Sunday, April 4, 2010

"Climategate" fizzles out: UK Parliamentary inquiry exonerates British scientist but calls for greater transparency in climate science

The first of several inquiries into the hacked email brouhaha, that from the UK House of Commons, has reported its findings (you can download their report here).
The findings of the inquiry do much to exonerate Prof Phil Jones and the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia whose emails were stolen and who have been subsequently targeted with what can only be described as an extremely vicious smear campaign.

"The focus on Professor Jones and CRU has been largely misplaced. On the accusations relating to Professor Jones's refusal to share raw data and computer codes, the Committee considers that his actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community but that those practices need to change.

On the much cited phrases in the leaked e-mails—"trick" and "hiding the decline"—the Committee considers that they were colloquial terms used in private e-mails and the balance of evidence is that they were not part of a systematic attempt to mislead.

Insofar as the Committee was able to consider accusations of dishonesty against CRU, the Committee considers that there is no case to answer.

The Committee found no reason in this inquiry to challenge the scientific consensus as expressed by Professor Beddington, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, that "global warming is happening [and] that it is induced by human activity"."

Although there are other inquiries still ongoing it would be a surprise if they find anything significantly different from this one. The findings here can be summarized as: science is solid, but more data sharing please. Ie: that CRU should follow the example of NASA and make all their data available (although most of it already is).
No doubt some of the more irrational "skeptics" will claim that this report is a conspiracy to hide the conspiracy that AWG is a plot to enforce a one world government/ higher taxes etc, however actual evidence for this is looking thinner than an arctic ice cap at the moment.

See CNN's report here
Joe Romm has a good summary and commentary on the report here
Richard Black of the BBC has some thoughtful points on the evolution of data sharing and availability in science here

1 comment:

  1. The claim that the community as a whole needs to change is a little strong. NASA already publishes all their data and code, and one of the clear points arising out of this whole episode is that there's more than enough information out there for anyone who legitimately wants to develop their own model to check if the common ones are right. CRU were picked on because a tiny fraction of their data was not freely available and they reacted defensively to a flood of freedom of information requests (over 100, harassment by any reasonable definition), not because the science is suspect.