Monday, 07 December 2009

Copenhagen Summit Opens Amid Climategate Fallout

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As the summit on global warming opens in frigid Copenhagen, climate alarmists at the United Nations and within various national governments — along with their media allies — are struggling mightily to contain the Climategate e-mail scandal.

The leaked e-mails of correspondence among top climate alarmists is exposing the hype underlying the "science" they have been using to claim there is a global-warming "crisis" and to justify calls for global taxes, global regulation, and global social regimentation. The alarmist network is frantically worried that the untimely release (from their perspective) of the e-mails will undermine their efforts to "seal the deal" on a binding global agreement.

Some of the high-profile scientists involved in the e-mail scandal are now the subjects of official investigations. Dr. Phil Jones, the head of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at Britain's East Anglia University (EAU), and one of the most influential climate alarmists, has stepped down from his position while an independent review board looks into the incriminating e-mails by Jones and other CRU researchers.

Jones and the CRU have been a key brain trust for the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the vaunted assembly that claims there is virtually a unanimous consensus among scientists that human-caused global warming has brought us to a critical "tipping point." And, according to the IPCC's claimed consensus, this dangerous situation now demands action at the world level. In the United States, two of the leading scientists most noted for their militant climate activism, James Hansen at NASA and Michael Mann at Penn State University, are facing congressional investigations, as well as investigations from their own institutions and possible civil litigation. Some of the leading players in Climategate may even face criminal prosecution for defying Freedom of Information Information Act (FOIA) requests and destroying evidence. Among the most damaging e-mails is a batch of correspondence in which Mann and Jones discuss deleting data that contradicts and exposes their claims of imminent climate catastrophe.

Equally disturbing are the e-mails between Jones, Mann, and others discussing how they can sabotage other scientists who do not share their extremist views. They discuss how they can use their network of influence to: 1) arrange the firing of editors of journals that publish the research of scientists who are skeptical of climate alarmism; 2) boycott journals that do not share their alarmist zeal; 3) blackball skeptical scientists from being published in scientific journals; 4) keep scientific research that contradicts their alarmism from being included in IPCC reports; 5) redefine what constitutes scientific "peer review."

Trying to Ignore the Climategate "Mushroom Cloud"

Climatologist Patrick Michaels, who has long criticized the IPCC process, says of the e-mail scandal: "This is not a smoking gun; this is a mushroom cloud." On the face of it, it would seem difficult to dispute Professor Michaels' assessment. The Climategate e-mails provide powerful confirmation of charges by many scientists over the years that UN's IPCC process is politically — not scientifically — driven and that claims of scientific "consensus" to justify radical policies are a gross corruption of science. In the past, scientists who questioned the Jones-Mann-IPCC "consensus" have been denounced as "deniers" — a vicious attempt to associate them with Nazi holocaust denial — or "shills" for the fossil fuel industries ... or both. Now, however, scientists who cannot be classified as skeptics — indeed, some are prominent names in the alarmist camp — are challenging the IPCC and the Climategate defendants to come clean and release the data on which they have been basing their dire predictions, but have been withholding from the public and their scientific peers.

"Michael Mann, Phil Jones and Stefan Rahmstorf should be barred from the IPCC process," says Dr. Eduardo Zorita, "because the scientific assessments in which they may take part are not credible anymore."

"The scientific debate," says Dr. Zorita, a paleoclimate scientist at the GKSS Research Center near Hamburg, Germany, and a contributing author in the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC, "has been in many instances hijacked to advance other agendas."

According to Dr. Zorita, editors, reviewers, and authors of alternative studies "have been bullied and subtly blackmailed" to toe a bogus consensus line. He went on to warn:

In this atmosphere, Ph D students are often tempted to tweak their data so as to fit the "politically correct picture." Some, or many issues, about climate change are still not well known. Policy makers should be aware of the attempts to hide these uncertainties under a unified picture. I had the "pleasure" to experience all this in my area of research.

Professor Michael Hulme, a climatologist at the University of East Anglia and a leading IPCC author, delivered a severe body blow to the IPCC in a recent commentary. Hulme wrote:

The I.P.C.C. itself, through its structural tendency to politicize climate change science, has perhaps helped to foster a more authoritarian and exclusive form of knowledge production — just at a time when a globalizing and wired cosmopolitan culture is demanding of science something much more open and inclusive.

Dr. Judith Curry, an IPCC expert reviewer and chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, says she has "received significant heat from some colleagues" for merely engaging in debate with global-warming skeptics and inviting them to address her students. Dr. Curry, who definitely does not fit into the "skeptic" camp, nevertheless, believes that dialogue with scientists with different viewpoints is an essential component of real science. She says, "I've been told that I am legitimizing the skeptics and misleading my students, but I think we need to try things like this if we are to develop effective strategies for dealing with skeptics and if we are to teach students to think critically."

IPCC vice-chairman Jean-Pascal van Ypersele tried to minimize the significance of the e-mail scandal as the Copenhagen conference opened by claiming that it only pertains to one data set out of many that confirm the serious peril posed by anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming, or AGW. "It doesn't change anything in the IPCC's conclusions — it's only one line of evidence out of dozens of lines of evidence," van Ypersele claimed in an interview with the Times of London. This is the party line echoed by most of the AGW alarmists in government, media, and environmental activist circles. Along with it goes this corollary: The skeptics (or "deniers," "shills") are exploiting the e-mail controversy to sabotage Copenhagen and distract the scientists and politicians from the important work they must conclude there.

"We mustn't be distracted by the behind-the-times, anti-science, flat-earth climate sceptics," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the Guardian. "We know the science. We know what we must do. We must now act and ... seal the deal."

Brown's Environmental Secretary, Ed Miliband, was even more scathing, describing skeptics as "dangerous and deceitful." "The approach of the climate saboteurs is to misuse data and mislead people," he charged. Milliband's accusations are especially audacious, inasmuch as it is his alarmist camp, not the skeptics (or "climate realists," as many prefer to call themselves) that has been caught red-handed misusing data. "The sceptics are playing politics with science in a dangerous and deceitful manner," Milliband continued, then concluded with this warning: "There is no easy way out of tackling climate change despite what they would have us believe. The evidence is clear and the time we have to act is short. To abandon this process now would lead to misery and catastrophe for millions."

According to van Ypersele, "We are spending a lot of useless time discussing this rather than spending time preparing information for the negotiators."

Professor Curry has provided van Ypersele, Milliband, Brown, the IPCC, and other alarmists with an easy solution: Stop hiding your data and stop engaging in the "tribalism" displayed in the infamous e-mails. She says:

Scientists claim that they would never get any research done if they had to continuously respond to skeptics. The counter to that argument is to make all of your data, metadata, and code openly available. Doing this will minimize the time spent responding to skeptics; try it! If anyone identifies an actual error in your data or methodology, acknowledge it and fix the problem. Doing this would keep molehills from growing into mountains that involve congressional hearings, lawyers, etc.

However, it is unlikely that those in charge of the UN agenda at Copenhagen will be persuaded by appeals to ethics and reason from conscientious scientists like Dr. Curry. It will take a massive public outpouring of indignation from American voters to get Congress and other institutions to carry out the appropriate investigations. And a sustained outpouring will be required to assure that Congress does not enact legislation, and the Senate does not ratify any treaties, based on the false claims of scientific consensus concerning an alleged man-made global-warming crisis.