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Parliament committee calls for more transparency in climate science

Cross-posted from Daniel Cressey on The Great Beyond

s&t cru front.bmpThe scientist at the centre of the ‘climate-gate’ emails has escaped censure from a Parliamentary inquiry into the affair, but his university and the field of climate science in general have not.

“Climate science is a matter of global importance. The quality of the science therefore has to be irreproachable,” says Phil Willis, chair of Parliament’s Science and Technology Select Committee.

“What this inquiry revealed was that climate scientists need to take steps to make available all the data that support their work and full methodological workings, including their computer codes. Had both been available, many of the problems at [the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit] could have been avoided.”

Some have used emails purloined from the Climatic Research Unit to allege impropriety on the part of unit head Phil Jones and other researchers. But the select committee says in its report that Jones’s actions were “in line with common practice in the climate science community”.

The report further states, “Within our limited inquiry and the evidence we took, the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact”.

However the committee does criticise UEA for its failure to grasp the potential damage wrought by non-disclosure of information requested under the freedom of information act. “[W]e must put on record our concern about the manner in which UEA allowed CRU to handle FOIA requests,” says the acronym heavy report.

The committee also criticises climate science in general, and calls for the field to be more transparent and to release both the raw data and the computer codes use in research:

…the practices and methods of climate science are a key issue. If the practices of CRU are found to be in line with the rest of climate science, the question would arise whether climate science methods of operation need to change. In this event we would recommend that the scientific community should consider changing those practices to ensure greater transparency.

UEA’s vice-chancellor Edward Acton said he was delighted with the “fair and balanced report”.

“We are pleased too that it has dispelled and rejected many of the myths that have arisen over the matter, while accepting that we have been taken to task on a number of issues which we are determined to address,” he said in a statement.


Responses

“The British House of Commons today issued a report exonerating Professor Phil Jones, the director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.”

De Smog Blog

“Really, our parliamentarians think we are quite stupid, don’t they?”

Bishop Hill blog

“Climate inquiry has dodged key questions in its rush to clear the name of the harangued head of the Climate Research Unit.”

The Guardian

“The university at the centre of the ‘climategate’ scandal behaved in a “reprehensible” manner by refusing to release research behind the science of global warming, according to MPs.”

Daily Telegraph

“The university at the heart of the Climategate e-mail row had an ‘unacceptable’ culture of secrecy and may have broken Freedom of Information laws, MPs will say today.”

Daily Mail

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