Words on Weather & Climate — January 21, 2010

Meteorologist Craig James, new Squire columnist

Meteorologist Craig James, new Squire columnist

Global warming and ‘Climategate’


If you follow the subject of global warming, you have likely heard of what has been called “Climategate.” Back on November 17, 2009, a very large file containing over 1,000 e-mails between climate change researchers and nearly 2,000 other documents related to climate change were posted on the Internet. If you doubt how quickly information can spread over the Internet, consider that in just two weeks the subject of Climategate could be found on over 28 million websites.

The e-mails and documents were released either by a hacker or by a whistle-blower inside the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University in England. CRU maintains one of the five databases of temperature records for the globe and is one of the premier climate research centers. Many of its researchers and others mentioned in the e-mails have been lead authors in reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The released information has been verified as authentic by CRU and has, so far, resulted in Phil Jones, the director of CRU, temporarily stepping down from that position. Since so much information was released, it is not easy to summarize but Lon Glazner, in a blog post entitled “Men Behaving Badly,” has captured the essence of the issue. Here are the main points of that post:

1. The scientists colluded in efforts to thwart Freedom of Information Act requests (across continents no less). They reference deleting data, hiding source code from requests, manipulating data to make it more annoying to use, and attempting to deny requests from people recognized as contributors to specific Internet sites.

2. These scientists publicly diminished opposing arguments for lack of being published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In the background, they discussed blackballing journals that did publish opposing views, and preventing opposing views from being published in journals they controlled. They even mention changing the rules midstream in arenas they control to ensure opposing views would not see the light of day. They discuss amongst themselves which scientists can be trusted and who should be excluded from having data because they may not be “predictable.”

3. The scientists expressed concern privately over a lack of increase in global temperatures in the last decade, and the fact that they could not explain this. Publicly they discounted it as simple natural variations. In one instance, data was [apparently] manipulated to hide a decline in temperatures when graphed. Other discussions included ways to discount historic warming trends that inconveniently did not occur during increases in atmospheric CO2.

4. The e-mails show examples of top scientists working to create public relations messaging with favorable news outlets. It shows them identifying and cataloging, by name and association, people with opposing views. These people are then disparaged in a coordinated fashion via favorable online communities.

If you would like to read some of the e-mails for yourself, visit wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/22/bishop-hills-compendium-of-cru-email-issues/. At the end of each bullet point is a link to the original e-mail.

Climategate certainly doesn’t disprove the possibility of human induced global warming, but it definitely exposes the political side of what has been portrayed to the world by the IPCC as a settled scientific theory. Efforts to prevent scientific data from being released, if that data does not fit a particular viewpoint, casts a very dark shadow over the science of climate change. The suggestion to destroy material that was subject to a freedom of information request is likely illegal and could result in legal proceedings.

Skeptics, who all along have been stating we should not spend untold billions of dollars to combat a problem that may not exist, now claim to have evidence to support their view that the data supposedly supporting human-induced global warming has been manipulated.

New research shows the raw temperature data has also been manipulated in questionable ways at other climate centers such as NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the National Climate Data Center. I’ll show examples of this in another article.

Craig James has been retired since July 1, 2008, after 40 years of broadcasting television weather. He was chief meteorologist at WZZM-TV for 12 years and chief meteorologist at WOOD-TV for 24 years. He is a graduate of Penn State University, where he received a Centennial Fellowship Award. He was also honored as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.

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