Today brought in some CRU refusals- their rejections of Ross Mc, Roman M, myself. (They’re going to have to re-do their Roger Pielke rejection, since they replied to the wrong request in his case.) Each one deserves to be savored. So today I’ll post up their obstruction of Ross McKitrick.
FOI officer Palmer denied the request on the grounds that the request is “manifestly unreasonable” as the data is “available elsewhere”, that its disclosure would have an “adverse effect on international relations” and would have an adverse impact on the institutions supplying the data.
CA readers will recall that I requested the same version of CRU station data as was sent to Peter Webster and that they refused on the grounds that they had “confidentiality agreements” (all of which have been destroyed or lost other than stale agreements with Norway and Bahrain and and an agreement with Spain that does not require confidentiality) with parties that they can no longer identify, but the one thing that they were certain of was that these agreements prohibited the delivery of the data to a “non-academic”.
Ross McKitrick is obviously an “academic”. And aside from being an “academic”, he even has relevant publications in the field. Here is Ross’ original request:
Pursuant to the Environmental Information Regulations, I hereby request:
1. A copy of any digital version of the CRUTEM station data set that has been sent from CRU to Peter Webster and/or any other person at Georgia Tech between January 1, 2007 and June 25, 2009
2. A copy of any instructions or stipulations accompanying the transmission of data to Peter Webster and/or any other person at Georgia Tech between January 1, 2007 and June 25, 2009 limiting its further dissemination or disclosure.
I write as an academic with publications in peer-reviewed journals and an ongoing research program on the subject of surface climate measurement. With respect to #2, please be aware that restrictions on data disclosure may disqualify any research arising from this data set from being published in many peer-reviewed journals, therefore I require a complete response as to whether any such instructions accompanied the data.
Thank you for your attention,
Here is the CRU response in full:
Your request for information received on 24 July 2009 for a “A copy of any digital version of the CRUTEM station data set that has been sent from CRU to Peter Webster and/or any other person at Georgia Tech between January 1, 2007 and June 25, 2009” and “a copy of any instructions or stipulations accompanying the transmission of data to Peter Webster and/or any other person at Georgia Tech between January 1, 2007 and June 25, 2009 limiting its further dissemination or disclosure” has now been considered and it is, unfortunately, not possible to meet your request.
In accordance with Regulation 14 of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 this letter acts as a Refusal Notice, and I am not obliged to supply this information and the reasons for exemption are as stated below:
Reg. 12(4)(b) – Request is manifestly unreasonable. Information is available elsewhere
Reg. 12(5)(a) – Adverse effect on international relations. Release would damage relations with scientists & institutions from other nations
Reg. 12(5)(f) – Adverse effect on the person providing information. Information is covered by a confidentiality agreement
We believe that Regulation 12(4)(b) applies to your request for the data because the requested data is a subset of data already available from other sources; namely the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN ) , and the Climatic Research Unit already makes requested information available on it’s website in a gridded format. We believe, following DEFRA guidance, that it is unreasonable for the University to spend public resources on providing information in a different format to that which is already available.
In regards Regulation 12(5)(a), much of the requested data comes from both individual scientists and institutions from countries around the world. If this information were to be released contrary to the conditions under which this institution received it, it would damage the trust that other national scientists and institutions have in UK-based public sector organisations and would likely result in them becoming reluctant to share information and participate in scientific projects in future. This would damage the ability of the University and other UK institutions to co-operate with meteorological organisations and governments of other countries.
Regulation 12(5)(f) applies to the data requested because the data was received by the University on terms that limits further transmission. We believe that there would be an adverse effect on the institutions that supplied data under those agreements as it would undermine the conditions under which they supplied the data to the Climate Research Unit.
In regards your request for any stipulations accompanying the transmission of the data to academics at Georgia Tech, no such instructions or stipulations are held by the University.
All the agreements that we do hold in relation to the requested data are available on the Climate Research Unit website at: http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/availability/
Regulation 12(1)(b) mandates that we consider the public interest in any decision to release or refuse information under Regulation 12(4). In this case, we feel that there is a strong public interest in upholding contract terms governing the use of received information. To not do so would be to potentially risk the loss of access to such data in future as noted above. In regards Regulation 12(4)(b), we believe it is not in the public interest to divert public resources away from other work to provide information that is available elsewhere. Finally in regards Regulation 12(5)(a), we feel that there is a clear public interest in neither damaging nor restricting scientific collaboration between UK-based scientists and institutions with international colleagues.
I should note, however, that the University is commencing work, in concert with the Met Office Hadley Centre, to seek permission from data suppliers in advance of the next update of the CRUTEM database in 2010 in order to provide public access to this data. This work has been announced on the CRU website and further updates on it’s progress will be available there.
I apologise that your request will be met but if you have any further information needs in the future then please contact me.