This was sent in February 2010 when the furore over Climategate was still at its peak and before the inquiries got under way. It consists of a summary of the science of global warming sent to Beddington by Julia Slingo, the chief scientist at the Met Office. Slingo, you may remember, later appeared at the SciTech committee hearings alongside Beddington.
There is an interesting live chat at Sciencemag with Laura Manuelidis, a scientist who opposes the prion theory of BSE. Her story has a familiar ring:
Unfortunately, self-interest makes a few "expert" powerful scientists less than open to those who disagree with them. In TSEs, they populate most of the grant committees and are also the same people who are on the the editorial boards of most journals. Anonymous "peer" review allows people with a clear conflict of interest to make false statements. Without transparency they can never be held accountable. Their success is a poor ethical model for young scientists. And it also limits financial support for more creative approaches to a problem
Some discussion of the Hockey Stick and the Hockey Stick Illusion at the website of scientist Lee Klinger, a former NCAR researcher. Klinger has queried the presentation of Mann's graph at a conference about the Gaia hypothesis without mention of the controversy.
(H/T Jane Coles in Unthreaded)
Maurice Frankel, the head of the Campaign for Freedom of Information has a letter in the Guardian repeating many of the points I made yesterday about the strange claims Paul Nurse made in his speech on freedom of information.
The president of the Royal Society calls for changes to freedom of information laws to prevent them being misused (Data laws 'misused' in climate change row, 26 May). However, existing safeguards address many of his concerns. Deliberate attempts to "intimidate" scientists, if that is what they are, can be refused under the Freedom of Information Act's safeguards against vexatious requests. Unreasonable requests for all pre-publication drafts of scientific papers can be refused under an exemption for information due for future publication. Explanations of why changes to successive drafts were made do not have to be provided unless they exist in writing. Multiple related requests from different people, if they are co-ordinated, can be refused if the combined cost of answering exceeds the act's cost limit.
Times Higher Education understands that Imperial College London previously paid an annual subscription of about £3,000 to the lobby group, which was widely credited with helping to secure a ring-fenced, flat-cash research budget in last October's Comprehensive Spending Review.
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.