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Climate scientists accused of being uncooperative

Ecologist

31st March, 2010

MPs say Professor Jones and other scientists caught up in 'Climategate' affair were guilty of failing to disclose data rather than a 'systematic attempt to mislead'

Scientists from one world's leading climate research institutions, the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, have been told to end the culture of withholding data.

MPs from the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee were investigating accusations that leaked emails from the Unit revealed deliberate attempts to falsify data on climate change and mislead the public.

They concluded that accusations of dishonesty against the Unit, and in particular its director, Professor Phil Jones, were 'misplaced'.

'Within our limited inquiry and the evidence we took, the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact,' says the report.

The 'trick' email


One of the most contentious leaked emails was sent by Professor Jones in November 1999. It read:

'I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline.'


MPs concluded that the use of the word, 'trick' was not evidence of a conspiracy to hide evidence that did not fit with his view that recent global warming was predominately caused by human activity.

Instead they accepted the argument that it was an informal way of describing 'the best way of doing something', a 'colloquialism for a neat method of handling data'.

Transparency


However, MPs were critical of the Unit and the climate science community in general for a 'culture of non-disclosure, particularly to climate change sceptics'.

''There was a culture of not being cooperative to help people who were looking to undermine them. That is unacceptable,' said the Committee Chair Phil Willis.

'There is a real challenge around the world that with the financial pain people are going through to mitigate climate change, climate scientists are telling the truth.

'We have no reason not to believe that is the case but climate scientist groups really need to be as open and transparent as possible so that there is no question that anyone can challenge or question science,' he said.

A further inquiry looking at the results produced by the CRU was announced last week. It will be headed up by Professor Rob Oxburgh

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