The evidence of scientific dishonesty supplied by these communications is so copious it’s hard to know where to begin an attempt to describe them. Many of the e-mails brazenly discuss the manipulation of scientific data either to provide the appearance of greater support for global warming science or to undermine the claims of skeptics. For example, CRU scholar Timothy J. Osborn explicitly describes how data can be reconfigured so that evidence of an apparent cooling period disappears. His colleague Tom Wigley discusses recasting the data on sea-surface temperatures so that the results seem considerably warmer but also scientifically plausible. The director of CRU, Phil Jones, brags about his use of eminent climatologist Michael Mann’s “Nature trick” which deliberately confuses scientific data to “hide the decline” in current temperatures.
Other e-mails openly encourage the suppression of data that could prove difficult to repudiate. Michael Mann provides strategic advice on how to deal with a journal, Geophysical Research Letters, that seems to be open to publishing views that dissent from climate orthodoxy. In an e-mail to Phil Jones, Mann also expresses his desire to “contain” the very inconvenient truth of the Medieval Warm Period, so important in overthrowing Mann’s classic “Hockey Stick” model of anthropogenic warming, even though he admits they don’t have an appropriate model to do that legitimately.
Public spokesmen for the global warming agenda constantly claim a near-universal consensus within the scientific community supporting their position, but these private exchanges often reveal serious personal reservations regarding what they really know and how confident they are in the statistical models they rely upon. In an e-mail to several prominent climate scientists (including Mann and Jones), Kevin E. Trenberth, one of the leading contributors to the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, offers this confession: “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.” In another e-mail, Trenberth admits climatologists have a limited understanding of where our energy ultimately goes, what the effects of cloud formation might have on the entire issue, and expresses doubts about the efficacy of geoengineering to provide any substantive relief, again saying that the gaps in the scientific knowledge amount to “a travesty.” All of this a far cry from the strident claims about unimpeachable evidence and demonstrable theory that usually emanates from these quarters.
Perhaps the most damning e-mails concern CRU deputy director Keith Briffa’s analysis of the diameter of tree rings in Yamal, Siberia. That research is a major evidentiary pillar in support of twentieth-century global warming and it helped resurrect Michael Mann’s “Hockey Stick” graph of global warming. The scientist largely responsible for challenging Mann’s work, Steve McIntyre, turned his attention to Briffa’s resurrection of it and accused him of cherry-picking samples that would confirm his politically desirable hypothesis.
The response to McIntyre’s work revealed in the CRU e-mails shows a breathtaking pattern of ideological rigidity and academic fraudulence that is simultaneously egregious and casually self-satisfied. First, it becomes clear that the global warming crowd, in particular Mann and Osborn, are quick to dismiss McIntyre’s work as “not legitimate science” even before reviewing his studies. Their initial reflex is not to scrutinize McIntyre’s analysis or to reconsider their own entrenched positions but rather to respond with a kind of angry, territorial protectiveness. Then they collectively identify someone who could, in fact, “shed light on McIntyre’s criticisms of Yamal” but choose not to contact him because he “can be rather a loose cannon.” Another scientist who might have helped clarify the Yamal situation is dismissed by Mann for being “not as predictable as we’d like.” Unquestioning loyalty to a political platform is understood to be the precondition of scientific authenticity.
Even worse, in response to the charge that Briffa’s work is difficult to verify because he withholds key data from the published study, Tom Wigley actually issues a justification of the practice:
And the issue of withholding data is still a hot potato, one that affects both you [Phil Jones] and Keith [Briffa] (and Mann). Yes, there are reasons — but many good scientists appear to be unsympathetic to these. The trouble here is that withholding data looks like hiding something, and hiding means (in some eyes) that it is bogus science that is being hidden.
Wigley provides no discussion at all regarding what would count as an appropriate reason for concealing data, or what benefit this could bring to the scientific community at large. One is left to wonder if the justification for hiding information is political rather than scientific. Mann seems unconcerned that any of these issues will resonate with a friendly media: “Fortunately,” he wrote to a New York Times reporter, “the prestige press doesn’t fall for this sort of stuff, right?”
Read the whole inconvenient truth at The New Atlantis » The Climate E-mails and the Politics of Science.