Wednesday, March 03, 2010

U.K. Institute Of Physics Sort Of Retracts

Of all the nutty submissions placed before the U.K. Science and Technology Committee, this stem-winder from the U.K. Institute of Physics--which seemed to suggest, among other things, that there had been wrong-doing not only among the UEA's Climate Research Unit (CRU, headed by Phil Jones), but among the international scientists that swapped emails with the CRU team--was the most disturbing. It sounded like a prank, or perhaps the work of a small group within the IoP that had hijacked the organization to send out denialist literature under its name (remember the infiltration of the APS?).

At the moment, option number two looks most likely, for yesterday the IoP felt the need to issue a reinterpretation of their original statement:

The Institute's statement, which has been published both on the Institute's website and the Committee's, has been interpreted by some individuals to imply that it does not support the scientific evidence that the rising concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is contributing to global warming.

That is not the case. The Institute's position on climate change is clear: the basic science is well enough understood to be sure that our climate is changing – and that we need to take action now to mitigate that change.

The U.K. Gaurdian has written about this sudden turnabout; the best bit from their story:

The institute statement says its submission was approved by its science board, a formal committee of experts that oversees its policy work.

The Guardian has been unable to find a member of the board that supports the submission. Two of the scientists listed as members said they had declined to comment on a draft submission prepared by the institute, because they were not climate experts and had not read the UEA emails. Others would not comment or did not respond to enquiries.

An institute spokesperson said the submission was "strongly supported" by three members of the board. "All members were invited to comment. Only a few did, all concerned approved [the submission] unanimously."

So, nobody can find the people that wrote the submission??? The bottom line--as reported by Stoat (that's Connelley)--seems to be that a small "Energy sub-group" within the IoP science group managed to slip this stuff passed the larger IoP leadership. You can read about their "sceptical" credentials at Stoat's place.

And it seems the reinterpretation has been inspired by a backlash from within the IoP membership that is, even now, being conveyed to IoP poobahs behind the scenes. But I would agree that it isn't really enough. The story of the IoP condemnation of CRU has gone international; the organization has been made fools of, and their new statement amounts to a bit of "we didn't really mean what we clearly said" arse covering. They should issue a complete and thorough retraction of their first statement, and an apology to everyone involved.

PS. One of the IOP's mysterious Energy sub-group members appears to be Peter Gill. His sceptics creds include supporting Nigel Lawson's efforts to address the IOP. Also, Feroze Duggan appears to have been a member of the group until at least 2008. Also, Dr John Roberts of University of Sheffield was recently a part of the sub-group, though perhaps not currently.


James C Morton said...

A bit off topic but thank you for referring me to Coren -- I didnt realize you had done so but oddly I mentioned your blog on camera when asked for a good left leaning blog. Again, thanks!

Fred said...

from the kettle & black pot file:

"“Scientists must continually earn the public’s trust or we risk descending into a new Dark Age where ideology trumps reason,” Dr. Pachauri said in an e-mail message."

The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks for posting this. I was floored when I read about the IoP's submissions in the TimesOnline. Naturally The Times heralded it as conclusive proof of a grand hoax by global warming conspirators. I'll have to see if those stuffed-shirt journos have the decency to mention the apparent retraction.

bigcitylib said...

Gaurdian is still looking at it. We may see more from them.

dizzy said...

The "disciplined minds" of professionals with regard to AGW --

// Petroleum geologists were among the biggest doubters, with only 47 percent believing in human involvement but meteorologists were also not convinced. //’t-need-a-weatherman-to-know-which-way-the-wind-blows/

The Mound of Sound said...

Petroleum geologists doubters? You mean the guys whose livelihood is lashed to the prosperity of the fossil fuel industry? Apparently the entire House of Saud is of a like mind.

And meteorologists? Weather forecasters? Oh dear! Not surprising that the greatest doubters were the TV weather forecasters. I've worked in television and that comes as no surprise.

Thanks for the link. It was quite interesting.