Lord Oxburgh of Globe International to Report

The BBC reports that Lord Oxburgh of Globe International is to report his report on CRU science, perhaps tomorrow. The panel was first announced on March 22, 2010 – see here. No terms of reference were disclosed then, nor, to my knowledge, have they been disclosed subsequently.

Harrabin says that “members of the panel are said to have cross-examined CRU researchers for a total of 15 man-days”.

To my knowledge, they have not interviewed any critics of CRU or targets of the Climategate emails.


  1. Mike Davis
    Posted Apr 13, 2010 at 8:29 PM | Permalink

    As open and transparent as an X-Ray shield!

  2. ZT
    Posted Apr 13, 2010 at 8:37 PM | Permalink

    The BBC have been primed with some disinformation/excuses, e.g. according the article:

    “In industry it is routine for original scientific research data to be archived by a records team and kept safe for as long as it might prove useful.
    University scientists, on the other hand, are said to be have been [sic] more used to a culture in which notes are kept until papers are peer-reviewed – but then are filed in a less rigorous fashion.”

    Which is, of course, absurd, as good researchers, who maintain records without any team to help them, in both academia and industry, are well aware.

    But perhaps the presence of the ‘bumbling professor excuse’ in the pre-announcement is an indication that this won’t be a complete whitewash. I am expecting the report to go as far as calling for increased funding for the CRU so that they can beef-up their IT facilities.

  3. Benjamin
    Posted Apr 13, 2010 at 8:48 PM | Permalink

    Did you mean “15 Mann-days” ?


  4. Dave N
    Posted Apr 13, 2010 at 9:31 PM | Permalink

    “To my knowledge, they have not interviewed any critics of CRU or targets of the Climategate emails”

    I guess that means that either those interviewed are required to stay silent (at least for now), or that they haven’t interviewed anyone of that ilk at all.

    My guess is the latter, and that makes it look like yet another whitewash.. but let’s see what is announced

  5. Posted Apr 13, 2010 at 11:53 PM | Permalink

    They have invested 15 man-days in this work. Why talk to people who would just try to find something wrong with it?

  6. dearieme
    Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 2:38 AM | Permalink

    “How do you plead?”
    “Not Guilty, m’lud.”
    “Accepted; you leave this court without a stain on your character.”

  7. geronimo
    Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 3:15 AM | Permalink

    This has parallels elsewhere. The malfeasance of the priests is kept under wraps because it is thought that admitting that priests have been up to no good somehow denigrates the message of the religion.

    What everybody needs to understand is that these things eventually catch up with you, and of course in the age of the internet the problem won’t go away by covering it up, and Jones will never be the same again.

    What is amazing to me is that there doesn’t appear to have been any attempt by the Team to be more open, in fact, if anything they are taking strength from these whitewashed reports and are getting more brazen. snip

  8. Rick
    Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 3:48 AM | Permalink

    When fighting a larger and more skilled opponent you push him onto his heels and then keep swinging/pushing before he can get back on balance and swing.

    The Greenies know their arguments don’t have a leg to stand on, so they push their rhetoric hard, fast and prolifically to keep anyone in the nay constantly on the defensive. Climategate and the break for Copenhagen gave the other side a chance to recenter and punch back. Now the Greenies are concentrating on damage control (i.e. “rolling with the punches”) and are trying to get their opponents back on their heels.

    How to make sure that doesn’t happen? A paradigm shift of some kind, perhaps? The Greenies have all the marbles on their side (“scientist” mouthpieces, media, politicians, indoctrinated and diploma carrying “respectable people”, money), so the game needs to be changed. I don’t know how to do that – but showing the whitewash to as many people as possible can’t hurt. Maybe we need a banner of some sort like they have – something to show a large unified front, rather than “there are a handful of skeptics out there”.

    It’s at least cathartic to see smart and knowledgeable people working to expose this stuff! Thanks folks.

  9. Mac
    Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 3:58 AM | Permalink

    ………. and they expect to be convincing.

    I am afraid Lord Oxburgh has only compounded the controversy over Climategate and not resolved it.

    Now everyone will be able to point to this review and say, “I told you so!”

  10. John Bell
    Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 4:04 AM | Permalink

    It mentions David Hand, President of the Royal Statstical Society as being on the panel.

    One of his recent papers is

    Hand D.J. (2010) Monitoring large data sets to detect fraud: discussion of the papers by Becker et al and Sudjianto et al. To appear in Technometrics.

    He would have been responible for the evidence given to the committee here.

    Click to access 387ii.pdf

    8. It is also clearly unreasonable to require that any given scientist having published some research is then
    condemned to answer each and every question that might possibly arise from it.. For example, requests
    under the Freedom of Information act or the Environmental Information Regulations could overwhelm
    small groups of scientists. To avoid this it is best if data are stored in data centres that are professionally run
    and properly funded.
    9. More widely, the basic case for publication of data includes that science progresses as an ongoing
    debate and not by a series of authoritative and oracular pronouncements and that the quality of that debate
    is best served by ensuring that all parties have access to the facts. It is well understood, for example, that
    peer review cannot guarantee that what is published is “correct”. The best guarantor of scientific quality
    is that others are able to examine in detail the arguments that have been used and not just their published
    conclusions. It is important that experiments and calculations can be repeated to verify their conclusions.
    If data, or the methods used, are withheld, it is impossible to do this.

  11. KeithGuy
    Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 4:48 AM | Permalink

    Here’s my prediction of the summary of the findings of the report:

    Though some of the statistical methods used by the Climate Research Unit were questionable, they do not affect the underlying science that supports AGW.

    • Gerald Machnee
      Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 8:22 AM | Permalink

      Yep, and soon to be noted at RC and affiliates.

  12. Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 4:55 AM | Permalink

    If the BBC is correct and they are reporting today, that would be remarkably quick work – the panel would have agreed its remit, read all of CRU’s main publications from the last 20 years, reached their conclusions and written their report, all in three weeks including the Easter holiday.

    This was discussed on the BBC Today programme this morning:
    The second of three reviews into climate change emails from the University of East Anglia will be published later today. The emails caused uproar after appearing to show scientists tampering with data supporting the theory of climate change. Environment analyst Roger Harrabin outlines the latest review, and Tom Burke, visiting Professor of environmental science and technology at Imperial College, examines how the emails have affected attitudes to climate change.

  13. curious
    Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 5:04 AM | Permalink

    What is the point of the BBC story? It has no referenced sources and no definitive testable statements. There is no narrative of questionning to explain how “the BBC understands the panel has taken a hard look at CRU methodology”. What differentiates this from propaganda? Pathetic example of so much that is wrong with climate science and its relations with the media. If there is nothing to say that can be referenced they should shut up and let the report speak for itself.

    John Bell 4.04 above – thanks for highlighting those points. A shame that one outcome of this could actually be a move to weaken FOI/EIR. What Mr Hand fails to appreciate is that the “small groups of scientists” must have had the data at some point to produce their work. If it has been assembled and used in a sytematic way, to archive it at the time of publication is a trivial task. The idea of professionally run and properly funded data centres is reasonable to ensure longevity and there are plenty of turnkey providers out there already. The storage solution should be appropriate to the size of the dataset – for example hosted email servers are available for about £10 a month and these are only going to get cheaper. I think it is not unreasonable for the publication journals to have this role. They charge for the papers and they could easily charge a nominal management fee for each data download.

  14. Pete
    Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 5:31 AM | Permalink


  15. justbeau
    Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 5:56 AM | Permalink

    Wow, I had not previously understood Kerry Emanuel actually co-authored a paper with Michael Mann (as I learned from a link to this story). That is a distinction not unlike being a business partner to Bernie Madoff. Kerry’s unfitness for a CRU review panel is absurdly greater than I had suspected.
    Even though I am profoundly cynical about AGW, Professor Emanuel’s absurd unsuitability to participate in a review still surprises me, though I thought I was past surprising. Al Gore and Michael Mann must have been unavailable to serve, so they suggested Emanuel.

    • jthomas
      Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 12:17 PM | Permalink

      Wow, you are one paranoid conspiracist. No matter, you’re just further marginalizing yourselves.
      snip – prohibited language

      • Dave Dardinger
        Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 1:48 PM | Permalink

        Re: jthomas (Apr 14 12:17),

        Would you be so kind as to make clear who you’re talking to? You are responding to justbeau but sound like you’re talking to a larger group. I don’t think I’d disagree with justbeau in the firstplace since if this were a jury trial, the first thing you’d be asked is if you had any substantial dealings with the people on trial. Now Jones (CRU) and Mann clearly had substantial dealings with each other. And if Kerry Emanuel then has co-authored a paper with Michael Mann, I’d think it would make his unsuitable to be on a jury looking at potential wrongdoing by Jones.

  16. curious
    Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 6:07 AM | Permalink

    Pete – thanks for the link. Just want to highlight the actual Oxburgh report is linked and available from that page.

  17. Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 6:13 AM | Permalink

    Good grief. Well it will be interesting to see how they attempt to whitewash the fact that of AR4’s 44 Chapters 18,531 references 21 Chapters would get an F based on the number of non-peer-reviewed references. Read all about it, folks, and spread the word!


  18. Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 6:19 AM | Permalink

    From the report, I like this paragraph:

    “Recent public discussion of climate change and summaries and popularizations of the work of CRU and others often contain oversimplifications that omit serious discussion of uncertainties emphasized by the original authors. For example, CRU publications repeatedly emphasize the discrepancy between instrumental and tree-based proxy reconstructions of temperature during the late 20th century, but presentations of this work by the IPCC and others have sometimes neglected to highlight this issue. While we find this regrettable, we could find no such fault with the peer-reviewed papers we examined.”

    The CRU tried to tell everyone about the “divergence problem”. It was the IPCC that “hid the decline”.

    What did Phil Jones do at the IPCC again????

  19. Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 6:25 AM | Permalink

    Another gem:

    “it [the Panel] was asked to come to a view on the integrity of the Unit’s research and whether as far as could be determined the conclusions represented an honest and scientifically justified interpretation of the data.”

    Can someone help me find the part in the report where they reconcile, or even discuss the issue of the lost/destroyed/dog digested raw instrumental data in the context of:

    “conclusions represented an honest and scientifically justified interpretation of the data”

  20. R.S.Brown
    Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 6:38 AM | Permalink

    Although the BBC headline shouts “no malpractice” and in the subheader claims the
    report was from an “independent” investigative body, the actual news report seems
    VERY soft on exculpatory findings:


  21. Beth Cooper
    Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 6:45 AM | Permalink

    How ironic that a panel of gatekeepers is set up to review the openness of the climate science peer review and FOI processes.

  22. Stew NZ
    Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 7:01 AM | Permalink

    If as the report says
    ” CRU publications repeatedly emphasize the
    discrepancy between instrumental and tree-based proxy reconstructions of the temperature during the late 20 th century”
    why are the tree based proxys used at all?

  23. eddy
    Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 7:12 AM | Permalink

    “2. We cannot help remarking that it is very surprising that research in an area that
    depends so heavily on statistical methods has not been carried out in close collaboration with professional statisticians. Indeed there would be mutual benefit if there were closer collaboration and interaction between CRU and a
    much wider scientific group outside the relatively small international circle of
    temperature specialists.”

    For me, this is the true & valuable core to the report – not having any emotional or idealogical horse in this race, and not really caring whether particular individuals are lauded or alternatively, tarred, feathered & beaten through the streets with pigs’ bladders.

    I’d just like to see good science. Perhaps they will adopt this recoemmndation, and the science at CRU & elsewhere will improve.

    • Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 7:50 AM | Permalink

      Re: eddy (Apr 14 07:12),
      eddy, are you familiar with the Wegman report? This was published in 2006. Here is one of their findings:

      It is important to note the isolation of the paleoclimate community; even though they rely
      heavily on statistical methods they do not seem to be interacting with the statistical
      community. Additionally, we judge that the sharing of research materials, data and results
      was haphazardly and grudgingly done. In this case we judge that there was too much
      reliance on peer review, which was not necessarily independent.

      Groundhog day?

      • eddy
        Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 8:40 AM | Permalink

        Yep, I’ve seen that. Maybe the reiteration will have some effect, now. Not saying that it will, but I think that if things get repeated often enough they tend to become embedded in the consciousness even of slower-moving entities, such as research funding bodies.

        • dougie
          Posted Apr 14, 2010 at 5:13 PM | Permalink

          hope to God your right eddy.
          but 4yrs on and this is still an issue, makes me wonder!!

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