Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Storm in scientific teacup or sceptic's smoking gun?

Okay, I am not best placed to write about the recent leak of the emails from the University of East Anglia's climate research unit. I cannot find a complete list of the emails... I have seen some of them, and a few edited 'highlights'. Some of the highlights look pretty bad, some less so. Looking at a few of the full exchanges, most of it is pretty tame...

The most damaging claim is that scientists have falsified or manipulated the data to spin a deception that global warming exists... one blog referencing a particular email says... : 'XXXX discusses how data are truncated to stop an apparent cooling trend showing up in the results. Wow!'... Well I'm not so sure. I looked at the full email and I don't see that - see below.

Anyway, in the emails I have seen there is a lot of very ambiguous stuff. It seems to me that the best way to deal with this is to have a panel re-review the data and see if it is sound, since that is what really matters (although this has already happened in the peer-reviewed process).

As for the faux-outrage regarding the dislike the climate scientists have for the sceptics, I am totally unsurprised. Science is always passionate, and climate scientists have suffered a couple of decades of abuse. As such many are ill-disposed to the sceptics, particularly those who fight their wars through columns and blogs instead of journals.

The bottom line is that there are thousands of scientists working on this, so a few spats and so on are not indicative of a fundamental lack of evidence. If it turns out that climate change is not happening I will be delighted as it is one less problem to worry about. I don't think we are there yet.

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