The UK’s most prominent climate change denial group is launching an inquiry into the integrity of global surface temperature records.
The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), established by notable climate-change sceptic Lord Lawson, announced an international team of “eminent climatologists, physicists and statisticians” would investigate the reliability of the current data.
Professor Terence Kealey, the former vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, has been appointed chair of the international temperature data review project.
Professor Kealey studied medicine at Oxford University before lecturing on clinical biochemistry, which is primarily concerned with the analysis of bodily fluids, at Cambridge University. It is unclear what experience he has in the field of climate change.
The other five commissioners of the data review project: Petr Chylek, Richard McNider, Roman Mureika, Roger A Pielke Sr and William van Winjngaarden are all associated with North American universities.
According to the GWPF, questions have been raised about the reliability of temperature data and the extent to which recordings may have been adjusted after they were collected.
The group claims the inquiry will “review the technical challenges in accurately measuring surface temperature, and will assess the extent of adjustments to the data, their integrity and whether they tend to increase or decrease the warming trend”.
On launching the inquiry Professor Kealey said: “Many people have found the extent of adjustments to the data surprising. While we believe that the 20th century warming is real, we are concerned by claims that the actual trend is different from – or less certain than – has been suggested.”
Bob Ward, policy and research director at the Grantham Institute of climate change and the environment, told The Independent: “I think this is a very obvious attempt to create a fake controversy over the global temperature record ahead of the [UN Climate Change] Paris summit.
“The only purpose of this review is to cast doubt on the science. It is a political move, not a serious scientific one.”
The GWPF has previously been subject to complaints that it has misled the public over climate change and used factually inaccurate material “as part of its campaign against climate policies in the UK and overseas”.
Former chancellor, Lord Lawson, set up the GWPF in 2009. His book on the subject of climate change, titled An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming, was labelled “misleading” by Sir John Houghton, a former co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
While Bob Watson, another former head of the IPCC, said that Lord Lawson did not understand “the current scientific and economic debate”.
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