I prefer the term Warmergate (it’s so near the original!) to refer to this scandal but most people are by now familiar with Climategate, so I bow to the public search engines, er, I mean public opinion.
On 12 October, 2009, thousands of emails and data files laboriously collated by a whistle-blower perhaps within the CRU at the University of East Anglia were sent to Paul Hudson, BBC climate change expert. He did nothing with them. On 19 November they arrived anonymously on a server in Tomsk, Siberia, from where they were sent to blogs around the world.
On 13 December the Daily Mail’s rather excellent summary of an important part of those emails began:
The claim was both simple and terrifying: that temperatures on planet Earth are now ‘likely the highest in at least the past 1,300 years’.
As its authors from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) must have expected, it made headlines around the world.
Yet some of the scientists who helped to draft it, The Mail on Sunday can reveal, harboured uncomfortable doubts.
Here are some highlights
Keith Briffa from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU), which plays a key role in forming IPCC assessments, urged caution, warning that when it came to historical climate records, there was no new data, only the ‘same old evidence’ that had been around for years. ‘Let us not try to over-egg the pudding,’ he wrote in an email to an IPCC colleague in September 2006.
But when the ‘warmest for 1,300 years’ claim was published in 2007 in the IPCC’s fourth report, the doubters kept silent.
Pielke’s verdict on the scandal is damning.
‘These emails open up the possibility that big scientific questions we’ve regarded as settled may need another look.
‘They reveal that some of these scientists saw themselves not as neutral investigators but as warriors engaged in battle with the so-called sceptics.
‘They have lost a lot of credibility and as far as their being leading spokespeople on this issue of huge public importance, there is no going back.’
‘Any scientist ought to know that you just can’t mix and match proxy and actual data,’ said Philip Stott, emeritus professor of biogeography at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.
‘They’re apples and oranges. Yet that’s exactly what he did.’
‘A year ago, if a reporter called me, all I got was questions about why I’m trying to deny climate change and am threatening the future of the planet,’ said Professor Ross McKitrick of Guelph University near Toronto, a long-time collaborator with McIntyre.
‘Now, I’m getting questions about how they did the hockey stick and the problems with the data.
‘Maybe the emails have started to open people’s eyes.’
The original article in the Mail on Sunday is about 3000 words. It is easy to read. It will forever change your view of climate science and the public policy that is derived from it.
I urge you to read the original, discuss it and distribute what it says.