Friday, April 9, 2010

Running out of news?

George Monbiot is reluctantly letting go of the email affair with one last article. Surely he has some real science to write about?

I suppose for Monbiot, this is a sort of apology for being too quick to judge, which he might have realised after he read Steve Easterbrooks excellent post. But it's not enough in my opinion. Monbiot should be grovelling in apology to Professor Jones and his colleagues at CRU. Instead he's still going on about the importance of FoI (and takes a lot of the credit for the FoI legislation being passed).

Monbiot admits that the legislation is designed to help ensure government decisions are transparent. What he doesn't say is that FoI was never intended to impede scientific research. In my opinion it probably shouldn't apply to research. Administrative decisions and personal information held by a university is one matter, using FoI to delay important research and threaten scientists is quite another matter.

The cost to the UK taxpayers from this sad affair has been high, not just in terms of the financial and other resources diverted from other pressing matters to Parliamentary Committee Hearings and the University's email review and review of the science, but in terms of the public's understanding of the threat from CO2 emissions. The personal cost to some of the world's leading scientists is appalling, for which journalists shoulder a lot most of the blame.

At the end of the day, the science is sound and little has changed, which was undoubtedly the intention of the FoI spammers and email larcenists. Copenhagen didn't go as well as hoped. There has since been some progress but not yet enough.

Meanwhile, as this chart from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology shows, it's still hotting up.

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