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A mistaken message from IoP?

Filed under: — rasmus @ 6 March 2010

The Institute of Physics (IoP) recently made a splash in the media through a statement about the implications of the e-mails stolen in the CRU hack. A couple of articles in the Guardian report how this statement was submitted to an inquiry into the CRU hack and provide some background.

The statement calls for increased transparency, and expresses concerns about the public confidence in science if the transparency is absent. The IoP statement, however, fails to note that the issue of transparency is far more general applicable than just to mainstream climate science. It should also involve the critics of climate change, as noted by New Scientist.

The statement also fails to clarify what level of transparency they expect the climate scientists to reach. Which scientific discipline should we use as a role model? I know of none that is more transparent than climate science, and in large part that s due to the IPCC. Ironically, without this transparency, the climate-change deniers would not get as much ammunition. For instance, note how the attacks on the NASA GISTEMP product have become more vehement in recent months even though the code base and data have been available for years and clearly demonstrate that the criticisms are bogus.

Another question arises is whether the IoP follows its own recommendations in its own publications?

The statement of the IoP was made on the behalf of its 36000 members, but as a member of IoP myself, this came as a surprise. According to the Guardian, there was only a small group of people behind this, and other IoP members was obviously not very impressed. The IoP did, however, make a second statement after their initial one was misrepresented by the climate-change deniers (there is some confusion about versions).

The irony of this affair is that the IoP will not disclose who were responsible for the original statement, thus not living up to the standards they set for others.

Furthermore, it’s a paradox that the IoP based the statement on stolen private e-mail exchanges, while putting disclaimers about confidentiality, especially as it asks people to delete any e-mail before they go astray:

This email (and attachments) are confidential and intended for the addressee(s) only. If you are not the intended recipient please notify the sender, delete any copies and do not take action in reliance on it

Transparency is essential for trust and confidence in science – as in all matters – but claims about lack of transparency are easy to make. It’s another question whether the alleged lack of transparency in climate science has had any impact on anyone’s ability to verify the science.

Concerns raised over Institute of Physics climate submission‘ in Physics World

March, 19: Further Comment on

345 Responses to “A mistaken message from IoP?”

  1. 51

    One of my replies got rejected as apam (heaven knows why, but I hope it will appear soon.

    I doubt I’ll write about this topic again, At least in my own field, normal standards of civility are maintained,

    I find it bordering on the unbelievable that anyone can say, as Steve Fish does, that by advocating openness “You are acting like you are either a part of, or a dupe of the denial industries’ disinformation campaign.”

    Remarks like that do your own cause great harm. They alienate even your allies. I started out on this exercise by believing, as much as any non-expert can, that there was a serious risk from AGW. My aim was to contribute to ways in which you could persuade the public of that. I still believe that AGW is a serious risk, despite the best efforts of some of you to defend secrecy and abuse anyone who tries to point out the harm done by the UEA affair, and how it might have been avoided.

    In reply to John Mason’s equally impolite question, yes of course I realise the extent to which the climate community is under attack. I’ve just lived through 8 years of George Bush’s attempts to corrupt science, How could I not be aware? I have been writing about that for years now (though in the biomedical field, not climate), I abhore it but try not to get too apoplectic (some of the comments here are so suffused with rage, I can’t even be sure which side they are on). That is not how you win friends and influence people.

  2. 52
    David B. Benson says:

    Doug S (50) — Frst learn enough of the science to separate the wheat from the chaff. I started with climatologist W.F. Ruddiman’s popular “Plows, Plagues and Petroleum” and then his textbook “Earth’s Climate: Past and Future”. You’ll find a link to “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart first thing in the science section of the sidebar.

  3. 53
    Dave G says:

    The EMG even have an article by Dr Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen in one of their newsletters (

    Oh, and an article by Richard Lindzen in another! (

    Oh, and an article by Zbigniew Jaworowski here: (

  4. 54
    David B. Benson says:

    David Colquhoun (51) — The internet is best effort with no guarantees; sometimes submitted comments are simply lost. The spam filter here is odd, not allowing embdded drug names but at least it warns you that you have such; so for example I have to put the hyphen in ultra-mafic (as in rock type) because otherwise there is an embedded patented drug name.

    Now regualars here have been over and over and over every aspect of CRUhack and are beginning to grow a bit testy in having to repeatedly point out that various national met offices own some of the data and it is not CRU’s to give out; anybody who wants it must obtain it from the curating national met office, possible via purchase depending upon national law.

  5. 55
    Dave G says:

    In this issue of the newsletter (, Peter Gill writes an article called “Extremely Inconvenient Truths?”:

    “Al Gore’s influential film has done its work. It now matters little that the detail of the ice core record shows that carbon dioxide and methane levels follow temperature and not the other way round.”


    “Furthermore there is evidence to show that carbon dioxide levels derived from the ice core record have been under-corrected for the huge difference in solubility between carbon dioxide and the two main atmospheric gases, nitrogen and oxygen (carbon dioxide is something like 30 times more soluble in cold water than the main atmospheric gases). Other evidence also suggests that losses due to fractures in the ice cores as they are extracted have not been properly accounted for in the derived gas levels. This means that the statement that carbon dioxide levels now are higher than at any time in the past 400,000 years could be suspect.”

  6. 56
    Hank Roberts says:

    > (some of the comments here … I can’t even be sure which side they are on)

    Yeah, all of us readers probably wonder about that from time to time. You’ve read the troll faq? There are people who create that kind of confusion as a sport, sometimes working as a tag-team.

    But if the Contributors blocked more of them, you’d hear more complaints of ‘censorship’ — no question there are people going nuts on all sides.

    It helps (me, anyhow) to see John Pearson’s reminder to look more carefully at your work, David C.; it’s hard at first to tell who’s just echoing the current IOP campaign aimed at Jones and who’s actually thought about this.

    Patience or impulsivity — this goes deep.

  7. 57
    canbanjo says:

    Sorry I have not read all the posts up until now, but the original article does not mention that the IOP has issued this clarifying statement:

  8. 58
    David B. Benson says:

    Dave G (55) — Here we see temperaturess following CO2 down for the past 5 million years:
    and during the last 650,000 years of that, CO2 and temperatures swinging closely together:
    (Note time progresses towards the right in this graphic.)

    So we can now expect something like Pliocene conditions
    with such elevated levels of CO2. And by the way, genus Homo evolved during the cooler temperatures existing during the following Pliestocene:
    i.e., the curent ice age of Terra; check again the first link in thiis comment.

  9. 59
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Doug S asks: How can the taxpayer discriminate between honest alarmism by truly concerned climate scientists and outright propaganda by profiteers?

    Try this: Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming.

  10. 60
    Hank Roberts says:

    Also for David C.:

    You’re coming new to an area that, like the PCB, chlorofluorocarbon, lead, asbestos, tobacco, and BPA issues, has had a whole lot of paid advocacy science inserted into conversations for a long time. Expect some serious people to ask you to read background material like I linked to in an earlier response, to the extent your points match the misleading points made by the IOP. You may not _be_ actually reciting what they said, you may have somehow missed the same information they don’t want to admit even after they were told. But you can look this stuff up for yourself.

  11. 61
    Ken W says:

    Doug S (50) wrote:
    “I think we can correctly assume that profiteers and crooks will be in the mix of the political discourse and Internet threads working to ensure their own profits. How do we spot the rotten apples in the barrel?”

    You’re absolutely right to think that wherever there is money to be made, some level of corruption and disinformation is likely to infect. I hope you realize how much money is being made every day by those who profit by our inaction regarding AGW. I’ve heard (don’t know if it’s true) that there is the equivalent of $100 Trillion worth of fossil fuels that could be burned (combination coal, oil, oil shale) if people ignore the threat of AGW.

    If you completely ignore the blog-sphere and stick to actual peer reviewed scientific journals, the evidence for AGW is clear. Even if you don’t have sufficient education to understand the numerous journal articles, you can read the abstracts and get a pretty good gist of things.

  12. 62
    Bob says:

    David Colquhoun, others,

    I’ve said it before, but I’ll be more explicit. What is so ironic about this whole thing is that it is not science that is failing, but journalism. Fact checking. Basic fact checking. Proper, accurate quotes in context. A truly balanced treatment of issues (as opposed to faux balance, by contrasting the views of a trained, professional scientist with an amateur dabbling in the field, or even an English aristocrat, thereby giving them the seeming of equal footing and reliability).

    Part of the problem is clearly the rise of the amateur journalist, like bloggers or scientists turned commentators. They have neither the professional training, nor the inclination to follow the traditions of the profession. Sadly, however, real journalists actually perform worse, purposely ignoring their professional training and obligations so that they can generate a more interesting, dramatic and “news worthy” story.

    It’s as if doctors where to tear of the Hippocratic Oath and purposely make people, because more sick people mean more paying customers.

    Your comments here even highlight this. The flaws are subtle and hard to catch (although many previous comments have pointed them out), but a variety of unspoken words and innuendos serve to paint a false picture.

    It’s both sad and frightening to me that people are putting all of this energy into “calling out” the scientists, when it’s the journalists and the media who are purposely failing in their assigned role.

  13. 63
    Ray Ladbury says:

    David Calquhoun says of attacks on climate science: “…yes of course I realise the extent to which the climate community is under attack. I’ve just lived through 8 years of George Bush’s attempts to corrupt science, How could I not be aware? ”

    David, the problem is that these attacks are not a thing of the past. We have legislators abusing their power and office to try and persecute scientists even now:

    We have creationists trying to link climate change and creationism. Science has never faced a harsher or more vicious attack from anti-science, and climate science is the front line right now.

    The problem with the IoP statement is that it utterly fails to mention the extraordinary openness already practiced by the climate science community. It fails to take into account attempts by anti-science forces to harrass and intimidate scientists.

    Take a look at the utter rubbish that has been produced elsewhere by members of the energy group.

    Also, I would note that several people here have tried to engage you in a civil manner and have been ignored while you have instead decided to focus on posts you consider to be impolite. That is your choice, I suppose, but I do not see how it is helpful.

  14. 64
    Alex says:

    I am a reader of David Colquhoun’s blog and this one, and I am surprised by the attitude he has had in this thread. He has made some claims (such as to do with FOI requests) that are actually not true, and dhogaza and others have called him out on it and shown he is wrong. Yes, some have got very tetchy round here, and people shouldn’t respond with comments like “You are acting like you are either a part of, or a dupe of the denial industries’ disinformation campaign”, but that doesn’t excuse how David has also responded. I would expect him to have recognized his error and apologize for harming the reputations of certain climatologists based on allegations that aren’t true. Instead at #51 he makes no reference to what facts others have pointed out to him, instead saying he was just “advocating openness” and that people here are “[defending] secrecy and abuse anyone who tries to point out the harm done by the UEA affair”. But how many times does it have to be pointed out that there has been no secrecy, that there is openness? All non-commercial data is available. What part of that don’t you understand?

    David, you are better than this.

  15. 65
    andy123 says:

    To the original point of the posting. IoP statement was not cleared with members. I am a member of the APS, ACS, and NAS. None of their climate science related statements were cleared, or voted on by their members. Typically all the organizations draft statements by a small, even tiny group of members which is approved by a small subgroup. Most members discover the content of the statements when they are released. The APS is experimenting with some openess, but none of the others do.

  16. 66
    andy123 says:

    I also included membership is AAAS in the original note, but it somehow was dropped in the moderation copy. All my comments equally fit the AAAS.

  17. 67
    Steve Fish says:

    RE– Comment by John E. Pearson — 6 March 2010 @ 6:55 PM:

    The problem is that your friend has been supporting all the calls for openness and expressing concerns about the appearance of the CRU scientists when in actual fact they have been open and honest. In doing so he is supporting a disinformation campaign and has, therefore, become a part of it. I explained some of the facts that demonstrate this reality which you chose to leave out of your quote of my post. If Dr. Colquhoun is an honorable scientist he will reevaluate his statements in light of what the facts actually are. One shouldn’t criticize scientists for the “appearance” of wrongdoing when this is manufactured false information.


  18. 68
    John Mashey says:

    As far as I can tell, societies rarely have their member vote on statements, since after all, they don’t settle science questions mby having the whole membership vote on it.
    More likely, they either have some standing committee (like POPA in APS), which either does a statement, possibly by gathering relevant folks who actually know about the problem, or else commissioning a separate committee that actually knows the turf.
    To be clear, the APS isn’t asking for a vote, it’s asking for feedback…
    I would guess that they will get some very negative feedback from teh ~200 or so people who signed the APS Petition.

    Now, of those, at least 2 (both nuclear physicists, one retired, the other shifting to market analysis)have written books claiming to refutre climate science. They both devoted several pages to the work of E. G. Beck, accepting it as clear truth that proved {climate scientists were bad.} One also cited G&T.

    To what extent should the “votes” of such people count? In real science, no matter how intensely they believe, their votes don’t count for much … actually, not at all. A third APS2009 signer wrote a book that seems to have plagiarized the Wegman Report, which seems to have plagiarized material from Ray Bradley, in each stage hacking Bradley’s material more, and reversing more of what he wrote. How much is that author’s vote worth?

    As a particularly good counter-example (i.e., and example of doing it right, at least in selection of a committee to draft a climate statement), consider the Geological Society of America. They put out a Draft, and asked for feedback, but I think *that* committee actually knows something about the topic. Had they had a team consisting of YoungEarthCreationists, perhaps it would have looked different.

    The problem is that the wrong group in IOP was doing this, and there weren’t enough checks in their process. This is somewhat akin to the way Monckton got that paper published in APS FPS in 2008.

  19. 69
    Wheels says:

    David Colquhoun: “I still believe that AGW is a serious risk, despite the best efforts of some of you to defend secrecy and abuse anyone who tries to point out the harm done by the UEA affair, and how it might have been avoided.”

    Reading all the comments, I don’t think anyone here has defended secrecy. Perhaps you could shed some more light on that accusation?

    I would also be interested in knowing why you seem to ignore the significant issues that have been brought up with your writing on the subjects of FOI requests and presentation of editorial misbehavior with a review when apparently there was none. Since these kinds of issues are an integral part of denier rhetoric nowadays, getting them right deserves extra attention.
    If I were you, I’d take this as invaluable feedback. It seems that some key facts simply aren’t being transmitted in your coverage and that this gives the message a quality you don’t intend. Imagine the reaction you would have if someone printed something erroneous not only about your work, but about the way your field works, which fed into a massive public controversy and public disinformation campaign against the work you do. Would you care for your corrections to be labeled as “defending secrecy,” or such-like?

  20. 70
    Tim Jones says:

    The IoP was hijacked by climate deniers to propagate a message which on the face of it would appear to be a consensus or at least a majority opinion of polled members. Now we see the shot heard round the world was a subterfuge by dishonest members manipulating the voice of an honored society.

    And now the prestigious institute refuses to openly disclose who submitted the damning charge, all the while insisting that open disclosure be de rigueur for the climate sciences?

    Utterly astounding!

    The whole sorry episode just points to how much of the climate denier movement is based on and riddled with misleading fabrications, mendacious propaganda and fraud.

    Members need to formulate a “not in my name” document to counter the denier’s overly influential submission to a parliamentary inquiry by the IoP.

    The IoP must openly disclose and censure the individuals who used the organization and its members to spread the view of a distinct and less than favored minority. Less than this undermines its own credibility and completely subverts its authority to suggest advice to anyone, let alone people in high office.

  21. 71
    Bob says:

    [Stupid brain cramp]

    The unintelligible portion of post 62 should have said (in reference to how journalists are handling climate science):

    It’s as if doctors were to tear up the Hippocratic Oath and purposely make people sick, because more sick people mean more paying customers.

  22. 72
    Eamon says:

    If, as David Adam in the Guardian suggests, Peter F. Gill is involved with the IoP submission then there’s a serious issue of conflict of interest. Peter wrote this as a response to an article on the Times Higher Education suppliment website on the 22nd of November last year:

    “When you get back from your most recent walkabout Mark try googling CRU and Phil Jones. Poor old CRU have been seriously hacked. The e-mails and other files are all over the Internet and include how to hide atmospheric cooling, how to deal with freedom of information requests and other stuff that I feel sure you will find of interest. All the best as always.”

    How the IoP could have let someone with such obvious extreme views shape their submission to the Commons is beyond me.

  23. 73

    John Mason says:

    “”"David Colquhoun,

    I asked you to what extent you understood that the climate science community was under attack. I checked in last night but saw no sign of a reply.

    Do yourself a favour, mate, and go on Amazon & get a copy of Climate Cover-up,”"”

    And while you are at it read a book about the climate change politics by a Pulitzer Prize winner, Boston Globe Ross Gelbspan, “The Heat is On” available at

    It was required reading at a pilot climate change course I took at the University of Denver.

    By the way (and I did not make this up), the Boston Globe had to issue a statement that yes, Gelbspan did indeed receive the Publizer Prize after the contrarians publicly claimed that he had never received it. It is like a house of mirrors.

    See Gelbspans website for his photocopied evidence.

  24. 74

    re. 50 Doug S says:

    “”"I’m very skeptical about the entire AGW issue and the way it has been “sold” to the public”"”"”

    I can’t send the post because of the spam filter.

    However, you need to read science and not politics. Anything ad hominem should be disregarded. You should read the journal articles. The abstracts will tell you all you need to know.

  25. 75
    Garrett says:

    Azolla. This is the tip of the iceberg. We are so screwed (IMHO).

  26. 76
    Garrett says:

    #70, it’s all politics. That’s what the oil industry wants.

    Trust me on this, the oil industry knows damned well that GC/Gw is for real. Think about it. They WANT to mine the Arctic reserves. What better way to do it than make sure nothing is done toi stop it! Hence, the political campaign to get Joe Sixpack to vote NO on doing anything about it.

    This is what is happening in spades, and they are winning.

    I predict nothing will be done about it. So, all we can do is watch and say neener neener and their Joe Sixpackers will say its all “cycles” and whatever (like epicycles of days of yore).

    My opinion, game over, humanity lost. I think the Artic outgassing of methane is the tip of the iceberg and the start of a true tipping point which my children and grandchildren will have to deal with in spades.

    Lets face it, the political battle is lost. Nothing will be done to curn this. All we, as scientists, can do is to record the evidence and what is happening to hope that maybe, someday, there will be knowledge of what really happened and maybe they can use it for their benifit.

    Sorry to be so macabre, but it is what it is.

  27. 77
    Slioch says:

    #50 Doug S asks, “How can the taxpayer discriminate between honest alarmism by truly concerned climate scientists and outright propaganda by profiteers?”

    Get thee to a scientific education. I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be offensive, but it has become overwhelmingly obvious in recent years that the frightening level of public scientific illiteracy is a huge problem in this respect.

    Spencer Weart’s book “The Discovery of Global Warming” is often suggested as an introduction.

    As for “profiteers” … by far the greatest incentive to obfuscate and delay lies with those for whom the status quo provides comforts and for which change presents challenges. That includes the fossil fuel companies and the communities of people they employ who are being told that much of what they have spent their lives prospecting for and extracting will have to be left in the ground. That is a far more real prospect for far more people than any group of entrepreneurs who hope to make future profits from the changes ahead. That is where the overwhelming incentive to produce “outright propaganda” lies.

  28. 78
    rasmus says:

    The media needs to be on the ball. They need to know more about science and need to report more soberly.

  29. 79
    Garrett says:

    The political battle is lost. There is now no way to convince Joe Sixpack that something needs to be done to stop this problem.
    All we can do now is record the data for future generations. It is our duty.

    The right wing used a brilliant strategy. They attacked the integrity of the people that research the work. They invaded private space, to steal
    confidential information to exploit, regardless of context. This is how theese people operate.

    They convinced Joe Sixpack that the same science that gives them this and that and the other thing that makes their lives what it is has failed on them for climate warnings is bogus based on some opinions in emails. As if these opinions somehow invalidate thousands of man years of research. As is some comments in computer code invalidate all observation from the greatest technology in our history. As if being off for the arrival time to the apex of the Voyager 2 encounter to uransus was 2.8 seconds is acceptable, yet, all the data collected by our instruments is so wrong because some guy was ticked off at some other guy because of disagreements. This is politics. This is what voters buy.

    There is no way science can compete with this when big money anti-regulation forces are at work. The right wing of our country is doing everything it can to stop any kind of regulation to stop this disaster in our immediate future.

    It is a sad state of affairs, but I will have to concede that they have won.

    [Response: The "sad state of affairs" you refer to has nothing to do with "they" having won anything (they haven't), but rather with the fact that you believe they have. No offense but I wouldn't want you with me in a fox hole with your attitude, because it can lead to only one result--defeat. When you're in a battle you don't go around saying "we're all gonna die". Put down the whiskey bottle, turn off the sad violin music, and go read some Joe Romm, or Ghandi, or even Yogi Berra.--Jim]

    There is no glbal warming or climate change. We have always been at war with Eurasia.

    Regardless, Scientists, keep up the good work for posterity.

  30. 80
    Pekka Kostamo says:

    #24 David says: “The fact that some bits of the data may have been ‘owned’ by someone else merely sets back the problem one step. Why weren’t the ‘owners’ of the data willing to have it released by UEA? give? Were they asked? And if they refused, what excuse did they?”

    Weather data is owned by someone. In practically all countries it is owned by the taxpayers who pay for its acquisition. National laws and regulations are in force concerning how this public property is distributed, to whom and under what terms and conditions.

    The data has obvious commercial value. When fresh, airlines, airport operators and weather forecasters buy it. When old, it is a key input to environmental impact statements required for permitting of major industrial plant, strategy decisions by various industries, development of safety plans, etc. To take just a few examples of wide commercial intrests involved.

    So, the taxpayer’s repsentatives may well decide that users of such data are charged a part of the cost of data acquisition. “User pays” is a very common rule in all walks of life.

    A lot of the data appears to be freely circulated, but that is not without strings attached. There is a very long tradition that distribution is governed by international exchange agreements, based on the condition that similar data is made available by the recipient. Often sub-licensing to bona fide research purposes is allowed. If a private person or a blogger with no relevant scientific publication record can be considered, may be a bone of contention.

    The result is a compromise after extensive negotiations. Nothing extraordinary in it.

  31. 81
    Garrett says:

    I will say one last thing, and leave it at that.

    Joe Sixpack 50, 100 years from now will be the one paying for all this inaction now. JS will be asking “why didn’t they do anything about it?” JS will be wondering, one day, why did half the population die off becasue of famine and disease. JS will ask, why have your foraksen us? there will be no answer becasue the JS of our time ridiculed the science. Because, in our time, we knew we were at a tipping point, where we had the tech to detect the problem, and because of our age old political differences, we decided to do nithing about it, for OUR status quo.

    Problem is JS 50-100 years from now will be paying for it. Starvation, global wars for meagre resources. Horrible death as 80% of the world population dies to estaglish some sort of resource equilibrium.

    The fools that dicatate that “all is well” will be the people responsible for this mess.

    [Response: Give it a break man. You're saying future generations are going to look back and blame us for doing nothing, and in the very same breath saying "Game over, we lost, nothing we can do, it's all going to hell, the world sucks, etc, etc." Nobody wants to hear it frankly. Pull your head out.--Jim]

  32. 82
    Garrett says:

    OK, maybe the best thing now is for the science community to concede, declare no GW/GCC and continue to take measurements for future generations. Give the right wingers their “victory” yet continue to monitor and report what is really going on. It’s all we can do any more.

    [Response: Wouldn't collective suicide be quicker and simpler?--Jim]

  33. 83
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Slioch says: 7 March 2010 at 3:11 AM

    That includes the fossil fuel companies and the communities of people they employ who are being told that much of what they have spent their lives prospecting for and extracting will have to be left in the ground.

    And the “left in the ground” part is a lie, also. Just because petroleum is extracted does not mean we have to burn it. Look at polyethylene; great stuff, no weird elements from the chlorine column waiting to attach themselves to our metabolisms, just good old hydrogen and carbon, and what a useful substance. Bury it out of sight of sunlight and it’s effectively gone, too.

    Trouble is, if we don’t burn this petroleum oil companies will have to get their money over centuries instead of decades and that’s just terrible for quarterly results if the demand is being pushed down from the decades consumption timespan toward the centuries scenario.

    It should be needless to say, but of course once we’ve burned all these wonderful hydrocarbons, our need for polymers will not magically vanish and then we’ll need to actually -pay- to jam atoms of hydrogen and carbon together, in energy and money, further exacerbating our hydrocarbon replacement problem.

    Oil producers and marketers are -really- poor stewards of this resource, about as bad as we could imagine.

  34. 84
    Steven Sullivan says:

    “You guys really need to chill with the insults. David is a good guy, a good scientist, and certainly nobody’s dupe.

    But does he have the merest clue as to the historical context of the CRU ‘awfulness’ — the years of harassment from nonacademic climate ‘sceptics’, culminating in a barrage of FOIs — or is he just being reflexively, rigidly sanctimonious based on his own experiences with FOI requests from universities re: homeopathy, an entirely unrelated field?

    He may be a good guy and a good scientist, but I suspect he’ll be what Marx called a ‘useful idiot’ to a denialist blogosphere happy to exploit any scientist criticizing the CRU. That’s how much this has become about PR, rather than science.

  35. 85
    Completely Fed Up says:

    JEP: “David is a good guy, a good scientist, and certainly nobody’s dupe.”
    Being a nice guy doesn’t exclude you from having to think.

    The comments against him are for uncritically lapping up talking points from the loudest voices and ignoring any attempt to check.

    Where is his vaunted scientific skepticism?

  36. 86
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “How can the taxpayer discriminate between honest alarmism by truly concerned climate scientists and outright propaganda by profiteers?”

    Easy: When someone tries to alarm the public with threats of economic collapse if we do anything about AGW, then they are the profiteering propogandists.

    A free service offered to those with genuine questions to clear up any confusion they may have.

  37. 87
    John devlin says:

    #76 Garrett says:

    “My opinion, game over, humanity lost. I think the Artic outgassing of methane is the tip of the iceberg and the start of a true tipping point which my children and grandchildren will have to deal with in spades.”

    As a scientist what do you define as a ‘tipping point’ and what peer reviewed studies support this opinion?

  38. 88
    John Mason says:

    Re #52 David Colquhoun:

    :In reply to John Mason’s equally impolite question, yes of course I realise the extent to which the climate community is under attack. I’ve just lived through 8 years of George Bush’s attempts to corrupt science, How could I not be aware?”

    Firstly, I’m sorry if my rather forcefully-put suggestion came across as impolite. That was not the intention.

    All I can say is that despite having an awareness of the denial campaign appearing to be quite organised, I was still nevertheless astounded by the degree of organisation that I discovered when I read the cover-up book.

    What you are seeing here is a background of seething anger regarding the way in which some scientists have been picked out and treated – the smears, death-threats, threats of prosecution and so on and so forth. This is why many of us vent a bit of steam now and then!

    Cheers – John

  39. 89
    Slioch says:


    This is not the first hard struggle that men and women have faced, and it won’t be the last. Why do you think courage and endurance have evolved amongst humans if not that they have survival value?

    But I will let Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861) answer you:

    Say not, “The struggle nought availeth,
    The labour and the wounds are vain,
    The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
    And as things have been they remain.”

    If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
    It may be, in yon smoke concealed,
    Your comrades chase e’en now the fliers,
    And, but for you, possess the field.

    For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
    Seem here no painful inch to gain,
    Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
    Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

    And not by eastern windows only,
    When daylight comes, comes in the light;
    In front, the sun climbs slow, how slowly,
    But westward, look, the land is bright!

  40. 90
    Deech56 says:

    Ray Ladbury writes:

    “The problem with the IoP statement is that it utterly fails to mention the extraordinary openness already practiced by the climate science community.”

    Absolutely correct. Advocates of “openness” are remiss in not pointing out the examples of NASA-GISS and researchers like Mike Mann. Having the extra data and updated analysis is all great for those of us who are interested in the science and argue from a scientific standpoint, but it is naive to think that “openness” will in any way silence the critics. They would just move on to new arguments that sound high-minded. Calls for “openness” are merely one tool in the “inaction” campaign.

  41. 91
    movielib says:

    #73 Richard Ordway:

    I’m sorry, Ross Gelbspan did not win a Pulitzer Prize. He put together the team and was an editor on the project that won but it was the writers who were awarded the prize.

    See the Pulitzer page:

    “Local Investigative Specialized Reporting

    Kenneth Cooper, Joan Fitz Gerald, Jonathan Kaufman, Norman Lockman, Gary McMillan, Kirk Scharfenberg and David Wessel of The Boston Globe
    For their series examining race relations in Boston, a notable exercise in public service that turned a searching gaze on some the city’s most honored institutions including The Globe itself.”

    It may be “just a technicality” but Gelbspan is not listed and thus did not win a Pulitzer Prize.

  42. 92
    John E. Pearson says:

    re posts 84 and 85:

    I have no objection with anyone attacking David’s opinion. I object when people attack him personally. Besides being reprehensible it does not help anything. You want David on your side.

  43. 93
    Dave G says:

    A person or persons on either the main IoP board, or the IoP Science and Technology Committee (STC) (whichever actually wrote the submission), thought that the Energy Management Group (EMG) should have an input into the submission. Whoever made that decision must (or should) have known that the EMG was full of deniers of accepted science, because those views had been freely expressed in the EMG newsletters.

    So maybe it’s not just the EMG which has been infiltrated by deniers, but also the board or the STC.
    I think the IoP has some questions to answer.
    Who wrote the submission?
    Who decided who should write the submission?
    Was the submission fact-checked by those with direct scientific knowledge of the subject?
    Have the IoP sent copies of all of the versions of their “clarification” to the Commons Inquiry?

    The IoP is backtracking, but it’s not backtracking enough. The submission still stands as the official IoP view. They either need to withdraw their submission or totally rewrite it, preferably without the input of the EMG.

  44. 94

    Of course openness will not silence critics of the Fox Mews variety, because they are not interested in data or truth, but rather in paying no tax and unseating Obama.

    Nevertheless the simple fact of the matter is that the mishandling of the emai affair by UEA handed a propaganda victory to the bad guys and that should never have happened.

    It seems that the constant and vicious attacks on climate scientists have produced such a defensive siege mentality that some of them can no longer see what’s good for their cause. It isn’t people like me that you have to persuade, but moderate politicians (such people still exist, at least in Europe). Most politicians in most parties in the UK take the GW problem seriously. If you continue to act as though you had something to hide (even when you haven’t) you will alienate them. Then you really will have lost. That would be tragic, but it’s a real possibility if you don’t calm down and spend a bit of time working out how to be as open as possible,

    Ray Ladbury says “Calls for “openness” are merely one tool in the “inaction” campaign”. Remarks like that threaten the whole effort to win over moderate politicians. Have you guys got a death wish?

  45. 95
    dhogaza says:

    David Colquhoun says:

    One of my replies got rejected as apam (heaven knows why, but I hope it will appear soon.

    I doubt I’ll write about this topic again, At least in my own field, normal standards of civility are maintained,

    Calling for the resignation of people who’ve properly rejected FOI requests because they don’t own the requested data and don’t have the right to release it is considered “civil”?

    In my country we call it “McCarthyism”.

    I find it bordering on the unbelievable that anyone can say, as Steve Fish does, that by advocating openness “You are acting like you are either a part of, or a dupe of the denial industries’ disinformation campaign.”

    It’s not because you advocate openness, which several of us have made very clear to you, so please stop repeating it.

    Look up “concern troll”. Then look in the mirror. Thank you.

  46. 96
    SecularAnimist says:

    Doug S wrote: “How can the taxpayer discriminate between honest alarmism by truly concerned climate scientists and outright propaganda by profiteers?”

    Are you aware that you are slavishly cutting-and-pasting a verbatim, boilerplate talking-point that has been spoon-fed to you by ExxonMobil’s multimillion-dollar propaganda machine, via the phony-baloney “conservative” denialist media?

    See, here’s how it works:

    ExxonMobil spends tens of millions of dollars, year after year after year, funding various cranks, frauds, liars, propaganda mills masquerading as “conservative” think tanks and so on, to churn out pseudoscience, sophistry, outright falsehoods, and most recently vicious attacks on the integrity of climate scientists.

    ExxonMobil does this in order to delay and obstruct the urgently needed phaseout of their products — from which they reap about FORTY BILLION DOLLARS every year. They well understand that the New Industrial Revolution of the 21st Century, based on the proliferation of clean, sustainable, powerful high technologies for harvesting a vast and endless supply of FREE solar and wind energy, will lead to a massive transfer of wealth from corporations who profit from extracting and selling a limited supply of toxic and destructive fuel. And every single DAY that ExxonMobil can delay that transition, means another hundred million dollars in profits.

    However, ExxonMobil’s ongoing funding of deceit and denial, obstruction and delay, has been pretty well exposed by now. A clear public perception that ExxonMobil is putting humanity at grave risk, for reasons of greed, would defeat their propaganda effort. Clarity must therefore be obscured, and the waters muddied.

    So, how does ExxonMobil respond? With more propaganda, of course.

    According to ExxonMobil, you see, it is those “profiteering” scientists, and those “profiteering” alternative energy companies, and above all that evil mastermind “liberal” uber-profiteer Al Gore, who are trying to deceive the public with the “great global warming hoax” so that they can get rich. And all of us ordinary “Joe Sixpack” types who understand the science and recognize the reality and urgency of the problem and are demanding policies to address it, are just the gullible dupes of Al Gore’s vast propaganda machine.

    Sure, when you spell it right out that way, it is comic book stuff. So ludicrous that it’s hard to imagine anyone would fall for it.

    But fortunately for ExxonMobil, the so-called “right wing media” has long since created a cult of Ditto-Heads, who will gullibly and slavishly believe whatever drivel about AGW (or anything else) they are spoon-fed by talk radio, right wing websites, the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, Fox News, etc.

    And so they show up here, repetitively typing up their scripted talking points, flaunting their arrogance, ignorance and belligerence, spewing pseudo-science, pseudo-ideology and slander, and proclaiming themselves “skeptics”.

  47. 97
    caerbannog says:

    Regarding Gelbspan and the Pulitzer… It should be noted that Gelbspan himself does not claim to have won the prize. Over at, you can find this statement:

    In his capacity as special projects editor, he conceived, directed and edited a series of articles on job discrimination against African-Americans in Boston-area corporations, universities, unions, newspapers and state and city government. The series won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984.

  48. 98
    Geoff Wexler says:

    David Colquhoun

    I have not been rude to you so perhaps you could kindly revisit your own remark at #15 where you write:

    I was therefore astonished to see that Russells’s site, and to a lesser extent this one, attacking the Institute of Physics for advocating openness about data and analysis code:

    I have read the IOP Annex as well as Andy Russel’s open letter, and find that we must have been reading different versions of both documents.

    (a) Andy Russell writes

    There is clearly a need for rules regarding openness in relation to data

    Whats going on here? Perhaps you did not mean Andy Russell’s Open Letter? If not then that precise wording looks perilously close to spin. I have not had time to read the comments which follow Andy Russell’s Open Letter. The effect of your remark might be to discourage some people from supporting the Open Letter. Why? Are you in favour of the IoP Annex?

    (b) the IoP has buried a plea for openness in a document called the Annex which they have never retracted and has quite a different agenda. You have not replied to my comment at #45 which explains this. The authors are advocating a sixth inquiry and are using this advocacy as an excuse to damage the reputation of scientists without regards to natural justice.
    The innuendo is not just that they have lacked openness but that they may have been guilty of scientific malpractice (no evidence given). This is not the normal behaviour of a professional institute.

  49. 99
    Ron Taylor says:

    John Devlin (87), you can answer your own question. Just do a Google Scholar search of “abrupt climate change,” which is what tipping points are all about. You will find plenty.

  50. 100
    J. Bob says:

    Arctic temp below normal,

    Arctic sea ice extent 14.35 sq. km., and appears still growing,

    and almost into 1 std. dev. of 1979-2006 average.

    [Response: ...and then there's this one, and this one --I'm sure you just overlooked them.--Jim]

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