Has 'Climategate' forced businesses to reconsider human-caused global warming?

Hackers have exposed e-mails authored by top climate scientists that suggest that data was tampered with to support the theory of anthropogenic, or human-caused, global warming.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

Has 'Climategate' forced businesses to reconsider the validity of the theory of anthropogenic, or human-caused, global warming?

Less than a week ago, hackers broke into the database of the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, U.K. and published 1079 emails and 72 documents on the Internet, some authored by prominent American and British climate researchers.

That would normally just be a security story if not for what was written in some of the e-mails, which suggest that some of the scientists at the center colluded to exaggerate and manipulate global warming data to support the notion that human activity is causing, at least in part, global warming and climate change.

News of the scandal, dubbed 'Climategate,' quickly raced around the world, rekindling heated debates about the validity of the view that humans play an active part in exacerbating global warming.

Contentious lines in the e-mails included the following:

"I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline."

"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."

"Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis. Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address. We will be getting Caspar to do likewise."

"Next time I see Pat Michaels at a scientific meeting, I’ll be tempted to beat the crap out of him. Very tempted."

"……Phil and I have recently submitted a paper using about a dozen NH records that fit this category, and many of which are available nearly 2K back–I think that trying to adopt a timeframe of 2K, rather than the usual 1K, addresses a good earlier point that Peck made w/ regard to the memo, that it would be nice to try to “contain” the putative “MWP”, even if we don’t yet have a hemispheric mean reconstruction available that far back…."

For sure, these scientists are foremost working people, and it's expected that they have occasionally derisive backroom banter about their findings, peers and colleagues just like any other folks.

But the content in question is whether the scientists actively suppressed data that didn't match their view that humans play a part in global warming -- and whether they tried covering their tracks in the process.

Another example:

“This was the danger of always criticising the skeptics for not publishing in the “peer-reviewed literature”. Obviously, they found a solution to that–take over a journal! So what do we do about this? I think we have to stop considering “Climate Research” as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. 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…What do others think?”

“I will be emailing the journal to tell them I’m having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor.”“It results from this journal having a number of editors. The responsible one for this is a well-known skeptic in NZ. He has let a few papers through by Michaels and Gray in the past. I’ve had words with Hans von Storch about this, but got nowhere. Another thing to discuss in Nice !”

Are the scientists pursuing knowledge, or simply "cherry-picking" data to support an argument they've already accepted? That's really what's at stake here, and the exposé has fanned the flames of the debate and every "green" venture that promises less energy use in the name of a healthier planet.

It's also no surprise that the security breach occurred in the run up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The COP15 conference is where the world's leaders, including the United States' President Barack Obama, are expected to execute a treaty agreeing to hard emissions targets and other specifics.

Expectations for the conference have already been lowered, but the possibility that data was tampered with casts a shadow on international efforts to reduce humanity's collective footprint.

At issue were sets of data employed in two studies: One data set showed long-term temperature effects on tree rings. The other consisted of thermometer readings for the past 100 years.

Through the last century, both the tree rings and thermometers show a consistent rise in temperature until 1960. At that point, some tree rings, for unknown reasons stop showing that rise.

In contrast, the thermometers continue to show the rise until the present.

(The reliability of the tree-ring data was called into question years ago and is no longer used to track temperature fluctuations, scientists say.)

Opponents of the theory of anthropogenic global warming say the e-mails are a smoking gun for research about the topic.

Supporters say the e-mails reveal researchers in poor form, but hardly undercut the body of research on global warming.

What do you think?

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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