“UK Govt’s Chief Adviser on Climate Change”

http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/2009/dec/CRUreview

Reader ZT has pointed to a video (see here) in which Geoffrey Boulton, erstwhile “contributor to G8 preparatory and Intergovernmental Panels on climate change”, opens a Coca Cola bottling plant in Romania, identified this time as the “UK Govt’s Chief Adviser on Climate Change”.

I’m all in favor of energy efficient plants and have no objection to Geoffrey Boulton cutting ribbons here and there, as sort of a scientific Queen Mom.

But let’s remember what Muir Russell promised the beleaguered University of East Anglia:

“I agreed very willingly to Professor Acton’s request to undertake this Independent Review. Given the nature of the allegations it is right that someone who has no links to either the University or the Climate Science community looks at the evidence and makes recommendations based on what they find.”

Someone who is billed at the openings of Coca Cola plants in Romania as the ‘UK Govt’s Chief Adviser on Climate Change’ hardly fits Muir Russell’s promise of having “no links to either the University or the Climate Science community”.

The University of East Anglia already has a hard enough time dealing with problems created by CRU. By betraying Russell’s promise to the university community, Russell and Boulton are being profoundly unfair to not only the staff, but the students of the university.

49 Comments

  1. kim
    Posted Feb 20, 2010 at 3:22 PM | Permalink

    The paint’s going to be stripped back off this whitewash faster than Tom Sawyer can eat an apple.
    =====================

  2. Ian
    Posted Feb 20, 2010 at 3:48 PM | Permalink

    That position is suggested as well by his 2007 CV (cited on the “Boulton Information” thread), which includes the following:

    “His research is in the field of climatic and environmental change and energy, and is an advisor to the UK Government and European Commission on climate change.”

    The idea of him being the “chief” advisor, though, is missing. Wonder what position he holds with the European Union?

  3. deadwood
    Posted Feb 20, 2010 at 3:58 PM | Permalink

    With such revelations being reported each day, it does not seem likely that the Russell inquiry will produce anything credible. One has to wonder what Russell is doing and whether Downing Street has provided his orders.

    Too bad, I had expected better.

  4. Posted Feb 20, 2010 at 4:02 PM | Permalink

    In that quote, is Russell referring to the committee as a whole, or to himself? Taken alone, it reads as if he is talking about himself.

  5. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 20, 2010 at 4:23 PM | Permalink

    MarkB, at the time, no one other than MR had been appointed. Perhaps Muir Russell wanted to illustrate what scientists meant by a “trick”.

    • Ian
      Posted Feb 20, 2010 at 5:02 PM | Permalink

      To be fair to Boulton, the description of his position on the video is not one that he, himself has averred. It’s an overlay, by the creator of the video.

      Even so, it is clear he was there in SOME official capacity, presumably on behalf of the British Government. That role/capacity should be explained (he is a member UK Government’s Council for Technology & Science – maybe it was in that role that he attended?).

      It would be nice to get the unedited version of his speech, since he is heavily inclined towards alarmist rhetoric (which reinforces the notion that his presence on the review “Team” will create a reasonable apprehension of bias.)

    • Posted Feb 20, 2010 at 6:26 PM | Permalink

      “Sir Muir Russell, Head of the Independent Review, said: “I agreed very willingly to Professor Acton’s request to undertake this Independent Review. Given the nature of the allegations it is right that someone who has no links to either the University or the Climate Science community looks at the evidence and makes recommendations based on what they find. My first task is to scope the project, gather the information I need and source the additional expertise that will be required in order to investigate fully the allegations that have been made. Once this has happened I will be in a position to confirm timescales for publishing the review.”

      On reading the entire quote, I could easily argue that MR considers himself the “someone who has no links.” He goes on to say that he needs to “source the additional expertise that will be required.” That expertise could come from people who DO have links.

      So that fact that Boulton has such links could be entirely consistent with Muir Russell’s statement. I don’t think I’m working too hard here – I’m just allowing for a reasonable interpretation. Whether the committee should have a member like Boulton is another matter entirely – I think not.

      • Peter Wilson
        Posted Feb 20, 2010 at 9:11 PM | Permalink

        I suppose you could put that spin on it if you worked hard enough, but do you think that is actually the message Sir Muir wanted the press to take away from that statement? Or what most people reading the statement would assume he meant?

      • Peter Whale
        Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 3:43 AM | Permalink

        If what your saying is the true meaning if Russell’s words ,why did the other guy resign?

      • schnoerkelman
        Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 3:54 AM | Permalink

        Re: MarkB (Feb 20 18:26),
        I must agree with MarkB on the reading here. “I agreed to undertake this Independent Review”, “My first task … source the additional expertise” It would seem clear that the additional expertise would, more or less by definition, have links to the climate science community at a minimum. Links to UEA, on the other hand, would certainly not be a requirement and I think that reasonable persons might interpret them as a problem.

        • philh
          Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 10:32 AM | Permalink

          “Independent” means independent.

          At least it does outside the climate science “community.”

      • D. Patterson
        Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 7:15 AM | Permalink

        Geoffrey Boulton was the head of the “Global Change Research Group” at the University of Edinburgh. Boulton and his research group were tasked with official climate science research activities mandated by the Government of Scotland. In that capacity, he was also a leader and member of the steering committee for the European Science Foundation (ESF): Setting Science Agendas for Europe, European Palaeoclimate and Man (EPC). Boulton and the EPC purpose summary says: “Studies of the evolution of the climate system in the past are now recognised to be of fundamental importance in predicting even its short-term future, and in assessing its response to human activities, such as the generation of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.”

        Boulton was also the chairman of the League of European Research Universities (LERU) Research Policy Committee. He said “We want to create a clear and succinct university voice on global futures that would have an impact in the international political and scientific arena.” His commitment to the IPCC and its reports of man-made Climate Change are evidenced by his international activities regarding responses to “Global Change” and the comments in his CV summary. “As contributor to G8 Preparatory Groups and Intergovernmental Panels on climate change…. CURRENT RESEARCH INTERESTS, Modelling Earth System variations, Past and future climate changes…. His research is in the field of climatic and environmental change and energy, and is an advisor to the UK Government and European Commission on climate change.”

        Sir Muir Russell’s said that Geoffrey Boulton has “has no links to [...] the Climate Science community.” Why?

      • David A
        Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 8:24 AM | Permalink

        It is suppose to be an “independent review” “Given the nature of the allegations it is right that someone who has no links to either the University or the Climate Science community looks at the evidence and makes recommendations based on what they find”

        You can not separate the links from ths University from links to the climate science community. They already eliminated one person because of such links. Do you really think MR meant himself “only”, and that it was ok to fill the panel with those who were politicaly active in climate science and had links with the university?

      • Grumpy Old Man
        Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 11:45 AM | Permalink

        Who is Prof Acton, and where does he or she come into the story? Have I missed something, or does Prof Boulton sometimes use an alias?

  6. ZT
    Posted Feb 20, 2010 at 6:57 PM | Permalink

    Kudos to Steve for catching Boulton’s impressive title.

    Seems odd that Boulton’s resume, titles, and associations become more impressive the further he travels (Dubai, Romania, China).

    It couldn’t possibly be the case that these are paid “environmental” consultancy gigs – could it?

    • David S
      Posted Feb 20, 2010 at 7:27 PM | Permalink

      Re: ZT (Feb 20 18:57), As a UK taxpayer, I bet I know who paid his fare there, anyway.

  7. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 20, 2010 at 7:33 PM | Permalink

    MarkB, many judicial inquiries – perhaps most judicial inquiries – don’t have a “committee”. My grandfather was a prominent Canadian judge and conducted inquiries of much greater scope than this. One of my close friends was counsel to two recent inquiries in Canada – both done by a judge. I, for one, didn’t assume that Russell would appoint a committee – something which has a lot of disadvantages in an inquiry. I wonder whether any of these guys have either been involved in a real inquiry before – I’m beginning to doubt it, this one’s like kid’s day at the zoo.

    • geronimo
      Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 8:43 AM | Permalink

      My guess is that Sir Muir, although he took Physics at university doesn’t feel up to asking the right questions and to help him has naively asked the editor of the journal where “Mike’s trick” was published and an out and out – snip – seemingly oblivious to the fact that this more or less will destroy the credibility of his inquiry. Add Jim Norton who didn’t get where he is today by rocking boats and you can pretty much see an easy ride for the CRU (let’s not forget it isn’t just Jones in these emails). Outcome:
      1. “Remarks taken out of context are perfectly innocent when put into contacts.”
      2. “ What you are witnessing in the emails is the jovial banter between scientists you’d see if you hacked any email server of any university department.”
      3. “Prof Jones was very naughty to try to deliberately thwart FOI requests but this reluctance to comply is understandable given the terrific harassment the CRU was under from deniers demanding information.”
      Just a point of information between Jan 2005 and December 2009 the CRU received 105 FOI requests in the following years:
      2007. 4 requests
      2008. 2 requests
      2009. 99 requests of which 58 were the requests for the contracts held between the CRU and foreign met offices, 26 came after climategate, leaving 15 for the rest of 2009.
      Inundated? I don’t think so.

    • Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 9:14 AM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (Feb 20 19:33), a high court judge would have been a great idea. But the kid’s day at the zoo is official and underway. What does one now do?

    • Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 5:47 PM | Permalink

      Judges hear cases in which a detailed understanding of technical matters is required. I’m not a lawyer but have helped lawyers on the technical aspects of cases. In patent cases, the judge may appoint a special master to take evidence to decide a techncial issue. The lawyers tell me that the judge will find the special masters “convincing.” I know of one case in which the judge appointed someone to instrcut him in the technical matters.

  8. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 1:05 AM | Permalink

    I don’t know what people thought other than “it is right that someone who has no links to either the University or the Climate Science community looks at the evidence and makes recommendations based on what they find” – i.e. someone unlike BOUlton.

  9. Peter Oneil
    Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 4:57 AM | Permalink

    I think that this enquiry is somewhat different to other recent enquiries. The large body of evidence is already in the public domain. Regardless of who is on the enquiry team, they will be interpreting information that is largly known. How this will affect the outcome, i don’t know but i think that it will be very obvious (and a very serious mistake) if the enquiry results are very obviuosly biased.
    The outcome will either be a triumph for science or a victory for post modern science(whatever that is).
    I am not expecting my toothpaste to be able to cope with the team’s findings.

  10. Dan
    Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 4:59 AM | Permalink

    So does this mean that Coca Cola will no longer be carbonated?

  11. Paul
    Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 5:01 AM | Permalink

    You do get the feeling that UEA must now regret the appointment of Sir Muir Russell.

    He must have been sold to them as a safe pair of hands.

    His cack-handed behaviour and that of his appointments to the review committee have done the university no favours, none what-so-ever.

    So when the whitewash comes, as it surely must, not even the UEA will consider it as job done.

    Perhaps UEA might consider a THIRD review to find out why the FIRST review has done so much damage to the university’s reputation.

    PS I have no doubt that UEA officials have been trawling the blogosphere to assess the reaction to all these revelations.

  12. patrick healy
    Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 6:45 AM | Permalink

    maybe of interest.

    last Monday 15th i sent mail to http://www.cce.review.org.expressing my disquite at the short time allowed for the public to submit opinions, and questioning the make-up of the Russel ‘team’.
    in particular the ubiquitious Prof Bolton and the BP chappie whose employers are/were major sponsors of the CRU.
    yesterday 20th, i received returned mail stating :-
    ‘message was not delivered within 4 days. host is not responding’
    i wonder if this has happened to anyone else or am i just unlucky?

    btw, congratulations Steve- you are obviously doing a great job when you can get up two noses at once –
    mann and scmith are sounding nasal.

  13. Lewis Deane
    Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 9:37 AM | Permalink

    Steve, I may be wrong, but it seems to me there is a certian bitternes – which lends itself to pettiness – creeping in here. I know how it’s gone: years of obfuscation, misdirection and you heald yourself tight and polite. And now your, atlast, vindicated – the belt untightens and you can say well what the f was that about. Or alternatively you’ve been on the hunt so long that now you see your animal tantalisingly close you have to stab and stab at thin air. Look, we all know that, like the Mann enquiry, this one will be a ‘pink wash’, only in a British fashion. We know the conclusions already – what is great about you and the reason we’ve got so far is that you examine the science. Let the politicians burry the politicians. Don’t be mad. Lot’s of respect, Lewis.

  14. Lewis Deane
    Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 10:10 AM | Permalink

    This is the kind equanimity I mean – business.in.com:

    Raina’s life has taken a complete turnaround in the last six months. Like most retirees, Raina had followed a routine: Early morning walks, discussing politics, attending to his plants and working religiously on his book devoted to ‘tracing the work done on Indian glaciers’.

    He was on the receiving end of jibes from Pachauri who dismissed his claims as school-boy science. Now Pachauri has been keeping a low profile, his reputation at stake. However, neighbours call on Raina non-stop. There is no time to work on his book. But Raina laughs off the publicity. “The last one month has been absolutely maddening. Morning to evening, I am either talking to the press or answering questions on email and I haven’t been able to even touch my book. [But] so far I am concerned, the case is closed,” he says.

  15. DeepFried
    Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 11:31 AM | Permalink

    In an earlier post SMc commented about Boulton’s “issues”:-

    http://www.cce-review.org/pdf/CCER%20ISSUES%20FOR%20EXAMINATION%20FINAL.pdf

    “That you don’t try to “distil” things down to a few questions – efforts to “save” time now merely waste time later”, presumably referring to items 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and 1.4 on page 1.

    In fact, these distilled questions are lifted, word for word, from the UEA press release dated 3 December 2009:-

    http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/2009/dec/CRUreview

    So it looks as though CRU did the distilling in the first instance and Boulton merely took the easy way out and concurred with CRU suggestions, but without giving a citation! snip

    steve; the Issues paper is a different thing.

    • Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 6:34 PM | Permalink

      Re: DeepFried (Feb 21 11:31),

      Keep looking in your first reference for QUESTIONS TO ADDRESS, apparently written by GB. For example:
      What method do you use to deduce palaeotemperatures from tree ring data?
      Does not the problem of divergence for the late 20th century record invalidate the deduction of tree ring palaeotemperatures for the period prior to the instrumental record?
      etc.

  16. copoli
    Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

    “unfair to not only the staff, but the students” Let’s have a look at the students. Are they getting unsatisfied with the declining reputation of their university? Does anybody know?

    Steve: I was contacted by a student newspaper in September who were worried even then about the impact on the value of their degrees of the FOI obstruction by UEA professors.

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 3:41 PM | Permalink

      Steve,

      Obviously you might not want to disclose if this was the UEA student newspaper but it is encouraging that the students seem to be questioning what they are being taught.

    • oneuniverse
      Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 7:33 PM | Permalink

      Re: copoli (Feb 21 12:55),

      Climate of Uncertainty, 1 Dec 2009, UEA student newspaper Concrete.

      “Perhaps the scale of opposition to CRU work can be measured by a letter to the American Geophysical Union (AGU) handed to Concrete after they awarded Phil Jones his fellowship in May. According to the letter, Dr. Jones’ scientific method has been marked by “a refusal to respect normal scientific transparency” and has “plagued the climate debate.”

      [..]

      “UEA has committed to an independent inquiry and its rigor will be important for both UEA’s reputation as well as climate science in general. Regardless of UEA and CRU’s defence, public perception can often trump such truths, as the recent MP expenses scandal has shown.”

      The article mentions Phil Jones’ use of confidentiality agreements to refuse the request from “scientists, and in particular Steve McIntyre” for data previously released to others (the article says allegedly). Four incriminating extracts from emails by Phil Jones are included.

      There’s no question CRU’s reputation is damaged, and UEA’s is under a cloud – an appreciably honest enquiry would help.

  17. srp
    Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 9:53 PM | Permalink

    Why does Boulton have such an unearthly blue flesh tone in the video still frame? Are we having Nav’i dedicating Coca-Cola plants now?

    • D. Patterson
      Posted Feb 22, 2010 at 3:02 AM | Permalink

      The Picts have returned to Scotland and the University of Edinburgh!

    • Posted Feb 22, 2010 at 9:09 AM | Permalink

      The image needs a RGB -> BGR color swap to become natural.

  18. Crazy Dung
    Posted Feb 21, 2010 at 11:19 PM | Permalink

    Sir Muir Russell, Head of the Independent Review, said: “I agreed very willingly to Professor Acton’s request to undertake this Independent Review. Given the nature of the allegations it is right that someone who has no links to either the University or the Climate Science community looks at the evidence and makes recommendations based on what they find. My first task is to scope the project, gather the information I need and source the additional expertise that will be required in order to investigate fully the allegations that have been made.
    If, as has been suggested in some comments, it is only Russell who needs to be independent, where in his enquiry is the raging climate sceptic who will balance the opinions of Boulton?

  19. P Solar
    Posted Feb 22, 2010 at 3:04 AM | Permalink

    how much weight can be put on a caption from a company promotional video. Interesting , though hardly a reference.

    Does this indicate Bolton now has a position with UK gov. or is presenting himself as such, or is it the video producer trying to make the event look more impressive and spinning the fact he is appointed to the inquiry into his having an official position?

    Worth digging into since it may reveal something but it could just be commercial spin.

    Steve: the caption doesn’t prove that this is how BOulton described himself – it’s hard to figure out the capacity in which Boulton was opening the Coca Cola plant though.

    • D. Patterson
      Posted Feb 22, 2010 at 8:45 AM | Permalink

      Boulton’s publications, statements, and activities in science, engineering, educations, and policy making administrate functions provide ample evidence and proof of his advocacy of Alarmist Climate Change policies. So, the video caption is accurate in that respect.

      He has served as a member and chairman of a number of international NGOs whose activities include the advocacy of Alarmist Climate Change and Global Change science and policies. These activities include the setting of Europe’s educational agenda and promoting a single consensus viewpoint in regard to Global Change in Europe’s educational establishments which favors Alarmism. Boulton along with Michael Northcott, a professor of ethics from Edinburgh University, has been promoting climate chnage science as part of a required educatoinal program of ethics.

      The Royal Academy of Engineering
      As Britain’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the country’s most eminent engineers from all disciplines to promote excellence in the science, art and practice of engineering. Our strategic priorities are to enhance the UK’s engineering capabilities, to celebrate excellence and inspire the next generation, and to lead debate by guiding informed thinking and influencing public policy.
      Ethics and the Engineer
      Embedding ethics in the engineering community
      13 October 2005
      The British Library
      96 Euston Road, London

      Sir Muir Russell has apparently selected Geoffrey Boulton on the basis of his recent qualifications to investigate CRU and lecture us on ethics….

  20. san quintin
    Posted Feb 22, 2010 at 10:28 AM | Permalink

    I’m personally surprised that Geoffrey Boulton is seen as a climate scientist. While he is a world-leading glaciologist with a number of very important glaciological contributions (deforming subglacial beds, reconstructions of British-Irish Ice Sheet etc) I don’t think he has published anything on climate change (no real paleoclimate for example nor reconstructions).

    • D. Patterson
      Posted Feb 22, 2010 at 11:41 AM | Permalink

      Scientist + Climate Change assessment and policy making = Climate Scientist

      Geoffrey Boulton, University of Edinburgh. Adapting to climate change: the space between science and politics.

      European Science Foundation: Setting Science Agendas for Europe
      European Palaeoclimate and Man (EPC)
      Summary
      This programme is based on a reconstruction of the development of European climate since the last glaciation and its interpretation in terms of natural and human influences. The research is multidisciplinary, involving several of the natural sciences, and also history and archaeology. Studies of the evolution of the climate system in the past are now recognised to be of fundamental importance in predicting even its short-term future, and in assessing its response to human activities, such as the generation of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

  21. Don Keiller
    Posted Feb 22, 2010 at 12:27 PM | Permalink

    Steve, are you going to post this video link to the Muir Russell inquiry team
    to point out tye clear and obvious bias of Boulton?

    If not, I will (as a UK citizen).

    • Posted Feb 22, 2010 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

      There’s an argument for copying to the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee as well, at scitechcom@parliament.uk, as I believe they are still actively considering the matter.

  22. Posted Feb 22, 2010 at 6:05 PM | Permalink

    I put in my submission to the Muir Russell inquiry today. I can’t say I put a lot of effort into it because I’m pretty miffed with the kind of insults that are being dealt out by politicians and the CRU – so why on earth should I waste my time doing their job for them.

  23. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Feb 22, 2010 at 9:07 PM | Permalink

    UK House of Commons re CRU disclosures. Not sure where to post this, so here goes with a Press release 23 Feb.

    “The Science and Technology Committee will hold the following oral evidence session in relation to its inquiry into the disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia:

    Monday 1 March 2010
    3.00pm The Rt Hon the Lord Lawson of Blaby, Chairman, and Dr Benny Peiser, Director, Global Warming Policy Foundation 3.30pm Richard Thomas CBE, former Information Commissioner 4.00pm Professor Edward Acton, Vice-Chancellor, University of East Anglia and Professor Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit 4.40pm Sir Muir Russell, Head of the Independent Climate Change E-Mails Review 5.00pm Professor John Beddington, Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Julia Slingo OBE, Chief Scientist, Met Office, and Professor Bob Watson, Chief Scientist, Defra

    http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/science_technology/s_t_cru_inquiry.cfm

  24. Posted Feb 22, 2010 at 11:24 PM | Permalink

    Back when I was a cadet at West Point, we were taught that the appearance of impropriety was as bad as actual impropriety. It’s a lesson that people conducting “investigations” would do well to learn. Then again, in this modern world where few are ever held accountable, maybe they assume it “doesn’t matter” as ole Gavin likes to say.

  25. Gina Young
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 7:08 AM | Permalink

    They don’t even try to appear objective anymore. Look at what the government is doing diplomatically: In Canada, it is hiring lobbyists to portray climate change as a security issue because its so-called media relations office can’t get any interest in the issue.

  26. Les Johnson
    Posted Feb 27, 2010 at 6:49 PM | Permalink

    Interesting. Boulton now hints that the 2007 CV published here by “oneuniverse”, was forged.

    http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/science_technology/sceptics+seek+second+climtegate+panel+casualty/3564682

    Just as odd, but the alleged CV of Boulton’s that was on the Chinese web site, has now been “disappeared”. If my translator is correct, it now states that the requested page does not exist, and may have been deleted.

    http://spa.xmu.edu.cn/edit/UploadFile/2007101883249846.doc

    These are two very different documents, BTW. According to the Properties of these Word documents, both were created by Boulton.

    But the one from the Chinese site (uploaded from Channel 4) was created Sept 19, 2007, with a word count of 1515.

    The one that Boulton insists was the 2007 CV, was in fact created July 3, 2008, and has a word count of 4282, and a different picture gracing the first page.

    Boulton also modified this document 6 times, and spent a little over 30 minutes editing it. He was the last to save it, according to “Advanced Properties”.

    In Advanced Properties, there is also a reference to a Tom Clarke, who I assume to be the Channel 4 reporter, as his e-mail is “ITN.CO.UK”

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