back to article Science czar calls for openness on climate questions

The government's chief scientific adviser John Beddington has called for openness and honesty in the debate over man-made climate change. He said climate scientists should release the data behind their predictions and be less hostile to those who disagree with them. He said that more openness about the uncertainties of climate …


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  1. Toastan Buttar

    Manipulate the data ?

    "There is a danger that people can manipulate the data, but the benefits from being open far outweigh that danger.”

    By making your data open, there's LESS chance of people being able to manipulate it to draw false conclusions.

    1. Richard IV


      "By making your data open, there's LESS chance of people being able to manipulate it to draw false conclusions."

      ...There's just as much chance, if not more. There is, however, less chance of them getting away with it without someone noticing.

  2. Steve Martins

    chasing tails

    I'm a sceptic, and am bored of it all now. There's only one consideration in my mind, we live on a planet of finite resources, so consuming less and in a more sustainable way can only be a good thing. Energy saving light bulbs? i DO heat my my home you know, so any additional heat from the bulbs is quite welcome...(and NOT wasted energy!) I hate knee jerk pseudo-science railroaded into existence by politics - it will be the death of us all (and well before we manage to overheat our planet!!)

  3. breakfast Silver badge

    Good job of telling the cat to meow there.

    I think he's rather preaching to the converted there- the source data and methodologies used in many climatological studies are completely open and much of the work is based on datasets that are available to everyone.

    The problem is, that the scientists aren't fighting on an even platform. The creationists don't have any science to back up so they use techniques such as lying, making up evidence, cherrypicking data, accusing scientists of the things the creationists are doing and regular media grandstanding instead. Unfortunately because most people among the general public are halfwit morlocks with no clue about what science is or what the scientific method is and no real interest in finding out, they tend to listen to the people who shout loudest and say things like "are you with me guys?" rather than the people who understand the field but have a necessary reserve in making their case. Indeed it seems like when the reserve is lost and they try to play the media game that the scientists come out looking worse.

    Then you get creationists complaining that there is no balance when journalistic organisations don't have creationist reporters. There is a pretty simple reason for that- if you examine in detail the claims of both sides, there is basically no sceptical case, just a lot of expensive lobbying. Every tiresome argument the sceptics troll out has been refuted by a lot of clear and repeatable science, but that's fine. They don't need to be right, they just need to come up with things that sound like they might be convincing so the people who don't understand how science works can fall for it and it can protect their sponsors from responsibility for a few more years.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Who the hell brought creationists into the argument? Did I miss something or does "Your data sucks" mean "I believe in creationism." Wierd world dude.

    2. Sarev
      Thumb Down

      You've rather missed the point(s)

      Not all of the data used in these predictions is open - there has been much coverage of this already. But more importantly than that, you'd be hard pressed to get hold of the source code to any of these computer models of the climate (with the exception of the ones that went out on wikileaks).

      And no, climate sceptic != creationist. LOL.

  4. Scott 19


    Well thats a new comment for El Reg Commentards, Religous man wears funny hat, bears tom-tit in the woods and glaciers melt.

    Now if we can just get 'all MP's are tw@ts' on the books that'll be the set.

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  6. Rotate anti-clockwise ...

    Good luck ...

    Let me be the first to wish Prof. Beddington good luck in his future career ...

    We all know what happens to NuLab advisors who speak their minds and promote open discussion of medical or scientific issues.

    Mine's the one with a NuLab guide to open communications in the pocket ... oops!

  7. 1of10

    Rajendra Pachauri

    I do agree with Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, if I was him I wouldn't resign either... after all, its a job and most probably with a good pay so why should someone resign because of simple mistakes.

    "He dismissed the mistake as human error"

    Of course we all would be saying the same... beside some might not know but all the wars in this World start with human error(s).

    After all the alarmism we can confirm that glaciers are indeed melting and UK got weeks of polar winder, also due to "human error" for not accurately knowing the future of the weather in weeks of advance.

    For those that do some guess work inventing the future such what IPCC seem doing...

    "...nor would it undermine confidence in climate science as a whole..."

    Indeed it wouldn't undermine the confidence in climate science as a whole...

    IPCC alone has done good job discrediting the new science which is based on less factual values but more on empiric observations and fixes. IPCC has been an excellent mass communicator discrediting them selfs, by simply shooting their own foot a couple times.

    That Czar (not russian) should be calling Merlin back from Arthur's land because he would probably have guess better what the future will be.

    The entire glacier topic was meant to support the unproved "man-made" theory that IPCC dearly advocates. Now if isn't that relevant by a simple "human error" then what is relevant... melting of course...

    Glaciars are melting - we don’t need to be climate scientists to see that… even a 5 year old kid can see that on the telly

    But what about the theory that is man-made causing that melting where are the links and proofs... well all were probably lost by "human errors" during guess work as well.

    IPCC needs a reform from top to bottom and passed to the history as complete failure.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "based on less factual values but more on empiric observations"

      Please explain further..

    2. Intractable Potsherd


      ... glaciers have been melting since the end of the ice age about 12000 years ago. What's your point.

      Look, there are good reasons for finding alternative energy sources, reducing air pollution, and in general doing things more efficiently. However, to blame an entirely natural process - climate change - and make a perfectly natural substance - carbon dioxide - into a demon, is just crass. Let's put the money into dealing with the effects of the perfectly natural process of climate change, which might cause difficulties for some groups of people, instead of faffing with CO2 reduction that will make no difference whatsoever.

  8. Chris Miller

    Computer models

    No less an authority than John von Neumann (1903 – 1957) said: "If you allow me four free parameters I can build a mathematical model that describes exactly everything that an elephant can do. If you allow me a fifth free parameter, the model I build will forecast that the elephant will fly."

    Anyone know how many free parameters go into climate models? I've no idea, but if it's in single figures, I'll eat my sombrero.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is one of the messes behind Climategate

    One of the big things about the Climategate affair is that an organisation intended to collect data from around the world, so that it can be published and used for research, has lost a lot of the data.

    No need to argue about possible political spin: not being able to publish the data is incompetence of a very basic sort.

  10. Bassey

    Becoming increasingly funny

    I remember an interview, after the Anglia University breach, in which a senior scientist from the met office (sorry, several months ago, name no longer recorded in brain) stated "and in any case, this was just one of three sets of data which all correlate". A) this made no sense. He was basically saying "even if it has been fudged, it's been fudged in line with the others so the others must be correct". And B) he was suggesting that there is other data out there, so we needn't be worried that one set might not be correct. The second point seemed fair enough. It's not ideal. But two decent, trust worthy sets of data that seem to say the same thing, within proper statistical norms, would seem data worth relying on.

    Then the head of NASA's climate research (i.e. the head of one of the others two data-sets) admitted CO2 probably wasn't the contributing factor in climate change. This coming 12 months after admitting a large part of his own data set for Oct 08 had been copied and pasted from Sept 08 - casting doubts on exactly how accurate data set number 2 is. This one was caught (by someone else) but how many other slips went unreported?

    Now this guy has come out and said (again, paraphrasing) "it doesn't matter that THIS report was completely made up on the spot because we still have ALL the other data."

    What data do they have left that hasn't had doubt cast about it? We're down to just one of three data-sets that hasn't had doubt cast on it and the organisation responsible for checking, verifying and interpreting it has admitted to complete professional misconduct - though doesn't see this as cause to stand down.

    We constantly hear "experts" telling us the debate is over. Everyone agrees. The data is certain. I'm sorry but they don't seem to have any data left. They have made up reports, fantastical predictions and have sets of data that, being as charitable as possible, are highly questionable.

    I'm not sure how to even resolve this. It needs a major inquiry into the whole thing to establish exactly what we have left that can be relied upon. Who would carry this out? Nobody trusts anyone else any more because there have been too many lies, damned lies and data-sets.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Does anyone remember

      The 70s? When we were told the warming period which had been occurring more or less continuously since 1945 (I think - memory not that good, so stand to be corrected on the exact dates!) and which scientists had been concerned about, had ended and that now the earth was cooling, and were told there was a consensus and irrefutable evidence that this would lead to an ice age.

      Then the world begain warming up again (like it did from 1945 to to the 1980s ish) and there was suddenly irrefutable evidence that the sky was falling in ^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h world was warming up and this would lead to floods, ice melting etc.

      This ended in I think about 2000 and now the earth seems to be cooling again. Already the daily mail is predicting we are now in for 30 years of cooling.

      Like others have said, there are many reasons for cleaning up our act, but I'm not yet convinced by the CO2 argument. Not least because the arguments used seem to keep changing. Data is analysed and doubt thrown on it, but they point to other data, which in turn gets doubt cast on it. Anyone who analyses the data is accused of voodoo science.

      For all the cyclical changes, even in the warmest of the recent warm cycles, we were still not as warm as the medieval warm period of 900-1300. The Mann hockey stick graph released by the IPCC showing a huge increase now was proved fraudulent.

      I think there is a still a case to be a proven that CO2 has anything to do with it.

  11. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    what an idea

    That scientists should publish the *original* data on which they base their claims and list the *assumptions* they used to built their models, along with the models themselve.

    Or admit they have *lost* (which is a very strong impression you get from the readme file) their source data, contact the people they got it from and start again.

    I am a believer in anthropormorphic climate change. However that is *my* personal view. Global policies should *never* be set like that. Let's have *all* the eveidence on the table and see where the evidence takes us.

  12. Rab Sssss

    Rajendra Pachauri Should resigin

    As was he not the man that refered to a studie that made the point that was actually correct as "voodoo science", not to menation that at least one of the IPCC authors advsed at the time that its basicly crap.

  13. Mursu

    Big hurrah for global warming!

    I for once am quite pleased of the thought of global warming as the weather here in finland has been around -20 celcius for most of the winter. Longest winter in southern finland for 10 years if my überfail human memory doesn't utterly disappoint me again. Apparently some studies suggest that the Baltic would have a mediterranean climate within a 100-150 years. Awesome! that just means that if i change my life habits and my genetics don't fail me, i'd be able to retire at the baltic isles under olive trees without actually encountering a foreign culture! Bummer for the rest but one must after all look to himself first right? So all you globalwarming stoppers, get your coats, we don't serve you here.

  14. Terrence Bayrock

    Send some to us......

    Wouldn't mind some global warming up here ; coldest December for a looong time.

    Even if us human are responsible for a significant portion of climate change (something up for debate), being able to adapt probably makes the most sense. Pollution, however, we definitely should be addressing.

    CO2 hardly qualifies as pollution (ask neighborhood crop of trees).

    Mine is the frozen car under the show drift........

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Science and politics are a witch's brew

    To date, we've had too many scientists playing politics and too many politicians playing scientist.

    Science, at its core, uses theory, logic, test and data to make their cases while politicians, at their core, use argument and persuasion to make theirs. They don't much like each other when disputes arise between them.

    Only in an ideal universe, where everyone is "knowledgeable", can multivariate analysis, modeling and "error terms" be discussed without engendering knee-jerk disbelief on the layman's part and "cost-benefit" discussions of gambling with the planet's and our future be discussed without engendering horror on the scientist's part.

    Lacking that ideal universe, let scientists be scientists and get that data (all that data) out in the open where it should have been from the get-go (there are plenty of well-trained uninvolved scientists around that want a look at it and the models too) and let skeptics (lay, scientific and pseudo-scientific) spell out their doubts specifically. Publicly bitchslap any of either rank that fails to deliver or oversteps their limitations.

    That's the only way to get this runaway train back on the tracks and restore confidence in science and politics.

    And, I say that as a scientist.

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