After being asked once too many about the climategate scandal, I decided it would save me some time if I simply wrote down my opinion about it.
I initially hesitated doing so because I do not condone hacking into or leaking private e-mails. Moreover, I believe that since the debate should be science based, it is irrelevant whether a group of people committed science fraud or not. Nevertheless, the e-mails did leak, and did become public knowledge ("climategate" now fetches 24,000,000 hits on google), and it is therefore a legitimate discussion topic.
Anyway, my one liner summary for it was that "it isn't news to me". In fact, this already propagated to 2000 or so pages (at least, so you find if you google "climategate" "shaviv" and "not news to me"), after Andrew Bolt (whom I happily met in Australia last week) picked it up from a comment I wrote here on sciencebits.com.
So, why is the climategate scandal "not news to me?"
Well, the e-mails demonstrated that:
- Elements within the global warming alarmists community do their best to inhibit "skeptics" like myself from getting their papers published. This includes for example coercing editors from accepting papers which do not follow the party line.
- Elements within the global warming alarmists community follow non orthodox (and non kosher...) methodologies, which include creative "cut" and "paste" data manipulation techniques, as borne from the e-mails.
Since I have witnessed this kind of behavior before, I was totally unsurprised with the content of these e-mails, hence "it is not news to me".
So, what did I witness before? Here are a few exemplars.
- I witnessed how an editor rejected a paper I wrote without forwarding the reviewers my detailed response to their comments (he was perhaps afraid that the reviewers would actually be convinced with my detailed response which included detailed referrals to published results proving my points).
- I saw another rejection (perhaps by the same editor...), this time of a paper written by a colleague that included the punch line: "any paper which doesn’t support the anthropogenic GHG theory is politically motivated, and therefore has to be rejected"
- I saw how proposal reviewers bluntly reject funding requests, based on similar beliefs in the global warming apocalypse. I even know of someone who didn't get tenure because he advocated non party line ideas.
- I also saw how two Canadians tried to reconstruct the hockey stick only to find that some data mysteriously disappeared from a public ftp server.
Namely, the e-mails simply shed light on behavior that different colleagues and myself have been witnessing over the past years. In this respect, the main effect of the e-mails would be to expose this kind of shameful behavior to the general public, a behavior which many perhaps didn't appreciate was happening.
But unethical or even fraudulent behavior is not relevant in a real scientific debate, something which incidentally the alarmists are avoiding. Nevertheless, the two unethical behaviors described above do undermine the underlying argumentation for an anthropogenically dominated global warming.
As I wrote a few times before (and will again in a summary I am now writing for sciencebits.com, stay tuned!), the case for an anthropogenic warming relies on two problematic arguments. First, 20th century warming is unprecedented, and therefore should be attributed to human activity. Second, the 20th century warming cannot be explained by any other mechanism other than anthropogenic greenhouse gases (in particular, if the human radiative forcing is omitted, the global circulation models cannot explain the 20th century warming).
The fraudulent "hockey stick" stood at the crux of the argument that 20th century global warming is unprecedented. It was used to eliminate the existence of the medieval warm period for example (this is not unlike George Orwell's 1984, in which people wake up one morning with a new history...). As the alarmists explain in their e-mails, the "hockey stick" is based on the manipulative "hockey stitch" where thermometer data was stitched after 1961 to disguise the fact that the reconstructed temperatures decrease). Thus, one cannot claim that the 20th century warming is unprecedented.
Second, given the apparent measures alarmists take to stop the publication of any non-conforming voice, the apparent lack of any alternative explanation to 20th century global warming should only be viewed as the alarmists success to quench alternative views, not that alternative views do not exist. Indeed, there is an alternative explanation which explains a non-negligible part of the 20th century global warming, it is the sun