Climategate Inquiry

The Herald reports:

Scientists involved in last year’s “climategate” leaked emails controversy, which added to scepticism about the science of global warming, were not open enough with their data and unhelpful with requests for information, an independent review of the affair found yesterday.

They and their institution, the University of East Anglia, did not embrace the “spirit of openness” enshrined in the Freedom of Information Act, according to a long-awaited report.

However, the review found that the researchers concerned, led by the director of UEA’s Climatic Research Unit Professor Phil Jones, could not be faulted for their “rigour and honesty as scientists”, and there was no evidence that they had behaved in a way that might undermine the conclusions of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The review effectively clears those involved of dishonesty and corruption; it absolves them of the allegation made by climate sceptics that they had manipulated both climate data and the scientific peer-review process to serve their predetermined views that climate change is man-made.

This is largely what I expected.

Nevertheless, the review’s condemnation of the lack of openness at UEA amounted to “significant criticisms”, and its practices needed to change. …

* Dr Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a sceptical think-tank, said the Russell report was a “damning indictment of the university’s handling of freedom of information requests”. “I don’t think the university can just claim this is a vindication.”

* Andrew Montford, a climate sceptic who is conducting a review of how the three Climategate inquiries were set up and carried out, said the Russell review “has picked up some of our concerns on freedom of information” but had “brushed other issues under the carpet”. He said: “Not to ask Professor Jones if he had deliberately deleted emails so they could not be requested is a pretty extraordinary omission.”

* David Holland, a retired engineer and sceptic, one of the principal seekers of information from the CRU, said: “When it was set up 20 years ago the IPCC rules required climate science to be assessed on ‘a comprehensive, open and transparent basis’. Sir Muir Russell’s inquiry has rightly reported that UEA has not lived up to this.”

More transparency is needed. Even basic stuff such as a schedule of adjustments to recorded temperatures which details when an adjustment was made, and why, is not available from most agencies (including NIWA).

Now this does not mean that there is some global conspiracy to convince the world that temperatures have been increasing, when they have not been. Such a conspiracy would require 1000s of scientists to be colluding over the last 100 years.

I am sure adjustments to recorded temperatures series have been done in good faith, for reasons such as the moving of a recording station. However when decisions that may economies billions of dollars are dependent on the integrity of the data, it it reasonable to insist on total transparency.

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