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Oxburgh transcript

The transcript of Lord Oxburgh's evidence to the Science & Technology Committee is now available, here.




This is a family with four young children, who ran a profitable business; they filled in every form and ticked every box. They have broken no laws, and there are no outstanding environmental notices, but yet, they came to Western Australia with their life savings and they are losing everything.


George Monbiot: scrubbing the record clean

This is a guest post by Shub Niggurath


Last November things began to go seriously wrong for the IPCC version of science.  Things started after a leading Indian glaciologist called VK Raina publicly pointed out that he disagreed with the IPCC conclusion that the Himalayan glaciers would melt away within 30 years.  Raina said studies showed that at the present rate of melting, the glaciers would take hundreds of years to do so.   The Indian public had previously been told that the waters from the Himalayas would dry up within their lifetimes, so this good news was published on the front pages of the Indian newspapers.

Click to read more ...


Josh 42


Financial Post op-ed

I have an opinion piece up at Canada's Financial Post.


New S&T committee submissions

I the wake of the announcement of the reopening of the House of Commons Science & Technology Committee's investigations into Climategate, or at least into the UEA inquiries thereof, there have been a number of written submissions to the committee, which can be seen here.

  • David Holland writes to complain about the way his submission to the Russell panel was mishandled.
  • Doug Keenan points out that his fraud allegation was ignored
  • Chris Huhne is still sticking to the "they were exonerated" line.

...and there is a lengthy submission from UEA. Notable features of this are:

There is some discussion of a non-existent allegation that Lord Oxburgh changed the terms of reference for his panel. This is not the concern. The concern is that Parliament was told that he would look at the whole of CRU's science, but he didn't. The blame for this appears to lie with UEA. The rest is very woolly.


Beddington: "We need error bars!"

Sir John Beddington has commissioned a summary of the science of global warming at the GO Science website. My impression, based on a brief perusal of the contents, is that it's largely a standard-issue "we're all going to fry" kind of thing, but perhaps a more detailed look will prove me wrong. This was interesting though:

The fact that uncertainty exists in climate science, as it does in other fields, does not negate the value of the evidence – and it is important to recognise that uncertainty may go in both (or a number of) directions. But an appreciation of the nature and degree of uncertainty is critical if the science is to properly inform decision-making. Indeed, that is what much scientific endeavour is about, describing both what is known and where our understanding is imperfect, and placing “error bars” on the knowledge we have.

This appears to be an admission that we don't as yet have error bars on "the knowledge we have". An important statement, I would say.


Orlowski interview with Lord Turnbull

Andrew Orlowski interviews Lord Turnbull on the GWPF report.

The former head of the civil service has called for a new approach from scientists and policy makers to restore waning trust in climate scientists. Speaking to The Register, Lord Andrew Turnbull, former cabinet secretary and head of the Home Civil Service between 2002 and 2005, says the University of East Anglia's internal enquiries into the Climategate affair were hasty and superficial, and called for Parliament to sponsor two wide-ranging investigations.


Fred Singer on HSI

Fred Singer reviews The Hockey Stick Illusion in Right Side News:

This is probably the best book about the Hockey Stick...There is little one can add to Montford's comprehensive account.


Josh 40


GWPF report press

I'll post up links to any news coverage of the GWPF report here.

James Delingpole:

Climategate whitewashers squirm like maggots on Bishop Hill's pin

Here's Fred Pearce in the Guardian:

Andrew Montford's report for Lord Lawson's sceptic thinktank raises some valid criticisms but will most likely be ignored for its brazen hypocrisy

Roger Harrabin

[Montford's] report complains that the enquiries commissioned by UEA did not offer sceptics the chance to give oral evidence. He points to many instances where he says the enquiries failed properly to investigate serious allegations against academics at UEA.

Louise Gray in the Telegraph

[A] report for GWPF by Andrew Montford, a well known blogger, said the inquiries failed to ask the opinions of sceptics. He also said they were rushed and failed to ask a series of questions about why requests for information were refused or probe allegations of fraud in scientific papers.

Fiona Harvey in the FT

[I]n the latest salvo, the Global Warming Policy Foundation – a think-tank started by the UK’s former finance minister Lord Lawson – published its critical assessment of four of these inquiries on Tuesday.

“None of the panels mounted an inquiry that was comprehensive,” the GWPF concluded. None “managed to be objective” or “performed their work in a way that is likely to restore confidence in the work” of the UEA scientists who wrote the e-mails.


The press conference

Whew! That was quite a tough couple of days, but I think it went pretty well in the end. The turnout for the press conference was reasonable, although it was a worry at about two minutes to 11 when there were fewer than ten people in the room, and four of those were on the top table. In the end though we had the Times, Guardian, FT, Express and a few others. 

The presentations were fine - perhaps I might have made it a little shorter if I had my time over again - but of course the meat was in the questioning. I was a bit waffly on one of them, but chatted to the journalist in question after the event and made things a bit clearer. James Randerson's questions were interesting - were you paid for the report and how much - that kind of thing. This was pretty feeble stuff after the other journalists' questions. The other question he put, where I made a slight error in my reply, was when he asked why, since I was criticising Oxburgh for being partisan, the public should trust my report, given that I am also a partisan. My reply was that it wasn't enough to point to the partisanship, but to point out the subsequent errors or omissions, and I invited the press to check the citations in the report out for themselves. But I also began my reply with "Yes I am a partisan" or words to that effect. This is frankly, undeniable, but I saw James leap for his pen at that point, so I guess he will try to make something of it. 

The moment of excitement was at the end, where Graham Stringer piped up from the back of the room. I hadn't noticed he was there before then, but his comments did bring a certain focus to events. After the trivia of James R's questions, hearing from a member of the Science and Technology Committee that what was going on at CRU was literature and not science made the question of how much I was paid for the report seem somehow deeply irrelevant. 

So, I'm reasonably content with how thing went. It just remains to be seen what everyone makes of it.


Quickfire Bob

I'm off to the big smoke this morning, but I leave you with another example of Bob's superfast typing. This time it's his comment on the notice I posted, pointing readers to the Guardian article.


Jones in El Pais

This is my adaptation of a part of a machine translation of an interview Phil Jones gave to the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Q. How do you think Climategate will be seen in 20 or 30 years? Do you think it will be important or considered a story?

R. I hope people will be back to believing in science, but I think it will take some years. There are two different cases. Many people believe that the planet is warming. It is ridiculous to question the warming, which is clear and no scientist disputes it.  Then there are people who say that even so is not due to human activity.

Q. The debate about the influence of man is relevant?

A. There are scientists who still doubt it, but they are few. And when asked how to explain the warming that has occurred they have much difficulty because it is very difficult to find a rational explanation other than greenhouse gases.

Q. They say that there was a similar warm period in the Middle Ages.

A. We need more evidence on that period, about which information is very limited, and only for the northern hemisphere.

Q. But there were periods as warm as the present.

A. Yes, but we know why there were warm and cold periods in the past. The amount of solar radiation was different and so we will have ice ages in the future.  These processes are still happening and will continue, but they have a completely different timescale to humans.  Here we are talking about climate change in a century that is very fast compared to the past.


For whom the bell Tols

Richard Tol has a strongly worded piece up at Klimazwiebel. His ire is directed at a statement by IPCC bigwig, Ottmar Edenhofer - this one:

I cannot understand, even if I try hard, the assertion that the IPCC would deliberately have omitted things, which would have been inconvenient, which would not have been consistent with the overall story.)

The response is forthright:

This assertion of the co-chair of Working Group III of the IPCC is at best peculiar if not outright false. In the following, I will back this statement in some detail, by demonstrating how specific conclusions from white publications, known to the IPCC lead authors, have been filtered out in support of a (false) claim of consensus in the Summary for Policymakers. At the time of his interview, Dr. Edenhofer was aware of these inconsistencies.