The University of East Anglia has found an appropriate chairman for the independent review into leaked emails from its Climatic Research Unit, which sceptics say show unacceptable manipulation and suppression of data that do not support the cause of manmade global warming.
Sir Muir Russell has a distinguished background as a Scottish civil servant, including acting as the first Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Executive following devolution in 1999. He retired this year as principal and vice-chancellor of Glasgow University.
The terms of reference for the inquiry seem to cover the main allegations of misconduct made by sceptics, including data manipulation/suppression and failure to comply with Freedom of Information requests. Russell will be free to amend the university’s terms of reference and devise his own working methods to investigate fully any alleged misconduct by CRU academics.
UEA wants Russell to complete his work by the spring. That will leave several months in which sceptics will be able to make hay with the allegations.
We had an example today when Saudi Arabia’s chief climate negotiator, Mohammad Al-Sabban told BBC News that the CRU email issue would have a “huge impact” on next week’s UN climate summit.
“It appears from the details of the scandal that there is no relationship whatsoever between human activities and climate change,” said Al-Sabban – who obviously has a vested interest in arguing that the vast volumes of oil pumped from beneath the Saudi sands are not contributing to global warming.
Meanwhile the CRU keeps the flag flying on an emergency website that promises: “Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.” Its home page defiantly displays a graph of global temperatures over the past 150 years, which climate scientists believe shows the impact of manmade warming.