The Shoddy Climategate Inquiries

September 14, 2010 at 9:14 am

Andrew Montford is the author of The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science. If you’re looking for one volume during the upcoming holiday season to share with friends who haven’t been following matters closely, it’s a great choice. No one with an open mind can read that book and not conclude there’s something seriously amiss in climate science.

Today, the Global Warming Policy Foundation has released a 54-page report (PDF here) authored by Montford. Titled “The Climategate Enquiries,” it examines three investigations conducted in the wake of the release of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) documents into the public domain in late 2009.

Those inquires were intended to restore public confidence, but they have done nothing of the sort. I haven’t had an opportunity to read Montford’s report in its entirety, but below are some of his findings:

Regarding the Parliamentary Inquiry:

  • Comments made by Phil Willis suggest that he was not a neutral chairman.
  • The select committee appears to have accepted that scientists can leave out important information about the reliability of their results when presenting findings to policymakers.
  • The committee did not consider the issue of cherrypicking of data despite having several examples put to them.
  • The committee appears to have exonerated [Phil] Jones of the charge of fabrication without any evidence to justify such a conclusion.
  • The committee dismissed allegations of threats to [scientific] journals on the basis of explanations provided by Jones. No attempt was made to obtain evidence from the journal editors themselves.
  • The select committee does not appear to have investigated a serious
    allegation of a breach of scientific standards.
  • Although the committee are clear that the law of freedom of information
    was flouted, no attempt seems to have been made to identify the individuals responsible.

Regarding the Climate Change Emails Review aka the Muir Russell report:

  • Despite concerns that some of the appointed CCE panel members were unsuitable, the committee accepted [Muir] Russell’s vague expressions of hope that they would act in an objective fashion.
  • Only two interviews were held with key [Climatic Research Unit] staff. The majority of the panel, including the chairman, Sir Muir Russell, did not attend.
  • No interviews were held with critics of the CRU.
  • The panel appear to have exonerated CRU staff of undermining the peer review process without any evidence beyond unrecorded statements from Phil Jones. The panel themselves acknowledge that such uncorroborated testimony is inadequate.
  • The panel misunderstood the nature of the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] process, almost certainly affecting their conclusions in result.
  • The panel refused to publish the evidence of one of the most important
    witnesses [David Holland].
  • The panel failed to ask Jones whether he had deleted emails, but said they had not seen anything to suggest he had, despite having evidence to the contrary.
  • The panel failed to consider important evidence of breaches of Freedom of Information legislation.

Regarding the Scientific Assessment Panel aka the Oxburgh report:

  • The panel appears to have been deliberately selected to have a majority who would not address the review objectively and to exclude sceptical views entirely.
  • [The University of East Anglia] appointed [Ronald] Oxburgh as chairman of the panel in the full knowledge that he had conflicts of interest.
  • The papers examined by the panel were selected by UEA and appear to have been cleared with [Phil] Jones himself.
  • Lord Rees said that he had consulted with experts about the papers. In fact he had only discussed them with Sir Brian Hoskins, who had said he did not know [the Climatic Research Unit’s] work.
  • Many of the papers examined were obscure and had not been questioned by critics. Many of the papers that had been criticised were not examined.
  • Contrary to the strong recommendation from the Science and Technology Committee, the inquiry did not carry out its interviews in public, nor did it make notes, recordings or transcripts of interviews.
  • At least one panellist had serious concerns over CRU science and how it was used in the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] reports. There was no word of these concerns in the Oxburgh panel report.

..

~Andrew Montford’s blog appears here

~if ordering The Hockey Stick Illusion from Canada, this source is quick & dependable

h/t to Hilary Ostrov

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