Supplementary memorandum submitted by
Richard Tyrwhitt-Drake (CRU 37a)
I am extremely concerned about the conduct of
the UEA Inquiry into the leak from CRU led by Sir Muir Russell.
On 10 February I delivered a submission to your own select committee's
inquiry about that inquiry, with some autobiographical details,
which I attach again for your convenience. It seemed extremely
strange for that deadline to have passed before the announcement
by Sir Muir on 11th, after more than two months silence, of many
highly salient details of his efforts this year. This seemed designed
to give those of us in the UK no recourse to the best democratic
option for registering any concerns we might have. As it happens
I believe, like many, that it's highly inappropriate for Geoffrey
Boulton to play a part in the Russell Inquiry, because of the
various conflicts of interest that have been revealed in the last
10 days. But I write to you now about one highly disturbing aspect
of the original leak from CRU. I use email so that you can follow
any links that seem of interest to you.
I was extremely grateful to read on the "Bishop
Hill" blog on 25th January that you had replied to Martin
Brumby very promptly that day, concluding as follows:
I'd also like to add that I accept that my use
of the phrase "Climate Deniers" was a mistake, and I
shall endeavour not to use it in the future. I apologise for any
offence caused by my error, although I assure you that none was
I've read this morning that you are retiring
from Parliament this year. If you've done nothing else in your
last year as an MP you have done something of great worth here.
There are broadly two views taken of the trouble
at CRU: (1) corrupt scientists exposed by those concerned for
the truth or (2) blameless scientists harrassed by those with
particular heinous vested interests. It probably won't surprise
you that I believe (1) to be much closer to the truth. But one
of the very worst features of the public debate of global warming
has been the use of term climate deniers and its cognates, because
this term without question started as a direct and deliberate
comparison with Holocaust deniers. And that was always outrageous,
highly offensive and bound to corrupt all aspects of the public
discourse once it became accepted as legitimate.
As you will be well aware, a major issue in
the debate about anthropogenic global warming has been whether
scientists have become "too political". Consider then
if labelling those that disagree with your interpretation of one
piece of science as akin to holocaust deniers isn't about the
most politically charged statement it's possible to make in the
Western world. Then recall this statement from Mike Hulme, copied
to Phil Jones and others, in one of the leaked emails, on 8 May
I must say that when I first read this paper
a couple of weeks ago I wrote it off as so bad (so, so bad) that
it didn't even deserve a response. To pretend that the Sahel drought
didn't happen (ie, a pure artifact of wrongful use of rainfall
data) is the most astounding assertion, almost on a par with holocaust
denial. Try putting that proposition to the millions of inhabitants
of the Sahel in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, many of whom died
as a direct consequence and whose livelihoods were devastated.
Adrian Chappell may never have visited the region, but I know
Clive Agnew has (many times)and he should know better.
I did my PhD research in the region in the early 1980s and I know
exactly what the rainfall conditions were like and how much oridinary
people suffered as a consequence. My PhD was on rainfall variability
and local water supplies in Sudan and I visited and talked to
many villagers in the region.
I've done my own Internet researches for a while
in the origins of this woeful abuse of the English language but
this was completely new to meand earlier than anything
I'd been aware of. Here are a few key points on my own timeline:
Jun 05: Richard North in a piece for the
Social Affairs Unit complains about "climate change denier"
as "a phrase designedly reminiscent of the idea of Holocaust
Denialthe label applied by nearly everyone to those misguided
or wicked people who believe, or claim to believe, the Nazis did
not annihilate Jews, and others, in any very great numbers."
This shows it must have become common currency in some circles
by this point.
Nov 05: Margo Kingston (ironically prompted
by now-notorious reports of melting of the Himalayan Glaciers):
"David Irving is under arrest in Austria for Holocaust denial.
Perhaps there is a case for making climate change denial an offenceit
is a crime against humanity after all."
Mar 06: Scott Pelley of CBS News: "If
I do an interview with Elie Wiesel," he asks, "am I
required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?"
May 06: Mark Lynas as quoted by Brendan O'Neill
in Spiked: Others have suggested that climate change deniers
should be put on trial in the future, Nuremberg-style, and made
to account for their attempts to cover up the "global warming|Holocaust".
Oct 06: Al Gore as reported in the Seattle
Times: "You know, 15 percent of people believe the moon
landing was staged on some movie lot and a somewhat smaller number
still believe the Earth is flat. They get together on Saturday
night and party with the global-warming deniers."
Oct 06: US Senators John D Rockefeller IV
and Olympia Snowe in an open letter to Rex Tillerson, CEO
of ExxonMobil: "Obviously, other factors complicate our foreign
policy. However, we are persuaded that the climate change denial
strategy carried out by and for ExxonMobil has helped foster the
perception that the United States is insensitive to a matter of
great urgency for all of mankind, and has thus damaged the stature
of our nation internationally. It is our hope that under your
leadership, ExxonMobil would end its dangerous support of the
Feb 07: Ellen Goodman in the Boston
Globe: "I would like to say we're at a point where global
warming is impossible to deny. Let's just say that global warming
deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies
the past and the other denies the present and future."
Aug 07: Sharon Begley in a cover story
for Newsweek entitled The Truth About Denial: "Boxer
figured that with `the overwhelming science out there, the deniers'
days were numbered."| But outside Hollywood, Manhattan and
other habitats of the chattering classes, the denial machine is
running at full throttleand continuing to shape both government
policy and public opinion| Through advertisements, op-eds, lobbying
and media attention, greenhouse doubters (they hate being called
Some of those references were discovered from
Brendan O'Neill's excellent discussion of the issue in
Spiked in October 2006 entitled Global warming: the chilling effect
on free speech.
The leak of FOIA2009.zip on 17 November 2009
provided an instance of this tactic of comparing those with whom
you disagree with Holocaust deniers, over a year earlier than
any others in my database. And the context, from what I can tell,
is appalling. Professor Hulme disagreed with the emphasis of a
new paper on the vast Sahel region in North Africa, which is known
to have experienced terrible droughts in the 17th century and
more recently. But it's quite clear from the abstract that the
authors, one a Professor of Geography at the University of Manchester,
weren't denying local droughts which may have caused great suffering
and death during their period of study (1931-90). They were calling
into question the accepted wisdom that overall rainfall on the
Sahel had declined during the period, not least because the set
of climate stations being used had changed, but also because of
the statistical techniques used thus far.
To take such a serious technical critique and
label the authors "almost on a par with holocaust denial",
when they weren't denying local droughts within the Sahel region
and the suffering that went with them, was utterly disgraceful.
But it sheds light on two things: (1) the origins of this terrible
slur, which became so mainstream, may not have been, as I expected,
some dark PR agency or spin doctor but from UEA scientists and
(2) the tightly-knit group of international scientists who apparently
accepted this kind of language without complaint had clearly become
hopelessly political, in the worst sense (the sense of partisan
or what the Bible calls "party spirit"), at least by
May 2004. This has absolutely profound ramifications, whatever
Muir Russell and his team have to say on the matter.
To end on a happier note, though, there is much
better news about the Sahel itself. From the very year that Chappell
and Agnew's study finished it has experienced a remarkable greening,
due to increased rainfall. For a little amusement, the article
in National Geographic is also worth pondering for the light it
also sheds on the awesome predictive power of climate models:
"Now you have people grazing their camels
in areas which may not have been used for hundreds or even thousands
of years. You see birds, ostriches, gazelles coming back, even
sorts of amphibians coming back," he said.
"The trend has continued for more than 20
years. It is indisputable."
An explosion in plant growth has been predicted
by some climate models.
For instance, in 2005 a team led by Reindert
Haarsma of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute in De
Bilt, the Netherlands, forecast significantly more future rainfall
in the Sahel.
A 20-year trend is finally predicted, 15 years
in, in 2005. That sounds par for the course.
Thank you again, sincerely, for your disavowal
of this kind of terminology last month.