The tricky Boulton and hapless Muir Russell have issued a statement here defending Boulton’s participation in the Inquiry. It begins:
On Friday February 12, allegations were raised that Professor Geoffrey Bolton’s background and views affected his ability to be a member of the Review. These have been rejected by Sir Muir Russell and by Professor Bolton.
In typical climate science fashion, the statement does not quote allegations as actually made. The issues as actually raised pertained to apparent misrepresentations by Muir Russell. Instead of dealing with the misrepresentations – or even changing the website – the Team has blustered onward.
I’ll review the bidding today in order to place the statement into context.
Issue 1: The first issue was the Inquiry’s misrepresentation that:
None [of the Team] have any links to the Climatic Research Unit, or the United Nations’ Independent Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). More information about each of the review team members can be found in the Biographies section.
It didn’t take long to show that this claim was wrong in respect to Boulton. First, Boulton had worked for 18 years at UEA, directly overlapping with Phil Jones and Tom Wigley (the link here is to a CA post; see CA post for relevant links to Bishop Hill and others). Second, Boulton was closely linked to IPCC author Gabrielle Hegerl and her husband Tom Crowley, a prominent IPCC advocate. Third, as recently as Oct 29, 2009, Boulton had invited and appeared professionally with CRU fellow Dlugolecki and Climategate correspondent Mitchell at a Royal Society of Edinburgh function.
The Boulton-Russell reply concerned itself only with the employment issue, stating as follows:
At the Review press conference (on February 11), I pointed out that I had worked full-time in the School of Environmental Sciences at UEA from its inception in 1968 to 1980, and that I had a part-time appointment between 1980 and 1986, whilst working primarily in the University of Amsterdam. Since then, I have had no professional contact with the University of East Anglia or the Climatic Research Unit.
A few points.
a) In this context, what precisely does “professional contact” mean? Boulton/the Royal Society of Edinburgh invited CRU fellow Dlugolecki to an Oct 29, 2009 presentation; Boulton made a presentation at the same program, presumably heard his presentation, presumably talked to Dlugolecki. Is that not “professsional contact”? If not, what is it?
b) Boulton’s reply dealt only with “professional contact” with CRU and not with professional contact with IPCC – also part of Muir Russell’s representation. We know that Boulton has an office three doors away from IPCC author Gabi Hegerl and her husband, IPCC advocate Tom Crowley. He used the Hegerl-Crowley hockey stick in a Royal Society of Edinburgh policy paper in December 2009. He may well have been closely involved in either attracting Hegerl and Crowley to the University of Edinburgh and/or in the decision to hire them in 2007. Can one have close professional contacts with IPCC authors and not have “links” to IPCC? Should the “open and transparent” Inquiry have disclosed such links?
c) Boulton’s comment at the press conference about past associations with UEA was not reported in any news report (to my knowledge.) There is no video or transcript either at the Inquiry website or elsewhere. Muir Russell said that “the Team will operate as openly and transparently as possible.” Disclosure of past UEA associations at a press conference with no transcript is not “open and transparent”.
And back to the original issue: misrepresentation. The fact that Boulton disclosed his past associations in an untranscribed press conference does not excuse the misrepresentation at the Inquiry website – a misrepresentation that is continuing. Nor has Boulton explained his apparent recent professional contact with CRU or his links to IPCC author Hegerl and her husband Crowley. Please note that there is nothing wrong per se with these links and contacts – the problem is the misrepresentation by the Inquiry that they didn’t exist.
Issue 2: The second issue is the Inquiry’s misrepresentation that none of the Team members had a”predetermined” view on climate change and climate science and that they had been “selected” for precisely that purpose. (Again, there’s nothing wrong with people having such views – the problems arise when the Inquiry makes contrary representations.) The Inquiry stated:
Do any of the Review team members have a predetermined view on climate change and climate science?
No. Members of the research team come from a variety of scientific backgrounds. They were selected on the basis they have no prejudicial interest in climate change and climate science and for the contribution they can make to the issues the Review is looking at.
They added the following particular comment in respect to Boulton:
Professor Geoffrey Boulton has expertise in fields related to climate change and is therefore aware of the scientific approach, through not in the climate change field itself.
Again, this claim in respect to Boulton was quickly shown to be untrue. He had strong opinions on climate change and its importance and was actively campaigning that the matter to be taken seriously. He has made numerous recent presentations on the matter – to name only a few, on Oct 29, 2009 at a Royal Society of Edinburgh program, in a RSE Policy Advice paper on Copenhagen in which he presented a supposedly “independent” hockey stick and even on the issue of Himalayan glaciers.
When the inconsistency between Inquiry representations and Boulton’s actual position was brought to light by bloggers, Boulton said that the Inquiry statement would need to be “clarified”:
I may be rapped over the knuckles by Sir Muir for saying this, but I think that statement needs to be clarified. I think the committee needs someone like me who is close to the field of climate change and it would be quite amazing if that person didn’t have a view on one side or the other.”
In today’s statement, Boulton said that he had said the following in (unreported and untranscribed) segments of the Feb 11 press conference:
I was equally clear that although my research is not in the field of modern or recent climate change, I am familiar with its scientific basis and uncertainties surrounding it.
“I declared my current view of the balance of evidence: that the earth is warming and that human activity is implicated. These remain the views of the vast majority of scientists who research on climate change in its different aspects. They are based on extensive work worldwide, not that of a single institution.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with holding such views. But if those are the views that Boulton holds, he and the Inquiry should never have said that that had no “predetermined” views on climate.
And while Boulton’s “research” may not have been in the field of “modern or recent climate change”, this has not stopped him from making many presentations on the topic, including, as noted above, a Policy Advice paper stating that the Hegerl hockey stick was “independent” of the others. (I guess that it’s possible that Boulton and the Royal Society of Edinburgh make such statements without doing any research – that they, like Jerry North and the Nas Panel, just “wing” it.)
A New Misrepresentation by the Inquiry
In order to justify keeping Boulton on the Inquiry, Muir Russell today made yet another misrepresentation:
“This Review must determine if there is evidence of poor scientific practice, as well as investigate allegations around the manipulation and suppression of data.
“As others have pointed out, it would be impossible to find somebody with the qualifications and experience we need who has not formed an opinion on climate change.
Muir Russell didn’t say who these “others” were. I, for one, have stated exactly the opposite. There are thousands of people who are qualified to address the issues within the remit of the Inquiry – issues which pertain to scientific misconduct – and who are not currently campaigning on climate policy, who have not published Policy Advice papers containing hockey stick graphics, who have not worked for 18 years at UEA, who have no professional association with IPCC scientists, who have not recently invited CRU fellows to make presentations about climate.
The issues in the remit are primarily legal (the science issues were to be studied separately) and were stated as follows:
1. Examine the hacked e-mail exchanges, other relevant e-mail exchanges and any other information held at the Climate Research Unit to determine whether there is any evidence of manipulation or suppression of data which is at odds with acceptable scientific practice and may therefore call into question any of the research outcomes.
2. Review the Climate Research Unit’s policies and practices for acquiring, assembling, subjecting to peer review and disseminating data and research findings, and their compliance or otherwise with best scientific practice.
3. Review the Climate Research Unit’s compliance or otherwise with the University of East Anglia’s policies and practices regarding requests under the Freedom of Information Act (‘the FOIA’) and the Environmental Information Regulations (‘the EIR’) for the release of data.
4. Review and make recommendations as to the appropriate management, governance and security structures for the Climate Research Unit and the security, integrity and release of the data it holds.
Russell stated “it would be impossible to find somebody with the qualifications and experience we need who has not formed an opinion on climate change”. There are thousands of scientists in unrelated fields who can opine on these questions, who do not have Boulton’s multiple conflicts. Indeed, Inquiry members Peter Clarke and Jim Norton appear at this point not to have Boulton’s disqualifications – so it is “possible” to find such people.
In addition, it seems to me that the issues here are primarily legal and misconduct. Lawyers are perfectly competent to deal with such issues.
At this point, I think that the Russell Inquiry should be folded and, as Nigel Lawson suggested long ago, the inquiry be turned over to a qualified judge, just like any other inquiry.