Sunday, December 6, 2009

ClimateGate - A Few Thoughts

But they do raise hard questions. In an effort to control what the public hears, did prominent scientists who link climate change to human behavior try to squelch a back-and-forth that is central to the scientific method? Is the science of global warming messier than they have admitted?

- Washington Post article (December 5, 2009)

Earlier this week, it came to light that the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at University of East Anglia in Britain, the preeminent source for climate-change research, has been disingenuous in the presentation of their findings. Not only is there concern that the group may have manipulated numbers over the last 20 years, but it appears that someone among them decided that in the course of moving their headquarters it would be acceptable to dump the reams of paper that make up the original research data. Mkay.

While, I realize it’s important for an institution such as this to ‘go green,’ as it were, had they not heard of microfiche? Are there no British student interns who would sell a least-favored sibling for the chance to spend a summer scanning documents for this prestigious do-good organization? My guess is that the answer to both of these questions would reveal that there was, in fact, an ulterior motive at work here - one that included the desire to hide ‘inconvenient truths’ about the environmental wares they’ve been peddling for two decades.

We all know that science is complicated…but it should be exact, should it not?

The earth is in a continual cycle of cooling and heating - this much I remember from my seventh-grade geology class. At the same time, it’s likely that the technologies that have resulted from the industrialization of the world’s societies have had heretofore unseen effects on our environment. But shouldn’t this data be measured in a way that is apolitical and motivated by an honest search for answers?

Sadly, it seems that the almighty bottom line has once again tarnished a process and profession that should be one of last bastions of independent study and evaluation. Billions of dollars in grants and investments in ‘green technology’ would be hard to give up if, suddenly, it came to light that Man’s activities had little effect on the climate. Further, there is the ever-powerful vice of human pride which would preclude many a scientist - or former vice-president - from offering a heartfelt mea culpa and moving on to slay the next world-changing dragon.

It would behoove the scientific community to take it upon themselves to investigate the debate surrounding climate-change research and hold accountable any institutions or individuals who have acted unethically. As the United Nations’ conference on climate change begins in Copenhagen this week, one would hope that the world’s leaders are poised to take a step back to re-examine the ‘scientific data’ that is forms basis of past, present, and future legislative policies in their respective countries.

Specifically, I would hope that President Obama would take a leadership role in emphasizing the importance of robust debate on a subject with such far-reaching consequences.

Man’s activities and innovations may indeed have measurable and tangible impacts on the earth’s climate. But, frankly, it’s hard for an intellectually honest person to accept this theory based on the ‘findings’ of a handful of scientists who so clearly have their own agendas.

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