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The following was not supposed to be an editorial, but recent news events and new understandings would not allow me to remain silent any longer. Recent Monitor articles including “Getting to the Bottom of Global Warming” (Dec. 13, 2009) inspired a response.
In November e-mails were leaked, either by whistleblowers or hackers, from the Climate Research Center, CRU, at East Anglia University, England, who are keepers, obtainers and interpreters of some of the raw climate data collected over the years (e.g., from satellites, weather balloons and earth surface monitors; and recreated records of earth temperatures and carbon dioxide levels estimated from such things as tree rings, glacial ice samples, lake sediments, etc. – i.e. paleoclimatology). The more than 1,000 leaked e-mails included correspondence between climate researchers in Australia, U.S. and England, among others, spanning a period of 10 years to as recently as the fall of 2009 (source: eastangliaemails.com). The revelations of their scientific skullduggery were astounding and should revolt every scientist. Their actions are particularly egregious because this particular group of scientists heavily influences the United Nations IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), and their reports have been essential to the conclusions drawn by the panel since 1992 and the “international scientific community” in general.
The e-mails alerted us to the fact that much of the original raw “data” was not made available to all other interested scientists for their review even under freedom of information requests (FOI). Some East Anglia climate scientists now claim that the raw data supposedly has been lost, destroyed (potentially criminal behavior) or just poorly managed. Reported technical results were skewed to indicate human-made global warming by “cherry picking” data from ground collection stations that are compromised by “urban heat island effects.” Other scientists who disagreed with the results of this inner-group were denigrated, some drummed out of their jobs and others not allowed to publish their contrarian results in selected climate journals.
This behavior appears to be just the tip of the iceberg. These scientists modeled and manipulated (massaged) the raw data to such as extent that their graphical results took on the shape of a “hockey stick” showing relatively constant temperatures for 1,000 years, then rapidly increasing temperatures in the last 50 years as evidence of human-made global warming. A National Academy of Sciences review totally discredited the methods used to produce the “hockey stick” graphs (Muller: “Physics for Future Presidents”). Rather than innocent mistakes, their e-mails seem to indicate that their efforts to distort data were intentional. They bemoaned that they were having problems massaging the data enough to eliminate the Medieval warming period, (with temperatures higher than current temperatures) and the subsequent cooling period in order to generate the 1000-year flat handle of the hockey stick. And they lamented that the last 10-year slight cooling trend did not fit their human-caused global warming models. It is my understanding that one scientist at CRU in England has stepped down pending further investigation.
If the public has been misinformed for all these years by certain climate scientists including the United Nations IPCC panel, and other scientists do not have access to raw data, and the collection and manipulation procedures used in published papers are not available for proper peer review, how can it be “a mostly settled issue” that “all scientist generally agree” that global warming is human-made? Peer reviewed articles and the peer review process of climatology journals must be upgraded to eliminate editorial bias. From now on “all raw data” and data collection and handling procedures must be made available for external analysis and lists of reviewers included with papers. The extent of human-caused global warming is far from being answered, and I hope that some real debate on these issues will occur and not be swept under the rug of “the evidence is overwhelming and undeniable.”
This is a black time for the whole scientific community that will be undeservedly stigmatized. These misbehaving researchers have done the scientific and climatology community a disservice as now all results are suspect and have to be revisited and biases removed. The one nagging question that plagues me is why would these world class scientists misbehave this way? Should I be following the money? No crisis, no funding? What is the general population supposed to think? A “fake but accurate” defense is unacceptable. For now, if there’s no “data,” no peer-review and no science, then there’s no substantiated human-caused global warming.
Barbara F. Smith, a 40-year-career research chemist who has taught at Idaho State University, and worked at Ames Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory, is currently the owner of Florentene Enterprises LLC, a consulting company in Los Alamos.