Just in time for another international meeting on climate change, someone has leaked what looks to be a massive swath of email conversations between some of the heavy hitters of the climate-science community, such as Michael Mann, Phil Jones, Kevin Trenberth, and others. Once again, on first blush, the scientists aren’t looking too good: they sound alternately arrogant, intolerant, politically motivated, peevish, and anti-social. None of those are crimes, of course. Still, some classes in email etiquette would seem to be in order.
Not surprisingly, a raft of climate skeptics are digging into this treasure trove, seeking still more evidence of climate-science malfeasance. Already, some blog commenters have pointed out the same pattern that was evident in Climategate 1.0, which is, broadly characterized, the political subversion of the scientific endeavor of understanding how the climate works.
It’s very early to make any hard and fast observations about this new data dump, but I think it raises several interesting questions. It does seem to me that even a casual glance at the currently highlighted nuggets suggests that an unseemly amount of subjectivity, group think, political motivations, and other biases are rampant among this core cadre of climate scientists. Some things just look incriminating, like:
Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these further if necessary [...]
I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.
It seems that a few people have a very strong say, and no matter how much talking goes on beforehand, the big decisions are made at the eleventh hour by a select core group.
Had the scientists involved in Climategate 1.0 really given things a good airing and taken some transparent steps to distance climate science from political perversion, I dare say that few would pay much attention to Climategate 2.0. But they didn’t, and shenanigans continue. So, for example, new studies like this one keep coming out that seem suspiciously timed to coincide with United Nations meetings. Why else release the summary now, but hold the body text until February?
Given that Climategate 1.0 was whitewashed away by the institutions involved, and that whitewashing was gleefully parroted by the mainstream media, I’m expecting more of the same. But there’s hope: this time, the leaker has shown that there are several more tranches of data he/she could release, and probably will, should the actors involved continue to insist they are pure, objective, voices of science rather than people who have let themselves wander into the politicization of science. So perhaps the climate science community might consider letting in some sunshine and cleaning up its act to get ahead of the curve. Meh. Probably not.