The Truth About the Stolen Climate-science E-mails

The e-mails that were stolen from servers at the British University of East Anglia’s climate science center do not show evidence of any conspiracy to falsify science; all they really reveal is evidence of how poorly some people handle political tensions regarding an issue of grave importance for human civilization. So far, the only thing the e-mail scandal has shown is that a handful of people felt that junk science might derail needed environmental regulatory reforms on which the future of human civilization will depend.

The US House of Representatives has called for hearings in to the matter, with Republican opponents of a coordinated climate change response alleging that the East Anglia emails show the entire field of climate science over the last quarter century to be an elaborate, global “hoax”. But testimony from experts in the field shows otherwise. The East Anglia emails are an isolated incident regarding the specific attitudes and reactions of a handful of individuals and do not in any way alter the results of ongoing research.

Red Orbit reports:

Another government scientist, Jane Lubchenco, a marine biologist and climate researcher who heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the e-mails do nothing to undermine the very strong scientific consensus that tells us the earth is warming and that warming is largely a result of human activity.

Lubchenco told members of the House global warming committee that the e-mails don’t negate or even deal with data from both NOAA and NASA, which keep independent climate records and show dramatic warming.

The East Anglia emails scandal also specifically highlights the ongoing confusion that exists, both in the scientific community and among policy-makers and the general public, over what the status of the scientific consensus on global climate destabilization really is. There is, if we study the methodology and the source-material, the geological record and the climate-modeling techniques, a fundamental difference between the hard science done by climatologists who observe a persistent warming trend in association with carbon emissions, throughout the industrial age, and the speculative nature of reports that embrace skeptical views of climate destabilization science.

Global warming science is not a fringe field using unusual or unverifiable techniques to determine warming and cooling patterns; it is an interdisciplinary field of research that uses well-established scientific methods for gathering data about atmospheric composition, including temperatures, going back millions of years. This entails the in-depth study of the geological record, ice-cores, glacial wear on mountain ranges, the shifting of river systems, rainfall patterns, fossil remains, and other indicators of atmospheric and thermal change.

Even with regard to the examination of recent trends, the climate-skeptic viewpoint is so frail as to have recently been described by one ideological opponent of the climate-change consensus as being based on the idea that “biased thermometers” have caused a worldwide echo-chamber of distortions. Recent studies called into question some of the methods of inference used by one climate scientist, whose “hockey-stick” analysis of recent global average temperatures has been instrumental in shaping global perceptions of the issue: but the findings themselves were not questioned, in fact, were upheld.

Again, Red Orbit:

[Penn State University researcher Michael] Mann authored what is known as the “hockey stick” theory, first described in the late 1990s, which suggests that the past 50 years had been the hottest in several centuries, if not 1,000 years, and that man-made global warming was to blame.

His controversial research was studied in depth by the National Academy of Sciences and was even used in former Vice President Al Gore’s global warming documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth”.

According to Sensenbrenner, the 2006 National Academy study showed Mann’s hockey stick theory was incorrect and should be discredited. However, Holdren argued that the NAS study had quibbles with Mann’s methods but agreed with his final results.

Much of the tension that has arisen between the fairly small “climate skeptic” community and seasoned climatologists like Mann is rooted in the outright distortion and misrepresentation of the scientific process and the nature of the reported results of the leading climatologists’ research. Those distortions have filtered into the scientific research of some self-proclaimed “climate skeptics”, despite massive and well-known scientific evidence disproving the distortions.

On Friday, just days before the most important climate-policy conference ever held, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) —which shared the Nobel Prize with former US VP Al Gore, for its role in exploring and disseminating the science on the greenhouse effect and global climate destabilization— announced it would investigate the significance of the stolen East Anglia emails.

Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the IPCC, said that though the organization wanted to make sure there was no bias filtering into the science it reported, he believed it was “virtually impossible” for any handful of scientists, even if they acted with deliberate bias, to skew the overall science reported by the IPCC. The IPCC process is intensely peer-reviewed, perhaps more substantively than any other global research body to date, in part due to the intense skepticism industrial lobbies have injected into political debate on the issue in countries across the world.

A group of climate activists at the DeSmogBlog are now arguing that the mainstream media have been complicit in spreading the false impression that the few hacked emails might constitute evidence of a massive global conspiracy to defraud governments, and alter political history by using climate science to harm industry. There is, of course, no evidence of any such conspiracy, no clear motive for such a conspiracy to exist, and a global scientific consensus that the science is valid, with a limited number of dissenters.

The activists argue that the real question in the East Anglia email case is really: who stole the emails? who organized and funded the well-concealed hack? what were their motives? why was it done immediately before the most important climate-policy conference ever held? what laws were violated? and what connection might there be between monied interests and the very “climate skeptics” who are up in arms about their research, or proposed research, being questioned?

There is a long-running history of direct financial connection between high-polluting industries (such as the major multinational oil firms) and those scientists conducting research that claims to discredit the general finding that carbon emissions contribute to global warming and climate destabilization and other toxins produced by burning carbon-based fuels are contaminants that pose a real risk to public health.

That historically demonstrable direct link between the very interests that seek to discredit science showing the ill effects of their activities and the scientists who claim to be able to produce that science means a conflict of interest that cannot be easily ignored. True peer-reviewed research needs to be free of such specific financial incentives for pre-determined outcomes, and the climate-skeptic science has rarely met that standard.

Today, at the opening of the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change, attended by 192 nations, Dr. Pachauri told the delegates that “The internal consistency from multiple lines of evidence strongly supports the work of the scientific community, including those individuals singled out in these email exchanges”. His message is clear: the science is clear, it is verified, it constitutes a consensus, and the Copenhagen Conference is meant to be this generation’s attempt to correct its mistakes and make way for a better future for all of humanity.

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