A mistaken message from IoP?

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 DeepClimate.org

345 comments on this post.
  1. melty:

    I found this July 2008 one with a “nice” article entitled “Reliability of CO2 Ice Core Studies” by one Zbigniew Jaworowski (in/famous?), here: http://www.iop.org/activity/groups/subject/Energy/Newsletter/file_31726.pdf

  2. Brian Dodge:

    “…the selected science (selected to predict warming)..” Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen — 9 March 2010 @ 1:44 PM
    Is Greenland ice sheet mass loss accelerating, or are van den Broeke et al “selectively” reporting the science? http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/326/5955/984?
    Is Arctic ice extent declining, or is William Chapman “selectively” reporting the science? http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seasonal.extent.1900-2008.jpg
    Is Arctic sea ice thinning, or is Katharine Giles “selectively” reporting the science? http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMTGPRTKMF_index_0.html
    When Schwertdfeger (1976), Raper et al. (1984), Jacka (1990), Weatherly et al. (1991), King (1994), Jones (1990), Jacka and Budd (1998), King and Harangozo, (1998), Jones et al. (1999), van den Broeke (2000), and Vaughan et al. (2001). are essentially unanimous in their finding that the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed since the 1950s, are they just “selectively” reporting the science? Did that “selective” reporting cause collapse of the Wilkins and Larsen ice shelves?
    Are glaciers losing mass, or is Mauri Pelto “selectively” reporting the science? http://www.nichols.edu/departments/glacier/global%20glacier%20mass%20balance.htm
    Are global temperatures rising, or when Roy Spencer says “February was second warmest in the 32-year record, behind Feb 1998 which was itself the second warmest of all months.” is he “selectively” reporting the science? http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/UAH_LT_1979_thru_Feb_10.jpg

    Dr. Stephen Colbert famously said that “reality has a well-known liberal bias”- is it selectively altering itself to match alarmist predictions?

  3. Edward Greisch:

    See: http://www.cognitivepolicyworks.com/2010/02/23/obama-tea-parties-and-the-battle-for-our-brains/

    Good ideas from the psychology department. But how do we implement them?

  4. Doug Bostrom:

    Joe says: 9 March 2010 at 4:26 PM

    Sorry, I bogged down when the polemics became waist deep and further progress into his morass of wild conjecture proved impossible. Without wading further into the swamp, what he reveals of his prejudice by his own expression is more than adequate to form a conclusion as to the utility of his speculative fiction here in the material world.

    As to surmising on the author’s character outside of his writing as he presents himself, I could not care less.

  5. Martin Porter:

    Greetings all.

    Sorry to join the debate late but as a Physics graduate the steam is still coming out of my ears over this one.

    Has anyone had any official answers from the IoP yet about their infamous Energy Sub-group and why it contains (or has contained) the likes of Terry Jackson and Peter Gill or why they are allowed to spout deneir propaganda in the name of the IoP?

  6. Dave G:

    Joe says: 9 March 2010 at 4:26 PM said:

    “A lot has been is being said about the CRU E-mails in this context. Has anyone looked at


    There is much that is speculation in there, but also much that puts the E-mails in a damning light. Has anyone tried to come up with a point by point rebuttal that is more than just a character assassination of the author?”

    You warn me against resorting to character assassination and then link to a piece which begins by calling the main characters “conspirators”! I couldn’t be bothered to read it all, mainly because the author appears to want scientists to be something other than human. They are not allowed to hold opinions on any other science, or any other scientist, without becoming a part of some massive conspiracy.

    Does anything on that page refute the basic science? No, but that’s not the aim is it? The aim is to insert doubt into the “debate” by smearing those who the author disagrees with. Hence the selectivity of the quotes. If there are two emails, one of which looks damning and another which explains the first email and undamns it, Costella only mentions the first email and totally ignores the exculpatory email. He isn’t looking for the truth.

  7. Matthew L.:

    This piece is “sour grapes”. CRU has been criticised, I think legitimately, and the author does not like it. Tough.

    The main point made here seems to be:
    “But everybody else does it…”

    Good grief, you sound like my 8 year old daughter!

    We need more responses like the Met Office who are endeavouring to make some sense of the multitude of data sets, looking hard for past errors (rather than trying not to) and correcting them in a very public way.

    When this data is finally shown to STILL produce a warming trend, as of course it will, then that is the best way to silence the critics.

    Just as most of the public and press seem to be getting more sceptical of AGW I personally am getting more and more convinced. However grumpy bad tempered responses to legitimate criticism like this are not helping the AGW case.

    I am where I am because I have been reading the science – but I have had to looke elsewhere to find it. Get back to the purpose of this blog guys. CRU screwed up and they deserve to be hauled across the coals. As a disinterested external observer I recommend this blog should wise up and move on.

    More science please!

  8. Andreas Bjurström:

    250 Richard Ordway,
    Interesting. That reminds me of Ayn Rand, her aggression and quasi-philosophical thinking, all motivated by her hatred of communist russia…

    But the problem is not the blind fanatism of the Ayn Rands of the world, but the blind fanatism of the Rand-roids

  9. Completely Fed Up:

    Matthew L. says:
    10 March 2010 at 5:13 AM

    This piece is “sour grapes”. CRU has been criticised, I think legitimately, and the author does not like it.”

    Only if you’re right and the criticism is legitimate.

    HINT: You’re wrong. It’s not legitimate.

  10. Ray Ladbury:

    Matthew L.,
    First, you have 4 independent datasets that all show roughly the same warming trend.

    Second, the so-called FOI requests were clearly abuse of process, as is indicated by the fact that the senders never intended to use them for research, were told where to find available data and what data required permission and then proceeded to spam CRU–with its staff of 13 people–with over 40 FOI requests in a weekend.

    My, but the revisionist historians start early, don’t they?

  11. Nick Gotts:

    When this data is finally shown to STILL produce a warming trend, as of course it will, then that is the best way to silence the critics. – Matthew L.

    No, it will not silence the “critics”, because their denialism is not based on rational grounds at all, but on combinations of financial interests, ideology (usually “libertarian”, but in the case of Alex Cockburn for example, cornucopian Marxist), conspiracy theories, and compulsive contrarianism. You have become more and more convinced because you are prepared to look at the science and accept what it tells you, but that is simply not the case with the vast majority of “critics”. To understand denialism – in a wider context than climate science – I strongly recommend the blog http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/, particularly the “About” and “Denialists’ Deck of Cards” sections.

  12. Dave G:

    @ Nick Gotts.

    You are right. I have posted on a libertarian forum for years, and arguing about global warming with them is like banging your head against a wall. I haven’t met a single libertarian who isn’t a denier. Their absolute fall-back position, which they use when all else fails, is that scientists are funded by government and are therefore untrustworthy. Pointing out that plenty of good science has come from government funded research doesn’t affect their certitude at all – AGW is different because it is being used as a pretext to install a world government with increased control of people’s lives and far higher taxation. All of this is stated as if it were fact and these “facts” permit them to ignore any evidence at all.

    On the same forum, there used to be a poster who argued that nuclear power and weapons did not exist, notwithstanding the USA’s use of two nukes at the end of WW2 and all the nuclear power stations around the world. Libertarians joined me in ripping this idiot’s arguments to shreds on the basis that it would need a conspiracy of immense proportions. But those same libertarians now allege, without a trace of irony, a conspiracy of similar proportions with regard to AGW.

  13. Richard Ordway:

    re. Andreas Bjurström says:
    10 March 2010 at 5:23 AM
    250 Richard Ordway,

    I was tracking some of this at the place that I used to be. Naomi Oreskes, a respected peer reviewed scientist whose work holds up over time, has a lot of this in her upcoming book of five or so years of research, Merchants of Doubt.

  14. Matthew L:

    #261 Nick,
    “No, it will not silence the “critics”, because their denialism is not based on rational grounds at all.”

    A fair point, but that is not a reason not to look hard at the data and try and find errors in it. [edit]

    [Response: Who ever claimed it was? – gavin]

    I am a bit of a fan of the UAH satellite data particularly this site:
    The fact that the data gatekeepers, Christy and Spencer are skeptics (I think “deniers” would be unfair in their case) is probably a good thing as they are continually testing the data to see if it can yield a reason why the blindingly obvious global warming that it does show could be mistaken. Occasionally they do find errors and fix them.

    [Response: Perhaps you’d care to ask them if their raw data and code are available on a public website so that you can check all their workings? Or you can explain why that is ok for them, but not for CRU. – gavin]

    We need a few more climate scientists willing to test and stress the surface data record in the same way. You don’t need to be a skeptic to do this and it looks like the UK Met Office are making a good start with their proposals. Shame it took Climategate to make it happen.

    [Response: Nonsense. People have been examining and correcting these data for years. – gavin]

  15. Hank Roberts:

    > libertarians

  16. Ray Ladbury:

    Dave G.,
    You know, you really have to wonder about an ideology that requires rejection of science as a prerequisite for its validity, don’t you?

    Soviet Communism and Lysenkoism?

    YEC and Creationism/ID.

    Libertarianism and climate science.

    You’d think the latter two would draw some conclusions based on the first.

  17. Andreas Bjurström:

    263 Richard Ordway,
    Yes, Oreskes is a good researcher. Her new books seems very interesting. Thanks for suggesting it (I watch her talk at http://climateprogress.org)

    (to bad that Nick Gotts can´t like this good and useful book and must deny all the empirical studies that it is based on, since Oreskes is somewhat STS related. Must deny all STS … :)

  18. Dave G:

    @ Ray Ladbury

    Maybe libertarians have a cunning plan, involving point blank denial of AGW, which results in insufficient action being taken to combat the warming, which leads to the predicted bad things happening, which causes social unrest, which results in the overthrowing of government. And then everybody embraces libertarianism and lives according to dogmatic principles ever after. It’s about the only chance they have of ditching the apparatus of government.

    If that is their cunning plan, and all of that does come to pass, then I hope the remaining people remember who opposed the measures which might have averted the warming.

    But I suspect their attitude is more about an inability to admit that governments may be able to do good things which benefit humanity.

    @ Hank Roberts.
    Thanks for the link, Hank. It was an entertaining read. I think I’ll post it on the libertarian forum that I use and watch them try to find reasons why libertarianism isn’t really like that.

  19. dhogaza:

    Perhaps you’d care to ask them if their raw data and code are available on a public website so that you can check all their workings? Or you can explain why that is ok for them, but not for CRU.

    I have never seen the “free the data! free the code!” people go after UAH. Not that I’ve looked all that hard but this really sticks out.

  20. Reasonable Observer:

    “Perhaps you’d care to ask them if their raw data and code are available on a public website so that you can check all their workings? Or you can explain why that is ok for them, but not for CRU.”

    Has anyone ever asked them for it? Gavin, are you claiming that you asked them for it and they refused?

    [Response: No. But then I don’t work on that subject and I don’t usually bother people for no reason, and more importantly, I’m not the person demanding that every piece of code ever used for anything must be made available to anyone at the drop of a hat. I’m just enquiring as to whether the commenter above held everyone to the same standard. – gavin]


    [Further Response: For some background, read this testimony from 2006 (search for the passage beginning “I want to ask Dr. Christy”). – gavin]

  21. Hank Roberts:

    Matthew L — do have a look, maybe you can find it.
    I tried for a couple of minutes with Google and Scholar, no luck.
    But I couldn’t honestly request access since I can’t do anything useful.
    Perhaps you can.

    Apparently this guy did; at least it turned up when I tried searching:

    JD Lewis – Social Philosophy and Policy, 2009 – Cambridge Univ Press
    “… In 1989, NASA scientists Roy Spencer and John Christy developed the first global temperature data set from satellite microwave data. Satellite data collection remains the most comprehensive and reliable global measurement method. … …. ”

    That’s a Google search snippet; the paper is paywalled so I don’t know for sure what he looked at or where he found it.

  22. Joe Duarte:

    This is a bizarre post. In answer to a series of substantive points raised by the IoP, you:

    1) Shift focus from the transparency of climate scientists to whether critics are transparent enough.

    2) Shift focus from the transparency of climate scientists to the transparency of other disciplines.

    3) Shift focus from the IoP’s recommendations for climate science to whether or not the IoP meets said recommendations.

    Is this what RC has descended to? The IoP made a host of claims and recommendations, included some that pertain to substantive scientific matters (not just transparency issues), and this is all you have to say in response?

  23. Steve Fish:

    RE- Comment by Joe Duarte — 10 March 2010 @ 6:40 PM”

    All three of your points are perfectly logical ONLY if the science of climate scientists at the CRU has NOT been transparent. The IoP statement stands as an accusation of non-transparency not unlike a political ad exhorting an honest person to be honest. All of your points are perfectly consistent with someone, or climate researchers in this instance, that have been wrongfully accused in this manner. Please show some evidence of wrongful conduct by the CRU scientists, otherwise your comment are just a part of the denial business enterprise.


  24. Hank Roberts:

    > Joe Duarte
    > substantive points

    Were addressed, such as they were. The openness request is to the publishers, you realize? You read the links above about the open archiving that goes back for many years and the contention with publishers over paywalling articles?

    You realize IOP is a publisher? Try this: what do you see?


  25. Hank Roberts:


  26. Jim Galasyn:

    Joe Duarte, perhaps you missed this post on the first page. I don’t speak for RC, but personally I give IoP’s opinion all the respect it deserves.

  27. Ray Ladbury:

    Joe Duarte says, “The IoP made a host of claims and recommendations,…”

    Yes, it’s a masterful effort of creative writing. However RC prefers to keep things based in reality.

  28. Ray Ladbury:

    Matthew L. says, “We need a few more climate scientists willing to test and stress the surface data record in the same way.”

    Uh, Dude, there are always little tweaks being done to the data–corrections, filtering, etc. Denialists keep claiming that this is the entire source of the warming (ignoring the fact that melting ice and phenological data also indicate warming). Now you come along and claim they aren’t looking at all? Sheesh!

  29. HotRod:

    I’m not often surprised, or offended, but comment 250 really is too much. What’s this [edit] martial law stuff? Surely not because Sonja is German?

  30. David Alan:

    In the IoP statement, the following was written:

    “2. The CRU e-mails as published on the internet provide prima facie evidence of determined and co-ordinated refusals to comply with honourable scientific traditions and freedom of information law. The principle that scientists should be willing to expose their ideas and results to independent testing and replication by others, which requires the open exchange of data, procedures and materials, is vital. The lack of compliance has been confirmed by the findings of the Information Commissioner. This extends well beyond the CRU itself – most of the e-mails were exchanged with researchers in a number of other international institutions who are also involved in the formulation of the IPCC’s conclusions on climate change.”

    I stress this section for one and obvious reason. The Information Commissioner(I.C.) finds lack of compliance and it extends beyond the CRU itself.

    The implications are quite apparent and the logic of the I.C. is spot on. Forget about finger pointing and name calling, etc. This statement is a call for the scientific method to bear the weight of the truth and not the wishings of a few men to convey a certain truth that they wish to project into the scientific community.

    This statement by the IoP for open exchange of data and procedures never should have had to be made. The hacked e-mails surrounds the possible reason why the emails were hacked in the first place. A man of some integrity, but lacking scientific knowledge asked for data to be submitted for review and he was subsequently treated in ways, as mentioned in those emails, quite negatively.

    If the scientific method had truly been applied here and the data been revealed to be scrutinized and reviewed and tested, the scientific community wouldn’t have to defend itself. Yet, for reasons that are not forthcoming, all of science now bears the weight of scrutiny for the lack of openness.

    Science. Without it we would had never made the advancements in todays society without it. Science can’t be shamed or embarrassed of its truth. It just is. But a few men decided not to reveal the truth, or exaggerate the truth or not reveal the whole truth, solely for purposes that over time, we might begin to understand.

    This statement by the IoP will help achieve a step in the right direction to that understanding, of how men of science, ventured away from the scientific method and how science as a whole may feel vindicated by upholding to the standards of science that were established hundreds of years ago, yet may still live on today, because of this statement.

    Good Day,

    David Alan

    [Response: If the statement had just stuck with calling for openness and transparency, it would not have received the attention it did. No-one disagrees with the basic principle. But the passage you highlight conflates a number of issues and casts completely unwarranted aspersions on the international community of researchers and the IPCC. Please explain how anyone in the US for instance, is bound by any UK FOI request? No possible issue that the IC may have had with how one person’s UK FOI request was handled at CRU has any relevance to the international community of scientists or how IPCC’s conclusions were arrived at. This paragraph simply takes an widely reported (but rather ambiguous statement) by the IC and spreads guilt by association to everyone whose email was hacked. This is a completely inappropriate statement for the IoP to be making, especially since they appear to have performed no investigation of the issue themselves. – gavin]

  31. Marcus:

    Comment 270, Reasonable Observer: I believe that Inferno at Denial Depot has requested Spencer’s code and received no reply: http://denialdepot.blogspot.com/2010/01/satellite-raw-data-is-adjusted.html#comments

    (and yes, Inferno is not a serious researcher, but one could argue that most of the “skeptics” that keep pestering Mann and CRU and so on are not serious researchers either, in a different way. I have vague recollections of Lucia at the Blackboard making a request of this type, but am very unsure of that…)

  32. Hank Roberts:

    > Hotrod
    Active imagination? you’re the first to use the N-word, accusing someone else — who didn’t. Fantasy control please.

    Yes, we’ve got plenty of people saying climate can’t be a problem because the only answer would be action implemented by government and business outside the libertarian limits.
    Life’s like that sometimes.

  33. Lotharsson:

    “The Information Commissioner(I.C.) finds lack of compliance and it extends beyond the CRU itself.”

    Apparently not.


    Oh, and the FOI request currently of concern appears to be about *e-mail*, NOT *data*.

    Much of the remainder of your argument appears to rest on … somewhat contended assertions.

  34. Stephan:

    Can we get back to the issue of this article, please, which was the IoP submission?

    Has anybody heard any news from the IOP? Have they given any clarification on the statement and on the authors of the statement? Have any of the Science Board Members clearly stated if they support or disagree with the statement? Have their been any internal reviews in IoP how this happened, how to get better quality control in future and how to be more transparent in their memoranda?

    Look at what’s happening in this discussion: Here are serious questions about how IoP handles the whole thing, but the comments here are mostly the same standard fights that you can read in hundreds of blogs, while the IoP seems to be completely forgotten and just walks away and behaves as if it has nothing to do with them. How convenient!

  35. HotRod:

    re 282 Hank

    Hank – there were better ways of making the point in 250 that he wished to make without the not-so-veiled references to German political history to make an ad hom attack on Sonja, and malign her motives. Whoever it was should learn to debate more respectfully.

  36. Nick Gotts:

    David Alan,

    You might be interested to learn that no decision has been made by the ICO about the CRU – let aolone anything extending “beyond the CRU itself”, and no allegations had been put by the ICO to the UEA as of 1 February. You can see the correspondence between the UEA and ICO on the matter at Correspondence between University of East Anglia and the Information Commissioner’s Office. It was, incidentally, the Deputy Information Commissioner who made the statement to the Sunday Times, without having the courtesy to inform the UEA he was going to do so. The IoP statement thus contains outright falsehoods.

    I would have thought, that as a “man of science”, you would have taken the trouble to acquaint yourself with these facts. (By the way, I believe there are even some women of science these days.)

  37. Matthew L.:

    #264 – In line responses from Gavin to my post
    “A fair point, but that is not a reason not to look hard at the data and try and find errors in it. [edit]
    [Response: Who ever claimed it was? – gavin]

    Well I did, in the bit of my post you edited out where I stated that I thought Jones was more guilty of carelessness (admitting to losing RAW data among other things) than obfuscation. Maybe Jones had been actively looking for errors in his own data and processing, but I doubt it. I think it no coincidence that the Met Office found a serious error affecting practically the whole data set just after it took over looking after Crutem3 and HadCrut3.

    Anyway there are Government and police inquiries going on and if Jones has done absolutely nothing wrong then that will no doubt come out in the reports.

    Re: Christy and Spencer:
    [Response: Perhaps you’d care to ask them if their raw data and code are available on a public website so that you can check all their workings? Or you can explain why that is ok for them, but not for CRU. – gavin]

    Not being a scientist I would have no idea what to do with it. You would have more clout than a member of the public. Perhaps you could do the request and post the answer to the request here? Maybe you have done so already. I would be genuinely interested to see their response. My opinion of them would definitely be reduced if they did not give a reasonable answer.

    Their data is still very interesting though, particularly the clear evidence it provides of a warming troposphere at the same time as a cooling stratosphere – a clear signal of greenhouse gas accumulation. Maybe they don’t release their raw data, but you can review all the processed data on a daily basis.

    [Response: And you can review the CRUTEM3 data on a monthly basis (it being a monthly series). Daily data are available via NCDC. So why the double standard? Either you have some principle you are defending or you are deciding ad hoc based on something completely arbitrary. – gavin]

  38. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Matthew L (257): CRU screwed up and they deserve to be hauled across the coals.

    BPL: No, they didn’t and they don’t. They were made to look that way by a concerted disinformation campaign orchestrated by Steve McIntyre and others and spread across the blogosphere by dupes like you.

  39. Nick Gotts:

    Andreas Bjurström,
    I am by no means opposed to empirical studies of scientific practice such as that of Oreskes. The history of science and technology, and the recent field of scientometrics (which is how I would classify Oreskes’ work), are both fascinating and important. What I do oppose is the sort of relativist and extreme constructivist nonsense the term “Science and Technology Studies” usually covers – Michel Foucault, Steve Fuller, Bruno Latour, Harry Collins etc. – which claims to study science and technology while ignoring, if not denying, the strong constraints which extra-societal reality places on scientific findings and technological developments. Interestingly, Latour himself has come to recognise the dangers of the relativist and extreme constructivist approach:
    Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern.

  40. david adam:

    a quick update on the IOP submission for anyone interested:
    I asked them which IPCC graphics they were referring to in point five of their submission, which mentions suppression of data.
    They just responded: Figure 2.21 in chapter two of WG1 in the third assessment report. (you can probably guess what that is)

    [Response: For reference, Fig 2.21. Discussion starts here. “Several important caveats must be borne in mind…. ” – gavin]

  41. Kevin McKinney:

    Re 285–

    HotRod, I think you’re reading something in that isn’t there/wasn’t intended.

    As I read it, the Richard’s post (@250) is not insinuating anything: it is arguing in a straightforward fashion that:

    1) the various forms of science denialism mentioned are historically continuous with climate denialism, constituting the ideology of a (presumably) informal quasi-political “party” which is strongly opposed to big government–which wouldn’t characterize the Nazis, would it?–and that

    2) in the case of climate denialism, there is likely to be a paradoxical effect, whereby the shortening of the timeline for mitigation and adaptation imposed by denialism, combined with the severity of the stresses which climate change will impose upon society, will make severe actions (up to and including martial law) by government inescapable.

    I don’t see any “ad homs”–a somewhat bitter and intemperate tone perhaps, but I think Richard sticks to his point. Of course, I could be wrong–it’s happened before, here and elsewhere!–but such a reading seems much more straightforward to me than the insinuating and tortured construction you make in which the words “your party,” combined with a German name, are supposed to conjure up images of the Third Reich.

    Perhaps the issue is that the outcome of martial law seems implausible to you, which prevents you from considering the scenario Richard proposed. All I can say about that is that his past posts lead me to believe that he certainly believes them to be plausible and even likely.

    I’m not so pessimistic as he is, but I sure hope he’s wrong. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to bound the risks of climate change–that’s a big part of the responsibility of the IPCC, after all. And unbounded risks are not the friends of a complex technological society highly dependent upon expensive and vulnerable infrastructure.

    Can we say that food and fresh water insecurity, major economic dislocation, displacement of millions of climate refugees and serious environmental degradation won’t result in martial law somewhere–perhaps many “somewheres?” I don’t see any way at present to be sure that such things won’t or can’t happen, and I think it’s unquestionably true that denialism raises the chances of such an outcome by making it very difficult to look at the question objectively.

    (How many thousands of hours have been spent addressing zombie arguments such as the “saturated CO2” argument, or the “CO2 lags temperature” argument? If you know the history of the science, they’ve have been dead for decades or more in a scientific context–even if they live a ghastly half-life in the blogosphere. Those hours could have been devoted to much more intrinsically productive uses. But here we are. . .)

  42. Nick Gotts:

    Anyone who follows Matthew L’s link@287 will see that the vast majority of stations are completely unaffected, contrary to the impression he gives.

  43. Matthew L.:

    #287 BPL
    I don’t read McIntyre’s blog, mainly because it is as dull as ditchwater. I do read the papers though and it is clear from this letter from the Information Commissioner’s Office published on the University of East Anglia’s web site:
    that there is a prima facie case to answer that is not being prosecuted only because it is time barred.

    I note you think Jones was misrepresented but it is clear that the ICO have major misgivings. The inquiry will decide whether or not he has a case to answer. How are you so certain that “they didn’t and they don’t”? If it is so clear, why is there an inquiry going on at all?

  44. Completely Fed Up:

    Matthew L, you’re reading it wrong.

    That was a statement that merely stated in the same sentence that

    a) Disobeying a law like FOIA is illegal.
    b) That it the statute of limitations has run out.

    Nothing there saying that illegal disobedience of FOIA happened.

  45. Matthew L.:

    [Response: And you can review the CRUTEM3 data on a monthly basis (it being a monthly series). Daily data are available via NCDC.
    I know, I do my own graphs and amateur fiddling with their (processed) data myself.

    So why the double standard? Either you have some principle you are defending or you are deciding ad hoc based on something completely arbitrary. – gavin]

    I don’t have double standards, I think you have missed the point of my post. I would expect UHA to be as open as UEA/CRU. If they are not that is a bad thing.

  46. Completely Fed Up:

    Nick Gotts says:
    11 March 2010 at 8:47 AM

    Anyone who follows Matthew L’s link@287 will see that the vast majority of stations are completely unaffected, contrary to the impression he gives.”

    I believe I posted on another thread that this is SOP for denialism. Doesn’t matter what the link says, just give it and say what you like.

  47. Matthew L.:

    #292 Nick,
    You misunderstand. My point is that virtually every monthly data point in the series is affected, not every weather station. I know this because I plot the data myself and it was a (minor) pain to have to download the whole series again rather than just update the latest couple of years (they usually make corrections over two years as extra data is added).

  48. Matthew L.:

    #264 CFU
    Aha, I see the RealClimate police are patrolling… ;-)

    My impression of the content of the letter is a bit different from yours. In particular this sentance:
    “The prima facie evidence from the published emails indicate an attempt to defeat disclosure by deleting information. It is hard to imagine more cogent prima facie evidence.”

    Definition of Prima Facie evidence: On first examination, a matter appears to be self-evident from the facts.

    You need to have prima facie evidence to pursue a case. Your statement that “Nothing there saying that illegal disobedience of FOIA happened.” is of course true as the only place where a statement that “illegal disobedience happened” can be judged properly is a court of law.

    However the fact that there is Prima Facie evidence means that there is a case to answer. Unfortunately for the ICO “the matter cannot be taken forward because of the statutory time limit”. I think this is unfortunate for Prof Jones as well, as if he has been misrepresented he does not now have a chance to defend himself and we are all left with the “prima facie” evidence rather than a legal judgement.

    I will let the reader decide which of us is getting the message from the letter that the ICO intended.

  49. HotRod:

    Kevin if I misread it I apologise to whoever it was that wrote it.

    I found this piece interesting, somewhat related.

  50. Nick Gotts:

    Matthew L.

    Then “affecting practically the whole data set” was a very sloppy way to express your point.

    I think you may be right about the message the ICO intended; however, that institution is not immune from criticism any more than the CRU. It was grossly unfair of the Deputy Information Commissioner to give the statement he did to the persistent journalist Leake, without even the courtesy of informing UEA or the affected individuals he was going to do so; and must cast some doubt on his objectivity in this matter. You may also note that the ICO’s investigations are under way, and a decision will take some months to arrive at. A pity the Deputy Information Commissioner did not simply say that to Leake. All the nonsense about the ICO having no responsibility to correct media misinterpretation is a remarkable abdication of responsibility by a public body.