Muir Russell rapport

Net als Damian Carrington open ik een ‘live blog’ voor alle ontwikkelingen rond het rapport van Muir Russell, het derde en naar verwachting belangrijkste Britse rapport over climategate. Interessante commentaren zal ik omhoog halen naar het blogbericht. Wie leest er het snelst 160 pagina’s?

Pielke jr maakt een interessant punt: Russell heeft een verkeerd beeld geschetst in het rapport van wat een IPCC-assessment beoogt. Hij denkt dat IPCC-auteurs een ‘best estimate’ moeten geven:

In this post I want to highlight a very puzzling statement in the report. The Muir Russell report characterizes the IPCC as follows (p. 41):

The IPCC produces assessments of the current state of understanding of climate change, its causes and implications. Its approach is to produce the most probable account of these issues; together with their uncertainties, and to identify where there is insufficient evidence to discriminate between different interpretations of a phenomenon. Its purpose is to produce a “best estimate” of what is currently understood, through the work of a group of scientists chosen for their expertise and experience to make reasoned assessments on the balance of evidence. It is not to produce a review of the scientific literature.

The idea that the IPCC presents a “best estimate” understanding based on the views of a selected group of scientists is completely contrary to how the IPCC characterizes its own work. To suggest that the IPCC is “not to produce a review of the scientific literature” is just plain wrong.

Here is how the IPCC WG I (the relevant working group for the MR inquiry) characterizes the scope of its own assessment process(emphasis added):

All chapters undergo a rigorous writing and open review process to ensure consideration of all relevant scientific information from established journals with robust peer review processes or from other sources which have undergone robust and independent peer review.

Note that it says “all relevant scientific information” — it says nothing about a “best estimate.”


Muir Russell said that it wasn’t the scientists weren’t to blame for defamatory language in emails, e.g. calling people “frauds”, “fraudit”, “bozos”, “morons” and so on. It was Microsoft’s fault.

They asked:

Indeed, some submissions have characterised them as ‗unprofessional‘, or as evidence of CRU‘s contribution to a ‗poisoned atmosphere‘ in climate science.

Muir Russell blamed email itself for the language:

14. Finding: The extreme modes of expression used in many e-mails are characteristic of the medium. Crucially, the e-mails cannot always be relied upon as evidence of what actually occurred, nor indicative of actual behaviour that is extreme, exceptional or unprofessional.

They observe:

Extreme forms of language are frequently applied to quite normal situations by people who would never use it in other communication channels.

But defamatory language by CRU scientists in emails is still defamatory language. That the scientists wouldn’t use such language face-to-face with the targets of their abuse is no justification. Ask Tiger Woods about email.

Fred Pearce,

The report is far from being a whitewash. And nor does it justify the claim of university vice-chancellor Sir Edward Action that it is a “complete exoneration”. In particular it backs critics who see in the emails a widespread effort to suppress public knowledge about their activities and to sideline bloggers who want to access their data and do their own analysis.

Most seriously, it finds “evidence that emails might have been deleted in order to make them unavailable should a subsequent request be made for them [under Freedom of information law]”. Yet, extraordinarily, it emerged during questioning that Muir Russell and his team never asked Jones or his colleagues whether they had actually done this.

Secrecy was the order of the day at CRU. “We find that there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness,” says the report. That criticism applied not just to Jones and his team at CRU. It applied equally to the university itself, which may have been embarrassed to find itself in the dock as much as the scientists on whom it asked Sir Muir to sit in judgment.


Behoeft nauwelijks commentaar lijkt me :)

Janet Daley, Daily Telegraph:

It will come as a surprise to no one that yet another inquiry into climate science has ended up exonerating everybody involved. Professor Phil Jones is back in his academic berth at the University of East Anglia having been cleared of the charge of dishonestly manipulating evidence. But the damage done to the credibility of the anthropogenic climate change argument will remain, as much for the tone of those notorious emails as for their precise details.

Bishop Hill even terug van zomerreces:

Gaat ook over MMo4:

And the panel said:

Having read most of the relevant papers… we observe a consistence of view amongst those who disagree with MM2004 that has been sustained over the last 6 years, that the large scale organisation of atmospheric circulation produces a spatially integrated response to forcing. Although we do not comment on the relative merits of the two views, we see no justification of the view that that this response was ―invented, or even that its various expressions in the response to reviewer Gray or the final text are fundamentally different.

So Jones seems to have changed his argument from “McKitrick’s findings are statistically insignificant” to “McKitrick’s findings conflict with other evidence”. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant of course. The fact remains that Jones has been unable to provide any support for the claim that was inserted in the IPCC text. This means that the allegation of fabrication stands. What is even more interesting, there seems to be an attempt to hide behind joint authorship – the finger of blame can’t be pointed at Jones because everyone wrote the chapter.

Eerste reactie van McKitrick over MM04 hier:

In Section 9.3 the ICCER presented a detailed discussion of the issues surrounding the use of my 2004 paper with Patrick Michaels in the preparation of the IPCC Report. Unfortunately the ICCER seemed to lose its way on this issue, making a superficial attempt to pronounce on the scientific controversy (despite acknowledging on p. 76 para 22 that it is not their place to do so) while overlooking the procedural issues that were actually in their remit.

o In paragraph 21 on page 75 they ask whether the decision to exclude the information from the IPCC drafts was “reasonable.” But they seemed to take the view that any decision would be reasonable since the IPCC had the job of making a decision. The ICCER ignored the problem of conflict of interest, and took at face value claims by Professor Jones (page 73, paragraph 15) that were either untrue (i.e. our results are compatible with satellite data, contrary to his assertion) or were unsubstantiated (i.e. his claim that our results are artifacts of ocean circulation patterns, which is the whole point under controversy). Consequently their finding on this point is baseless.

o On page 76 paragraph 23, they asked whether the published IPCC claim was “invented”. In my submission of evidence I asked the ICCER to obtain from Professor Jones the evidence supporting the IPCC claim. Even though they acknowledge that the supporting evidence would consist of a p-value (p. 72 fn. 7) they did not receive any such evidence from Professor Jones. The ICCER provides no evidence to support the IPCC text except for reference to unnamed studies showing “that the large scale organisation of atmospheric circulation produces a spatially integrated response to forcing” (p. 76 para. 23), which is completely irrelevant to the discussion and is in any case a specific scientific claim well outside their remit. Despite presenting no evidence to support the claim in question, they write “we see no justification of the view that that this response was invented.” This finding is totally unsupported. The conspicuous failure of the ICCER to prove otherwise only reinforces the view that the IPCC claim was invented for the purpose.


I guess the main question coming out of the Muir Russell report is when is he going to be appointed to the House of Lords and his choice of appelation. Lord Muir of Holyrood?

They adopted a unique inquiry process in which they interviewed only one side – CRU. As a result, the report is heavily weighted towards CRU apologia – a not unexpected result given that the writing team came from Geoffrey Boulton’s Royal Society of Edinburgh.

In his press conference, Muir Russell said:

We’re not going to get anywhere if this is just an ex cathedra proposition.

Andrew Orlowski,

Despite the gentlemanly and clubbable tone, the report nevertheless has deep systemic criticism of the institution and the team’s processes. UEA “fell badly short of its scientific and public obligations”, according to one review panel member, Lancet editor Richard Horton.

It criticises the team’s decision to curtail a temperature reconstruction at 1960, and splice on an instrumental temperature record, without explanation, noting:

“The figure supplied for the WMO Report was misleading in not describing that one of the series was truncated post 1960 for the figure, and in not being clear on the fact that proxy and instrumental data were spliced together. We do not find that it is misleading to curtail reconstructions at some point per se, or to splice data.”

There’s a selective approach to criticism of scientific techniques – officially, Muir Russell says it doesn’t examine the validity of scientific arguments. But as you can see, in places, it does. On the issue of the Yamal reconstruction, CRU is cleared but the related issues of basing the reconstruction on a limited sample of proxies, and using techniques which exaggerate and validate outliers (basically, one tree) is not addressed.

Andy Revkin,

As I’ve written, changes are clearly needed in how climate science proceeds and how it is assessed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I agree with Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that climatology is a young field that developed for decades out of the limelight, and that has suddenly been thrust into the heart of a multi-trillion-dollar fight over national and global energy policy. It’s no surprise that that transition has come with growing pains.

Another change, of course, is the rise of the blogosphere as an independent, and speed-of-light, distributor and dissector of information. Point number 36 below is particularly germane and reflects what I’ve said here about transparency being unavoidable now:

An important feature of the blogosphere is the extent to which it demands openness and access to data. A failure to recognise this and to act appropriately, can lead to immense reputational damage by feeding allegations of cover up. Being part of a like minded group may provide no defence. Like it or not, this indicates a transformation in the way science has to be conducted in this century.


Hier stonden al de ingestuurde submissions, maar het panel heeft er nu een hele berg ‘bewijsmateriaal’ aan toegevoegd, zoals notities van interviews, e-mail correspondentie, ingezonden stukken van o.a. Briffa en Osborn en nog veel meer. Het zal aardig wat tijd gaan kosten om dit door te spitten. Het is duidelijk dat het panel diverse prangende vragen in ieder geval voorgelegd heeft aan mensen als Jones en Briffa. Het is alleen zo jammer dat ze alleen van hen een reactie hebben gevraagd. Nu mag McIntyre achteraf weer uitputtend gaan ‘bewijzen’ welke opmerkingen van Jones en anderen wel of niet kloppen.

Richard Black, BBC,

The review found nothing in the e-mails to undermine Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports.

Via Damians blog, Bob Ward, klimaatadviseur: sceptici moeten excuses maken!

The reputation of the whole of climate research has been tarnished by speculation over the emails, but the inquiry’s findings demonstrate that the integrity of climate science is intact. It is clear that greater transparency is required in climate research because of the intense public interest in it, and its profound implications for society. However, it is also now very apparent that many so-called “sceptics” owe a huge apology to the public for having wrongly presented the email messages as evidence that climate change is a hoax carried out by a conspiracy of dishonest scientists.


[Damians blog] Here’s Gavin Schmidt’s take. He is a climate scientist at the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and runs RealClimate, the site on which hackers first tried to place the climate emails:

The Muir-Russell report is a surprisingly thorough investigation into the practices and methodologies of the CRU team. The report demonstrates again and again that the recent barrage of accusations and insinuations against the scientists and the science had no basis in fact. The authors even created (with only two days’ work!) an analysis of weather station data from public sources that demonstrated the same patterns and trends that CRU has published (something the critics have never done) … However, the spinning of the stolen emails will likely continue apace.

The creation of a weather station analysis is a sharp point. Critics say they can’t get their hands on the data; the scientists respond they could if they put the effort in.

MC: Hier zullen later veel reacties op komen van sceptici. Jones heeft jarenlang geweigerd zijn ruwe data vrij te geven en voor zover mij bekend zijn deze data nog steeds niet vrij. Wat Russell precies in twee dagen gedaan heeft is me nog niet duidelijk.


Martin Rosenbaum van de BBC over FOI:

Today’s review calls for a transformation of attitudes amongst the university’s senior staff. It argues:

“Public trust in science depends on an inherent culture of honesty, rigour and transparency. The requirements of FoIA and EIR must not be seen as impositions. They are a necessary part of the implicit contract between the scientist and broader society.”

The report identifies major flaws in how the scientists and the university administration responded to information requests. The lessons it draws out raise important questions on how freedom of information can apply to academics, scientists and researchers. And some of its conclusions have implications for how all public authorities handle FOI applications.

The review’s serious criticisms of the CRU’s approach to information requests include the following findings:

“evidence that e-mails might have been deleted in order to make them unavailable should a subsequent request be made for them”;

“a tendency to answer the wrong question or to give a partial answer”;

“clear incitement to delete e-mails”.

While the review strongly criticises the conduct of those scientists who refused to embrace a culture of openness, it is important to note that it also places much of the blame on the broader university administration. It argues that the university’s senior management should have accepted more responsibility for implementing compliance with FOI.


Eerst reactie van North die vooral naar Benny Peiser verwijst:

Dr Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, said that the report was a “damning indictment of the university’s handling of freedom of information requests”. He added: “I don’t think the university can just claim that this is a vindication.”
Peiser also observed that that the issue would “not go away with this report”. He could be right there.


Posted Jul 7, 2010 at 8:14 AM | PermalinkReply

Hmm. I wonder if this report will be used in training future Sir Humphreys, as an exemplar case on how to gloss over problems.

The FOI aspects are interesting. The detailed findings underline the fact that there is clear evidence within the e-mails of a breach of FOI law. In the findings? They say that’s “a shame”. WTF? They broke the law, aw, that’s a shame. Better tighten up processes a bit. I can’t wait for the Muir Russell report into Harold Shipman. “Yeah, he killed a few people. That’s a shame. Better tighten a few processes.”

The Wahl case is pretty bizarre as well. Russell recognises that Briffa and Wahl breached IPCC processes. He even notes the confidentiality comment indicates they knew they were breaching IPCC processes at the time. But it’s okay because in their e-mails they note concerns over the views of sceptics. WTF? Russell’s Shipman review will probably include “Yes, Shipman killed a few people, but he loved his mother, so it isn’t really a problem”.

They recognise WMO spaghetti graph was misleading (even though, hey, it’s fine to splice two data sets, label the graphs as only one data set and not mention the splice anywhere). They gloss over the TAR graph (that wasn’t our boys) and then note that AR4, by Briffa, is much better. Actually, the FOD wasn’t any better at all, and it was only the due diligence of the likes of Ross McKitrick, Steve McIntyre and other sceptic reviewers that forced them to make it better. Doubt we’ll hear much in the way of thanks for that.

Yamal? I didn’t read too carefully, but seemed to dodge the issues – addressing the caricature arguments put forward by the warmers instead.

All in all: 2/10. I give them 2/4 for actually documenting some of the bad behaviour. I give them 0/3 for understanding what was going on and 0/3 for dismissing it all (including probable illegal activities) as irrelevant in the findings and conclusions.

Altijd een mooi doelwit: de media hebben gefaald! Bradley is een van de drie hockeystick-auteurs.

Raymond Bradley, director of the Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst:

The report by Sir Muir Russell et al confirms what everybody who has worked with Phil Jones and Keith Briffa knew all along – they are honest, hard-working scientists whose reputations have been unjustifiably smeared by allegations of unscrupulous behaviour. These allegations are soundly rejected by the report. If there is a scandal to be reported at all, it is this: the media stoked a controversy without properly investigating the issues, choosing to inflate trivialities to the level of an international scandal, without regard for the facts or individuals affected. This was a shameful chapter in the history of news reporting, and a lesson for those who are concerned about fair and honest communication with the public.

Michael E Mann, director, Earth System Science Center (ESSC):

I was pleased to see the committee confirm that there is nothing in the stolen emails that in any way calls into question the validity of their science. It is my hope that we can now put this bogus, manufactured scandal behind us, and move on to a more constructive conversation about climate change. It seems particularly ironic that climate change deniers continue to harp over their now discredited claims regarding decade-old emails while we’re experiencing almost daily reminders of the reality of global warming and climate change. We’re currently witnessing the warmest temperatures ever globally, and are in the midst of a record-setting heat wave in the US associated with the warmest early summer temperatures ever.

Pag 73:

[Jones: ]The reason for the strong response of the email and the justification for not including reference MM2004 in the early drafts is that it can be readily shown to be scientifically flawed.

Wow, deze zinsnede gaat furore maken! Dit gaat over een van de beruchte climategate e-mails waarin Jones aan Trenberth schrijft dat hij de twee papers uit AR4 zal proberen te houden. Het gaat om papers van Michaels/McKitrick en De Laat/Maurellis. Die beweren dat de CRU mondiale temperatuur vervuild is met ‘economische factoren’ en daarom een ‘valse’ opwarming laat zien, dat wil zeggen een opwarming die niet klimaatgerelateerd is. Jones hield als coordinating lead author de papers inderdaad uit de first en second draft van AR4. Nu verantwoord Jones zijn gedrag door te zeggen dat de papers nou eenmaal flawed waren. Dat is echter nooit aangetoond in een wetenschappelijke publicatie. Dit laat weer zo mooi zien dat IPCC-auteurs handelen als gatekeepers en niet als honest brokers.

Voetnoot op pag 60:

6 It has also been pointed out to us by CRU that McIntyre acknowledged this in a comment (number 61) made underneath a Climate Audit post which states that McIntyre did not realize that this was the series used by Briffa when he received it.

Dit verraadt waar de meeste critici al bang voor waren. Wel CRU-onderzoekers interviewen, geen wederhoor vragen bij McIntyre. Steve zal hier ongetwijfeld op terugkomen.


“Their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt,” the report concluded. “We did not find any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC.”

However, the scientists were criticised for failing to respond openly to questions about climate data lodged under Britain’s freedom of information laws.

“We found a tendency to answer the wrong question or to give a partial answer,” the report said. Other emails were deleted in anticipation of requests for their release.


An independent British report into the leak of hundreds of e-mails from one of the world’s leading climate research centers has largely vindicated the scientists involved, a finding many in the field hope will calm the global uproar dubbed “Climategate.”

The inquiry by former U.K. civil servant Muir Russell into the scandal at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit found there was no evidence of dishonesty or corruption in the more than 1,000 e-mails stolen and posted to the Internet late last year. But he did chide the scientists involved for failing to share their data with critics.


The University of East Anglia was responsible for causing the “Climategate” scandal by behaving in a defensive and opaque manner, a long-awaited review has concluded.

“CRU helped create the conditions for this campaign by being unhelpful in its earlier responses to individual requests,” says the report, published today.

The review also states that UEA did not act in a way “consistent with the spirit or intent” of FoI laws, and cites evidence that emails exchanged by scientists within the CRU may have been deleted to make them unavailable should future requests be made.

The report concludes that UEA “failed to recognise not only the significance of statutory requirements but also the risk to the reputation of the university and, indeed, to the credibility of UK climate science”.

Professor Phil Jones, Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia:

I am, of course, extremely relieved that this review has now been completed. We have maintained all along that our science is honest and sound and this has been vindicated now by three different independent external bodies.

There are lessons to be learned from this affair and I need time to reflect on them before speaking in public, particularly given the scope of this report.

Pag. 12: Vreemde conclusie, enerzijds lijken ze CRU te veroordelen dat ze data niet vrij gaven; anderzijds suggereren ze dat iedereen data kan downloaden; hoop dat Russell het onderscheid weet te maken tussen raw en adjusted data…

16. On the allegation of withholding temperature data, we find that CRU was not
in a position to withhold access to such data or tamper with it. We
demonstrated that any independent researcher can download station data directly
from primary sources and undertake their own temperature trend analysis.

Rapport is hier:

Phil Jones gaat weer aan het werk. Hij wordt directeur Research.

David Adam, Guardian:

The climate scientists at the centre of a media storm were today cleared of accusations that they fudged their results and silenced critics to bolster the case for man-made global warming.

The panel did criticise the scientists for not being open enough about their work, and said they were “unhelpful and defensive” whenresponding to legitimate requests made under freedom of information laws.

He added: “The honesty and rigour of CRU as scientists are not in doubt… We have not found any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments.”

“We do find that there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness, both on the part of CRU scientists and on the part of the UEA,” the report, commissioned by UEA, said.

One of the most interesting passages concerns the role of UEA’s Information Policy and Compliance Manager. The review argues that this post needs to be given more power within the university. It found that “the IPCM may have lacked such standing within the university structure and the authority to challenge the assertions of senior professors”.