A short while ago I wrote about the hysterical coverage of the 'Climategate' pseudo scandals.

Following the hacking of the Climate Research Unit emails at East Anglia University the UK government set up a committee to look into allegations of malpractice. They asked for submissions from the public and got a lot. Including one from the Institute of Physics (IOP).


The submission from the IOP reads like a hatchet job on the Climate Researchers at the university of East Anglia. They pointed to "prima facie evidence of determined and co-ordinated refusals to comply with honourable scientific traditions and freedom of information law.". Just for good measure they went on to suggest these dark deeds were part of an altogether larger problem

"However, most of the e-mails were exchanged with researchers in a number of other leading institutions involved in the formulation of the IPCC's conclusions on climate change. In so far as those scientists were complicit in the alleged scientific malpractices, there is need for a wider inquiry into the integrity of the scientific process in this field."

Goodness. It seems like the IOP think there might be a conspiracy going on.

The Institute are holders of a Royal Charter. They sound like a serious, institutional voice of science. And indeed that is their reputation. You'd assume that when they make accusations like these it would be a matter for the top brass. Serious consideration would be given to the issue. After all, this is a submission by a national body to a parliamentary inquiry which contains allegations of huge import. Unfortunately, we have no idea whether serious consideration was given or not.

You see, despite a plea for transparency in science they don't seem too keen on any in politics. They won't say who wrote the submission. The Guardian has done some digging and discovered that the institute's Energy subcommittee wrote the memo, and then three of the institute's 14 board members signed off on it.

Who were these three people? Well so far we don't know and the Institute isn't saying.

Indeed the only person who can be identified as having anything to do with the memo is a member of the subcommittee, one Philip Gill, consultant to the oil and gas industry, and holder of an undergraduate degree in physics, gained in 1964. To say he's got form as a climate skeptic would be putting it mildly. Here he is ranting tediously and not very pleasantly away in the comments on the Times Higher Education website.

On 22 November he wrote of the CRU hack "The e-mails and other files are all over the Internet and include how to hide atmospheric cooling", which suggests that he'd either not read them, or not understood them. And yet, he and others are apparently the ones behind the Institute's submission.

In the interests of transparency and their own credibility the Institute of Physics now need to provide a full accounting of how that submission came to be made. Who were the authors, who approved it and does the institute stand behind it? They may also want to address for themselves the question of whether the submission breached any of the guidelines in their code of conduct.

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Photo © Greenpeace / Markel Redondo - Guazhou wind farm near Yumen, Gansu province, China.