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Apr 1, 2010

Climategate exonerated. Pity no one's listening

It never pays to withhold information, as the University of East Anglia scientists behind the Climategate non-scandal have realised. Too bad the world isn't paying attention now.

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It never pays to withhold information. The University of East Anglia has rightfully been sharply criticised by the Science and Technology Committee of Britain’s House of Commons for doing so.

As The Economist points out today, the criticisms of the first of three different reports on the “climategate” e-mails expected over the next few months over prima facie evidence that the Freedom of Information Act had been breached “were aimed more at the university authorities than at the scientists. The university, it found, had supported the scientists in non-disclosure, rather than helping them follow the act’s procedures”:

“If a small number of FOIA requests had been dealt with properly early on, it seems possible that the large number of requests last year (over 100) might have been averted, or could, perhaps, have been rejected as vexatious … The MPs’ most striking prescription is that climate science should hold itself, and be held to, a higher standard than heretofore when it comes to openness and transparency.”

By not offering that transparency, the University of East Anglia has ensured that headlines such as this one in The Daily Mail appears:

“Climategate university condemned for ‘unacceptable culture of secrecy”

And this BUT gets buried in the third paragraph down:

“But it cleared researchers at the university’s Climatic Research Unit of wrongdoing and said there was no evidence they manipulated data to strengthen a case for man-made global warming.”

For a brief moment, scientists such as those from East Anglia had the world’s ear. That moment has passed. Now, as their research is exonerated, no one’s listening.

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13 thoughts on “Climategate exonerated. Pity no one’s listening

  1. JerryG

    [Edited for insults which are not helpful to the discussion – Mod]

    The fact is that the emails show no misbehaviour. They show a poor response to a vexatious and coordinated attempt to prevent their ability to do their work:

    It is correct that administraters of the institutions were criticised. They did not provide protection for their employees from the campaign of harassment that McIntyre and others were waging.

    As to Anthropogenic Global warming, it is proven by the NASA satellite data that shows increased absorption of energy in bands absorbed by CO2. It is shown in the increased Ocean temperatures. It is shown in the melting of glaciers. It is shown in the melting of Greenland, Antarctic and Arctic Ice. It is shown in the further bleaching of coral reefs recently.

    In fact the evidence is so widespread and so in advance of IPCC predictions that only the truly cretinous can continue to ignore it.

  2. Frank Campbell

    The sheer arrogance of most AGW commenters is remarkable. The utter certitude of the cult. C. Zweck is a typical case. If you’d just read the emails Chris you’d find out exactly what these people actually do. In nauseating detail. And it’s not just CRU. The point of the emails is that they links dozens of others- that’s why they’re emails Chris. If they were all at CRU they’d just walk down the corridor.

    From the point of view of the “modelling community”, which is what they call themselves, the “dendro crowd”, “coral community” (their terms) etc etc are tributaries, literally. They hand their data over to the elite. The elite make no measurements, are not in “the field”. Whether proxies or observational satellite data or whatever. They’re in the control tower. Given their age, the boss cohort (Mann, Jones et al) started their careers before computer-generated scenarios existed. In effect these minor specialists in marginal fields found a magic wand- crunch all the numbers you can find, then retail predictions. As few if any of them were statisticians, they struggle -often pathetically- with the modelling. The largest single component of the Climategate emails consists of comment, advice and calls for help on stats. This is one reason much of the earlier data is questionable- NOT because they cooked the books but because they couldn’t understand the accountancy.

    Denialism is the other side of the climate cult- so hysteria and arrogance predominate. Perfect for Bolt. They are just as sociologically naive as cult followers: Denialists imagine a cabal of conspirators faking calculations, driven by a hatred of capitalism, excessive consumption and a desire for world government run by Greens.
    The pro-AGW cult believes the climate modellers are “scientists” and represent the Weberian ideal-type of “science”- the Robyn Williams fallacy. The scientist as noble seeker after truth, a paragon of virtue standing above the foul self-interests of our grubby world. Scientist as saint, Williams as priest, spreading the word. The shock of Climategate led instantly to three reactions: avoidance (don’t read the emails!); minimisation (no big deal, grossly exaggerated); absolution by forgiveness. The latter is most interesting. “Scientists are only human” runs the argument. Driven to distraction by vexatious critics, the climate modellers’ adherence to the saintly ideal wavered. They reacted to unbearable provocation. Tested in extremis they revealed their humanity. But the integrity of the product (“science”) was magically unimpaired.

    Both interpretations are bogus. To extract ourselves from this appalling mess we need to be realistic about how science is manufactured. We need to understand how power works in small, tight mutually dependent and peer-reviewing groups. We need to follow the money, the job references, the journal in-fighting- all the normal sleaze of academia. We need to scrutinise the external connections- Pachauri the carpet-bagger for instance.

    I could go on but it’s time for my crucifixion…

  3. Frank Campbell

    “Now, as their research is exonerated, no one’s listening.”

    A whiny, plaintive note. Do you really think the fading of the climate cult is down to climategate? It was just one recent accelerant. The process has been going on for about four years. The failure was (note past tense) political and economic, as well as problems with “the science”.

    As you well know, resistance (sane and insane) to the cult existed largely in the blogosphere until just a few months ago, apart from some Murdoch fumeroles. To express the slightest doubt about AGW was to incur ridicule and abuse. No respectable person dared put their head above the parapet.

    Crikey’s tribalism and lack of basic journalistic scepticism on AGW governs its assessment of the Commons committee report. Only denialist bolttrolls believed that computer modellers cooked the books. What is starkly evident from the emails is a culture of exclusion, of which denial of data to others is but one part. The small clique of computer modellers sought by every means possible over two decades to establish their hypothesis as the ruling orthodoxy. This involved vilification of opposition scientists, fights for control over journals, denigration of uncooperative journals, corruption of the peer review process, acquisition of large research grants then dispensed to loyal followers, a prolonged propaganda campaign designed to cement the AGW hypothesis politically outside the world of science, frequent exaggeration of the likely effects of GW, and much more.

    The Triumph of the Modellers was to enlist social democracy worldwide to the cult by means of fear, a bogus appeal to the sanctity of “science” (as if these infinitely variable ‘scenarios’ are science at all) and conflation of many sensible/progressive policies with the credo of the cult: hyperconsumption, “pollution”, etc. An egregious blurring of the good with the mad. It sucked in many people. It’s now over, apart from expensive empty gestures.

    So when Crikey blames apathy or a gutless media, just remember that you, the cultists, held the whip hand for years and achieved absolutely nothing. Except the empowering of the feral Right and neglect of the environment.

    Look at Bob Carr’s piece today in Crikey: Neither AGW nor GW get a mention in his prognostications about Australia’s next 40 years. But bugger me, didn’t Prof. Kevin Anderson say 90% of us would be dead by mid-century? That’s why no one’s listening, Crikey. The mainstream just doesn’t believe it any more.

  4. Phil

    Hey Crikey, this is how you do it …..
    Posted by Doug Disney at 9:31 am
    March 31, 2010 Alternet.com

    Science wins, nobody seems to notice…
    Anthropogenic climate change is not an April Fool’s joke. I know it’s a day early, but I hope that lying asshat George Will and the rest of the idiot flat-earthiers in the climate change denial crowd feel foolish. That might be the case if they were capable of exhibiting human emotions like shame. But since we know they’ll never admit to being wrong, or ever acknowledge that they deliberately ginned-up the faux controversy for purely political purposes. All of us in the reality based community should take this opportunity to point at these fuckwitt liars and laugh.
    There was truly no there, there…Phil Jones the director of the Climate Research Unit of East Anglia University was exonerated by an inquiry conducted by the British House of Commons. End of story. The science stands. There was no dishonesty found on the part of the researchers, and all the analyses are “consistent and verifiable”. Here is a direct quote from the report: “Even if the data that CRU used were not publicly available—which they mostly are—or the methods not published—which they have been—its published results would still be credible: the results from CRU agree with those drawn from other international data sets; in other words, the analyses have been repeated and the conclusions have been verified.”
    Science wins again! Will you even see this story on Faux News? I found the story buried on page ten of my morning paper. When searching the intertubes, I found the story in only a few obscure places, mostly on climate science related sites. Even on the supposedly loony liberal sites like the Huffington Post, the headline was way down on the page and read, ‘Climategate Probe Largely Clears Scientists’ Largely clears? Did we read the same report? You would think the verification of the science and the exoneration of the scientists involved would garner as many headlines as the non-existent scandal did before the Copenhagen climate conference…

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