Monday, December 14, 2009

AP: Climate science isn't pretty, but it's not faked

We've reported twice before, here and here, that the controversy dubbed "Climategate," about stolen e-mails from some of the world's top climate scientists at the University of East Anglia in southeast England, has been overblown. The Associated Press looked at the controversy, concluded likewise, and moved a story over the weekend, saying that climate science may not be pretty, but isn't faked.

Since almost all daily newspapers and broadcast stations are members of the AP, we have a higher threshold for using the wire service's reports here. But we note this one because climate change is an issue that has serious ramifications for rural America, including places not served well by dailies and TV stations, and because many people, including some rural journalists who should know better, continue to cite the e-mails as proof of fraud. That is vast overstatement, if not just plain wrong.

AP reports, "E-mails stolen from climate scientists show they stonewalled skeptics and discussed hiding data — but the messages don't support claims that the science of global warming was faked." The 1,073 e-mails show the scientists harbored some fleeting, private doubts even as they told the world they were certain about climate change, but the exchanges don't undercut the vast body of evidence showing human-caused global warming, says the story by three AP reporters.

Mark Frankel, director of scientific freedom, responsibility and law at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, also reviewed the stolen e-mails and concluded there was "no evidence of falsification or fabrication of data, although concerns could be raised about some instances of very 'generous interpretations.'" The most alarming information AP discovered was the "stunning disdain" for global warming skeptics and what appears to be a reluctance to share any information with them.

"This is normal science politics, but on the extreme end, though still within bounds," Dan Sarewitz, a science policy professor at Arizona State University, told AP. "We talk about science as this pure ideal and the scientific method as if it is something out of a cookbook, but research is a social and human activity full of all the failings of society and humans, and this reality gets totally magnified by the high political stakes here." (Read more)


Howard Owens said...

What vast amount of evidence?

Unknown said...

"Stupidity is a condition; ignorance is a choice," as the cartoonist said.

Which are you, Howard? Stupid or ignorant?

Howard Owens said...

I don't know, Rod. Which are you?