. . . and nothing bad was going on. Surprised? Yeah, me neither.
A UK parliamentary Science and Technology Committee investigated the whole East Anglia CRU thing, and their results have been released.
On the much cited phrases in the leaked e-mails—”trick” and “hiding the decline”—the Committee considers that they were colloquial terms used in private e-mails and the balance of evidence is that they were not part of a systematic attempt to mislead.
Insofar as the Committee was able to consider accusations of dishonesty against CRU, the Committee considers that there is no case to answer.
The Committee found no reason in this inquiry to challenge the scientific consensus as expressed by Professor Beddington, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, that “global warming is happening [and] that it is induced by human activity”. But this was not an inquiry into the science produced by CRU and it will be for the Scientific Appraisal Panel, announced by the University on 22 March, to determine whether the work of CRU has been soundly built.
The committee had one mild criticism and recommendation, which I think is a good idea.
The focus on Professor Jones and CRU has been largely misplaced. On the accusations relating to Professor Jones’ refusal to share raw data and computer codes, the Committee considers that his actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community but that those practices need to change.
Professor Jones’ refusal to share data is not grounds for complaint and is in line with common practice (as it is in fields other than climate science), but that practice should probably change.
That settles that, right? Everyone’s going to stop citing this as an example of When Science Goes Wrong™, aren’t they? Pleeease? Or is this another piece of evidence supporting the massive global conspiracy?
That link above contains further links to other common claims that have been found to be baseless, such as that the IPCC overstated the impact of climate change on the Amazon rain forest.
Edit: As I do some more looking around, it seems the committee may not have understood some of the nuances around the data requests when they made that recommendation above. CRU had already released all the data they had a legal right to, mostly in scientific papers. The only raw data not released belongs to national weather services–not CRU’s to give out. That it shared all the data it could is simply fact. The FOIA requests were in many cases simply attempts to obstruct and delay work–those making them having neither the desire nor the knowledge to make scientific use of them; and many were demands for computer code – not algorithms – often code written to be used only once. Making these public is not standard practice in any branch of science, nor is it obviously useful: if you want to check someone’s analysis, the usual practice is to reimplement the algorithm.
I’m all for sharing data, but I’m dead set against sharing code. Running the same code over the same data and getting the same answer is worthless. Independent verification using an independent analysis not only verifies the methodology, it many even improve upon it. Sharing code is a recipe for sharing bugs and slowing progress. Reimplement the algorithms if you’re trying to reproduce results.
On the other hand, re-implementing the same algorithm independently is a good way to check the correctness of a piece of research code. Interestingly, NASA GISS has made their GISSTEMP surface temperature analysis source code available for quite some time. Because the source is available, there is an effort to produce a ground-up rewrite of the code (in Python, no less), in the interest of both transparency and correctness. Results to date? Nothing of significance wrong with GISSTEMP. I’m sure that will satisfy the denialosphere.
Bottom line: CRU had done nothing wrong and the committee’s openness recommendation is nice but unnecessary.