CRU Refuses FOI Request for Yamal Climategate Chronology

Probably no single issue damages the reputation of the climate science community more than the refusal to show the data that supports their work, even under an FOI request. The public believes that scientists who purport to be concerned about the future of the planet should not place their own financial interests, including future grants, ahead of this concern, particularly when their research has been done with public funds.

Recently I sent an FOI request to the University of East Anglia for a regional chronology combining Yamal, Polar Urals and shorter (presumably Schweingruber) chronologies referred to in Climategate email 1146252894.txt, as well as a request for even a simple list of sites used to make the chronology. This request is for data that is central to Climategate. Yamal was in controversy in the days prior to Climategate. I drew particular attention to this issue and this series in my own submission. Unfortunately, the “inquiries” avoided the issue.

Not only did East Anglia refuse my request for the regional chronology, they even refused to identify the sites. The University claimed that even identifying the sites would result in “financial harm” to the university though an adverse impact on their “ability to attract research funding”. See here.

It’s hard to imagine an institution purporting to justify its conduct in such crass commercial terms.

In more detail …

I wrote my recent posts on Yamal here here as an introduction to today’s post by reminding readers that the topic in dispute when the Climategate dossier was released was why CRU hadn’t published a regional chronology combining Yamal, Schweingruber data (including Polar Urals), as they had done for Taimyr. The question was summarized by Ross in an Op Ed as follows:

Combining data from different samples would not have been an unusual step. Briffa added data from another Schweingruber site to a different composite, from the Taimyr Peninsula. The additional data were gathered more than 400 km away from the primary site. And in that case the primary site had three or four times as many cores to begin with as the Yamal site. Why did he not fill out the Yamal data with the readily-available data from his own coauthor? Why did Briffa seek out additional data for the already well-represented Taimyr site and not for the inadequate Yamal site?

Although Briffa’s online response in October 2009 was implausible – Briffa said that they hadn’t thought of including the Schweingruber series – it was uncritically endorsed by the “community”. Briffa also claimed that this didn’t “matter” – I rebutted this latter claim in my recent post.

Briffa’s seemingly implausible assertion that they had never “considered” inclusion of the Schweingruber series was brought into question by the Climategate dossier, and, in particular email 1146252894.txt which discussed the very regional chronology combining Yamal, Polar Urals and shorter (Schweingruber) chronologies that had been at issue on the eve of Climategate:

Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2006
To: philip.brohan
From: Tim Osborn
Subject: Re: Standardisation uncertainty for tree-ring series
Cc: Keith Briffa,simon.tett
Hi Philip,
we have three “groups” of trees:

“SCAND” (which includes the Tornetrask and Finland multi-millennial chronologies, but also some shorter chronologies from the same region). These trees fall mainly within the 3 boxes centred at: 17.5E, 67.5N;22.5E, 67.5N; 27.5E, 67.5N
“URALS” (which includes the Yamal and Polar Urals long chronologies, plus other shorter ones). These fall mainly within these 3 boxes: 52.5E, 67.5N; 62.5E, 62.5N (note this is the only one not at 67.5N); 67.5E, 67.5N

“TAIMYR” (which includes the Taimyr long chronology, plus other shorter ones). These fall mainly within these 4 boxes: 87.5E, 67.5N; 102.5E, 67.5N; 112.5E, 67.5N; 122.5E, 67.5N
We do some analysis at the group scale, and for this we take the JJA temperatures from each box and average to the group scale to obtain a single series from each of SCAND, URALS and TAIMY.

We do some analysis at the overall scale, and for this we take these three group temperature series and average them to get an overall NW Eurasia temperature for boxes with tree chronologies in them.

We did also try using a wider average for the region, including all LAND temperatures from grid boxes within a rectangular region from 12.5E to 127.5E and from 57.5N to 72.5N, but I don’t think it correlated so well against the tree-ring width data (I can’t remember the exact correlations), so we didn’t pursue that.

Does that give you enough information to be going on with? I’d recommend using CRUTEM3 rather than HadCRUT3, because the correlations seem to deteriorate with the inclusion of SST data in some cases — though of course you can look into this yourself.
Cheers
Tim

In my submission to the Parliamentary Committee and Muir Russell “inquiry”, I specifically referred them to the “still unavailable combined chronology attested in Climategate Letter 1146252894.txt” (this was one of only two emails that I directly cited in the running text.) For inquiries mandated to examine possible incidents of data manipulation or suppression (including “cherry picking”) this was right at the top of my list and should have been somewhere on theirs. Instead, the “inquiries” averted their gaze.

Because none of the negligent “inquiries” reported on the regional chronology, it remained an outstanding question. Accordingly, I recently submitted an FOI (EIR) request for information on the Climategate regional chronology, including even seemingly innocuous information such as the sites:

Climategate email 684. 1146252894.txt of Apr 28, 2006 refers to a tree ring composite identified as follows:

“URALS” (which includes the Yamal and Polar Urals long chronologies, plus other shorter ones).

Could you please provide me a digital version of this series together with a list of all the measurement data sets used to make this composite, denoting each data set by ITRDB identification or equivalent. For the Polar Urals site, would you please identify the individual data sets used by ITRDB identification or equivalent. If any of the data is not in a public archive, please provide the measurement data.

It would probably simplify matters if you also provided the measurement data used for the “URALS” chronology in a digital form.

Thank you for your attention,

Stephen McIntyre

A couple of weeks ago, the University of East Anglia refused everything in my request, up to and including a list of sites. (The refusal is online here.) I’ll summarize their response below, but urge interested readers to read the original refusal.

As a clarification for the refusal below, although I had only requested the regional chronology, an email prior to the one quoted discussed the construction of 1001 bootstrap variations, which weren’t what I was looking for.

Although they refused to provide a list of sites, they said that the sites were in northwest Siberia:

Although the specific lists of sites used at the time of the 2006 email (and as
modified in subsequent work) are not being released, the primary data from which
the selections were made, including the site identifiers, are available publicly on a
variety of websites as noted in the above text. In addition we can release the
general parameters for the sites from which the data for the URALS group were
drawn: we used only ring-width data, and the sites were from within the domain
bounded by 45°E and 75°E and north of 60°N

And that the sites were referred to somewhere within the lists on three websites:

Although the specific lists of sites are not being released, we are providing the general coordinates to identify the “URALS” study region from which data were selected. All of the data that we have used within this area are publicly available (including their ITRDB identifiers or equivalent) on several websites. In the attachment to this letter we provide the general regional
parameters for this study and the data (including ITRDB identifiers where they exist)
from which the selection was made can be found on the ITRDB website:
(http://web.utk.edu/~grissino/itrdb.htm). Additional data are available at other websites:
(http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/treering.html) and
(http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/people/briffa/yamal2009/data/). There are some Russian
sites not within the ITRDB database and the identifiers for those can be found on a
Russian website http://lib.ipae.uran.ru/dchrono (in Russian).

Secondly, even though Briffa et al 2008 purported to publish regional chronologies for three north Eurasian areas, they claimed their 2006 regional chronology was exempt because it was only a first draft.

Thirdly, they stated that the release of either the data or the selection of sites would “adversely affect the intellectual property rights of the University”:

The 1,001 composite data sets and the list of sites used to construct the data sets
are incomplete and subject to further work and modification. Additionally, release at
this time of the 1,001 composite data sets and the selection of sites used to
construct them would also adversely affect the intellectual property rights of the
University.

They argued that their “intellectual property rights” extended to the selection of sites and disclosure of the sites included in their unreported 2006 regional chronology would cause the university “financial harm” through an adverse impact on its ability to attract funding. The University goes on to say that CRU is re-analysing its results and will report back by October 2012:

In regards to Regulation 12(5)(c), it is our contention that there are intellectual property rights in the form of both copyright and database right in the composite data sets.
Creative work went into the selection of the site locations to include, and the
arrangement of the data within the data sets, thus leading to a database right.
Additionally, the data itself within the composite data sets represents the intellectual
effort of developing the processing of the ‘raw’ data obtained from the site datasets
themselves and therefore attracts copyright. The ‘adverse affect’ to intellectual property
rights is based upon the fact that release of these data sets and the methodology used
in their construction would, effectively, be publication of the creative work of the CRU
staff. This would seriously reduce the likelihood that any high impact journal would
publish the results pertaining to this work, thus effectively causing the University
financial harm via adverse impact upon reputation, ability to attract research funding,
and funding arising from the citation of the publications within the REF process by which
universities in the United Kingdom receive funding based on the quality of research
undertaken….

the lists of sites from which the data is drawn was created in 2006 as a first ‘draft’ of work that was meant to be carried forward and refined with a view to future publication. Whilst there
has been the passage of some time since the creation of the first set of 1,001 composite
records, staff at the CRU have returned to this data recently as part of a project funded
by NERC, which commenced in May 2010, that encapsulates this NW Eurasian tree-ring
study, and which will be completed no later than October 2012. The data will be revised
in the near future as the project moves towards publication of papers based on the work
in constructing the composites.

This doesn’t in any way explain CRU’s failure to use the 2006 regional chronology in Briffa et al 2008. Nor does it explain CRU’s statement in October 2009 that they hadn’t “considered” combining the Schweingruber chronologies (when the email indicates otherwise).

Yamal was not an incidental issue in Climategate. As noted in my recent post, Phil Jones’ first reaction to Fred Pearce was that Climategate was about Yamal. Refusing essential documents on Yamal simply fuels suspicion.

Refusal of data requests by climate scientists are corrosive to public confidence in the climate science community. When the FOI refusals pertain to documents that were at the heart of Climategate, the refusals are particularly toxic.

The easiest way for the climate science to “move on” would be to voluntarily disclose the list of sites and the regional chronology rather than fighting FOI tooth-and-nail. This request is not going to disappear.

And the people who should be most concerned about UEA’s most recent refusal are the wider climate science community who purport to be concerned about the future of the planet. Provided, of course, in the case of the University of East Anglia, that it doesn’t interfere with their “ability to attract research funding”.


152 Comments

  1. Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 9:41 PM | Permalink

    Thanks, Steve, for your continued efforts to obtain the experimental data at the base of the global climate controversy.

  2. Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 9:46 PM | Permalink

    Creative work went into the selection of the site locations to include, and the arrangement of the data within the data sets, thus leading to a database right.

    The question is, did any of that “creative work” involve logic and objectivity?

    God: What are you doing now?

    Arthur: Averting my eyes, oh Lord.

    God: Well don’t! It like those miserable psalms inquiries, they’re so depressing. No knock it off!

  3. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 9:47 PM | Permalink

    It’s a new “trick”. It must be somewhere in a text.
    You make up an excuse if it is not in the Rules of Refusal. Science continues to advance. The trolls will explain it.

  4. David P
    Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 9:49 PM | Permalink

    They could’ve saved a lot of ink by simply reverting to their erstwhile chief’s famous line: “Why should we give it to you when all you want to do is find something wrong with it?” It seems like pretty much the same point to me.

  5. TimG
    Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 9:49 PM | Permalink

    Will you be taking this up with the information commissioner in the UK? Has the 6 month deadline elasped?

    • David Holland
      Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 5:55 AM | Permalink

      Re: TimG (Apr 25 21:49), Re: TimG (Apr 25 21:49),

      The six month deadline is only relevant to the prosecution of the offence of “blocking” under FOIA section 77 or EIR regulation 19. Playing silly b****rs is perfectly legal. Why is anyone surprised that climate scientists do not want to be open and transparent?

      This is an important test case that Steve has to take through the ICO complaint and Tribunal process after UEA review its decision – which I predict will confirm the refusal.

      • Richard Brearley
        Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

        Hi Tim,

        Just to let you and Steve know that I am determined that this information should be released. I have lots of time on my hands at the moment. I am the former senior partner of a firm of solicitors here in the UK, currently on a “sabbatical” and I would be delighted to help. See my post (that inexplicably appeared below). Do let me know if I can help in any way.

        regards,

        Richard B

        • Richard Brearley
          Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 2:48 PM | Permalink

          I mean David of course, – its late here and I need to sleep :)

        • David Holland
          Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 3:42 PM | Permalink

          Re: Richard Brearley (Apr 26 14:48), Re: Richard Brearley (Apr 26 14:48),

          Richard,

          If by David you mean me I would be more than delighted to meet up and have a chat on a few ideas. You can reach me via Steve or use: crusub at the big supermarket begining with t dot net.

          Cheers

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 4:15 PM | Permalink

          thank you for the interesting comment. I am aware of the issues, but I get worn out dealing with this sort of stuff. It was refreshing to read your post. I’ll follow up.

  6. theduke
    Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 9:51 PM | Permalink

    Forgive me if I overstate the case, but their “intellectual property rights” are now worthless.

    As is their reputation as a university.

  7. Peter Wilson
    Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 10:02 PM | Permalink

    We have decades of work in these chronologies. Why should we give them to you, when all you want to do is find something wrong with them?

  8. justbeau
    Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 10:08 PM | Permalink

    AGW is the property of the Univ. of East Anglia.

  9. sierra117
    Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 10:12 PM | Permalink

    The white-washing inquiries into the leaked UEA email has clearly encouraged the them to continue their brazen.

    Its no different to a child not getting punished for taking a cookie from the cookie jar without permission. “I got away with it last time, I may as well do it again only this time, I’ll take two cookies…”.

    I don’t believe the “commercial interests” line for one moment but even if it were true, putting research dollars before the science upon whose outcome trillions of dollars might be wasted is criminal.

    Every FOI refusal is doing damage to the AGW cause. Every refusal adds names to the skeptic queue.

    The political will of governments around the world to take action on climate change is faltering because of an increase in skepticism.

    When the UEA IPCC et al works this out, they will change their approach.

    Keep the blowtorch close to their face Steve.

  10. MikeN
    Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 10:15 PM | Permalink

    How did they come up with 1001 different chronologies? Is there a set of 7 sites, 11 sites, and 13 sites, that they can pick and choose from?

    Steve; the email in question describes a bootstrap as a sort of confidence interval. DOn’t get distracted by this.

  11. SUT
    Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 10:31 PM | Permalink

    Imagine Tony Hayward refusing to disclose data that could help the public better understand global warming, citing a right for BP to profit from IP contained in the data! There would be a pultizer for any reporter to scoop that.

    All in a day’s blog for McIntyre, though. It amazes me that this site has been around for 6+(?) years and that there is always more misbehavior on the part of scientists to continue to fill it.

  12. FredT
    Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 10:56 PM | Permalink

    I’m a little puzzled here. This is a FOI request not for the raw data (which exists online already), but for a derivative work in progress that has neither been described nor published in the scientific literature. Under what circumstances is this a valid FOI request?

    Imagine if this was valid, then you could FOI anyone anywhere (in a UK university) whenever you got a whiff of something interesting and then publish an rival analysis first.

    Asking for details about a published work is one thing, asking for people to hand over stuff they haven’t even written up is quite another.

    Steve – Briffa et al 2008 purported to report regional chronologies. The combined Yamal-Polar Urals regional chronology falls squarely within the four corners of that publication. In addition, it falls directly within the issues that the University had said would be covered by the inquiries.

    had the “inquiries” done their job, this sort of frustrating request would not have been needed.

    • Peter Wilson
      Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 11:21 PM | Permalink

      The issue here as I understand it is that Briffa claimed to have never “considered” inclusion of the Schweingruber series in his reconstruction, whereas the email noted indicates that they gave definite consideration to including it, but decided against doing so. In this case, the information being sought relates to the reason WHY this was not included in the published work, which give rise to obvious suspicion of cherry picking. Given that the information sought is central to outstanding suspicions of cherry picking against CRU, and there is clear public interest in the matter.

      Briffa’s failure (refusal?) to incorporate evidently improved data in his reconstruction can surely provide no cover from FOI requests – if it did, one would be unable to request a full dataset from which a sample was chosen, which would give any bent researcher the ability to thwart proper replication or auditing in many areas of research, simply by not publishing part of his data.

      • gyptis444
        Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 3:36 AM | Permalink

        After 20 years cherry picking has become a proud tradition for IPCC and its supporters. Why change now?

    • FredT
      Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 11:42 PM | Permalink

      Sorry, but I just don’t see it. FOI laws are for access to public records. They are not a mechanism to demand answers to questions, or to force public agencies to do something you want them to do. Unless there is a record of some sort you cannot possibly FOI someone for the reason why they did or did not do something. If the analysis was not done an published in Briffa et al 2008, then you have no leg to stand on.

      Contrarywise, if this is an analysis that is still being worked on, the IPR, and unpublished data exemptions clearly hold. You can’t demand access to a work in progress.

      The scientific way to deal with this is to do your own analysis – since the raw data is all available – and justify your choices in the literature just like everyone else.

      • Peter Wilson
        Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 12:53 AM | Permalink

        How are these not public records? It is not the reason for the omission that Steve is FOIing, its the records which must have been created as a result of the considerations outlined in email 1146252894.txt
        Whether they were used in Briffa et al 2008, or any other publication is not the point. They were created using public funds, we have evidence they exist, and there is no indication that they are part of a work in progress – whats the problem?

      • Pete
        Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 3:50 AM | Permalink

        You are totally wrong on a number of counts. This body of work has massive impact on public policy and there is continuing public interest, and I would contend a requirement for full disclosure. The University is also a public body and receives grants for it’s work from numerous public sources.
        Apart from this there are significant grounds to suspect dishonest or corrupt practice at this institution.
        One of the major reasons for FOI regulations is so that public institutions can be held accountable. Under the circumstances it is amazing that the UEA adopts the position that it has.

      • Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 4:37 AM | Permalink

        Watts drew some comfort though from Muller’s full testimony:

        Without the efforts of Anthony Watts and his team, we would have only a series of anecdotal images of poor temperature stations, and we would not be able to evaluate the integrity of the data.

        This is a case in which scientists receiving no government funding did work crucial to understanding climate change. Similarly for the work done by Steve McIntyre. Their “amateur” science is not amateur in quality; it is true science, conducted with integrity and high standards.

        Government policy needs to encourage such work. Climate-ARPA could be an organization that provides quick funding to worthwhile projects without regard to whether they support or challenge current understanding.

        I take it you wholeheartedly agree with that part tfp?

        • Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 6:51 AM | Permalink

          1) I believe all data should be available, data processing methodology should be available, code should possibly be available.
          2) I believe also that only data owned by a group can be released by the group, They have no right to distribute others property.
          3) I believe that no-one has a right to access others ip until they have had time to publish.
          4) I think that data acquired using funding by a public body should only be released by those doing the funding see 2)
          5) Does a statistician know more about trees than a person who has spent a lifetime studying them?
          6) How are 10s of thousands of Gov employees, researchers, students able to keep their involvement in this conspiracy from being exposed???!!!!
          7) FredT is basically correct in his statements above.

        • Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 8:19 AM | Permalink

          I can’t believe we’re still arguing around data release policies. the problem has been dealt with by many organizations already, eg by Nasa for its space missions. even the extremely secretive Kepler mission has published guidelines that would be unthinkable for the petty minds of UEA.

        • RomanM
          Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 8:51 AM | Permalink

          Does a statistician know more about trees than a person who has spent a lifetime studying them?

          One could equally ask the question “Does a climate scientist know more about statistics than a person who has spent a lifetime studying all of the broad aspects of statistical analysis?”

          However, which do you think would be easier (and scientifically more effective), for a statistician to learn enough about the origins of tree ring measurements or for a climate scientist to sufficiently grasp not only the technical aspects of constructing a chronology, but to understand the nuances of the results along with the possible pitfalls?

          What do you think that statistical consultants do for a living? Why would climate scientists behave like hermits and not consult them?

        • EJD
          Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

          This is satire, right?

        • Nicolas Nierenberg
          Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 10:19 AM | Permalink

          Who are the 10s of thousands? This is a small group of dendros.

        • klee12
          Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 3:51 PM | Permalink

          thefordperfect wrote

          1) I believe all data should be available, data processing methodology should be available, code should possibly be available.
          2) I believe also that only data owned by a group can be released by the group, They have no right to distribute others property.

          There are two issues here, name what has to be released at the time of publication from the point of view of (1) science and (2) the law (e.g FOI) I will address only what I believe has to be released at the time of publication from the point of view of science.

          Reproduction of results is the bedrock of science. In the case of the publications at issue here I believe both the program code and the data (including the provenance of the data) must be released.

          If only a description of the algorithm is released and another scientist tried to reproduce the results and obtained different results then who is correct, the original author or the person trying to reproduce the results? In software it is often said the code is the final authority in the specification of the algorithm.

          A similar argument applies with the data. If a scientists has the code and gets a different result when he uses data from the web, who is right the original author or the person trying to reproduce the results? Note that data on the web may change by updates. When the program is run it is trivial to save all input files and in a README file specify the provenance of the data. The provenance must be specified for the same reason that adequate citations to a paper must be given.

          Evidently some papers from CRU failed here. Those papers should not be considered to have met the requirements of science. That doesn’t mean their results are incorrect, but that they fail to meet the standards of science

          klee12

        • Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 10:00 PM | Permalink

          It’s hardly worth responding here as it gets edited or deleted just too frequently!.
          However, I would suggest that it is better to independently verify results rather than immediately jumping to using the original code (possibly flawed).

        • John M
          Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 10:06 PM | Permalink

          It’s hardly worth responding here as it gets edited or deleted just too frequently!.
          However, I would suggest that it is better to independently verify results rather than immediately jumping to using the original code (possibly flawed).

          And if the results can’t be verified?

        • Richard Brearley
          Posted Apr 28, 2011 at 1:41 AM | Permalink

          UEA dont appear to agree. They have set out their case on the basis that the request is accepted, but refused it on exceptions. Further, under the Regulations if the request should have been made to a different “public authority” then UEA are obliged to transfer it on or give details to the applicant of where it should be sent. UEA did neither.

        • Geoff Sherrington
          Posted Apr 28, 2011 at 8:41 AM | Permalink

          Richard Brearley
          Agreed, so long as there were not indeed agreements (maybe with some Russians) whose breach would be more serious than FOI and so are not to be mentioned by name. I do not know how customary it is to engage in money transfers to avoid taxation, couriers meeting at Swiss railway stations with brown paper bags …. However, these are merely the unfair thoughts of my inventive mind because the emails are not so detailed as to point to certain guilt.

        • Dave
          Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 12:27 PM | Permalink

          Ford>

          “I would suggest that it is better to independently verify results rather than immediately jumping to using the original code (possibly flawed).”

          I think you’re missing a couple of salient points there. Of course it would be good to have independent research on the same subject, but that not only takes significantly greater resources to produce than a rebuttal of other work, but also, more importantly, doesn’t achieve any more than the rebuttal. If someone puts forwards an erroneous theory, and it is rebutted, we’re back where we started – we know we know nothing. If someone puts an erroneous theory forwards, and instead of demolishing it, someone puts out a counter-theory, we still don’t know which is correct. The true advance is with the combination of a rebuttal of erroneous work, and a counter-theory which holds up under close examination.

          Either way, though, I’d say that any scientist who truly understands science and wants to make a name for himself will welcome any and all criticism of his work, because he knows it helps make it as strong as possible – he’ll already have tried to do just the same thing. It’s such a basic instinct in real scientists that it can’t be switched-off, which is why I, personally, don’t trust the chaps at CRU to produce good science.

        • Gord Richens
          Posted Apr 28, 2011 at 9:56 AM | Permalink

          Why? Then you are apt to end up with two opposing results, with no indication as to which one (or both) is flawed. Show your work or go home.

        • MrPete
          Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 9:26 PM | Permalink

          Re: thefordprefect (Apr 26 06:51),
          tfp, a couple of comments…

          Publicly funded work is funded by… the public. Surprise! The public owns the data. The public owns any IP. All work done by public ‘servants’ as they used to be called… is owned by the public.

          Please learn to distinguish between scientists who have spent a lifetime studying actual trees (ie out in nature) vs those who have been studying tree data. The latter are not necessarily expert in any way at understanding trees. Many if not most of those playing in this game are far more experienced at data modeling and developing presumably-interesting proxy models, than at the actual field work.

          Once we have the terms of reference straightened out, your question becomes: does a statistician know more about data than a person who has spent a lifetime studying data?

          Not surprisingly, statisticians not only spend a lifetime studying data, they also typically have a graduate degree in such study. That’s why they are valuable for any initiative involving data analysis.

        • John M
          Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 10:03 PM | Permalink

          Mr. Pete,

          Publicly funded work is funded by… the public. Surprise! The public owns the data. The public owns any IP. All work done by public ‘servants’ as they used to be called… is owned by the public.

          Actually, in the US, ownership of federally funded work can be a little more complicated than that.

          Interestingly though, the best known law to give academics ownership of government funded work is the Bayh-Dole Act. It does give Universities and researchers rights to “inventions” and copyright.

          So what is an “invention”.

          1) it must be novel;
          2) it must have utility; and
          3) it must not be obvious.

          http://www.managingfederalgrants.com/1800_intellect/1800_intellect_sample.html

          So with intellectual property wrt to proxy studies in climate science? Well, they’ve certainly got 1) and 3) covered. ;)

          All joking aside, the intellectual property rights researchers have don’t typically include keeping the work under lock and key. Patents and copyright are necessarily public, and trade secrets are only of value if there is a commercial value involved.

          It would be tough to make the case that building a publication record fits under the category of “commercial value” as envisioned by Bayh-Dole.

        • Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 4:38 PM | Permalink

          From the stolen data here is a list of funders to PJ

          BRITISH SUGAR PLC/IACR – BROOM’S BARN
          CEC
          COUNCIL FOR THE CENTRAL LAB. OF THE RES. COUNCILS
          DEPT OF ENVIRONMENT
          ENVIRONMENT AGENCY
          EPSRC
          EUROPEAN UNION – EU / CEC
          HEFCE / JIF
          MASSACHUSETTS UNIV.
          MET OFFICE
          NATIONAL RIVERS AUTHORITY
          NATO – NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANISATION
          NERC
          SCOTTISH ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION AGENCY
          SCOTTISH OFFICE
          UK WATER INDUSTRY RESEARCH LTD
          UNIV CORP ATMOS RES
          US DEPT OF ENERGY

          Any data/code/results obtained FOR these people belong to THEM. It does not matter if they are public bodies – they EMPLOYED Jones etc to do the work – they OWN the data.

          Any requests for data MUST be to these bodies since Jones does not own his results they do.

          Have these bodies had data requested from them or is it right to keep FOI requesting the UEA for data they CANNOT give?

          I’m sure its more fun going after the UEA because their refusal means more negative blogs about hiding the data.

          Steve” this hasNOTHING to do with the Yamal refusal.

        • Tom Gray
          Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 4:50 PM | Permalink

          Any data/code/results obtained FOR these people belong to THEM. It does not matter if they are public bodies – they EMPLOYED Jones etc to do the work – they OWN the data.

          This all depends on the contract that they had with Jones. In my own experience, the university or the researcher usually retains the ownership of the intellectual property that they develop. Additionally if the researcher uses code released under various licenses, they may also be restricted in other ways The code wants to be free and all that. Things are not as simple as you seem to think they are.

          Steve – Fprd’s comment has nothing to do with Yamal
          .

        • John M
          Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 4:53 PM | Permalink

          TFP,

          Any data/code/results obtained FOR these people belong to THEM. It does not matter if they are public bodies – they EMPLOYED Jones etc to do the work – they OWN the data.

          Any requests for data MUST be to these bodies since Jones does not own his results they do.

          Those agencies only “own” the data if there are formal agreements indicating so.

          UEA should be able to produce those formal agreements, or one could file FOAs asking to see them…

          Oh wait.

        • RomanM
          Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 6:22 PM | Permalink

          Have these bodies had data requested from them or is it right to keep FOI requesting the UEA for data they CANNOT give?

          ftp, think about it. Why would UEA have manufactured a completely implausible reason for their refusal if a perfectly good one such as this was available for them to use. Maybe they just forgot that it was there… ;)

        • gernimo
          Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 7:43 PM | Permalink

          They own the data until they allow its use in a learned journal, once that is done then the data have to be available for scrutiny by third parties. unless this is strictly adhered to science will descend into a voodoo religion where only the high priests can interpret the birds’ entrails.

        • Posted May 3, 2011 at 12:52 PM | Permalink

          1) “They own the data until they allow its use in a learned journal”
          Not necessarily and the publication in a journal changes nothing.
          2) “once that is done then the data have to be available for scrutiny by third parties” it has certainly been scrutinised by third parties (just the “wrong kind” of third parties in some people’s views or not publicly, but that is a different issue).
          3)”unless this is strictly adhered to science will descend into a voodoo religion where only the high priests can interpret the birds’ entrails” verifying other results is not the be all and end all of science. Normal sceince, in Kuhn’s view, is about puzzle solving not about questioning the basis of the accepted paradigm. Verification is a part of science, but not a central part. Steve, for example would not use to data to verify results, but to assess the results, a different (and possibly very useful) scientific practice.

        • Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 9:29 PM | Permalink

          CA: How about being honest?
          TFP: ‘…yeah but, no but…'(and so on, ad infinitum)

        • JohnH
          Posted Apr 28, 2011 at 4:39 AM | Permalink

          And your next excuse will be that these are funded by the next tranch of public bodies, its a never ending loop.

          There are enough UK Govt funded bodies in that list to say the CRU are funded by UK taxpayers. They have my permission to release all the data I paid for.

        • KnR
          Posted Apr 28, 2011 at 9:09 AM | Permalink

          Sorry your wrong if the claims are based on the data , they that data must be available to others to ensure those claims are valid, if that data cannot be made available because of ‘contracts’ they it cannot be used to make claims. That is how science should work. Additional CRU have a habit of calming ‘commercially’ confidential but being unable to back this claim up with evidenced . Meanwhile whether you or they like it the CRU as a public body is subject to FOI as its subject to all the law of the land. It cannot pick to obey what it likes and ignore what it does not.
          Bottom line , Jones planned to avoid FOI request s before there was even one , CRU have been found to be in breach of the FOI , and even the poor reviews highlighted the FOI issue at CRU . When it comes to the FOI the CRU has some real problems which it seems to do nothing to resolve.

        • JamesD
          Posted May 7, 2011 at 12:39 AM | Permalink

          They haven’t been able to keep it hidden. It has been exposed. That is what climategate was all about.

          Hide the Decline.

        • batheswithwhales
          Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 3:07 PM | Permalink

          My preliminary view of Muller is that he is warmist frustrated that the clowns of The Team are messing up the whole cause with their exaggerations, ignorance and lack of openness.

          I think he is convinced that if science is done right, in an open and transparent manner, everyone will see that the warmists were in fact right, even though most of them behaved like fools, and not like scientists.

          So I support Muller. I think his efforts to promote a more open and transparent process on the science is the only way to go.

          But I believe Muller will be somewhat disappointed when he discovers that open science can not produce the same dramatic results that closed science could.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 11:46 AM | Permalink

      Re: FredT (Apr 25 22:56),
      I plan to appeal their decision. They are required to weigh the exemptions against a public interest test and the facts of the present case do not follow the pattern of most academic research. In the present case, CRU gave evidence to the Muir Russell “inquiry” that involves this chronology. On a number of occasions, they slagged me.

      They accused me of “misleading” the Muir Russell inquiry as follows:

      The Review Team will appreciate that we strongly refute McIntyre’s claim of bias or ‘cherry picking’ and it is he who is misleading this Review by promoting the use of the “updated Polar Urals” chronology though he has presented no analysis of why, other than the fact that the medieval tree growth appears higher.

      They claimed that including the KHAD data with “the other data available from the region” produced a result that is consistent with the original Yamal data.

      Briffa argued strongly that McIntyre’s specific evidence for implied falling temperatures in Yamal in the late 20th century is based on a very selective replacement of valid data from several sites from the region with data from a single (more remote) site (the KHAD data) that does not show increasing tree growth – a more biased analysis than any produced at CRU. Including these KHAD data with the other data available from the region produces a result that is consistent with our earlier analyses of these data.

      Now they refuse to show a regional chronology that may very well show otherwise on the grounds that it’s proprietary.

      • Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 12:34 PM | Permalink

        Many thanks for the context. I’m far from clear how the ICO will interpret the law in this case but the public interest is for me totally clear: it is for all accusations, of McIntyre misleading Russell and of CRU misleading the world, in effect, through cherry picking of tree ring data, to be tested by release of the data sets concerned. This imperative goes way deeper than FoI, as many have pointed out, but if FoI is the way to achieve the right result, fine. All the best with the appeal.

      • jst`
        Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 1:13 PM | Permalink

        They always find the sweet spot where they are justified in their actions and you are unreasonable in yours. What a coincidence.

      • Steve Reynolds
        Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 1:45 PM | Permalink

        I wonder if their refusal is upheld, you could get the data as evidence in a defamation lawsuit (‘misleading the inquiry’).

      • Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 1:54 PM | Permalink

        They seem to be getting counsel from people in higher places. Europe’s entire leadership has a vested interest in all this. They aren’t going to cough it up.

      • FredT
        Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 5:47 PM | Permalink

        Not proprietary, unpublished. There is a big difference.

        This isn’t a reconstruction that has ever been published (despite Anthony being convinced it was in a 2006 paper – you might want to have a word).

        The public interest isn’t in keeping this a secret forever, but in allowing academic research to continue confidentially until publication. That is far more important that soothing your hurt feelings because inexplicably the people at CRU think you have been misleading (for a counter-point is Anthony – as mentioned above – just confused, or was he mislead? interesting point).

        *If* they had published the URALS composite and didn’t explain how they got it or what the numbers were, you would be getting a completely different response. But demanding that you get the equivalent of a paper before one has been written is absurd. Both the appeal and the ICO will (eventually) agree.

        Especially since all the raw data is in fact online.

        • Salamano
          Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 8:46 PM | Permalink

          At this point, why bother making a paper out of it? This information can stay hidden, and yet its impact still useful and resonating.

          Perhaps this is the future view of how research can stash things away from the auditing eye.

        • Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 1:19 AM | Permalink

          Hi Fred.

          First, thank you very much for the admission that the data in question is not proprietary and especially that it isn’t in the public interest for it to be kept secret forever. We thoroughly agree on both of those.

          Second, Anthony Watts writes “That data is associated with a 2006 paper.” This is quite different from him “being convinced it was in a 2006 paper”. I’m sure you didn’t mean to mislead anyone on that.

          The crucial issue is whether the data actually used in the 2006 paper was cherry picked, ie selected not for valid scientific reasons but to produce a result that suited the authors, for whatever reason. How do you propose that this is checked without access to all the data sets concerned, including intermediate ones that we know were considered but rejected by the authors?

  13. Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 10:57 PM | Permalink

    You would think that the inability to respond to a straightforward request for raw data would severely impact the “ability to attract research funding”. The NSF (for example) hold this view: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=116928 and are about to make data management plans a necessary component of funding proposals. (But of course the NSF are concerned with science, so this may not be relevant to the CRU).

  14. Peter
    Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 11:23 PM | Permalink

    The sooner that the rest of the scientific community grows a spine and and cries foul on research papers and findings that are not supported by full disclosure of data, and code the better. It is not until this begins to happen and these people become discredited that we will have any confidence in climate science as a whole.
    The proponents of AGW have been fond of labeling all shades of skeptics as deniers, thus inviting comparison with particularly odious practices. Fellow scientists standing by whilst a small cohort hijack the scientific process, and then openly construct such flimsy excuses to conceal their machinations invites similar comparisons.
    Debate about these papers just should not be occurring. They should be blacklisted, and not read. I know, it is a forlorn hope!
    Sorry to sound so stroppy but I find this sort of behaviour to be most reprehensible. What makes it worse is that they don’t seem to care that their excuses and rationalisations are so transparent.
    Cheers Steve,
    Pete.

  15. Frank
    Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 11:41 PM | Permalink

    The section on “public interest” at the end of the UEA response is interesting. IMO, the over-riding public interest is dispelling or confirming allegations that CRU cherry-picked data that supported the existence of a cool MWP and buried data that contradicted this conclusion. Do your requests for information say that the information is needed so that policymakers know whether there are seeing a balanced view of all of the data available to CRU?

    • Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 4:22 AM | Permalink

      For me that is the key point. You’ve got the public interest exactly right.

  16. RayG
    Posted Apr 25, 2011 at 11:44 PM | Permalink

    The term “deniers” is being mis-applied. They deny access to the data. They deny access to the code. They deny access to their methods. Please tell me again, who are the deniers?

  17. P. Solar
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 12:48 AM | Permalink

    Didn’t the DOE defund UEA in the fall-out of climategate? Maintenance of the land temp record is being transferred to Hadley. It seems past behaviour has affected their ability to attract funding.

    Apparently they think there is more money to be made frigging their results and refusing apply the basic principals of verification required by the scientific method than there is by doing proper peer-reviewed science.

    But this kind of thinking only works for as long as they can pretend to be doing proper science which is why they are being so obstructive.

    To take a comparison to astronomy that I recently read: if I published a claim that there was an asteroid on a collision course with Earth and that we needed to divert all our resources to abandoning the planet, could I get away with saying my claims were based on publically available data but refuse to say what data or where it could be found?

    The position is preposterous. As would be saying that I had done “creative work” in selecting the astronomic data in question as a reason for not identifying it.

    They’ve obviously hired a lawyer to stitch up these excuses in a legally sounding way but it’s getting more and more tenuous.

    As they say: those who play with hockey-sticks should avoid this ice!

  18. EdeF
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 12:50 AM | Permalink

    According to the description of the British FOI
    (EIR), cost is not a consideration in turning down the FOI request. They are going against their own policy. If they are not going to release the data, at least list the sites that they used so that we CAN go to the above referenced public sites and collect the data. This would of course then show, by default, the
    data that has not been archived elsewhere.

  19. Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 1:14 AM | Permalink

    it’s quite simple. the more people know about uea practices, the less anybody will give any funding to such a twisted institution where science is forever relegated to the back seat. no foi will ever be honoured unless and until a court order is produced.and even then…

  20. Punksta
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 2:38 AM | Permalink

    If data and/or code used in any paper cannot be made public – for any reason whatsoever – such papers must be categorised as unsafe, and their conclusions automatically excluded from consideration by the IPCC or any political policy discussion.

    What is needed now is a website showing which papers are safe and which are unsafe.

  21. Tony Mach
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 2:44 AM | Permalink

    “This would seriously reduce the likelihood that any high impact journal would publish the results pertaining to this work …”

    So any “high impact journal” would not publish a study that can be replicated by independent third parties? So we have to take their word for it, for what data they have included and for what data they have excluded and that there were no errors in compiling the data? Call me old fashioned, but I find that at odds with the scientific method.

    Well, maybe I kind myself, maybe science has always been like that, in all fields. Otto Neurath’s ship metaphor and Alfred Wegener come to my mind.

  22. chris1958
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 2:51 AM | Permalink

    Steve, you really do need to settle down and watch “Yes Minister” and “Yes Prime Minister” courtesy of the BBC (if you haven’t done so already). Then and only then will you understand the system and its workings. Meanwhile, your naive expectation that governments and academia actually exist to make information readily available to those who might have a reasonable reason for wanting it warms my heart.

    • Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 4:24 AM | Permalink

      Don’t push the cynicism too far. Without some regard for truth in the system, we all die.

  23. Varco
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 2:57 AM | Permalink

    “The ‘adverse affect’ to intellectual property
    rights is based upon the fact that release of these data sets and the methodology used in their construction would, effectively, be publication of the creative work of the CRU staff.”

    Suggestions to the UEA:
    1)stop digging! You are far enough in already.
    2)have both your FOI and PR officers review official statements before they are released.
    3)avoid use of word ‘creative’ in relation to ‘CRU’, it may well ‘stick’ in the minds of those following this ongoing farce.

  24. KnR
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 2:58 AM | Permalink

    It looks likes they not changed their old poor habits one bit, post the reviews. Amazing in one way as even these awful reviews highlighted the issue of the way they dealt with FOI’s

    The soft underbelly of this issue is that if they claim there ‘contracts’ which do not allow them to release the data, then they must be able to supply the actual contract details. We been here before with CRU claiming contract issues but being unable to supply information on the ‘contracts’

  25. JohnH
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 3:20 AM | Permalink

    So Acton has decieded to Brazen it out and ignore his commitment he made to the FOI commissioner to ensure UEA complies fully with FOI legislation.

  26. Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 3:25 AM | Permalink

    one point often lost is that without detailed knowledge of the sample details (assuming actual samples are involved…at this point i wouldn’t believe in Briffa or Jones if they told me it was midday and the Sun was at the zenith) replication is not possible because any conflicting data would be dismissed as “not our sampling area” and “not my tree”.

  27. Craig Bear
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 3:37 AM | Permalink

    If all you have to do is throw your hands in the air and waffle something about damaging your intellectual property rights to give yourself the ability to withhold data that is the basis for a study, then that study itself becomes worthless. I don’t see how the scientists wouldn’t get that, and it sounds like there’s some sort of legal team that handles the FOIs. Sure I can understand how a university might be worried that if they explained everything they did, then they might not get every research grant they want. But data hoarding will only hold back progress. If you want me to agree with your conclusions, then let me. Don’t give me a reason to start questioning them. “Hm… why wouldn’t they let you have the data?”… Those kinds of questions only end with more questions. Pony up with the data and you’d be doing yourselves a whole bunch of favours.

  28. Mac
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 3:43 AM | Permalink

    From what I understand of the FOIA is when an institution or public body that is covered by the Freedon of Information Act argue that disclosure will cause ‘financial harm’ they have to show/prove that the requested information is indeed commercially sensitive or that disclosure would be likely to be prejudicial. This is a test that the Information Commissioner’s Office demands. Simply stating disclosure will cause ‘financial harm’ in reply to FOIA requests is not good enough.

    Also the Information Commissioner’s Office may take a professional interest in UEA with its continued refusal to release scientific data that is of huge importance to science, government policy and public debate. Continued breaches of the FOIA could lead to fines. That is the danger that confronts UEA.

  29. DaveN
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 4:25 AM | Permalink

    What they need (and are surely looking for) is something like the 5th amandment to the US constitution, but applied to academia – ‘nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself’

  30. Dave
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 4:43 AM | Permalink

    Hang on a second:

    “The ‘adverse affect’ to intellectual property
    rights is based upon the fact that release of these data sets and the methodology used
    in their construction would, effectively, be publication of the creative work of the CRU
    staff. This would seriously reduce the likelihood that any high impact journal would
    publish the results pertaining to this work”

    Have I missed something, or is that a completely bizarre logical step? Are CRU actually saying officially that if their methodologies were publicly known, they would be unable to get published in any reputable journal? I swear this FOI officer is on our side. Not the first time he’s subtly offered a nudge and a wink, or slipped in a damning sentence or two.

  31. kim
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 5:19 AM | Permalink

    East Anglia’s ‘creative work’ has been damaging, and those damaged can pierce this veil.
    ==============

  32. Alexander K
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 6:06 AM | Permalink

    The CRU’s continuing refusal to comply with a legitimate and non-vexatious FOI request is utterly disgraceful, to say nothing of it thumbing it’s collective noses at the law.

  33. Robert of Ottawa
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 6:55 AM | Permalink

    What is it with these people? They clearly don’t learn.

    And yes, of course these data should be readily available; they were paid for with public money and full disclosure of data should be the scientific norm.

    • Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 9:32 PM | Permalink

      The data are available. What isn’t available is a list of the stations used, and the methods.

  34. Dean
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 7:18 AM | Permalink

    I found this to be either very poorly worded, if they’re really interested in science:

    The information may well be incorrect, untested, unreviewed and may not
    accurately reflect the proper outcome of the research. Incorrect or misapplied
    conclusions could be drawn from the publication of unfinished data and any assessment
    of the merit of the work should be based upon a final, approved version of the data.

    “Approved version of the data”? So the data doesn’t say anything until we tell you what it’s supposed to say.

    There were several other interesting logical leaps here. The “this is only a preliminary report” angle makes everything they do unreleasable as they’ll always claim “we’re doing another paper and releasing the information would cause us financial and material harm”. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re not asking for what they are going to publish, you’re asking them for what they did publish, right?

    As for the October ’12 paper, I’d bet the US government will balance our budget long before Steve’s asked to review this Oct ’12 paper!

    • Punksta
      Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 12:35 PM | Permalink

      Re: Dean (Apr 26 07:18)

      “Approved version of the data”? So the data doesn’t say anything until we tell you what it’s supposed to say.

      Yes it must of course be Scientifically Cleansed to rid it of all undesirables.

  35. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 7:33 AM | Permalink

    It is complicated ground. If an author cherry picks a subset of data from a larger open source compilation, does that create a right in property? Some would argue that it does.

    I collect stamps. I have made a CD that lists all the usual stamps of Australia, over 4,000 of them. It has, with permission, cross-references to 5 book catalogue number series. One USA publisher refused participation without a fee and undue control, because of a claim that the catalogue numbers they selected to decribeach Australian stamp was “their” property. I think it has been held elsewhere tha even the page numbers of such a catalogue are protected in some countries.

    I’m having an argument with a national TV station here. They have broadcast information on the use of an agricultural chemical. They said it was safe to use without eyewear. The manufacturer’s brochure states it can cause blindness and advises eyeware. The TV administrators have shown a lack of intent to correct the situation, saying the complaint is now more than X months old. Shades of Doug Keenan.

    Again, IMHO, it comes back to intent. In examples like Steve mentions, the UEA does not intend to release anything it can avoid, by using one excuse or another. What a sad way to treat the advancement of science.

    • mpaul
      Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 10:53 AM | Permalink

      Much of the raw data is in the public domain. But from what I understand, there is some data was collected using public money, and therefore should, by law, be in the public domain, but the publisher of the data is asserting property rights to the data through a license agreement. CRU agrees to these licensing terms, and then hides behind them. Further, CRU produces intermediate derivatives and then asserts that these derivatives are their own private property. This is the basic problem: professors at public institutions are using public money to produce “products” that they assert are their personal private property. They make a highfalutin argument about the need for preserving ‘academic freedom’ but in reality, this is just about making money and advancing careers.

      It’s a bit like a public highway department building a road using public money, and then when they get done, the manager of the department asserts that the road is his personal private property and that he is entitled to charge a toll for the use of the road. You see this kind of stuff all the time in the third world, its just shocking to see it happening in the UK and the US.

  36. bernie
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 7:42 AM | Permalink

    UEA’s response suggests the strong likelihood of the prevalence of Cargo Cult Science at UEA and CRU:

    The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool (Feynman, 1985)

  37. Spence_UK
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 7:46 AM | Permalink

    It seems to me that UEA is more worried about exposing its own dirty linen than public confidence in AGW. Does that help us to put a price on the danger UEA perceive AGW to contain?

    Of course, I’m still astonished that (1) FOI requests should be needed to get data from a scientist at all, and (2) the UEA continues to stonewall given the problems this created for them the last time.

  38. Gary
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 8:14 AM | Permalink

    Has UEA released similar data of recent vintage either before or after the date of these series that establishes a practice contrary to their reasons for not honoring this FOI? If so, then it severely diminishes their argument and perhaps provides the leverage needed to pry it loose.

  39. Wellington
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 9:03 AM | Permalink

    The reasoning in the CRU UEA refusal letter confirms that science is the handmaiden to everything and everybody else there.

    “It is our opinion that, in relation to the excepted material, the public interest lies in non-disclosure.”

    I don’t want to hear one more sanctimonious proclamation about “science” from these people.

  40. bobdenton
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 9:15 AM | Permalink

    The gist of CRUs response is that they would supply information sufficient to replicate their composites but needn’t do so as this information is available elsewhere: however, they won’t provide their composites or information necessary to reconstruct their composites because they have a remaining, exploitable Intellectual Property interest.

    What CRU purport to protect is really a trade secret in a compilation of data (the composites) and, possibly, an algorithm or process – copyright considerations are tangential or irrelevant.

    Reg 12(5)(c) does provide an applicable exemption which is subject to a public interest test. CRU must have (1) some private IP interest and (2) the public interest, on balance, must coincide with that private interest.

    CRU meet test (1) above as there is active ongoing research relating to the data (Queens University had abandoned research on their data). Test (2) is the crunch issue. In relation to the specific request made in this case (not as a general rule), do the public and private interests concur? I would say Yes, but whether the ICO would agree – you can toss a coin.

    My reasons are that the information sought is to test the reliability of statements emanating from CRU other than in the course of published research, and is collateral to the science. The request is a “fishing expedition” going to credibility only .The science itself can continue to progress in the absence of disclosure as SM’s analyses demonstrate. Importantly, there is ongoing research and it’s indicated that some information will be published in the relatively near future as a result.

    UEA have a strong, but untested case for refusal.

    It’s an inevitable fact that that the right to disclosure under statutory provisions is limited and if you keep coming back for more you must eventually reach the limit of what is disclosable. UEA is now drawing lines in the sand where they think it lies with David Holland and SM, in one case invoking private law, in the other, public interest. Only the ICO can now say precisely where the line lies.

    • Punksta
      Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 9:22 AM | Permalink

      Re: bobdenton (Apr 26 09:15)
      Since the UEA is publicly funded, the whole idea of a line is ridiculous.

      • bobdenton
        Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 9:38 AM | Permalink

        You must tell that to Parliament. Parliament has said that there will be a line and appointed the ICO as referee.

    • Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 9:41 PM | Permalink

      The gist of CRUs response is that they would supply information sufficient to replicate their composites but needn’t do so as this information is available elsewhere: however, they won’t provide their composites or information necessary to reconstruct their composites because they have a remaining, exploitable Intellectual Property interest.

      As someone at WUWT pointed out. If Global Warming is the single most important problem facing all of mankind, such an excuse doesn’t follow. Clearly AGW isn’t the most important problem in human history, or else these scientist would welcome scrutiny from the best minds possible. That their biggest concern is their ability to obtain funding, well, that kind of puts things in perspective.

      • bobdenton
        Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 4:37 AM | Permalink

        Jeff says:
        “If Global Warming is the single most important problem facing all of mankind, such an excuse doesn’t follow.”
        As a practical matter, its for the ICO to say if “such an excuse doesn’t follow.” CRU claim an exemption to which they are almost certainly entitled. The ICO must say whether, on balance, the public interest requires disclosure. The raw data is easily available to anyone who wishes to use it. Steve has used it. He doubts that CRU overlooked large quantities of available data in constructing their published chronologies, he believes they have been “dodging“ the data and seeks disclosure of unpublished, value added material, that would determine this one way or another.

        How do you frame a public interest case for the consideration of the ICO? Steve has felt the sharp elbows of the CRU crew, but personal vindication doesn’t constitute a public interest.

        You could seek to piggy back on the CAGW debate. It’s certainly a public interest that the science which informs this debate is as reliable as possible. CRU are major players in the CAGW debate and their products have been used to progress the debate. Their work has been built upon and incorporated in subsequent work by other scientists. There is a public interest in knowing whether or not their product is reliable. They do admit to arbitrarily “bodging” and “truncating” data. The public should be entitled to know whether they also “dodge” data. If the full range of data manipulation practices at CRU is not known then scientists may be misled into relying on peer-reviewed literature they would otherwise not have relied upon – Richard Muller is a prominent example of a scientist who has decided to disregard CRU publications on the basis of already admitted practices.Unless the full range of CRU practices are known others may not be able to confidently make that judgement and the peer-reviewed literature may become regarded as contaminated.

        This would need to be accompanied by a strong prime facia case that data “dodging” has taken place.

        If it can be shown that disclosure, now, would make a worthwhile contribution to the CAGW debate then the ICO may find that, on balance, the public interest favours disclosure. Its an arguable case, but I imagine it would take the ICO outside of its comfort zone.

        • Punksta
          Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 4:50 AM | Permalink

          Re: bobdenton (Apr 27 04:37)

          I predict the ICO will soon be up to its ears in the business of hiding publicly funded data, on which huge decisions affecting public policy will be made, from the public.
          They will, in short, soon become lackies of the state and promoters of totalitarian political correctness (just like CRU already is).
          About as independent as the lickspittle Climategate “inquiries”.

        • Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 9:44 PM | Permalink

          If it can be shown that disclosure, now, would make a worthwhile contribution to the CAGW debate then the ICO may find that, on balance, the public interest favours disclosure. Its an arguable case, but I imagine it would take the ICO outside of its comfort zone.

          And to me that means the scientists involved don’t really believe in the catastrophic nature of their predictions or results. They’re still looking at the small picture, their own hides.

  41. Dave L.
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 9:41 AM | Permalink

    CRU/UEA still have direct links to the IPCC. I note that Timothy Osborn (author of e-mail above) of CRU/UEA is a Lead Author for WGI-AR5, Chapter 5: Information from Paleoclimate Archives.

  42. Jeremy
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 10:17 AM | Permalink

    …And the people who should be most concerned about UEA’s most recent refusal are the wider climate science community who purport to be concerned about the future of the planet. Provided, of course, in the case of the University of East Anglia, that it doesn’t interfere with their “ability to attract research funding”.

    I laughed :) I think at this point the refusals are going to be helping to reduce funding more than compliance.

  43. kramer
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 12:17 PM | Permalink

    When I read things like this after the climategate issue, I get enraged. Are these people ever going to be fully transparent and open?

  44. Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 1:43 PM | Permalink

    This is not science – it’s a cover-up. They just refuse to come clean.
    This tells me that we’ve likely only seen the tip of the Climategate iceberg. It’s an intolerable travesty!

  45. Richard Brearley
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 1:44 PM | Permalink

    Apologies for the long comment.

    It seems to me, Mr M, that there are many ways to challenge this refusal.

    You say that they have taken your request to be for information you never asked for. UEA strangely states that it “interprets” your request. If your request is not sufficiently clear then the holder of the information has a duty under the Regulations to advise and assist you in framing your request. It states that there was no “digital composite” identified as “URALS” attached to the email from Osborn of 28.4.2006. That is not the same as saying that one does not exist and therefore leading them into “interpreting” your request. It is clear that the email refers to “URALS” along with the others as “group temperature series” and also in the description of “URALS” states that it consists of “…the Yamal and Polar Urals long chronologies, plus other shorter ones.” To suggest that these are not discrete items held by UEA such that the request needs to be “interpreted” is rather absurd, it seems. Presumably Osborn knows which chronologies he was referring to and they are clearly referred to as discrete chronolgies so therefore must be readfily identifiable, at least by him.

    With regard to the EIR you will probably already know most of what I am going to say but this is my take on it in any event.

    You will be aware that for a public authority to refuse an information request under these Regulations one of the exceptions must apply AND the undermining of the interest quoted under any particular exemption must outweigh the public interest in the release of the information. In short any exemption relied upon must then be tested against the public interest that calls for transparent disclosure.

    Also be aware that the Regulations also require holders of environmental information to make it available to the general public as a matter of course so there is an obligation to put the information out there in a way easily accessible without the need for any particular requests to be made.

    You will also be aware that under the Regulations there is a presumption in favour of disclosure and also that exceptions must be applied restrictively. The EU directive rests on and is encompassed by proportionality, after the presumption and the restrictive implementation of exceptions. It is deemed proportionate to disclose. Disclosure may only be refused when the results of doing so are disproportionate and where there is a choice recourse must be had to the least onerous outcome.

    Bear in mind also that the EU directive which gave rise to the Regulations in the UK make absolutely clear that their purpose is threefold:

    1) a greater awareness of environmental matters;
    2) a free exchange of views and more effective participation by the public in environmental decision-making
    3) a better environment

    This is the PURPOSE of the EU Directive which gives birth to the Regulations.

    If you want to see that purpose set out by an Advocate General of the EU court as recently as March of this year, albeit in a case dealing with the cumulative weighting of different grounds for refusal, go to para 59 here:

    http://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/EUECJ/2011/C7110_O.html

    The starting point therefore is that disclosure is the norm, supported by a legal presumption, and that the only basis for refusal must fall within one of the limited exceptions and the undermining of the interest encompassed by that exception must be sufficiently serious to outweigh the presumption of disclosure, the restrictive application of exceptions and the public interest in disclosure. Where there is any doubt in balancing the public interest against reasons for a refusal – “ This balancing exercise is made easier, however, if one applies the requirement of a restrictive interpretation of exceptions during the balancing exercise such that, in the event of doubt, the issue is decided in favour of transparency”. [2011] EUECJ C-71/10

    Ok so lets look at the letter from UEA.

    First it sets out at the start exceptions and reasons.

    Regulation 6(1)(b) – “Some of the requested information is available on various websites”. Rregulation 6(1)(b) is a grounds for refusal where “…the information is already publicly available and easily accessible to the applicant…”. Not “some” of the information, but “the information”, and it is to be “easily accessible”, not with “some” of it spread over 4 websites, one of which is in Russian. (Honestly, I laughed so hard when I read this that coffee came out of my nose).

    Regulation 12(4)(a) – UEA appears to state that because (in its view) information is available on websites that leads to the conclusion that it does not possess the information. Really? Regulation 12(4)(a) only applies where the public authority to whom the request is sent does not hold the information at the time of the request. Is UEA saying it doesn’t have it? The letter certainly doesn’t say that. It is immaterial whether information is on another website or websites if UEA still have it. If they have it then Regulation 12(4)(a) does not apply – at all. If they have it then they must deal with the request to disclose it.

    Regulation 12(4)(d) – the request relates to material which is still in the course of completion, to unfinished documents or to incomplete data. This just made more coffee hit my keyboard. As to the refusal on the basis of the information being a “first draft” and due to be updated – this surely cant be the case. I would be surprised if the ICO considered that a readily identifiable set of environmental information was a first draft to be updated some 5-6 years later. The information existed in the form that it existed then – any further work is adding new information to that already existing information and to suggest that the original information is thus “incomplete” is absurd and I am afraid, as much as anything else, demonstrates that UEA is looking for a reson to refuse. That is of itself a breach of UEA’s duties under the Regulations. UEA is obliged to advise and assist you in your application and not to “hide” behind arguable reasons for refusal.

    As to Regulation 12(5)(c) UEA must be tasked with explaining how such alleged intellectual propery rights arose. In order to refuse on the grounds that it has UEA must give more information. What are the intellectual property rights of the persons concerned? Who are the individuals who have these rights? Does UEA have these rights? How did they arise? Are they contractual, if so give details. The UEA must give details of these intellectual property rights rather than just blandly state that they exist. (Is it really the case that a publicly funded university doing publicly funded work allows its staff to have creative intellectual property rights over work they do for their publicly funded employer? – This would be highly unusual in industry or in general commercial circles – he who pays owns the work is the usual maxim). On there being a risk against future funding, UEA must explain how this works, rather than just saying that it is the case. There is a huge disconnect between the assertion that disclosure of information never used (for whatever reason) in published research, (the very thing that UEA states defines its reputation and therefore its ability to secure future funding) can lead to a situation where UEA’s reputation in that sphere suffers and leads inevitably to a failure to secure future funding (quite aside from the execrable attempt to use this as an exception in any event).

    In order for there to be a proper “balancing” of the alleged undermining of intellectual property rights against the (overwhelming) public interest in disclosure UEA must give more detail. In failing to do so it has not complied with its obligations to properly consider and respond to your request.

    Then, finaly UEA gives its decision on public interestand it is worth setting this out in full:

    “There is little public interest in the release of unfinished or incomplete data – i.e. which
    does not contain a description of how it was created or why the “selected” methods were chosen – and so does not reflect the full breadth of academic rigour and thought applied to it. The information may well be incorrect, untested, unreviewed and may not
    accurately reflect the proper outcome of the research. Incorrect or misapplied conclusions could be drawn from the publication of unfinished data and any assessment
    of the merit of the work should be based upon a final, approved version of the data. The
    requested information will be made available in finished form at the time of publication of the results, which is expected to be no later than October 2012, and that should stand
    as the output of record of this research process.
    Additionally, the intellectual property rights of the copyright holder in the final version are
    protected by ensuring that earlier, non-published versions of copyrighted work are not
    made available ‘in competition’ with the copyrighted version that the copyright holder
    has an expectation of making financial gain from.
    There is also clearly a public interest in the maintenance of intellectual property rights so
    that creative work is protected, fostered and encouraged via protection against
    exploitation of the work by persons who have not invested the time or intellectual effort
    in the creation of the work. Premature release of material that has both copyright and a
    database right attached to it would harm the interests of the CRU and University by
    denying them the economic and professional benefits arising from their work. The
    requested material will be published in due course, thereby satisfying the public interest
    in the release of the data and the advance in knowledge represented by the research
    output. Were premature release of such material to become common, the willingness
    and ability of academics to engage in published research would be harmed and this
    cannot be in the public interest.”

    In my opinion this is drivel.

    a) Is the data unfinished or incomplete? The answer would appear to be clearly “No”.
    b) There does not appear to me to be an exception in the Regulations for the holder of information to wax lyrical about the nature and status of any given information. “Incorrect, untested, unreviewed, not accurately reflecting the “proper” outcome of the research”. All very interesting, but irrelevant. It either holds the information or it does not. If it is subject to the Regulations then it is subject to a request for its disclosure and none of the terms above in speech marks remove it from the obligation of transparent disclosure. Whether the information as held reflects the “full academic rigour and thought applied to it” does not, again, seem to me to be relevant in the context of Mr M’s right to ask for it. The fact that “incorrect or misapplied conclusions” may flow from the disclosure of the information is also not a reason to refuse its disclosure. The Regulations presume disclosure and it is of no interest to the holder of that information whether I, as an applicant for it, intend to stick it on a T-Shirt. Neither am I, before getting my lovely wife to iron it onto my T-Shirt, obliged to wait for the “final, approved, version of the data”.
    c) The suggestion that “competition” in using data is sufficient to deny disclosure also appears to me to be questionable and based on UEA’s suggestion that the information is “incomplete”. Otherwise they have held it for nearly 6 years without deploying it in a way that results in financial advantage.
    d) The final reason for refusal is that there is a public interest in protecting intellectual property rights against “exploitation”. This is the one that got me really quite pissed off. To the extent that there is an implication in this letter that Mr M seeks to “exploit” the information then we should be writing to UEA to denigrate this statement. Also, there doesn’t appear to me to be any basis under the Regulations to state that we will release the information at some point in the future so you can just wait. The Regulations don’t anticipate such an exception and the suggestion that this gives weight to a decision to refuse disclosure is simply to be dismissed out of hand. To the extent that this apparent public interest contributed to the final decision to refuse should be challenged, measured, and taken out of any such balancing exercise, as should any consideration of the willingness of academics to become engaged in research, particularly where their research, salary and pension is paid for by my taxes.

    Essentially this is a weak statement setting out how the interests of UEA trump the public interest in a publicly funded institution doing work that it presents to policy makers as sound, stating that there is no (or little) MWP and an unprecedented rise in temperatures in the 20th century, based upon which we all know that we are being taxed, cajoled, instructed, berated and required to comply with policy decisions which are in large part based on what UEA has in fact deigned to release to the outside world.

    It absolutely stinks.

    Mr M, if you are prepared to go to the trouble of outlining in detail to UEA on appeal, (essentially preparing your submission to the ICO after the inevitable further refusal), the information in your recent posts, particularly highlighting Briffa’s contradictory statements and focusing on his UEA post where he says that even including KHAD the warming in 20th century has been unprecedented, then your appeal looks strong indeed. It must be the case that if one focuses on the details of the information you have to hand and the essence of the uncontroversial comment by Frank in these comments (although I understand you also to be concerned that a proper use of the available data would have shown a much lesser increase in late 20th century, too):

    “The section on “public interest” at the end of the UEA response is interesting. IMO, the over-riding public interest is dispelling or confirming allegations that CRU cherry-picked data that supported the existence of a cool MWP and buried data that contradicted this conclusion. Do your requests for information say that the information is needed so that policymakers know whether there are seeing a balanced view of all of the data available to CRU?”
    then the public interest in disclosure mainfestly outweighs the reasons for refusal.

    It is dissapointing in the extreme that UEA’s decision is that its interest in further research funding outweighs the public interst shared by the entire planet in informing itself on the infromation used (or in this case ommitted) in presenting a picture to policy makers of unprecedented 20th century temperatures (and possibly the existence or not of the MWP, or at least its extent and/or its similarity with today).

    The public interest is self evident in relation to this information. UEA is saying that its future funding is more important than the public interest that must be present on the basis of a UK parliamentary commission, the negligent “inquiries”, climategate itself, notwithstanding the ongoing policy issues. It beggars belief in my opinion.

    As you say this whole approach on the part of UEA continues to cast a shadow over UEA and the whole climate science debate. They have done and are doing a a massive disservice to us all. I stand ready to help you in any way that I can to get access to this information.

    Richard Brearley
    LL.B. (Hons.), P.G.Dip
    Solicitor (Non-practising)

    • EdeF
      Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 2:04 PM | Permalink

      Thank you for the illuminating post.

      • kim
        Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

        Cue Josh for the iron on T-Shirt cartoon.
        ======

        • Richard Brearley
          Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 2:41 PM | Permalink

          I’ll buy one, Kim :)

    • Barclay E MacDonald
      Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 4:20 PM | Permalink

      Hellow Richard Brearley:

      As you imply, the “general public”, the taxpayers footing the bill, and science has had this “drivel” shoved down their throat too many times and for too long, and professional assistance has become necessary too proceed efficiently and effectively. You may want to ask a few friends to help. As you can see from the years of this blog’s existence and extensive efforts, a reasonable and satisfactory response will not be provided. Make it known if there will be costs involved for which reimbursement would be appreciated.

      My first thought is to carefully craft several follow-up FOIs and/or concurrent requests that would further and more carefully explore to what extent CRU and UAE are willing to hang themselves, if they haven’t already.

      Regards

    • Timothy Sorenson
      Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 4:54 PM | Permalink

      We need more such well thought-out long comments.

    • Peter
      Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 4:56 PM | Permalink

      Richard. Highly illuminating. You added greatly to this reader’s understanding. Thank you.

    • Tom in St. Johns
      Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 6:14 PM | Permalink

      Thank you very much for this post as it has framed the issues surrounding the refusal from UEA. I look forward to more on this topic

    • Dave
      Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink

      Richard, thanks for that. One of the things that puzzles me is:

      “There is little public interest in the release of unfinished or incomplete data” — quote from CRU’s refusal

      I was under the impression that the correct terminology is ‘(not) in the public interest’ – it seems to me (based on the context) that CRU is using a completely erroneous definition of ‘public interest’ to mean ‘public curiosity’, where they should mean ‘beneficial to the general well-being of the public’ or some such.

      Are you able to clarify that at all? Is it just clumsy wording, or have they twisted the definition of public interest into a helix?

      • Richard Brearley
        Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 1:01 PM | Permalink

        Hi Dave,

        Yes it is an interesting turn of phrase. UEA is obliged to give reasons for its refusal and this remark is part of those reasons. I do not know if it is true that there is little public interest in the release of unfinished or incomplete data, and I suspect neither does the lawyer that wrote that sentence.

        I see what you mean by the difference between “little” public interest and something “not” being in the public interest. The way UEA worded this is via a passing nod at the Regulations. I should have made this more explicit in my earlier post, so apolgies. Under the Regulations there is a balancing exercise betwen the public interest in favour of disclosure and the public interest in maintaining any exception used as a means of refusal. The exception is therefore to be justified in a way which expresses the public interest in maintaining the exception. So, in deciding whether to disclose or not UEA must actually balance two “sets” of public interest against each other – on the one hand the public interest in favour of disclosure and on the other the public interest in maintaining the interest underlying one of the exceptions permitting refusal. In this case, UEA considers that the public interest in the preservation of its own intellectual property rights (whatever they may be) outweighs the public interest (of the whole world) in disclosure of the material requested (not that it actually referred in its letter to the actual material that Mr M asked for and even though it appears to have refused a request for information that he did not request!). I know, me too – I have no idea either how this conclusion can be reasonably supported.

  46. Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 1:54 PM | Permalink

    Is there a black market in dendrochronology data or some other way to profit from the data? I am trying to imagine how the university’s property rights could be diluted by disclosure.

    I could understand the refusal if it were a marketable work of fiction (like how Harry Potter winds up or —-[insert paleoclimate-related snark here]—) where premature disclosure might hurt sales. But assuming the lads at East Anglia aren’t being unduly creative with what they are doing with the data right now, what is the harm in releasing the data they have already relied upon in (or intentionally left out of) published work?

    • kim
      Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 2:38 PM | Permalink

      Pssst, can I interest you in a larch that is all grown up, now?
      ============

  47. John T
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 2:28 PM | Permalink

    I’ll just say that any data that is not publicly available for scrutiny is nothing more than hearsay and should be considered no more valid than gossip.

    It may seem rather pathetic, but as someone who’s made a living doing scientific research for more than a couple decades, I find it exciting when someone asks for more data about my published results. It means someone actually cares about it! Plus I understand that unless someone else can verify and replicate my results, nothing is “settled”.

  48. batheswithwhales
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 2:48 PM | Permalink

    “They argued that their “intellectual property rights” extended to the selection of sites and disclosure of the sites included in their unreported 2006 regional chronology would cause the university “financial harm” through an adverse impact on its ability to attract funding.”

    How can this “financial harm” come about?

    3 possible explanations:

    1.

    If they in fact mean that their funding depends on cutting edge scientific results, and that sharing data might give the edge to someone else, thereby reducing their own chances of attracting new funds, they have in fact admitted that the current system of scientific funding is in fact an effective block to scientific progress, and that they have no problems with such a dysfunctional system as long as funds keep flowing to themselves.

    2.

    Another interpretation would be that disclosing the sites used would leave them open to criticism from outsiders (f.ex Climate Audit), causing doubt about their scientific competence, making it harder to attract funds in the future.

    3.

    A third possible interpretation would be that they spend a lot of money on gathering these series, which restricts their spending on actual processing the results. If a competing research unit could spend nothing on gathering and processing, by obtaining these for free from the UEA, they would be able to funnel all their resources into the actual study of the series, thereby giving them a comparative edge in research, and thereby in the competition for funds.

    Of these three, only the last one is at all credible. It is not the most attractive position to be in if you have to do all the hard work and have others reaping the benefits from it.

    But no matter the reason, the practice of withholding data has at least three major problems which should be more important to a scientific institution than a petty competition for funds:

    1. It is an obvious obstruction to the progress of science.

    2. It makes all resulting science questionable, since it can neither be verified or disproved by outsiders.

    3.It makes the UEA seem like it has something to hide. That all previous allegations of wrongdoings were in fact right (which I believe they were, most of them anyway..). They are still playing into the hands of the opposition.

    If they were confident in their results, they would be overjoyed to prove it to the world. (Progress! Rock solid! We dare you to prove us wrong! Here! take a look!)

    But sadly this is not the case at all. They are turning their backs both to their critics and to other (competing) scientists.

    The University of east Anglia has become a climate monestary, where the few enlightened ones worship their science in solitude, backs turned to the world, doors closed, where they invite the community once a year to give blessings and share fruits from their gardens.

    Noone knows what goes on behind the walls the rest of the time, we can only guess, and somehow we get the feeling there is a very very good reason for this extreme introversion and seclusion…we don’t quite believe that securing funds explains it all….

    Steve – re alternative 3. They didn’t collect any of the data.

    • batheswithwhales
      Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 6:07 PM | Permalink

      Ok, UEA didn’t collect any of the data.

      But one point: didn’t the climategate emails show a transaction between The UEA (Phil Jones) and Russian researchers where money were requested and sent in order to collect tree ring series?

      Or was this for a completely different series?

      As far as I remember this was for about 10 000 pounds or something, a mere fraction of the cost of running a 100 million climate research facility.

      So the cost of ordering tree rings from Russia could never have been the reason for withholding information, and thereby breaching the principles of science.

      I guess most competing climate researchers would have 10 000 to spend to collect their own tree rings.

      So this could not have been the reason for refusing access to the data.

      The only probable reason left is Nr 2:

      “Another interpretation would be that disclosing the sites used would leave them open to criticism from outsiders (f.ex Climate Audit), causing doubt about their scientific competence, making it harder to attract funds in the future.”

      So there we have it, unless anyone can come up with a more feasible explanation for withholding simple research data…

      • Geoff Sherrington
        Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 9:02 PM | Permalink

        baleswithwhales
        The Rusian work troubles me a little also. One way in is to search for “money” in the Climategate search engine. Here are some relevant emails. There are more.
        826209667.txt
        835015638.txt
        837197800.txt
        845217169.txt
        The last gives quite a long exposition of Dr Briffa’s Russian work and mentions for example many oak tree studies with thoudands of results that were never followed up.

        The cause for my concern re FOI is whether there exists or existed an agreement with the Russians who did the work, an agreement with a confidentiality clause or other data release clause. It’s a long shot, but the possibility needs to be dismissed if it does not exist, rather than the present state of oblique references. Also, there is the possibility of an agreement with a separate funding agency that might also have confidentiality clauses. Off the cuff, I have little idea of which UEA/CRU work can be put in a separate basket because of some arrangement organised through the IPCC. Or the WWF, or anor. But this is a personal deficiency that might not relate to a general or significant case.

        Finally, thanks to Richard Brearley for a clear exposition. (I lost coffee also at the mention of data in Russian). These are complicated laws and regs and unfortunately they can differ from country to country. There is still much optimism that a result will be obtained. Is Graham Stringer MP a possible help?

    • Neil Fisher
      Posted Apr 30, 2011 at 5:20 PM | Permalink

      Re: batheswithwhales (Apr 26 14:48),

      Steve – re alternative 3. They didn’t collect any of the data.

      While this is technically true, one could argue that selection and compilation creates a database right. The have “collected” the data into a single depository of “useful” data. Of course, not everyone would agree with the selection criteria and so they should release the specification of at least selection rules with their papers so that readers can judge for themselves the merit of those rules.

  49. Jon
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 7:44 PM | Permalink

    From what they say it sounds like a confession?

    Either there is no data or the data that is does not support the claims?

  50. Ale Gorney
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 10:33 PM | Permalink

    You have a lot of patience Mr. McIntyre! After all of these years and refusal after refusal I would have gone postal… and not with FOI requests!

  51. Scott Brim
    Posted Apr 26, 2011 at 11:16 PM | Permalink

    thefordprefect: However, I would suggest that it is better to independently verify results rather than immediately jumping to using the original code (possibly flawed).

    Steve McIntyre is performing an auditing function. When there is strong evidence to believe that the analytical results being produced are in large part a product of the analytical techniques being employed — as opposed to being indicative of the true underlying physical realities being investigated — then there is every justification to let the auditing process move forward in developing its own set of audit findings concerning the validity and the applicability of the analytical techniques being applied.

    • Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 7:35 AM | Permalink

      Auditing – very little (none?) over the last year or so.
      Destruction of UEA is the main plan here it seems to me!

      • Scott Brim
        Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 8:40 AM | Permalink

        Re: thefordprefect (Apr 27 07:35),

        UEA is a publicly-funded institution, and those who pay the bills have a right to know whether or not UEA manages and conducts its scientific research in a way that is in conformance with commonly accepted standards.

        Strong indications exist that there has been a lack of due diligence on the part of UEA in conducting its climate research activities, both from an administrative and from a scientific perspective.

        Due diligence on the part of UEA’s scientists and administrators cannot be established unless the auditors have access to information concerning both the source material and the analytical processes.

        Moreover, because of a lack of due diligence on the part of the nominally-responsible government officials in performing auditing and oversight of the UEA, the public itself, acting through the authority of the Freedom of Information Act, has now been forced to assume that auditing function in their place.

        The UEA has only itself to blame for what is now happening.

        • Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 9:36 AM | Permalink

          Just because you do not like the results of enquiries does not make them wrong.

          An independent audit would not be provided by a protagonist.

          What percentage of UEA work is publically funded? What percentage of CRU work is publically funded. Which public?

        • Dave
          Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 12:03 PM | Permalink

          “What percentage of UEA work is publically funded? What percentage of CRU work is publically funded.”

          Close on 100% in both cases. Any additional funding comes from special interest groups, who presumably wish to influence the results – which should concern you more.

        • Richard Brearley
          Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 1:31 PM | Permalink

          Hi TFP

          I do think, with respect, that your remark “Just because you do not like the results of enquiries does not make them wrong” must be humurous.

          It does not take much to look at the issues that were in controversy at the time, the stated aims of the various inquiries and what they actually did and the results and conclusions that followed. Anyone intelligently considering those aspects would come to the conculsion that the inquiries demonstrated a very poor grasp of the material under consideration or a wilful decision not to consider it in full. In reality it is nothing to do with “sides” as you appear to routinely imply. If the inquiries had been rigorous and forensic then no-one here could reasonably challenge them. The fact that they were not is a reality, notwithstanding anyone’s particular views or what “side” they are on.

          I dont think that you genuinely believe that the inquiries were sufficiently rigorous or forensic, but I see why you rely on the results. Their failure transcends “sides” and is a matter of concern for anyone interested in science.

          Regards,

          Richard Brearley

      • Wellington
        Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 10:30 AM | Permalink

        thefordprefect:

        Let me rephrase your claim in a full sentence and please correct me if I misunderstood or misstated you:

        “Steve McIntyre’s main plan is the destruction of the University of East Anglia.”

        I see that you were responding to Scott Brim but the context doesn’t seem to suggest any other interpretation.

      • Brooks Hurd
        Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 7:01 PM | Permalink

        Ford
        By blocking the scientific method, they are destroying themselves. Steve is merely reporting the details of their seppuku.

      • Gerald Machnee
        Posted Apr 28, 2011 at 2:39 PM | Permalink

        RE Ford
        ***Auditing – very little (none?) over the last year or so.***
        Hard to audit when required information is refused.
        ***Destruction of UEA is the main plan here it seems to me!***
        Now you are fabricating.

  52. Ron Cram
    Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 8:31 AM | Permalink

    Steve,
    If CRU had complied with your request, what information would you have received? I apologize for this question, but I am not sure I understand exactly what information is in a “chronology.” Can you explain?

  53. Wondering Aloud
    Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 9:51 AM | Permalink

    I think they are telling the truth. If they even released the sites it would become immediately obvious that they were non random and the results would therefore be rubbish. That would of course limit there ability to get people to fund additional crummy research in the future

  54. Oxbridge Prat
    Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 2:05 PM | Permalink

    People might be amused by this recent FOI related story which has surprising parallels: The secret service: Royal Mail refuses to tell customer where post boxes are.

  55. Mike Roddy
    Posted Apr 27, 2011 at 8:33 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for your dogged vigilance, Steve. Here’s a story about other researchers ignored by The Team:

    http://climatechangepsychology.blogspot.com/2011/04/sam-carana-runaway-global-warming.html

    • Posted Apr 28, 2011 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

      The use of the NASA image of November 2010, one month of data as representative of anything is scientifically dishonest. This article is trash.

  56. John M. Chenosky, PE
    Posted Apr 28, 2011 at 12:21 PM | Permalink

    It appears that Fred T. doesn’t want us to know that he works for NASA or NOAA or some other alphabet agency with a vested interest in the outcome. If this “research” was paid for by Crown money that would be one thing. But as I understand it US dollars paid for much of it. As a taxpayer I want my “pound” of flesh-sorry I couldn’t resist.

  57. Posted Apr 28, 2011 at 11:18 PM | Permalink

    Professor Julia Slingo OBE, Chief Scientist of the U.K. Meteorological Office here.

    In an Interview by Amber Jenkins, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

    What have you learned from the recent controversy surrounding emails stolen from U.K. climate researchers?

    I think the episode taught us that we have to be more open and transparent about our science, but particularly about how we analyze the data and so on. Society relies very heavily on what we tell them about what’s happening to the climate system, and I think it’s really important that we as scientists make our science accessible, and make sure that it is as understandable as possible to the public. We have nothing to hide. We’re very confident in our science. We’re confident in our data. We’ve learned that being open, transparent and communicating well is vitally important.

  58. Posted Apr 29, 2011 at 4:45 AM | Permalink

    Hello Mr. McIntyre,

    I’ve been lurking here for a long time and support your efforts. During my own internet wanderings, I came across this website that might give you new hope. It is called:
    climatecode.org and their goal is to encourage publication of code and data for published articles. I think a lot of scientists will take this path.

    Sincerely,
    Rose

  59. JRR Canada
    Posted Apr 29, 2011 at 9:58 PM | Permalink

    Thank you for your continuing effort in this drudgery. Please do not get too discouraged Mr McIntyre,the CRU have responded with refreshing honesty, wrt their reasons to not provide the information you requested, as truth will indeed reduce their future funding. Will donate funds asap, as you are providing value for money, and a service to Canada unrivalled by any of our current crop of politicians.

  60. hunter
    Posted Apr 30, 2011 at 7:07 AM | Permalink

    From the perspective of the AGW community, this is the correct response.
    You are challenging the authority of their script. The community has no intention of allowing heretics and non-believers access to vet what those heretics and non-believers are by their very nature unworthy to vet.
    This is typical of faith based rationalizations regarding revealed knowledge.
    This sadly is what we could have expected given the complete pass of climategate by the media, and the studious whitewashes by those in authority.
    The anti-science extremists who have hijacked climate science are very comfortable at this time giving skeptics the brush-off: It has worked to date rather well.
    Frankly the only hope now is for someone with conscience and access to act again.

  61. Jim Bennett
    Posted May 2, 2011 at 2:06 PM | Permalink

    Here’s a great quote from Bruce Schneier’s Applied Crytpography which seems entirely apropos:

    “Beware of people who extol the virtues of their algorithms, but refuse to make them public; trusting their algorithms is like trusting snake oil.
    Good cryptographers rely on peer review to separate the good algorithms from the bad.”

    Change “algorithms” to “statistical methods” and “cryptographers” to “climate researchers” and it just about nails it.

  62. Posted May 3, 2011 at 1:04 PM | Permalink

    for the millionth time…data sharing is an issue solved long ago in most areas of scientific study. Despite or because of the alleged threats to life and the planet, climatology has remained prehistoric in this respect.

    I say, it is criminal to put copyright in front of saving humanity so they should publish then share at oncr.

  63. Mike Roddy
    Posted May 4, 2011 at 7:46 AM | Permalink

    OT, but important breaking news about sea level rise. USA Today showed up The Team at IPCC and the New York Times:

    http://www.usatoday.com/weather/climate/globalwarming/2011-05-03-arctic-climate-change-sea-levels_n.htm?csp=usat.me

    • kim
      Posted May 4, 2011 at 8:13 AM | Permalink

      Models come alive, wreak havoc in playroom.
      ===========

    • RomanM
      Posted May 4, 2011 at 12:41 PM | Permalink

      Re: Mike Roddy (May 4 07:46), yes, it is Off Topic as all of your comments seem to be.

      If you wish to discuss the topic, you should go to the appropriate thread at WUWT.

      I hope that Steve will see fit to trash this and all other of your future trolling efforts.

      • Espen
        Posted May 4, 2011 at 2:18 PM | Permalink

        As I pointed out in a comment that is still in the moderation queue, the SWIPA report from AMAP may not be as OT as it seems – I think they may be using Yamal (via Kaufman et al) to argue that temperatures are “higher than at any time in the past 2,000 years”.

  64. Espen
    Posted May 4, 2011 at 9:46 AM | Permalink

    Has anyone had access to the full SWIPA report yet? It makes its rounds in news today, e.g. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/environment/arctic-warming-to-boost-rise-of-sea-levels/2011/05/03/AFbqCgiF_story.html

    Notice that they claim that “Temperatures were higher than at any time in the past 2,000 years”. I’ve looked at the executive summary (http://www.amap.no/swipa/SWIPA2011ExecutiveSummaryV1.pdf ), which is a little more specific: “Evidence from lake sediments, tree rings and ice cores indicates that Arctic summer temperatures have been higher in the past few decades than at any time in the past 2000 years. ”

    The executive summary doesn’t contain any references, but that does smell of Kaufman et al (2009), doesn’t it? Which means the claim may be dependent on yet another round of Yamal re-use.
    (which just underscores the importance of Steve’s work reported in this post)

  65. Faustino
    Posted May 4, 2011 at 9:29 PM | Permalink

    OT but generally pertinent: not “hide-the-decline,” but “lower the older CO2 data.” Steve, are you aware of the work of Zbigniew Jaborowski, who began researching glaciers in the 1960s and is an expert in assessing past CO2 levels? He found, for example, 1890 concentrations of CO2 of 328 ppm, the same level as Moauna Loa in 1973; and average 19thC levels of 335 pm. If the IPCC et al have underestimated historic CO2 concentrations and the alleged increase in CO2 did not occur, then it can not have caused any warming. Ref:

    http://www.warwickhughes.com/icecore/

    Sorry if this has come up before, I’ve just seen a link to it on Climate Etc.

  66. Mike Roddy
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 9:46 AM | Permalink

    Roman M: I am a “troll”? I use my real name- you can google me, and may find some research papers I have coauthored.

    I’m here to discuss climate science, and the breaking news about sea level rise is central to it. Watts’ graph is irrelevant, because the recent studies are based on projected melt rates and increasing temperatures, not current data.

    I’ve published on emissions and forests, but am not qualified to weigh in on tree ring analysis, or the details about climate scientists’ purported attempts to distort or withhold information.

    Yes, I was OT, but Watts’ blog disrespects climate science, and if one is interested in a discussion McIntyre has shown interest in engagement. Maybe it’s because he realizes that if one insists on full disclosure from one group, his own blog should publish arguments that disagree with him.

    Who, by the way, are you?

    • RomanM
      Posted May 5, 2011 at 11:09 AM | Permalink

      I’m here to discuss climate science, and the breaking news about sea level rise is central to it.

      You wouldn’t be the same “Mike Roddy” who only last year wrote the following about CA (I won’t give the link because I don’t wish to subject anyone to the total rant):

      Most egregious lie: “I constructed a variation on the CRU data set, removing the 12 selected cores and replacing them with the 34 cores from the Schweingruber Yamal sample….” The echo chamber goes wild, but neither they nor McIntyre himself have any idea what he’s talking about, since Climate Audit is all about masturbating to numbers.

      You will forgive me if I am skeptical of your motives…

      By the way, I am a retired professor whose full name has been posted on CA and elsewhere on several occasions and I have done several posts on CA. I will leave it to you to figure out in what area my professional background might be.

  67. Dennis Wingo
    Posted May 6, 2011 at 7:25 AM | Permalink

    If the scientific community wishes to reestablish its credibility then as a result of this refusal the following should occur.

    1. Removal of all papers that directly or indirectly use the Yamal Chronologies.
    2. Any derivative works, such as the IPCC’s TAR’s that use anything related to the Yamal Chronologies must include a disclaimer that there is unvalidated data and findings that cast doubt on their own findings.
    3. Sanction of the scientists involved until the data is released.

    Could you imagine this happening had this been test data regarding a clinical trial of a drug? There is a public duty to release this data as well as a scientific responsibility. Replication is THE core value of science, without it, the findings based upon the Yamal Chronologies is no more than the prognostications of charlatans.

    • Punksta
      Posted May 24, 2011 at 1:14 AM | Permalink

      For climate scioence in general, if all papers that failed to provide all data and code – or had any outstanding requests (FOI or otherwise) against them – were retracted (as they should be)
      – how many would be left?
      – how different would the ‘consensus’ look ?

  68. Stacey
    Posted May 7, 2011 at 1:00 PM | Permalink

    ” their ability to attract research”

    The following link is to the CRU’s research grants page.

    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/research/grants.htm

    Dr Briffa and others have received a grant of £266 000 for two years work on the subject of “The dendroclimatic divergence phenomenon: reassessment of causes and implications for climate reconstruction” Granted 2010

    Dr Jones has re £318 000 EURO4M – European Reanalysis and Observations for Monitoring Granted 2010.

    What appears interesting is that they are both being rewarded/provided grants to deal with their own past failures.

    I may be wrong but it would appear that Mr McIntyre should receive some of this money.

    I really would like to know what they both will deliver for half a million pounds and the remaining one million pounds?

    The grants they receive is all public money.

13 Trackbacks

  1. [...] in in response to his latest FOI request for tree ring data, which was [...]

  2. By Top Posts — WordPress.com on Apr 26, 2011 at 7:14 PM

    [...] CRU Refuses FOI Request for Yamal Climategate Chronology Probably no single issue damages the reputation of the climate science community more than the refusal to show the data [...] [...]

  3. [...] Climate Audit…CRU denies science Posted on April 27, 2011 by Tom Harley CRU Refuses FOI Request for Yamal Climategate Chronology Apr 25, 2011 – 9:30 [...]

  4. [...] CRU Refuses FOI Request for Yamal Climategate Chronology [...]

  5. [...] Anyone wanting my raw data….ha ha – only when CRU releases theirs. [...]

  6. [...] CRU Refuses FOI Request for Yamal Climategate Chronology April 27, 2011 – 10:11 am Source: Climateaudit [...]

  7. [...] you wonder where to bury your face. As you might know, the University of East Anglia recently refused to release climate data in its custody, when requested under FOI (in itself an embarrassment, but [...]

  8. [...] via CRU Refuses FOI Request for Yamal Climategate Chronology « Climate Audit. [...]

  9. [...] Pretending that the raw data is available. It isn’t. And they are still refusing to release it. What is available is the selected, cherry-picked [...]

  10. [...] Source: http://climateaudit.org/2011/04/25/cru-refuses-foi-request-for-yamal-climategate-chronology/ [...]

  11. By Climategate Update on May 4, 2011 at 9:23 AM

    [...] the potential for “financial harm,” the University of East Anglia last week denied a Freedom of Information request by “Hockey Stick” debunker Stephen McIntyre for the [...]

  12. [...] CRU Refuses FOI Request for Yamal Climategate Chronology Apr 25, 2011 – 9:30 PM [...]

  13. [...] recent weeks, the University has taken a stronger stance favoring withholding climate-related data from members of the public, citing commercial and [...]

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