Steve Brown sends in this report from the Guardian Debate on ‘Climategate’:
I’ve just got back from the Guardian “ClimateGate” debate in London and here are some of the notes I made of the event.
On the panel chaired by George Monbiot was Fred Pearce, Prof Trevor Davies (Vice-chancellor at UAE and former Director of CRU), Steven McIntyre, Prof Bob Watson (UK Gov scientific advisor and former IPCC chair) and Doug Keenan.
In the audience were various luminaries: Benny Peiser, Piers Corbyn, Roger Harribin and……Jonathan Leake!!
The format was 5 mins for each panelist, 15 mins of open discussion, then audience questions for 45 mins.
Prof. Davies: Said CRU will be exploring initiatives later in the year to open up public space for engaging in the scientific discussion. Also said that lessons have been learned.
Steve McIntyre: Gave an overview of his main criticisms aired on ClimateAudit in recent weeks – nothing really new. Monbiot tried to challenge him about the Muir Russell finding that any competent individual could reproduce a temperature series from publicly accessible data, which McIntyre deftly sidestepped.
Bob Watson: Thinks reviews had high integrity and gave a robust rebuttal of criticisms. He accused the printed media of being guilty of getting carried away with the “skeptic” allegations” (and made a specific dig at the Guardian), though thought the TV media were much fairer in general. Says we need more balanced reporting and that he estimates that 95% of scientists accept the mainstream consensus on AGW.
Doug Keenan: Says he will not retract fraud allegations made against Phil Jones over Chinese station data. Says bogus fraudulent research is rife throughout science. Seemed to say that because Phil Jones is not as good at statistics as him, AGW is a fraud.
Fred Pearce: Said reviews didn’t go far enough and that he is still disturbed by some of the e-mails. The enquiries were not a “whitewash” and this saga is more a tragedy than a conspiracy. He though the 3 CRU inquiries were better conducted than the Penn State Uni one, which he described as “kafkaesque”.
Over to the audience….Bob Watson says that CRU had nothing to hide – all data is available if you approach the national weather agencies who own the data. Made a good point about the Saudi Govt hiring “some very good” people to find problems in the last IPCC assessment, so they could have an excuse to drill for more oil. They found nothing.
Keenan said that peer-review is rubbish on the basis that he’s submitted a paper 35 times to journals for it to be rejected each time.
McIntyre is asked to explain the source of energy that has warmed the planet since 1980. Deftly sidestepped by claiming he’s more interested in ancient proxies and hockysticks and not CRUtem. When pressed further he said he agrees with what Lindzen says.
Monbiot is asked if he thought he was a bit quick and rash to fall for the serious allegations when the “scandal” broke. He replied “The Guardian chose me to chair as I’ve alienated everyone in the debate”. He also admitted his judgments were hasty.
Keenen then claims that none of the evidence for AGW stands up to scrutiny and Piers Corbyn starts heckling.
Piers Corbyn gets the chance to ask a question, but ends up making a speech on how AGW is a fraud and it’s really the Sun and the Moon that cause climate to change. They move to a different questioner. Corbyn continues to heckle and interrupt. Monbiot tells Corbin he’ll have him ejected if he doesn’t shut up.
Jonathan Leake asks McIntyre about the “explosive” allegation that Muir Russel didn’t interview Phil Jones. Prof Davies said Muir Russell did meet Phil Jones and the detailed interviews were conducted by the expert members of the inquiry.
Expect an expose in the Times tomorrow about how AGW is a scam because Phil and Muir didn’t do a round of golf together.
Monbiot finishes off by saying “An interesting and fiery debate and as usual we’ve got absolutely nowhere”.
All in all, it was a fascinating experience to attend and to see the main players in the flesh. I thought Fred Pearce and Bob Watson came across well. Pearce has gotten a bit of stick over this, but he’s certainly in the premier league of science journo’s. Doug Keenan is a fascinating character – very sinister looking and would make a great Dr Who baddy. McIntyre was quiet spoken and reserved – didn’t really set the ground on fire. There was about 300 in the audience – judging by applause, I’d guess a third were “skeptic” faithful and the rest were normal people and journalists.
Update: Report from Damian Carrington at the Gurdian, along with audio is here.