Climategate scandal prompts scientific housecleaning

Recent responses to “Climategate” — the leaked emails from Britain’s University of East Anglia and its Climatic Research Unit (CRU) — remind me of the line “Are your feet wet? Can you see the Pyramids? That’s because you’re in denial.”

Recent responses to “Climategate” — the leaked emails from Britain’s University of East Anglia and its Climatic Research Unit (CRU) — remind me of the line “Are your feet wet? Can you see the Pyramids? That’s because you’re in denial.”

Climate catastrophists like Al Gore and the U.N.’s Rajendra Pachauri have attempted to downplay Climategate, saying that it involves only a few intemperate scientists and there’s no real evidence of wrongdoing. Now let’s persecute the whistleblower.

A good example of this argument comes from University of Calgary Prof. David Mayne Reid, who recently penned a column in which he denied the importance of Climategate.

Unfortunately for Reid, however, old saws won’t work today: Climategate has blazed across the Internet, the blogosphere and social-networking sites. Even environmentalist writer George Monbiot has recognized that the public’s perception of climate science has been extensively damaged and has called for one of the Climategate ringleaders to resign.

Broken as a Hockey Stick

What’s catastrophic about Climategate for those attempting to deny its importance is that the hacked emails reveal a science as broken as Michael Mann’s hockey stick chart which, despite Reid’s protestations, has been shown to misleadingly erase not only a 400-year stretch of warm temperatures (called the Medieval Warm Period), but a more recent little ice age that ended in the mid-1800s as well. No amount of hand-waving can restore the credibility of climate science while holding onto rubbish like that.

Climategate reveals skullduggery the general public can understand: Letters from a tightly-linked clique of scientists reveal they were working in what they repeatedly labeled a “cause” to promote a political agenda.

A Crusade, Not Science

That’s not science; that’s a crusade. When you cherry-pick, discard, nip, tuck and tape disparate bits of data into the most alarming portrayal you can in the name of a “cause,” you’re not engaged in science, but in the production of propaganda.

But this clique didn’t stop there. They also tried to subvert the peer-review process itself. They attempted to prevent global warming skeptics from getting into peer-reviewed journals, then claimed their research wasn’t peer-reviewed so was invalid. It was a convenient circular (and dishonest) way to discredit skeptics.

Remember that CRU was considered the top climate-research community, the source of a vast swath of the information that was funneled into the supposedly “authoritative” reports of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Cherry-picking in Russia

But a Russian think tank says CRU-compiled climate-temperature records cherry-picked data from only 25 per cent of Russia’s climate-monitoring sites — those closest to urban areas, biased by the urban heat-island effect. The records excluded data from 40 per cent of Russia’s total land mass, which is 12.5 per cent of the Earth’s land mass.

In his recent comments, Reid’s indignation about Climategate went beyond ludicrous. “It is wrong,” he said, “to castigate people for things said in private, and often taken out of context.” He equated the response to Climategate with a “lynch mob.”

Funny, the professor seems to have highly selective indignation; he apparently is unaware of the unremitting attacks on people skeptical of climate science or policy by climate scientists and politicians.

Disrespect for Skeptics

People skeptical of any aspect of climate change have long been called “deniers,” and various luminaries have called for them to be drowned, jailed and tried for crimes against humanity — or for treason against the very earth itself.

As for indignation about the release of private correspondence, where was Reid’s indignation when Greenpeace, looking for something to spin into an incriminating picture, stole skeptic Chris Horner’s trash?

The Climategate scandal erodes the credibility of both the scientists involved and the institution of scientific research.

How About the Truth?

A start could be made: The scientists involved should start by practicing the scientific method: release all data and all assumptions and methods used to process the data at the time of publication and make it available to researchers (even lay researchers) who are outside the clique so the work can be checked. Had the researchers involved in Climategate done this from the beginning, instead of circling their wagons and refusing to allow outsiders to check their work, they would have taken less hectoring. As a bonus for them, Climategate would never have happened.

Former IPCC reviewer Kenneth Green is an adviser to the Frontier Center for Public Policy, (www.fcpp.org) and is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

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