Tuesday, September 21, 2010

". . . The rigour and honesty of the scientists are not in doubt. . ."

The title of this post is the view of the Department of Energy and Climate Change - and therefore the Government - in considering the three reviews into the events and fallout after the release of emails from the University of East Anglia in November last year.   It is expressed in a letter from Chris Huhne of that Department, to the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osbourne on 31st July after the following three enquiries had reported:

  • The Science and Technology Committee of the House of Commons - report here
  • The Independent Scientific Appraisal Panel - known as the Oxburgh Report
  • The Independent Climate Change Email Review chaired by Sir Muir Russell - report here
Last Tuesday I reported the publication of a non independent review of the three enquiries by Andrew Montford.  The author had previously been critical of the climate scientists under investigation.

There is another non-independent review of the reports.   It is by Ross McKitrick, a Canadian economist who has published papers challenging the quality of key climate science papers from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit.  You can read his analysis of the three reports here.

There is a divergence between the Government conclusions and those of  McKitrick and Montford.  In fact the conclusions are mutually exclusive in key respects.  

I have read the reports and the reviews of the reports virtually in their entirety.  McKitrick and Montford come from a partisan position and rely on evidence and argument to make their case challenging many of the conclusions of the reports.  In contrast, the Oxburgh and Russell reports, (the Parliamentary Committee was curtailed owing to the election), make spurious claims to independence.

Chris Huhne and George Osbourne need sound evidence to undergird public policy.  

Later today the Transport Committee of Edinburgh Council will decide whether to proceed with a proposal to link parking permit costs to CO2 emissions. 

It is important to understand that this, and a wide range of other far reaching  public policy decisions, are now being made as a consequence of the issues over which the Department of the Energy and Climate Change disagrees with McKitrick and Montford.  The rigour and honesty of the scientists is critical to the formation and prosecution of public policy.

Having read the three reports, it is difficult not to have doubts about that rigour and honesty. 


  1. Edinburgh has a temperate, maritime climate which is relatively mild despite its northerly latitude. Winter daytime temperature rarely fall below freezing and are milder than places such as Moscow and Newfoundland which lie at similar latitude.