I just happened to be reading The ClimateGate Inquiries by Andrew Montford, with an introduction by Lord Turnbull (you'll be reading that shortly), and the temptation to inquire as to what the bloody hell he was thinking when he left his home was near to overwhelming.
Instead, he has indirectly inspired me to begin this blog.
You are going to encounter a recurring theme here...that theme is:
LACK OF MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL.
Adam Austin once opined that money should be a lubricant for trade, and not to be accrued to gain an advantage over your fellow man. This is a statement that has merit.
I plan to revisit this theme in every post that comes across this blog. Today, I will attempt to illustrate what the monied interests have done with what I believe were the honest efforts of some to perform good works in the advent of saving our planet from our excesses.
Now, I do not profess to have performed the level of research of, say, Professor Ross McKitrick or Stephen McIntyre; nor do I have direct access to climactic data on the level of Anthony Watts; but, due to their meticulous and forthright researches, and my own desire to discern truth from scumbaggery, I have been able to make an informed decision about the phenomenon formerly known as "global warming", and more currently known as "climate change".
Well, guess what, ladies and gentlemen?
I'm pretty certain that you can determine that I am a resident of New York City. It wasn't quite so cold at 6:00 this morning; there was plenty of slush around. I feel as if I am ready to deal with harsher weather, though I do hope it actually doesn't materialize; but regardless, the weather will do as the weather will.
That's what gets me the most. We have been on Gaia for but a short period of the planet's existence. I do NOT believe that we have made a significant impact upon our planet; at least not to the point of extinction. Not you or I. Not our cattle. Not the termites in your walls. Not our planes, trains and automobiles. However, there are those whom I believe are culpable:
- Those entities who have irradiated the Middle East with Depleted Uranium;
- Those entities who have polluted the Gulf with oil (and yet worse, Corexit);
- Those entities who are deforesting our necessary wildlands for their short-term gain.
All of these things are ABSOLUTELY BAD for our Earth. I would think that most, if not all, would agree with me that at least, the first two are clear-cut examples of genocidal actions. The third, while not immediately destructive, if continued, will prove to have been just stupid in the extreme. The trees are converting the CO2 in our atmosphere into breathable O2 for us and the fauna of our planet. Get rid of all the trees, and now we will requires machines to perform that conversion. Do you really want to live in a dome city, just because LogCo. was to make toothpicks?
Short-term gain is never justified if in the long-term, others will suffer.
Anyway, I want for you to read the foreword by Lord Andrew Turnbull, written for the ClimateGate Inquiries. The document itself is only 54 pages, including said foreword. If you haven't done so, please read it. I'll be back in a sec...then we'll discuss this topic further,
When in November 2009 a large archive of emails and files from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia appeared on the internet a number of serious allegations were made
• that scientists at the CRU had failed to give a full and fair view to policy makers and the IPCC of all the evidence available to them;
• that they deliberately obstructed access to data and methods to those taking different viewpoints from themselves;
• that they failed to comply with Freedom of Information requirements;
• that they sought to influence the review panels of journals in order to prevent rival scientific evidence from being published.
Even if only some of these accusations were substantiated the consequences for the credibility of climate change science would be immense. This was at a time when the international negotiations on climate change were foundering (though not to the extent that they have done subsequently), and when, in the recession, the public and businesses were beginning to question the costs they were being asked to bear in order to achieve fundamental changes in our society.
One would therefore have expected the relevant “authorities”, Government/Parliament, the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Royal Society, to have moved fast and decisively to get to the bottom of the matter. There was indeed a flurry of activity and three inquiries were set in train, including a hearing by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee; the Climate Change E-mails Review (CCE) set up by UEA and chaired by Sir Muir Russell; and the Scientific Assessment Panel (SAP) set up by UEA in consultation with the Royal Society and chaired by Lord Oxburgh.
Sadly, as the report by Andrew Montford clearly demonstrates, all three reports have serious flaws.
His report shows that:
• these inquiries were hurried
• the terms of reference were unclear
• insufficient care was taken with the choice of panel members to ensure balance and independence
• insufficient care was taken to ensure the process was independent of those being investigated, eg the Royal Society allowed CRU to suggest the papers it should read
• Sir Muir Russell failed to attend the session with the CRU’s Director Professor Jones and only four of fourteen members of the Science and Technology Select Committee attended the crucial final meeting to sign off their report.
• record keeping was poor.
But above all, Andrew Montford’s report brings out the disparity between the treatment of the “incumbents” and the “critics”. The former appear to have been treated with kid gloves and their explanations readily accepted without serious challenge. The latter have been disparaged and denied adequate opportunity to put their case. The CCE report stated that holding public hearings “would be unlikely to add significant value”, thereby assuming that critics would not be able to provide any additional information that would help assess the validity of CRU submissions.
This failure to accord critics rights of audience was despite the fact that Lord Lawson wrote to Sir Muir Russell when the review was first announced specifically urging that his panel should take evidence from those outside CRU who may have been wronged.
The result has been that the three investigations have failed to achieve their objective, ie early and conclusive closure and restoration of confidence. The reports have been more Widgery than Saville. Writing in an article The Atlantic, Clive Crook of the Financial Times referred to “an ethos of suffocating groupthink”. That is exactly what Andrew Montford has uncovered, with the reviewers as much part of the group as the scientists.
What should happen next? First the new Select Committee on Science and Technology needs to engage quickly. To some extent the shortcomings of their predecessors’ report can be excused given the lack of time they had before the election was called and their confidence (misplaced in the event) that the issues it had not been able to tackle fully would be investigated by others. The Committee has already started the process by taking evidence from the chairs of the reports. It also needs to study Andrew Montford’s report and then reach a conclusion on whether the criticisms made are valid and whether the exoneration claimed is justified.
The Government then needs to look at the serious criticisms of the IPCC made in the recent InterAcademy Council Report. While the IPCC presents itself as a synthesis of the work of over 2,000 scientists it appears that in practice it is a process in which a much smaller number of scientists, whose work and careers are intertwined, dominate the assessment and seek to repel those who are situated elsewhere in the spectrum of scientific opinion. There is no transparent process for selection of participants in the assessments. Its handling of uncertainty is flawed and outcomes that are highly speculative are presented with unwarranted certainty. Use is made of non-peer-reviewed material without identifying it as such. The Government should then demand that the changes recommended by the IAC in practice, governance and leadership should be implemented immediately for the Fifth Assessment.
Parliament then needs to start moving forward. Parliament, whether Commons, Lords or a joint venture between the two, should undertake or sponsor two pieces of work. The first would be a study into the ethos and governance of scientific work in the field of climate change. From this I hope would emerge an acceptance that, contrary to the words of eminent scientists who should know better, science is never “settled” or “unchallengeable”. That is what the Church said to Galileo. Scientific progress always proceeds by proposition and challenge. Dissent must be accepted and not suppressed, and evidence and methods must be transparent and readily shared. There should be full and willing compliance with FOI. Scientists should remain scientists and not become politicians or NGO activists.
The second piece of work should be a fundamental review of the science itself, which was the task which the Select Committee thought had been assigned to the Scientific Assessment Panel but which the latter defined more narrowly.
Climate science is immensely complex. There is a wide spectrum of methodologies and data and substantial differences in the conclusions which scientists reach. But instead of the full gamut of scientific thought being displayed with all its uncertainties, the public has been fed a particular variant of the climate change story with many of the caveats stripped out. There is, however, a much richer but more complex story to be told which recognizes the complexities and uncertainties and also recognizes that there are strong natural variations upon which manmade emissions are superimposed.
Only if the integrity of the science is reestablished and the strengths and weaknesses of the main propositions are acknowledged will there be the basis of trust with the public that policymakers need.
There is a final lesson to be drawn from the inquiries and Andrew Montford’s report. Gone are the times when the “authorities” could largely assert their message without challenge using their superior resources, and thereby ensure that difficult issues remain hidden. We increasingly live in the world of Erin Brockovich versus Pacific Gas and Electric or David versus Goliath, where committed individuals with few resources can dig away at an issue. Armed with strengthened rights to information and the forensic power of the internet they will eventually get to the truth and quick but superficial inquiries will not stand in their way. Andrew Montford’s report is such an example and the authorities would do well to accord it the respect it deserves.
LORD TURNBULL - Andrew Turnbull was Permanent Secretary, Environment Department,1994-98; Permanent Secretary to the Treasury 1998-2002, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service 2002-05. He is now a Crossbench member of the House of Lords.
There was also an excellent analysis done of the leaked (NOT "hacked") emails performed by John P. Costella, and this is my first real experience with the actual email data, without spin. John links to the email data, and performs what I see to be an honest analysis of the verbiage presented.
I want you to tell me how the phrase "hide the decline" has NOTHING TO DO with hiding a decline.
So, please understand my motivation for writing this blog on this particular subject.
I am not some anti-business nut; nor am I some silly-ass communist/socialist/whatever-ist.
I am a man with a family and friends who wants for our time on this planet to be fruitful. That cannot happen if the monied interests get their hooks into our personal funds, where they can extract untold sums at will.
Think about this: how does a carbon tax help the atmosphere? How would carbon credits reduce the supposed "emissions"? Is there a credit machine in certain caves where, if you present your carbon credits, a huge hole in the ozone layer pops open while your carbon credits are rung up, and the offending gases get shot through the stratosphere in space?
You may want to cut down on that "hillbilly Heroin", pally...the brain cell loss is getting catastrophic.
At any rate, I hope you find this informative...hope to see you all soon with more discussion about morons with money and the dumb things they do that affect us all.