The “Institute of Physics” sounds jolly reassuring; but like all such things you never quite know what they are going to say. Just recently they have been saying some very silly things indeed in their contribution to the UK parliaments feeding-frenzy over the CRU emails. So the IOP apparently thinks that worrying implications arise for the integrity of scientific research in this field and it goes downhill from there. It reads like a gift to the septics and it could easily have been written down to the septics dictation; indeed, it very probably was.
So the most likely scenario is that a small sub-group have got together to push this junk while the rest of the IOP (nice chaps and chapesses no doubt, but a bit dopey. If you’re an IOP person and object to being called dopey, fine, I eagerly await your personal non-dopey reaction to the IOP statement) slept.
Faced with everyone sane telling them they’ve been hijacked by wackos, the IOP has rowed back a little, but not very much. They explicitly state that The Institute’s response to the Committee inquiry was approved by its Science Board, a formal committee of the Institute with delegated authority from its trustees to oversee its policy work. It reflected our belief that… In other words, yes it may be a bit mad but we stand squarely behind it and refuse to retract a single word. Naturally enough they try to have it both ways, with The Institute’s statement, which has been published both on the Institute’s website and the Committee’s, has been interpreted by some individuals to imply that… but since they are retracting nothing, that is just pap. The “clarification” can and indeed will be read by any septic worth his salt as re-affirming the original; it is trivial to quote-mine it as such: our belief that the open exchange of data, procedures and materials is fundamental to the scientific process. From the information already in the public domain it appears that these principles have been put at risk… etc etc.
However, it looks like the Grauniad may be putting the boot into the IOP: The institute statement says its submission was approved by its science board, a formal committee of experts that oversees its policy work. The Guardian has been unable to find a member of the board that supports the submission. Two of the scientists listed as members said they had declined to comment on a draft submission prepared by the institute, because they were not climate experts and had not read the UEA emails. Others would not comment or did not respond to enquiries. An institute spokesperson said the submission was “strongly supported” by three members of the board. “All members were invited to comment. Only a few did, all concerned approved [the submission] unanimously.”
So there seems to be some hope that good old fashioned journalism may triumph here, if they persist.
Update: a non-dopey IOP person pointed out that the re-affirmation statement links to Physicists’ message to world leaders in Copenhagen and that to a nice pdf. However… that link isn’t too prominent (I know its at the top, but it isn’t in the line of flow; I missed it), but more importantly this misses the point; it appears to assume that some mature, balanced judgement of the IOP’s views is going on in the septic blogsphere and the Torygraph and whatever means of communication those funny colonial types have. That won’t happen; the IOP can say 99 positive things but only the one negative thing will be reported, as indeed we’ve just discovered. The problem is asymmetry: since we all know GW is happening and our fault (even the septics know this in their hearts) all the motherhood-and-apple-pie statements just make us glaze over: yeah yeah, I know that. All the attention goes to the one bit of wacko-dom. The only solution is to retract the wacko-dom; hopefully the IOP will back down before damaging itself too badly.
UUpdate: thanks to EW, who points out this Deltoid thread which links to Sammy’s right, man is not responsible for global warming by… Terry Jackson BSc Msc MPhil (founder of the Energy Group, Institute of Physics, London) Bangor. And reading the article there, it is clear this isn’t any balanced “true-skeptic” stuff, this is out-and-out la-la-land stuff: The total emissions of CO2 from land and sea amounts to 97% while humans contribute a mere 3%. Last summer Dr Zbigniew Jaworowski etc etc.