Fred Pearce : Still Crucifying Phil Jones


I’m sorry to note that Fred Pearce, writing for The Guardian newspaper is still hanging Phil Jones out on a crucifix to bake in the burning Sun :-

Fred Pearce quotes the withering “coruscating” evidence submitted by one or more members of the Energy sub-group of the Institute of Physics, and demands us to accept that it is adequate commentary on Phil Jones’ behaviour (behaviour that we don’t accurately know, but has been described to us by people misinterpreting his e-mails, which were stolen).

Fred Pearce also wonders why the insupportable claim of Doug Keenan, accusing Phil Jones of hiding data, was not raised in the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee hearing today.

Passing over the ridiculous supposition that anybody should pay any serious attention to Doug Keenan, let’s dip into the Institute of Physics’ contribution to the Committee. Here’s the full list of submissions :-

and here’s the IoP document :-

Just a brief look at their submission to the Science and Technology Committee reveals that it reels off a number of Climate Change Denier arguments, although couched in slightly rarified language :-

This in particularly is tendentious, amounting in my view to a professional slur on Professor Phil Jones (in bold) :-

“4. The second category relating to proxy reconstructions are the basis for the conclusion that 20th century warming is unprecedented. 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.

If I received this document, my first question would be to ask who wrote it, and if they have a personal antipathy towards Phil Jones. There is no way for the writer of this document to justifiably claim that they “evidently” know the reasons for Phil Jones’ behaviour. That is an outrageous, insupportable accusation of the worst kind.

As for this paragraph, I ask you, what do you believe – the thermometers, or a reconstruction based on some trees in an area where the changing Climate changed the place into a bog ?

“5. The e-mails reveal doubts as to the reliability of some of the reconstructions and raise questions as to the way in which they have been represented; for example, the apparent suppression, in graphics widely used by the IPCC, of proxy results for recent decades that do not agree with contemporary instrumental temperature measurements.

And here we see a great deal of confusion : should Scientists be challenged to cave in to superfluous clamour from anti-Science lay persons ? Is it right to bow before the humiliating and bullying crowd of clowns baying for your blood ?

“6. There is also reason for concern at the intolerance to challenge displayed in the e-mails. This impedes the process of scientific ‘self correction’, which is vital to the integrity of the scientific process as a whole, and not just to the research itself.”

As a Climate Change Scientist, should you be forced to accept every kind of challenge from whomever Mr AgitProp that feels like sending you a rude e-mail ?

Further, we see the IoP man (or men) totally ignorant of the nonsense published by some Climate Change self-styled “sceptics”, which should have been consigned to the round filing cabinet of doom long, long ago :-

“…In that context, those CRU e-mails relating to the peer-review process suggest a need for a review of its adequacy and objectivity as practised in this field and its potential vulnerability to bias or manipulation.”

Let’s give just one example, for sake of reference, and yes, it’s…Patrick Michaels to which we turn. Back in the heady days of 2007, when the IPCC still considered Climate Change “sceptic” research for review, Ross McKitrick and Patrick Michaels and their 2004 paper “A test of corrections for extraneous signals in gridded surface temperature data” were considered in Working Group 1, the Physical Science basis of the Fourth Assessment Report, Chapter 3 “Observations: Surface and Atmospheric Climate Chage”. Here’s how the IPCC summarised their contribution in Section “Urban Heat Islands and Land Use Effects” :-

“McKitrick and Michaels (2004) and De Laat and Maurellis (2006) attempted to demonstrate that geographical patterns of warming trends over land are strongly correlated with geographical patterns of industrial and socioeconomic development, implying that urbanisation and related land surface changes have caused much of the observed warming. However, the locations of greatest socioeconomic development are also those that have been most warmed by atmospheric circulation changes (Sections and 3.6.4), which exhibit large-scale coherence. Hence, the correlation of warming
with industrial and socioeconomic development ceases to be statistically significant

So, Urban Heat Islands are not behind the warming trends that we are seeing in the temperature record. So why do the Climate Change “sceptics” continually bring this argument back to the table again and again as somehow falsifying the Theory of Increased Greenhouse Effect ? Urban Heat Islands cannot explain Global Warming : it is a totalled, zombie idea, and it has had the stake through the heart treatment on several occasions, but still it comes back.

It is this kind of continual flow of “sceptic” sewage that must be removed from the IPCC review process; and Climate Change Scientists must be allowed to dismiss it.

Not all ideas and theorems are equal. Some are less rational than others. Some are completely unfounded. It should be the role of the experts to pronounce a research paper batty or worthy of review. We can discuss who the experts might be, but we should at least allow them to filter out the pondweed.

Let us repeat, again : carefully selected e-mails from stolen archives, never written for public consumption, and not part of the Climate Change literature, taken out of context, and heavily misinterpreted : these cannot be the basis of any accusation that Freedom of Information requests were not correctly dealt with or that the Science is in any way faulty.

It is not normal procedure for Scientists to release all the tabulated data that they use for research to the publications they are published in – it would simply consume too much paper to print it all out – and nobody wants to read it anyway.

Everyone wants summaries, and this is what you get in research papers, with indications of workings out, formulae, graphs and charts. Very rarely do scientists quibble about results from other scientists.

Extraordinarily, in Climate Change, we are seeing non-scientists quibble with the results of the scientists. How anyone can tolerate this ridiculous situation is almost beyond my comprehension.

If a Scientist wants to replicate somebody’s work, s/he can either create his/her own data set (not so easy for temperature records going back to 1850) or ask via a professional acquaintance for the data set of the originator’s work.

Climate Change Deniers for the most part are not scientifically literate and have no real capability or desire to reproduce the work of Phil Jones and the CRU. All the Deniers want to do with Freedom of Information requests is to waste the time of the Climate Change Scientists by loading them with unreasonable requests for data and other information.

Phil Jones has done nothing wrong, and in fact, has done many things right. It is appallingly unprofessional, inappropriate and quite frankly, unkind, for Fred Pearce to continue witch-hunting Phil Jones.

Fred Pearce is intelligent, but I doubt if he has any idea of what it takes to construct a global temperature record. He might be a good journalist, but judging from his recent pronouncements, his understanding of normal research science practice is not very thorough, as he cannot recognise or acknowledge an honest and productive scientist, and instead just carries on replicating the Climate Change Denier baseless accusations.

All the accusations levelled against Phil Jones by Fred Pearce are inaccurate and irrelevant. Phil Jones has done some outstanding work in the field of Climate Change Science that Fred Pearce could only dream of achieving.

I bet Fred Pearce has written a few e-mails that he regrets in his time. Perhaps he would care to share them with the Climate Change Deniers so that they can pick holes in his intentions, logic, spelling, vocabulary, professionalism and style ?

Would it be fair to crucify Fred Pearce’s reputation and entire career based on the unrepresentative content of a couple of frustrated e-mails ? Why does he think it’s fine to do that to another person ? Does he have any other corroborating evidence that may support his stance that Phil Jones should be grilled and villified ?


“The Guardian has been unable to find a member of the board [of the Institute of Physics] 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.”

3 thoughts on “Fred Pearce : Still Crucifying Phil Jones”

  1. Thank you for a useful insight into the IoP.
    The Guardian is usually a useful source (as mainstream newspaper goes) on matters environmental but for some reason Fred Pearce doesn’t meet their usual standard. Some excuse could be made for alternative interpretations of the facts but none can be given for actually misquoting ie. inventing ones own facts.

    Pearce states that Prof Jones “concede” that he came up with “radically different findings”. On the contrary. Prof Jones in 2008 “reprocessed in the same way data from the same stations he used in the 90s, but now with data of better quality, and he “got essentially the same results”.

    He only comes to “a slightly different conclusion” because he now had more data to work with. And based on that additional data he came to slightly different conclusion. That the warming trend was higher, partly caused by rapid growth and economic development in China of the last 20-25 years. In other words, since the mid 80s.

    For people wanting to check: go see for yourself: go to the roughly 1 hr, 8 minute mark at

    Pearce seems to have form misrepresenting climate scientists as Ben Santer outlines here.

  2. Dear Jo,
    In the IOP, there is an Energy Group, and there is also a completely different Energy Sub-group that reports to the Institute’s Science Board.
    It is the Institute’s Science Board and its Energy Sub-group which provided input to the IOP submission. This is clear from the cover letter signed by Professor Peter Main that accompanied the IOP memo. You can see his letter on the IOP site here:
    The people you have listed are members of the Energy Group Committee which was not involved in the preparation of the IOP memo.
    May I respectfully suggest you remove the names you listed? Unfortunately, you have accidentally chosen to highlight the wrong bunch of IOP members!

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