Climategate, what it really means.

Earlier this month, someone, appearantly from Russia, hacked into the e-mail server of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia and stole hundreds, perhaps thousands of e-mails dating back as far as 1996, and made a file out of them on his own server in Russia. The hacker then passed those emails to global warming denialists, who then made them public. Hacking into private computer files and stealing the items within them is a crime, and thus the e-mails obtained would not be admissible in any American court of law, for that would be rewarding illegal behavior (Not even the police or the FBI could legally do such a thing without a warrant or a subpoena, let alone any private citizens.). Then denialists picked through the e-mails and cherry-picked a few out of context passages to try to “prove” that the entire man-made global warming hypothesis (MMGWH) was a fraud.

Thus we have now seen the depths the denialists will go to attack their targets; most of them are willing to commit crimes and/or condone those crimes committed by others to advance their cause. Yet they have the gall to demand that, on the basis of the stolen e-mails, the writers of the e-mails should by charged with fraud and imprisoned. That is sheer hypocrisy. Read my last blog entry about the character flaws and other questionable issues of Isaac Newton, including his bitter battle with his rival, Gottfried Leibniz, over who had invented calculus first. The backstabbing and intrigue involved was indeed disgraceful on Newton’s part, but that would not discredit his other scientific work, let alone any work by others relating to the same subjects Newton worked on.

Here are other commentaries made about this event on other websites:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/11/the-cru-hack/

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/11/the-cru-hack-context/

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/11/22/806704/-Trickn

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2009/11/23/why-climategate-aint-nothing/

http://scienceblogs.com/builtonfacts/2009/11/leaked_climate_change_document.php

http://scienceblogs.com/islandofdoubt/2009/11/the_hacked_climate_science_ema.php

http://scienceblogs.com/islandofdoubt/2009/11/hacked_emails_tree-ring_proxie.php

http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2009/11/climate_gate_the_latest_scanda.php

http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2009/11/those_cru_emails_in_full.php

http://scienceavenger.blogspot.com/2009/11/analysis-of-hacked-global-warming-e.html

http://www.skepticalscience.com/What-do-the-hacked-CRU-emails-tell-us.html

At most, the scientists whose e-mails were stolen were guilty of “groupthink”, willing to engage in underhanded tactics to defeat their opponents for the sake of a good cause. But then again, so are promoters of most political parties. Scientists are people too, and are thus as flawed in their characters as any other. Such behavior should be condemned, but that does not automatically debunk the findings of the scientists responsible for the behavior, let alone the work of others not even associated with the CRU. It takes the actual application of the scientific method to do that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink

Let’s look at what the e-mails highlighted so far by global warming denialists do NOT refer to:

  1. No direct communications from  Al Gore.
  2. No communications with other leaders of the Democratic Party in the United States.
  3. No references to the chemical properties or increasing amounts of greenhouses gases.
  4. No marching orders from agencies of the United Nations, not even the IPCC.
  5. No plots to actually murder or injure denialists.
  6. No references to direct measuments of temperatures.
  7. No explicit admission by anyone that the man-made global warming hypothesis is a hoax.

What we do find are:

  1. Attempts to account for uncertainties in the gathered data of temperture proxies.
  2. Awareness that such uncertainties generate doubt, so they discuss smoothing them over in public presentations.
  3. Bitter attacks on and attempts to discredit denialists
  4. A threat to delete raw data rather than allow a  certain denialist access to it.

The sort of things that result from scientists (or anyone else, for that matter) under constant scutiny and attack from opponents they deeply distrust.

Let’s assume that the research of this one institution was found to be not reliable. Well, since most of the questionable e-mails were about temperature proxies (tree rings, ice cores) referring to periods of time long ago, we could simply replicate the studies with new proxies. Denialists that hounded the climatologists for the “raw data” to support their claims could have gone into the field and gathered and analyzed their own sets of raw data instead. They never do! And I would recommend that just such a thing be done again. There are plenty of tree rings and ice cores that could be taken in the future to confirm or debunk the claims made by the climatologists of the CRU.

And the other findings, such as the known chemical properties of greenhouse gases, the fact that they are increasing in the atmosphere, the fact that deforestation and burning fossil fuels lead to such an increase, the increase in global average temperatures,  and the shrinking of the Arctic ice cap, all support the MMGWH and can only be explained by it. Denialists can attempt to explain all that away, but only in defiance of the known laws of chemistry and physics. Of course, if you want to beleive that nearly ALL the scientists in the world for hundreds of years have been part of a conspiracy to promote a scam, be my guest. Just don’t expect me to take you seriously!

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2 thoughts on “Climategate, what it really means.

  1. Pingback: Climategate, continued « Dale Husband's Intellectual Rants

  2. Pingback: It’s not a whitewash, you denialist bastards! « Dale Husband's Intellectual Rants

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