I apologize. This post corrects something written yesterday. ClimateGATE reveals nefarious conspiracy? NOT! asserted that the hacked emails from a leading global warming (climate change) science center did not reveal some form of conspiracy in the climate change world. That conclusion was wrong. I apologize. There is a quite serious conspiracy highlighted through ClimateGATE.
Have you heard yet?
The . denialosphere is raving about it. The e-mail server for a key climate research center was hacked and megabytes of material was dumped on the web. Cherry-picked after misrepresented item after out-of-context statement later and evidently we don’t need to worry that Australia is burning, Arctic ice and glaciers around the world are melting, and the oceans are acidifying.
Have to say, it would really be great news to find out that global warming isn’t happening, that we don’t need to be waiting with bated breath for the George Will column examining (actually, likely distorting) the latest science laying out concerns over a 6 degree centigrade (11 degree fahrenheit) warming before the end of the century.
It would be great to learn that my fears of global warming are unfounded.
I am a father with young children sleeping soundly in their beds, safe for the moment. If we can wash away concerns over global warming, acidification of the oceans, pegging it all as some form of mass scientific secret cabal to distort the globe, that would be truly great news. I, too, could sleep soundly if that were the case, being able to believe that my children are safe not for the moment but for their lives.
Sadly, ClimateGate doesn’t even come close to reaching the point of nullifying the solidity of the work of thousands of scientists.
What do we see in these emails?
There seem to be some strong anger at those who work hard to distort information in their work and distort science when speaking to non-scientific communities. There is (passionate) frustration with self-proclaimed ‘skeptics’ collaborating to create ‘peer reviewed’ journal space where non-scientifically sound work can be published. There is discussion of how to do analysis and how to account for confusing anomalies. There is plenty of material to cherry pick from and scream about in efforts to foster confusion about and disdain for actual science.
On the other hand, what is not being waved about from the hilltops by anti-science syndrome suffering skeptics?
More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords.
Obviously, though, this means that hackers must have deleted these portions of the emails because of … “The truly paranoid will put this down to the hackers also being in on the plot though.”
there has been much ado made about some emails that supposedly talk about “tricks” and procedures to “hide the decline”, as well as other words used that indicate that the CRU scientists (and their various correspondents) were lying about their data (something that RealClimate discusses). And it’s much ado about nothing (with apologies to Shakespeare). I work in electrical engineering where I use words and phrases that, taken out of context, could be misinterpreted as nefarious by people who are ignorant of the context or who have an axe to grind. For example, I regularly talk about “fiddling with” or “twiddling” the data, “faking out” something, “messing around with” testing, and so on. In the first case, I’m analyzing the data to see if I can make it make sense or if I can extract the signal from the noise. In the second case, I’m often forced to force a piece of electronics into a specific mode manually so I can test it and verify some other function, or I use the phrase to provide artificial test data for calibration and/or verification that my electronics are working correctly. And in the third case, it usually involves trying to deduce whether a problem is caused by the electronic board I’m testing or by the equipment that is doing the testing.
Every profession evolves it’s own way of speaking as well as a specialised vocabulary. A soldier listening to soldiers speaking will understand much more about what is being said and meant than someone else, even if that other person knows all of the vocabulary. Ditto pizza cooks, day care workers, court clerks or brick layers.
Which is why scientists are spectacularly unimpressed with the emails being evidence of anything much at all. It’’s not that they are “circling the wagons” and “protecting their own” (as I have seen some suggest). They just “understand the language.” Not simply the words, but the structure and patterns that make up the “scientific dialect.”
As Shakespeare might put it, Much Ado About Nothing …
Brad Johnson at Wonkroom concludes ClimateGate : Hacked Emails Reveal Global Warming Deniers Are Crazed Conspiracy Theorists .
In any event, Joe Romm accurately summarizes ClimateGate:
Whatever smoke the anti-scientific disinformers are able to blow into people’s faces over this bunch of emails dating back over a decade, it doesn’t change the basic facts about human-caused warming:
Truly, it would be great news for all of us if the anti-science syndrome promoting skeptics were correct. Sadly, it isn’t the scientists, but the planet which is skating on thinner ice.
Some additional material …
I’ll admit, as someone who spends most days looking for leaked documents, the package of stolen emails and documents from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University is pretty juicy. Anything that provides insight into the inner-workings of your opponents is pretty much manna from heaven in this line of work.
I have been going through all the files today and I hate to disappoint but it just ain’t the scandal climate conspiracy theorists want it to be.
These emails are blissfully being spun by the climate contrarians as proof of some type of worldwide conspiracy by scientists to fake the climate change crisis. Michelle Malkin, who relishes Ann Coulter-esque statements, goes so far as to call it “the global warming scandal of the century.”
Nate Silver at 538 with I Read Through 160,000,000 Bytes of Hacked Files And All I Got Was This Lousy E-Mail
There you have it! The smoking gun! Irrefutable proof of the Anthropogenic Warming Global Super-Duper Major-Mega International Socialist Conspiracy!
If you see Al Gore parking his Ford Fusion hybrid near any major bridges, make sure to call the police! …
But let’s be clear: Jones is talking to his colleagues about making a prettier picture out of his data, and not about manipulating the data itself. Again, I’m not trying to excuse what he did — we make a lot of charts here and 538 and make every effort to ensure that they fairly and accurately reflect the underlying data (in addition to being aesthetically appealing.) I wish everybody would abide by that standard.
Still: I don’t know how you get from some scientist having sexed up a graph in East Anglia ten years ago to The Final Nail In The Coffin of Anthropogenic Global Warming. Anyone who comes to that connection has more screws loose than the Space Shuttle Challenger. And yet that’s literally what some of these bloggers are saying!
Incidentally, 2009 is shaping up to be the 5th warmest year on record, according to the conspiracists at NASA
Sadly, despite the blaring denialosphere titles, global warming is still around, the global climate is changing, the oceans are acidifying, we are worsening the problem with every nanosecond … and we have no time to waste on dealing with these serial distorters when what we should be working on is solving problems.
You might be interested in this … Evidently there is a long history of such scientific fraud as laid out with devastating details in NewtonGate.
Now, as to the title of this diary, “ClimateGATE reveals nefarious conspiracy” … it does, of a global denialosphere cabal ready to work together to use illegally obtained material in distorting and deceiving ways.
UPDATE: See Media Matters exposing Rush Limbaugh’s distortions.