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From emails, a renewed debate over man-caused global warming

Unless you’ve spent the last few weeks trapped in a closet at the MSNBC newsroom with nothing to read but the New York Times, you’ve probably heard the news about “Climategate,” the scandal currently embroiling scientists at the renowned British East Anglia Climate Research Unit (Anglia CRU). Hackers broke into the Internet server at Anglia CRU in mid-November, releasing thousands of e-mails that appear to show well-known climatologists conspiring to stifle dissenting opinions, tamper with data and destroy incriminating evidence – all in an effort to promote their theory of Anthropological (human-caused) Global Warming (AGW).

To call these e-mails “damning” would be an understatement. One message from Nov. 16, 1999 revealed scientists discussing a “trick” they used in order to “hide the decline” in temperature statistics. In another from Feb. 2, 2005, climatologists chatted about how to shield their data from lawful public access. Amid controversy over these and similar e-mails, Anglia CRU Director Phil Jones resigned his position on Dec. 1.

But this scandal is just beginning, and Anglia CRU is nothing but the tip of a growing iceberg. The shadiness within the field of climate change research is far-reaching – extending all the way from eastern England to our own peaceful little community right here at the University of Massachusetts.

Many students are probably unaware that our University is home to one of the top three climate research centers in the country, the UMass Climate System Research Center (UMass CSRC). The facility has employed some of the world’s most respected climatologists – some of whom were heavily involved in the Anglia CRU controversy.

Scientists Michael E. Mann, Malcolm Hughes and Caspar Ammann are just three current or former UMass CSRC researchers whose email addresses appeared among the Anglia CRU correspondences. Messages written by standing UMass CSRC Director Raymond Bradley also popped up among the flurry of hacked e-mails.

While most of the e-mails from UMass researchers were fairly benign, some raised concerns. In one message from March 11, 2003, Mann suggested using strong-arm tactics to pressure a climate research journal into black-balling papers written by skeptics of man-made global warming. “Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board,” he wrote.

Many of the e-mails reveal an animosity toward AGW skeptics that goes beyond mere professional disagreements. In one message sent to Mann, Jones expresses delight at the death of climate change skeptic John L. Daly. “In an odd way this is cheering news!” he wrote. Another e-mail from May 29, 2008 appears to show Jones conspiring with Mann and Ammann to destroy e-mails they sent regarding the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, in order to avoid having the documents publicized through a Freedom of Information Act Request.

The revelations in these e-mails may be damaging, but don’t expect them to halt the efforts of the climate change movement. Many of the movement’s supporters are quick to point out, rightfully, that the messages stop short of disproving the actual hypothesis behind AGW.

But the scandal has discredited other major claims espoused by AGW climatologists. Perhaps the greatest boon of the hacked e-mails is that we can finally toss aside the silly myth that there is a “scientific consensus” on man-made global warming. “Nobody is debating any more that significant climate changes are coming,” Steven Sherwood, an AGW supporter and atmospheric physicist at Yale University, told the New York Times on Aug. 12, 2005. Of course, the Anglia CRU messages clearly show this isn’t the case. A significant chunk of the e-mails reveal the climatologists scrambling to suppress the research of their skeptical colleagues. In fact, the scientists spend an inordinate amount of time fussing and griping about a group of people that they publicly claim “don’t exist.”

Many of these AGW skeptics have good reasons for their cynicism. There are a lot of things about the human-caused global warming theory that just don’t add up. But even if there were no logical objections to the hypothesis, that’s beside the point. Scientific theories, no matter how “irrefutable” or “important” they might be, should still be open to scrutiny. Questions, concerns and skepticism should be welcomed, not quashed.

It’s the climatologists’ blatant disrespect for this concept of free scientific inquiry that makes the Anglia CRU e-mails so uncomfortable to read. It appears that if these scientists had their way, their findings would be presented with decrees instead of data. Their comfort with manipulating statistics is the epitome of elitism—they believe so strongly that global warming is caused by humans that any evidence to the contrary is tossed aside. From their perspective, these are noble lies, told in order to “save” mankind from certain doom.

These tactics don’t belong in public research institutions; they belong in the 17th Century Vatican. This jaw-dropping dogmatism isn’t science – it’s religion. And like school prayer and church hymns, it’s time to get faith-based “science” out of publicly funded universities.

Alana Goodman is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at agoodma@student.umass.edu.

Comments
5 Responses to “From emails, a renewed debate over man-caused global warming”
  1. Ed says:

    The problem I have with these emails is the same problem I had with last month’s meeting of the Ray Luc Levasseur Fan Club — this is supposed to be a research intensive institution where smart people defend their beliefs with facts and research. A place that has academic rigor, where merely holding the correct political viewpoint isn’t enough.

    There are those on the left whom I listen to — I likely won’t agree with them but I will listen because they have their research and are quite willing to hand it out in defense of their positions. They have done their homework and can defend their conclusions.

    Not here. The problem I have with the Climate Folk is one of shoddy scholarship. The problem I have with the Ray Luc Levasseur Fan Club is also one of shoddy scholarship, this time in the field of historical research. We either believe in academic rigor or we do not…

    Alana’s point about religion also is worthy of note. Galileo Galilei got himself into serious trouble (and would have been executed but for his personal friendship with the Pope) when he said that the earth actually revolved around the sun. He had a telescope and proof of this – perish the thought….

    I am not going to agree with those on the left, but I will respect their opinions when they start presenting something resembling research to support them….

  2. Ben says:

    The geo-sci department at UMass isn’t exactly a bastion of free inquiry and debate. It’s kind of like a church with unquestionable dogma.

    I sent a letter to the chancellor asking him to look into the Climategate matter, particularly Prof. Bradley. You would think that the university would be mortifed that its professors were implicated in the academic fraud of the century, but…not so much. I’m still waiting for a response from Hollub. It’s only been a few days, so maybe I should just be patient. Still, I’m not holding my breath.

    “Many of the movement’s supporters are quick to point out, rightfully, that the messages stop short of disproving the actual hypothesis behind AGW.” I disagree. I don’t know how anyone can look at these emails and still see sound science behind the theory. Even they admit that the globe has stopped warming and that their theories can’t explain it. AGW is dead in the water.

    Kevin Trenbreth:
    “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008. shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing
    system is inadequate.”

    Ironically, there is some truth to this. Their data collection is absolutely awful. Nonetheless, the glaring truth from that statement is that ALL DATA THAT DOESN’T SUPPORT THE THEORY MUST BE WRONG AND MUST BE DISCARDED. If the data doesn’t fit the theory, get news data.

  3. Ed says:

    Headlines:

    “Total daytime snow and sleet accumulation of 4 to 6 inches possible”

    (http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?CityName=Amherst&state=MA&site=BOX&textField1=42.3751&textField2=-72.52&e=1)

    Ummmm….. That’s 4-6 inches of “Global Warming” that we have to deal with. Yep, it is still early December, a couple of weeks before we can expect our first snowfall and, well, I am sure we can have our well-funded climate change center figure out how to tell us that we really don’t have that cold white stuff on the ground right now….

    Or do we believe what our own eyes are telling us???

  4. Augustine says:

    Ed, give me a break with that angry teenage BS about the Catholic Church and science.

    http://www.catholic.com/library/Galileo_Controversy.asp

    You’re about 5 times older than those childish kids, you don’t need to act like them as well.

  5. Ed says:

    Forgetting the fallacious fallacy (5×21=105 under the math I was taught…), I encourage all to read Augustine’s link — which is consistent with absolutely everything I wrote.

    “… that the judges who presided over Galileo’s case were not the only people who held to a geocentric view of the universe. It was the received view among scientists at the time.”

    THIS WAS MY EXACT POINT! Not that the “Court of the Inquisition” (which I know has a more elaborate title) held the geocentric view but that all the scientists of the time did. As noted above….

    “His problem arose when he stopped proposing it as a scientific theory and began proclaiming it as truth, though there was no conclusive proof of it at the time. Even so, Galileo would not have been in so much trouble if he had chosen to stay within the realm of science and out of the realm of theology. But, despite his friends’ warnings, he insisted on moving the debate onto theological grounds.”

    AGAIN, MY EXACT POINT! He went into the political realm, which in that era existed in the language of theology. The same would be true today, a scientist could quietly say that the earth is actually cooling — I just heard the PPlant sander go by and winter hasn’t officially arrived yet — it is telling the public that gets scientists in trouble. Then and now, one is not allowed to differ from approved orthodox thought.

    “…Galileo met with the new pope, Urban VIII, in 1623, he received permission from his longtime friend…”

    Ed said he was a friend of the Pope. Ed had forgotten the name of the Pope, but appears to have been right, wasn’t he?

    “Galileo was offered every convenience possible to make his imprisonment in his home bearable”

    Like I said, would have been executed but for the intervention of the Pope — whose efforts are noted with citations in this document.

    “During this period, personal interpretation of Scripture was a sensitive subject. In the early 1600s, the Church had just been through the Reformation experience, and one of the chief quarrels with Protestants was over individual interpretation of the Bible.”

    And right now the issue is about individual interpretation of science. This, in a nutshell, is what the issue is about. Can I file a Sunshine request with UMass and get Michael Mann’s computer codes so that I can run his projection models myself and see that he is right (i.e. “read the Bible myself”) or must I listen to his interpretation of what he found and have faith in him being divinely inspired.

    I am not saying he is wrong (I think he is but that is another issue) — I am saying that I want to know how to read (this was a big issue between Catholics & Protestants prior to Vatican II, and the problem with the Latin Mass was that very few people could understand what was actually being said), I want to know how to read so that *I* can read the Bible *MYSELF* and see what it says.

    And I want to run the Climate Theologists’ data through SPSS *myself* and see if I get the same mean, median & modes that they do — or not.

    Hence, my citation of Galileo. I am not bashing the Catholic Church here – the university system as we know it is a legacy of the Catholic Church. And I could instead have cited Dow Chemical’s
    “Better living through chemistry” and Rachael Carlson….

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