Memorandum submitted by Dr Benny Peiser
1. I am the editor of CCNet and the
co-editor of the journal Energy & Environment (E&E).
Further details may be obtained from the CCNet and E&E websites:
I am prepared to give oral evidence at the Committee's
evidence session in elaboration of my written submission. I have
no declarable interests.
2. The CRU e-mails under investigation suggest
that climate scientists (not only at CRU but also elsewhere) have
actively sought to prevent a paper on alleged research fraud from
being published in violation of principles of academic integrity.
3. In the following, I will outline the
chronology of the CRU-Keenan affair as documented in the published
CRU e-mails and according to unpublished e-mail correspondence
between me and Dr Jones.
4. It should be noted that the CRU e-mails
regarding the Jones-Keenan affair are incomplete. I am in the
possession of e-mail correspondence with Phil Jones about the
Keenan paper that is not included in the published CRU e-mails.
The point is that the "unauthorised publication" referred
to in the terms of reference is by no means a complete publication.
There is likely to be much more other CRU email traffic bearing
on the question of the CRU's scientific integrity, over and above
the emails already disclosed. In the interest of veracity and
transparency all correspondence by CRU researchers regarding the
fraud allegations in question should be disclosed in full so the
exact nature and extent of attempts to prevent the publication
of Keenan's paper can be established.
5. In the summer of 2007, I was a guest
editor of a special issue of E&E ("The IPCC: Structure,
Process and Policy,"E&E Volume 18, Number 7-8/December
6. On 29 August 2007, I received an e-mail
from Doug Keenan with his paper titled "The Fraud Allegations
against Wei-Chyung Wang." In this paper, Keenan accused Wei-Chyung
Wang (State University of Albany, SUNY, New York, USA) of scientific
fraud. In his paper, Keenan documented evidence that Wang had
fabricated information about Chinese meteorological weather stations.
His allegations concern two publications:
(a) Jones P D, Groisman P Y, Coughlan M, Plummer
N, Wang W-C, Karl TR (1990), "Assessment of urbanization
effects in time series of surface air temperature over land",
Nature, 347: 169-172; and
(b) Wang W-C, Zeng Z, Karl T R (1990), "Urban
heat islands in China", Geophysical Research Letters, 17:
The study by Jones et al (1990) has been
a corner stone in multiple IPCC reports about the allegedly minimal
role of the effect of urban heat islands on the global temperature
record. The latest (2007) assessment report by the IPCC concluded
that urbanization effects are insignificant with regards to global
warming. One of the key papers to underpin this conclusion is
the study by Jones et al (1990). To refute Keenan's claims
of scientific fraud would have only required the release of documentary
information about the Chinese weather stations in question which
Wang has long claimed to possess.
7. In the afternoon of the same day (29
August) I sent Phil Jones an e-mail with a copy of Keenan's paper
attached. In my e-mail, I asked Jones whether he would be prepared
to comment on the content and factual accuracy of the Keenan paper.
8. Later that day, Jones circulated the
paper to Dr Wei-Chyung Wang and Dr Tom Wigley (University Corporation
for Atmospheric Research), informing both his colleagues that
he "won't be responding" to my request, but that he
would be prepared to do so if his colleagues thought he should.
9. The next day, 30 August, Wang e-mailed
Jones to say that Jones needed to respond "by providing E&E
with a simple answer of `false' to Keenan's write-up, based on
the communication with me.[|] We are facing a tricky person and
group, and the only way to do it is to follow the procedure to
drive them crazy. [|] We are not going to let Keenan doing things
his way. [|] We should be thinking, after the whole odeal (sic)
is over, to take legal (or other) actions against Keenan. [|]"
10. In his response to Wang on the same
day, Jones wrote: "Libel is quite easy to prove in the UK
as you're not a public figure. Perhaps when you're back you ought
to consider taking some legal advice from SUNY. Assuming the paper
is published that is. [|]."
11. Later the same day, Jones e-mailed Wang
and Wigley to inform them that he would not respond to my request
"until the SUNY process has run its course."
12. Later still, Dr Michael E. Mann (Pennsylvania
State University) contacted Jones [with e-mail copies to Dr Kevin
Trenberth (National Center for Atmospheric Research) and Dr Gavin
Schmidt (NASA)] to inform him about recommendations he had discussed
with Schmidt: "With respect to Peiser's guest editing of
E&E and your review, following up on Kevin's suggestions,
we think there are two key points. First, if there are factual
errors (other than the fraud allegation) it is very important
that you point them out now. If not, Keenan could later allege
that he made the claims in good faith, as he provided you an opportunity
to respond and you did now. Secondly, we think you need to also
focus on the legal implications. In particular, you should mention
that the publisher of a libel is also liable for damagesthat
might make Sonja B-C be a little wary. Of course, if it does get
published, maybe the resulting settlement would shut down E&E
and Benny and Sonja all together! We can only hope, anyway. So
maybe in an odd way its (sic) actually win-win for us, not them.
Lets (sic) see how this plays out|"
13. On 31 August, Tom Wigley (a former CRU
director) e-mailed Jones to notify him that he believed Keenan's
paper raised a valid issue: "Seems to me that Keenan has
a valid point. The statements in the papers that he quotes seem
to be incorrect statements, and that someone (WCW at the very
least) must have known at the time that they were incorrect. Whether
or not this makes a difference is not the issue here." Jones
was now in possession of authoritative information that undermined
his claims about the integrity of CRU data products for which
he is responsible. Confronted with the evidence from Keenan, and,
most importantly, Wigley's advice that Keenan appeared to have
a point, Jones should have been insistent on getting the data
and facts out rather than keeping them secret.
14. In response to Wigley's warning, Jones
now counselled him to suppress and conceal his concerns and acted
as an advocate for Wang's defence despite the `valid' evidence
against his claims. In an e-mail, Jones appealed to Wigley to
"keep quiet" about his apparent backing for Keenan's
concern. In order to obviate any further critique or action by
Wigley, Jones speciously told him that SUNY was about to take
action against Keenan: "Just for interest! Keep quiet about
both issues. In touch with Wei-Chyung Wang. Just agreed with him
that I will send a brief response to Peiser. The allegation by
Keenan has gone to SUNY. Keenan's about to be told by SUNY that
submitting this has violated a confidentiality agreement he entered
into with SUNY when he sent the complaint. WCW has nothing to
worry about, but it still unsettling!"
15. On 5 September, Jones e-mailed me a
list of objections to the Keenan paper. Ignoring the expert advice
he had received from Wigley, Jones called on me to reject the
paper: "My view is that the claims are unsubstantiated."
16. I informed Jones that I would forward
his objections to Keenan and stressed: "I know this is a
very sensitive matter and I will not rush any decision. I will
keep you updated and informed."
17. On 10 September, I received Keenan's
response which I forwarded to Jones on the same day. I e-mailed
Jones: "As far as I can see, his [Keenan's] basic accusation
seems unaffected by your criticism. Unless there is any compelling
evidence that Keenan's main claim is unjustified or unsubstantiated,
I intend to publish his paper in the forthcoming issue of E&E.
Please let me know by the end of the week if you have any additional
arguments that may sway me in my decision."
18. On the same day, Jones forwarded my
e-mail to Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt, concluding: "It
seems as though E&E will likely publish this paper."
19. The following day, (11 September), Michael
Mann responded to the new development. In an e-mail to Jones,
he suggested that Wang should threaten E&E with a libel suit:
"Wei Chyung needs to sue them, or at the least threaten a
lawsuit. If he doesn't, this will set a dangerous new precedent.
I could put him in touch w/an leading (sic) attorney who would
do this pro bono. Of course, this has to be done quickly. The
threat of a lawsuit alone my (sic) prevent them from publishing
this paper, so time is of the essence. Please feel free to mention
this directly to Wei Chyung, in particular that I think he needs
to pursue a legal course her independent of whatever his university
is doing. He cannot wait for Stony Brook to complete its internal
investigations! If he does so, it will be too late to stop this."
20. Later that day, I received three e-mails
by Phil Jones with additional references and objections to the
Keenan paper. Jones put additional pressure on by stressing: "I
don't see how any journal would ever contemplate publishing such
a paper. I hope you'll reconsider."
21. After minor revisions of the paper following
peer review, I informed Keenan on 8 October that I had accepted
his paper for publication with the modified title "The Fraud
Allegation Against Some Climatic Research of Wei-Chyung Wang".
It was published in E&E volume 18, number 7-8, pp 985-995
in December 2007.
22. The concerted efforts by a group of
eminent climate scientists to prevent the publication of the Keenan
paper had been unsuccessful. However, this was mainly due to the
fact that I was prepared to resist peer pressure and to be open-minded
regarding Keenan's evidence and argumentation. I doubt that mainstream
science editors would have dared to reject the opposition by leading
climate scientists who had targeted an amateur researcher. As
Phil Jones fittingly put it to me in an e-mail: `How would any
journal ever contemplate publishing such a paper?'
23. On 1 February 2010, The Guardian reported
that Doug Keenan's E&E paper "may yet result in a significant
revision of a scientific paper that is still cited by the UN's
top climate science body. [|] The [CRU] emails suggest that [Phil
Jones] helped to cover up flaws in temperature data from China
that underpinned his research on the strength of recent global
warming. The Guardian has learned that crucial data obtained by
American scientists from Chinese collaborators cannot be verified
because documents containing them no longer exist. And what data
is available suggests that the findings are fundamentally flawed."
24. At no time since Keenan and Wigley raised
significant doubts about the reliability of Chinese climate data
has Jones taken public steps to clear up the discrepancies regarding
Wang's claims and data. It is unacceptable that the scientist
who disseminates a data product on which international treaties
are based, as well as IPCC reports and countless government policies,
should actively seek to suppress information that calls the quality
of the data into question, especially after one his colleagues
and a leading authority has advised him that Keenan's evidence
about the data appeared to be legitimate. Comparable behaviour
in the private sector would be subject to severe sanction.
25. The revelations exposed by the CRU e-mails
require the full disclosure of all documents and correspondence
in this alleged fraud case. Until the whole affair is fully and
publicly investigated, the reputation and integrity of leading
climate scientists will remain to appear tainted and discredited.
Dr Benny Peiser
Liverpool John Moores University, Faculty of Science