|Ten years ago, a scandal in climate science broke. Hackers took over a thousand emails from Britain’s University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit and revealed them in a series of releases. These provided the first solid evidence that the climate establishment was trying to suppress physical evidence that nature was not responding to increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claimed and the climate modelers predicted / projected. Many of the lead authors of the IPCC Assessment Reports were involved in this suppression of physical evidence, which is contrary to the principles of the scientific method.|
Some academic institutions conducted investigations of the affair. Generally, but not in every instance, these investigations where the reverse of “show trials” – they were “show exonerations” – avoiding difficult issues and critical questions. The academic community demonstrated a desire to protect sources of revenues rather than to protect scientific integrity. Writing in his particular style, journalist James Delingpole gives a good overview of Climategate and its importance.
Judith Curry discusses the importance of Climategate on her blog. She discusses the timely evaluation by Ross McKitrick, who along with Steve McIntyre, exposed the poor use of statistics that went into the creation of Mr. Mann’s infamous “hockey-stick” used by the IPCC in its Third Assessment Report. [Versions of the hockey-stick appeared in the Summary for Policymakers, showing that human forcings are needed to explain increases in temperatures after 1950. (IPCC 2001, SPM-2). Note that TWTW questions both the accuracy of the reported sharp increase in surface temperatures after 1950 and that increases in CO2 can explain them.] As McKitrick demonstrates, by no objective criteria did the inquiries “exonerate” the scientists involved in Climategate.
Curry also discusses the concerns brought by McIntyre and the use of the algorithm (process of calculations) that created the “hockey-stick” as well as the deletion of the temperature records that contradict the hockey-stick. The deletion of data is contrary to the scientific method.
According to Curry, climate science is in a morass and she tried to suggest ways out of the morass, only to be attacked by others as being a climate heretic. It is becoming quite clear that the climate establishment cannot tolerate criticism, no matter how well intended – similar to a cult.
Five years ago, Curry wrote:
“The net effect of all this is that my ‘academic career advancement’ in terms of professional recognition, climbing the administrative ladder, etc. has been pretty much halted. I’ve exchanged academic advancement that now seems to be of dubious advantage to me for a much more interesting and influential existence that feels right in terms of my personal and scientific integrity.
“Climategate was career changing for me; I’ll let history decide if this was for better or worse (if history even cares).’”
She now writes:
“In the end, Climategate ended my academic career prematurely …. I realized how shallow the ‘academic game’ has become, and the games one needs to play to succeed. Throwing all that off has been personally and intellectually liberating for me.”
Curry brings up major issues, climate science as practiced is very shallow, superficial. It is built on assumptions about the atmosphere that physical evidence is demonstrating false. Increasingly, climate science is becoming more superficial. Yet, the findings of climate scientists, no matter how contrary to the scientific method, are popular among many political types who wish to exercise political control.
A purpose of the scientific method, developed over thousands of years but more intensely in Europe since about 1600, is to eliminate errors. Many examples from science and medicine demonstrate that established authorities do not wish to have their views challenged.
The scientific method provides a set of procedures to test concepts, ideas, to help determine if they are erroneous. Rigorous adherence to the scientific method requires repeated testing concepts or hypotheses against physical evidence when it is obtained. When the concepts or hypotheses fail such testing, they must be modified or discarded. This is an ongoing process that may take years or decades before a full understanding is established in complex issues such as climate. Regardless of their academic qualifications, when scientists disregard the scientific method for political favors, they become political lackeys, not scientists.
Over the next several weeks TWTW will discuss several US and European climate models, and how well the modelers are adjusting their models to increasing observations on what is actually occurring in the atmosphere. See links under Climategate Continued and Model Issues.