Status report, 2010-11-26

Period: 2010-08 to 2010-11

Nick Barnes and David Jones

1. Introduction

The Climate Code Foundation was created in August 2010. The
Foundation has formed an independent Advisory Committee to meet once
per quarter, to assess the work of the Foundation, and to advise on
future work. The first such meeting will take place on 2010-11-30.

For each meeting of the Committee, the Foundation will write a report
describing its activities and current status. This is the first such
report, for the meeting on 2010-11-30. This report will be
distributed to the committee for consideration in advance of the
meeting, and will be published on the Foundation’s website.

The intended readership of this document is all Foundation staff and
Committee members, and anyone interested in the work of the
Foundation.

Readers may find this document unusually frank. That is in keeping
with the transparent operation of the Foundation.

2. Overview

This quarter has been largely occupied by formation and planning of
the Foundation. We are establishing our identity and forming networks
of people at agencies, institutions, and NGOs.

We are still entirely unfunded, and this could cause the Foundation to
fail in the next few months.

In the next quarter, subject to funding, we plan to:

- obtain some funding;
- produce white papers and other resources for scientists;
- build links and networks with decision-makers;
- generate interest in the press;
- plan and announce a climate code workshop;
- visit institutions;
- make a 1.0 release of ccc-gistemp;
- collaborate on at least one research publication.

We would like the committee to provide general strategy advice and
also specific advice on:

- fundraising;
- a climate code workshop;
- press and publicity;
- testimonials;
- institutional partnership strategy;
- networking.

3. Activities

Essentially this first quarter has been occupied by the formation and
planning of the Foundation.

3.1. Corporate

The Foundation was formed in August as a non-profit company in
England, with the object of promoting public understanding of climate
science,

* by increasing the visibility and clarity of the software used in
climate science, and by encouraging climate scientists to do the
same;
* by encouraging good software development and management practices
among climate scientists;
* by encouraging the publication of climate science software as open
source.

We had already been doing Clear Climate Code activities, unpaid,
part-time for two years. The intention is for the Foundation to have
paid full-time staff to pursue this broader object.

We have had two board meetings, to agree the Advisory Committee
framework and to agree an outline financial strategy.

In September and October we formed this independent Advisory
Committee, currently consisting of 10 academics and one writer. We
would like to broaden this committee somewhat, by adding members from
the software industry and with public policy experience.

There has been some delay in opening a bank account; we are chasing
this up at the moment.

We contacted a graphic artist to design a logo for the Foundation, we
have agreed on the form of the artwork.

We have no office space, phone lines, and so on. Everything is being
done from our homes at present. This will change if we obtain any
funding, and will certainly have to change if we hire additional staff
(which we hope to do in 2011).

Since August, David Jones and Nick Barnes have each spent considerable
time on the Foundation. Neither has been full-time, for separate
personal reasons which we hope will pass. I estimate we have expended
something in the region of 250-300 hours of total effort to date.

3.2. Planning and Framework-Building

We have created a large list of possible activities, a business plan
structuring those activities according to the resource level, and a
fund-raising plan involving a mix of corporate sponsorship,
institutional partnership, and payments for specific services.

This material all evolved from our initial ideas through conversations
with various people including advisory committee members. It seems to
have settled down now.

We have created a website to host all of this material, as a blog to
focus interest in the Foundation, and as a framework for other planned
material, for example white papers, directory, board meeting minutes,
accounts, this report, and so on.

Rather than including all this material here, please read the
following specific documents on the website at http://climatecode.org/

Elevator pitch: http://climatecode.org/about/elevator-pitch/
Business plan: http://climatecode.org/about/business-plan/
Activity overview: http://climatecode.org/activities/
Activity list: http://climatecode.org/activities/complete-list/
Sponsorship page: http://climatecode.org/contribute/corporate-sponsorship/

3.3. Engagement with Climate Scientists

We attended the Surface Temperatures Workshop at the UK Met Office in
September, and were warmly received by a large number of climate
scientists.

Not all scientists agree either with our focus on software, or on the
importance of code publication. That’s to be expected: if everyone
agreed then we’d have nothing to do. But there is definitely a
growing movement towards open-ness, and a widespread recognition of
the importance of software in modern science.

We have interest from some academics in working with the Foundation,
either as an audience for presentations, or clients for training,
workshops, or sprints, or informally spreading our message, or more
formally representing the Foundation at conferences and workshops,
possibly writing Foundation materials such as white papers and so on.

We have a web-page of testimonials from several scientists praising
our work. Right now all these people are on the advisory committeee.
We would like to see more testimonials, from scientists,
decision-makers, and commentators.

David Jones is collaborating with an established climate scientist,
and with others, on an academic paper for publication, based on work
with the ccc-gistemp code, on the US historical temperature record.

3.4. Publicity

Nick Barnes wrote a commissioned opinion piece for Nature, published
on 13th October, arguing for code publication across science.
http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101013/full/467753a.html
Nature 467, 753 (2010) | doi:10.1038/467753a

This article generated quite a bit of interest across the
blogosphere, and a little in print. There is a companion news piece
in the same issue of Nature, also mentioning the Foundation.
http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101013/full/467775a.html
Nature 467, 775-777 (2010) | doi:10.1038/467775a

The Foundation has also been mentioned positively in a recent piece by
Mike Hulme in the Guardian, marking the anniversary of the CRU email
disclosure. A journalist from Science contacted us repeatedly in
August and September, and conducted a long phone interview, but
nothing has come of that yet.

We have started the Foundation blog, but are not yet regularly
updating it. On the established Clear Climate Code blog, we have
published 5 articles.

3.5. Code Activities

David Jones has made ccc-gistemp more flexible in that:

- a land mask can control the combination of land surface air
temperatures with sea surface temperature;

- the recently announced GHCNM v3 data (which is still in beta,
pending a publication) can be analysed using ccc-gistemp;

- there is more fine grained control of input datasets.

One of the ccc-gistemp volunteers has started investigating the steps
required to use Python 3 which we expect will become the dominant
language version in the Python community. This investigation leads us
to conclude that there are no major risks, ensuring that ccc-gistemp
will have a healthy future.

ccc-gistemp is being used for a publication that is in progress
(mentioned above).

David Jones has investigated using community tools and resources (in
particular, volunteers using ScraperWiki) to create a community
sourced climate dataset that can be used to augment the standard
analysis using ccc-gistemp. Although not much effort has been spent
on this, it is proving fruitful.
http://clearclimatecode.org/analysis-of-canada-data/

David Jones has written an overview of the ccc-gistemp algorithm,
including how various parts correspond to the published literature.

3.6. Networking

Nick Barnes spent several days in Brussels in mid-October, meeting
various people connected to the European Union (including the senior
staffer of the MEP chairing the environment committee in the European
Parliament, and the chief of staff of the European Commissioner for
climate action). This was a good opportunity to try out the new
“elevator pitch”. This trip was tremendously informative, helped to
form the business plan, and generated a lot of leads – for networking
and for sponsorship – which have not yet been followed up.

We have been contacted by a UK public-sector group interested in
creating a specific web resource relating to climate science. This is
still nascent and we can’t yet discuss it in detail but it might well
generate a small amount of paid work for us in the next quarter, and
contribute fairly directly to our planned “Climate Code Directory”
project.

3.7. Financial

Our business plan identifies several funding streams: general
sponsorships, event sponsorships, institutional partnerships, and
payments for services. Some contacts have expressed the view that the
proposed sponsorship levels are unrealistically high; others that they
are unrealistically low. This suggests to us that they might be about
right.

We have approached a very few potential sponsors, mostly before
developing our business plan, and either been turned down flat or
advised to revise our pitch and try again. I suspect this is because
we are not experienced in sales, fund-raising, or the non-profit
sector.

We have not received any sponsorship, or received or agreed any other
form of income. This is our main priority at the moment, as we cannot
sustain unpaid activity at this level for many more months.

We have spent a total of 1650.17 GBP on all costs of the Foundation to
date: travel and subsistence, stationery, promotional mugs, formation
costs. These costs have been borne by Ravenbrook Limited. We intend
to repay this money to Ravenbrook when we have secured funding.

4. Plan

Our plans for the next quarter (to 2011-02-28) are set out below,
but are understood to be subject to funding and resources. These plans
are based on having 2 full-time staff members.

Funding is critical to our success at this point: if we don’t obtain
at least 10K GBP of funding in this quarter, the Foundation is at
serious risk of failure.

4.1. Corporate

At the advisory committee meeting on 2010-11-30, we expect the
advisory committee to appoint its own chair, decide on its own
procedures, and take on the responsibility for future appointments and
its own continuance.

In this quarter we hope that the committee will be broadened by
appointing members from the software industry and with public policy
experience.

We will chase up with our nominated bank to open a bank account (this
is in progress, see section 3).

We will approve final artwork for the Foundation logo, and will start
using that visual brand.

Subject to funding, we expect to start compensating David Jones and
Nick Barnes for their services to the Foundation. We may engage an
intern or other similar level employee. We may seek someone to
raise funds for the Foundation on a subcontracting basis. Again
subject to funding, we would seek office space at these staffing
levels.

4.2. Planning and Framework-building

Throughout this quarter (and each quarter) we will review our
progress in executing this plan and our planning activities. We
will review our strategic planning documents in the light of advisory
committee recommendations.

Our institutional partnership strategy – to raise funds and generate
awareness across climate science at an institutional level – is weak,
and we plan to make it more robust; the advisory committee may wish to
guide this.

4.3. Engagement with Climate Scientists

We will publish (on our website) several white papers on software
development, code improvement, and code publication (for example,
“How to publish your code: a step-by-step guide”). We will publicise
these to climate scientists.

As mentioned in section 3, some scientists are willing to advocate our
positions to their colleagues and through their existing networks. We
will identify and support those people as foundation associates, to
promote our activities.

We will plan and announce a climate code workshop, to take place later
in 2011.

We will start work on a Climate Code Directory.

We will visit several climate science institutions.

We will submit the paper that is currently in progress, and start
work on at least one other publishable paper (also based on our
ccc-gistemp work).

4.4. Publicity

We will actively generate and sustain press interest; including at
least two news oriented press articles.

We will obtain (more) testimonials for the Foundation from leading
voices across climate science: scientists, decision-makers,
commentators.

We will continue our active blogging, producing 12 articles (nominally,
6 for the CCC blog, and 6 for the Foundation blog).

4.5. Code Activities

We will make a 1.0 release of ccc-gistemp, which will include more
comprehensive documentation, and will produce its results in a more
accessible form. Subsequently, we will be winding down ccc-gistemp
activities in order to concentrate on other Foundation activities.

We will continue to promote ccc-gistemp as an exemplar, and encourage
others to adopt our practices.

We will consider what Foundation code activities might be suitable for
Google Summer of Code projects, with a view to sponsoring a project in
the 2011 programme (we expect the window for making submissions will be
a few days in March 2011).

4.6. Networking

We will continue our networking, contacting and meeting many people
identified as important networking contacts or possible funding
sources. These include representatives of governments, institutions,
agencies, NGOs, and corporations. This will include at least one more
trip to Brussels. Parts of this role may be subcontracted, subject to
funding.

4.7. Financial

We seek to secure 20K-100K GBP of funding in this quarter, towards our
first-year funding goal. This involves finding at least one and
ideally three or more corporate sponsors.

As mentioned above, we may engage an external contractor to seek funds
on our behalf, and we’re talking to a likely candidate about that.

5. Risk Analysis

Most of the above planned activities are straight-forward. The
following items are particularly difficult or have aspects which are
not clear to us.

- Fundraising. This is the largest risk because it is urgently
required for the success of the Foundation. It is uncertain because
we have little experience of it: we don’t know whether our strategy
is sound or appropriate, or how best to pursue it. We are
addressing this risk by seeking advice on this particular point,
from the advisory committee and also from associates with track
records in enterprise green IT consultancy, and NGO experience, and
in the non-profit sector. We may subcontract the whole fundraising
effort to such an associate.

- Climate Code Workshop. Again, this is uncertain because it is
slightly outside our expertise and because we are outsiders in the
climate science community who would attend. We have run small
computer science workshops in the past, and have assisted in running
IT conferences. We would like advice from the advisory committee on
suitable timing, venue, scope, and structure of a first workshop.

- Press. We have some contacts in the press, but are complete
amateurs at exploiting them. We will need to be better at this to
generate the publicity we would like, especially as we start to
deliver more useful resources (white papers and so forth) for
climate scientists.

- Testimonials. As outsiders it is hard for us to approach climate
science leaders and decision makers for testimonials, and as a
relatively unproven new organisation there is an obvious risk to
prominent individuals in giving us their public backing. So this is
a hard sell: all our current testimonials are from members of the
advisory committee.

- Institutional Partnership Strategy. We want to form
institutional-level links with climate science bodies (for example:
Met Office, BADC, NOAA, NCDC), but we’re not really sure how best to
go about this. What do we have to offer which is most appealing to
these institutions – is it simply the PR value of association with
our projects, or is it concrete services, such as presentations,
training, sprints, consultancy, or research collaboration? What
should we expect in return?

- Networking. This is somewhat outside our comfort zone, and requires
travel which is currently difficult (and often impossible) for Nick
Barnes, for family reasons. We are considering subcontracting some
of it.

6. Specific Advice Requested

The main question we would like the advisory committee to address, at
each meeting, is this:

How could we improve the Foundation’s plan and strategy, to better
meet our goals?

Also, and more specifically, we would like the advisory committee to
consider and advise on the high-risk areas mentioned above.

Finally, we would like to remind the committee that it is independent,
and should take the opportunity of this first meeting to:

- appoint its chair;
- agree its procedures;
- consider additional appointments; and
- schedule the next meeting, presumably for late 2011-02.