Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Science" responds to Climategate

The response of the climate-science establishment to Climategate has been disappointing if predictable. The guild mentality has come to the fore. Campaigns are under way to defend the integrity of science from a scurrilous smear campaign. The message is simple: you are either with us or you are a barbarian.

The first line of response to the leaked or hacked emails, you recall, was to say that they showed science going on as usual--even science at its best, some argued. "Trick" did not mean trick; "hiding the decline" did not mean hiding the decline. These were innocent phrases torn out of context. As for the expostulations of harry_read_me, and discussing ways to punish or silence dissidents, and musing over the deletion of data that might be demanded under FOI requests, er, this is all just part of the healthy cut and thrust of normal scientific enquiry. We all have to let off steam now and then. No conspiracy. Nothing improper.

That did not work--too many of the emails speak for themselves--and the scandal refused to die down. The next line of response was to say that the emails involved just a few individuals, and implicate no more than a sliver of information about global warming. Even if you threw out everything the Climatic Research Unit had done, such is the weight of other research that nothing would change. (The newly empowered EPA administrator added a nice wrinkle last night on the PBS Newshour. The work in question was done abroad. Other research was done by Americans. So no cause for alarm. Well, no cause for lack of alarm, if you see what I mean.) Read more.

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