Krugman's continued inaccuracies: Whitewashing Climategate

Paul Krugman writes:

Back in 2009 climate skeptics got hold of more than a thousand e-mails between researchers at the Climate Research Unit at Britain’s University of East Anglia. Nothing in the correspondence suggested any kind of scientific impropriety; at most, we learned — I know this will shock you — that scientists are human beings, who occasionally say snide things about people they dislike.

But that didn’t stop the usual suspects from proclaiming that they had uncovered “Climategate,” a scientific scandal that somehow invalidates the vast array of evidence for man-made climate change. And this fake scandal gives an indication of what the Wisconsin G.O.P. presumably hopes to do to Mr. Cronon.

After all, if you go through a large number of messages looking for lines that can be made to sound bad, you’re bound to find a few. In fact, it’s surprising how few such lines the critics managed to find in the “Climategate” trove: much of the smear has focused on just one e-mail, in which a researcher talks about using a “trick” to “hide the decline” in a particular series. In context, it’s clear that he’s talking about making an effective graphical presentation, not about suppressing evidence. But the right wants a scandal, and won’t take no for an answer. . . .

Here is part of my discussion on the topic:

Take one of Mann's e-mail exchanges with Jones. In an e-mail entitled "IPCC & FOI" (referring to the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Freedom of Information Act) Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, wrote Dr. Mann: "Mike: Can you delete any e-mails you may have had with Keith [Briffa] re [the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report]? Keith will do likewise. . . . Can you also e-mail Gene and get him to do the same? I don't have his new e-mail address. We will be getting Caspar to do likewise."

Mann acknowledges that he received the e-mail, but he claims that neither he nor anyone else actually deleted any e-mails to hide information from a Freedom of Information Act request on how the U.N.'s IPCC report was written. Yet, his response is quite damning as it seems that he goes along with Dr. Jones. Far from criticizing the request, Dr. Mann wrote back: "I'll contact Gene about this ASAP. His new e-mail is: generwahl@yahoo.com. talk to you later, Mike."

After the first week of revelations of academic fraud and intellectual wrongdoing, the University of East Anglia denied there was a problem. Professor Trevor Davies, the school's pro vice chancellor for research, issued a statement on Tuesday claiming: "The publication of a selection of the e-mails and data stolen from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) has led to some questioning of the climate science research published by CRU and others. There is nothing in the stolen material which indicates that peer-reviewed publications by CRU, and others, on the nature of global warming and related climate change are not of the highest-quality of scientific investigation and interpretation."

The move to investigate the destruction of information requested under the Freedom of Information Act is a big change. In Britain, the destruction of such documents is a criminal offense and the e-mails indicate that Jones had been warned at least once against destroying such information.

On Monday, Mann tried to justify the damaging e-mails by telling the Penn State college newspaper: "Someone being constantly under attack could be what causes them to make a poor decision." On the one hand, he denies that anything improper happened, but he then seems to accept that improper actions did occur. Regarding pressure, possibly, Mann should ask what the academics, who Mann and others involved in Climate-gate tried to prevent them from publishing in academic journals, think about these events. The e-mails discussed above involve the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's controversial assessment report and raise additional questions about what subterfuge might have been involved in its production. . . .

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home