Climategate report: ‘Campaign to win hearts and minds’ needed

But what’s it mean for the bloke on the bus?

Andrew Orlowski
The Register [UK]
7th July 2010

The University of East Anglia’s enquiry into the conduct of its own staff at its Climatic Research Unit has highlighted criticisms of the department and staff conduct – but clears the path for the individuals concerned to carry on.

The CRU played an important role in writing the UN’s IPCC summaries on climate science, so the issue is far from a parochial one. The most serious charge is poor communication; Sir Muir Russell even calls for “a concerted and sustained campaign to win hearts and minds” to restore confidence in the team’s work.

Russell was appointed by the institution to investigate an archive of source code and emails that leaked onto the internet last November. The source code is not addressed at all. His report suggests that the problems were of the academics’ own making, stating that they were “united in defence against criticism”. Yet the enquiry found that despite emails promising to “redefine” the peer review publication process, and put pressure on journal editors, staff were not guilty of subverting the IPCC process, and their “rigour” and “honesty” were beyond question.

Leading academics were called for written and oral evidence before the Russell enquiry, and in many cases the report accepts their account of events. The subjects of their criticism were not invited, not were climate scientists critical of their behaviour. For example, in their capacity as IPCC gatekeepers, the academics are cleared of excluding critical evidence, and yet bending the rules to include supporting studies. To reach this particular conclusion, for example, the report finds a criterion: a “consistence of view” with earlier work. The earlier work here was in fact produced the academics under scrutiny. So, having compared the CRU academics’ work against their previous work, and found it to be consistent, they are cleared of malpractice.

Despite the gentlemanly and clubbable tone, the report nevertheless has deep systemic criticism of the institution and the team’s processes. UEA “fell badly short of its scientific and public obligations”, according to one review panel member, Lancet editor Richard Horton.

The article continues at The Register.

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