In the latter half of the program, environmental consultant Tim Ball discussed 'Climate Gate,' a coordinated effort to hide information about global warming. Someone hacked in to the files of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) based at the University of East Anglia and found damaging emails that show that scientists at the Unit created and manipulated false data to preserve the idea that global warming is real.Unsurprisingly, Ball made mistakes on the radio show, and, of course, George Noory was too enthralled by his guest to even notice the mistakes. For example, Ball mocked climate scientists for maintaining that one of the effects of global warming would be drought. Didn't the scientists understand that a warmer Earth would lead to more water vapor in the atmosphere, and thus more precipitation?
Since 2002, global temperatures have been declining, and numbers from the past have been pushed down to make the current temps seem warmer, he argued. We're seeing climate change ideas, often based on overly simplistic computer models, used as a vehicle for political purposes, he added.
Of course, if it was that simple, hot and humid places like the Persian Gulf would be rainy places too, but, of course, they are not. Rainfall requires mechanisms that lift and cool air, and in the mid-latitude regions of the Earth, where Rossby waves are active, those mechanisms require a temperature gradient between the pole and the equator. Since global warming is forecast to be greatest at the poles, the effect will be to diminish that temperature gradient, which will shut down rainfall mechanisms, and lead to - drought. It hardly matters how humid it is; if it doesn't rain, the farmer suffers.
Ball also seems unaware of recent and continuing advances in modeling the presence of clouds in climate models. His accusations would carry more weight if he bothered reading the literature.
Nevertheless, the CRU E-Mail hack causes problems for the climatological community. Nothing distracts like scandal, and as long as the slimy fossil-fuel community can pretend that a real scandal has occurred, then they can change the subject from the data and take the initiative.
Everyone is getting involved in this. Even my brother-in-law E-Mailed me:
So, Mr. scientist, what do you think about the CRU?I replied:
Climate Research Unit.
I have no problem with the CRU. Compared to their enemies, they are pure as driven snow.Nevertheless, the CRU appears to be mishandling their public relations problem. Here is an interesting skeptical opinion piece by Mr. Monbiot on the matter, which Mr. Ball found favor with:
It is true that much of what has been revealed could be explained as the usual cut and thrust of the peer review process, exacerbated by the extraordinary pressure the scientists were facing from a denial industry determined to crush them. One of the most damaging emails was sent by the head of the climatic research unit, Phil Jones. He wrote "I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow - even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"Climatologists are fighting a well-funded enemy that never sleeps. I'm afraid Mr. Monbiot wants to hold climatologists to a standard that neither they, nor anyone else, can reach without neutering themselves.
One of these papers which was published in the journal Climate Research turned out to be so badly flawed that the scandal resulted in the resignation of the editor-in-chief. Jones knew that any incorrect papers by sceptical scientists would be picked up and amplified by climate change deniers funded by the fossil fuel industry, who often – as I documented in my book Heat – use all sorts of dirty tricks to advance their cause.
Even so, his message looks awful. It gives the impression of confirming a potent meme circulated by those who campaign against taking action on climate change: that the IPCC process is biased. However good the detailed explanations may be, most people aren't going to follow or understand them. Jones's statement, on the other hand, is stark and easy to grasp.
In this case you could argue that technically he has done nothing wrong. But a fat lot of good that will do. Think of the MPs' expenses scandal: complaints about stolen data, denials and huffy responses achieved nothing at all. Most of the MPs could demonstrate that technically they were innocent: their expenses had been approved by the Commons office. It didn't change public perceptions one jot. The only responses that have helped to restore public trust in Parliament are humility, openness and promises of reform.
...Some people say that I am romanticising science, that it is never as open and honest as the Popperian ideal. Perhaps. But I know that opaqueness and secrecy are the enemies of science. There is a word for the apparent repeated attempts to prevent disclosure revealed in these emails: unscientific.
...The handling of this crisis suggests that nothing has been learnt by climate scientists in this country from 20 years of assaults on their discipline. They appear to have no idea what they're up against or how to confront it. Their opponents might be scumbags, but their media strategy is exemplary.
The greatest tragedy here is that despite many years of outright fabrication, fraud and deceit on the part of the climate change denial industry, documented in James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore's brilliant new book Climate Cover-up, it is now the climate scientists who look bad. By comparison to his opponents, Phil Jones is pure as the driven snow. Hoggan and Littlemore have shown how fossil fuel industries have employed "experts" to lie, cheat and manipulate on their behalf. The revelations in their book (as well as in Heat and in Ross Gelbspan's book The Heat Is On) are 100 times graver than anything contained in these emails.
But the deniers' campaign of lies, grotesque as it is, does not justify secrecy and suppression on the part of climate scientists. Far from it: it means that they must distinguish themselves from their opponents in every way.
It's nice to be pure, but I'd rather win than be pure. No, it's time to bury the bodies and move on. It's time to take the offensive, for a change.