Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Climategate 2

A new set of emails from climatologists has been released. Like the Climategate emails from two years ago, there are no smoking guns but there is confirmation of what many skeptics believe. I admit that I have not dug through the archives so I am only going from the nuggets that others have found. From those, it is possible to make some conclusions:

1) The scientists who advocate action to stop global warming are sincere in their beliefs. They really do believe that catastrophic warming is going on.

2) They are under a lot of pressure from politicians who want simple yes-or-no answers. Politicians are trying to sell the public on drastic change that will affect the lives of everyone. They need to be able to say confidently, "The consequences of not taking action are worse than the actions needed to stop climate change."

3) The actual science is not as sure as the climatologists are claiming. Data sets that don't match expectations are dropped and figures are massaged. Some of this is because of political pressure and some of it is because they are true believers. If results come up "wrong" then there must be something wrong with the readings, not the underlying data. I remember doing the same thing in high school physics but we knew that our test equipment was unreliable.

4) The system as it currently exists prods scientists into being true believers. True believers find it easy to get grants. This makes it profitable to be a true believer. At the same time, there is some worry about what will happen if they are wrong.

5) The true believers questions the motives of skeptics. There is one email speculating on "undiscovered ties" between a noted skeptic and big oil. To the true believers, the truth is so obvious that skeptics must be ignoring it for money.

6) Because #5, climatologists are very reluctant to allow outside review of their work. Both sets of climategate emails contain discussions on how to get around Freedom of Information requests. Many climatologists refuse to let people they consider paid hit men to review their work. There is probably a  large amount of defensiveness, also since they know that they have fudged some of their figures.

In summary, we have an insular group who know that they are exaggerating their findings and refuse to let their work be reviewed.

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