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Climategate and the Politicisation of Climate Science

Summary of the State of Climate Science Research and its basis for political action following the Climategate debacle.

Victor Yang

on 4 May 2012

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Transcript of Climategate and the Politicisation of Climate Science

Climategate and
the Politicisation of
Climate Science Objective Issues Inquiry into the role of scientists
in the Global Warming debate and
Policy Formulation as a Response Epistemic Nature of Science and Climate Science
The Challenge of Climate Skepticism
Investigating the Significance and Impact of Climategate
What Science can(not) answer about climate change Suggested Resources: A Superstorm for Global Warming Research

Guardian Commentary: Climate change email scandal shames the university and requires resignation
- http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2010/feb/02/climate-change-hacked-emails

Guardian Commentary: The 'climategate' inquiry at last vindicates Phil Jones - and so must I
- http://www.monbiot.com/2010/07/07/filth-and-fury/

Guardian Report: Can a group of scientists in California end the war on climate change?
- http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/feb/27/can-these-scientists-end-climate-change-war? Epistemology of Science Some Questions that Arise:
What IS Science?
What can science demonstrate?
What can science claim?
What can science predict? Policy Implications of Climate Science Stakeholder Dichotomies:
Science Experts vs Policy Makers
Predictions vs Solutions
Environmentalists vs Businesses
Developed vs Developing Economies
Sustainability vs Growth
Skeptics vs Fear-mongers Thesis The possible dangers to mankind posed by man-made climate change has contributed to the politicisation of climate science both on the part of climate scientists and climate skeptics. Climate Skepticism Language: Skeptics vs Science
Issue: Credibility Slur, Ad Hominem 'Engagement'/'Dialogue'/'Debate' Some of the Players Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
Climate Research Unit - University of East Anglia (CRU) Argument: Climate Skepticism can benefit Climate Science
1. Validates scientific claims by subjecting them to rigorous scrutiny. See Ronald Bailey Quote in first para:
2. Weeds out unjustified scientific claims so policy makers are in a better position to make more informed choices. See Two Degree Target:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,686697-8,00.html Qualification: Climate Skeptics as a group are diverse and many go beyond legitimate skepticism
1. George Monbiot, having demanded Phil Jones (CRU, Director) resignation at the height of the outbreak of the climategate scandal, reconsidered his position after the Russell review exonerated the CRU from wrongdoing in finding that "that there was no evidence of fraud, manipulation or a lack of rigour and honesty on the part of the CRU scientists. The science is sound; the IPCC has not been compromised." In Monbiot's view, "He said some very stupid things. At times he squelched the scientific principles of transparency and openness. He might have broken the law. But he was also provoked beyond endurance. I think, in the light of everything I've now seen and read, that if I were to write that article again I'd conclude that Phil Jones should hang on – but only just." Climategate: The consensus after multiple reviews:
The evidence for human-made climate change [global warming] remains overwhelming, even if the scientists of the CRU conducted themselves less as scientists and more as activists in resisting the skeptics.
"James Hansen said that the controversy has "no effect on the science" and that while some of the e-mails reflect poor judgment, the evidence for human-made climate change is overwhelming. Hans von Storch, who also concurs with the mainstream view on global warming, said that the University of East Anglia (UEA) had "violated a fundamental principle of science" by refusing to share data with other researchers. "They play science as a power game," he said."
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climatic_Research_Unit_email_controversy#Climatologists

What is the way forward?
Hans von Storch now wants to see an independent institution recalculate the temperature curve, and he even suggests that the skeptics be involved in the project.
- http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,686697-4,00.html

Perhaps the Berkeley Earth project might move things forward?
- http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/feb/27/can-these-scientists-end-climate-change-war?

As an aside, since Richard Muller was cited as a member of the Jason group for more than 30 years, this is also an interesting reference:
- http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article4690900.ece An Assessment of what Science can(not) Answer: Need to separate what science can and cannot tell us.

What increasing scientific consensus suggests:
Human activity contributes significantly to global warming.

But while consensus is agreed on the above, science has not given answers on a number of specific questions:

"Scientists fear that without an open, honest process, they will no longer find a sympathetic ear. This process could mean that much of what has long been considered established knowledge will come under review once again, specifically, five elementary questions on the future of the climate:

~ By how many degrees has the Earth's temperature already increased, and how much further will temperatures rise?
~ How high will sea levels rise in a greenhouse climate?
~ Can we expect to see storms of unprecedented strength in the future?
~ Which parts of the world will experience more droughts, and where will there be more flooding?
~ Will the situation on the planet truly spin out of control if the average global temperature increases by more than two degrees Celsius?

Anyone who speaks with leading climatologists today will discover how many questions remain open. The media, politicians and even scientists often talk about changes to the weather with a certainty that does not in fact exist."
- http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,686697-2,00.html
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