Hacked climate emails: conspiracy or tempest in a teapot?
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Over at Realclimate.org, several of whose climate-scientist contributors were involved in the pilfered email-exchanges, the "group" explains the collection this way:Skip to next paragraph
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...There is a peek into how scientists actually interact and the conflicts show that the community is a far cry from the monolith that is sometimes imagined. People working constructively to improve joint publications; scientists who are friendly and agree on many of the big picture issues, disagreeing at times about details and engaging in ‘robust’ discussions; Scientists expressing frustration at the misrepresentation of their work in politicized arenas and complaining when media reports get it wrong; Scientists resenting the time they have to take out of their research to deal with over-hyped nonsense. None of this should be shocking.
Yet some of the targets of the emails' ire understandably see things differently. One target, climate researcher John Christy at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, finds the emails reflect a disturbing level of what he terms "group think." In an email exchange (a polite one), he writes:
These people act in concert to diminish, reject, and otherwise denigrate findings with which they do not agree -- and they are able to do so because of their "establishment" positions. This is the preservation of "group think" at its most serious level.... The group represented by the bulk of these emails does indeed have a message to defend. Those of us who see problems with that message are aware of how the data are manufactured and interpreted to support that message -- and worse, how these establishment scientists act as gatekeepers for the "consensus" reports to suppress alternative findings.
Neither rejects the notion of a human role in global warming. But they consistently object to the disaster scenarios that permeate the political discussions about global warming. And in Dr. Pielke's case, the human role extends beyond carbon dioxide to include "forcings" such as land-use change or the production of black-carbon soot from biomass burning.
Nothing in the package appears to overturn the general idea -- arrived at via many lines of evidence -- that the CO2 humans have been pumping into the atmosphere is warming the planet, nor does anything bolster the notion some put forward of a hoax on the part of climate scientists.
It remains to be seen how the release of the emails and files plays out beyond the circle of people who follow the issue closely and who hold strong views on either side of the issue. It could turn out to be a tempest in a teapot or a PR gotcha for US climate scientists. At the least, it reinforces the maxim: Don't put into an email information you don't want to see on the front page of someone's
newspaper (Oops, old medium) web site.
The irony: Since the international community first took up the climate issue in a serious way in 1992, the focus of attention has been on the atmospheric effects of pumping long-sequestered carbon into the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels. But that CO2 also is working its way into the oceans, making them more acidic -- something that raises its own set of serious challenges.
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