it its own marketing of its research , then its clear that are deeply involved. And once again we have to ask why all the need for smoke and mirrors in 'settled science'
After all if action is needed now and its the world biggest issue ever , has we been told it is time and again , why would adopted approaches less not more likely to result in action?

Jun 23, 2014 at 7:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterKNR

I'm always amazed by your energy in getting to the truth.

However, the article was titled "Help needed", but I could not find any description of what help was required.

Can you enlighten us?

Jun 23, 2014 at 8:18 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

@Jun 23, 2014 at 8:18 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

" to ask if any reader out there has an email that will show which email server Wadhams sent and received his AR5 IPCC documents by."



Jun 23, 2014 at 8:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterGary Turner

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email to buy additional rights.

August 2, 2013 2:07 pm

What climate scientists talk about now

By Pilita Clark

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change prepares to release its latest report, Pilita Clark meets some of the key scientists behind it

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email to buy additional rights.

One doesn’t need to look far to find IPCC scientists who are – for different reasons – even less flattering about some of its work, including one helping to shape the latest assessment. Peter Wadhams, a leading expert on Arctic sea ice at Cambridge university, is a review editor on the new Working Group I report. He was pleased to be involved with this one because he was so upset about certain aspects of the last IPCC assessment in 2007.

“They made a couple of real clangers there,” he said gloomily, staring around his cluttered lair in the university’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. One was a contentious decision not to include a best estimate for future sea level rises because it was thought the potential impact of ice sheets was still too poorly understood. Wadhams, along with other critics, believes this led to a serious underestimate of how high sea levels will rise. “They just chickened out,” he fumes. “I mean, in a really systematically cowardly way. And it shows how naive these scientists are or how terrified of sticking their neck out.”

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email to buy additional rights.

Professor Jonathan Gregory, a leading expert on sea levels and an IPCC report veteran, had been working nonstop the day I saw him at Reading University. “It’s pretty near, I think, the limit of what one can do without it being a job,” he said. “It’s taken a colossal amount of my time this time.”

“I’ve been working on the IPCC Report in the last two months about 35 hours a week,” Gregory added, “but then I have to work another 25 hours to get all the other stuff done, or at least keeping it ticking over. So it is pretty difficult, really.”

Jun 23, 2014 at 9:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn


They don't care, they're busy saving the world.

Even though they have to tweak, fudge and manipulate the data to show 'the truth' they know from 'gut-feeling' that they're right. These 'scientists' so certain that when evidence comes to light that completely contradicts their belief (and there's a lot of it) they consider every other avenue because it must be something else, it just isn't possible that they're wrong. Decline, what decline?

Theory is piled upon theory to justify or mask past mistakes because even though that prediction didn't come true it must have been another, previously unmentioned, factor that actually now helps reinforce the original theory, in fact it's actually worse than they thought.

They can't be wrong, they've got '25 years invested' in this theory, their entire careers. Surely their life's work, their very existence hasn't been a complete waste of time & oxygen, surely they haven't made a negative contribution to science, and surely all those students haven't been taught nonsense. It just isn't possible - 'gut feeling'.

Oh, and that's just a description of the 'honest' ones. The others are self-serving evil nasty spiteful lying little tw*ts - like Mann.

Jun 23, 2014 at 9:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterjaffa


Here is the email list for wadhams dept

There are presumably lots of email servers at Cambridge, each college is likely to have one. Wadhams email is presumably the one at the maths dept rather than the Cambridge university one

I don't know If am email to the dept out of hourswill generate an automatic response that might provide details you need.


Jun 24, 2014 at 12:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterTonyb

Its very unlikely he paid for his own travel etc. why not ask for expenses paid for the university for his travel.

Jun 24, 2014 at 2:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter

From The Telegraph 8/11/2011 - Wadhams on Arctic Sea Ice.

Prof Wadhams said: "It is really showing the fall-off in ice volume is so fast that it is going to bring us to zero very quickly. 2015 is a very serious prediction and I think I am pretty much persuaded that that's when it will happen."

Jun 24, 2014 at 6:50 AM | Unregistered Commenterjaffa

The man is an idiot. How can it be that alarmists are never held accountable for wild predictions?
Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.

Jun 24, 2014 at 7:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

Once upon a time to be classed as an 'expert' you had to be correct about something from time to time.

Jun 24, 2014 at 8:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

What government needs to say to the IPCC, is that unless they publicise whatever they are asked to, all funds will be cut off and all recommendations resolutely ignored.

Jun 24, 2014 at 8:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterTuppence

He's done more than say it could/may/might be gone by 2015.

eg here dated 11th September 2013:

Wadhams is even angrier about another line in the IPCC report suggesting it could take until the latter part of this century before Arctic summer sea ice disappears almost entirely.


"It could even be this year or next year but not later than 2015 there won't be any ice in the Arctic in the summer," he said, using a diagram explaining his calculations, which he calls "the Arctic death spiral."

To the point of this post I guess David is looking for someone who was cc'd on the emails which is not most of us but you never know who reads the blog.

Jun 24, 2014 at 8:44 AM | Unregistered Commenterredc

> It's not the crime, it's the cover-up.

Yes - exactly like Climategate.

Jun 24, 2014 at 8:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterTuppence

Thanks for the list. The email address shown for Wadhams is one that appears in Climategate 1201561936.txt. Wadhams Uni web page for which I gave the link shows a second one. What I am looking for is any mundane email that shows him using a on IPCC business.

DECC pay all the travel expenses for British IPCC participants. I asked DECC for his expenses via in request that I linked to above. DECC have confirmed that they it paid for his WGI trip to Marrakech.

Jun 24, 2014 at 9:15 AM | Registered CommenterDavid Holland

A reminder of the background, since there isn't a direct link to this post.
The IPCC released the Review Editor Reports on 30 January. These are supposed to be discussing the expert review comments and confirming that they have all been considered by the chapter authors. But Wadhams (ab)used his report to complain that the report was not sufficiently alarmist, and to attack Peter Lilley.

I'm not quite sure what David wants. The Wadhams report has been made public and although some names were redacted we know who is being referred to. To me, the question is why someone with such extreme views as Wadhams was involved in the AR5 process at all.

Jun 24, 2014 at 10:02 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Paul, thanks for pointing out the background.

Only the Summary report of Wadhams has been published with Peter Lilley's name removed. I also want to see the interim reports if they exist. The reason I asked for the RE reports from DECC and Reading, in the first place, was that I had been reliably informed that WGI were determined never to release them. Then I received a leaked copy of Wadhams summary report and so I asked Cambridge for an open copy of it. Peter Lilley, on seeing it, seemed to have ruffled a few feathers at DECC and WGI was forced to release the Summary reports. However, only for Reading do we have the full RE reports.

If the Decision Notice on Cambridge is not challenged and defeated, all British university participants will be able to refuse IPCC information and possibly for other fields claiming it was private work. There are several grounds for appeal and I will try to do a post on them when I have the time. Whether or not Wadhams used his university facilities may not be so important as whether his claim, that he did not do so, is true or not. This is why I want know if it is not true. Just one email on IPCC business using will do. There is one person who is a public employee that I will try personally before mentioning a name.

Jun 24, 2014 at 11:20 AM | Registered CommenterDavid Holland

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