Official Inquiry Vindicates Climate Scientists
Since Galileo, science has been under attack, and its foes thought they had scored a huge victory when hackers broke into the emails of researchers at the CRU, finding some suspicious correspondences. An official UK government inquiry has just cleared the scientists of any wrong doing, reasserting that man-made global warming is a fact.
There has been controversy around science since the days of Galileo, who was forced to recant his belief about an heliocentric (Sun centered) universe under penalty of death because it conflicted with strict religious doctrine. This attack on scientists continues today, and it’s foes thought they had scored a huge victory when hackers broke into the emails of researchers at the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia (CRU), finding some suspicious correspondences.
It is not known who the hacker is or how the emails suddenly appeared on the internet, but it was picked up quickly by conservative and corporate media outlets, and touted as “evidence” that scientists were fabricating data that industrial pollutants, Carbon Dioxide in particular was contributing to an unnatural warming of the atmosphere and oceans. The timing of the hacking was curious as well, as it took place just days before the Copenhagen Climate Conference late last year, a huge international meeting that had a strong agenda for changing the way our species treats our planet. Just enough time for a controversy to erupt and disrupt the proceedings, but not enough time to fully investigate the allegations or publish specific refutations. Curious timing indeed.
In particular, climate change deniers latched onto one passage from 13 years of emails from thousands of researchers that read, “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e., from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”
Despite the unfortunate choice of wording (which was misinterpreted), FactCheck.org debunked the notion that there was any conspiracy going on. They wrote:
Skeptics claim the words “trick” and “decline” show Jones is using sneaky manipulations to mask a decline in global temperatures. But that’s not the case. Actual temperatures, as measured by scientific instruments such as thermometers, were rising at the time of the writing of this decade-old e-mail, and (as we’ve noted) have continued to rise since then. Jones was referring to the decline in temperatures implied by measurements of the width and density of tree rings. In recent decades, these measures indicate a dip, while more accurate instrument-measured temperatures continue to rise.
There are other conspiracies that the scientists are hiding data, but 95% of the CRU data is already freely available online. Further, the CRU is just one research facility cited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the most recent tome of knowledge on the subject published in 2007. The report used research from literally millions of scientists in over 140 countries with decades of data collection, and closed the book on the question of whether man made activities are making global warming worse.
Regardless, the conspiracy theorists and energy sector corporations continue to spread disinformation about the legitimacy of anthropogenic (man-made) climate change. The controversy that erupted following the hacked emails led to the head of the CRU, Phil Jones, to step aside until a full investigation had taken place.
This investigation took place over the last 4 months by the United Kingdom’s House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee. In their report, released a couple days ago, they noted that, “nothing in the more than 1,000 stolen e-mails, or the controversy kicked up by their publication, challenged scientific consensus that “global warming is happening and that it is induced by human activity.”
The Washington Post adds that there is, “no evidence to support charges that the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit or its director, Phil Jones, had tampered with data or perverted the peer review process to exaggerate the threat of global warming – two of the most serious criticisms levied against the climatologist and his colleagues.”
Despite the massive amounts of press that “Climategate” received on the main stream media, particularly in the United States (the country that emits by far the most greenhouse pollution), the finding of this inquiry that vindicate the scientists has received very little attention. Worse yet, ‘climategate’ is likely to be cited for many years to come by science opponents as ‘evidence’ that man-made global warming is some type of vast international conspiracy to add a 13 cent tax on a gallon of gasoline. From Galileo to modern times, getting folks to listen to reason has been a tough sale.
“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”