Dogged Pearce still hounding Jones

by Bryan Walker on April 1, 2010

Fred Pearce is a fine one to speak of a rush to judgment. Many of his Guardian articles on the UEA emails did just that. (See Pearced to the Heart and Defending the Indefensible on Hot Topic) Yet that is the accusation he levels at yesterday’s report of the parliamentary committee’s investigation into the matter.  Essentially because, he claims, they avoided investigating the more complex charges such as those raised by him in the Guardianseries.

What he seems most concerned with is that Jones got off lightly.

“The MPs are clear that there are serious issues to address both in climate science and in the operation of freedom of information law in British universities. But in their desire not to single out Jones, they end up bending over backwards to support a man who is the pillar of the establishment they are criticising.”

Here is what the report concluded:

“The focus on Professor Jones and CRU has been largely misplaced. On the accusations relating to Professor Jones’s refusal to share raw data and computer codes, we consider that his actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community. We have suggested that the community consider becoming more transparent by publishing raw data and detailed methodologies. On accusations relating to Freedom of Information, we consider that much of the responsibility should lie with UEA, not CRU.”

Not enough for Pearce.  It lets Jones off too lightly:

“… whatever standard practice may be, surely as one of climate science’s senior figures, Jones should take some responsibility for its misdemeanours? Jones has worked for the CRU for more than 20 years and been its director for six. The MPs found there a “culture of withholding information” in which “information may have been deleted to avoid disclosure.” It found this “unacceptable”. Doesn’t its director take responsibility?”

What does Pearce want?  Resignation?  Dismissal?  The parliamentary committee received submissions, examined Jones, affirmed that it had seen nothing which suggests the science from the CRU is faulty, said Jones should be reinstated and made recommendations for changed practices in  future in the interests of the science being irreproachable.  There are further investigations to come.  Meanwhile the globe continues to warm.  It seems to me that Pearce as an environmental journalist ought to be able to find more useful occupation for his talents than arguing with the verdict of the committee. Jones might have earned a period of respite. The Guardian should call off its dogs.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Bryan Walker April 1, 2010 at 1:34 am

Following Gareth's observation that the story of who stole the emails is getting next to no attention in the media readers may be interested in DeSmog Blog's recently published extensive <a href ="http://www.desmogblog.com/climatgate-autopsy">treatment of the question.

Gosman April 1, 2010 at 2:12 am

After reading that blog post I can see why noone is interested in this story. There's not much in that at all except a background piece that iacts as an apologist for the behaviour of the CRU team and then a staright forward telling of the story about how the files from the CRU became public. What sort of message are you expecting people to take from that?

Gosman April 1, 2010 at 12:09 am

Jeeze!!!! I am amazed at how anyone who dares stray from the accepted position on this topic gets turned on with a vengence.

It wasn't very long ago that Fred Pearce was being touted as one of the most authoritive journalists on the subject of AGW. Now you want the Guardian to shackle him because he expresses his displeassure about how the politicians have dealt with the activities of the CRU.

I am sure Fred Pearce hasn't become a raving denialists overnight and still supports the mainstream view on AGW. Why shouldn't he be allowed to express his opinion on the subject?

Bryan Walker April 1, 2010 at 12:24 am

Because he's seriously overdoing it and there's a human being on the receiving end who has as yet been convicted of nothing.

Gosman April 1, 2010 at 2:01 am

There's usually always a human at the end of criticism. That is no reason to stop the criticism.

While you may not think Professor Jones did anything wrong a number of people disagree with you. On top of that the UK Parliamentary Select committee findings were not a ringing endorsement of Professor Jones no matter how you attempt to spin it.

I for one am pleased that people like Pearce and Lovelock are expecting and demanding incredibly high standards of professional behaviour from those carrying out the Science around Climate Change. I would have thought that anybody who regarded this particular topic to be of utmost importance to humanity would think the same way.

Bryan Walker April 1, 2010 at 2:17 am

The human being on the end of justified criticism may not be a reason to stop it, but Pearce has hardly established a justification for his pursuit of Jones. He took the emails at the value the denial machine placed on them, which is a false one. Lovelock, while disdaining to "pry" by reading the emails has done likewise. I must say I'm more interested in whether the science stands up than in whether the scientists have achieved "incredibly" high standards of professional behavior, whatever that is.

ctg April 1, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Right, but "sceptics" like McLean et al should be allowed to ignore professional standards and publish any old rubbish they like, eh Gosman?

Gareth April 1, 2010 at 12:25 am

Pearce's article reads to me like sour grapes. Those bloody politicians didn't agree with his analysis, so he carries on attacking Jones. As Bryan has documented, Pearce's take on the issue was straining the facts. Others have noted the same thing, and asked a salient question: did Jones or someone else at CRU/UEA annoy him? Meanwhile, the really interesting story – who stole the emails and why gets next to no attention in the media.

Bryan Walker April 1, 2010 at 6:12 am

The BBC's environment correspondent Richard Black has a good reflective blog on the committee's findings here

Bryan Walker April 1, 2010 at 6:12 am

The BBC's environment correspondent Richard Black has a good reflective blog on the committee's findings here

tomfarmer April 1, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Tks for that beeb link, BW, been a while since I read Black.. as he says a goodly number of further inquiries are forthcoming.. incl. not least the break-in and theft of scientific data which to my mind no amount of “hacking” can soften meaning and consequences/s.

As for Pearce wasn’t there mention of a book by his editor Randerson..? Given their likely position (spelled out in the RE response) one would have to assume matters unresolved. Perhaps more pertinent, what such matters could aid book sales..? circulation etc.? And then an imminent General Election in the UK..?

Marion Delgado April 1, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Pearce is writing exactly as if he became a raving denialist overnight – including their hatred of facts.

Andy April 1, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Goodness. Not releasing raw data to everyone who asks for it is not only restricted to the climate science community, but many other branches of science. There are too many out there who would usurp a researchers raw data. What is important is ann accounting of exactly how the data was procured and processed so others can determine if it is repeatable. Pearce is moving the goal posts here.

And what about industry? If Pearce wants to crucify someone he should look there. They refuse to even release raw data on the pollution they generate claiming it would give away proprietary information on chemical processes and ingredients. Likewise they refuse to tell the public what chemicals refineries work with for similar reasons while acknowledging they maybe putting the public at risk.

Bryan Walker April 1, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Deep Climate has a useful <a href ="http://deepclimate.org/2010/03/31/climategate-investigations-round-1-cru-exonerated/#more-1756"&gt; article on the committee's findings, including some detail on the one dissenting voice on the committee and his likely reading.

bill April 2, 2010 at 1:33 am

Here's more sour grapes from Frank Furedi

http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/artic

ginckgo April 2, 2010 at 3:19 am

The thing that always got me was, that even the 'worst' emails only contained statements about what the researchers would like to do to the deniers. But if they actually had followed through and systematically blocked rival publications, got people fired, etc, shouldn't there have been a flurry of back-slapping emails back and forth between the 'conspirators', saying "yay, we got that idiot neutered" or something?

Peter Bickle April 2, 2010 at 4:16 am

The aqital, of Jones reminds me of Winston Peters aquittal in front of the MPs in 2008. The result did not reflect the FACTS.

Bryan Walker April 2, 2010 at 4:23 am

And what FACTS would those be, Peter?

Peter Bickle April 2, 2010 at 6:10 am

Peter's bullshitted about the $100000K payment.

Gareth April 2, 2010 at 6:15 am

Winston First is off-topic. No more, please.

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