Acton Institute Powerblog

Bumped – Global Warming Consensus Alert: Climategate

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Update: Naturally, right after I post this article, new information comes out that makes Climategate look even worse.  It’s been noted in the comments that Russian scientists are now saying outright that climate data from Russian weather stations has been tampered with in order to make it appear to substantiate claims of catastrophic man-made global warming:

On Tuesday, the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data.

The IEA believes that Russian meteorological-station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory. Analysts say Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country’s territory, and that the Hadley Center had used data submitted by only 25% of such stations in its reports. Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations.

The data of stations located in areas not listed in the Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature UK (HadCRUT) survey often does not show any substantial warming in the late 20th century and the early 21st century.

The plot thickens!  Original post follows…


consensus_alert1It’s been some time since we’ve had an update on the State of the Global Warming Consensus, and I’m happy to report that the Global Warming Consensus remains strong and unchallenged.  Well, strong and unchallenged barring that little e-mail and data leak from a few weeks ago that is really not an issue at all.  I mean, it’s not an issue at all except in the sense that it may have exposed some unethical scientific shenanigans by some of the biggest names in the pro-Anthropogenic Global Warming community, but that’s nothing to lose sleep over.  You might lose your job, but you shouldn’t lose sleep.  COPENHAGEN OR BUST!

Some background:  the Global Warming Consensus Watch/Alert series dates back to April of 2007, and from the start has been all about reminding us that the much-vaunted Scientific Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming was not nearly as untouchable as folks like Al Gore would have us believe.  The reality of the situation is slightly more nuanced than the Goracle would have us believe:  indeed, the planet has been warming over the last century, and has been since the end of the Little Ice Age.  The questions being confronted over the last few decades – and most intensely over the last couple of years – are whether the warming that has happened in the 20th century is primarily caused by human activity or is part of a larger natural process; and whether or not the warming poses significant problems for human society in the future.  (Dr. Jay Richards had a presentation on this very topic as a part of the 2008 Acton Lecture Series; you can view it here.)

Without going into too much detail, the “debate” over the years has ossified into a sort of stalemate in which AGW supporters hide in their clubhouse, refuse to share their data without frequent appeals to various Freedom of Information Act-type legislation in various countries, and generally hurl vicious invective and threats at those who aren’t convinced that climate change poses an imminent threat to civilization.  (This humble blogger’s proudest moment was when a local left-wing “media watchdog” group implied that I was little more than a tool of Satan… er, Exxon.  Sadly, “Media Mouse” has gone the way of the dinosaurs, but I’M STILL STANDING, BABY.  Albeit without seeing a single dime of that sweet, sweet oil loot.) The major advantage for the AGW side is that they’re peddling a crisis, which is quite interesting to the major media (crises are more fun and profitable to report; remember, “if it bleeds, it leads”) and politicians (who love to have problems to “solve”; it makes for good press and content for constituent newsletters).  This, more than anything, is the source of the supposed scientific “consensus” on the dangers of global warming; actual scientists certainly aren’t in uniform agreement on the cause and potential danger of climate change.  For example, Richard Lindzen of MIT argued recently in the Wall Street Journal that confident predictions of a climate change-related disaster are unwarrented.

Unfortunately, the money and political momentum have been on the other side of the debate, so expert voices of moderation like Lindzen have been crowded out of public view. But then an interesting thing happened on November 19: a large file of e-mail messages and data from the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit in the UK leaked onto the web and introduced the world to fun terms like “hide the decline” and “Mike’s Nature Trick.”  And while AGW supporters have been frantically reminding everyone that there’s no reason to question the validity of their research because it’s all “peer-reviewed” and therefore unimpeachable, Mark Steyn noted that the leaked documents show that the peer-review process was actively being corrupted in the climate science arena:

Here’s what Phil Jones of the CRU and his colleague Michael Mann of Penn State mean by “peer review.” When Climate Research published a paper dissenting from the Jones-Mann “consensus,” Jones demanded that the journal “rid itself of this troublesome editor,” and Mann advised that “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.”

So much for Climate Research. When Geophysical Research Letters also showed signs of wandering off the “consensus” reservation, Dr. Tom Wigley (“one of the world’s foremost experts on climate change”) suggested they get the goods on its editor, Jim Saiers, and go to his bosses at the American Geophysical Union to “get him ousted.” When another pair of troublesome dissenters emerge, Dr. Jones assured Dr. Mann, “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”

Which in essence is what they did. The more frantically they talked up “peer review” as the only legitimate basis for criticism, the more assiduously they turned the process into what James Lewis calls the Chicago machine politics of international science. The headline in the Wall Street Journal Europe is unimproveable: “How To Forge A Consensus.” Pressuring publishers, firing editors, blacklisting scientists: That’s “peer review,” climate-style.

Whatever that is, it certainly doesn’t sound like science to me.  Nor does the University of East Anglia CRU’s decision to throw away the raw climate data used to make predictions about global warming, meaning that “…other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years.”  It should be noted that the only reason we know that little nugget of information is because the Climategate leak finally forced the CRU to act on longstanding Freedom of Information requests from AGW skeptics that they had been actively combatting (see this link again).

AGW supporters have done all they can to make this story go away by trying to turn it into a dastardly tale of computer hacking; Senator Barbara Boxer has gone so far as to claim that the scandal should not be called “Climategate,” but “E-mail-theft-gate.”  Allow me to note the trenchant observation of Jim Treacher: Climategate is a story about computer hacking in much the same way Watergate was a story about parking garages.  Aside from which, it seems likely that this wasn’t a hacking situation, but rather an internal leak.  We’ll see whether or not the leaker gets whistleblower protection should that scenario turn out to be true.

Anyhow, all of that is just a sample of what the pro-AGW community had been dealing with in the weeks leading up to THE MOST IMPORTANT CONFERENCE IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND that is taking place this week in Copenhagen, Denmark.  This is of course the big UN climate conference, the outcome of which will determine the fate of mankind and our beloved planet, as this is the last chance we have to stop unchecked global warming and we “cannot compromise with the earth,” which – as we’ve already seen – is a planet in no mood to work with us on this problem.  Of course, if the earth is indeed an angry, intransigent planet bent on revenge, many climate scientists have been acting as its henchmen, torturing innocent data into saying what they want it to say in order to give the planet a pretext for its vengeance.  By the way, we can all be reassured that the UN Conference is proceeding smoothly.  We’re clearly in good hands.

Of course, this post could go on and on and on, and I’ve included a bunch of links that I’ve been gathering over the past few weeks below to give you an even broader view of all that’s been going on.  But I’d like to highlight a couple more posts before signing off:  First of all, take a look at this post at Anthony Watts’ indispensable blog which describes just how climate scientists determined that average temperatures at the Darwin, Australia airport had been “rising” over the course of the past century.  And if you have a little bit of time on your hands, head on over to Iowahawk, where the web’s best satirist gets serious for a bit and explains how you can build your very own hockey stick!  It seems to me that between those posts and all the other information we now have as a result of Climategate, we should all at the very least be skeptical of climate change alarmism.

More links to ponder:

Marc Vander Maas