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Gwyn Prins on Climategate

Prof Gwyn Prins, best known to readers here as one of the authors of the Hartwell paper, was discussing Wikileaks and related issues on BBC Radio's The Moral Maze (audio here).  At one point the conversation turns to Climategate (about 34 mins in).

Portillo: There was an interesting case recently where climate change scientists found that their emails had come into the public domain and these emails appeared to cast doubt on the way in whcih had been arriving at their conclusions and, now, I understand that people have a right to privacy and I understand that normally an email between one person and another is a private matter but it seemed to me that where these emails between scientists touched upon something which they had been making claims about which had enormous consequences for our fiscal arrangements and for our behavioural arrangements and so on, that these were a matter of geniune public interest.

Gwyn Prins: I agree, and this is an area on which you and I will have no difficulty in seeing eye to eye, because we are now into a different area. The leaks from the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit are exceptionally interesting and exceptionally worrying and what is also worrying is that the inquiries that have been held so far have not resolved the fundamental problems about them. But what made them of public importance and interest was that it appeared that people with expert knowledge were allowing themselves to cross the line into advocacy and that is where it becomes a political issue.

It is interesting to see the failure of the Climategate inquiries discussed so openly on the BBC. I wonder if any Science and Technology Committee members were listening?

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Reader Comments (10)

Er, excuse my ignorance, but what's the Hartwell paper?

Oct 31, 2010 at 9:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Worth listening to 40:10 onwards too when FOI is discussed.

Oct 31, 2010 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Martin A

The Hartwell paper is here:

This quote gives the flavour.

"develop non-carbon energy supplies at unsubsidised costs less than those using fossil fuels. The Hartwell Paper advocates funding this work by low hypothecated (dedicated) carbon taxes."

Oct 31, 2010 at 9:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

Lets face it. Everyone and his dog knows they were all total whitewashes, except on record of course.

Oct 31, 2010 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Ahh, the good old Moral Maze on radio 4, cure for insomniacs everywhere! (Actually I love radio 4, worth the licence fee on it's own.)

Unfortunately some at the CRU didn't manage to find their way out of the Moral Maze.Good to see little outbreaks of un-spun truth can still occur on this once great British institution

Nov 1, 2010 at 3:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnyColourYouLike

Unsubsidised non carbon energy
paid for out of (low) carbon taxes?

Please explain

Nov 1, 2010 at 4:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterAusieDan

Unsubsidised non carbon energy
paid for out of (low) carbon taxes?

Please explain

You use a low level of carbon taxes to delvelop renewable energy technologies that produce power cheap enough to need no subsidy to compete against coal/gasfired power stations.

One already exists which is the roof mounted solar panel that heats water, but it can only substitute for power used to heat water not to generate electricity so other technologies are needed to fill the gap. Current Solarvoltaic, Wind turbine, tidal and offshore wind etc need subsidy as they are not competitive. Thats even before you count the cost of backup generation being still required.

Nov 1, 2010 at 8:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohnH


'Thats even before you count the cost of backup generation being still required.'

Or indeed, the cost of the carbon taxes, which are nothing more than a hidden subsidy.

Nov 1, 2010 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterChuckles

"interesting to see the failure of the Climategate inquiries discussed so openly on the BBC"

Agreed, Bish. I suspect that the green guardians at the Beeb took their eye off the ball, or perhaps didn't expect the topic to arise on that programme. I expect your appearance on Newsnight gave them a fright, too!

Nov 1, 2010 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

The last time I looked, there were huge government subsidies (paid out of otherwise unnecessarily high taxes) being given away by hopeless governments to subsidise quite uneconomical industries.

The basic problem however, is there is no scientific evidence that humans are affecting the climate, except in isolated local situations caused by UHI and inefficient scorched eath farming.

But a huge amount of resources are going down the gurgler at a time when the economies of many countries are drowning in goverment debt.

"Stop it at once, wicked boy, or you'll surely go blind"

Nov 2, 2010 at 3:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterAusieDan

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