back to article Oops: Chief Climategate investigator failed to declare eco directorship

The peer leading the second Climategate enquiry at the University of East Anglia serves as a director of one of the most powerful environmental networks in the world, according to Companies House documents - and has failed to declare it. Lord Oxburgh, a geologist by training and the former scientific advisor to the Ministry of …

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Happy

Thank you Andrew

Very kind of you to reply.

The first paragraph of the story :-

"The peer leading the second Climategate enquiry at the University of East Anglia serves as a director of one of the most powerful environmental networks in the world, according to Companies House documents - and has failed to declare it."

If the Register of Lords Interests does not require this directorship to be listed where is your story?

The Register is not there to say he is interested in Climate Change, stamp collecting and long walks on the beach. The Register has rules and if he broken none where is your story.

He may be pro-AGW but I think you would be hard pressed to find any qualified person who has no views on the topic. All the major scientific societies in the UK have issued pro-AGW statements. If you wish to dispute the mans professional integrity and inability to be even handed you will need more than this.

"like putting Dracula in charge of the Blood Bank" - you could have used "set a thief to catch a thief" or possibly a "poacher turned gamekeeper" as suggested by my "inside source" aka a mate of mine and when I mean inside I mean we are both not outside.

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Linux

Wos so many deletes

No text; I'm neutral.

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Anonymous Coward

just a wild guess

but given Andrew's track record on climate change articles and the comments section there of, I'd suggest that any comments that suggest that Andrew isn't entirely unbias in his reporting are made to disappear, (probably along with one very shortly).

Given that the orginal article is about an alleged bias in an investigation, some should call the irony police in.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: just a wild guess

So you're commenting on one of my climate articles about how you can't comment on my climate articles?

The irony police have called in reinforcements.

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Anonymous Coward

it's one of those rules

the most famous of which is "never get involved in a land war in Asia" - but only slightly less well-known is this "adding the words 'this'll never get published' onto any posting on a comments board, will result in the comments automatically being published". But if it works to get around the "only opinions that agree with the author are valid" filter, what do I care?

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It's about risk, not certainty

@Ministry of Truth "To assume that any existing model covers all the bases is foolish." - Climate scientists have never claimed that. Their papers, and the summary reports from the IPCC, are full of risk analyses, of probabilities, of self-criticism.

The Climate Science is and always has been our current best knowledge. Yes, we should try and improve that knowledge. Yes, that means funding more science, doing more checking. It means paying for more temperature stations (see recent article in the Economist about lack of funding for that).

But meanwhile, we have to decide what to do next given what we know so far. We can decide to geoengineer the climate by digging up fossil fuels and burning them. Or we can decide to become more efficient and to use nuclear power, to use various sorts of solar power and wind power.

The current best peer-reviewed evidence we have, and economic analyses associated with it, show that the latter is the wise course in terms of sustaining our civilisation.

You will never have certainty about predicting the future. But it doesn't matter, you still have to choose an action.

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I don't disagree, but...

To say Climate science is and always has been our current best knowledge is exactly my point. The problem is when vested interests, either due to scientific funding constraints, or perhaps more worryingly political taxation schemes cause institutions which should be aiming to provide as unbiased as possible view of the world to withhold data from peer review etc.

It's really hard to actually give a historical analogy to this situation without sounding extreme, because what was probably cutting edge debate at the time now seems so utterly banal or frankly insane.

But - two examples spring to mind.

The first is a little spat between the papacy and Copernicus over whether or not the earth was the centre of the universe. Without getting into the philosophy of sophistric viewpoints, it now seems crazy to us to think that it could be seen as any other way than the Earth revolving around the sun.

The second is more relevant - relativity showed that the clockwork universe of Newtonian mechanics was a flawed model, and thankfully provided some of the solutions to the flaws. To quote an old physics adage - it might have been Feynman who said it, I can't be bothered to google it, "anyone who claims to understand relativity, doesn't" - it's complex, it's hard to explain, but it's right. The average Joe in the street will have heard of e=mc2, and will no doubt feel better for it, but won't be able to apply it, or understand the consequences of it.

Both of these examples apply to the climate debate, in that someone has proposed a model - it may be from conventional wisdom, it may be from an understanding created by only having access to part of the picture, but to actively attempt to discourage peer review, to attack through PR and media routes those who would disagree with it, and to not open up methodology and data to examination by other scientists, is malfeasance.

Your proposal is based on the idea that we now have to jump to correct any consequences of AGW, and that it's a safer bet to assume that AGW is happening than not.

I would argue that this is an opinion based on dogma, and that the data and the integrity of the body that produced/analysed it needs to be challenged. If it survives the challenge then I'm delighted, and will back the measures that are introduced to combat the emission of CO2.

On the other hand, if the data in inconclusive, it is a squanderous waste of money and resources to pursue that route.

They could be spent far more effectively on combating poverty, on improving the sanitation in third world countries, on curing disease. Changing the world is not impossible, but it's a question of what you want to tackle, and where the money and resources you have can be best spent.

I'm not a luddite - in fact I am very pro efficiency (which any greeny will agree is the best way to reduce carbon emmissions anyway). I'm very pro towards cutting pollution. But ultimately the atmosphere has been in long periods of higher temperatures than it has been today, just as we have experienced ice ages. It is a chaotic system, and attempting to impose order on a chaotic system is impossible in the long term.

Delightfully ironic as I feel saying it, sunshine is the best disinfectant. Get the data, and the methodology that has been used in "correcting" it, and lay it all out in the open. Let everyone have a look at it. Restore the integrity of the IPCC and the UAE by actually letting more than the selected sympathetic peers review it.

Until that is done, saying "the current best peer-reviewed evidence we have" is unfortunately a worthless prospect.

Shouting louder than another party, or attempting to cut them out of the debate, doesn't make what the IPCC and the UAE are saying right.

The one quote that came up from the leaked emails that rang so true, was the embarassment of the creators of the various climate models that showed large deviation from observed climatic behaviour just a few short years out from inception. To use them to predict out decades, or centuries, to grab sensationalist headlines, it's about as useful as trying to predict the stock market. And that's something which allegedly is in human control, if in a very widely distributed form.

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Crazy analogies

I would argue that the Copernicus/Catholic Church analogy really applies the other way around.

On one side you have many Churches, many politicians and many big businesses saying "man can't be responsible for global warming" all with their own reasons, in the case of many religious people simply because it is "arrogant to believe man can have this power over God's world". This group wheel out "scientific" experts and use personal attacks to try and discredit the theories of AGW, in the same way they did against Galileo or Newton, the same way they did to support cigarette sales in the 50s and 60s.

Anyone with any knowledge of science knows it is rarely simple to explain or demonstrate to people withour specific domain knowledge, results are often marginal and that you often will get some results that contradict others.

I say we should believe the experts in the field - and by and large, in fact in proportions very rarely seen in any scientific debate, they all seem to agree that AGW exists and is happening. There is also some fairly clear evidence to support this, the shrinking of glaciers, the retreat of arctic ice, the trend in global average temperatures etc. etc.

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Asking a politician to turn down a carbon tax...

...is like asking a fat man to turn down cake (where is my cake icon btw?!)

The fact that we have any carbon reduction legislation such as the EU ETS, the CCL, the CRC (in the UK) etc. shows that in fact a majority of politicians actually support(ed) the introduction of such legislation at the time it was passed.

Just take a look at the price of petrol/diesel next time you fill up your car. Oil has remained about the same but the cost of diesel has DOUBLED in the last three years. OK, so there are some refinery constraints, and the government has run the pound into the ground so hard that against the dollar we are losing out on anything we import, but a very large slice of this is tax - raised on environmental grounds.

So the vested interest of the politician is to support AGW to justify taking more cash from your pocket.

As for the idea that specific domain knowledge is essential, I completely agree. Sadly this is overlooked, with the "hundreds of scientists sign a letter" argument - the very great majority are not climatologists - and worse still - the data that has been made available to base their decisions on is dubious. Note I don't say questionable - as it seems that we are not permitted to see enough of it to question it.

Crap in = crap out.

There are a lot of eminent climatologists - such as those at very reputable institutions like MIT who question AGW, and are shouted down.

I'm happy to listen to experts, but we need to have BOTH sides of the argument listened to. The UAE needs to redeem it's reputation. A flawed instrument sometimes may give a precise reading, but it doesn't mean it's accurate.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Crazy analogies

"I say we should believe the experts in the field - and by and large, in fact in proportions very rarely seen in any scientific debate, they all seem to agree that AGW exists "

That's pre-Enlightenment logic, Mark.

We got rid of it hundreds of years ago, just like we got rid of tugging forelocks at the nobility.

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Coat

Friday December 5th , 1952

Friday December 5th 1952 , a black day over old London Town need one say more about the adverse aspects of free range carbon pollution ?

Watt ever happened to choosing the right man qualified for the job irrespective of party or political affiliations or do the minority prefer to hire overpaid mononeuron adherents of the Peter Principle from their artificial self created comfort zone not connected to reality in the real world ?

Watt price the truth in three generations time , should we choose to ignore the inconvenient truth in the real world and thus follow the wrong garden path to bury ourselves in our own mountain of garbage and pollute ourselves of the face of environment ?

Watt will the last surviving children still alive say then ?

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Flame

@ heystoopid:

ah, "won't somebody think of the *children*!

the last bastion of those who would dominate and suppress their fellow man by legislation and lack any subjective truth or facts to close their argument.

All the "AGW" legislation is designed to crush Western productivity while allowing Eastern outfits free reign to pollute (note how China and India are *always* exempt from any actual penalty legislation?) . THAT is the truth of the matter. Economic warfare, but instead of manning up and declaring war to destroy your enemies' factories, economy and available resources, "climate change" does it thru passive-aggressive ways. A factory shut down in Europe or America due to politically motivated "science" loses as much wealth creation and jobs and capacity as if a V-2 had struck. Foreign-supported "environmental" lobbies that stop the drilling or mining for domestic resources causes the same inflation and damage to the economy as a German U-boat blockade.

Except the econ-war generals can claim they are "peaceful" and hide behind others and not risk retaliation-a p*ssant nation run by a ruthless religious dictator who can't innovate or even feed it's own people can do more damage with a million or two dollars to the right "useful idiots" in the right places than he could with billions spent toward developing an atomic bomb.

Flame because, it *is* a war, people are suffering, and those enemy soldiers of the Propaganda Wars know their power fails when the truth is known. The UI's of course, like the Emperor with the new clothes, cannot or will not accept they've been duped.

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IT Angle

Garbage In Garbage Out

Enough said !

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Big Brother

Need experts

On the one hand it's great to have someone who is so involved in this business be investigating it. If it was F1 racing that was being investigated then probably best done by someone who knows the game.

However this seems like having a completely biased person investgate but have them not mention the fact that they are biased.

Given the massive amount of corruption that always seems to happen in politics I think it's perfectly fair to assume that this person was chosen exactly because he is so biased.

I am becoming tired of this. I am so jaded and lazy that I can barely be bothered to think about this stuff.

An enquiry is always a whitewash, enough jucy bits to placate the people and punish a few lesser players, never enough to get to the heart of the problem.

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Globe International is totally above board.

After all their Chairman is Stephen Byers, so I am sure he wouldn't do anything dodgy.

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Stop

Climate science before AGW?

Well, what was there? Not much I think.

One of the things that bothers me most about all of this is that climate science seems to have developed with the sole aim of proving one hypothesis. AGW. I think most people will happily accept that there has been some warming over the last 100 years or so, but how much warming there has been, and how much of that is AGW? Honestly, I don't think anyone can really say.

If climate science had a 100+ year history I would be more inclined to accept AGW as a good working theory, and agree that we should be taking steps. Now.

However, given that what's being called for is a complete re-engineering of the planets economy over a period of 50 years, I think we might do well to consider if mitigating the effects of warming might not be a more cost effective (in terms of lives saved) approach, while we gradually wean ourselves off a carbon economy.

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