[THS] !!! The Real Climate Controversy
psalience at fastmail.fm
Tue Feb 16 15:52:40 CET 2010
The Real Climate Controversy
By Mark Boslough
Global warming is occurring. It is caused by human activities. Both the
theoretical basis (fundamental laws of physics) and observational evidence for
warming are incontrovertible. The first decade of this century was the warmest ever
recorded in human history, just as the models predicted. The current decade will
almost certainly be warmer.
But it's not just the atmosphere that is heating. Ice is melting at an accelerating
rate, and sea level is rising. Weather patterns are changing as the atmosphere and
oceans adjust their flow in response to the warming. These phenomena were all
predicted. They have been independently verified many times, using many methods,
by researchers throughout the world. The successful predictions of global warming
theory represent a major scientific achievement.
In 1998, a team of scientists combined thermometer measurements with
preinstrumental temperatures determined from tree rings and other natural records.
The resulting graph demonstrated how exceptional the recent rapid warming has
been, rising so sharply that it looked like the blade of a hockey stick. The "Hockey
Stick" graph became an iconic symbol of global warming, even though it was only
one of many lines of evidence. The general validity and significance of the Hockey
Stick has since been reproduced by several independent groups of scientists.
Nevertheless, the idea of human-caused global warming has offended the cherished
belief system of some individuals who, for philosophical or self-interested reasons, are
convinced that people cannot possibly affect the global temperature - regardless of
the laws of physics. Because the Hockey Stick had become a symbol, its authors
became the target of a political smear campaign.
In 2005, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., referred to global warming as the
"greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." Reps. Joe Barton, R-
Texas, and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., sent a letter to the Hockey Stick scientists,
demanding that they immediately provide them with extensive documentation about
what the politicians claimed were "methodological flaws and data errors" in their
Barton and Whitfield held Congressional hearings, and asked for a review of the
Hockey Stick by a panel led by Edward Wegman, a statistician with no background in
or understanding of climate science. The Wegman panel wrote a report that criticized
the statistical methods used by the scientists. Climate change denialists embraced this
criticism. Ever since they have claimed that the Hockey Stick has been discredited
and, in a leap of logic, that global warming is not real.
To many researchers, the investigation was nothing more than an anti-science
witch-hunt. Scientists play by well-defined rules. They require peer-reviewed
publication, logic and evidence. Science is like a hockey game that only works if fans
understand it and teams play by the rules. The politicians knew their side could not
win against a world-class "hockey team." They chose instead to create confusion and
Their tactic was to act like unruly fans and throw hundreds of decoy hockey
pucks onto the ice and then take advantage of the chaos. As any sports fan knows,
when a fight breaks out on the ice or in the stands - that becomes the story. The
idea was simply to delay any action. They didn't have to win the game. All they
needed to do was disrupt it.
The embattled scientists were understandably angry and were not always
circumspect in their private messages. They did not expect political activists - willing
to tap phones and break into computers - to steal their correspondence. They hadn't
done anything wrong, but their words were twisted and taken out of context. E-mails
were published by bloggers and broadcast by media for whom controversy and
conflict trumps accuracy and fair play. This non-scandal became known as
The actual scandal is associated with the Hockey Stick congressional inquiry.
Last month a blogger called "Deep Climate" demonstrated that, in a cruel irony, the
Wegman team actually used material plagiarized from a textbook written by one of
the scientists under investigation. Even worse, the meaning of the stolen text was
changed. The supposedly unbiased referees seemed to have been in on the plan to
disrupt the game.
New evidence continues to mount. Independent investigator John Mashey* has
released a report in which he meticulously builds the case for a corrupt and probably
criminal conspiracy to mislead Congress in the Hockey Stick investigation. Members of
the mainstream media who have tried so hard to create a scandal out of Climategate
finally have a real scandal to investigate; one that appears to involve a deliberate
high-level scheme to undermine research, create confusion and impede progress on
science-informed climate policy.
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