Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
1 MARCH 2010
Q20 Chairman: Lord Lawson, you are
not going to give us those.
Lord Lawson of Blaby: No, when
the Annual Report comes we will ask our donors if they wish to
be named. Some may; some may not.
Q21 Mr Boswell: I have slightly broken
the drift, but I think it enables us to take up events down the
track. After those initial requests, which, as you say, set off
what you might call a malign cycle, a number of other things have
happened in relation to CRU, there has been the alleged theft
of material and subsequent disclosure and then selective quoting
of the emails. Would you see those as representing a series of
attacks on the climate scientists working at the CRU? Would they
have been co-ordinated? Would they have been conceived only for
Lord Lawson of Blaby: I will ask
Benny to say something. The only co-ordination that I am aware
of is the co-ordination among the scientists at the CRU and some
of their correspondents.
Dr Peiser: Of course, once the
emails became public, the climate sceptics had a field day, there
is no question about it, because it confirmed what a lot of them
had wondered for a long time, and you cannot really be surprised
that the critics used these emails to the full extent. The interesting
fact is not that the sceptics were so euphoric; much more interesting
is that people who were not sceptical became much more sceptical
as a result. You just need to follow the media reporting on Climategate.
It has been reported around the world, it is tarnishing the image
of British science around the world, and unless we get to the
bottom of this it will continue to be a problem, because at the
core of this whole scandal is, as I said, the issue of how science
works or does not.
Q22 Mr Boswell: One final question.
I am trying to read an inference from what you have just said.
Among those who you rather, I think, would have described as converted
to climate scepticism as a result of these revelations, would
you take the view that was on the merits of the underlying science
Dr Peiser: No.
Q23 Mr Boswell: Or on the process?
Dr Peiser: Yes.
Q24 Mr Boswell: Which was the master
Dr Peiser: Personally I do not
think that the disclosure of these emails makes a big difference
to the overall scientific debatethat is not the issuebut
people have become extremely concerned about the way the issue
is dealt with and the science has been worked on, and that is
the underlying issue. I do not see that people have been convertedthat
is not the issuebut you can see people are disillusioned.
You know the journalists who basically say this is not how this
should have been done, and it is disappointing to see scientists
engaging in that type of activity.
Lord Lawson of Blaby: There is
one other thing, if I may add to what Benny has said. It is certainly
nothing to do with the basic sciencethat is not the issue
at allbut it is more than just the process. There is another
thing, which is not new perhaps, and that is the question of the
paleoclimatic record, the historic record over a long period of
years of the global temperature and the hiding of the decline,
the hiding of the divergence problem. This was not newin
fact I wrote about it in my book which was published in 2008but,
nevertheless, it brought it to the attention of many, many more
people that there had been this fudge done and, of course, it
has a strong bearing on the reliability of the paleoclimatic record,
and the reliability of the paleoclimatic record raises the question
of how unusual is the warming that we have seen in the latter
part of the twentieth century. It is actually quite important
from that point of view as well as from the process point, which
I agree with Benny is the main issue.
Q25 Chairman: Lord Lawson, on 16
November 1999 there is the famous "trick" referred to
in the email. Do you not feel that was simply a colloquialism
of people exchanging emails rather than anything more sinister,
or do you genuinely believe there was something more sinister
Lord Lawson of Blaby: This bears
on what I was saying a moment ago. The sinister thing is not the
word "trick". In their own evidence they say that what
they mean by "trick" is the best way of doing something.
Q26 Chairman: You accept that?
Lord Lawson of Blaby: I accept
that. What they are saying is: what is the best way of hiding
the decline, or what is the best way of hiding the divergence?
It does not make it any better; it does not make it any better
at all. The thing which is reprehensible is the fact that when
the proxy series, which is a very curious proxy series incidentally,
based on tree rings, departed from the measured temperature series,
a normal person will say maybe that means the proxy series is
not all that reliable. They wanted the proxy series for an earlier
bit, even though for a long period before 1421 they relied on
one single pine tree, which is more than it could bear. But anyway,
the fact is that they wanted the proxy series for a particular
period in order to show the so-called, which has now been demonstrated
by various committees who have looked into it, largely fraudulent
Q27 Chairman: Misconceived.
Lord Lawson of Blaby: No, largely
fraudulent, I think; certainly misconceived. You ought to read,
as I do, the Wegman Report, which is a very powerful report by
distinguished statisticians on the so-called "hockey stick".
The fact that they were using a procedure for hiding the decline,
rather than a trick, does not make it any better.
Q28 Graham Stringer: What Mosher
and Fuller say on that point is it is not just that they were
using a strange procedure, but they did not explain it in footnotes
or anywhere else in the literature. Do you agree with Mosher and
Lord Lawson of Blaby: Yes, I do,
and that is the significance of the word "hide". Again,
we are talking about openness, which is an essential element of
integrity in science. If they had said openly that the proxy series
does not fitthey say in their evidence here that it was
only after 1950 or 1960 it did not fit, and that is actually not
true, it is not a good fit in the latter half of the nineteenth
century either, but, anyhow, if they had said it does not fitso
what we are going to do is have the proxy series for the period
before the temperature readings were available and then, after
that, splice on the temperature readings, and we admit that there
has been a complete divergence of the two series since 1950 or
1960, if they had said that and been out in the open, it would
be one thing, but they did not, they hid it.
Q29 Dr Harris: You do not have an
issue with the word "trick".
Lord Lawson of Blaby: No, that
Q30 Dr Harris: Exactly, and I would
tend to agree with that. Is it fair to say that your view is that
if the review panel decide that they have been clear in the literature
that what hiding the decline meant was a legitimate way of treating
the data to show, with an explanation, that a better way of looking
at the data was not to allow the later tree ring data to influence
the overall positionif they could show that that was argued
in the publications; if the review panel comes to that conclusionthen
you would be satisfied on the second point as well? It is just
the obverse of what you have just said.
Lord Lawson of Blaby: I am not
quite sure what you mean by "clear from the data".
Q31 Dr Harris: Clear from the publications.
There are two separate questions, are there not: whether scientifically
discarding or trying to disregard some data is legitimate; secondly,
the question that you quite interestingly raised about, if they
are going to do that, it ought to be clear in the publications
that they are doing it, otherwise it is a question of hiding rather
than a question of them treating the data in a way that does not
allow it to impact on the observed data series in the way it is
Lord Lawson of Blaby: You are
quite right, you have disentangled the two points, and the second
point, I think, so that it is absolutely clear, we are ad idem
on. But also, if it is clear that where you do have, for a huge
stretch of time, both proxy series and, as it were, a real series,
a series of surface temperature measurements, and they diverge
wildly, this would suggest to a normal, rational human being that
maybe the proxy series was not very reliable.
Q32 Dr Harris: That is a separate
Lord Lawson of Blaby: No, that
is an important question.
Q33 Dr Harris: It is an important
separate question, but that goes to the science, not to allegations
of the suppression of something.
Lord Lawson of Blaby: No, it is
Q34 Mr Boswell: This is a kind of
"show your workings" requirement.
Lord Lawson of Blaby: Yes, but
integrity means you show everything, absolutely, and it also means
that, if you do show everything, that opens it to analysis in
a way that, if you do not show it, it does not.
Chairman: I am going to stop that line
of argument there. This is clearly something that Sir Muir Russell
needs to examine. The last word goes to you, Ian Stewart.
Q35 Ian Stewart: Good afternoon,
gentlemen. Both of you asserted that the unit was not transparent
with either the data or the methodology, but they assert that
the data has been freely available. Is it the data or is it the
software methodology that you are really concerned about?
Lord Lawson of Blaby: Benny might
like to say something about this, but I will add something after
Dr Peiser: My understanding is
they have promised to make the data available. You have to ask
them. They say they will make sure now that the data will be available,
and they are asking all the organisations they work with to give
this allowance. Also, if I may add, there is still outstanding
information on the adjustments, the methods usednot just
the raw data but the methods used too.
Ian Stewart: We will come to that.
Chairman: Can we just follow this argument.
Q36 Ian Stewart: Could I press you
a little further? You were very clear, both of you, earlier that
it was both the data and the methodology. Are unsure about whether
they have placed the data in the public domain?
Dr Peiser: No.
Q37 Ian Stewart: They say they have.
Are you saying they have not?
Dr Peiser: No, they do not say
they have. They say they will. They promise that they will now
make public the remaining data.
Q38 Ian Stewart: Lord Lawson?
Lord Lawson of Blaby: Also, they
have said that they have lost some of the data, so they cannot
make it available. May I read what used to be on their website?
It has been taken off their website, but this was on their website
for a very long time until recently: "Data storage availability
in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple
sources for some sites, only the station series after adjustment
for homogeneity issues. We, therefore, do not hold the original
raw data but only the value-added, i.e. quality controlled and
homogenised data." Some of the data they were saying at that
time was lost. They are now saying it was not lost. I do not know
whether it is lost or not, but they keep changing their minds
about that. The fact of the matter is that they were reluctant,
to say the least, to provide data for a very long time. That is
whether they had it or not. I do not know, but they were reluctant
for a long time. That is why you had all these Freedom of Information
Act requests and this is why, incidentally, it is quite clear
from the evidence of the Information Commissioner that, in fact,
there is prima facie evidence that they were committing a criminal
offence which only ceased to be a criminal offence because the
time limit had elapsed, and that is a very serious allegation.
Chairman: We are going to take that issue
Q39 Ian Stewart: I am not finished
with you on this one yet, if you do not mind. The UEA say that
the primary data has been available to anyone. They say that anyone
doubting their analysis can compile their own data set from material
publicly available in the US. Have you plans to do this?
Dr Peiser: Again, the issue isapart
from the data which is not fully published yet and they have promised
to publish what remains outstandingthe problem of the methods
used to adjust the weather station data.