Of Global Warming And Potential Scientific Fraud

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on November 20, 2009

I am going to be rather careful about jumping to conclusions concerning this story, as the details of it are in the preliminary stages of dribbling out to the public. But, long story short: The University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit got its e-mail system hacked, and the e-mails have been made public. What they reveal is the possibility that climate scientists may have been less than honest in dealing with inconvenient data that might undercut the case for anthropogenic global warming.

The most alarming e-mail refers to “tricks” to “hide the decline” in warming. (I am not going to reproduce the e-mails on this site, because there are clear threats being made against those tempted to do so, and frankly, I don’t need the bother–though, this behavior from scientists concerning e-mail that is already out in the public domain is nothing short of despicable.) To say that this commentary is somewhat disturbing would perhaps be to understate matters.

Much more in this vein from James Delingpole, who points out that:

When you read some of those files – including 1079 emails and 72 documents – you realise just why the boffins at Hadley CRU might have preferred to keep them confidential. As Andrew Bolt puts it, this scandal could well be “the greatest in modern science”. . . .

Still more from Ed Morrissey. See also NPR, the BBC, and the Guardian.

I write as someone who has supported a carbon tax tied to the moving average temperature in the tropical troposphere–not a position that your average global warming denialist would take–that these allegations are immensely serious, and threaten to dramatically undercut the integrity of a whole host of people in the scientific community. They need to be answered by the whole of the scientific community, and answered decisively. If there is nothing there, the scientific community needs to explain clearly and forthrightly why we ought not to be concerned. If there is something there, the scientific community needs to police its own, and punish dishonesty.

We know this: The language used in many of the e-mails is offensive, crude, disparaging towards climate skeptics (including a disgusting statement made in the aftermath of the death of one global warming skeptic), and against the spirit of scientific inquiry on multiple levels. If these scientists had the doubts they appear to have had concerning global warming, they should have gone public with those doubts. That way, they would have lost neither their integrity, nor their ability to state that the weight of the evidence supports the theory of anthropogenic global warming. Instead, they engaged in . . . this.

As mentioned, I won’t engage in speculation concerning what these revelations might say for the crafting and implementation of future policy on the issue of climate change and the environment. But wouldn’t it be unbelievable and appalling if the worst were confirmed, and the case that is being made for anthropogenic warming turned out to be a fraud in large measure? Even more appalling: How effective would humankind’s response be to a genuine environmental crisis in light of the possibility–and I stress that at this time, we can only call it a possibility–that the scientific community may have cried wolf over global warming?

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