Climategate external review chair picked

from the BBC

Sir Muir Russell will head an independent review into the e-mails leaked from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) in Norwich, UK.

Sir Muir, a former civil servant, will look into allegations that have arisen from the security breach.

http://www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk/images/UGSP00499_m.jpg

[As a measure of how out of touch UEA is, they apparently have little idea that the title “former civil servant” does not inspire much confidence from skeptics, since it has been “civil servants” who have been blocking access to the data and procedures all along. Here is Sir Muir’s Wikipedia page and his biography page on the University of Glasgow web site – Anthony]

The review will examine whether there is evidence of manipulation or suppression of data “at odds with acceptable scientific practice”.

The CRU is based at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

The e-mails issue arose two weeks ago when hundreds of messages between scientists at the CRU and their peers around the world were posted on the world wide web, along with other documents.

It appears that the material was hacked or leaked; a police investigation has yet to reveal which.

CRU maintains one of the world’s most important datasets on how global temperatures have changed.

Professor Phil Jones, director of the unit, has stepped down pending the review, and has said he stands by his data.

At the time that the theft of the data was revealed, some climate sceptic websites picked up on the word “trick” in one e-mail from 1999 and talk of “hiding the decline”.

Professor Jones said the e-mail was genuine but taken “completely out of context”.

He added: “The first thing to point out is that this refers to one diagram – not a scientific paper.

“The word ‘trick’ was used here colloquially as in a clever thing to do. It is ludicrous to suggest that it refers to anything untoward.”

UEA has said the review will:

  • Examine e-mail exchanges to determine whether there is evidence of suppression or manipulation of data at odds with acceptable scientific practice which “may therefore call into question any of the research outcomes”.
  • Review CRU’s policies and practices for acquiring, assembling, subjecting to peer review and disseminating data and research findings, and “their compliance or otherwise with best scientific practice”.
  • Review CRU’s compliance or otherwise with the UEA’s policies and practices regarding requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) for the release of data.
  • Review and make recommendations about the management, governance and security structures for CRU and the security, integrity and release of the data it holds.

Sir Muir commented: “Given the nature of the allegations it is right that someone who has no links to either the university or the climate science community looks at the evidence and makes recommendations based on what they find.

Read the complet article here

h/t to Leif Svalgaard

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M White

Wll it be a greenwash????

If our heroic hacker/whistleblower is ever caught, I wonder if he’ll get the same leniency that a British court showed to the Greenpeace activits who vandalized the coal-fired plant in Kent. (The hearing that Hansen testified at, remember?)
http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/press-center/releases2/british-court-rules-direct-act

Robert Wood

Colour me skeptical on this review.

Foxgoose

Wapedia on Sir Muir Russell:-
“……. He was widely believed to be primarily responsible for the massive overspend on the new Scottish Parliament Building and was criticised by Lord Fraser of Carmyllie’s enquiry for failing to keep the politicians informed that the expenditure was far in excess of the budget…..”
and
“….. Scheduled to open in 2001,it did so in 2004, more than three years late with an estimated final cost of £414m, many times higher than initial estimates of between £10m and £40m. A major public inquiry into the handling of the construction concluded in September 2004 and criticised the management of the whole project from the realisation of cost increases down to the way in which major design changes were implemented…..”
Sound like a safe pair of hands then.

M White

“Biography of Sir Muir Russell”
http://www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk/biography/?id=WH1193&type=P
“BSc with first class honours in Natural Philosophy.”

Henry chance

Ann coulter comments:
“Global warming cheerleaders in the media were quick to defend the scandalous e-mails, explaining that, among scientists, the words “trick,” “hide the decline” and “garbage” do not mean “trick,” “hide the decline” and “garbage.” These words actually mean “onion soup,” “sexual submissive” and “Gary, Ind.”
(Boy, it must be great to be able to redefine words right in the middle of a debate.)
Also, of course, the defenders said that the words needed to be placed “in context” — the words’ check was in the mail, and they’d like to spend more time with their families.”
This is a Mann made crisis. Mann and Jones may have more time to pursue other opportunities and time for their families. That is how they define getting fired.

Robert M.

Hmmmm, I wonder why they selected this guy? Does he have any experience conducting investigations? How will we be able to tell if this is a real investigation or a whitewash? I would love to hear some opinions…

Phillip Bratby

See also http://www.heraldscotland.com/pound-23-000-pay-rise-for-university-principal-1.871413 for more info on Sir Russell.
No doubt a Lordship will be granted if he comes up with the right answer.

Ah a scottish politician. All is in safe hands … wait a minute!

davidncl

he’s a warmist. He’s on radio 4 now, peddling the settle science line.

Rhys Jaggar

One hopes that Sir Muir does not prejudge his enquiry by reading the editorial in this week’s issue of Nature magazine.
Whilst a barrister for the defence would be admiring the handiwork, it might be considered more prudent in the long-term not to take such a hard-line view, unless of course those on the inside of that august publication already know that a political whitewash is about to occur…….one wonders how they would know that and what that would say about probity in UK public life, were that to be the case……
1. Do ‘skeptics’ continually bombard CRU for FOI requests, or do they need to make repeated requests due to the refusal to provide the data?
2. If the science behind the assertions can not be checked independently, which does, I am sure 100% of practising scientists would agree, require THE SAME DATASETS USED BY THE INITIAL RESEARCHERS, would you agree that it cannot be described as VALIDATED?
3. If commercial agreements prevent data being released, would CRU and Nature magazine agree that no earth-changing, multi-trillion dollar global initiatives should be undertaken until the period of those commercial agreements is past and the research HAS been validated?
4. Would Nature magazine agree that if data is so unimportant as to be ditched, then clearly the scientific conclusions drawn from it are equally unimportant? If so, why are we bombarded with disaster scenario after disaster scenario on a daily basis leading up to Copenhagen?
5. Would Nature magazine agree that many skeptics are not ‘creationists’ as a particularly arrogant researcher at UC Irvine described them, and would they agree that such arrogance is hardly likely to inspire confidence in grant awarding bodies, who generally value the ability to manage resistance, overcome objections and engage respectfully rather more highly than bullying assertions of false superiority?
6. Would Nature magazine agree that public sector funding of climate science is ultimately answerable to the taxpayer, not to the funded climate scientists, and hence scientists who say that only scientists can judge or evaluate them may be more likely to be on the receiving end of funding rejections in the era of austerity which we are about to enter into?
7. Would Nature magazine agree that, whatever else may or may not be true, that the nature of the engagement by climate scientists with Governments and the general public bears all the hallmarks of the cock-ups made by the GM crop multinationals over the past 20 years and that concerted global action concerning climate change over coming decades is more likely to be productive if the next three years are used in ironing out objections through constructive dialogue and confirmatory research rather than bullying autocrats bulldozering through ill-thought-through proposals at Copenhagen next week?
I’m sure many others, after reading that editorial, will dream up questions far more cogent than mine.
Perhaps someone with influence might like to forward the collected questions to Sir Muir to ensure that a cover-up/whitewash only occurs with his explicit consent, collusion and personal responsibility……

Gösta Oscarsson

I think there is a clear risk that somebody coming to this question without knowing anything of the “epic struggle” that has been going on between the “ins” and the “outs” will have problems understanding “the scandal”. I do hope Sir Muir will study some of the main sceptic blogs and papers in parallel to “the Mails”. There has been an alternative “truth” and that is what “they” have been fighting.
Gösta Oscarsson
Stockholm

SandyInDerby

Climategate was the first item on BBC Radio4 PM (an hour long news programme) I was surprised to say the least.
Unfortunately I didn’t hear the full item as we got home, I am going to search the i-player to see what was said.

Joseph

Sir Muir Russell sits on a green jobs advisory board. Hmm, I wonder which side of the climate debate he sits on?
http://www.greenjobs.com/Public/newsitems/news00685.htm

illya

Don’t know if this is true, but it is funny. Sir Muir seems to be the perfect guy for the job:
“The man is a pea brained civil servant; he has no academic background; he has proven himself to be incompetent and of questionable integrity before, and he has no business whatsoever being in a university setting.” (Jan 2007)
http://www.glasgowwestend.co.uk/yabbse/index.php?showtopic=2408

Splice

I’ve commented over at Bishop Hill and am optimistic that we may see a thorough review. I perceive a subtle change in the UEA’s response to this unfolding crisis. They’ve been way behind the curve and committed just about every faux pas possible when handling the public relations aspect.
First their initial public statements were self serving and self pitying. They talked about illegal hacks, stolen emails, so called independent studies, missing the point if we are to carry on living on this planet etc. They let Trevor Davis handle the public statements on 24.11.09 and 28.11.09. This was madness since Professor Davis could hardly be considered objective, a former Director of CRU and also mentioned in some of the emails.
Now, today we have this statement which on first reading seems to address the key points and puts some distance between the UEA and CRU. The bottom line is the academic credibility of the UEA which has taken a sizeable hit over the past few weeks.
I also note that Sir Muir Russell will have a free hand to assemble a team of experts (I suggest some software engineers from industry) and will be able to amend and add to the terms of reference. I hope that he also can call on evidence from those affected by the emails, press ganging and general mendacity of the team.

Kevin Schurig

Sounds like his appointment is a “make-work” project. Oh, not for him, but for the auditors that will be hired to double and triple check the committee’s accounting. But the big question is, is he an AGW believer?

Justin

Further on in the article (I don’t know if it has been added to the article referred to above)
In another development, Saudi Arabia’s chief climate negotiator, Mohammad Al-Sabban said that the CRU e-mail issue will have a “huge impact” on next week’s UN climate summit.
Mr Al-Sabban made clear that he expects it to derail the single biggest objective of the summit – to agree limitations on greenhouse gas emissions.
“It appears from the details of the scandal that there is no relationship whatsoever between human activities and climate change,” he told BBC News.
“Climate is changing for thousands of years, but for natural and not human-induced reasons.”

Thought people would enjoy this climate cartoon from Britains premier cartoonist-if hes making jokes about it the subject has trulty reached the MSM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/matt/?cartoon=6712845&cc=6695729
Tonyb

imapopulist

This is a positive step. The scope of the investigation is sound and the head of it appears to be an outsider to the AGW profession. The University will first be motivated to restore its credibility over any desire to further the actions of rogue scientists.
There is simply too much scrutiny today for this panel to whitewash its findings. In the past such panels could rely on th MSM to provide support. But no more. Climategate has gone viral. Put this genie back in the bottle? Sorry, no can do!

DJ Meredith

The efforts of the person or persons who “hacked” the emails are being taken completely out of context. “Hacked” was really un-constraining the science.
Mann, Jones, Trenberth, Santer and all the rest should be proud that their scientific discourse is now out in the open for all to see the proof of their altruistic goals, and how they meant to achieve them. In reading through the emails, it becomes apparent to me that these guys are genuine in their belief that they’re right, and the end justifies the means.

John Levett

I’d have preferred Justice Burton who seems to have a good record in evaluating the merits of AGW and the belief system that it inspires.

I have extended on todays story about this independent review in a blo I have setup today because I am so incensed at the stench:
http://climategatestuff.wordpress.com/2009/12/03/climategate-lord-stern-and-the-grantham-institute/

Richard111

And for what good deeds to the nation was he given a knighthood?

JiminLeeds

Sandyinleeds
Don’t bother searching for the radio 4 item – Roger Harrabin was wheeled out to do the familiar BBC line – climatgate no, no, nothing to see here, but lots of Oil rich countries will surely try and derail Copenhagen with these emails….
The BBC is surely now held in ridicule by all those in the know?

Henry chance

Al Gore has this morning told Berlingske Media’s great annoyance has canceled his planned major climate talks for Danes 16th december i Tap 1 på den gamle Carlsberg grund under titlen ”Klimakonklusion”. December 1 Tap in the old Carlsberg because, under the title “Climate Conclusion”.
Aflysningen kommer med henvisning til uforudsete ændringer i Al Gores program for klimatopmødet, COP15. Cancellation comes with regard to unforeseen changes in Al Gore’s program for the climate summit, COP 15

wobble

““The word ‘trick’ was used here colloquially as in a clever thing to do. It is ludicrous to suggest that it refers to anything untoward.””
Why doesn’t Jones understand that the problem isn’t with the word “trick?”
Even if the word “trick” is substituted with the term “clever technique” then we’re still left with the fact that the ‘clever technique was used to HIDE THE DECLINE.’

Richard

Its a pity they didnt pick an ex-judge. Judges are trained to be fair and impartial.

Zeke

Oh no, not that! A “civil servant” is going to “examine email exchanges” and “make recommendations!” This could get ugly.
You don’t mind if I don’t look?
The UEA should go ahead with this process of self-examination. But it is my hope that legal proceedings are already underway against these global rackateers, and the courts will make some real findings. How is that going to look if there is a great disparity between the two?

Anton

Just reviewing the emails is inadequate. How about the computer code and the comments therein by the programmer?

PaulinManchester

Re: Joseph
I read the ‘greenjobs’ news item to say that he sits on the Advisory Board for Scottish Power – I wouldn’t on that basis rush to conclude that he is biased.

paullm

Chopping up
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/dec/03/nasa-embroiled-in-climate-dispute/
a bit, but that GISS’s public affairs director is “unfamiliar with the British controversy” is very damning for the GISS:
“Christopher C. Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said NASA has refused for two years to provide information under the Freedom of Information Act…”
Mr. Horner suspects the same sort of data shaving (as with CRU – plm) has happened at GISS, a leading climate change research center. Mr. Hess said he was unfamiliar with the British controversy and couldn’t say whether NASA was susceptible to the same challenges to its data.
(“Mark Hess, public affairs director for the Goddard Space Flight Center, which runs the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) laboratory, said officials are working on Mr. Horner’s request, though he couldn’t say why they have taken so long.
“We’re collecting the information and will respond with all the responsive relevant information to all of his requests,” Mr. Hess said. “It’s just a process you have to go through where you have to collect data that’s responsive.” )
The White House has dismissed the British e-mails as irrelevant.
“Several thousand scientists have come to the conclusion that climate change is happening. I don’t think that’s anything that is, quite frankly, among most people, in dispute anymore,” press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters this week. ”
And Hansen keeps shooting his mouth off. Keep it up, Jim.

wobble

Don’t be too convinced that this guy is going to allow a complete white wash of this issue. He’s politic enough to know that a complete dismissal of this issue could cause severe public outcry which would hurt his cause more than help it.
And any type of corrective action he recommends could scare enough data fakers to amend their ways in the future. Without faking the data, no warming will be observed.

Steve Keohane

Don’t see anything in his bio or in Wiki that says much about him other than being a public employee with excesses at a gov’t trough. But wait, is he not to investigate the same sort of excesses at CRU? At least he has experience in the arena.

JonesII

Prof.Piers Corbyn asks “SIGN the Downing St Petition!* http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/UEACRU/
‘We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to suspend the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia from preparation of any Government Climate Statistics until the various allegations have been fully investigated by an independent body.’
The link is easy to use It Emails you back for ‘signature’ confirmation. Please sign & forward to someone else to sign.
Then ask your MP to sign too and Oppose any Copenhagen Deal (*only British subjects; other countries have other petitions).”

wobble

“Several thousand scientists have come to the conclusion that climate change is happening. I don’t think that’s anything that is, quite frankly, among most people, in dispute anymore,” press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters this week. ”
Yes, Gibbs, they came to that conclusion after looking at massaged data.

jorgekafkazar

“CRU maintains one of the world’s most important datasets on how global temperatures have changed.”
CRU formerly maintained what was one of the world’s most important datasets on how global temperatures have changed.

John Good

Climate-gate 28,600,000 hits on google now though no sign an any auto prompt

He only has a B.Sc. in Natural Philosophy in the U.K., which I gather translates into a B.S. in Physics in the U.S.A. The bio doesn’t list any scientific publications or research, and historically he comes across as being primarily a bureaucrat. Doesn’t sound like the right kind of qualifications to be investigating problems dealing with advanced statistics, computer programming, dendrochronology, and meteorology/climatology — not to mention the legal issues involving FOIA obstruction and fraud. Where is Inspector Clouseau when we need him?

paullm

According to this “Chair for climate e-mail review ” BBC piece on Russell we may have the entire winter to collect more “global warming” data. At the rate at which the Arctic ice is melting (alarmingly according to yesterday’s House Administration’s testimony), etc. the globe may continue to be the best advocate against AGW, regardless of Russell’s decision. At the rate the GISS is responding to Chris Horner these data release controversies will be continuing through the SC 23-24 minimum.
I got a kick out of this:
“This is probably necessary to allow a thorough investigation, but it does mean that those who are using ‘climategate’ as a propaganda tool for their own political ends might be able to enjoy many more weeks of mischief-making.
“The big question is whether so-called ‘sceptics’ will complain because the investigation will not be headed by one of their own, and whether they will suspend their campaigns of disinformation about this affair until the investigation is completed.”
UEA has asked for the review to be completed by the Spring of 2010 and this will be made public along with the university’s response.

paullm

Ha, the controversies may continue through SC 24!

devonseaglass

Anthony, if only you has a Sir-ship and could have been considered for this review…

jorgekafkazar

John Good (09:47:22) : “Climate-gate 28,600,000 hits on google now though no sign (of) any auto prompt”
Now count hits for “climategate, treason”

John Luft

There is no question that Muir Russell is already compromised due to him being a member of the nine person Advisory Board connected to Scottish Power.
http://www.scottishpower.com/PressReleases_1612.htm
On the “greenjobs” website, it quotes:
“In closing the meeting, First Minister Alex Salmond commented, “Scotland has a vast future as a green energy powerhouse for Europe. We have the natural resources to succeed, the skills base to drive research and development, and a government with the will to ensure that renewables generation is allowed to thrive.
“ScottishPower are well placed to take a central position in Scotland’s greener future. The significant investment in renewables, outlined in their latest strategic plan, sets ScottishPower on the path to enjoying the success our global potential has to offer.”
No question of bias. The investigation will be a greenwash.

JMANON

OK, own up, who here has said that Prof Jones and his Crew had been guilty of “exaggeration”?
Unless I have been following all the wrong blogs, exaggeration ain’t in it. Unless, of course, its one of those handy euphemisms like “Economical with the truth”, “Quantitative easing” and from the climate world, “Value added data”.
If so and it means something a great deal worse but which can’t be mentioned before the watershed or on public internet, then I’d agree.
Still, you have to hand it to Wiki (whose credibility ain’t so hot either these days) who said:
“In Dec 2009 he was tapped to head an independent investigation into allegations that the causes of climate change were exaggerated by The Climatic Research Unit (CRU) based out of the University of East Anglia (UEA).”
Oh and how is it that the “causes” are exaggerated? Surely it was the temperature data? and unless I’m wrong the temperature is a symptom, not a cause or would be if the data weren’t “value added”.

devonseaglass

He said:
‘My first task is to scope the project, gather the information I need and source the additional expertise that will be required in order to investigate fully the allegations that have been made. Once this has happened I will be in a position to confirm timescales for publishing the review’.
It will be interesting to see
-How the project is scoped
-How the information is gathered
-What additional expertise is required
-What timescales are confirmed for publishing the review
(Also what the review will cover)

Dave

“As a measure of how out of touch UEA is, they apparently have little idea that the title ‘former civil servant’ does not inspire much confidence from skeptics, since it has been “civil servants” who have been blocking access to the data and procedures all along.”
Speaking in general yes, that’s true. Anyone who has ever watched “Yes [Prime] Minister!” has seen Sir Humphrey cook the statitistics to say whatever he wants them tosay and block access to the public.

R Dunn

I thought they would pick John Frobisher, but I guess he is no longer available.

geo

Isn’t there still 100 megs of data to come??

Andrew

RE :Neal Asher (09:09:54) :
Ah a scottish politician. All is in safe hands … wait a minute!

Perhaps he know just the right peat bog for the papers
http://www.thespoof.com/news/spoof.cfm?headline=s5i64103