Doubts about how much humans are contributing to changes in the climate have had an increasing number of things in their favor: a leveling off and even cooling of global temperatures over the past decade; the fact that Anthropogenic Global Warming theory (AGW) doesn’t account fully for a number of natural effects on the climate; admissions that the likes of Al Gore have trumped up the potential consequences of global warming in order to gain public attention; serious questions about the accuracy of the data that AGW proponents cite, and the scientific rigor with which the data have been collected.
What was missing was a paper trail indicating that warmists were manipulating the exchange of information and attempting to silence skeptics. Until now.
The recent release of several dozen megabytes of information from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia has struck a huge blow against the politics, and perhaps the science, of AGW. It’s unclear whether these data — including thousands of emails (UPDATE: sorry, make that “emails and other documents”) from some of the world’s most prominent warmists — were hacked by an outsider or leaked by a whistleblower on the inside. But the people who wrote and received the emails have verified their veracity.
Lest you doubt the impact of these emails, know that one of AGW’s greatest fanatics, George Monbiot of London’s Guardian newspaper, has described them as “a major blow” that “could scarcely be more damaging.” The fact that Monbiot tries to play down their impact on the science of AGW by concocting an over-the-top fake email, saying that only this kind of email would prove an over-arching conspiracy among warmists, merely shows that this crowd can do nothing but deal in hyperbole.
Science writer Ron Bailey — who, perhaps surprisingly for a staffer at uber-libertarian Reason Magazine, is convinced by the science of AGW, or at least was 18 months ago when I met him in Copenhagen — was compelled to write:
Hmmm. Data not agreeing with model predictions. Very interesting. And of course, Flannery is right, science does work through “a robust interchange and testing of ideas.” But interchanging ideas about how to hijack some aspects of peer review and by trying to suppress the work of researchers with whom one disagrees? Messy indeed.
Now, on to the emails.
I haven’t read through even a fraction of the emails, so I will only pass on what others, who have spent more time looking at them, have found.
One good summary is at Powerline blog, which includes emails suggesting that the CRU scientists tried to eliminate inconvenient “blips” in the data; complained about journalists, specifically Andrew Revkin of The New York Times, who were “not as predictable as we’d like”; and mused about ways to make sure the grant money from green-friendly corporations kept coming (while complaining about companies that funded alternative viewpoints). More from Powerline here, here and here.
Perhaps the most damning email threads describe the lengths to which the CRU crew went to silence debate. Pajamas Media has done a great job compiling messages along these lines. The PJM articles include: Charlie Martin on how the men violated the social contract of science; Rand Simberg on scientists as politicians; and Christopher Monckton, a British lord who gave an incredibly informative and entertaining talk this summer at a Georgia Public Policy Foundation event, and whose offer to debate Al Gore on the science of global warming has gone unaccepted, on why the CRU scientists are criminals.
A longtime thorn in the side of the AGW crowd, Steve McIntyre, hosts several discussion threads on some of the implications of the emails, including some back-and-forth about computer coding that I frankly do not understand in the least, here.
This undoubtedly won’t end the debate about global warming, but then again the only people who were trying all along to end the debate were the AGW crowd. What it ought to do, though, is provide real impetus for these supposed scientists to follow the normal procedures of science — including revealing their data so that others can test their hypotheses, a staple of scientific research that the CRU crew had until now avoided with all their might.
And at the very least, this ought to be reason enough for Congress, and the poo-bahs at next month’s U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen, to back off any dramatic new anti-carbon measures until we know whether the scandal goes deeper than this.
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