Updated on May 26, 2011 by Bishop Hill
The Guardian has one of those articles with no comments thread, usually a sure sign that they have written something...disputable. The subject is an interview they have done with Sir Paul Nurse about FOI and scientific research. You can probably guess the contents.
Freedom of information laws are being misused to harass scientists and should be re-examined by the government, according to the president of the Royal Society.
You can see the temptation on occasion to wish to hold the facts close so that you can have internal discussion and the formation of a consensus so that a simple message can be taken out into the market place. My view is strongly that that temptation must be resisted, and that the full messy process whereby scientific understanding is arrived at with all its problems has to be spilled out into the open.’
Lord May, evidence to the Philips Inquiry into BSE, quoted here.
The American Tradition Institute has issued a press release explanining that the University of Virginia has now released some 20% of the emails requested under Virginia FOI laws. This was prompted by an imminent court case which ATI had filed in the face of the UVA's intransigence. The court has issued an order compelling the release of all non-exempt emails and ATI has also won the right to examine the documents that UVA wants to withhold.
Most of what was released so far is apparently largely irrelevant, but by the autumn we should start to get some more interesting disclosures.
I chanced upon this Wikipedia document, which outlines the House of Lords Appointment commission. This is a body designed to make non-partisan recommendations for elevation to the upper house of the UK parliament. Other recommendations are made by the political parties.
The Wiki page lists everyone proposed for elevation to the peerage since the commission was instituted in 2001. I was struck by all the familiar names:
2001 Lord Browne
2001 Lord May
2005 Lord Turner (Member of Climate Change Committee)
2005 Lord Rees
2007 Lord Krebs (Member of Climate Change Committee)
2007 Lord Stern
By strange coincidence the chairman of the House of Lords Appointments Commission is Lord Jay of Ewelme, who seems to be something to do with GLOBE International. However, he was only appointed in 2008, so there is apparently no connection to the earlier appointments.
One of the interesting moments from the Cambridge conference was where Dr Eric Wolff of the British Antarctic Survey tried valiantly to find a measure of agreement between the two sides. I didn't get the details written down, but Dr Wolff has kindly recreated what he said at the time for me, for which many thanks are due.
In the table below, Dr Wolff's summary is in the left hand column and my comments are on the right. Blank implies broad agreement.
The House of Commons Energy Select Committee has backed shale gas drilling in the UK. According to Roger Harrabin at the BBC:
A Commons committee has urged ministers to support plans for controversial shale gas drilling in the UK.
The energy select committee said environmental problems associated with it in the US could be overcome by tight regulation and good industry practice.
But the MPs said the UK government would need to be vigilant to ensure the technology did not pollute water or produce excessive greenhouse emissions.
H/T Woodentop in Unthreaded
Without a fanfare the IPCC has made a significant decision about the way it conducts its business. Tucked away in an eight-page page document that it has just put on its website is this:
At its 33rd Session, the Panel decided that the drafts of IPCC Reports and Technical Papers which have been submitted for formal expert and/or government review, the expert and government review comments, and the author responses to those comments will be made available on the IPCC website as soon as possible after the acceptance by the Panel and the finalization of the report. IPCC considers its draft reports, prior to acceptance, to be pre-decisional, provided in confidence to reviewers, and not for public distribution, quotation or citation.
Here is the final part of the Oreskes and Dr Karl piece. It's not quite as racy as the last one, but you can hear Oreskes condemn those who doubt global warming and almost in the same breath belittle any comparison of global warming to religion. Hear her tell us that under global warming, some places will get warmer, some cooler, some wetter and some dryer. And you will hear Dr Karl say that ocean levels have risen by 20cm in the last century.
With serious allegations about Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne's driving licence, the last thing our favourite politician needed was this:
Even if Chris Huhne does lose his job over allegedly persuading his ex-wife to take his penalty points for a speeding offence, he will have been in office long enough to leave a damaging legacy – last week’s Carbon Budget, which commits the UK to halving emissions of carbon dioxide by 2025.
Breezily insisting that this would set the country on a path towards ‘green growth’, Mr Huhne told the Commons that the cuts in emissions, which can be achieved only by a radical and hugely expensive reconstruction of the energy industry, would not only protect the climate, but ensure prosperity.
Others are less optimistic. According to Tata, the Indian multinational that owns the great steelworks at Newport and Port Talbot, Mr Huhne’s Budget is likely to drive much of British industry abroad – to countries including the United States, China, India, Japan and everywhere else in Europe, which have made no binding CO2 commitments, and where energy will thus remain much cheaper.
Read the whole thing (scroll down the page to find the top of the story). The article also looks at the Cambridge conference and Svensmark.
(H/T to lots of people for this one - and sorry I keep forgetting to hat-tip people. I've got one or two rather big things on at the moment. Getting snowed under.)
Here is the second part of the BBC's show featuring Naomi Oreskes and Dr Karl. This is extremely disreputable stuff - you will hear Naomi Oreskes say that the Medieval Warm Period was restricted to Europe (don't think so) and the current warming is greater in magnitude. You will also hear Oreskes engage in a particularly grubby smear of Henrik Svensmark and then, to add insult to injury, you will hear Dr Karl say that Svensmark's work was debunked a decade ago (in the week that it was experimentally confirmed!).
Even more remarkably, Dr Karl claims that the worst finding the CRU inquiries made was that scientists were not nice to each other - really!! Maybe he thinks a finding that "hide the decline" was "misleading" is just not serious at all. Amazing stuff. Do people in Australia find Dr Karl a credible source of information?
I think I've mentioned that there was a certain amount of fraternisation across party lines at the reception after the Cambridge Conference. Josh and I had a nice chat to Dr Emily Shuckburgh, who is works at the British Antarctic Survey as well as being a scientific adviser to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Since that time we've exchanged a few emails and, with my recent blog posts touching on the issue of ocean heat mixing, Dr Shuckburgh thought one of her video diary entries from the Southern Ocean might be of interest.