Climategate warms skepticism

On the heels of massive economic policy decisions regarding climate change, some methods seem to be madness.

by John Brown

One week before President Barack Obama is expected to announce an 83 percent reduction in U.S. carbon emissions by 2050 at the Copenhagen climate summit, an emergent scandal is shaking the foundation of the global warming science stressing the need for drastic CO2 abatement policies. The head of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia has stepped down until the completion of an independent review into what skeptics have gloatingly deemed âÄúClimategateâÄù concludes. The scandal, which has absorbed British media and the blogosphere, surrounds damning email correspondence between some of the most influential climate scientists in the world. CRU findings have been heavily used by the UNâÄôs Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore for its work on evaluating the risk of climate change as caused by humans. A brief survey of the emails reveals not only an effort to hide data which undermines the so-called warming consensus, but also illustrates an attempt from top scientistsâÄô to thwart skepticsâÄô Freedom of Information Act requests. Beyond this, released communications also suggest the researchers have exhibited less than objective scientific behavior, manipulating data to inflate warming conclusions and working to influence peer-reviewed journals to inhibit the inclusion of findings critical of global warming. While Climategate does not disprove the existence of anthropogenic global warming, it severely undermines the credibility of climate science and forces us to ask if this science is really science at all. No longer is climate science a hallmark of objective, hard empiricism. The ballyhooed âÄúconsensusâÄù seems increasingly to mark scienceâÄôs descent into a cesspool of vested interest, political correctness and outright propaganda. ItâÄôs a long-overdue, yet provisional vindication for exiled climate skeptics such as PrincetonâÄôs Freeman Dyson, who argues that current models are too simplistic, and Nobel Prize winning physicist Ivar Giaver, who considers environmentalism and environmental science a new âÄúreligion.âÄù If anything, Climategate works to derail consensus on man-caused global warming, a consensus which drives trillion-dollar climate change mitigation policies like cap-and-trade in the U.S. and a global mitigation effort to be debated in Copenhagen next week. The late writer Michael Crichton once said, âÄúLetâÄôs be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics âĦThe greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.âÄù Climategate asks us to take a step back, and, because we still can, breathe. John Brown welcomes comments at [email protected].