Sunday, 7 March 2010

SMHI and Phil Jones

Stockholm Initiative Called Out Over False Accusations Against Phil Jones

Stockholm Initiative delivers false statement about parliament enquiry

The false statement is not made by the SHMI, but a body calling itself the "Stockholm Initiative". This is important to note, because the way it has been presented on certain blogs has mislead some people into thinking the false statement, with it's rather colorful phrasing, was made by the SHMI itself or another neutral Swedish science organization.

The press release containing the false statement actually comes from a body calling itself the "Stockholm Initiative" (Take a look at their website). Comparisons could be made with the Heartland Institute, although the Stockholm Initiative seems slightly more credible.

The opening words of the Stockholm Initiative press release contains a false statement attributing a statement to Phil Jones that he did not make. It wasn't Phil Jones who mentioned the data availability issue with the SHMI, it was the Professor Acton who was present alongside Phil Jones the parliamentary hearing (see the transcript of the hearing - This is a very strange and disturbing kind of error given that the transcript is very clear on who said what.

This is not the only error however. The following blog post outlines "many factual errors" that are contained in the SHMI press release:
Climate sceptics are wrong about Phil Jones and SMHI

This press-release have gained considerable attention on climate denier blogs but contains many factual errors. To begin with swedish data is not in the public domain. SMHI have recently made some data available on the internet for non commercial use, but under the explicit condition that the recipient is not allowed to disclose the data.

The license agreement is very easy to find, and if you are able to read swedish the license agreement can be read here. Paragraphs §3.2 and 4.1 are the relevant ones and here's a rough translation of §4.1
4.1 The Licensee does not own the right på disclose, send on, link to or in any other way spread the contents of the data and/or products that has been recieved in accordance with this agreement to a third part.
This is not public domain.

But it is however standard policy for SMHI, and for most of the european wheather organisations. There are even some sort of common guidelines for this sort of thing. The SMHI and others are allowing scientists free access to their data, but they are not allowed to re-publish the data.

See also

The Stockholm Initiative have not commented and clarified a response to their errors or explained how they came about. I only hope they step forward to clear matters up, or else I fear the world will not trust anything they say again. This is of course a very important subject and it would be a shame to see the reputation of such fine organizations as the Stockholm Initiative tarnished..


  1. The transcript is quite clear on who said what. It is amazing that the statement that Jones never made the comment about the weather bureaus not allowing them to share the data has gotten repeated so quickly and so many times. And the people repeating keep saying so loudly "Why don't they read the transcript" when they have obviously not read the transcript themselves.

    From the transcript:
    Professor Jones: Yes. We have tried to go back to the countries and seven countries have
    said they would rather we did not release the copies of their data we
    have in our database.

    Q113 Mr Boswell: Do they give any indication why? I realise that is sensitive perhaps.

    Professor Jones: It is not that sensitive. Canada, for example, says they would rather
    we sent requests for Canadian data to their website; they do not want
    us to put their data on our website.

    and then again:
    Q146 Graham Stringer: Did you try to get round the agreements you had made with these
    different countries in the interests of scientific objectivity?

    Professor Jones: Not in that way. We did, with the help of the Met Office, approach all
    the countries of the world and asked them whether we could release their data. We have had 59 replies of which 52 have been positive, so that
    has led to the release of 80% of the data, but we have had these seven
    negative responses which we talked about earlier, including Canada.

    How can people who can spell so well keep repeating such inanity. Jones did say it and he said it more than once. Read the transcript before you scold others for not reading the transcript

  2. The press release claims:
    "Dr. Jones asserted that the weather services of several countries, including Sweden, Canada and Poland, had refused to allow their data to be released, to explain his reluctance to comply with Freedom of Information requests."

    Professor Acton said:
    "Seven countries have said "No, you cannot", half the countries have not yet answered, Canada and Poland are amongst those who have said, "No you cannot publish it" and also Sweden."

    Note he mentions Canada and Poland and Sweden, just as the press release claims. It's clearly Acton's statement the press release is talking about, yet they've attributed it to Phil Jones.

    Sure Phil Jone's agrees with what Acton said. Because it's true. But why did the press release attribute it to Jones?

    That's what I found "strange". What I found "disturbing" was the possible implication of this is that the press release was an attempt to jump on the bandwagon of character assassinating Phil Jones.

  3. You seem intent on splitting the hair that because Acton said it first, it is only Acton's statement. Jones didn't just agree, he used almost the same words two different times, much later in the transcript.

    I certainly agree that everyone seems eager to make Jones responsible for everything. But I agree. Acton is a historian. He says so and admits that the science is beyond him. Jones was responsible for everything that happened here, and Jones should get the blame for everything that happened. I still do not understand why anyone would even cross the street to support him. He has completely lost track of who he had data agreements with. When questioned, he thinks that he said there were 5 agreements last time someone asked. He doesn't even know how he answered the question last time, much less know the correct answer. And the reason he doesn't have the SMHI data anymore is because he lost it. Just because he did QC on the data doesn't mean that he should throw the original data away. Because he changed it means that he should do everything in his power to keep it in case he needs it again. And he is doing everything in his power to hide that. There are three reasons to lose that data: carelessness, incompetence or maliciousness. His refusal to send data to Hughes and his email that he would rather delete data than share it might give you a glimpse into the way he operates.

    And isn't anyone a little offended by Acton. "We are longing to publish". Really? Is that why Jones refused to share data with Hughes 5 years ago? Is that why Jones said that he wanted to delete data rather than share it? Is that why he sent emails asking for someone to help him figure out how to get around the FOI requests?

  4. @ anonymous 13:47 -

    You say you are "a little offended by Acton. "We are longing to publish". Really? Is that why Jones refused to share data with Hughes 5 years ago? Is that why Jones said that he wanted to delete data rather than share it? Is that why he sent emails asking for someone to help him figure out how to get around the FOI requests?"

    I would guess, as a complete novice in climate science, that Jones was longing to publish with other climate scientists, rather than with a barrage of FOI filers.

  5. If Jones was longing to publish with other climate scientist, rather than publish the raw data, as Acton clearly said in response to a question about the availability of the raw data, then who was Acton referring to when he said "we"?

  6. Lets compromise. Lets agree to hold both Acton and Jones responsible for making a statement that was true.

    In terms of science, losing data in this case is irrelevant. The science behind understanding of the global temperature record of the past 100+ years does not require any of the data Jones had. In that light it's not that surprising that Jones would lose some of it.

    It's also not surprising that he would feel it wouldn't benefit science if certain people were given it. He had the power of refusing to hand it out and used it.

    Cataloging every intermediate state and enabling public access to it all is nice looking and fun, but it isn't a scientific necessity.

  7. Blob, I agree with everything you have said. I applaud your honesty in actually saying it. My problem is with Jones. He tried every underhanded trick in the book to hide what he was trying to do. Did he lose the data? That would be ok. All he would have had to do was say "I lost all the data. It's tough holding on to all that data from the 80's and early 90's". Did he do that? Did he even keep track of the data agreements that he had? When asked about it, he said that he thinks he said that he had 5. What does that mean? Does he have the data or not? If not, then why is he sending emails to all those countries asking if he can share their data? If he already had an agreement with those countries that he couldn't share the data, just say that as well. If he doesn't know if he has those kinds of agreements, then stop pretending at alternate times that he does.

    This whole thing stinks like a guy who doesn't keep very good records. And while that would be less than ideal, the whole coverup stinks and makes me not trust anything he has done. And I certainly don't understand anyone who thinks they should defend him or anything that he has done.