Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
1 MARCH 2010
Q140 Graham Stringer: Have you released
Professor Jones: We have not released
our version but it produces exactly the same result.
Q141 Graham Stringer: You have not
released your version.
Professor Jones: We have not released
our version but I can assure you
Q142 Graham Stringer: But it is different.
Professor Jones: It is different
because the Met Office version is written in a computer language
called Perl and they wrote it independently of us, and ours is
written in Fortran.
Q143 Graham Stringer: How do you
respond to the suggestion that you mingled confidential data with
open data and, consequently, that is the reason you refused a
lot of the requests for information?
Professor Jones: That is how it
is, because we have got data coming in routinely and we have added
in this extra data where we tried to get extra data for certain
regions of the world.
Q144 Graham Stringer: According to
Mosher and Fuller when you were asked to nameand Professor
Acton has named a number of other onescountries that you
had confidential agreements with now, you could only produce the
names of three countries. Is that right, when you were asked?
Professor Jones: I think it was
Q145 Graham Stringer: Since the data
has been released has there been any legal action taken against
Professor Jones: No.
Q146 Graham Stringer: Did you try
to get round the agreements you had made with these different
countries in the interests of scientific objectivity?
Professor Jones: Not in that way.
We did, with the help of the Met Office, approach all the countries
of the world and asked them whether we could release their data.
We have had 59 replies of which 52 have been positive, so that
has led to the release of 80% of the data, but we have had these
seven negative responses which we talked about earlier, including
Q147 Graham Stringer: Just the final
question which I think, like Ian, is the nub of the issue. I do
not think you can read the emails or the responses to the freedom
of information requests without coming to the view that you did
not want people to have this information. Does that not firstly
breed distrust and, secondly, does it not exclude newcomers? Why
were you not keen for people to have this information?
Professor Jones: We were not excluding
anybody. We were making the derived product available and the
series, so those data were available on our website. What was
not there was the raw station data.
Q148 Graham Stringer: I will repeat
it one more time and then I will shut up, Chairman. That does
exclude checking and it does rather put you as a scientist above
interested scientists who want to check up. It is the United States
Department of Energy that funds you, is it not?
Professor Jones: Yes.
Q149 Graham Stringer: It puts you
above people who have paid their tax dollars to fund you because
they cannot check the work you are doing.
Professor Jones: But they can
get access to all the data on these other websites.
Graham Stringer: Thank you.
Q150 Chairman: Could I ask you briefly,
before I pass on to Dr Harris for the last of these questionsand
we are over-running slightly on this but it is an important sessionin
terms of the two datasets in the United States, particularly the
NOAA dataset and the NASA dataset, and other climate scientists
around the world who have principally used those datasets, have
there been any similar questions as the ones that have arisen
at the University of East Anglia about scientists elsewhere in
the world suppressing data or changing data as has been accused
of the CRU at East Anglia?
Professor Jones: Not that I am
aware of. The NASA group have made their data available and their
Professor Acton: There have been
very closely analogous cases before the last IPCC.
Q151 Chairman: What I am trying to
get at is whether in fact, in terms of the furore that has occurred
over the Emailgate scandal or whatever you want to call it, there
have been similar problems arising out of the NOAA and other datasets
in the States?
Professor Jones: Their data is
freely available so there should not be a problem.
Q152 Chairman: Can I very briefly
come to you, Professor Acton? What staggered me, if I might be
so bold, is that what mattered most to you was, as you said, "The
reputation and integrity of UEA is of the utmost importance to
us all." Surely scientific integrity on the world's leading
global question should be of the greatest importance, but it seems
that to you it is defending the reputation of the University of
East Anglia. Have you not miserably failed? A small unit, three
people, working against the odds, at the leading edge of climatology,
you have let them down and now you are trying to protect their
Professor Acton: I hope we have
not let them down. I am immensely proud of what they have done;
without them humanity would be vastly less able to understand
climate change. I consider the integrity of science at UEA an
unbreakable part of science per se so I do not see those as alternatives.
In my current post it is a matter of enormous importance that
I think very, very hard about the reputation of UEA. I feel very
confident about the long run, the science is robust and for a
university still in its first 50 years to have made this seminal
contribution is an enormous achievement, and my colleague to the
left is a key contributor to that.
Q153 Dr Harris: It occurred to me
that one of the reasons that you might not want to make data available
when you publish, or the raw data available, is this, and this
may apply in other areas of science as well, because there must
be a reason why it is not done other than inconvenience. If you
collect all this data and you publish a paper on it, but you have
got more work to do, is there an issue about you not wanting to
give another group of scientists your data to publish their own
conclusions from that data that you have carefully collected as
a basis for you to publish work from it? Do you see the point,
that you have got a publication record to develop on data you
have meticulously accrued?
Professor Jones: We do put a lot
of the data from the papers up on our website; where we can we
put data up and a lot of data is related to projects we are doing.
There are a lot of people who access our website for climate data
and climate-derived products, so we do the best we can from the
resources we have.
Q154 Dr Harris: I was going to ask
you about the US data sets from the first panel but your late
submission that we got recently deals with all the points that
they made there, so we will deal with that in writing. The point
that the first panel made was that transparency and openness were
more important than peer review to the integrity of science, and
one could get into a philosophical question about this which I
am not inviting you to do. There is this question about peer review
and the allegations coming from the emails that you somehow were
trying to manipulate the peer review process in some waynot
you or just you but colleagues collectively by preventing some
people getting published, either in journals or included in the
IPCC reports. Do you have a response to those allegations?
Professor Jones: They relate to
two papers which were already in the public domain because they
had been published. In some of the emails I was just commenting
that I did not think those papers were very good and probably
any scientist who reads a paper would think that some papers are
good and some papers are poor, and I was just commenting on that.
Q155 Dr Harris: I was not just talking
about that because those are two papers in the IPCC report; I
was talking about people who complain that these emails suggest
that you tried to stop some papers, for example on alleged research
fraud, from being published and the editor of Energy &
Environment complained that the emails revealed that complaints
were made against her university department, expressing anger
about the way that journal had treatedin publication presumably
or maybe an editorialsome other data. Do you think those
are fair criticisms, even with the retrospective scope of private
emails being revealed?
Professor Jones: On the second
one, with the editor of Climate Research I was just writing
to her head of department.
Q156 Dr Harris: Sorry, I had got
the editor of Energy & Environment.
Professor Jones: Yes, the editor
of Energy & Environment who works at the University
Q157 Dr Harris: Yes.
Professor Jones: I was sending
an email to the head of department about a complaint that she
had made about me to the UK Climate Impacts Programme, so I was
just responding there. The other point you made was about Dr Benny
Peiser who was editing a series of papers in Energy & Environment.
He asked me to comment on a particular paper and I sent him some
views back that I did not think the paper was very good. It was
not a formal review, he was just asking me for my views.
Q158 Dr Harris: The Institute of
Physics sayand this is quite strong"The CRU
e-mails as published on the internet provide prima face evidence
of determined and co-ordinated refusals to comply with honourable
scientific traditions and freedom of information law." That
is partly, I suppose, coming back to transparency, but what is
your view on that? Do you think the emails reveal anything that
you may be vulnerable on or are you confident that the emails,
if looked at as a whole, will clear you as it were in the review?
I am not asking you to forecast the result of the review, I just
want to ask your state of mind in respect of this.
Professor Jones: You have to realise
that you have only seen a tenth of 1% of my emails in this respect.
Q159 Graham Stringer: We do not want
to read the rest.
Professor Jones: But I do not
think there is anything in those emails that really supports any
view that I or CRU have been trying to pervert the peer review
process in any way. I have just been giving my views on specific
Chairman: On that note we do have to
finish this session. Professor Edward Acton, can we thank you
very much indeed, and Professor Phil Jones, thank you very much
indeed for coming before the Committee this afternoon. We are
heading for our fourth panel.