FOI requests shouldn’t be needed in the first place

Sir Paul Nurse, incoming head of the Royal Society and defender of clilmate scientists' right to be opaque.

It is a shame that Sir Paul Nurse has taken it upon himself to run interference for climate scientists who wish to evade Freedom of Information requests. Many in the skeptic camp, Steve McIntyre prominent among them, regard the issue of “harassment by FOI” to be a canard, and rightly so.

1. It is worth noting that Nurse provides no specifics of climate scientists being showered with unreasonable requests in his commentary. Everything is vague, and a little bit spooky.

2. It is a shame that FOI requests have been made necessary by the unwillingness of climate scientists, specifically those at the center of Climategate, to share data and methods.

3. If such research were being done with the scientists’ own money and did not involve policy affecting billions of the world’s people, then the refusal to follow normal scientific protocol in terms of transparency could, perhaps, be justified. But it is not the scientists’ own money, and their work does affect you and me, profoundly.

4. The implication from Nurse is that Big Oil or some such is funding those sending the FOI requests, whereas all the significant climate-scientist FOI requests that have been made public have come from private individuals connected in no way with oil, big or small. They come from the heart of honest skeptics. Big Oil, keep in mind, funds mainstream climatology, the alarmists that is, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

5. How many times will mainstream journalists allow this mantra of poor, persecuted climate scientists to be repeated before checking a single fact?

Phil Jones and Paul Nurse converse in this still image from BBC documentary on the Climategate scandal.

6. Phil Jones of Nurse’s alma mater the University of East Anglia is likely the one to have convinced Nurse of the “intimidating”  and “chilling” nature of the Freedom of Information requests. Perhaps Nurse should have asked his chum Jones why requests for the truth are that chilling.


About Harold Ambler

I am a lifelong environmentalist. I started my journalism career at The New Yorker, where I worked as a copy editor. Since then, my own work has appeared in The New York Daily News, The National Review Online, The Atlantic Wire, The Huffington Post, The Berkeley Daily Planet, The Providence Journal, Brown Alumni Monthly, The Narragansett Times, Rhode Island Monthly, and Providence Business News.
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