Oral testimony at UK Parliamentary Inquiry

The UK Inquiry has scheduled oral evidence on Match 1 as follows. They did not invite Ross McKitrick or me or anyone that was actively involved in the efforts to deal with CRU over the past five years.

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

Bishop Hill comments as follows:

None of the people who were actually involved in dealings with the CRU, who were involved in the nitty gritty of trying to extract information from them, the people who were insulted and abused in the CRU emails, the people who understand the technicalities of “Mike’s Nature trick” and hiding the decline, none of these people will actually get a say. They are left outside in the cold.


70 Comments

  1. Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 8:55 AM | Permalink

    About 20 minutes per person – sounds like they really intend to have a substantive discussion.

    • MikeC
      Posted Feb 24, 2010 at 4:20 AM | Permalink

      It explains the substantive discussion thus far on the settled science, period.

    • Jeff York
      Posted Feb 24, 2010 at 1:01 PM | Permalink

      From what I’ve seen from reading the autobiographies of a few senior civil servants it’s likely that the report and conclusions of the inquiry are already written.

  2. Fred
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 8:57 AM | Permalink

    “They are left outside in the cold.”

    Since this is CRU, I suggest we change this commonly used English expression to “They are left outside in the warming”

  3. Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 9:00 AM | Permalink

    All the people asked to testify are UK-based, which is I guess the reason that would be given that you haven’t been asked Steve. Having said that, the committee never replied to my first email, within an hour or two of the announcement of the Inquiry, asking if this was possible and, if so, strongly recommending it.

    …. Ross McKitrick was in UK this year. David Holland and Andrew Montford are UK subjects of course.

    It’s way less than it should be but it is at least in public, unlike the Muir Russell effort. People should I believe now write polite and dispassionate emails to individual members of the committee suggesting important lines of questioning.

  4. Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 9:12 AM | Permalink

    That list of contributors appears particularly deficient if you consider the stated objectives:

    “I would like to take this opportunity to emphasise that the focus of the inquiry is the implications of the disclosures for the integrity of scientific research and the terms of reference and scope of the Independent Review announced on 3 December 2009 by UEA.”

    • Phillip Bratby
      Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 11:03 AM | Permalink

      Julia Slingo and Bob watson know all about the integrity of scientific research, from the other side.

  5. Stacey
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 9:14 AM | Permalink

    The usual suspects lead the charge and is it not noticeable that the alarmists get the last word?

  6. Arthur Dent
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 9:17 AM | Permalink

    I have given oral evidence to Select Committees of the Commons and the Lords on several occasions and both the range of witnesses and the length of time allocated are typical. Witnesses called to give oral evidence are usually selected after consideration of written evidence and fall into tow categories, thos e whom the Committee want to question in more detail following written submission and those with responsibility in government for the issue under discussion.

    I don’t find the witness selection surprising and I don’t think this is an attempt at whitewash. THe Muir review does look like that but the HoC Environmnt Committee had no need to conduct an enqury. It chose to do so to investigate and it does not normally simply do the establishments bidding. Select Committees guard their independence carefully.

    • Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 8:57 PM | Permalink

      Humph! Where were you when they were building a hyperspace bypass through our planet?? At the PUB!!!
      ;)

      • Arthur Dent
        Posted Feb 24, 2010 at 6:06 AM | Permalink

        Yes, but I did save the Heart of Gold spaceship from destruction above the planet Magarathea although i did cause a whale and a bowl of tulips to perish in the process…

    • MikeC
      Posted Feb 24, 2010 at 4:47 AM | Permalink

      This is precicely why we tossed the Brits out of the States… they can neither plan, execute or cover up a simple effort to convince the world that they will die from horrible weather catastrophies in 30 years if they dont join PITA and walk to work!

  7. Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 9:22 AM | Permalink

    Well, they’re going to let Lawson and Peiser have the 3:00 slot. I imagine the GWPF is seen as a conservative lobbying group and not a scientific/critical group so it looks like ‘The Team’ decided to go the political route with this enquiry’s initial testimony. Bishp Hill’s “none of these people will actually get a say. They are left outside in the cold.” looks dead on. March 1 is the deadline for submissions so The Team won’t have read much of those by then. Their ‘results’ won’t be out until later in the spring so they could have waited. I wonder why they are having testimony on the submission deadline day and not waiting until they digested the submitted materials. The whole Mar. 1 meeting looks like a ceremony whereby Phil Jones is presented with the remit, the questions to answer, and the submissions and then will be told to go write a good paper defending CRU, UEA, UK Science, etc.

    It could be that the politicos will read the technical submissions, that the scientists on ‘The Team’ will have critical input, and that others will be called later. It could also be that Steve Mc will get called back to the Dendro 2010 conference and get to meet the real Santa Claus.

  8. Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 9:23 AM | Permalink

    Arthur Dent

    Why bother if they’re not going to listen to anyone who understands the issues. It’s hard to see what Julia Slingo can add to our understanding of what went on at CRU. Or John Beddington.

    • Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 9:34 AM | Permalink

      Re: Bishop Hill (Feb 23 09:23),

      Bishop, you could have been called for a quick five-minute verification that you wrote a book that would be submitted as part of the record. The ‘enquiry’ looks really, really narrow at this point, perhaps a literal interpretation of the remit: “1.1 Examine the hacked e-mail exchanges, other relevant e-mail exchanges and any other information held at CRU” only, in spite of later broader issues in the remit.

    • Dr Iain McQueen
      Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 11:00 AM | Permalink

      Re: Bishop Hill (Feb 23 09:23),
      Bishop, I wouldn’t despair! I encourage Steve to write to Lawson. He is admittedly a politician, but is not scientifically naive nor is Peiser. Most important he is a sharp customer. I am sure he would be happy to quote a few points from a letter from one of the actual protagonists. He is not snooty, and will listen to anything sensible, even politically tinged from Steve.
      I have watched the select committees questioning witnesses on TV, and it is a calm sensibly organised process, and generally the politicians do seem to be hearing, and sometimes remarkably penetrating.
      Don’t hesitate to write, Steve.

  9. Ollie
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 9:27 AM | Permalink

    Why not get in touch with Lord Lawson, Steve? I would have thought he would be happy to hear from you.

    http://biographies.parliament.uk/parliament/default.asp?id=27077

  10. Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 9:53 AM | Permalink

    Interesting Committee this one. Typically I find that active Committee chairs or members try to act quickly to convene hearings into issues they either have an active interest in advancing or an active interest in defusing. I wonder which case we have here.

    Let’s look at the composition of the Committee in question:

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

    8 Labour memebers (presumably don’t want an embarrassment for Government policy)
    2 Liberal Democrats (enthusiastic campaigners for the “consensus”)
    1 Independent
    3 Tories

    A quick look at the Tory members and their voting records:

    Mr Tim Boswell – “Voted very strongly for laws to stop climate change”

    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/tim_boswell/daventry

    Mrs Nadine Dorries – “Voted strongly for laws to stop climate change”

    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/nadine_dorries/mid_bedfordshire

    Robert Wiilson – “Voted strongly for laws to stop climate change”

    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/robert_wilson/reading_east

  11. Duke C.
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 10:04 AM | Permalink

    “…oral evidence on Match March 1 as follows.”

  12. Anonymous
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 10:05 AM | Permalink

    Yes Steve, but you are a retired mining exec, and the mining industry produces greenhouse gasses (thank you, The Guardian) so you clearly have vested interests.

    • Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 10:58 AM | Permalink

      I myself produce greenhouse gases, every minute. This no doubt explains not just every one of my positions on all the complexities of the AGW issue but the immensely high regard in which I hold Steve McIntyre.

      • gimply
        Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 11:05 AM | Permalink

        Um, are you talking CO2 or CH4?

        • Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 11:52 AM | Permalink

          gimply,

          Humans produce carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, water, oxides of nitrogen, oxides of sulfur, and volatile organic compounds as a part of their normal metabolic processes. The commensal bacteria associated with humans produce carbon dioxide, hydrogen, methane, hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds and a host of other chemical species.

        • gimply
          Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 12:08 PM | Permalink

          Oh, I know that – just my bizarre sense of humor suggesting that the gesture *might* be interpreted in a backhand manner.

        • Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

          lol :) yeah. I like subtle jokes :) . There will be those who will read it too literally, so they can get to learn something that it is possible they never knew. :)

        • Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 2:52 PM | Permalink

          Gimply, far be it from me to fart in the direction of a respected Select Committee of Her Majesty’s House of Commons – or even to allude to such a thing, especially every minute. But there’s always much to learn on Climate Audit and before this I couldn’t have produced the list of chemicals (the denotational list that is, obviously) that cdquarles supplied so thoughtfully so protect my rear end. And now I can :)

        • Jim from Anaheim
          Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

          “I emit greenhouse gasses in your general direction” doesn’t have the same ring….

    • MikeC
      Posted Feb 24, 2010 at 4:26 AM | Permalink

      Ah yes, the mining industry uses trucks and trains to haul their product…. and so does Walmart… and Sears… and the Post Office… man, that means anyone who has shopped at Walmart, Sears or mailed a letter has vested intrests… man this conspiracy goes deep!

  13. Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 10:10 AM | Permalink

    On 1 December 2009 Phil Willis, Chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, wrote to Professor Edward Acton, Vice-Chancellor of UEA following the considerable press coverage of the data, emails and documents relating to the work of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU). The coverage alleged that data may have been manipulated or deleted in order to produce evidence on global warming. [emphasis added]

    The Parliamentary Inquiry suffers from the same kind of sourcing problem as the IPCC’s 2035 glacier claim: Rather than go to first hand sources to get the authoritative version of the story, they are happy to settle for second or even third hand press coverage. Sometimes even third hand reports turn out to be accurate, but this is not a professional way to document facts — or to collect allegations.

    Do UK courts try cases based on third-hand allegations that a crime has been committed?

  14. Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

    Steve –

    As I pointed out on the Bishop Hill blog, this is hardly surprising. Here in the US, this is a standard format: invite skeptics who are most easily denied “standing” by lack of either academic training or current nature of employment; put them first, so the committee can filter in during their presentations, fluttering about and making all sorts of clatter; pepper them with canned questions by Greenpeace or the Union of Concerned “Scientists” that all reduce to “When did you stop beating your spouse;” then encourage the following speakers to pillory the skeptics, while you throw them leading, soft-ball questions to help them out.

    The very last thing they want to do is actually involve someone who was mentioned in Climategate, who could point out that they were actively being stymied in their search for the truth.

    Ken

  15. Paul
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 11:10 AM | Permalink

    Committee Specialist, Dr Christopher Tyler, is a member of Sense About Science.

    Here is SAS’s take on Climate and Weather

    http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/index.php/site/project/126/

    http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/pdf/Weather&Climate.pdf

    On the CLIMATE ALARMIST scale of 1 to 10, I would give SAS 11.

    You know where this parliamentary inquiry is going – straight for the whitewash brushes and paint.

  16. Robert Christopher
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 11:28 AM | Permalink

    The UK is due a General Election by June 3rd, (the timing is up to the Prime Minister), and so the three CMMGW parties in the Commons (Lib Dem, Labour & the Conservatives) will be joined by the sceptical UKIP and the BNP in the electioneering.

    Local politics aside, I would hope that Christopher Monkton (UKIP) would be able to get some time on national TV. He is one of the few in the political arena who can put the sceptical case.
    So, what do you think his chances are on BBC TV ?

    • Robert Christopher
      Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 12:48 PM | Permalink

      My point is that although we want this UK Parliamentary Inquiry to go our way, there will be discussion after its publication and the UK GE should provide more TV opportunities.

      And there is this just out:

      SENATE EPW MINORITY RELEASES REPORT ON CRU CONTROVERSY
      Shows Scientists Violated Ethics, Reveals Major Disagreements on Climate Science

      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/23/climategate-minority-report/#more-16658

  17. Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 12:37 PM | Permalink

    One glance through the list tells you how this will run. Pass the whitewash….

  18. ZT
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 1:07 PM | Permalink

    To get a sense of how British politicians have been misled by the British scientific establishment, see the following Royal commission report on climate change.

    http://www.rcep.org.uk/reports/22-energy/22-energyreport.pdf

    “Presented to Parliament by Command of Her Majesty, June 2000″

    (Co-authored by Boulton, no less). Tom Blundell the Chairman of this commission is a protein crystallographer. The bumbling professor defense is going to be endemic in the UK. So much for British Science. Forget the vanished reputation of the “University” of East Anglia – all foreign students are throwing away their English phrase books and preparing to get a much better education at home.

  19. woodNfish
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 2:29 PM | Permalink

    Why on Earth would I invite you to a hearing on our coverup? You just want to destroy the years of work we have put into it! (/sarc)

  20. JohnH
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

    I think a more promising development is the reported fact that Texas has sued the EPA over their endangerment finding. This may have the potential to end up in court, in which case Texas can introduce strong evidence of bad science.

  21. aylamp
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

    It is possible that the secretary of the Committee will have a quiet word with the witnesses and let them know what questions they will be asked. I’m speaking from experience of giving evidence to an Energy Select Committee some years ago.

    • Arthur Dent
      Posted Feb 24, 2010 at 6:17 AM | Permalink

      This is normal practice, remember this is not a court case with prosecution and defence council, but an enquiry by a political committee. When witnesses are called to give oral evidence the secretary to the Committee will usually say in the letter of invitation, why they are being called and what particular questions the Committee is interested in. This prevents interminable delays when the person being questioned has not prepared for it and requires more time toproduce the relevant data.

  22. john S
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

    “left out in the cold” You mean left out in the WARM dont you? But seriously folks, i dont see why you are getting so worked up about this. Tell me that you are surprised that there will be no honest investigation here. If there were any possibility of objectivity on the part of the AGW establishment it would have shown itself before now. It is pointless to expect beaurocratic leopards to change their spots. Truth and debate will come from the blogasphere, as it has so far.

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 3:20 PM | Permalink

      I think you are being a bit hasty here. Select Committees do try to remain independent of the government line and if you read their reports they are often critical.

      Their problem is that few do in fact read the reports and they are ignored by the government anyway.

  23. stephen richards
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 3:37 PM | Permalink

    Its the old school tie group. Don’t you know

  24. don
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 3:41 PM | Permalink

    It’s a curious procedure–due process?–where the victims don’t get to have a say. Oh, excuse me, I forgot, it’s the people who got hacked, or leaked on, who are the victims. Those deconstructionist semantics confuse me every time. I guess that means Steve is the suspect.

  25. Ray Girouard
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 4:00 PM | Permalink

    For British readers who are familiar with how UK Parliamentary inquiries operate: Is there a way to use the Minority Report on the CRU controversy that was just released by the US Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee to apply pressure on the UK inquiry to take a broader view of the scope of inquiry? It is available on WUWT at wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/23/climategate-minority-report/#more-16658

  26. UK John
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 4:14 PM | Permalink

    I think the committee will attack Lord Lawson for misleading the public into thinking something might be wrong with climate science, as this is what has happened before.

    They will be very kind to Prof Jones, what a nice chap!

    As for Julia Slingo and Bob Watson:- pointless! you will just get the corporate response, not the slightest chance of any brain activity.

  27. Brooks Hurd
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 4:21 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    I am afraid that the bent of this committee can be infered from how they reference the CRU emails. One could refer to them as leaked or hacked. The more likely of the two is the former based on what many contributors to this blog have suggested. The later is a crime in most places and in fairness, should only be used if there is some proof that hacking has actually occured. The New York Times assumed (without any proof) right from the start that the emails were hacked and used this as a flimsy excuse to ignore the story.

    Perhaps it is just me, but it does seem as if this those who wish to defend the behavoir of Phil Jones, Michael Mann, and the rest of the “Team” invariably refer to the emails as hacked.

    • curious
      Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 5:51 PM | Permalink

      In Vice Chancellor Acton’s letter to Mr Willis, Chairman of the Inquiry, he only refers to the emails as “downloaded”:

      http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/091210_UEA_Vice-Chancellor_Letter.pdf

      (However he includes a copy of the UEA press release where they are also referred to as “hacked”).

      Re: the Inquiry, this is the comment Mr Willis makes on their website announcing the oral evidence session:

      “The Committee has been receiving a steady stream of contributions to the inquiry, for which it is grateful. I would like to take this opportunity to emphasise that the focus of the inquiry is the implications of the disclosures for the integrity of scientific research and the terms of reference and scope of the Independent Review announced on 3 December 2009 by UEA. It is not an inquiry into global warming. In the time remaining before the General Election the Committee would not have time to carry out such an inquiry.”

      This makes it quite clear that they are not about to overturn AGW in one fell swoop. It does however leave plenty of room for some very uncomfortable questions for the UEA team. If Lord Lawson can establish the obvious shortcomings in practice of UEA in both scientific matters and in their compliance with FOI/EIR then I’d expect the Committee to question these matters very closely. The ICO is next up and my reading of FOI and EIR regs leaves no doubt that UEA intentionally abused the process. Since the emails came to light referencing the “ICO advice” they have also sought to pass the buck on this and I would not expect Richard Thomas to want to take it from them. As far as Muir Russell following on from UEA goes I think it will be an opportunity for the Committee to highlight any relevant gaps in his knowledge and understanding of matters prior to his work commencing. Finishing with Beddington and Watson will allow the Committee to ask questions about the certainy of the science they are supporting and, if their responses say it is anything less than “settled”, I think the Committee will be in a strong position to draw conclusions on the effect UEAs practice has had on the integrity of scientific research.

      In my view part of Lord Lawson’s remarks should be to establish the credentials of some of the sceptics of UEAs work and practices as authoritative and credible. This will give the lie to the approach UEA took with their own FOI officers “at the screen” showing “the type of people they were having to deal with”. As well as giving the background to the multiple requests I also think Lord Lawson should establish just how little effort was required in meeting them – as shown by Steve’s “small document” post. IMO this Committee has nothing to lose by really thrashing out these issues. By doing so it will not only leave the door open for a “post election” scrutiny of the actual science, but it will make a clear point about what is expected from scientists who wish to inform policy makers. The MPs are another group who have actually been let down badly by the shoddy goings on in climate science and it is in their interests that, like the ICO, they do not pick up someone else’s dodgy bill.

      Climate science did not get to where it is overnight – nor will it be set straight as the result of one or two Inquiries. My hope is that Arthur Dent above has the measure of this and that this Inquiry will be a step on the road to truth.

  28. Tom S
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 4:38 PM | Permalink

    “None of the people who were actually involved in dealings with the CRU, who were involved in the nitty gritty of trying to extract information from them, the people who were insulted and abused in the CRU emails, the people who understand the technicalities of “Mike’s Nature trick” and hiding the decline, none of these people will actually get a say. They are left outside in the cold.”

    Will you gentlemen be protesting this decision? I certainly hope so….expose expose expose these shennanigans, please.

  29. Henry
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 5:43 PM | Permalink

    Steve

    Given that this is what is going to happen in the oral evidence session, why don’t you send two or three key bullet points or questions to the Global Warming Policy Foundation which they might use. (You might also think about sending them an unreleased copy of your written evidence so they know what the Committee has seen from you)

    • Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 7:41 PM | Permalink

      Submissions to the committee will be published, on paper and online. When I spoke to the Clerk on Thursday 11th he said that this should happen by the end of the month – and the committee members will have the full compilation before that, to help them prepare for Oral Evidence. I’m expecting something public by Friday, therefore.

      • Dr Iain McQueen
        Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 9:22 PM | Permalink

        Re: Richard Drake (Feb 23 19:41),
        RD
        That is rather good news. Actually publishing submissions! Will make interesting reading, though I suspect only submissions accepted by the committee, so we probably won’t get to see the ‘difficult’ ones.

        • Arthur Dent
          Posted Feb 24, 2010 at 6:26 AM | Permalink

          My undersatnding is that all evidence submitted to the Committee is published in the record unless the submitter request that it be confidential (a rare event) in which case the record notes that evidence was also received from x, y and z.

          I repeat, and as a fully paid up cynic, I don’t think this is intended to be a whitewash. The Muir Review does that and a further enquiry was not needed for that purpose. I may be wrong, but I think we should consider this a Snr Barton like investigation.

          By the way civil servants like Julia Slingo are usually invited to give oral evidence so that they can be put on the spot in public, not so that they can trumpet the party line. John Beddington is the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government and an obvious candidate.

  30. pat
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 5:44 PM | Permalink

    not being invited is part for the course, steve.

    the magnitude of the global -snip- was exposed in november 2009 when steve mcintyre was not interviewed by every TV station, radio station, newspaper and magazine worldwide.

    the failure of the MSM said more than all the revelations since november ever could.

    Steve: I did a lot of interviews in late Nov/early Dec (as did Ross). I was very tired from doing as many as I did.

  31. ZT
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 6:59 PM | Permalink

    Of course, Prof. Julia Slingo (“OBE”) was the motivator behind the 1700 scientists who attempted to convince the public and media of the ‘integrity’ of climate scientists (through weight of numbers, presumably). This 1700 also upheld the findings of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report back in December. (Before the many and various revelations of its general shoddiness).

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6950783.ece

    Perhaps Julia, Geoffrey Boulton, and the 1700 had not had the chance to read the emails or the IPCC report before Julia slapped together the order for signatures. It is also interesting to see that Geologist/Glaciologist/Climate Change Adviser extraordinaire, Prof. Geoffrey Boulton (“OBE”) (another 1700 signatory) missed the IPCC “mistake” on the Himalayas.

    Even in December the times noted that Prof. Julia was applying the whip to her colleagues:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6951029.ece

    “One scientist told The Times he felt under pressure to sign. “The Met Office is a major employer of scientists and has long had a policy of only appointing and working with those who subscribe to their views on man-made global warming,” he said.

    • Dr Iain McQueen
      Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 7:30 PM | Permalink

      Re: ZT (Feb 23 18:59),
      ZT
      Perhaps not all non-UK people are aware that “OBE” stands for “Other B****rs’ Efforts”

      Hopefully there will be someone watching Prof Julia! At least Jones has lost the job.

      • ZT
        Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 7:47 PM | Permalink

        Thank you, Dr. I.

        My original theory was OBE=’Out of Body Experience’ meaning that it mattered little what the individual said or did as it was all a dream anyway. However, I am beginning to fear that the incoherent bumblings of the OBE crowd are a thinly veiled plot by the University arts departments to sink British science forever.

        Where are all the real British scientists?

        • Mark, Edinburgh
          Posted Feb 24, 2010 at 9:35 AM | Permalink

          I don’t think you fully understand how the British system works and the role of people like Sligo?

          British academic research science is largely funded by the government. They use arms length “quangoes” to dispense the funds. Quango members are appointed by the government.

          In the environmenal area grants are given via “NERC” the National Environmental Research Council. (They have a website). NERC will follow the advice of their relevant Board members for the field in question when deciding what to fund (or not). Therefore not a good idea to get on the wrong side of NERC.

          NERC Board members include;

          Professor Julia Slingo OBE
          Chief Scientist Met Office

          Professor Andrew Watson
          Professor at the School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

          Professor Robert (Bob) Watson
          Chief Scientific Advisor to DEFRA

          QED.

        • ZT
          Posted Feb 24, 2010 at 10:37 AM | Permalink

          Thanks Mark – I did not know that. This is surely a conflict of interests.

          So – ‘that’s the problem’ – as they say.

          Ok – given this – where are the British journalists?

          (Surely the journalists aren’t funded by NERC – are they?)

  32. JCM
    Posted Feb 23, 2010 at 10:06 PM | Permalink

    How goes the Police investigation ?
    Just plodding along ?

  33. Umbongo
    Posted Feb 24, 2010 at 1:05 PM | Permalink

    I have great respect for the comments of “Arthur Dent” since he has commented on a variety of issues on a variety of blogs and all with great common sense. I fear that in this case he is wrong. I believe that this inquiry has been set up in the great British Parliamentary traditions of 1. kicking an embarrassing issue into the longest grass available and 2. giving a spurious “disinterested” flavour to a conclusion which, if not already written, has been arrived at by the participants in this political theatre.

    Every one of the politicians involved in this inquiry are, to a greater or lesser extent, proponents of AGW. All of them – and not just the Conservatives – have voted strongly in favour of laws against climate change. Not one of them has a sceptical bone in his body. Not one has expressed any doubt that the “science is settled” and that Al Gore is God’s representative on Earth. The history of Parliamentary inquiries is littered with dross which served the political interests of whatever part of the political or related establishments had to be protected at the time. This is no different.

    I would refer you again to the comment of “Mark, Edinburgh” setting out the way the politics of science works in Britain. The inquiry is an extension of this cynicism. I cannot recall in my lifetime (I’m 66) any Parliamentary inquiry which actually nailed either a member of or an organ of the political class unless it was – like Profumo – an enforced sacrifice to save the bacon of somebody or some organisation of greater import or influence than the person sacrificed. Jones might be dumped in this one but the corruption of British – and by extension, world – science (not just “climate science”) will not be affected one iota by this charade.

    • Arthur Dent
      Posted Feb 24, 2010 at 3:44 PM | Permalink

      Thanks for the compliment. I agree that there is a great British political tradition of setting up enquiries to produce either a predetermined result or to push embarassing issues into the long grass. The Hutton, Butler and Chilcott enquiries related to the Iraq War and the Saville Enquiry into “Bloody Sunday” which has now been sitting for 10 years all fall into this tradition so beautifully sent up in Yes Minister.

      However this is not a government enquiry but one established by a fiercely independent select committee of the House. Most of their reports are cogent and to the point and rarely aimed at either government spin or whitewash. Their treatment of Ministers and Civil Servants can be very pointed and witnesses do not usually have a comfortable time.

      That is why I am more hopeful, however I may be sadly disappointed

      • Umbongo
        Posted Feb 25, 2010 at 7:30 AM | Permalink

        I share your hope if not your (qualified) optimism. The committee may be “fiercely independent”, as you write, but independent of whom exactly? If anyone in government or opposition is worried that this committee is going to upset the consensus (the political one, not the scientific one) their worries are very well concealed. I would be more comforted if the committee’s appointments (of advisers) and choice of witnesses so far did not point to a “done deal”. We shall see.

  34. Bernie
    Posted Feb 24, 2010 at 5:44 PM | Permalink

    Does anyone have any information on what actually happened?

    • Bernie
      Posted Feb 24, 2010 at 5:46 PM | Permalink

      Please delete the above – I missed the Match 1 (sic) date.

  35. toby
    Posted Feb 25, 2010 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

    Ha,! Ha!:) “left outside in the cold” .. that’s good, Steve, you’re on form today, always the comedian.

  36. Arthur Dent
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 7:07 AM | Permalink

    For those interested in the type of output from the House of Commmons Science & Technology Committee and to demonstarte that it is far from being a Government stooge. Here is a link to their most recent rport on Homeopathy.

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/45/45.pdf

    The Chairman of the Committee, Phil Willis MP, said:

    “This was a challenging inquiry which provoked strong reactions. We were seeking to determine whether the Government’s policies on homeopathy are evidence based on current evidence. They are not.

    “It sets an unfortunate precedent for the Department of Health to consider that the existence of a community which believes that homeopathy works is ‘evidence’ enough to continue spending public money on it. This also sends out a confused message, and has potentially harmful consequences. We await the Government’s response to our report with interest.”

    • Umbongo
      Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 8:17 AM | Permalink

      I think you’ll find that none of the committee voted for a “Homeopathy Act” committing the UK taxpayer to hundreds of billions of pounds to underwrite homeopathy. Nor have any of them, as far as I am aware, ever supported homeopathy with any statements to the effect that the science of homeopathy is settled and that those sceptical of homeopathy are flat-earthers or worse. Kicking homeopathy is easy and, more to the point, there are few political penalties payable for being a homeopathy sceptic.

      As for “not being a stooge of government” this December 2009 report

      http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/158/15803.htm

      by the Committee following (but not actuated by) the dismissal of Prof Nutt and addressing the principles for advising government on science concluded that “We welcome the Government’s success in improving the mechanisms by which scientific advice can be fed through into policy. The network of Chief Scientific Advisers and scientific advisory committees has the potential to strengthen the UK’s ability to make policy decisions that are based on the best available evidence and to make the UK Government’s science advisory system an international exemplar.” This bland conclusion is the response to a government whose scientific advisers are, for the most part, blatant advocates of government policy rather than disinterested guardians of scientific truth.

      • Arthur Dent
        Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 9:10 AM | Permalink

        We have different views, and if the review proceeds one of us will probably be shown to be correct! However as Guido Fawkes has pointed out it’s possible that the election may be called on Saturday which would be the end of the enquiry.

  37. curious
    Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 7:38 AM | Permalink

    The written evidence submitted is available here (apologies if this has alreday been posted):

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/memo/climatedata/contents.htm

    • Posted Feb 26, 2010 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

      Re: curious (Feb 26 07:38),
      This is interesting and encouraging. There are many responses from individuals, almost all of them critical of CRU, though many of them drifted well outside the rather narrow remit. Well worth reading!

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