Dogged Pearce still hounding Jones

By Bryan Walker 01/04/2010

Fred Pearce is a fine one to speak of a rush to judgment. Many of his Guardian articles on the UEA emails did just that. (See Pearced to the Heart and Defending the Indefensible on Hot Topic) Yet that is the accusation he levels at yesterday’s report of the parliamentary committee’s investigation into the matter.  Essentially because, he claims, they avoided investigating the more complex charges such as those raised by him in the Guardian series.

What he seems most concerned with is that Jones got off lightly. 

’The MPs are clear that there are serious issues to address both in climate science and in the operation of freedom of information law in British universities. But in their desire not to single out Jones, they end up bending over backwards to support a man who is the pillar of the establishment they are criticising.’

Here is what the report concluded:

’The focus on Professor Jones and CRU has been largely misplaced. On the accusations relating to Professor Jones’s refusal to share raw data and computer codes, we consider that his actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community. We have suggested that the community consider becoming more transparent by publishing raw data and detailed methodologies. On accusations relating to Freedom of Information, we consider that much of the responsibility should lie with UEA, not CRU.’

Not enough for Pearce.  It lets Jones off too lightly:

’… whatever standard practice may be, surely as one of climate science’s senior figures, Jones should take some responsibility for its misdemeanours? Jones has worked for the CRU for more than 20 years and been its director for six. The MPs found there a “culture of withholding information” in which “information may have been deleted to avoid disclosure.” It found this “unacceptable”. Doesn’t its director take responsibility?’

What does Pearce want?  Resignation?  Dismissal?  The parliamentary committee received submissions, examined Jones, affirmed that it had seen nothing which suggests the science from the CRU is faulty, said Jones should be reinstated and made recommendations for changed practices in  future in the interests of the science being irreproachable.  There are further investigations to come.  Meanwhile the globe continues to warm.  It seems to me that Pearce as an environmental journalist ought to be able to find more useful occupation for his talents than arguing with the verdict of the committee. Jones might have earned a period of respite. The Guardian should call off its dogs.