Nick Barnes’s background is in the software industry, where he has twenty years’ experience as a researcher, programmer, consultant, and manager. He is also the co-founder (with David Jones) of the Climate Code Foundation, a non-profit organisation to promote the public understanding of climate science. The Foundation’s “elevator pitch” is:
Public trust in climate science has been undermined, and public support for policy changes eroded. We’re rebuilding that trust and support, by improving the transparency and communication of the science, and especially the software used in the science.
Important stuff. And the Climate Code Foundation is doing it right: they are an open organisation, with all board-meeting minutes and accounts posted publicly on the site.
Nick gave up his day jobs because he cares passionately about the objectiveness of climate data and the computer code that creates it. But like 99.99% of the world, he does not have access to the primary scientific literature. Here’s an example. Nick writes:
Next week I’m attending a climate science meeting at the Royal Society, on Warm Climates of the Past. By happy coincidence there is a recent special issue of Phil. Trans. A, on the Anthropocene [i.e. the current geological era] including an article on exactly this subject – previous warm periods as analogues for anthropogenic warming. The article is co-authored by the professor chairing the meeting’s second day.
Reading that article would cost me £24. Not reading it leaves me ill-prepared for the meeting. What to do?
If you think climate matters then it matters that we have informed debate. That debate should include everyone – not just privileged academics. It’s narrow-minded (and plain wrong) to think that academics can give us the answer. We need objective analysis of the literature and informed debate.
Another example: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has published an influential report on Renewable Energy Sources. Anyone can read the report itself. But to back up its assertions each chapter lists several hundred references to peer-reviewed primary literature. And Nick can’t get access to these.
Something’s got to change.