Memorandum submitted by Dr Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen (CRU 26)

 

 

1 Declaration of Interest

 

I have no financial interest in this enquiry; I am no longer asking for research grants and have no close personal relationships with any of the people involved.

My interests are purely academic, professional and political. I am interested in the value and misuse of the peer review process. The negative attitudes of the IPCC/CRU people to my often sceptical journal have harmed it. Its impact rating has remained too low for many ambitious young researchers to use it, and even sales may have been affected. However, this is not an interest as my work is voluntary and the publisher has remained supportive. As a member of the Labour Party and deeply politically engaged person, I have not found life as a 'climate sceptic' always easy, but have kept my MP and MEP informed. I have been somewhat offended but not surprised by the 'CRU-hack' revelations.

2 Introduction: My Involvement as Researcher and Editor

 

2.1 Since the late 1980s I have been a researcher of the politics and science of climate change, and especially the IPCC, from the perspective of energy policy and international politics. (See publications, APPENDIX). I was peer reviewer for IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), peer reviewer for Working Group 3 (responses, emission scenarios, economics) for two of its reports and I studied the science and politics of IPCC under a 3-year grant from the ESRC.

 

2.2 Since 1998 I have been the editor of the journal, Energy & Environment (E&E) published by Multi-science, where I published my first papers on the IPCC. I interpreted the IPCC "consensus" as politically created in order to support energy technology and scientific agendas that in essence pre-existed the "warming-as -man-made catastrophe alarm."[1]

 

2.3 I have published peer-reviewed papers and opinion pieces by all the best known 'sceptics' and know a number of them personally. My own views being known, E&E therefore attracted, inter alia, papers from IPCC-critical and therefore IPCC-excluded scientists. This did not please the senior CRU members, a number of whom I know personally.

 

2.4 Since the mid-1990s I have taught environmental management at the Geography Department, Hull University, after a decade as Fellow and Senior Research Fellow at the Science and Technology Research Unit (SPRU) at Sussex University. Previously, I had studied physical geography, including some climatology (as well as geology and German literature) at Adelaide University and married into a well known family of Australian scientists. Science and research have been a major part of my life. I now consider climate scepticism my (unfunded) research area but have published a great deal on the IPCC, climate science and energy policy in the past. (See Appendix)

 

 

3 My Understanding of the Issue

 

3.1 I have no reason to believe that most of the scientists involved in the CRU affair (and this a group reaching beyond the UK) did anything but act in good faith, doing their duty to science, bureaucracy and the public as they saw it and as they were funded to do. It is important, however, for you check my observation, that most climate change since the late 1980s has been government- and grant- funded with the clearly stated objective that it must support a decarbonisation agenda for the energy sector.

 

3.2 Scientific research as advocacy for an agenda (a coalition of interests, not a conspiracy,) was presented to the public and governments as protection of the planet. This cause of environmental protection had from the start natural allies in the EU Commission, United Nation and World Bank. CRU, working for the UK government and hence the IPCC, was expected to support the hypothesis of man-made, dangerous warming caused by carbon dioxide, a hypothesis it had helped to formulate in the late 1980s and which became "true" in international law with the adoption of the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change.

 

3.3 This treaty and its protocol does not define "climate", and applies only to anthropogenic warming assumed to be dangerous. In persuading policy makers and the public of this danger, the "hockey stick" became a major tool of persuasion, giving CRU a major role in the policy process at the national, EU and international level. This led to the growing politicisation of science in the interest, allegedly, of protecting the "the environment" and the planet. I observed and documented this phenomenon as the UK Government, European Commission, and World Bank increasingly needed the climate threat to justify their anti-carbon (and pro-nuclear) policies. In return climate science was generously funded and required to support rather than to question these policy objectives. This policy was of course challenged by those unhappy with the proposed government-stimulated replacement of carbon fuels, but this need not concern this Committee beyond noting that it increased the anger of climate "sceptics" who saw science misused for policies they doubted. Others liked the policy and kept quiet. Opponents were gradually starved of research opportunities or persuaded into silence. The apparent "scientific consensus" thus generated became a major tool of public persuasion.

 

 

4 Energy & Environment and CRU

 

4.1 I inherited the editorship of Energy & Environment from a former senior scientist at the Department of the Environment (Dr. David Everest) because we shared doubts about the claims made by environmentalists and were worried about the readiness with which politicians accepted these claims, including 'global warming' which followed so seamlessly from the acid rain scare, my previous research area. As editor of a journal which remained open to scientists who challenged the orthodoxy, I became the target of a number of CRU manoeuvres. The hacked emails revealed attempts to manipulate peer review to E&E's disadvantage, and showed that libel threats were considered against its editorial team. Dr Jones even tried to put pressure on my university department. [2] The emailers expressed anger over my publication of several papers that questioned the 'hockey stick' graph and the reliability of CRU temperature data. The desire to control the peer review process in their favour is expressed several times. Benny Peiser, the Guest Editor of a special issue will report to you on his experience.

 

4.2 I was sent about 20 emails (e.g. 125655744.text, 1256765544, 12565500876, 125510086, and 125558481) that concern me or the journal E&E. I have not spent time searching for more but have followed the wide debate in several countries. (See Fuel for Thought attachment). The emails also cover events which I have followed since the late 1980s and concern people and institutions I am to some degree familiar with.

4.3 CRU clearly disliked my- journal and believed that "good" climate scientists do not read it. They characterised it as a journal of choice for climate sceptics. If this was so, it happened by default as other publication opportunities were closed to them. Email No. 1256765544, for example nevertheless shows that they took the journal seriously. An American response to McIntyre's and McKitrick's influential paper I published in 2005 challenging the "hockey stick" says, "It is indeed time leading scientists at CRU associated with the UK Met Bureau explain how Mr McIntyre is in error or resign."

4.4 Most recently CRU alleged that I had interfered "maliciously" with their busy grant-related schedules, by sending an email to the UKCIP (Climate Impact Programme) advising caution in the use of CRU data for regional planning purposes. This was clearly reported to Professor Jones who contacted my Head of Department, suggesting that he needed to reconsider the association of E&E with Hull University. Professor Graham Haughton, while expressing his own disagreement with my views, nevertheless upheld the principle of academic freedom. I therefore have no reason to complain against the University of Hull and I am still working from the Geography Department.

 

4.5 The emails I have read are evidence of a close and protective collaboration between CRU, the Hadley Centre, and several US research bodies such as the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where former CRU students had found employment. Together they formed an important group inside IPCC Working Group 1, the science group.


5 UK Policy Context

 

5.1 Having recently attended a business lunch addressed by our Minister for Regional Development (Rosie Winterton) and a manager from EON (UK) in charge of offshore wind farm development (Humber Gateway, to be completed by 2014, subject to planning permission), I am fully aware of this Government's commitment to a decarbonisation agenda as the way towards British reindustrialisation, job creation and regional development, including related research and teaching by universities. At this gathering, the problems with IPCC science[3] and CRU (UEA) had not yet registered or were dismissed. More generally, judging by the most recent statements from leading spokesmen from all major parties, it seems that belief in IPCC science remains the primary justification for an energy policy that so obviously needs much more examination. The UK clearly hopes to continue to "lead the world" in the decarbonisation of energy.  Is this wise? What other consequences might arise? When has competitive advantage been secured by making our energy differentially more expensive? Unless of course, Britain can succeed in effecting a regulatory capture in energy markets on a global scale...

 

 

6 Your Specific Questions

6.1 Terms of Reference

 

The four terms as set out seem appropriate and should establish useful foundations. There is, however, a broader context. The CRU case is not unique. Recent exposures have taken the lid off similar issues in the USA, the Netherlands, Australia, and possibly in Germany and Canada. There may be a systemic problem here, and it would be neither fair nor helpful to make CRU and the UK Meteorological Office the sole fall-guys. It is at least arguable that the real culprit is the theme- and project-based research funding system put in place in the 1980s and subsequently strengthened and tightened in the name of "policy relevance". This system, in making research funding conditional on demonstrating such relevance, has encouraged close ties with central Government bureaucracy. Some university research units have almost become wholly-owned subsidiaries of Government Departments. Their survival, and the livelihoods of their employees, depends on delivering what policy makers think they want. It becomes hazardous to speak truth to power. In the area of energy policy, there are particular problems since the familiar lobbies of the privatised energy industries have been joined by new pressure groups. As the justification for policies comes to rely increasingly on "environmental" arguments, a host of NGOs, often with electorally appealing single-issue concerns and deceptively simple solutions, begin to raise their voices. The politics have become very difficult, and it is not clear that the traditional structures can cope. The responsibility for excessive pressure on "science" to deliver the desired answers must also lie with the relevant research councils, NGOs, and Parliament itself. Have politicians kept a close eye on the science debate? Have they understood what kind of a body the IPCC really is? Professor Benfield has recently begun to move the debate in an interesting direction by suggesting that that bureaucracy will have to attune itself better to the recognition of the value of diversity in scientific advice. They need to accept that policy advisors and Ministers cannot abdicate responsibility for making balanced judgements by relying on project-funded research in the hope that it will produce settled solutions. I should be happy to discuss this with you.

 

My suggestions for action would be to expand this enquiry to include the funding of climate science and consider the pressure put on scientists by policy-makers and assorted lobbies.

 

 

6.2 How Independent Are The Other Two International Data Sets?

 

I am no expert here but from the large amount of material I have read, some of it mentioned in Fuel For Thought paper 21/2, I do not think that they are independent but rely on the same primary sources. All have tended to serve the same master (IPCC/ policy-makers) and 'cause' (saving the planet) and seem affected either by similar shortcomings (the available measurement periods, changing measurement technology and above all the declining and limited number of measuring points, not to mention the urban heat island effect. These data sets may soon be replaced by better and more reliable data to demonstrate the Earth's postglacial temperature history (which says little about attribution/causation). Postglacial climatic history is by no means well understood and the human contributions cannot yet be assessed.

 

Dr. Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen

Reader Emeritus, Hull University,

Department of Geography

February 2010

 

 

Appendix: Relevant Publications

 

 

Refereed journal articles

'The role of IPCC as driver of international climate policy' paper to Hamburg Institute of International Economics Conference "Critical elements of international climate policy" submitted to Geoforum, May 2004. To be revised/rejected.

What drives the Kyoto Process?, translated by Kirril Kondratyev into Russian, Proceedings of the Russian Geographical Society, April 2004. Published in Russian

Climate Policy: Interest driven, Culture Bound or based on Science? Submitted to Area April 2004./rejected

'Investing Against Climate Change: Why Failure Remains Possible', Environmental Politics: Autumn 2002; 11(3), pp.1-30.

Journal of Science, Technology and Human Values: 'Science, Equity and the War against Carbon'. Winter 2003.28 (1) Differentiation since Kyoto: An Exploration of Australian Climate Policy in Comparison to Europe, Energy & Environment, 11 (3), 2000, p.343-353.

'Climate Change and the World Bank: Opportunity for Global Governance? Energy & Environment, Vol.10, No.1, January 1999, pp.27-50.

'A winning coalition of advocacy: climate research, bureaucracy and 'alternative' fuels', Energy Policy, Vol. 25, No. 4., 1997

(with Z Young), 'The Global Environment Facility: In Institutional Innovation in Need of Guidance?', Environmental Politics, Vol. 6, No.1, Spring 1997

'Political Pressures in the Formation of Scientific Consensus', Energy & Environment, Vol.7, No.4, 1996 pp. 365-375;

'Britain and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: The impacts of scientific advice on global warming: Integrated policy analysis and the global dimension.' Environmental Politics, Vol.4, No. 1, Spring 1995, pp.1-18

'Britain and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: The impacts of scientific advice on Global warming Part II: The Domestic Story of the British Response to Climate Change, Environmental Politics, Vol.4, No.2, Summer 1995, pp.175-196.

'Reflections on the Politics linking Science, Environment and Innovation', Innovation, Vol.8, No.3, 1995 pp.275-287.

'Global climate protection policy: the limits of scientific advice - Part I.' Global Environmental Change, Vol. 4, No. 2, 1994,

'Global climate protection policy: the limits of scientific advice - Part II.' Global Environmental Change, Vol. 4, No. 3, 1994

(with J F Skea) 'The Operation and Impact of the IPCC: Results of a Survey of Participants and Users'. STEEP discussion paper no. 16, SPRU, Brighton 1994.

'A scientific agenda for climate policy?' Nature, Vol. 372, No.6505,1 December 1994

'Science policy, the IPCC and the Climate Convention: the codification of a global research agenda.' Energy and Environment; Vol. 4, No. 4, 1993, pp. 362-408.

BOOKS AND MONOGRAPHS

With A. Kellow, Hobart, International Environmental Policy: Interests and the Failure of the Kyoto Process, Edward Elgar Publishing, October 2002.

Acid Politics: Environmental and Energy Policies in Britain and Germany, with J F Skea, Belhaven Press, London/New York, p 296, January 1991 (paperback April 1993)

BOOK CHAPTERS

o 'Epilogue: Scientific Advice in the world of power politics', final chapter (10) in Pim Martens & Jan Rotmans (eds.) (1999), Climate Change: An Integrated Approach. (Advances in Global Change Research), Kluwer Academic

Publishers, Dordrecht, December 1999, pp. 357-397. 0-7923 5996-8ISBN

 

o 'Who is driving Climate Change Policy?' In J.Morris (ed.), Climate Change: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom, The Institute of Economic Affairs, 1998, London

 

o Uncertainty in the Service of Science: Between Science Policy and the Politics of Power, in Gunnar Fermann, International Politics of Climate Change, Scandinavian University Press , Oslo 1997;pp 110-152. ISBN- 82-00-22711-

 

o 'Science, power and policy.' In: M Imber and J Vogler (eds.), Global Environmental Change in International Relations; London: Routledge, 1996, pp. 171-195

 

Dr. Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen

 



[1] Since the late 1990s I have contributed a lengthy 'Fuel for Thought' item to the journal which documents the relevant developments/discussions in IPCC critical climate science alongside the latest development in policy, technology and finance selected and sorted from a large variety of sources and sorted. The most recent item is attached to the submissions. It deals in some length with the CRU affair and reactions to it around the world, as well as with Copenhagen.

[2] On 26 October in a confidential message also addressed to Dr. Mann , the 'creator' of the hockey stick, Jones complained that E&E was to published a paper critical of Mann's methodology and saw this as a part of a political campaign against energy legislation in the USA. Note (Paul Chesser, GlobalWarming.org, 15 January 2010): "Professor Mann is currently under investigation by Penn State University because of activities related to a closed circle of climate scientists who appear to have been engaged in agenda-driven science. Emails and documents mysteriously released from the previously-prestigious Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom revealed discussions of manipulation and destruction of research data, as well as efforts to interfere with the peer review process to stifle opposing views. The motivation underlying these efforts appears to be a coordinated strategy to support the belief that mankind's activities are causing global warming Glosser has called for the return of over $ 6million state funding stimulus funds received by Prof. Mann and about whom US Senator Jeffrey Piccola has said: "The allegations of intellectual and scientific fraud like those made against Dr. Mann are serious against anybody involved in academics, but the impact in this case is significantly elevated. The work of Dr. Mann and other scientists at the CRU is being used to develop economic and environmental policies in states and countries across the world. Considering the saliency of the work being conducted by the CRU, anything short of the pursuit of absolute science cannot be accepted or tolerated."(http://spectator.org/blog/2009/12/03/heat-on-mann-at-home)

 

[3] See http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2010-01/28/content_9388032.htm and the attached Fuel for Though 21/2 which conveys many of the reactions around the world , including from other scientists. Note Mike Hulme from UEA: