The distinguished InterAcademy Council, an independent society of top scientists, recently conducted an extensive review of the practices of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which the former found egregiously flawed. The IAC strongly rebuked the IPCC for making various pronoucements based on "little evidence," for "vague statements," and for not "expressing clearly" or giving the proper "perspective" on climate-related issues. The Capital Research Center (whose work I have long followed and respected) rightly deems the IPCC's modus operandi "shoddy" and concludes -- devastatingly:
What does the best evidence now tell us? That man-made global warming is a mere hypothesis that has been inflated by both exaggeration and downright malfeasance, fueled by the awarding of fat grants and salaries to any scientist who'll produce the "right" results.
The warming "scientific" community [as the Climategate emails reveal] is a tight clique of like-minded scientists and bureaucrats who give each other jobs, publish each other's papers -- and conspire to shut out any point of view that threatens to derail their gravy train.
Such behavior is perhaps to be expected from politicians and government functionaries. From scientists, it's a travesty.
And, so it is, that we all come tumbling down:
In the end, grievous harm will have been done not just to individual scientists' reputations, but to the once-sterling reputation of science itself. For that, we will all suffer.
Several weeks ago, NAS President Peter Wood took note here of the inquiries by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who had announced his intention look into the use of reasearch funds granted by the Commonwealth to controversial Penn State climatologist Michale Mann. In light of the so-called "climategate" revelations last Fall, Cuccinelli declared that there were sufficient grounds to justify an investigation of Mann's grant proposal to determine whether or not he had used fraudulent data in applying for public funding to underwrite his research . A firestorm of controversy arose, complete with grim comparisons to the trial of Galileo, the burning of witches and the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s. When Peter offered tentative and carefully qualified support for Cuccinelli's inquiries, a spirited discussion arose among our regular readers as well. The issue is still very much alive, and Slate carried a piece the other day by its senior editor Dahlia Lithwick and University of Virginia law professor Richard Schragger, who argue there that academic freedom is a fundamental right guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution. We've never bought this position, and have elaborated our view of academic freedom frequently, as Peter did in this explication last year. We continue to believe that the AAUP's 1915 declaration holds up very well: academic freedom certainly covers the right of scholars to defend and advocate positions within their fields, even though these may run counter to the established wisdom, if they believe their research leads them to such conclusions. But academic freedom, in this understanding, does not entitle a scholar to hold court in the classroom on current political trends, the outcome of the world series or his part-time job as a bowling alley repair specialist. If he teaches at a public university, he can step out into the common area where the First Amendment protects his right to declare himself on these matters and just about any others as well. But neither the First Amendment nor academic freedom entitle any researcher, scientific or otherwise, to unscrutinized and unaccountable public funding. We've certainly yielded to no one in our own defense of traditional academic freedom, and we'll continue to stick to our guns. At the moment, though, the issue seems highly confused, and I hope I've been able to at least clarify our position on it.
James Delingpole, in the Telegraph, recently noted:
Climategate just got much, much bigger. And all thanks to the Russians who, with perfect timing, dropped this bombshell just as the world’s leaders are gathering in Copenhagen to discuss ways of carbon-taxing us all back to the dark ages.
The Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) reported that the Hadley Center for Climate Change had probably tampered with Russian-climate data:
The IEA believes that Russian meteorological-station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory ... Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations.
Read why Joseph D'Aleo, a former professor of climatology, calls this "paint-by-numbers science."
By now, most of the world has heard of "Climategate"-- the e-mail scandal surrounding the Hadley Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in the UK. (If you are unfamiliar with the story, you can catch up with this Wikipedia article.) In short, hackers broke into the university's e-mail system and posted on the internet private communications between climate researchers, and the e-mails are far from flattering. Besides gloating over the death of a climate change skeptic, the e-mails show concerted efforts by the researchers to manipulate temperature data, to block public access to their data, and (perhaps most disturbingly) to exclude skeptical or critical researchers from the peer review process. While it may be too early to describe this behavior as "scientific fraud," it is certainly appropriate to label it "unethical." The New York Times's John Tierney wrote an excellent piece about this scandal and its implications for climate change advocates. Tierney points out that the climate researchers involved became "so focused on winning the public-relations war that they exaggerate[d] their certitude -- and ultimately undermine[d] their own cause." What this situation also reveals is that scientists who become public policy advocates can lose the most important characteristic they have: objectivity. Scientists must accept data for what it is, not what they wish it to be. Scientists must deal with contradictory data, not ignore it. And most importantly, scientists must be transparent with their research and the conclusions they draw, not secretive. However, these ethical principles become far more difficult to uphold when scientists become activists. To be sure, "Climategate" does not disprove global climate change, but it absolutely raises the suspicions of a general public who is often leery of science to begin with. Furthermore, scandals such as this damage not only the researchers involved but the entire scientific endeavor itself. Scientists who become public policy advocates must walk a fine line. Unfortunately, the researchers at East Anglia crossed that line.
I'm happy to report that Google is now allowing its suggestion function to accomodate searches for Climategate. Recall that I posted last week in reference to the very strange absence of this search tool, on a subject which was generating more hits than all other "climate" inquiries combined. Give it a try, you'll find all kinds of interesting stuff. I'd suggest that you hurry, though: you never know when this curious malfunction might recur. Glenn Ricketts
I wonder what’s going on with Google and Climategate? Specifically, I mean why doesn’t the premier mega-search resource’s suggestion function work when you enter “Climategate?” Enter “Global Warming,” for example and you’ll instantly get at least a dozon suggestions; same thing with “Climate Change.” But with “Climategate – even though it records many more hits than the other two – nada, nyet, nichts, nihil, nothin’. Is this a coincidence? Maybe. But maybe Google thinks it doesn’t need to be too helpful for those global warming deniers, either. You have to wonder.
I got this email from the National Teach-In for Global Warming as part of an "Education for Sustainability" listserv to which I subscribe:
Dear Colleagues and Friends, The hacked e-mails from climate scientists have energized the denialist community: one of the most jaw-dropping comments came from “Superfreakonomics” co-author Steven Dubner who told Fox News that “scientists were “colluding” with Al Gore in “distorting evidence.” He insisted that “you can’t read these emails and feel that the IPCC’s or the major climate scientists’ findings and predictions about global warming are kosher.” Now you too can help “hide the decline”. No, not a (non-existent) decline in the global temperature data, but a decline in the voices of people who understand the science. As educators, many of us are stunned that a few private e-mails are somehow calling into question three decades of peer-reviewed research by thousands of the world’s top scientists. Nevertheless, because you and I are not speaking out, but the deniers are, it is happening, and we have the obligation to set the record straight. What can you do? 1. Help us organize statewide conference calls with your US Senate offices this spring. We need to get 500 people on the line each from Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio, Nevada and 46 other states—to have a real conversation with Senate staff about real issues. The Bard Center for Environmental Policy will do all the work setting up the calls, but we need your help getting the word out. To learn more, give me a call at 845-758-8067, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. 2. Call your US Senate Office today (find the numbers here) and let them know that these e-mails have in no way undermined the scientific case of global warming, and that the planet is in fact heating up just as scientists have predicted. A great Peter Sinclair video explaining the issue is here. 3. Send in letter on the e-mails to the editor, or write an op-ed for your regional paper. Next Wednesday, December 16th, I will be calling into on The National Climate Seminar live from Copenhagen. While it is clear that “a grand deal” will not emerge in the next two weeks, I will be discussing whether a binding international agreement appears possible to emerge by next year’s meetings in Mexico, and what that might look like. Join us at 3 PM eastern—call in info is here. Finally: please support young people’s efforts in Copenhagen— take the daily student opinion poll POPCOP15: see the letter from Dickinson College letter below. And see the note as well about a cool Copenhagen curriculum, Citizen Climate, for high school students from the Will Steger Foundation. Thanks for the work you are doing. Professor Eban Goodstein Director, National Teach-In on Global Warming
Now that our leaders have taught us that opposing nationalized health care is supporting slavery, I think it's pretty clear that high school students should be taught that denying global warming is supporting slavery. Come to think of it, opposing affirmative action and partial birth abortion is clearly supporting slavery. I might have difficulty persuading the Senate that rooting for the Yankees constitutes supporting slavery -- though that seems more pleasing to me than any of the other innuendos.
See Inside Higher Ed:
Both sides in the case before the court argue that they are defending students from discrimination. "Often university officials don't like the religious groups and we see [colleges' anti-bias rules] as one more mechanism for keeping religious groups off campus," said Kim Colby, a lawyer for the Christian Legal Society, which wants the right to organize chapters at public law schools even if those law schools ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. The society excludes gay people -- and others who do not share its faith.
See also FIRE:
FIRE will be filing an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief with the Court in support of the Christian Legal Society's appeal, asking the Court to continue its longstanding protection of expressive association.
University administrators, moreover, seem to have a lot a trouble complying with the First Amendment. Let us pray that the Supreme Court will vindicate the foundational principles underlying our first freedom.
But just as the right to abortion, speech, or private education doesn’t yield a right to government funding of abortion, speech, or private education — and isn’t even violated by rules that expressly exclude abortion, certain subject matters of speech, or private education from generally available benefit programs — so the right to expressive association isn’t violated by rules that give benefits only to groups that organize themselves in a certain way. And while these conditions on funding would be unconstitutional if they discriminated based on the viewpoint of the groups’ speech, a ban on discrimination in selecting members or officers is a ban based on conduct, not on the viewpoint of the groups’ speech.
In admirable contrast with the U.S. MSM -- which to its great shame has barely (if at all) covered the momentous climate-change, leaked e-mails scandal -- the Sunday Times (UK) recently ran a highly informed and balanced account of the story. The whole piece is well worth reading but what especially intrigued me was the tale of how the determined "leaker" disseminated his or her e-mails hoard:
The storm began with just four cryptic words. “A miracle has happened,” announced a contributor to Climate Audit, a website devoted to criticising the science of climate change. “RC” said nothing more — but included a web link that took anyone who clicked on it to another site, Real Climate [where the e-mails were to be found] ... It was a powerful and controversial mix — far too powerful for some. Real Climate is a website designed for scientists who share Jones’s belief in man-made climate change. Within hours the file had been stripped from the site. Several hours later, however, it reappeared — this time on an obscure Russian server. Soon it had been copied to a host of other servers, first in Saudi Arabia and Turkey and then Europe and America. What’s more, the anonymous poster was determined not to be stymied again. He or she posted comments on climate-sceptic blogs, detailing a dozen of the best emails and offering web links to the rest.
Some savvy hacking-job, wouldn't you say?
Charlie Martin skewers "Fraud Denier" warmist Phil Plait for calling the global warming e-mails a "non-event." Here's Martin's emphatic refutation at Discover, which appears to be a scientific "insiders" blogsite (bracketed comments mine):
Phil, this is really shameful. If you think there was no attempt to silence scientists with differing ideas, call up Roger Pielke (either of them [father or son]). Have a look at Hans von Storch’s web page.As for fraud, I don’t believe that Hansen, Mann, Jones, and Schmidt [all involved in the e-mails scandal] have been holding secret Climate SMERSH meetings to plan a conscious fraud. It’s much more insidious than that: they simply decided on the Right Explanation for the general warming trend (that nobody I know of questions [there are those that do]), and then apparently ensured the “corrections” and splices matches [sic] that Right Explanation. They didn’t massage the data, they waterboarded it into submission. They then conspired to prevent people, even people like Pielke Sr who believed in general in both the warming and anthropogenicity, but who believed in other mechanisms for the anthropogenic forcings, from being published. Oddly, when we look at the data, we find that the corrections dominate the raw data signal, and constitute most or all of the temperature change that was then published as a “result.” On the FOIA front, they clearly conspired (in 20 emails rather than 2) to find ways to prevent their data from being released. Jones even requested certain emails be deleted after they were requested via FOIA. So, I suppose if you think manipulating data, misconduct in peer review, and what appear to have been multiple felonies are nothing, I can’t argue [but, of course, he is doing just that]. But this isn’t climate science, this is climate scientology.
I've noted that financial gain surely figured in the motivation of the scientists who appear to have conspired to suppress climate data. But of course there is also this possible motive, suggested in an historically grounded article by Rand Simberg that explores the ideal of and deviations from the objective pursuit of science:
It is easy to postulate that they have political aims, and there are certainly many “watermelon” environmentalists (green on the outside, “red” on the inside) who see the green movement as a new means to continue to push socialist and big-government agendas, after a momentary setback with the collapse of the Soviet Union two decades ago. But ... science doesn’t always follow the idealized model of the objective scientist seeking only truth; it is often driven by fashions and fads, peer pressure, and a lust for glory and respect by the other courtiers of the court that fund [these scientists] ... [perhaps] this defense of a flawed theory arose from the sense of power that it might give them over the rest of our lives. Or perhaps it was due to simply an emotional attachment to a theory in which they had invested their careers. Either way, what they did was not science, and they should be drummed out of that profession. They can no longer be trusted.
My friends at NAS.org have posted on the “Climate Conspiracy” that broke when hackers revealed global warming scientists had apparently manipulated data, organized attacks on skeptics, and much more. Surprise, surprise. The timing couldn’t be worse for those who would cripple economies with the plaintive cry: “Do as we say or we all die!” Worldwide there is growing skepticism about the benefits of micromanaging every aspect of daily life while measuring “carbon footprints.” The Wall Street Journal even contributed to this Nanny Project with a long piece measuring the carbon footprint of various common products. I was relieved to see that beer had the lowest carbon footprint. How far have we gone when we decide whether or not it is “good for the planet” to drink beer? Now we must ask: Did German scientists manipulate the beer data to preserve their national beverage? (I'm kidding). It's a good cause (beer drinking) but who studies this stuff? And when is enough enough? To read more, click here.
Many professors in the humanities and social sciences have been taking heat for years about the quality and integrity - in particular, the tendentiousness - of their research and teaching. But, now, along comes the worldwide airing of data obtained by a hacker implicating a major group of UK university scientists in what seems to be deliberate fraud -- a long and systematic effort to manipulate data to "hide the decline" in temperatures. Charlie Martin at Pajamas Media speculates where these revelations, if confirmed, may lead:
If these files are eventually corroborated and verified, it is a bombshell indeed — evidence that there has been a literal conspiracy to push the anthropogenic climate change agenda far beyond the science. It will mean the end of some scientific careers, and it might even mean those careers [sic] will end in jail.