Memorandum submitted by Dr Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen
I have no financial interest in this enquiry;
I am no longer asking for research grants and have no close personal
relationships with any of the people involved.
My interests are purely academic, professional
and political. I am interested in the value and misuse of the
peer review process. The negative attitudes of the IPCC/CRU people
to my often sceptical journal have harmed it. Its impact rating
has remained too low for many ambitious young researchers to use
it, and even sales may have been affected. However, this is not
an interest as my work is voluntary and the publisher has remained
supportive. As a member of the Labour Party and deeply politically
engaged person, I have not found life as a "climate sceptic"
always easy, but have kept my MP and MEP informed. I have been
somewhat offended but not surprised by the "CRU-hack"
2.1 Since the late 1980s I have been a researcher
of the politics and science of climate change, and especially
the IPCC, from the perspective of energy policy and international
politics. (See publications, APPENDIX). I was peer reviewer for
IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), peer reviewer
for Working Group 3 (responses, emission scenarios, economics)
for two of its reports and I studied the science and politics
of IPCC under a three-year grant from the ESRC.
2.2 Since 1998 I have been the editor
of the journal, Energy & Environment (E&E) published
by Multi-science, where I published my first papers on the IPCC.
I interpreted the IPCC "consensus" as politically created
in order to support energy technology and scientific agendas that
in essence pre-existed the "warming-as-man-made catastrophe
2.3 I have published peer-reviewed papers
and opinion pieces by all the best known "sceptics"
and know a number of them personally. My own views being known,
E&E therefore attracted, inter alia, papers from IPCC-critical
and therefore IPCC-excluded scientists. This did not please the
senior CRU members, a number of whom I know personally.
2.4 Since the mid-1990s I have taught environmental
management at the Geography Department, Hull University, after
a decade as Fellow and Senior Research Fellow at the Science and
Technology Research Unit (SPRU) at Sussex University. Previously,
I had studied physical geography, including some climatology (as
well as geology and German literature) at Adelaide University
and married into a well known family of Australian scientists.
Science and research have been a major part of my life. I now
consider climate scepticism my (unfunded) research area but have
published a great deal on the IPCC, climate science and energy
policy in the past. (See Appendix)
3. MY UNDERSTANDING
3.1 I have no reason to believe that most
of the scientists involved in the CRU affair (and this a group
reaching beyond the UK) did anything but act in good faith, doing
their duty to science, bureaucracy and the public as they saw
it and as they were funded to do. It is important, however, for
you check my observation, that most climate change since the late
1980s has been governmentand grantfunded with the
clearly stated objective that it must support a decarbonisation
agenda for the energy sector.
3.2 Scientific research as advocacy for
an agenda (a coalition of interests, not a conspiracy,) was presented
to the public and governments as protection of the planet. This
cause of environmental protection had from the start natural allies
in the EU Commission, United Nation and World Bank. CRU, working
for the UK government and hence the IPCC, was expected to support
the hypothesis of man-made, dangerous warming caused by carbon
dioxide, a hypothesis it had helped to formulate in the late 1980s
and which became "true" in international law with the
adoption of the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change.
3.3 This treaty and its protocol does not
define "climate", and applies only to anthropogenic
warming assumed to be dangerous. In persuading policy makers and
the public of this danger, the "hockey stick" became
a major tool of persuasion, giving CRU a major role in the policy
process at the national, EU and international level. This led
to the growing politicisation of science in the interest, allegedly,
of protecting the "the environment" and the planet.
I observed and documented this phenomenon as the UK Government,
European Commission, and World Bank increasingly needed the climate
threat to justify their anti-carbon (and pro-nuclear) policies.
In return climate science was generously funded and required to
support rather than to question these policy objectives. This
policy was of course challenged by those unhappy with the proposed
government-stimulated replacement of carbon fuels, but this need
not concern this Committee beyond noting that it increased the
anger of climate "sceptics" who saw science misused
for policies they doubted. Others liked the policy and kept quiet.
Opponents were gradually starved of research opportunities or
persuaded into silence. The apparent "scientific consensus"
thus generated became a major tool of public persuasion.
4. ENERGY &
4.1 I inherited the editorship of Energy
& Environment from a former senior scientist at the Department
of the Environment (Dr. David Everest) because we shared doubts
about the claims made by environmentalists and were worried about
the readiness with which politicians accepted these claims, including
"global warming" which followed so seamlessly from the
acid rain scare, my previous research area. As editor of a journal
which remained open to scientists who challenged the orthodoxy,
I became the target of a number of CRU manoeuvres. The hacked
emails revealed attempts to manipulate peer review to E&E's
disadvantage, and showed that libel threats were considered against
its editorial team. Dr Jones even tried to put pressure on my
The emailers expressed anger over my publication of several papers
that questioned the "hockey stick" graph and the reliability
of CRU temperature data. The desire to control the peer review
process in their favour is expressed several times. Benny Peiser,
the Guest Editor of a special issue will report to you on his
4.2 I was sent about 20 emails (eg
125655744.text, 1256765544, 12565500876, 125510086, and 125558481)
that concern me or the journal E&E. I have not spent time
searching for more but have followed the wide debate in several
countries. (See Fuel for Thought attachment). The emails also
cover events which I have followed since the late 1980s and concern
people and institutions I am to some degree familiar with.
4.3 CRU clearly disliked myjournal
and believed that "good" climate scientists do not read
it. They characterised it as a journal of choice for climate sceptics.
If this was so, it happened by default as other publication opportunities
were closed to them. Email No 1256765544, for example nevertheless
shows that they took the journal seriously. An American response
to McIntyre's and McKitrick's influential paper I published in
2005 challenging the "hockey stick" says, "It
is indeed time leading scientists at CRU associated with the UK
Met Bureau explain how Mr McIntyre is in error or resign."
4.4 Most recently CRU alleged that I had
interfered "maliciously" with their busy grant-related
schedules, by sending an email to the UKCIP (Climate Impact Programme)
advising caution in the use of CRU data for regional planning
purposes. This was clearly reported to Professor Jones who contacted
my Head of Department, suggesting that he needed to reconsider
the association of E&E with Hull University. Professor
Graham Haughton, while expressing his own disagreement with my
views, nevertheless upheld the principle of academic freedom.
I therefore have no reason to complain against the University
of Hull and I am still working from the Geography Department.
4.5 The emails I have read are evidence
of a close and protective collaboration between CRU, the Hadley
Centre, and several US research bodies such as the Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory where former CRU students had found employment.
Together they formed an important group inside IPCC Working Group
1, the science group.
5. UK POLICY
5.1 Having recently attended a business
lunch addressed by our Minister for Regional Development (Rosie
Winterton) and a manager from EON (UK) in charge of offshore wind
farm development (Humber Gateway, to be completed by 2014, subject
to planning permission), I am fully aware of this Government's
commitment to a decarbonisation agenda as the way towards British
reindustrialisation, job creation and regional development, including
related research and teaching by universities. At this gathering,
the problems with IPCC science
and CRU (UEA) had not yet registered or were dismissed. More generally,
judging by the most recent statements from leading spokesmen from
all major parties, it seems that belief in IPCC science remains
the primary justification for an energy policy that so obviously
needs much more examination. The UK clearly hopes to continue
to "lead the world" in the decarbonisation of energy.
Is this wise? What other consequences might arise? When has competitive
advantage been secured by making our energy differentially more
expensive? Unless of course, Britain can succeed in effecting
a regulatory capture in energy markets on a global scale
6. YOUR SPECIFIC
6.1 Terms of Reference
The four terms as set out seem appropriate and
should establish useful foundations. There is, however, a broader
context. The CRU case is not unique. Recent exposures have taken
the lid off similar issues in the USA, the Netherlands, Australia,
and possibly in Germany and Canada. There may be a systemic problem
here, and it would be neither fair nor helpful to make CRU and
the UK Meteorological Office the sole fall-guys. It is at least
arguable that the real culprit is the themeand project-based
research funding system put in place in the 1980s and subsequently
strengthened and tightened in the name of "policy relevance".
This system, in making research funding conditional on demonstrating
such relevance, has encouraged close ties with central Government
bureaucracy. Some university research units have almost become
wholly-owned subsidiaries of Government Departments. Their survival,
and the livelihoods of their employees, depends on delivering
what policy makers think they want. It becomes hazardous to speak
truth to power. In the area of energy policy, there are particular
problems since the familiar lobbies of the privatised energy industries
have been joined by new pressure groups. As the justification
for policies comes to rely increasingly on "environmental"
arguments, a host of NGOs, often with electorally appealing single-issue
concerns and deceptively simple solutions, begin to raise their
voices. The politics have become very difficult, and it is not
clear that the traditional structures can cope. The responsibility
for excessive pressure on "science" to deliver the desired
answers must also lie with the relevant research councils, NGOs,
and Parliament itself. Have politicians kept a close eye on the
science debate? Have they understood what kind of a body the IPCC
really is? Professor Benfield has recently begun to move the debate
in an interesting direction by suggesting that that bureaucracy
will have to attune itself better to the recognition of the value
of diversity in scientific advice. They need to accept that policy
advisors and Ministers cannot abdicate responsibility for making
balanced judgements by relying on project-funded research in the
hope that it will produce settled solutions. I should be happy
to discuss this with you.
My suggestions for action would be to expand
this enquiry to include the funding of climate science and consider
the pressure put on scientists by policy-makers and assorted lobbies.
6.2 How Independent Are The Other Two International
I am no expert here but from the large amount
of material I have read, some of it mentioned in Fuel For Thought
paper 21/2, I do not think that they are independent but rely
on the same primary sources. All have tended to serve the same
master (IPCC/policy-makers) and "cause" (saving the
planet) and seem affected either by similar shortcomings (the
available measurement periods, changing measurement technology
and above all the declining and limited number of measuring points,
not to mention the urban heat island effect. These data sets may
soon be replaced by better and more reliable data to demonstrate
the Earth's postglacial temperature history (which says little
about attribution/causation). Postglacial climatic history is
by no means well understood and the human contributions cannot
yet be assessed.
Dr Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen
Reader Emeritus, Hull University
Department of Geography
"The role of IPCC as driver of international
climate policy" paper to Hamburg Institute of International
Economics Conference "Critical elements of international
climate policy" submitted to Geoforum, May 2004. To
What drives the Kyoto Process?, translated
by Kirril Kondratyev into Russian, Proceedings of the Russian
Geographical Society, April 2004. Published in Russian.
Climate Policy: Interest driven, Culture
Bound or based on Science? Submitted to Area April 2004./rejected.
"Investing Against Climate Change:
Why Failure Remains Possible", Environmental Politics:
Autumn 2002; 11(3), pp.1-30.
Journal of Science, Technology and
Human Values: "Science, Equity and the War against Carbon".
Winter 2003.28 (1) Differentiation since Kyoto: An Exploration
of Australian Climate Policy in Comparison to Europe, Energy
& Environment, 11 (3), 2000, p.343-353.
"Climate Change and the World Bank:
Opportunity for Global Governance?" Energy & Environment,
Vol.10, No.1, January 1999, pp.27-50.
"A winning coalition of advocacy:
climate research, bureaucracy and 'alternative' fuels", Energy
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(with Z Young), "The Global Environment
Facility: In Institutional Innovation in Need of Guidance?",
Environmental Politics, Vol. 6, No.1, Spring 1997.
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of Scientific Consensus", Energy & Environment, Vol.7,
No.4, 1996 pp. 365-375.
"Britain and the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change: The impacts of scientific advice on global
warming: Integrated policy analysis and the global dimension."
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the limits of scientific advicePart I." Global Environmental
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(with J F Skea) "The Operation and
Impact of the IPCC: Results of a Survey of Participants and Users".
STEEP discussion paper no. 16, SPRU, Brighton 1994.
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policy?" Nature, Vol. 372, No.6505,1 December 1994.
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With A. Kellow, Hobart, International
Environmental Policy: Interests and the Failure of the Kyoto Process,
Edward Elgar Publishing, October 2002.
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in Britain and Germany, with J F Skea, Belhaven Press, London/New
York, p 296, January 1991 (paperback April 1993).
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the world of power politics", final chapter (10) in Pim Martens
& Jan Rotmans (eds.) (1999), Climate Change: An Integrated
Approach. (Advances in Global Change Research), Kluwer Academic
Publishers, Dordrecht, December 1999, pp. 357-397. 0-7923 5996-8ISBN.
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In J.Morris (ed.), Climate Change: Challenging the Conventional
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"Science, power and policy."
In: M Imber and J Vogler (eds.), Global Environmental Change in
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25 Since the late 1990s I have contributed a lengthy
"Fuel for Thought" item to the journal which documents
the relevant developments/discussions in IPCC critical climate
science alongside the latest development in policy, technology
and finance selected and sorted from a large variety of sources
and sorted. The most recent item is attached to the submissions.
It deals in some length with the CRU affair and reactions to it
around the world, as well as with Copenhagen. Back
On 26 October in a confidential message also addressed to
Dr. Mann, the "creator" of the hockey stick, Jones complained
that E&E was to published a paper critical of Mann's methodology
and saw this as a part of a political campaign against energy
legislation in the USA. Note (Paul Chesser, GlobalWarming.org,
15 January 2010): "Professor Mann is currently under
investigation by Penn State University because of activities related
to a closed circle of climate scientists who appear to have been
engaged in agenda-driven science". Emails and documents mysteriously
released from the previously-prestigious Climate Research Unit
at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom revealed
discussions of manipulation and destruction of research data,
as well as efforts to interfere with the peer review process to
stifle opposing views. The motivation underlying these efforts
appears to be a coordinated strategy to support the belief that
mankind's activities are causing global warming Glosser has called
for the return of over $6 million state funding stimulus
funds received by Prof. Mann and about whom US Senator Jeffrey
Piccola has said: "The allegations of intellectual and scientific
fraud like those made against Dr. Mann are serious against anybody
involved in academics, but the impact in this case is significantly
elevated. The work of Dr. Mann and other scientists at the CRU
is being used to develop economic and environmental policies in
states and countries across the world. Considering the saliency
of the work being conducted by the CRU, anything short of the
pursuit of absolute science cannot be accepted or tolerated."
and the attached Fuel for Though 21/2 which conveys many
of the reactions around the world, including from other scientists.
Note Mike Hulme from UEA. Back