Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Climate scientists vindicated (again)

"On the specific allegations made against the behaviour of CRU scientists, we find that their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt."

The fifth (and final) review into "Climategate", the Muir Russell Climate Change Email Review has just been released. This "forensic" report looked into allegations made against climate scientists from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. Like the four before it, the Muir Russell report found almost every allegation to be completely baseless, although like the preceding reports it faulted the scientists and the university for an unhelpful attitude towards freedom of information requests.

Crucially, these reports have found nothing that challenges or calls into question our understanding of climate change. More findings from the report are quoted below, the report can be found here, see reaction from the media and blogosphere.

"We did not find any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments.

On the allegation of withholding temperature data, we find that CRU was not in a position to withhold access to such data or tamper with it.

On the allegations that there was subversion of the peer review or editorial process we find no evidence to substantiate this"
For those interested in whether CRU results could be independently replicated, well the inquiry did this themselves, with relative ease it seems:
"Finding: The computer code required to read and analyse the instrumental temperature data is straightforward to write based upon the published literature... Such code could be written by any research unit which is competent to reproduce or test the CRUTEM analysis. For the trial analysis of the Review Team, the code was written in less than two days and produced results similar too other independent analyses. No information was required from CRU to do this."

So how do actual climate scientists feel about this whole pseudoscandal? Judging by their comments many are extremely unhappy with how the media reported this story without questioning the veracity of many of the skeptics wild claims.

Prof Raymond Bradley:
"If there is a scandal to be reported at all, it is this: the media stoked a controversy without properly investigating the issues, choosing to inflate trivialities to the level of an international scandal, without regard for the facts or individuals affected. This was a shameful chapter in the history of news reporting, and a lesson for those who are concerned about fair and honest communication with the public."
Prof Myles Allen:
"What everyone has lost sight of is the spectacular failure of mainstream journalism to keep the whole affair in perspective. Again and again, stories are sexed up with arch hints that these "revelations" might somehow impact on the evidence for human impact on climate. Yet the only error in the actual data used for climate change detection to have emerged from this whole affair amounted to a few hundredths of a degree in the estimated global temperature of a couple of years in the late 1870s."
One can only hope that now the skeptics' claims have been shown to be without basis, journos in the future will be more "skeptical of the skeptics".

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