Yet in recent months, as we know, the official science on which all this rests has taken quite a hammering. Confronted with all those scandals surrounding the “Climategate” emails and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the political and academic establishments have responded with a series of inquiries and statements designed to show that the methods used to construct the official scientific case are wholly sound. But as was illustrated last week by two very different reports, these efforts to hold the line are themselves so demonstrably flawed that they are in danger of backfiring, leaving the science more questionable than ever.
The first report centred directly on the IPCC itself. When several of the more alarmist claims in its most recent 2007 report were revealed to be wrong and without any scientific foundation, the official response, not least from the IPCC’s chairman, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, was to claim that everything in its report was “peer-reviewed”, having been confirmed by independent experts.
But a new study put this claim to the test. A team of 40 researchers from 12 countries, led by a Canadian analyst Donna Laframboise, checked out every one of the 18,531 scientific sources cited in the mammoth 2007 report. Astonishingly, they found that nearly a third of them – 5,587 – were not peer-reviewed at all, but came from newspaper articles, student theses, even propaganda leaflets and press releases put out by green activists and lobby groups.
In its own way even more damaging, however, was the report from a team led by Lord Oxburgh on the scientific integrity of the East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU). Two sets of evidence have been used more than anything else to drive the worldwide scare over global warming. One is a series of graphs showing how temperatures have suddenly shot up in recent decades to levels historically unprecedented. The other is the official record of global surface temperatures. For both of these, the CRU and the key group of top British and American scientists involved in those Climategate emails have been crucially responsible. Read more.