Thursday, November 25, 2010

The University of East Anglia & its Climatic Research Unit up to their usual tricks

Climate Audit, 24 November 2010

On October 22, 2010, David Holland re-iterated his FOI requests 08-23 and 08-31. Once again, the University of East Anglia has refused 08-31, this time using an excuse the obtuseness of which is remarkable even for the University of East Anglia.

08-31 is, of course, the request that prompted Phil Jones to ask Briffa to deny the existence of the Wahl correspondence to UEA administration and then to ask Briffa, Wahl and others to delete the relevant emails – emails that showed what Fred Pearce called a “subversion” of IPCC policies of openness and transparency. 08-31 is, of course, the email that Muir Russell obtusely pretended not to exist – a piece of obtuseness that Fred Pearce hoped was “cockup rather than conspiracy”.

UEA has once again provided tortured refusals to 08-23 and 08031 respectively are in Appendix E and Appendix F to David Holland’s FOI – see here.

I’ll discuss 08-31 today. The original request is online here.

Holland’s request stated (excerpt here):

I have now read Dr Briffa’s letter of 15th May in answer to mine of 31st March for which I have thanked him. As he indicates that he will refer further enquiries to you I must advise you that I do not feel it answers any of my questions satisfactorily apart from the last and continue to seek any and all documents held by CRU relating to Dr Briffa’s participation in the IPCC, 2007 assessment reports.

In addition to the questions I put to Dr Briffa, and without limiting my request for all information relating to the IPCC assessment process not already in the public domain, I will specify further particular areas for which I am seeking information.

1. The IPCC stated1 on July 1, 2006:
“We are very grateful to the many reviewers of the second draft of the
Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report for
suggestions received on issues of balance and citation of additional
scientific literature.”

Did the IPCC receive any such “suggestions” in a written form other than those reported in the documents for each chapter entitled “IPCC Working Group I Fourth Assessment Report: Expert and Government Review Comments on the Second-Order Draft”2? If so, please provide them.

As CA and Climategate readers know, in July 2006, Briffa sent the supposedly confidential IPCC final draft and his proposed replies to Second Draft Review Comments to Eugene Wahl, a protagonist in the Mann controversy. Wahl inserted a change to the IPCC assessment of the Hockey Stick controversy, a change which passed into the Final Draft, without any recorded discussion.

In refusing item (1), the University of East Anglia’s response says that Wahl’s comments to Briffa – comments solicited by Briffa in his capacity as an IPCC author – were not received by IPCC and that the suggestions sent by Wahl to Briffa fall outside the scope of Holland’s question:

In regards question 1, we have no idea of what suggestions the IPCC received and I have verified that if, indeed, they did receive any, they did not pass them on to any staff member within UEA. There is no question that a suggestion was received by Prof. Briffa from Eugene Wahl and this material is publicly available and has been widely commented upon.

This ‘suggestion’ was not provided to the IPCC, only to Prof. Briffa and therefore is outside the remit of question 1.

I wonder what East Anglia think that they are accomplishing by pretending that Briffa did not receive the Wahl comments in his capacity as an IPCC lead author.

In addition, their statement that the Wahl “suggestion” is already “publicly available” is untrue. The Wahl suggestions are contained in attachments to Climategate emails. I sent an FOI to UEA last spring for the attachments and they refused, saying that they didn’t have them. (I guess they’d been deleted.) Despite the fact that they told me that they didn’t have the attachments any more, Acton told the Sci Tech Committee that they had everything, that nothing had been deleted.

This is precisely the sort of intentional obtuseness that brings both the University of East Anglia and climate science into disrepute.

There are many Climategate articles wondering how climate scientists can regain public trust – with the Guardian praising the creation of an attack squad. A better method would be for institutions, including IPCC and CRU, to provide straightforward answers. To stop playing the stupid word tricks that characterize so many climate science “answers”.

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