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Scientific American: Who Cares About the Climate-Gate E-Mails, Anyway?

December 6, 2009

In the wake of the burgeoning “Climate-gate” scandal, some ardent supporters of Anthropogenic Global Warming refuse to even consider some of the disturbing questions raised by the disclosure of e-mails that call into question the scientific veracity of AGW scientists and data.  The Scientific American, for one, seems to think that pretending the e-mails are of no consequence is the way to go:

In fact, nothing in the stolen e-mails or computer code undermines in any way the scientific consensus—which exists among scientific publications as well as scientists—that climate change is happening and humans are the cause. “There is a robust consensus that humans are altering the atmosphere and warming the planet,” said meteorologist Michael Mann of The Pennsylvania State University, who also participated in the conference call and was among the scientists whose e-mails have been leaked. “Further increases in greenhouse gases will lead to increasingly greater disruption.”

Some of the kerfuffle rests on a misreading of the e-mails’ wording. For example, the word “trick” in one message, which has been cited as evidence that a conspiracy is afoot, is actually being used to describe a mathematical approach to reconciling observed temperatures with stand-in data inferred from tree ring measurements.

For the sake of argumentation, let’s pretend for a moment that the raw data did portend what AGW proponents say it portends.  Why the rank dishonesty?

The “trick” mentioned is, in fact, a trick–as in the use of obfuscation–and not a simple manipulation of code.  The simple fact is, the “observed data” mentioned is thrown out because it doesn’t look as scary.  In truth, there is credible evidence that suggests that some of the scientists don’t even understand the relation of code to their calculations.  The “hockey stick” graph is notorious for a reason, having been debunked some time ago.  Nothing was taken out of context; scientists appear to have resorted to mathematical sleight-of-hand to attempt to dress up data that was either unexciting or unsupportive of their ideological bent.

Worse than simply fudging their finding is the appalling evidence the e-mails provide that scientists collude to suppress dissent and destroy raw data, often in violation of the law.  But the Scientific American essentially argues away the suppression of dissent by arguing that it’s okay because, after all, their papers eventually found publication anyway:

And ultimately, even those papers specifically challenged in the e-mails (one of which featured a vow to “keep [these papers] out [of the IPCC report] somehow—even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is”) made it into the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent report.

One would hope that credible scientists, thoroughly convinced of their findings and confident in their data would respond to the publication of dissenting opinions by conducting a punctillious review and publishing a complete debunking of their own.  Instead, they respond by insisting that dissenting points of view be suppressed and the authors be put up for public mockery.  But it’s okay!–their papers were published elsewhere, anyway.

Perhaps worse of all is the suggestion that the unsavory tactics of the Climate-Gate scientists ought to bolster the credibility of the AGW racket because, after all, it simply proves that the science is infallible even if the scientists aren’t; they’re only human, you know:

The stolen e-mails may ultimately provide a sociological window into the workings of the scientific community. “This is a record of how science is actually done,” Schmidt noted. “They’ll see that scientists are human and how science progresses despite human failings. They’ll see why science as an enterprise works despite the fact that scientists aren’t perfect.”

This undermines the rigorous campaign of unrelenting demonization conducted against AGW-skeptics in the scientific community who have, for years, been decried as corrupt pawns of a global energy cabal.  This, despite the fact that, as the Wall Street Journal notes, there’s a money trail to be followed for AGW proponents as well:

Consider the case of Phil Jones, the director of the CRU and the man at the heart of climategate. According to one of the documents hacked from his center, between 2000 and 2006 Mr. Jones was the recipient (or co-recipient) of some $19 million worth of research grants, a sixfold increase over what he’d been awarded in the 1990s.

So let’s have a debate about Anthropogenic Global Warming, by all means.  But let’s finally conduct it in the open, with full access to all the raw data, without the rote recitation of the all the “consensus” nonsense, and pretending that one side is reason-free from ideology while the other side is shilling for well-heeled super villains.


Cross-posted at Thinkumentary

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