Over the last few days I have been trying to follow a news story which the Guardian have been calling climategate. Having said that I feel I have just started to scratch the surface of this complex story about leaked emails which have shown scientists working for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) refusing to disclose information requested under the freedom of information act, being accused of using the peer review process to discredit papers which conflicts with their own findings and the fallout from false facts about the melting of Himalayan glaciers.
First of all I should point out that pretty much all of my research has been based around reading many guardian articles and I realise that I should be using a wider range of sources in order to get a better understanding of the issues.
Anyway, from what I have read, I am extremely disappointed with the attitude and arrogance of these scientists. I think that for some people, scientists have a reputation of being patronising and arrogant. The details of this story will do little to dispel this myth. Despite what Irwin suggests in his interview (part 2.1 of the SH804) it doesn’t look like everyone has learned the lesson that scientists need to be open, honest and transparent in this information age.
From what I have read the defences include;
– Disclosing incomplete scientific data and code , particularly unfinished work, contradicts issues of information property and is the equivalent of stealing (I can see the logic in this argument, and maybe there needs to be clarity in the law on this particular issue)
– Those who are asking for information under FOI are only doing it to pick holes and find fault (my answer to this is… Deal with it. The whole point of being open and honest is letting those who disagree with you, look at the facts and ask difficult questions. As difficult as these questions, answering them or even saying we don’t knw the answer, is better in the long run than keeping thing hidden)
– Answering these FOI questions are too time consuming. (Again I say …. Deal with it. In the same way that no one likes to pay taxes, no one likes to spend time answering these questions, but FOI is a part of modern life and needs to be addressed. Scientists are not above the law.)
I would really appreciate any comments, particularly from anyone defending the actions of these scientists. (i am not looking for a fght I just want to understand the other side of the argument).