Saturday, November 28, 2009

If the Scientific Evidence for Global Warming is so Clear, Why the Need to Fudge It?

This is what ordinary people all over the world are asking themselves in the light of the scandal at the UK's Climate Research Unit of the East Anglia University last week. This editorial in The Washington Post summarizes the facts as known to date and asks the obvious question.
"Scientific progress depends on accurate and complete data. It also relies on replication. The past couple of days have uncovered some shocking revelations about the baloney practices that pass as sound science about climate change.

It was announced Thursday afternoon that computer hackers had obtained 160 megabytes of e-mails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in England. Those e-mails involved communication among many scientific researchers and policy advocates with similar ideological positions all across the world. Those purported authorities were brazenly discussing the destruction and hiding of data that did not support global-warming claims.

Professor Phil Jones, the head of the Climate Research Unit, and professor Michael E. Mann at Pennsylvania State University, who has been an important scientist in the climate debate, have come under particular scrutiny. Among his e-mails, Mr. Jones talked to Mr. Mann about the "trick of adding in the real temps to each series ... to hide the decline [in temperature]."

Mr. Mann admitted that he was party to this conversation and lamely explained to the New York Times that "scientists often used the word 'trick' to refer to a good way to solve a problem 'and not something secret.' " Though the liberal New York newspaper apparently buys this explanation, we have seen no benign explanation that justifies efforts by researchers to skew data on so-called global-warming "to hide the decline." Given the controversies over the accuracy of Mr. Mann's past research, it is surprising his current explanations are accepted so readily."

A second editorial in the Washington Times notes that science depends on transparency and the replication of experiments by scientists around the world:
"The climate-gate revelations have exposed an unprecedented coordinated attempt by academics to distort research for political ends. Anyone interested in accurate science should be appalled at the manipulation of data "to hide the decline [in temperature]" and deletion of e-mail exchanges and data so as not to reveal information that would support global-warming skeptics. These hacks are not just guilty of bad science. In the United Kingdom, deleting e-mail messages to prevent their disclosure from a Freedom of Information Act request is a crime.

The story has gotten worse since the global-cooling cover-up was exposed through a treasure trove of leaked e-mails a week ago. The Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia has been incredibly influential in the global-warming debate. The CRU claims the world's largest temperature data set, and its research and mathematical models form the basis of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) 2007 report."

So the data our governments are relying on to make decisions about spending billions and billions of our hard-earned tax dollars to fix a problem that is only known to exist on the basis of that data, is in question. Does anyone besides me have a problem with that?

US Senator Jim Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee does. He thinks this scandal is the last nail in the coffin of US cap and trade legislation: "Ninety-five percent of the nails were in the coffin prior to this week. Now they are all in." This article from Real Clear Politics goes on to say:
"He's seen the back of three cap-and-trade bills, rode herd on an overweening Environmental Protection Agency, and steadfastly insisted that global researchers were "cooking" the science behind man-made global warming.
"This week he's looking prescient. The more than 3,000 emails and documents from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU) that have found their way to the Internet have blown the lid off the "science" of manmade global warming. CRU is a nerve center for many of those researchers who have authored the United Nations' global warming reports and fueled the political movement to regulate carbon.

Their correspondence show a claque of scientists massaging data to make it fit their theories, squelching scientists who disagreed, punishing academic journals that didn't toe the apocalyptic line, and hiding their work from public view. "It's no use pretending that this isn't a major blow," glumly wrote George Monbiot, a U.K. writer who has been among the fiercest warming alarmists. The documents "could scarcely be more damaging." And that's from a believer.

This scandal has real implications. Mr. Inhofe notes that international and U.S. efforts to regulate carbon were already on the ropes. The growing fear of Democrats and environmentalists is that the CRU uproar will prove a tipping point, and mark a permanent end to those ambitions."

Let us just suppose for a moment that the scandal is real and the data are fudged, which means that the world is about to spend billions of dollars, lower our standard of living and possibly create an economic recession - all for no good reason. Would it not be a good idea to halt before leaping off the precipice? Would it not be better to let real scientists with no axe to grind check and re-check the data without prejudice? Is it not suspicious that certain scientific conclusions are so heavily tied to left wing ideologies? Since when is science ideological? Is the fervor of climate alarmists like Al Gore who stand to make millions of dollars from the legislation they are currently lobbying for not a bit worrisome? In short, are there not a lot of questions to be answered before we all jump off this particular cliff?

1 comment:

Peter Dunn said...

Craig, it's good to see that this latest scandal is increasing your skepticism. I have been a skeptic since about 18 years ago I read a Time magazine article which said that cows farting in Brazil was causing dangerous warming of the planet. I've been writing all year (see link below) about this subject and am not the least bit surprised by Climategate, because common sense dictated that there could be no consensus when the best minds such as Prof. Richard Lindzen remained steadfast "deniers". Thus, the so-called consensus has always been manipulated by scientists, aided and abetted by a corrupt media. I have a friend in the field of atmospheric physics, and experience researcher and climatologist who said that the models were always flawed, but I have kept his name anonymous because of the pressure in the field not to say anything and be labeled a denier (he later thank me for not revealing his name). Often it has been the retired profs. who have come out against the consensus, because they have no fear of losing their jobs or research funding.