Sir John Houghton and George Monbiot discuss global warming with Melvyn Bragg at the start of the Millennium.
Listen to all the carefully expressed statements of uncertainty...:-)
Steve M has already wondered how the Russell panel came up with the three instances of (alleged) subversion of the peer review process that they decided to investigate, a question that was put to the panel by Pamela Nash.
Muir Russell spoke of a footnote in my report that says it was unclear, in one instance, what the particular allegation was. The footnote concerned relates to the McIntyre & McKitrick paper in GRL. Anyone who has read the Hockey Stick Illusion will know the story, but briefly, climate scientists are seen discussing getting rid of the editor in charge of McIntyre's paper. The only slight confusion is over what happened to Saiers - it has been claimed by some that Jones et al were innocent of the charge because Saiers remained at the journal for some time after these events. As I pointed out in the GWPF report, the allegation is that these threats seem to have led to Saiers being removed as editor responsible for the M&M paper, not that he was removed completely from the journal.
When Graham Stringer quizzed Davies, he probed the UEA man on the question Stephen Metcalfe had failed to pin Davies down on, namely whether the papers went to the panel before or after approval by the Royal Society.
Having been forced to admit that they went out two days before Royal Society approval, Davies made an interesting defence. He introduced the idea of a conversation between himself and Martin Rees, in which it was apparently indicated that the Royal Society would approve the UEA list of papers for use in the Oxburgh panel's work.
Stephen Metcalfe noted that Oxburgh had told the panel that the papers examined came via the university.
Acton said that they were in the UEA evidence to the old committee, and said that it would be "odd" to draw Oxburgh's attention away from this list, which he said were "bang on the issues". Obviously, we know that this is not true. Acton went on to say that it is impossible for a university to steer two independent (independent!) inquries in this way. Says he wanted to know the truth. Acton says Davies consulted on the list, which was a starting point. Davies says he was responsible for consulting with the Royal Society and the papers were selected to address the criticism of CRU at the time.
I'm going to go through the video again and make a more considered analysis of what was said. This first post relates to the initial exchanges between the committee chairman, Andrew Miller, and Edward Acton.
Miller asks Acton about the terms of reference for Lord Oxburgh's report and asks if these were changed. He notes that the old committee were told that Oxburgh would assess the science ("an external appraisal of the science itself") but that Oxburgh subsequently said this was not the case, citing the UEA press release of 22 March ("an independent assessment of CRU’s key publications"). The question rather seems to miss the point, since neither UEA's evidence or the press release make it clear that the committee was only looking for evidence of deliberate wrongdoing.
I'll post any coverage of the hearings here.
So far there's only Guardian Eco. Apparently the exchange over the Oxburgh papers didn't fluster the witnesses! They also get the committee chairman's name wrong.
I thought the committee's performance was much better than last time around - I got the impression of best efforts being made by most members, but it's always difficult for people coming to an issue fresh to properly question people with an in-depth knowledge. This is only worse when the witnesses are such expert dodgers and weavers and avoiders of questions.
When you are live-blogging you can't really watch the video, so I'd like to take another look at how the witnesses reacted. There are certainly a number of the responses where the answers appeared to contradict my understanding of the facts. There was obviously also a great deal of waffling and avoiding of questions, particularly by Russell. One hopes that the committee were suitably unimpressed.
The question now becomes whether the committee will issue a report, take the issue forward in some other way, or simply let it drop. I have no feeling for which way they will turn. They can have little doubt that all was not well with the inquiries, and logic would therefore dictate that they take some further action. But of course, logic is not always a factor in matters of public policy.
10:38 And that's it.
10:35 Miller asks if the panel have anything else to add. Acton welcomes panel's involvement and government response.
10:35 Mosley asks what changes have been made at UEA. Acton says CRU drawn closer into ENV, to ensure no repeat of FOI problems. Encouraging closer involvement with statisticians. Davies says investing in data archiving.
10:34 Mosley asks if UEA was involved in the IAC report. Davies said not as a university, but individuals may have been.
10:32 Russell says Holland's evidence was taken into account.
I see that the BBC is going to cover the S&TC hearings today. AFAIK, they didn't attend Oxburgh's appearance the other day, so I wonder what brought this rush of blood to the head.
The link for the Beeb's coverage is here. It's worth glancing at their description of the background to the hearings. Our national broadcaster seems to be completely unaware of why the Science and Technology Committee have decided to interview the principals from the UEA inquiries.
It's probably something to do with the unique way they're funded.
The big news of tomorrow is likely to be the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee interviewing UEA bigwigs Acton and Davies, together with Sir Muir Russell. The three of them are going to have to explain some of the oddities over the inquiries into the Climategate affair.
The hearings start at 9:20 am and video should be available here.
This should be compelling viewing for climate geeks. As ever, I'll be liveblogging events here.
Ben Santer is interviewed at the Climate Sight blog, and he remains something of a catfighter, aiming his claws at, among others, sceptical bloggers:
These fringe voices now have megaphones,” he continues, “and have means of amplifying their voices and trumpeting shoddy, incorrect science. We’ve seen the rise of the blogs, we’ve seen the rise of these “independent public auditors” who believe that they have carte blanche to investigate anyone who produces results they don’t agree with, and if that individual doesn’t comply with their every request, they indulge in this persecution campaign on their blogs and make your life very uncomfortable. I’ve had direct personal experience with that.
Does he sound slightly hysterical to you?
Commenters note that the Santer article has been taken down. I've retrieved it from Google cache and posted it at the bottom of the header post as a PDF.
Martin Rees appears unable to resist the temptation to ride roughshod over the Royal Society's tradition of avoiding political controversy. His latest contribution is a fairly naked piece of political advocacy - an open letter to media and business leaders, written jointly with Anthony Giddens, a left-wing academic. In it, the two men call for "a renewed impetus to international collaboration", reduced carbon emissions and the like.
It is remarkable to see two such prominent academics demonstrating such a remarkable lack of familiarity with simple logical thinking: they allude first to the floods in Pakistan, then say that they cannot be connected to climate change and then state that they represent "a stark warning".