I’m sorry to say that my general opinion of Fred Pearce’s work has taken a sharp tumble. I found his latest New Scientist piece disappointing, and for me he has continued to be uninspiring today in The Observer newspaper, Sunday sister to The Guardian :-
“Climategate was ‘a game-changer’ in science reporting, say climatologists : After the hacked emails scandal scientists became ‘more upfront, open and explicit about their uncertainties’ : Fred Pearce : Sunday 4 July 2010”
His style is robustly “journalistic” and suffers from a basket of semantic fuzziness, but I’m just going to highlight a few phrases and words here.
“Critics say the emails reveal evasion of freedom of information law, secret deals done during the writing of reports…a cover-up of uncertainties in key research findings and the misuse of scientific peer review to silence critics.”
And these “critics” are who, exactly ? A rainbow of people who have very little knowledge of Climate Change Science; and very little knowledge of textual analysis either, judging by the extremely poor way they misinterpreted the stolen e-mails.
“Researchers outside Britain say a row that began in Norwich now has important implications for the wider scientific community round the world.”
I beg your pardon ? Does Fred Pearce know something I don’t ? The so-called “row” didn’t start in Norwich. The University of East Anglia (UEA) Climatic Research Unit (CRU) were quite peacefully, happily, non-row-ingly cooperating with scientists around the world. They weren’t involved in a fight. Their Media Relations Unit even attempted to head the sceptic attack off and downplay it by refusing to pass rushed comment when the story “broke”.
Any hint of arguing has only come from the camp of the Climate Change denier-delayers, those self-styled “sceptics” who have ganged up to beat up the Climate Change science for years, and the Climate Change scientists with it, mercilessly trying to force the facts to fit their own denying obstructive mould/mold.
“[Mike Hulme] warns…a new generation of more sophisticated computer models is failing to reduce the uncertainties in predicting future climate…”This is not what the public and politicians expect, so handling and explaining this will be difficult.””
Professor Mike Hulme is not questioning the science, he is commenting on the public reaction to the problems of modelling. But Climate Change Science isn’t all about modelling. Mostly, it’s about data, and there’s no real uncertainty about that. It is unreasonable for Fred Pearce to leave his readers with the idea that Climate Change Science is becoming less clear.
As ever, some are even less charitable than I am when coming to an opinion on Fred Pearce. William Connelly has adopted a theme connected to municipal waste :-
“Fred Pearce is rubbish”, El Stoat claims.
But is he ?
Why is Fred Pearce being so…even-handed, granting column space in The Observer to such dubious commentators as Judith Curry (who claims that scientists have over-vaunted opinions of themselves, which set would, theoretically, include herself) and Roger Pielke Jr (who persists in being scathing of some people who say dodgy things about his dad’s ideas) ?
Could it be that Fred Pearce is a prisoner of his own making ? Could he be under some kind of whip and birch to perform according to the holy law of “fair balance” in his writing ? Until Wednesday, at least, when the Sir Muir Russell report into the Climategate scandal is unleashed on an unsuspecting public. With all the proper Public Relations attached.
Will the Russell report give any indication about what the Police investigation has uncovered in respect of who, how and why the UEA CRU Climategate e-mails were stolen ?
Will the Russell report give a summary of the sources of the multitude of unfair, unjustified and baseless accusations made against Phil Jones and the UEA CRU ?
And will the Russell report explain why it was considered necessary to investigate the practice of Climate Change Science, and its Scientists, based on the whims of non-experts ?