Steve Connor: This saga shows that scientists have lost control of science

In five inquiries, nothing has been found that can undermine the basic tenets of climate science

Share
Related Topics

One certainty has emerged from Sir Muir Russell's inquiry into the stolen emails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit: science in the age of the internet has changed for ever. No longer can publicly funded scientists assume that "their" raw data are gathered for their eyes only if their research is of international importance.

The members of the inquiry repeatedly stated science has to be open to public scrutiny, and this means by the public themselves. In the age of the internet, anyone with a laptop and a kitchen table can and should be able to access the raw data on which important scientific conclusions are based.

Professor Geoffrey Boulton, a geologist who sat on the inquiry, pointed out yesterday that we have to move to science being a public endeavour with the direct involvement of the public. His colleague, Professor James Norton, an IT expert, put it more succinctly: researchers in the public sector do not own their data; at most, they have a brief lease on it.

The "climategate" affair has shown that the proprietorial attitude of scientists towards their life's work has to change. Professor Phil Jones, the climate scientist at the centre of the storm, has been completely cleared of any misconduct, but he encapsulated the closed attitude of scientists when in one angry email exchange he said: "We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?"

In an age where anyone can access the raw scientific data on the climate for themselves, it is highly likely that there will be a growing number of people who will want to find something wrong with any evidence suggesting that they should have to change their lifestyle. But scientists should welcome this, rather than decry it.

Anyone who has practised science knows that, by its very nature, it is open to question and dissent. The uncertainties should never be minimised, but neither should they be used by "sceptics" to pour cold water on the entire canon of climate-change literature.

Nothing has been found that fundamentally undermines the basic tenets of climate science. Carbon-dioxide concentrations are rising as are global average temperatures, and it is highly likely man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are largely responsible. We must do something about it, or live with the consequences.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yvette Cooper campaigning in London at the launch of Labour’s women’s manifesto  

I want the Labour Party to lead a revolution in family support

Yvette Cooper
Liz Kendall  

Labour leadership contest: 'Moderniser' is just a vague and overused label

Steve Richards
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine