Posts Tagged ‘Climategate’

‘Climategate’ blogstorm

November 24, 2009

Yet another blogstorm, and probably again a tempest in a teapot. Thirteen years worth of emails have been hacked and released on the web, and it includes some dirty laundry that I’m sure people involved would rather not have  seen public. It is not unlikely that this event may have some real repercussions for the public perception of climate science, however unfair it may seem (unfair both in terms of the actual intended meaning of the emails, as in terms of the way they were obtained). “Skeptics” will certainly try to get as much mileage out of this as possible, in order to undermine the science and the political process (e.g. Copenhagen). However, there are also plenty of sane voices commenting on the issue. A sample:

More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords. (RealClimate; also second post)

Never before has an entire scientific community been accused of dishonesty (…) The real issue is trust (…) After all, government leaders are planning deep changes in the world economy based, essentially, on trust in the scientific community. (…) Attacks on the integrity of climate scientists contribute to a broader suspicion of scientists in general. This suspicion has enormous potential for harm; consider for example the resistance to vaccination. (Spencer Weart’s comment at RealClimate)

Gavin Schmidt (of RealClimate) exhibits the patience of a saint in responding from a scientist’s perspective to the masses of comments. He is doing a tremendous amount of work to repair the damage being done to the perceived credibility of climate science. Respect.

In summary, there are probably some minor lapses in there, but everyone who has read any of the emails is already guilty of something worse and there’s no firm evidence of major crimes. (James’ empty blog)

I have no idea what exactly those words meant. Neither do you. Every single thing in those messages could be misinterpreted because we are missing the context. (…) This episode is not a window into how climate science works. It’s a window into how electronic communication has altered our standards and the way we work. (Maribo)

One of the issues with how the UEA emails are perceived is whether the reader understands the context of the dubious pseudoscience and constant harassment the field faces. If you understand that, the emails are understandable and mostly excusable. If you don’t, if you think that normal science is being stymied, then you come away with a very different impression. (Only in it for the gold)

The frame:
– pointing out that while some (and only a few) of them sound dubious, there’s no actual evidence of anything;
– pointing out that in every case there are also perfectly innocuous interpretations;
– putting these sorts of discussions in context (Greenfyre)

If one puts on some significant ideological glasses, it may look like there’s a lot of shady business going on. (…) Employing the principle of charity to what I’ve seen so far actually leaves me feeling that the e-mails are not so incriminating. (Cruel Mistress)

More damning, but mostly sensible criticisms (note that I do not agree with all the contents):

It’s no use pretending that this isn’t a major blow. (Monbiot)

Even if the hacked emails from HADCRU end up to be much ado about nothing in the context of any actual misfeasance that impacts the climate data records, the damage to the public credibility of climate research is likely to be significant. (Based on an unfortunate and unsubstantiated generalization of a few privately sent emails pulled out of context, I would add – Bart) (Judith Curry at ClimateAudit)

Humour:

The conspiracy behind the calculus myth has been suddenly, brutally and quite deliciously exposed after volumes of Newton’s private correspondence were compiled and published. (CarbonFixated)

I’ll post my own take on it later.

Update:

It reflects badly on the people who are so desperate to discredit global warming that they will unhesitatingly seize on a figure of speech, take it out of context, blow it all out of proportion and use it for their own predetermined purpose. Now that’s real dishonesty! (Tom Crowley interviewd by Andrew Friedman)

In the same interview, Crowley also gives an insider perspective on how thorough the IPCC report are vetted:

I cannot recall ANY scientific document, of any nature, that has EVER received that kind of vetting.

Update 2:

James Hansen was briefly interviewed about the issues on newsweek. I think his replies are spot on:

Do the hacked e-mails undermine the case for anthropogenic climate change?
No, they have no effect on the science. The evidence for human-made climate change is overwhelming.

Do the e-mails indicate any unethical efforts (…)?
They indicate poor judgment in specific cases. (…)


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