November 24, 2009

Climategate - 3 (updated)

Yet another update on Climategate. As we have already learned from the previous episodes of the series, CRU hacked emails reveal a pattern by prominent climate alarmist scientists of concealing evidence contradictory to the theory of man-made global warming, manipulating scientific data, preventing conflicting reports from being published in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report, etc. Here is a couple of examples.

CRU head Phil Jones, in response to an article challenging global warming, writes that Climate Research, the journal which had published the article, needs to “rid themselves of this troublesome editor.” And here is Michael E. Mann’s reply (Mann is director of Pennsylvania State University’s Earth System Science Centre and a regular contributor to the popular climate science blog Real Climate):

I think we have to stop considering “Climate Research” as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal.

As Robert Tracinski points out in a very thoughtful post at Real Clear Politics, it is to be noted

the circular logic employed here. Skepticism about global warming is wrong because it is not supported by scientific articles in “legitimate peer-reviewed journals.” But if a journal actually publishes such an article, then it is by definition not “legitimate.”

But this scandal, says Tracinski, goes beyond strictly scientific journals and into other media.. for example,, a website which much of the mainstream media has relied on for climate science developments and which has been billed—at least until some time ago, in particular (I presume) until before this article by Roger Pielke Sr.—as an objective website and as a place where both global warming activists and skeptics can engage in an impartial debate. Yet, in another email, Michael E. Mann, on behalf of the CRU people, boasts that RealClimate is pretty well under control..

I wanted you guys to know that you’re free to use RC in any way you think would be helpful. Gavin and I are going to be careful about what comments we screen through […]. We can hold comments up in the queue and contact you about whether or not you think they should be screened through or not, and if so, any comments you’d like us to include. […]
You’re also welcome to do a followup guest post, etc. think of RC as a resource that is at your disposal to combat any disinformation put forward by the McIntyres of the world. Just let us know. We’ll use our best discretion to make sure the skeptics don’t’get to use the RC comments as a megaphone...

Well, I don’t really know what else to say about this, other than the pattern emerging is simple enough:

In any discussion of global warming, either in the scientific literature or in the mainstream media, the outcome is always predetermined. Just as the temperature graphs produced by the CRU are always tricked out to show an upward-sloping "hockey stick," every discussion of global warming has to show that it is occurring and that humans are responsible. And any data or any scientific paper that tends to disprove that conclusion is smeared as "unscientific" precisely because it threatens the established dogma.
For more than a decade, we've been told that there is a scientific "consensus" that humans are causing global warming, that "the debate is over" and all "legitimate" scientists acknowledge the truth of global warming. Now we know what this "consensus" really means. What it means is: the fix is in.

Needless to say, this has little to do, in itself, with one’s honest and sincere convictions about the “Anthropogenic Global Warming” doctrine, or about the opposite (and equally respectable) view according to which global warming is a natural phenomenon, correlated to solar flare activity. And no matter if in the 1300’s grapes were grown in the south of England and parts of Norway could cultivate wheat, and when they discovered Greenland, they called it Greenland because there wasn’t as much ice or snow as there is now.. But the fact remains that now the CRU people (if not all those arguing the case for man-made global warming) seem to be afraid of open and honest debate. Which makes them (at least) far less reliable than what was thought previously.


UPDATE: Nov. 25, 2009

Even British writer George Monbiot, a leading environmentalist and a columnist for The Guardian, has admitted to being “dismayed and deeply shaken” by some of the emails:

It’s no use pretending that this isn’t a major blow. The emails extracted by a hacker from the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia could scarcely be more damaging. I am now convinced that they are genuine, and I’m dismayed and deeply shaken by them.
Yes, the messages were obtained illegally. Yes, all of us say things in emails that would be excruciating if made public. Yes, some of the comments have been taken out of context. But there are some messages that require no spin to make them look bad. There appears to be evidence here of attempts to prevent scientific data from being released, and even to destroy material that was subject to a freedom of information request.
Worse still, some of the emails suggest efforts to prevent the publication of work by climate sceptics, or to keep it out of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I believe that the head of the unit, Phil Jones, should now resign. Some of the data discussed in the emails should be re-analysed.
The hacked emails are a hard knock, but the science of global warming withstands much more than that.

Of course George Monbiot doesn’t think these revelations justify the sceptics’ claims that this is “the final nail in the coffin” of global warming theory. Yet, nobody was expecting him to suddenly change his mind about the whole matter. Intellectual honesty is enough of a reason, for me, to recommend a thorough reading of this article. Monbiot has taken an intellectually honest stance, and I really appreciate him for that.