Scientists gently slapped over use of statistics, but critics claim the report is biased
An inquiry into the science carried out by the Climatic Research Unit whose emails were leaked onto the Internet has levelled only very mild criticism against “a small group of dedicated if slightly disorganised researchers”.
The inquiry, lead by Lord Oxburgh, was commissioned by the University of East Anglia after a batch of leaked emails ignited a storm of criticism of climate change science, and of the researchers at the University’s Climatic Research Unit, one of the foremost contributors to UN figures on climate change.
The criticism emerged days before the UN’s COP15 summit on climate change in Copenhagen, and the change in public opinion is believed to be a factor in the summit’s failure to produce strong commitments on emissions reduction.
“No deliberate malpractice”
Lord Oxburgh’s 5-page report deals with the CRU’s “scientific integrity”, and is not a ruling on climate science as a whole – and it vindicates the work of the CRU and it’s head, Phil Jones (left). “We saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any work of the Climatic Research Unit,” said the report.
The report does offer mild criticism of the CRU’s failure to use professional statisticians in an area which “depends so heavily on statistical methods”. It also questioned whether free access to the CRU’s data sets should have been provided sooner (the Unit has released all its data since the email leak), and said the scientists failed in the PR stakes – being “ill-prepared for being the focus of public attention”.
Lord Oxburgh’s role in the enquiry has been criticised – he is a director of two environmental energy companies and a paid advisor on the subject to a long list of companies, leading one critic, apparently, to describe his appointment as “putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank”.
Climate change critic Steve McIntyre has complained that the inquiry did not interview any of CRU’s critics and took only three weeks to reach its conclusion.
A committee of MPs similarly found the scientists to have been well-intentioned, but claims they failed to answer requests for data under the Freedom of Information Act, a finding backed up by the Information Commissioner.