Here is a partial transcript of the Inquiry press conference, including the Boulton bits.
MR: Thank you for coming and thanks to the Science Media Centre for hosting this launch meeting. My name is Muir Russell. I have been asked to chair the Independent Climate Change Email Review set up in the wake of the leak of emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit. With me are most but not all of the team.
I know there are some questions about why it has taken a few weeks [SM: since Dec 3, 2009] to get to this stage – there’s been a lot going on.
We had to assemble the team, we’ve met a couple of times to get used to each other. Some of us have visited Norwich and met some of the people there – met the Police and the Information Commissioners Office. We’ve looked at emails and developed an initial view of questions we need to ask. And that’s in our document called issues. So quite a lot has been happening and really what the purpose of today is to give you a little bit of a flavour of the fruit of those labours and what we will be doing next.
Talks a bit about what will be going on at the press conference then …
We will be calling for evidence submission and comments on issues and putting them to members of the CRU and others.We’re also launching a website – it’s the primary way for people to follow progress, to read submissions to submit own evidence if they wish.
So who are we? There are six members of the review team. All distinguished people in their field and I’m very proud to have them on board. I have recently retired as Principal of the University of Glasgow. Before that I was Permanent Secretary for the Scottish Office and the Scottish Executive on devolution . I did physics at Glasgow but i think whatthey calapsed and have no scientific baggage in relation to this review at all.
So will begin on the left….
I am Geoffrey Boulton – Professor of Geology at Edinburgh University. My research has been in glaciology and in climate change in the geological past . In essence that means that I understand a lot of the underlying science that relates to more recent and current climate change and I think that’s probably my principal contribution. I should stress that I am not involved in recent and the issues of recent and current climate nor am I part of that community. I should also add something that ought to be in my CV but is not – that I was appointed to a full-time post in the new school of environmental science at UEA at 1968 and worked there until 1980 which if you calculate correctly is 30 years ago.
EXCERPTS OF Q&A WITH JOURNOS AT END OF PRESENTATION WHERE GEOFFREY BOULTON SPEAKS
1. Question: In your issues for examination you quote a few of the emails. You don’t quote the notorious one about asking three or four colleagues to delete emails about the IPCC. I was just wondering why you didn’t single that one out or whether this is just a selection? Secondly can I ask you to expand on your comment on the importance of this review to the credibility of science as a whole.
MR: On the first one I think that the issue will be picked up within the questions. I might just ask Jim to say a word about that in a moment.
But the importance of this for the credibility of science as a whole. You’ll see we have tried to set ourselves up to run this through the filter of those questions from Geoscience and the US National Academy about stewardship of data about how research data is handled and so on. Those are questions which are going to resonate rather more loudly than just about CRU because you need to say what can science show what can it do, what confidence limits are there and you need to get a proper understanding of the sorts of questions you can then ask and how people are answering them and how their processes relate to that.
And I might just to ask Philip to say a word but Jim do you want to comment on the suppression deleting emails…
JN: There were any number of emails we could have chosen to quote from. Clearly that one is of great interest to us. Certainly of great interest to the Information Commissioners. We will work with the IC in that area you’ll find on our list of questions we are trying to establish whether it is possible to tell whether data was deleted or not. What were the sort of archiving methods, what sort of data dictionaries(?). So we are are laying the groundwork to address that and we will certainly address it to the extent that’s possible and we will share those results clearly with the team from the information commissioner.
GB: (starts low as mike is repositioned) Just as a matter of fact we quote from one of the relevant emails where we quote one of the emails which says “I can’t see either of these being in the next IPCC report Kevin and I will keep them out somehow.” So we do refer to it.
2. Q: You’ve alluded to broader context. But if you are looking specifically at CRU and how it dealt with its data management, would you not have to compare that with other similar data at other institutions… do you have access to other institutions..? Can you compare like with like. And if that then are you not slipping into a broader analysis of how data is handled?
Answers from MR and JN then GB
GB: Just to add a little to that. When I started doing science long time ago then If I did six experiments I produced six data points and plotted them on some graph paper with a pencil. I’ve got an experiment now in Antarctica which will produce 2 gigabytes of data. The way you look at that is totally different it has completely different demands upon us. My view is for many of us we haven’t really come to terms with this new digital world. What I hope is that some of our conclusions might have relevance to the way in which more broadly science operates and indeed the responsibilities that fall on individual scientists and indeed their institutions.