The disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia - Science and Technology Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by Geoffrey Sherrington (CRU 06)


  Please accept this submission from an Australian scientist. Because it is from Australia, it might provide a perspective that stands aside from the UK and USA who participated in the emails under investigation. If I have erred technically in this submission, I am most willing to correct with your advice.


  My only motivation is the conduct and promotion of good science. This necessarily involves identification of bad science. I have no contract or casual association with any Party that could influence me, or me them, beyond normal media and blogging processes.


  I am now retired and no longer active with several learned societies of the past. My career work was firstly with exploration geochemistry in a highly successful team that I helped manage. It was very high in world ranking. Later, in response to the manipulation of policy by activist groups, I worked at the interfaces between industry, science, economics and government. The level of work was high. For example, it caused some Federal Australian politicians to appear as defendants before the Full Bench of the High Court of Australia.

  In summary, I spent many years auditing the quality of science, commerce and legislation, often in relation to budgetary approval. My science experience overlapped with several sub-disciplines of climate science, eg plant nutrition/dendro chronology; past climates; use of natural radioisotopes; statistics and mathematics such as interpolation onto grids; management of large data bases; analysis of spatial data sets; satellite data; geodesy.


  There is much more that could be said to the Inquiry. My full cooperation is offered. Where I have used quotations from others, I seek to convey wisdom greater than mine, not mere literary style.


  What are the Implications of the Disclosures for the Integrity of Scientific Research?

  1.   "Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods."

"No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong."

attr. Albert Einstein.

  2.  (Note: My response deals essentially with climate temperature).

  3.  The implications of the disclosures per se are not immediately serious. Hacks and leaks, like influenza, are recurring nuisances that we tolerate. Disclosure commenced once CRU realised that laws pertaining to FOI included them. I have an FOI letter from Mr Palmer of CRU Ref: FOI_09-137 of 23 Sept 2009, 4 days after the disclosure.

  4.  But, implications for the integrity of scientific research are serious. Science has been debased and seen to be. Those like me who have questioned CRU for some years were aware of the possibility that the Gods would laugh. CRU was questioned about credibility and CRU's value was discounted some years ago. The referenced CRU scientists, without doubt, showed poor integrity. The public, plus other parties such as those who fund scientific research, now have grounds to question the motives and integrity of all scientists. Fewer students might now choose to study Science. Belief-based decisions might now further erode traditional Science-based decisions. We can expect to see an increase in fringe topics like chemophobia, fear of nuclear power, organic farming, homeopathy etc., as otherwise reasonable people lose faith in mainstream Science.

  5.  Integrity now requires remediation such as (a) a strong regulatory scheme to mandate the release of scientific data and code. For CRU, the "prove me wrong" Einstein test has been impossible because of the non-release of data. (b) a sustained effort in educating teachers and students about correct application of the scientific method to avoid more "shipwrecks" (c) examination of copyright enforcement to avoid false conclusions being drawn and spread by CRU using data owned by other States/Countries.

  6.  One must suspect that a coordinated effort to promote global warming hypotheses was made by some people higher in the chain of command, who stood to profit from the resultant global economic reaction and predictable turmoil. If a recommendation is permitted, it would be most important to set in chain the identification of the "Mr Bigs" as was done in the similar, but older case of the "Cambridge 5".

  Are the terms of reference and scope of the Independent Review announced on 3 December 2009 by UEA adequate?

  7.   "There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent there will be no need of science." Orwell, G. "1984".

  8.  The short but clear answer is "No" to all 4 Terms of Reference ("TOR").

  9.  TOR 1 assumes "hacked" emails. I do not know if hacking is confirmed or assumed. The act of hacking, if confirmed, is less serious than the conduct it revealed. A reasonable scientist would easily find unacceptable scientific conduct. Australia's Warwick Hughes criticized CRU in a Tasman Institute 1991 review of the Australian component of temperature records used in a 1986 Jones et al Southern Hemisphere paper. As a scientist, I was a visiting reviewer of several Tasman Institute programs at that time. I studied the report and saw subsequent blocking of data release by CRU. An often mentioned response from Professor P. D. Jones of CRU to Warwick Hughes was along the lines of "We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?" It has continued for some years. By all reasonable objective assessments, this is unacceptable scientific practice.

  10.  Thus, TOR 1 is not needed. It should be taken as a given.

  11.  TOR 2 should be dealt with by British police, not by Sir Muir Russell. There is abundant evidence of alleged criminality within the documents. There are separate inquiries afoot regarding copyright issues. The University of East Anglia appears to have adequate policies to cope with this TOR. Their failure was to enforce them. See 1255100876.txt in which Prof P. D. Jones of CRU admits to data destruction in contravention of University code of practice).

  12.  TOR 3—same comment as TOR 2. See email 1228330629.txt in which Prof P. D. Jones attempts to sway staff at CRU away from the legal procedures required by FOI law.

  13.  TOR 4. It is yet to be established if certain data used by CRU were obtained and/or used legally. Until that is done, the work of Sir Muir would be impeded because of his lack of powers to investigate criminality. See email 1237496573.txt where Prof P. D. Jones admits to illegal use of British Meteorological Office data.

  How independent are the other two international data sets?

  14.   Ever since the beginning of modern science, the best minds have recognized that "the range of acknowledged ignorance will grow with the advance of science." Unfortunately, the popular effect of this scientific advance has been a belief, seemingly shared by many scientists, that the range of our ignorance is steadily diminishing and that we can therefore aim at more comprehensive and deliberate control of all human activities. It is for this reason that those intoxicated by the advance of knowledge so often become the enemies of freedom. attr: Fredrich August von Hayek.

  15.  (Note: The other two international data sets are not defined. Here, he subject is treated as "Is there collusion between CRU, NOAA and GISS to produce a global temperature record [or the land part of it] that is substantially in agreement?")

  16.  The answer to this question is not known by any person. The respective collecting parties acquire data in various states of adjustment from various bodies and individuals around the glob, such as the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The volume of information is large and the adjustments to it are so frequent that it would be formidable to recreate a day-by-day comparison. There is no doubt that for some periods at some stations all three bodies would report the same result, within the bounds of error. However, prior disclosure of code and adjustment times has not been forthcoming to allow an independent audit.

  17.  The data sets cannot be directly compared because some deal only with land temperatures; others include sea. In any case, the error bounds, when calculated with proper formalism, are so large that the data sets would usually agree sensu latissimo. This can be clarified by separate comparison of temperatures from satellite observations since the early 1980s.

  18.  There is adequate prima facie evidence of collusion at least involving Michael Mann (GISS) and P.D. Jones (CRU). See email 942777075.txt. Here, a falsified graphic is used to add instrumental temperature records to proxy temperature records to change a perceived trend in the latter. This action is inarguably wrong in Science.

  19.  People submitting to this Science and Technology Committee will find difficulty with this question of independence because of a lack of availability of raw data and code, particularly from CRU. It successor/partner, the British Meteorological Office at Hadley, belatedly released some temperature data on or about December 8, 2009. There was little explanatory metadata. There has not been time for a comprehensive analysis for this submission.

  20.  I have included the British Hadley release in the graph that follows, for Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, as an indication of the match or mismatch of CRU/Hadley data with that of other compilers. There is grave reason for concern at the overall mismatch, because no inference of man-made global warming could be drawn from this graph, which is however a handpicked station to show mismatch. The vertical span of 8 deg C is to be contrasted with the IPCC "alarming" global estimate of 0.8 deg C for a roughly similar period. It is hard to take an accurate, small signal from noisy data. Note that all traces on the graph derive from one data set held by the Bureau of Meteorology, Australia. These data will change as knowledge advances, but this set was in this form when constructed in December 2009. It shows severe manipulation.

  21.   Declaration of interest: My only motivation is the conduct and promotion of good science. This necessarily involves identification of bad science. I have no contract or casual association with any Party that could influence me, or me them, beyond normal media and blogging processes.

January 2010

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