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February 3rd, 2010

The Climategate Controversy

Climategate Controversy

Climategate started last year and just keeps going. One of the problems with covering it is the numerous angles. I can see points on several sides. Of course I believe humans are altering the planet-overpopulation alone is a huge problem. On the other hand, humans have been altering the planet in some fashion since evolving from apes. What disturbs me most is the implication that scientists altered evidence to fit their desired results.

Here’s some news I’ve been reading on the controversy:

From the Telegraph:
UN climate change panel based claims on student dissertation and magazine article
“The United Nations’ expert panel on climate change based claims about ice disappearing from the world’s mountain tops on a student’s dissertation and an article in a mountaineering magazine.


In its most recent report, it stated that observed reductions in mountain ice in the Andes, Alps and Africa was being caused by global warming, citing two papers as the source of the information.

However, it can be revealed that one of the sources quoted was a feature article published in a popular magazine for climbers which was based on anecdotal evidence from mountaineers about the changes they were witnessing on the mountainsides around them.

The other was a dissertation written by a geography student, studying for the equivalent of a master’s degree, at the University of Berne in Switzerland that quoted interviews with mountain guides in the Alps.”

A magazine article and college dissertation? Really?!

From Wikipedia:
Climatic Research Unit hacking incident
“The Climatic Research Unit hacking incident came to light in November 2009 when it was discovered that thousands of e-mails and other documents had been obtained through the hacking of a server used by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, England. The subsequent dissemination of the material caused a controversy, dubbed “Climategate”, regarding whether or not the e-mails indicated misconduct by climate scientists. The University of East Anglia described the incident as an illegal taking of data. The police are conducting a criminal investigation of the server breach and subsequent personal threats made against some of the scientists mentioned in the e-mails.


The material comprised more than 1,000 e-mails, 2,000 documents, as well as commented source code, pertaining to climate change research covering a period from 1996 until 2009. Some of the e-mails which have been widely publicised included discussions of how to combat the arguments of climate change sceptics, unflattering comments about sceptics, queries from journalists, and drafts of scientific papers. There have been assertions that these discussions indicated efforts to shut out dissenters and their points of view, and included discussions about destroying files in order to prevent them from being revealed under the UK Freedom of Information Act 2000.”

This Wiki article has changed over the last few months. That makes me want to double verify the links but it’s a good start if you’re unfamiliar with the story.

From the NY Times:
Researcher on Climate Is Cleared in Inquiry
“An academic board of inquiry has largely cleared a noted Pennsylvania State University climatologist of scientific misconduct, but a second panel will convene to determine whether his behavior undermined public faith in the science of climate change, the university said Wednesday.


While the Pennsylvania State inquiry, conducted by three senior faculty members and administrators, absolved Dr. Mann of the most serious charges against him, it is not likely to silence the controversy over climate science. New questions about the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to which Dr. Mann was a significant contributor, have arisen since the hacked e-mail messages surfaced last November.

That faculty board did not look into the science of climate change itself, the university said in announcing its results. That, it said, is “a matter more appropriately left to the profession.”

Dr. Mann was named in 377 of the e-mail messages, including several that critics took to suggest that he had manipulated or destroyed data to strengthen his case that human activity was changing the global climate.”

When Mann referred to his “trick” for the data that certainly undermined my faith in his results. If true, this seems like such a betrayal to the scientific method. Plus such actions betray public trust in the environmental movement. Whether the scientists faked it or not this whole situation is disturbing.

Posted by Vixen as News at 11:42 PM CST