The University of Queensland in Australia is taking legal action to block the release of data used by one of its scientists to come up with the oft-quoted statistic that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that mankind is causing global warming.
Since coming out with this figure last year, climate scientist John Cook of the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute has been under fire for the methodology he used.
“Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on [anthropogenic global warming] is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research,’’ Cook and his fellow authors wrote in their study which was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters last year.
The university has told climate skeptic blogger Brandon Schollenberger that the data on the study he possesses was illegally obtained and they would take legal action against him if he published it.
“UQ has therefore published all data relating to the paper that is of any scientific value to the wider community,” said Queensland’s acting pro-vice-chancellor Alastair McEwan.
“UQ withheld only data that could identify research participants who took part in the research on condition of anonymity,” McEwan added. “Such conditions are not uncommon in academic research, and any breach of confidentiality could deter people from participating in valuable research in the future.”
McEwan said that all the data Cook used to come up with his “97 percent” consensus was published on his blog SkepticalScience.com. The school says it wants to protect the privacy of those surveyed in Cook’s research.
“That’s right. The University of Queensland sent me a threatening letter which threatens me further if I show anyone that letter,” Schollenberger wrote on his blog Thursday. “Confusing, no? It gets stranger. Along with its threats, the University of Queensland included demands.”
“According to it, I’m not just prevented from disclosing any of the ‘intellectual property’ (IP) I’ve gained access to,” Schollenberger added. “I’m prevented from even doing anything which involves using the data. That means I can’t discuss the data. I can’t perform analyses on it. I can’t share anything about it with you.”
“Apparently I badgered Cook too much. I tried too hard to get him to do his duty and try to protect his subjects’ privacy. The University of Queensland needs me to stop. If I don’t, they’ll sue me,” he said.
Cook’s paper has been touted by environmentalists and the Obama administration as evidence that virtually all scientists agree that global warming is a man-made threat.
“Ninety-seven percent of scientists, including, by the way, some who originally disputed the data, have now put that to rest,” President Obama said last year announcing his climate plan. “They’ve acknowledged the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to it.”
But Cook’s 97 percent consensus claim was rebutted in subsequent analyses of his study. A paper by five leading climatologists published in the journal Science and Education last year found that Cook’s study misrepresented the views of most consensus scientists.