Friday, 9 July 2010

Russell Review: summer reading

There have been 5 reviews or enquiries which have reported so far concerning the conduct of the Climatic Research Unit and sparked off by the release of 'Climategate' emails. Here is the roll call.
  1. February 3rd: The Penn State University enquiry into the work of Michael Mann one of its employees. Mann was a key correspondent in the CRU emails and employed at Penn State. The report was completed in two sections with the second being released on 4th June. It exonerated Mann but was conducted by his peers at the University who were hardly independent.
  2. March 31st: House of Commons Science and Technology committee enquiry into the disclosure of climate data from the CRU. This was a rushed report (an election was looming) which, although it made a number of trenchant criticisms, exonerated the scientific reputation of CRU.
  3. April 14th: The Oxburgh Science Assessment Report was commissioned by the University of East Anglia. The substantive report was 5 pages long and can only be described as risible!
  4. July 7th: The Russell report was styled the Independent Climate Change Email Review and is still being assessed. More substantive than the others is was far from 'independent' and has already attracted no little criticism for errors and omissions.
  5. July 7th: The Information Commissioner has also reported this week finding the University had breached Environmental Information Regulations by not supplying information required within 20 days and a further failure to provide information requested. It further noted that there was a prima facie case for a further breach which could not be pursued.
In addition there is an police enquiry into the unauthorised release of the emails in November last year.

In May the United Nations asked the Interacademy Council to conduct an independent enquiry into the procedures and processes of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In the light of the failings of the enquiries so far it might be more productive to read the findings of two authors who have succeeded in distilling the mass of contradictory and often complex information into very readable books both published this year.

  • Andrew Montford: The Hockey Stick Illusion. Montford is a former resident of the Southside & Newington ward who now runs the influential Bishop Hill blog from his home in a village just north of Edinburgh.
  • Fred Pearce: The Climate Files. Pearce is a Guardian contributor who is one of the relatively few mainstream journalists who have grasped something of the detail and the broader issues.
Now after that offer of summer reading - back to the main focus of this local newsblog.

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