The Inquiry Secretariat

The Muir Russell Inquiry is conspicuously silent on the staffing of their inquiry – in my own experience, the person who actually does the work often has as much, if not more, influence on the results than the suits who sit on the committee. Who is the secretary of the Muir Russell Inquiry? One looks in vain at their webpage for an answer.

An answer may lie in an article here, which states of the Inquiry:

Its secretariat is being seconded from the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Geoffrey Boulton is the General Secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. There’s a BP connection here as well – BP is a corporate sponsor of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. A local Edinburgh blog mentions that Peter Clarke (also of the University of Edinburgh) is a neighbor of Geoffrey Boulton. A pretty tightly knit little group.


  1. Posted Feb 14, 2010 at 7:43 PM | Permalink

    Having talked on the telephone to the Clerk of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Science and Technology on Thursday about that inquiry, this point rings entirely true. In case it was missed before, Andy said that any emails to Phil Willis on the subject of climate change will be read most carefully. Call me naive but I think it makes a difference that Mr Willis, unlike Russell, Boulton, Clarke, uncle Tom Cobbley and all, has soon like all his colleagues to petition for votes in a keenly fought general election. I urge people to make their feelings known, in as dispassionate and clear way as possible.

  2. ZT
    Posted Feb 14, 2010 at 8:04 PM | Permalink

    Probably the major qualification for the review team is proficiency in toadying.

    ZT left a comment on the Times Higher Education article, which was quite understated, and factual, but it was deleted.

    There’s a reply to that comment which begins…’ZT, that’s something of an understatement.’ and goes on to suggest that Boulton should resign. (and so far that comment hasn’t been deleted).

  3. Bernie
    Posted Feb 14, 2010 at 8:04 PM | Permalink

    Having worked on an NSF report, I absolutely agree that he or she who controls the word processor and has editorial license can influence the results enormously.

  4. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Feb 14, 2010 at 8:21 PM | Permalink

    Yes, it is not uncommon that the Secretariat adds a flavour of its own.

    Its selection is therefore important.

    One would have thought that there was ample ability among people not tainted by the topic, which essentially means not formerly associated with climatology. The inquiry is into the conduct of science, not the conduct of climate science.

    One would assume that Sir Muir Russell would have the acumen to make an impartial selction. There have been some excellent past UK Inquiries on a variety of subjects, so the equisite skills do reside there. Sir Muir should seek them impartially.

    • Posted Feb 14, 2010 at 8:43 PM | Permalink

      Ah, but members of the Team (the Hockey Team, that is) have already stated that certain statistical principles don’t apply to climate science. So it’s safe to assume that they feel certain scientific principles don’t apply to CS either.

  5. Carl Chapman
    Posted Feb 14, 2010 at 8:30 PM | Permalink

    If they are going to review the science, the very first thing they should do is go through all their published papers and retract any for which the data has been “lost”.

    The next step would be to retract any papers that relied on those retracted papers and so on.

    I suspect that there wouldn’t be many papers left for a detailed investigation.

    After that, they could re-gather all the raw data from the weather bureaus around the world. Any adjustments would need to be documented, in the public domain, and only after checking with actual statisticians (not paleoclimatologists).

    • Robert Christopher
      Posted Feb 15, 2010 at 11:48 AM | Permalink

      “… the very first thing they should do is go through all their published papers and retract any for which the data has been “lost”. …”

      The first two steps you list should be done in ‘audit mode’. If so, climate science expertise would not be needed, just auditing skills, with perhaps a good “dash of science”. Papers usually have references to help traceability, and experts from any field could be co-opted in. And it’s not as if the report could not be reviewed by those closer to the subject at a later date. If some papers were re-issued without any changes, it wouldn’t be such a problem, just a sign of being thorough. After all nothing is perfect. Iterations, iterations, iterations; it’s the only way!

  6. Fred
    Posted Feb 14, 2010 at 8:41 PM | Permalink

    Seems Sir Muir is having a difficult time hifing the decline of his Inquiry’s reputation.

    But he’s trying.

  7. vg
    Posted Feb 14, 2010 at 9:18 PM | Permalink

    snip – please stop OT

  8. David L. Hagen
    Posted Feb 14, 2010 at 9:34 PM | Permalink


  9. jae
    Posted Feb 14, 2010 at 10:27 PM | Permalink

    Dammit, Steve, you should make your “Unthreaded” category easier to access. Since I don’t want to try to find it, I will go OT here with this important announcement: Please read this blog and offer comments:

    Steve: Look at the Unthreaded category at left to locate thread, Takes two seconds.

    • ChrisJ
      Posted Feb 15, 2010 at 12:33 AM | Permalink

      umm there is no unthreaded on the left. On the right there are some recent comments. I used the browser “find” to search on unthreaded… -chris

    • ChrisJ
      Posted Feb 15, 2010 at 12:35 AM | Permalink

      Oh. I see. You need to use the “Select Category” button to find unthreaded… -chris

      • Dave Dardinger
        Posted Feb 15, 2010 at 8:31 AM | Permalink

        Re: ChrisJ (Feb 15 00:35),

        Steve might want to take this little byplay to heart. I was able to figure it out relatively quickly, but I’ve been on this site from the beginning. A newbie will tend to be totally lost. This has legs in terms of explaining some of the apparent arrogance of the “team” as well as the desire of Steve himself to have the methods used in producing climate databases. Think of displays in the bottom of cabinet drawers in a basement on Alpha Centuri.

      • Posted Feb 15, 2010 at 12:38 PM | Permalink

        On Firefox you need to pop up the “Select Category” list, then notice that it’s a scrolling list and scroll all the way to the bottom before Unthreaded comes into view. I didn’t notice it the first time. Having been *told* there’s an Unthreaded hiding in there I was able to find it, but I wouldn’t have thought to look there.

        Maybe you could put a note/link about this in the “NOTICE” section on top right? Something like “Please stay on topic. Off-topic discussion should be done in the latest [Unthreaded] posting, not the current post.”

  10. theduke
    Posted Feb 14, 2010 at 11:00 PM | Permalink

    Re: Jeff Alberts (Feb 14 20:43),

    For economy and clarity I think we need an efficient method to differentiate between Teams. I suggest we designate them Team1 (the inimitable original Team) and Team2 (the Muir inquiry.)

  11. Posted Feb 14, 2010 at 11:39 PM | Permalink

    What is all the fuss about the climate or global warming for that matter? I live here in America and this website is the first place I’ve heard the word climategate and in one google ad I read that global warming may be a hoax? Is there something our media isn’t telling us?

    (of course, the above is a joke)

    Great website Steve.

  12. Posted Feb 15, 2010 at 6:30 AM | Permalink

    The ‘local Edinburgh blog’ will be mine. I have corrected the original post to clarify that Review members Peter Clarke and Geoffrey Boulton may not be residential neighbours – but the University website does show them both as having offices at the King’s Buildings.

    Steve: I would have included a link, but hadn’t noted down the link at the time. Thanks for this,

  13. Dave L.
    Posted Feb 15, 2010 at 8:02 AM | Permalink

    Well, The Russell Review Team will NEVER have any credibility until a doctoral level expert in statistics is appointed as a full member. Lacking the latter (or equivalent) reduces the Russell Team to another bumbling bunch of scientific bureaucrats unqualified to properly evaluate the statistical methodology employed by the subject Hockey Team members. Maybe the nickname for the Russell Team could be “NAS Panel II’, because it certainly appears to have the “same game plan” and intends to play “the same game”.

  14. justbeau
    Posted Feb 15, 2010 at 11:02 AM | Permalink

    Its strange to see another example of BP bestowing funding on – snip. Previously it was BP shovelling money to the Love Guru. Now BP is said to fund the Royal Society of Edinburgh, led by Professor Boulton. Maybe BP should start putting more conditions into its grants, requiring data transparency. This would be a way for BP to promote the cause of better scientific methods within climate science.

    Steve: I don’t use the term “warmist” and I repeatedly ask others not to as well. It fosters a very unhealthy way of thinking.

    • Jimchip
      Posted Feb 15, 2010 at 11:26 AM | Permalink

      Re: justbeau (Feb 15 11:02),

      Well, this email shows Shell in charge of SRES Scenarios and this one, a personal favorite, shows a little CRU lobbying of BP and Shell. Others show the offer of partnership as long as there is input on research. Corporate staffs can be real crack teams. Maybe Shell and BP will just donate some staffs time and make the process really slick.

    • Bruce P
      Posted Feb 15, 2010 at 6:30 PM | Permalink

      Reading some of the comments over on the Guardian, UK, found some info on the BP Link. David Eyton is the BP Research Director that’s on the panel. He may be biased towards AGW. Under his leadership, they funded a contract with Princeton to run 10 years, but have since renewed it for another 5 to study carbon sequestration among other things.

      Link to announcement about extension:

      The head of the Princeton Environmental Department is Michael Oppenheimer, who is a true believer.

      Link to a Princeton University page with an interview with Oppenheimer:

      It’s beginning to look like the deck is stacked.

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