An excellent summary and editorial, well worth the read. Note that Hayward apparently reads WUWT, as he references the “CRUtape Letters”, first published here after being coined by Steve Mosher. – Anthony
Excerpts of: Scientists Behaving Badly
A corrupt cabal of global warming alarmists are exposed by a massive document leak.
by Steven F. Hayward
Slowly and mostly unnoticed by the major news media, the air has been going out of the global warming balloon. Global temperatures stopped rising a few years ago, much to the dismay of the climate campaigners. The U.N.’s upcoming Copenhagen conference–which was supposed to yield a binding greenhouse gas emissions reduction treaty as a successor to the failed Kyoto Protocol–collapsed weeks in advance and remains on life support pending Obama’s magical intervention. Cap and trade legislation is stalled on Capitol Hill. Recent opinion polls from Gallup, Pew, Rasmussen, ABC/Washington Post, and other pollsters all find a dramatic decline in public belief in human-caused global warming. The climate campaigners continue to insist this is because they have a “communications” problem, but after Al Gore’s Nobel Prize/Academy Award double play, millions of dollars in paid advertising, and the relentless doom-mongering from the media echo chamber and the political class, this excuse is preposterous. And now the climate campaign is having its Emperor’s New Clothes moment.
In mid-November a large cache of emails and technical documents from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Britain were made available on a number of Internet file-servers for download by the public–either the work of a hacker or a leak from a whistleblower on the inside. The emails–more than 1,000 of them–reveal a small cabal of scientists who, in the words of MIT’s Michael Schrage, engaged in “malice, mischief and Machiavellian maneuverings.” In an ironic twist, one of the frequent correspondents in this long e‑trail (University of Arizona scientist Jonathan Overpeck) warned several of his colleagues in September, “Please write all emails as though they will be made public.” Small wonder why. It’s being called Climategate, but more than one wit is calling them “the CRUtape Letters.”
As in the furor over Dan Rather’s fabricated documents about George W. Bush’s National Guard service back in 2004, bloggers have been swarming over the material and highlighting the bad faith, bad science, and possibly even criminal behavior (deleting material requested under Britain’s Freedom of Information Act and perhaps tax evasion) of a small group of highly influential climate scientists. As with Rathergate, diehard climate campaigners are repairing to the “fake but accurate” defense–what these scientists did may be unethical or deeply biased, they say, but the science is settled, don’t you know, so move along, nothing to see here. There are a few notable exceptions, such as Guardian columnist George Monbiot, who in the past has trafficked in the most extreme climate mongering: “It’s no use pretending that this isn’t a major blow,” Monbiot wrote in a November 23 column. “The emails extracted by a hacker from the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia could scarcely be more damaging. . . . I’m dismayed and deeply shaken by them. . . . I was too trusting of some of those who provided the evidence I championed. I would have been a better journalist if I had investigated their claims more closely.” Monbiot has joined a number of prominent climate scientists in demanding that the CRU figures resign their posts and be excluded from future climate science work. The head of the CRU, Phil Jones, announced last week that he will temporarily step down pending an investigation.
The behavior of the CRU circle has cast a long shadow over the entire climate science community, and many honest scientists will now undeservedly bear the stigma of Climategate unless a full airing of the issues is conducted. Other important climate research centers with close ties to the CRU–including NASA’s Goddard Institute and the Climate Change Science Program at NOAA–should not be exempt from a full-dress investigation. Such a reevaluation must begin with an understanding of the crucial role the CRU circle has played in the global warming drama.
Even as the IPCC was picking up Mann’s hockey stick with enthusiasm, Briffa sent Mann a note of caution about “the possibility of expressing an impression of more consensus than might actually exist. I suppose the earlier talk implying that we should not ‘muddy the waters’ by including contradictory evidence worried me. IPCC is supposed to represent consensus but also areas of uncertainty in the evidence.” Briffa had previously dissented from the hockey stick reconstruction in a 1999 email to Mann and Phil Jones: “I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1000 years ago.” Even Malcolm Hughes, one of the original hockey stick coauthors, privately expressed reservations about overreliance on their invention, writing to Cook, Mann and others in 2002:
All of our attempts, so far, to estimate hemisphere-scale temperatures for the period around 1000 years ago are based on far fewer data than any of us would like. None of the datasets used so far has anything like the geographical distribution that experience with recent centuries indicates we need, and no one has yet found a convincing way of validating the lower-frequency components of them against independent data. As Ed [Cook] wrote, in the tree-ring records that form the backbone of most of the published estimates, the problem of poor replication near the beginnings of records is particularly acute, and ubiquitous. . . . Therefore, I accept that everything we are doing is preliminary, and should be treated with considerable caution.
Mann didn’t react well to these hesitations from his colleagues. Even Ray Bradley, a coauthor of the hockey stick article, felt compelled to send a message to Briffa after one of Mann’s self-serving emails with the single line: “Excuse me while I puke.” One extended thread grew increasingly acrimonious as Mann lashed out at his colleagues. He wrote to Briffa, Jones, and seven others in a fury over their favorable remarks about a Science magazine article that offered a temperature history that differed from the hockey stick: “Sadly, your piece on the Esper et al paper is more flawed than even the paper itself. . . . There is a lot of damage control that needs to be done and, in my opinion, you’ve done a disservice to the honest discussions we had all had in the past, because you’ve misrepresented the evidence.”
To Briffa in particular Mann wrote: “Hopefully, you know that I respect you quite a bit as a scientist! But in this case, I think you were sloppy. And the sloppiness had a real cost.” Mann’s bad manners prompted Bradley to reply: “I wish to disassociate myself with Mike’s comments, or at least the tone of them. I do not consider myself the final arbiter of what Science should publish, nor do I consider what you did to signify the end of civilization as we know it.” Tempers got so out of hand that Tom Crowley of Duke University intervened: “I am concerned about the stressed tone of some of the words being circulated lately. . . . I think you are all fine fellows and very good scientists and that it is time to smoke the peace pipe on all this and put a temporary moratorium on more email messages until tempers cool down a bit.” Mann responded with his best imitation of Don Corleone: “This is ultimately about the science, it’s not personal.” If the CRU circle treat each other this way, it is no wonder they treat skeptics even more rudely.
One of Briffa’s concerns about Mann’s hockey stick is that some of the tree ring data–Briffa’s specialty–didn’t match up well with other records, so Mann either omitted them (in some versions of the hockey stick) or changed their statistical weighting in his overall synthesis to downplay the anomalous results of the raw data. This, by the way, is the origin of Phil Jones’s “hide the decline” email; after 1960 tree ring data suggest a decline in temperatures, while other datasets show an increase. (This is one of many sources of intense controversy about temperature reconstructions.) Jones’s and Mann’s treatment may be defensible, but is problematic to say the least.
Starting in 2003 two mild-mannered Canadians, retired engineer Stephen McIntyre and University of Guelph economist Ross McKitrick, began making noises about serious problems with the by-then iconic hockey stick graph. The dispute between McIntyre, McKitrick (M/M as they became known in the shorthand of the climate science world) and the hockey team was highly technical, involving advanced methods of data selection and statistical analysis that are almost impossible for a layperson to follow. But one key point was access to the original raw data and complete computer codes that Mann and CRU had used, rather than the adjusted data reported in their final studies.
The CRU scandal is only the tip of an unmelted iceberg of politicized science, though the “hard” sciences until recently have been generally thought immune (or at least resistant) to the leftist bias and political correctness of the universities. Some scientists are quite open about their leftward orientation. In 2004, Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin wrote in the New York Review of Books: “Most scientists are, at a minimum, liberals, although it is by no means obvious why this should be so. Despite the fact that all of the molecular biologists of my acquaintance are shareholders in or advisers to biotechnology firms, the chief political controversy in the scientific community seems to be whether it is wise to vote for Ralph Nader this time.” MIT’s Kerry Emanuel, as “mainstream” as they come in climate science (Al Gore references his work, and in one of his books Emanuel refers to Senator James Inhofe as a “scientific illiterate” and to climate skeptics as les refusards), nonetheless offers this warning to his field:
Scientists are most effective when they provide sound, impartial advice, but their reputation for impartiality is severely compromised by the shocking lack of political diversity among American academics, who suffer from the kind of group-think that develops in cloistered cultures. Until this profound and well-documented intellectual homogeneity changes, scientists will be suspected of constituting a leftist think tank.
Perhaps the most damning email from the CRU circle is this July 2005 message from Phil Jones to climatologist John Christy of the University of Alabama: “As you know, I’m not political. If anything, I would like to see the climate change happen, so the science could be proved right, regardless of the consequences. This isn’t being political, it is being selfish.” Jones’s attitude may not be exactly political, but it is certainly unscientific. The denial of political bent is also hard to square with the emails revealing that several of these scientists worked closely behind the scenes with alarmist advocacy groups such as Greenpeace, which really deserves to be shunned by serious scientists.
Climate change is a genuine phenomenon, and there is a nontrivial risk of major consequences in the future. Yet the hysteria of the global warming campaigners and their monomaniacal advocacy of absurdly expensive curbs on fossil fuel use have led to a political dead end that will become more apparent with the imminent collapse of the Kyoto-Copenhagen process. I have long expected that 20 or so years from now we will look back on the turn-of-the-millennium climate hysteria in the same way we look back now on the population bomb hysteria of the late 1960s and early 1970s–as a phenomenon whose magnitude and effects were vastly overestimated, and whose proposed solutions were wrongheaded and often genuinely evil (such as the forced sterilizations of thousands of Indian men in the 1970s, much of it funded by the Ford Foundation). Today the climate campaigners want to forcibly sterilize the world’s energy supply, and until recently they looked to be within an ace of doing so. But even before Climategate, the campaign was beginning to resemble a Broadway musical that had run too long, with sagging box office and declining enthusiasm from a dwindling audience. Someone needs to break the bad news to the players that it’s closing time for the climate horror show.
Read the complete article at The Weekly Standard
h/t to WUWT reader Ken Methow