Posted by: mystic444 | December 22, 2009

“Climategate”

When I was in Jr. High School, I was so fascinated with math that I was constantly doing the “no no” of getting ahead of the class – working through the text books well in advance of the planned course of class study. I also checked out books on math from the library, and from those books learned ‘tricks’ which enabled me to do quick mental arithmetical calculations. Did using ‘tricks’ indicate that I was doing something deceitful, or cheating? Of course not; and neither did the ‘trick’ used by Professor Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia (referred to in the hacked e-mails recently made public) indicate a nefarious deceitfulness. He referred to using a trick to hide the decline in certain tree ring data after 1960. This relates to the fact that density of tree rings has been used as a ‘proxy’ (in place of actual thermometer readings) to determine temperatures in previous years and centuries. It had been found that these ‘proxy’ tree ring readings compared favorably with actual temperature readings for the previous approximately 100 years. But for some reason the tree ring densities in certain high latitude areas began to decline after 1960 (which would normally indicate a decline in temperature), despite the fact that actual thermometer readings showed that temperatures had continued to increase rather than decline. While scientists can only speculate at present as to why the tree ring densities declined, it was plain that they were not an accurate measure for temperature during that period. So the ‘trick’ was simply the convenient solution to use the actual temperature readings in place of the tree ring ‘proxies’ for the period beginning with 1960. To speak of ‘hiding’ the decline in tree ring depth may have been a poor choice of words, because nothing was actually hidden, but there was no deception involved. Both the actual readings and the ‘proxies’ were shown in the study published in Nature magazine, and it was clearly explained that the proxies were not being used and why not.

In one of the e-mails, someone suggested deleting some e-mails that may have been subject to Freedom of Information requirements, but those to whom the suggestion was made did not do so. If the scientist who made the suggestion did delete any e-mails, he is only one person; and his action does not constitute a general conspiracy among climate scientists to hide or delete information they find ‘inconvenient’. Some of the scientists wanted a couple of papers left out of the referencing in an IPCC study; but the IPCC did not submit to the request – the 2 papers in question were referenced. The reason some scientists felt they should not be included was that they believed those papers were examples of very ‘shoddy’ science. I am no scientist, so I’m not qualified to make a judgment on the matter. Regardless, the IPCC did include them in their study.

All of these statements which comprise ‘climategate’ are taken from personal e-mails which were illegally hacked, taken out of context, twisted, and distorted for politically motivated reasons. When Phil Jones wrote about the ‘trick’ he used to ‘hide the decline’, the person he wrote to knew very well what he was talking about. The general public would not understand without explanation, however; which means that the nefarious deception was practiced, not by the scientists, but by the hackers and publishers of the e-mails. When a few words are taken out of their context and deliberately misinterpreted (or stated in such a way that they would naturally be misunderstood), that is plainly malicious deception.

Those scientists are human, just like you and me, and are prone to say things in private personal conversations and e-mails which are less than ‘kind’. I wonder how many of my readers can honestly claim that they have never made insulting statements (perhaps even things like “the world would be better off without him/her”) about someone they don’t like for one reason or another? Whether the disliked person is Bill or Hilary Clinton, or Al Gore; George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, or John McCain, we’ve probably all had something disdainful to say. The fact that these climatologists who are under attack have done so also does not invalidate their work – in fact there is nothing in those hacked e-mails that invalidates even a little bit of the scientific evidence they (and so many others) have produced which indicates continued global warming, with its projected likely consequences.

As I’ve said, I’m no scientist, and I couldn’t either prove or disprove ‘anthropogenic climate change’. I have been reading on a few climate change sites recently (Climate Progress, RealClimate, and Skeptical Science), and the evidence they present seems convincing to me. The arguments of ‘debunkers’ are well answered. So if you are among the ‘skeptics’ of global warming, I would challenge you to go to sites like those and give a fair hearing to the climate scientists who sincerely believe that the evidence they have studied strongly indicates that human activities are producing an eventually disastrous climate change. Perhaps your mind won’t be changed; but giving the ‘opposition’ a fair hearing is not too much to ask, I would think.

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