Head of Embattled UK Climate Center Steps Down Amid Misconduct Allegations
December 3, 2009 12:50 AM
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Phil Jones is stepping down as director of the the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, one of the world's leading climate research centers, after emails were released implicating him in academic misconduct.
(Source: University of East Anglia)
Director admits emails about apparent warming deception "do not read well"
University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit is one of the world's
primary sources for climate data
analysis and a close partner to the
UN's International Panel on Climate Change
. Its researchers have published much of the work that has helped the theory of anthropogenic causation to global warming to gain acceptance in much of research community.
Last week the CRU was the
subject of a cyberattack
. Hackers released a 160 MB archive of stolen information from the center, including a number of emails from the center's director, Professor Phil Jones.
Some emails were merely embarrassing, such as Jones gloating over the death of a climate change skeptic. Others offer signs of misconduct, with Jones appearing to carry out a campaign to remove climate skeptics from peer review boards. The emails also show Jones discussing how he and researchers under him purposefully altered data to make warming trends seem greater -- what seems to be academic fraud.
The information in the emails has not been confirmed or denied, but the center has confirmed a leak occurred and that it is investigating the matter. On Monday Jones announced via a
that he would be stepping down as director while the investigations runs its course. He says he still stands by his center's research, though, including his own.
The University's Vice-Chancellor Professor Edward Acton supported Jones' decision to step down. Jones said the move was necessary for the CRU to "[continue] its world leading research with as little interruption and diversion as possible."
Supporters of warming have sought to minimize the results. While they have not necessarily questioned the authenticity of the leaked archive, they argue that the leak is a smear campaign. Jones has personally endorsed this theory, writing, "One has to wonder if it is a coincidence that this email correspondence has been stolen and published at this time. This may be a concerted attempt to put a question mark over the science of climate change in the run-up to the Copenhagen talks."
The leak indeed offers unfortunate tidings for proponents of climate change legislation. With the U.S. preparing to commit to
unprecedented and expensive emissions reductions
at the UN Copenhagen global warming talks, members of the U.S. government are now voicing doubts.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Wisc.-R, is quoted as saying the emails "read more like scientific fascism than scientific process." His colleague Rep. Ed Markey, Mass.-D, however complains that such criticism is merely a distraction from the "catastrophic threat to our planet."
Jones, at the center of the scandal, has made a comment that indicates the emails may be valid. He admitted in a post that the emails "do not read well", but dismisses claims of data alteration and misconduct as mere "confusion".
A close supporter of Jones, Lord Stern, author of the U.K.'s 2006 Stern Report, on Tuesday looked to help the embattled climate change movement by speaking out on his views. He says that the evidence of manmade warming is "overwhelming". He added that all views on the topic should be heard, but that the opinions of warming skeptics might not be valid views in his estimation. He called the skeptics "muddled and confused".
Confusion indeed seems afoot, but perhaps more at the CRU than anyplace else. It should be noted that some researchers appear in the released emails to have not cooperated with Jones' campaign and risked their jobs to preserve their academic integrity.
Kevin Trenberth was among those who refused to participate and questioned the certainty of the CRU's conclusions on manmade warming.
The CRU has moved to silence one point of criticism. It has agreed to publish missing land surface temperatures shortly. The research center says that 95 percent of its data has been publicly available for "several years". The center says that its conclusions that man is responsible for warming "correlate well to those of other scientists based on the separate data sets held by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS)."
It is apt that the CRU's release mentions America's GISS as the CRU warming scandal closely mirrors the controversy over data alterations by
Dr. James Hansen director of NASA's
Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS)
. Dr. Hansen's data was shown to have errors both in
which exaggerated warming trends.
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12/3/2009 12:17:10 PM
And before you think "but that's what you meant," it's actually not what I meant. Understanding the mechanism by which less Arctic sea ice in summer (a fact) can cause colder winters is not about AGW, it's about understanding the climate. I raised it in this context of whether the current lull is a blip in an uphill trend or a hint that the trend has stopped for good. Nowhere did I mention AGW, CO2, or any such thing.
I hear the rhetoric you mention from both sides. Most of the time you say there's no global warming. But occasionally the claim is that if there is warming then it's obviously due to solar phenomenon, duh. Or maybe because the Maunder Minimum caused earlier cooling. But if it's obvious that solar activity is raising the temperature then how can it be that the temperature isn't rising? You're grasping at straws just as feverishly.
As far as whether I'm clouded by my political views, whatever those are, I rate Michael Moore and Glenn Beck at the same inability to be constructive, and likewise for Al Gore and James Inhofe's inabilities to consider a viewpoint other than their own.
But what's the point in commenting on Dailytech anyways? The people here are no more interested in separating their scientific debates from their political ones than is James Hansen.
12/3/2009 8:17:21 PM
The comments on Dailytech are some of the most intelligent I've found, and reading is always interesting.
The only flaw is that there is a tendency for the comments be either FOR or AGAINST every little opinion voiced in the articles, and to argue and argue with no-one ever changing their initial opinion.
Wouldn't it be refreshing to see a comment along the lines of "Having read the previous comment I now believe I was wrong".
Still, my work day would be a lot less interesting without all you folk, and the discussion is lively if nothing else :-)
12/4/2009 1:25:39 AM
Agreed. Except SOME comments on DailyTech are intelligent. There are others that just make you stop and wonder.
12/4/2009 11:53:36 AM
Debate is good, but this site no longer has debate when it comes to climate science. When Masher started posting there was a good back and forth and several people would argue on both sides. However, now when anyone puts up an AGW post then they are immediately shot down by a dozen posts all calling them idiots, and often soon downrated to -1. It is the Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann idea of intelligent discussion.
While I will own up to phrasing my original post in a way that could be confused (putting warming deniers in the same paragraph as vaccine deniers), I did not actually say any of the things I was accused of. I merely observed that those who rabidly deny that there is any warming tend to be very anti-government types, and I could as well add that the rabid "world is ending due to AGW" types tend to be "government can fix everything" types. The posts in response to what I wrote only reaffirm my opinion in this regard. But nowhere did I actually say that one side is right or the other wrong in that first post. Indeed, I have two traits very common to my field, as a mathematician I have
of understanding of logic (despite claims here to the contrary) but I am rather deficient on the part of communicating things in a clear way (my words say what I mean, but are easily misread to mean more). More than a few times have my compliments of friends made them angry :(
I consider myself to be a skeptic of all sides, and rarely read partisan sites because they rarely do more than caricature the other side. But when climate scientists I know who study present day phenomenon (seasonal or annual long term forecasts) and not a political hot button issue all tell me that there is global warming (not AGW), then I take their word for it. I almost never post on climate things here because skepticism is not appreciated (albeit skepticism of anti-AGW). But as a mathematician who works in probability I am quite used to much of the phrasing in Jones' emails as it is standard terminology ("trick" and all). Perhaps he is guilty of something, but the rants here pissed me off, hence my post. Dr Jeff Masters of the Weather Underground has a good review of how the alleged misdeeds are being totally misrepresented:
Anyways, this is the last time I read this site. If Masher returns and people defer to his
discussion then I would gladly read the climate articles again. But until that day I will spend my time on sites that actually have intelligent discussion. I have no desire to read MSNBC fans on HuffPo, and ditto The Fox News crowd is welcome to claim Dailytech as their domain. Good bye and good riddens (and I know many of you are thinking the same of me).
"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain
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