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Matt Ridley on Huhne

Matt Ridley has a smashing op-ed in the Times on the coming dash for shale gas, and the delusions of Christopher Huhne (although Matt is far too polite to put it in those terms). It can be seen here.

For a glimpse of a truly scary future dependent on volatile suppliers look no farther than Mr Huhne’s favoured approach, the dash for wind. Every wind turbine has a magnet made of a metal called neodymium. There are 2.5 tonnes of it in each of the behemoths that have just gone up to spoil my view in Northumberland. The mining and refining of neodymium is so dirty (involving repeated boiling in acid, with radioactive thorium as a waste product), that only one country does it: China. This year it flexed its trade muscles and briefly stopped exporting neodymium from its inner Mongolian mines. How’s that for dangerous reliance on a volatile foreign supply?



FOI and scientists

Alice Bell and Adam Corner have an article in the Times Higher Educational Supplement, which is by turns rather strange and complete nonsense, but nevertheless contains one or two interesting snippets.


The general thrust of the piece seems to be encapsulated in this quote:

Click to read more ...


Not working for you

Earlier in the year, Tony Newbery and I wrote to Professor Richard Tait the head of the BBC Trust, via Bruce Vander, the head of the trust's Editorial Standards Committee. The letter concerned the famous seminar about which Tony and I blogged the other day.

Some time later, Tony decided that it would be wise to check with Mr Vander that Professor Tait had received the letter.

And there hangs a tale...

Read it here.


Holland - what was redacted

David H has posted his take on the importance of the redactions here. I was in the meantime working on my own version of the same story. I'll post it here anyway, in case people want a different take on the same facts.

In David's post yesterday, he described how a new release of data from UEA shows how his submission to the Russell review had been heavily edited before Geoffrey Boulton sent it to UEA for a response. He also outlined the evidence that suggests strongly that the full unedited version was supplied to Osborn and Briffa, possibly from another source, in spite of UEA's claims to the contrary.

Some of the most important omissions concerned the IPCC’s retrospective change of the deadline for submissions to the Fourth Assessment Report, a change that was apparently made in order to allow the Wahl and Ammann paper to be used against McIntyre and McKitrick’s refutation of the Hockey Stick.

Click to read more ...


UEA - a new story

David Holland has asked me to post some details of a letter he has received from UEA via WhatDoTheyKnow. David is away this evening.

The letter appears to be a direct response to the guest posting here yesterday and can be seen here. It outlines two errors in UEA's recent FOI response, although only the first appears significant to me. This is the key excerpt:

Click to read more ...


Still howlin'

Chris Huhne:

Everyone believes their pet project will make an essential contribution to the recovery.

But in energy security and climate change, we have the numbers on our side.

The value of the global low-carbon goods and environmental services market is expected to reach £4 trillion by the end of this Parliament. It is growing at 4% per year, faster than world GDP.

Our share of that market is £112 billion. In the UK, nearly a million people will be employed in the low-carbon sector by the end of the decade.

How many jobs will Huhne have destroyed before even half of those illusory million "low-carbon" replacements have appeared? How many old folk will have died from the winter cold? 

Talk about kicking the country when it's down.


The Holland redaction

This is a guest post by David Holland.

Late last Friday afternoon, the University of East Anglia released some further information that should be of interest to anyone who has followed the minutiae of Climategate.

There is, for instance, a breakdown of the costs of the Russell Review at the end of the response letter. However, of most interest to me, and bearing directly upon the “rigour and honesty” of the Russell Review and UEA’s scientists, is Professor Boulton’s email of 6 May to Professor Briffa. This email (in the zip file here) concerned Briffa's work on the IPCC AR4 Report and the assistance he had received from Eugene Wahl. In his email, Boulton asks Briffa to reply to my allegation that the deadline for cited papers to be “in press” was changed to allow the citation of the Wahl and Ammann 2007 paper, which had missed the original deadline. Without it, IPCC WGI would have had to record the fact that the last word in the peer-reviewed literature was that the Mann et al “hockey stick” studies were invalidated by McIntyre and McKitrick.

Click to read more ...


Climate models hopelessly simplistic

P Gosselin has an interesting story about an Austrian meteorologist who is completely underwhelmed by the reliability of climate models. As Karsten Brandt apparently puts it:

It is simply nonsense. These prognoses are not worth the paper they’re printed on. The Gulf Stream has an impact on European weather that is 100 times larger than CO2.”

Read the whole thing.


RealClimate's take on the year

Gavin Schmidt has posted up his take on the past year. It's pretty much as one might have predicted, but this comment and response from Lucia was interesting.

LUCIA: Gavin– My visitors always ask and I can’t answer: Was the break-in to the Wordpress Admin area only? Or did they hack onto the hosted account on the server?

GAVIN: They used something to directly access the backend mySQL database (to export the password/user details to file prior to erasing them in the database) and to monitor logins to the ssh account. Neither of these things are standard Wordpress functions. I conclude therefore they must have hacked both, though the actual entry point is obscure. - gavin]



On Nature's data policy

Eli Rabett has challenged my post about Phil Jones claim that publication of his data was prevented by confidentiality agreements. I said that Nature requires authors to make their data available on request.

Eli's says that Nature only instituted this policy in 1997, and that previously the policy was only that:

Nature requests authors to deposit sequence and x-ray crystallography data in the databases that exist for this purpose.

If so then I stand corrected. I'm not sure that it changes anything very much though, because, as we know, CRU have been unable to produce any agreements that would prevent publication, we know that release would have been required under both FOI and EIR, and we know that they distributed data quite happily to scientists who they saw as onside.


Disgruntled science bureaucrats

The science establishment in the UK is somewhat disgruntled by the announcement that one of their senior people inside the civil service is to be replaced by a mandarin rather than another scientist. The kerfuffle is centred on the person of Professor Adrian Smith, a statistician who is responsible for advising the government on where to spend research funds. Smith's role is to be merged with another, and the man to fill the new position is expected to be a civil servant.

John Beddington, the government’s Chief Scientist, told a House of Lords committee hearing that the abolition of the position of Director General of Science and Research (DGSR) at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) “was not discussed with me” and that this was “deeply regrettable”.

Click to read more ...


Nature editorial on Climategate

Nature has an editorial on the Climategate anniversary to add to its recent profile of Phil Jones.

For critics of CRU and their, sometimes legitimate, complaints about data access to be taken seriously, they must be more specific about who should be more open with what, and address their concerns at the correct target. It remains the case that many of the data used by CRU scientists are covered by agreements that prevent their wider distribution. This is not ideal, but it is hardly the fault of the CRU researchers — even if they did seem reluctant to share.

This is an extraordinary thing to say. Jones et al 1990 was published in Nature. Nature requires authors to make data available on request. How can they argue that it was restricted by confidentiality agreements?


House hearing reports

I didn't get a chance to watch Curry et al. at the House of Representatives yesterday, although I made a start with Lindzen.

Meanwhile, there is a report at Nature's Great Beyond blog.


Raising the temperature

Science writer Francis Sedgemore has entered the climate fray, with a posting that seems calculated to raise the temperature of an overheated debate still further.

Jones may have committed a few minor transgressions, born largely of frustration with political obstructionists and time wasters, but this respected scientist did not deserve being hounded to the edge of his grave. The climate denialists responsible for Jones’ near demise are scum, and for them the writing is on the wall. But it will be scientific evidence that does for them, not threatened knocks at the door in the middle of the night.

Of course, the alleged transgressions were not minor. In particular there were allegations of fraud (not investigated), fabrication (no defence offered) and breaches of freedom of information legislation (not investigated). And of course the allegations of fraud and fabrication had nothing to do with anyone taking up any of Jones' time either.

It's a pity that David Adam's Nature article missed so many of the pertinent questions. It seems now to be misleading people like Sedgemore who are not close enough to the story to make a meaningful contribution. In these circumstances, Sedgemore's aggressive language seems rather foolish.

Note however that there is nothing to be gained by responding in kind.


Another anniversary piece

Marc Sheppard looks back at the last twelve months too. Your humble host is mentioned briefly.

All three examinations took place within the country of physical jurisdiction, Great Britain, and none disappointed those of us anticipating whitewash. Simply stated, all parties were cleared of all wrongdoing other than perhaps sloppy journaling and sophomoric note-passing and all suspensions were lifted.  As Andrew Montford summarized in his report, The Climategate Inquiries:

[T] here can be little doubt that none of [the inquiries] have performed their work in a way that is likely to restore confidence in the work of CRU. None has managed to be objective and comprehensive. None has shown a serious concern for the truth. The best of them – the House of Commons inquiry – was cursory and appeared to exonerate the scientists with little evidence to justify such a conclusion. The Oxburgh and Russell inquiries were worse.