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FOI and universities

Updated on Sep 8, 2010 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Tony Blair's recent expressions of regret over his introduction of the Freedom of Information Act has been much chewed over in the news recently.

If I sense things correctly this is just one symptom of something rather bigger. If I discern things correctly, there are moves afoot to start reining back on the scope of the Act. I can't quite recall what prompted me to do so, but a few weeks back I sent an FoI request to the Justice Ministry, the Whitehall department responsible for the FoI Act.

Click to read more ...


Call for new UK research integrity org

Nature's Great Beyond blog notes calls for a new body to be set up to oversee UK research integrity. According to a report from the Research Integrity Futures Working Group there's a problem at the moment:

Current UK arrangements are sometimes portrayed as less than transparent, with examples of bad practice ‘swept under the carpet’,” warns the group’s newly released report. “And there is limited evidence to contradict that view.”

You don't say.


Josh 37


Josh 36



Uncertain climate part 2

The second part of Roger Harrabin's history of climate change is now available.


UEA response to the inquiries

UEA has issued a response to the various inquiries. The timing is odd, to say the least. Perhaps they've all been on holiday.

See it here.


More on locavores

Matt Ridley picks up on Stephen Budiansky's posting on locavores - those who would have us buy our food from farmers' markets and local producers. In particular, he notes Budiansky's comment:

The real energy hog, it turns out, is not industrial agriculture at all, but you and me. Home preparation and storage account for 32 percent of all energy use in our food system, the largest component by far...

If this is right, then could it be that microwave meals are actually the green option? Wouldn't that represent a dilemma for the chattering classes?


What's up with Amazon?

This is odd. The Hockey Stick Illusion no longer appears in the Amazon Global Warming category. Looking more closely, this seems to be a problem with many sceptic titles, particularly the newer ones: Booker, Bob Carter, Roy Spencer, and Christian Gerondeau. Older sceptic titles, by the likes of Plimer, Lawson, Peter Taylor and Lomborg are still there.

Very odd indeed.


Nice work if you can get it...

From the Glasgow Herald:

A former civil servant criticised for his role in the Holyrood Parliament building fiasco has pocketed £40,000 for chairing an inquiry into the recent climate change row.

Sir Muir Russell walked away with nearly £6000 a month for leading a probe which cleared scientists at the University of East Anglia of data manipulation.

And he didn't even attend the interview with Phil Jones.


Budiansky on farmers' markets

A wonderful post from Stephen Budiansky on the subject of farmers' markets, organic food and the like.

The language of the huckster pervades this business; to look at most of the websites and literature of local/organic/sustainable sellers you'd think they wouldn't dream of taking your money, so noble is their calling ("We are in the redemption business: healing the land, healing the food, healing the economy, and healing the culture," reads one typical specimen). Old rule of commercial interaction: when someone says it's not about money . . . it's about money.

Do read the whole thing, it's a joy from beginning to end.


The Climate Code Foundation

This looks interesting:

We are pleased to announce the creation of the Climate Code Foundation. The Foundation is a non-profit organisation founded by David Jones, Nick Barnes, and Philippa Davey to promote public understanding of climate science. The Foundation will continue work on the Clear Climate Code project, and also related activities, encouraging climate scientists to improve and publish their software.

The Foundation intends to work with climate scientists, funding bodies, national and international organisations, and science publishers. We hope to establish climate science in the forefront of science software quality and transparency.


Shapiro speaks

Harold Shapiro, the economist who headed the IAC review of the IPCC, is interviewed at Climate Central. This is very interesting stuff, in particular the bit where Shapiro knocks down the suggestion that he thinks Pachauri should resign.

This was interesting too:

HS: We think all of our recommendations, if they’re thought to be helpful and useful, could in our view be implemented in the Fifth Assessment [which is currently in progress]. It’ s my own judgment that when people say you have to wait for the Sixth Assessment, it’s just a way of postponing action.

People like Myles Allen perhaps, who was writing at Comment is Free just yesterday...

Clearly, none of this is relevant to the 5th Assessment due to be published in 2013-2014: too much work has been done to make major changes at this stage, with author teams already in place. It will be thousands of pages long and will contain a couple ("catalogue") of errors that will be gleefully pointed out sometime in 2015. But now is the time to start thinking about what happens afterwards. We don't need to keep doing this to ourselves.

To my mind this means that we will not get a credible IPCC report until some time around 2020.


Hewitt again

I'm still can't take the smile off my face at the ridiculousness of Nick Hewitt's 'review'. It's just so hard to comprehend how one can reach the rank of full professor and still be unable to put together a coherent argument (although who knows, perhaps this is normal at Lancaster, Phil Jones' alma mater). Come to think of it, it's hard to comprehend how one can become a full professor without being able to spell 'practice', but that's probably just me being pedantic again.

And once again, we have a review that could have been written without actually reading the book at all. Not a single quote from the book, not a single fact disputed. I'm wondering if I should christen this kind of thing a "Hewitt", in honour of Professor Nick.

How many more Hewitts do you think there will be before next week?


Budiansky on Cuccinelli

One of my favourite science writers, Stephen Budiansky, has recently joined the blogosphere and is today discussing the Cuccinelli investigation and its similarity to the attacks on Bjorn Lomborg in the wake of the publication of the Skeptical Environmentalist.


Climategate report

I am now in a position to reveal that my report for GWPF on the Climategate inquiries will be released on 14th September.