Because I’ve been away from civilization for nearly four days, I haven’t been able to follow the twistings and turnings of Climategate as closely as I otherwise would. But from my quick perusal of the subject today, it strikes me that (a) not too much has changed since I left, although it’s become more clear that the AGW researchers relied on data that was in utter chaos; and (b) the most interesting developments right now are non-developments—meaning that the AGW movement is attempting to ignore Climategate and go full speed ahead in implementing the manifold international policy changes they’ve been advocating for years, based on their findings.
Why not? This is their big chance, because if the data is really as shaky as it seems, time can only harm their cause. Now that President Obama is in the Oval Office, and Pelosi and Reid command huge majorities in their respective legislatures, the entire liberal agenda has its strongest (and perhaps only) chance of being enacted. Why bother with such troubling side issues as facts? And isn’t a bit of chicanery in a good cause such as AGW (or lying about the probable effects of health care reform, or how many jobs were created by the stimulus bill, or any number of inconvenient truths) perfectly okay for such well-meaning folks? Isn’t all fair in love and war and saving the planet?
With the press firmly in the liberal pocket, the usual checks and balances provided by the media barely exist right now. In that context, it’s surprising that the NY Times actually managed to publish this Climategate article two days ago. It’s a curious artifact, one that covers the topic at some length without going into much depth, and presents it mostly as a “he-said/he-said” disagreement between the AGW scientists and the AGW “skeptics” (love that word; it somehow takes away from the fact that many of the latter are scientists, too), with no small emphasis on the illegality of the hacking, and lots of disclaimers from the AGW scientists that anything important was involved.
According to the Times, the AGW scientists allege all is well and Climategate’s a mere tempest in a teapot, while the skeptics allege that it calls into question the entire edifice on which AGW is based. And it’s no surprise that it’s only towards the end of the article that we learn that even some AGW proponents are disturbed by Climategate—although it is a surprise that the Times sees fit to mention this at all.
As I wrote here, anyone interested in the objectivity of science ought to be shocked by the revelations of Climategate, which do not necessarily disprove AGW but call its findings into real question. The scandal should result in a demand for a reworking of the data and a re-examination of the entire field in the light of its disclosures, and the AGW advocates should be in the forefront of this move.
Dream on. Although (as the Times reports) there have been a few such responses, the far more common reaction is to deny, defend, and circle the AGW wagons. And, as this piece in today’s Washington Post indicates, it is possible to write a thousand-plus-word post-Climategate article on next week’s looming international climate change policy talks in Copenhagen without ever mentioning the scientific fracas roiling the underlying research and researchers.
Compare and contrast to this article in Britain’s more conservative paper, the Telegraph. The headline is “Climate change: this is the worst scientific scandal of our generation—our hopelessly compromised scientific establishment cannot be allowed to get away with the Climategate whitewash, says Christopher Booker.”
I will quote from the Booker piece at some length, to give you an idea of what the Times is not saying (and note the use of the word “informed” in the first sentence that follows; I believe that Booker should have added the word “objective,” as well as adding the word “should” in front of the phrase “have sent”):
There are three threads in particular in the leaked documents which have sent a shock wave through informed observers across the world. Perhaps the most obvious, as lucidly put together by Willis Eschenbach (see McIntyre’s blog Climate Audit and Anthony Watt’s blog Watts Up With That), is the highly disturbing series of emails which show how Dr Jones and his colleagues have for years been discussing the devious tactics whereby they could avoid releasing their data to outsiders under freedom of information laws.
They have come up with every possible excuse for concealing the background data on which their findings and temperature records were based.
This in itself has become a major scandal, not least Dr Jones’s refusal to release the basic data from which the CRU derives its hugely influential temperature record, which culminated last summer in his startling claim that much of the data from all over the world had simply got “lost”. Most incriminating of all are the emails in which scientists are advised to delete large chunks of data, which, when this is done after receipt of a freedom of information request, is a criminal offence.
But the question which inevitably arises from this systematic refusal to release their data is – what is it that these scientists seem so anxious to hide? The second and most shocking revelation of the leaked documents is how they show the scientists trying to manipulate data through their tortuous computer programmes, always to point in only the one desired direction – to lower past temperatures and to “adjust” recent temperatures upwards, in order to convey the impression of an accelerated warming. This comes up so often (not least in the documents relating to computer data in the Harry Read Me file) that it becomes the most disturbing single element of the entire story.
Please read the whole thing. Booker is hardly objective, of course; he’s one of those nefarious AGW “skeptics.” But the points he makes need answering, and in the current political climate it seems more likely that the whitewash Booker fears will actually occur, and Climategate will become a mere footnote in the annals of global climate and energy policy, as AGW proponents march on to change the world in light of scientific findings they have manipulated and distorted.