The controversy over the Institute of Physics biased submission to the U.K. Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee’s investigation of the stolen emails from East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit is about to get a whole lot hotter.
Terri Jackson, IOP Energy Group “founder” and a key proponent of various IOP pro-skeptic initiatives, is using her past association with the group to advance her new career as a “climate realist”. Her IOP affiliation is hammered in every interview and profile, and was listed with her signature to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Challenge open letter to the U.N. Not only that, it’s the sole affiliation given for her upcoming stint as featured speaker at – wait for it – the upcoming Heartland Institute sponsored climate conference in Chicago, where Jackson will join U.K. contrarian heavyweights like Piers Corbyn and Lord Christopher Monckton.
Meanwhile, disturbing indications have emerged that the IOP submission may have been leaked in advance to Monckton, raising new questions about the legitimacy of the submission and the process behind it. It’s high time the IOP stopped clinging to the pretense that all is well and started cleaning up this mess.
I first read about the IOP’s dodgy submission at William Connolley’s Stoat blog. In an apparent rush to judgment, the IOP discerned in the stolen emails “worrying implications” for “scientific integrity in this field”. For example, on data requests for tree-ring proxy data (presumably referring to requests made by self-appointed climate auditor Steve McIntyre to CRU scientist Keith Briffa), the IOP said:
Published reconstructions may represent only a part of the raw data available and may be sensitive to the choices made and the statistical techniques used. Different choices, omissions or statistical processes may lead to different conclusions. This possibility was evidently the reason behind some of the (rejected) requests for further information. [Emphasis added]
No actual evidence for this extraordinary statement was proffered, but presumably this “evident reason” is belied by Briffa’s referral of McIntyre to the original researcher, not to mention McIntyre’s possession of the data in question all along. And it was only one of several statements that appeared to try and convict CRU scientists before examination of any supporting evidence.
It turned out this nonsense was likely drafted by one Peter Gill, an oil industry consultant, confirmed climate skeptic and member of the three-person energy sub-committee of the IOP science board, as discovered by BigCityLib and detailed in an article by David Adam of the Guardian. In a fit of supreme irony, IOP has refused requests for crucial details of the provenance of the submission or the names of the other two sub-committee members responsible, although they have released no less than three evasive clarifications of the matter. Apparently transparency is only for those scientists under baseless attacks, not the attackers.
Along the way, Connolley asked plaintively how Terri Jackson might fit in. It seems that Jackson and Gill have been a tag team at the IOP’s Energy Group (initially dubbed the Energy Management Group) since its formation in 2002, both serving three-year stints as group chair. The pair ran amok, pushing a not-so-hidden climate contrarian agenda, to judge from past Energy Group newsletters. The January 2007 newsletter featured a rapturous account of an IOP presentation by Piers Corbyn, while July 2007 brought glowing reviews of books by Henrik Svensmark (cosmic rays) and Halibullo Abdussamatov (global warming on Mars).
Eventually, the IOP came to its senses and wrested control of the Energy Group from the pair, but not before Gill managed to install himself in 2007 on the newly formed energy sub-committee of the IOP Science Board. In a parting commentary in the October 2008 newsletter, Gill acknowledged that his anti-AGW views were leading to mounting complaints.
This being the case under the past Chair [Terri Jackson] and under my Chairmanship we have allowed debate on anthropogenic climate change and the representation of different sides of the argument. Indeed the discussion of energy and climate change is written into the subject listing part of the Constitution of the Energy Group. However there are those who do not want to allow discussion of the possibility of the causes of current climate change to be anything other than anthropogenic in origin and in any case believe that we should leave any discussion of climate change to the Environmental Group. I believe however that this is unhealthy for science in general and physics in particular and wish to seek the views of the Members on the matter at the AGM for the guidance of the new Committee.
And then things seemed to have quietened down, while Gill bided his time until the opportunity presented by the CRU inquiry.
Meanwhile, Terri Jackson seems to have no recent official connection to the IOP (except possibly as an ordinary member). She did, however, start popping up at the then brand new ClimateRealists.com, pushing her IOP connection and spouting Moncktonian nonsense in a letter to the Belfast Telegraph, reprinted at CR in February 2009. (CR’s most famous correspondent is the ubiquitous Piers Corbyn).
In late 2009, Jackson signed on to the Copenhagen Climate Challenge, an open letter organized by Tom Harris of the International Climate Science Coalition. That letter claims that there is a lack of “convincing evidence that human activities are causing dangerous climate change beyond that resulting from natural causes.” The list of signatories once again gives Jackson’s IOP affiliation, but also identified her as director of a brand new group:
66. Terri Jackson, MSc MPhil., Director, Independent Climate Research Group, Northern Ireland and London (Founder of the Energy Group at the Institute of Physics, London), U.K.
A recent profile in the Irish Times News is little more than a wrapper for Jackson’s rambling thoughts. It consists mainly of an extended quote covering several columns, one standard contraian talking point per paragraph, as described by Martin Porter in his Greenman Blog. Much of it could have come straight from Monkcton’s Science and Public Policy Institute; indeed, she refers to Monckton as “my colleague” and points to the SPPI website along with ClimateRealists.
The final paragraph reads simply:
More on this topic when Terri returns from the 4th World Conference on climate change to be held in Chicago in May.
Sure enough, there she is on Heartland’s list of featured speakers, along with several of her new friends from SPPI, as well as the International Climate Science Coalition and its affiliates. In a typically brazen effort to mislead, Heartland lists her simply as “Founder, Energy Group at the Institute of Physics”, and doesn’t even bother to mention the Independent Climate Research Group. This is the norm for Heartland; other examples of missing affiliations include Tim Patterson (Chairman of the International Science Coalition), Roy Spencer (chair of Climate Science America) and Ian Plimer (Australian Climate Science Coalition).
Monckton was touring Australia – perhaps still is – and during that tour he made some allusions to Climate Scientists being about to face criminal charges, and also to peak academic bodies having some very interesting submissions to make to the UK inquiry. I don’t know whether the IOP submission or Inhofe’s blacklist were already in the public domain when Monckton made his comments (as digressions in either his talks or interviews; I don’t recall precisely) or whether he was aware ahead of time, but I’ll say this: usually I’m up with the latest stuff very soon after it is made public, yet I missed these two rather big items.
From what I’ve seen, Monckton, Plimer, Carter, etc are in frequent enough contact with each other and the organisations that circulate fud as their strategy, that I’m fairly confident Monckton knew ahead of time and was basically boasting. It sux.
Monckton’s tour began in early February late January, well before the parliamentary submission deadline of February 12. And the IOP submission wasn’t released to the general public until the end of that month, along with the other received submissions. (It was sent on February 10, and may have quietly appeared on the IOP website at that time.)
So could Jackson have acted as a go-between, keeping Monckton and the SPPI up to date? It certainly seems like the right question for the IOP to be asking Peter Gill, and it’s only one of many they should be putting to Jackson herself.
And if the IOP won’t, perhaps others will have to do it for them.