Forget ‘climategate’; amid the rows, the world is still undergoing climate change!

The Telegraph blogger James Delingpole today writes:

As Andrew Bolt puts it, this scandal could well be “the greatest in modern science”. These alleged emails – supposedly exchanged by some of the most prominent scientists pushing AGW theory – suggest:

Conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100017393/climategate-the-final-nail-in-the-coffin-of-anthropogenic-global-warming/

The Guardian yesterday

The emails stolen from the University of East Anglia in November have cast an uncomfortable light on the behind-the-scenes actions of some of the most senior and respected climate scientists in the world. The affair raises serious questions about access to data and the way scientific peer review can be used to stifle dissent. But is the science of climate change fatally flawed by the climategate revelations? Absolutely not. Nothing uncovered in the emails destroys the argument that humans are warming the planet.

MY VIEW: 

MY VIEW: The blogger James Delingpole, lauded as ‘writer, journalist and broadcaster who is right about everything’, cuts into the ‘climate-gate’ as a bit of joyful attack on scientists. We uses – or more to the point, ‘misuses’ his blog, to comntinue the ‘war of words’ that has become know as ‘climate-gate’   

Re The Guardian I couldn’t agree more! The ‘climategate’ furor this week, over emails and reports,  surprised and disappointed. These unhelpful discussions – as well as distracting from the key messages – also assisted the ‘climate skeptics’ accusation that climate change was not happening. Indeed, if it was so, that predicted rates were inaccurate, and therefore the science was in question, the whole debate was also ‘hot air’.  

The reality is this: amid the rows, one truth: the world is warming.  We, as humanity in all its guises, need to take steps to change our lifestyles, through policy and behaviour, to become more sustainable – as individuals, as a society, as nations together.  

The media was fixated about emails and reports based on un-peered articles, to the extent that a hole Newsnight programme was dedicated to stirring up unnecessary and potential conflict between two scientists.  

From The Guardian article in full: 

The emails stolen from the University of East Anglia in November have cast an uncomfortable light on the behind-the-scenes actions of some of the most senior and respected climate scientists in the world. The affair raises serious questions about access to data and the way scientific peer review can be used to stifle dissent. But is the science of climate change fatally flawed by the climategate revelations? Absolutely not. Nothing uncovered in the emails destroys the argument that humans are warming the planet.

None of the 1,073 emails plus 3,587 files containing documents, raw data and computer code upsets the 200-year-old science behind the “greenhouse effect” of gases like carbon dioxide, which traps solar heat and warm the atmosphere. Nothing changes the fact that carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere thanks to human emissions from burning carbon-based fuels like coal and oil. Nor the calculations of physicists that for every square metre of the earth’s surface, 1.6 watts more energy now enters the atmosphere than leaves it.

And we know the world is warming as a result. Thousands of thermometers in areas remote from any conceivable local urban influences tell us that. The oceans are warming too. And we have the evidence of our own eyes. The great majority of the world’s glaciers are retreating, Arctic sea ice is disappearing, sea levels are rising ever faster, trees are climbing up hillsides and permafrost is melting. These are not statistical artefacts or the result of scientists cherry-picking their data.

Equally, many of the most widely publicised claims from sceptics about what is in the emails are demonstrably unfounded. There is no conspiracy to “hide the decline” in temperatures. Nor that a lack of warming in the data is a “travesty” – still less of attempts to fix the data.

But, within the narrower confines of assembling a reliable history of global temperature, the emails have done significant damage to the credibility of scientists. They show that in their desire to give the world a clear message that humans are heating the planet here and now, a group of scientists cut corners and down-play uncertainties in their calculations. Their opponents charge that they then covered their tracks by being secretive with their data and suppressing dissent.

Taken with the recent revelations about shortcomings in reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), this suggests a wider problem of scientific sloppiness, but not of outright fraud. Many scientists believe their community has to own up to that, and put its house in order.

Part of the problem is secrecy in science. Climatologist Judy Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology, who has been trying to make peace between her colleagues and the sceptics, says the various data sets connected to the famous “hockey stick” temperature graph and Phil Jones’s thermometer data sets “stand out as lacking transparency”. Science is too much of a closed shop, she says. Outsiders need to be let into the ivory towers for the good of science itself. “Einstein didn’t start his career at Princeton, but rather at a post office.” Bring on the bloggers. Maybe there’s an Einstein among them.

The doors of the labs are being opened whether scientists like it or not. The Information Commissioner’s office last week released a statement saying that the University of East Anglia had “not dealt with [FoI requests] as they should have been under the legislation”. There is evidence in the emails that some scientists at the Climatic Research Unit wanted to delete files rather than hand them over – although it is not clear whether any deliberate deletions actually happened.

Probably nobody anticipated that a law intended to unwrap state secrets might end up freeing data from scientists’ computers. But the science community now urgently needs to figure out how to respond to this altered landscape – or scientists will end up in court before long.

The need to open up science is made all the greater by the question raised in the emails about the “gold standard”, the peer review system. In many fields of research, peer review creates serious conflicts of interest in which, as the emails have revealed, senior researchers can act in a way that could have the effect of blackballing the research papers of their critics. The dangers are all the greater when, again as the emails show, the conventions of anonymity in peer review are not rigorously upheld.

Finally, “climategate” raises questions about the IPCC report-writing process, in which many of the emailers have been involved. Governments set up the IPCC 20 years ago to get scientists to speak with one voice on climate change. But often there is no clear consensus. Scientists are trained to disagree. That’s how science advances. The tensions created by the pressure to agree are clear in dozens of the emails.

One of Jones’s colleagues at the University of East Anglia, climatologist Mike Hulme, says: “Climate scientists will have to work harder to earn the warranted trust of the public – and maybe that is no bad thing.” And he thinks the IPCC may have run its course.

While science gets its house in order, we need some perspective. In the midst of a cold winter it may be hard to convince ourselves, but the world is still warming. Humanity is still to blame. And we still, urgently, need to do something about it.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/05/climate-change-hacked-emails

Geoffrey Lean, Telegraph blog

Geoffrey Lean is Britain’s longest-serving environmental correspondent, having pioneered reporting on the subject almost 40 years ago.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/author/geoffreylean/

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