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

Memorandum submitted by Phillip Bratby (CRU 17)


"What are the implications of the disclosures for the integrity of scientific research?"


  The disclosures have been examined and taken together with other published information it is concluded that the whole of climate science may have been corrupted and the results of research into climate change may be unreliable. This could put the integrity of science in general into disrepute, leading to public distrust of scientists. A truly independent examination of climate science by physicists and statisticians is necessary to determine the current state of knowledge of the climate and whether any aspect of global climate change (which has always occurred) is the result of human activities. Procedures need to be put into place to ensure full transparency and disclosure of the results of government-funded research.


  1.  My name is Phillip Bratby. I have a first class honours degree in physics from the Imperial College of Science and Technology and a doctorate in physics from Sheffield University. I am a semi-retired energy consultant, being the sole director of my own consultancy company. I worked in the military and commercial nuclear power industry for over 33 years. Since my retirement from full-time work nearly four years ago I have researched into the physics behind the hypothesis of man-made global warming (climate change as it is now called) and how "climate science" has been conducted and I have participated in a review of the CRU emails.

  2.  I have no financial interest in the climate change debate. I am a scientist who has taken an active interest in the climate change debate and am very concerned about the manner in which climate science has been conducted and its implication for science in general and for the public trust of scientists and scientific results.


  3.  Science works on the basis of falsifiable hypotheses as discussed by Sir Karl Popper[1] "a theory should be considered scientific if and only if it is falsifiable". In essence, any number of pieces of evidence can support a hypothesis, but any single piece of evidence can falsify the hypothesis, in which case the hypothesis is discarded. Climate science is one in which in-situ experiments cannot be performed and the methodology has become one of inductive reasoning to "prove" a hypothesis. In other words, the scientific methodology has been inverted in climate science; a hypothesis was framed, and then data sought to confirm it rather than to falsify it. An example of this in climate science is the creation of the "hockey stick" reconstruction of past global temperatures. This is discussed at length in "The Hockey Stick Illusion" by A W Montford.[2]

  4.  The scientific methodology requires full disclosure of data, methodologies and results so that verification and replication can be performed by independent scientists.

  5.  Climate science is not a hard science in the way that physics and chemistry are. Even though the climate is driven by physical processes and should be a sub-branch of physics, it appears to be a mixture of many soft sciences, practised mostly by environmental scientists with very little hard science or statistical expertise involved. In particular, most of the science, particularly at CRU, is controlled by paleoclimatologists, and in particular by dendroclimatologists. Scientists in these fields do not have the knowledge required to be experts in climate science, even though they are portrayed as such.


  6.  In order to answer the question posed, it is first necessary to examine the way in which scientific integrity has been abused at CRU as revealed in the leaked emails. There are two aspects to the work of the CRU. These are firstly the reconstruction of past climate (paleoclimatology, the reconstruction of past climate from proxy data) and secondly contributions to the derivation and maintenance of a global temperature dataset (eg HADCRUT), which CRU does in conjunction with the Hadley Centre of the Met Office. The scientific integrity of both these functions is discussed below based upon detailed analysis of the unauthorised publication of data, emails and documents relating to the work of the CRU.

  7.  Many of the emails between CRU scientists and their overseas collaborators have been examined in detail.[3] Although the findings relate primarily to the CRU scientists, because of the close relationship between international climate scientists (as evidenced in the findings of the Wegman Panel Report,[4] which noted the presence of cliques of collaborative climate scientists), it is evident that the findings are not just relevant to CRU, but are relevant to the whole field of climate science.

  8.  Examples of the way the integrity of the scientific methodology has been corrupted are given by extracts from the emails. The examples below cover four areas that will need to addressed in the future on the implications for integrity of scientific research: data handling, computer models, peer review and FOI. These factors are inter-related.

  9.  The raw data that the scientists were using were not archived and were not released for independent verification and replication. Only selected data were used that confirmed the hypotheses; data that did not support the hypotheses were ignored. This selective use of data is known as cherry-picking and is alien to science. It has been likened to a drug company performing trials of a drug on 100 patients with 10 of the patients showing a recovery and 90 patients showing no improvement or harmful side-effects. If the results for the 90 patients are ignored, then the drug can be claimed to be 100% successful. The use of data in this manner is not tolerated in any science other than climate science and is totally unacceptable. Instances of fabricated data also occurred.

  10.  Wang, a co-author of Professor Phil Jones, Director of CRU, was accused of fraud; namely fabricating data. Prof Tom Wigley, ex-CRU director to Jones "My guess is that it [the data] does not exist ... Were you taking [Wang] on trust? ... However, I am concerned because all this happened under my watch as Director of CRU and, although this is unlikely, the buck eventually should stop with me.". Scientific malfeasance has evidently been going on for a long time and there are no archived records as Jones admits "A lot of this history is likely best left buried ... finding them in CRU may be difficult! ... I don't think it is going to help getting the real culprit to admit putting it together, so I reckon Chris is going to get the blame."

  11.  Computer models of varying complexity were used to manipulate data. The models were not properly documented, were not archived or checked and were kept secret. Chris Folland of the Met Office "The error arose from a pre-existing hidden software bug that the person updating the data had not realised was there. The software is a mixture of languages which makes it less than transparent."

  12.  The "co-conspirators" (the words of Prof Tom Wigley, ex-CRU director in an email dated June 2005) manipulated the peer-review process so that their papers were reviewed by their colleagues and so that sceptical papers were not published. This manipulation involved threats to journal editors: Jones "I'm having a dispute with the new editor of Weather. I've complained about him to the RMS Chief Executive. If I don't get him to back down, I won't be sending any more papers to any RMS journals and I'll be resigning from the RMS." Jones was asked by a journal "Please list the names of five experts who are knowledgeable in your area and could give an unbiased review of your work. Please do not list colleagues who are close associates, collaborators, or family members". His response to colleagues suggested five names and included the following "All of them know the sorts of things to say, without any prompting".

  13.  Attempts were made to avoid releasing information requested under the Freedom of Information Act. Examples are in emails from Jones: "When the FOI requests began here, the FOI person said we had to abide by the requests. It took a couple of half hour sessions—one at a screen, to convince them otherwise" "All our FOI officers have been in discussions and are now using the same exceptions not to respond—advice they got from the Information Commissioner". "I wouldn't worry about the code. If FOIA does ever get used by anyone, there is also IPR to consider as well. Data is covered by all the agreements we sign with people, so I will be hiding behind them". "The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone. We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind. Tom Wigley has sent me a worried email when he heard about it—thought people could ask him for his model code. He has retired officially from UEA so he can hide behind that. IPR should be relevant here, but I can see me getting into an argument with someone at UEA who'll say we must adhere to it!" "Keep this quiet also, but this is the person who is putting in FOI requests for all emails Keith and Tim have written and received re Ch 6 of AR4. We think we've found a way around this". "Think I've managed to persuade the UEA to ignore all further FOIA requests if the people have anything to do with Climate Audit." Jones in an email headed IPCC & FOI "Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith. Keith will do likewise. Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? We will be getting Caspar to do likewise."


  14.  It is evident that there have been serious failings in the scientific research carried out at CRU and related organisations. These are in the categories of the application of quality management, scientific methodology, replication, peer-review, keeping data and methods secret and avoiding FOI requests, funding-driven science and advocacy-driven science.

  15.   Quality management: It is evident that there has been no quality control at CRU and quality control would appear to be an alien concept to CRU and many other organisations involved in climate science. Orders of magnitude more money appears to have been spent on foreign travel and expenses than on quality management. As a minimum, a Quality Management System, such as specified in ISO-9001:2008, should be used for all publicly-funded research. This should cover topics such as data archiving, development, documentation, control and use of computer codes and independent checking of calculations.

  16.   Scientific methodology: There should be clear guidelines concerning objectivity of the research. Research should be investigative rather than agenda-driven and confirmatory.

  17.   Peer-review: Peer review is a necessary part, but not the only part, in the process of publication and acceptance of a paper and it is a process that is much misunderstood. Peer review does not involve checking the paper or replicating the research and so does not mean that the paper is correct or reliable. Peer review consists solely of review by experts in the field to determine that a paper is worthy of publication. The peer-review process should be transparent. Reviewers should be anonymous to the authors and all reviewers' comments and author responses should be publicly available at the time of paper publication.

  18.   Replication: All raw and intermediate data, codes and calculations (including methodology) should be publicly archived and available prior to paper publication. This will enable checking and replication to be performed after publication and will eliminate the need for FOIA requests to obtain data and codes. Data that has been obtained on a commercial basis and cannot be released should not be used in publications.. The internet has become an incredible resource by which published papers can be independently reviewed, checked and replicated.

  19.   Science funding: Obtaining funding to expand and carry on research appears to be a dominant issue with the scientists involved. The CRU appears to be entirely reliant on external funding. The funding decision-making process should be made more transparent.

  20.   Advocacy: Publicly funded scientists should not be advocating political solutions based on their results.


  21.  It is concluded that over at least a period of 20 years, climate science has been seriously compromised by the actions of a small group of scientists who have attempted to control the debate about climate change. The effects of this are potentially profound. For example a generation of work may have been corrupted and may be unreliable. A generation of students may have been corrupted and their work may be unreliable.

  22.  It is concluded that the compromised climate science in the UK is not restricted to the CRU, but extends to the Met Office, the Hadley Centre and various university departments.

  23.  It is recommended that all government-funded research that does not have a security implication should be opened up to full independent scrutiny. Auditable Quality Management Systems should be introduced to cover all such research and to ensure compliance.

  24.  It is recommended that a fully independent review of all of the climate science research in the UK that has been carried out over the past 20+years is undertaken to determine the extent of the compromised science. The review should involve physicists and statisticians.

  25.  It is recommended that all measures that are being undertaken based on the compromised science are stopped until the review is complete.

  26.  Because the general public relies on the results of scientific endeavours being of the highest integrity, it is necessary to ensure that trust is not lost and that any scientists not practising honest science are removed from the process. How can the public trust what they are being told about scientific results that affect all aspects of their lives (eg medical research) if they believe that government-funded scientists are not completely open and honest?

  27.  Finally I recommend that the members of the committee read chapter 15 of "The Hockey Stick Illusion" by A W Montford.[5]

February 2010

1 Back

2   The Hockey Stick Illusion. A W Montford. ISBN978 1 906768 35 5. Back

3   Climategate Analysis, John P Costella. Back

4   Congressional ad hoc Committee Report On The `Hockey Stick' Global Climate Reconstruction.¥rmckitri/research/WegmanReport.pdf Back

5   The Hockey Stick Illusion. A W Montford. ISBN978 1 906768 35 5. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2010
Prepared 31 March 2010