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Washington Post Warming to Climategate…

posted at 5:45 pm on December 5, 2009 by

…But it still can’t bring itself to admit there are reputable scientists who dispute the core theory of anthropogenic global climate change (AGCC).

In its article today, the WaPo finally raises the issue of Climategate — gingerly, and with great sensitivity to the feelings of the climate hystericos:

Except now, much of that attention is focused on the science’s flaws. Leaked just before international climate talks begin in Copenhagen — the culmination of years of work by scientists to raise alarms about greenhouse-gas emissions — the e-mails have cast those scientists in a political light and given new energy to others who think the issue of climate change is all overblown.

The e-mails don’t say that: They don’t provide proof that human-caused climate change is a lie or a swindle.

But they do raise hard questions. In an effort to control what the public hears, did prominent scientists who link climate change to human behavior try to squelch a back-and-forth that is central to the scientific method? Is the science of global warming messier than they have admitted?

That’s about as harsh as the Post is willing to go. They write not a single word about such fundamental questions as:

  • If human technology spurred AGCC in the last century, what caused the Mediaeval Warm Period from A.D. 800 to 1300? And what caused the Little Ice Age that followed?
  • Can other, completely natural factors explain the warming we have seen — such as a change in the sun’s output, or volcanic activity spewing “greenhouse” gases into the atmosphere?
  • Is a warming Earth truly catastrophic, as alarmists insist? Or does higher CO2 and warmer weather bring benefits as well as risks?
  • Will any of the suggested reparations actually make a significant difference? Or is it just feel-good politics that will push us towards the even greater catastrophe of energy starvation?
  • And why is it that, no matter whether the Earth is freezing into a gigantic, spherical glacier or turning into the hellish inferno of Venus, the solution is always the same: Smash the looms!
  • Most basic, why cannot the general-circulation computer models — on which the entire theory is based — even accurately “predict” the warming from 1900 to 2000, or the lack of warming occurring right now? Do they need minor tweaks… or are they utterly wrong from the beginning?

The Post does at least touch on the question of climate models, but so gently even an alert reader could be excused for missing it:

These are the facts: After an increase in 1998, the world has been historically warm, but its average temperatures have not climbed steadily. Does that mean climate change has stopped?

Many mainstream scientists say no: This is just a tic of nature, as cycles of currents in the Pacific Ocean and a decrease in heat coming off the sun have temporarily dampened warming. Some researchers, though, have said the models — and, by extension, the human researchers that built them — could be missing something about how the climate works. That point was made in one stolen e-mail, in which climate researcher Kevin Trenberth wrote it was a “travesty” that models could not explain why the Earth hadn’t warmed more.

“We’re simply not tracking where the heat is going,” said Trenberth, who heads the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder.

The paper quotes no scientist opining that they’re not “tracking where the heat is going” because the Earth may not be warming at the moment; the reporters assume all along that it’s there… it’s just hidden somehow. Yet if warming did abruptly stop, that causes a serious problem in the reliability of the general-circulation models — since none of them predict such a thing. (At the very least it implies there are forces unaccounted for in current theory that operate counter to the supposedly warming effects of greenhouse gases.)

The Post does note one anomaly that should sound a Klaxon about the integrity of AGCC researchers:

The diversity of opinion on this topic, however, wasn’t evident late last month, when a group of 26 climate researchers issued a report called “The Copenhagen Diagnosis,” summarizing scientific advances since the last major U.N. climate report in 2007.

“Has global warming recently slowed down or paused?” the report said. “No.”

Yet privately, researchers admit that global warming has “recently slowed down or paused.” They just don’t want to admit that in public; if people and politicians saw all the facts, including the messy ones that current AGCC theory cannot explain, they might get the wrong impression, you see.

And here’s another chilling quote that cuts right to the heart of the debate, rather, it’s lack:

Mainstream climate scientists say they have kept an open mind but have rejected papers that lack proper evidence. In Pielke’s case, “the literature doesn’t show” his ideas about the importance of land use are correct, said Tom Karl, head of the NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

Top climate scientists say that in recent years most of the new, worthy research has only made the threat of climate change seem bigger and faster.

But of course, research that draws the wrong conclusion can hardly be called “worthy.”

It’s certainly true that peer-reviewed scientific journals cannot willy-nilly accept just any paper that’s submitted; but the charge — and it’s one of the most serious in science — is that papers are rejected not for lack of evidence but rather because they draw the “wrong” conclusions. If the globalista establishment pushes climate journals to reject any paper that invalidates or even questions a key element of AGCC, which some e-mails show the researchers at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia doing, then it’s hardly a surprise that the scientific literature doesn’t support the skeptics. It becomes, as I said, artifactual: Scientists get the literature they enforce.

So on the one hand, we have a pure, linear, public face of science; and on the other, we see a messy, muddied private face. On the third hand, in the hacked CRU e-mails, we’re shown the intersection of the two faces in a raging, secretive conversation about which facts can safely be released… and which are so explosive they must, at any cost, be suppressed. While this is the norm for politics, it makes for absolutely dreadful science.

On the plus side, the leftstream media is finally starting to nibble around the edges of the Climategate scandal; but they’re still not willing to admit that, far from merely presenting establishment climate researchers in an unflattering light, Climategate reveals them compromising the very data and scientific integrity they need to prove their theory… and one cannot help but conclude that if the facts really supported AGCC — they wouldn’t need to fudge them.

Cross-posted on Big Lizards

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Comments

Good overview, and good questions.

Looking at all the date is Real Science ™. One tragic fact can destroy the most elegant theory or model.

http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/SolarCycle/

Less solar output ⇒ colder Earth. I’m only a synthetic organometallic chemist, not a climatologist, but the data is clear.

NaCly dog on December 5, 2009 at 6:22 PM

and one cannot help but conclude that if the facts really supported AGCC — they wouldn’t need to fudge them.

Masterful logic Howard. Should be in Headlines.

Robert17 on December 5, 2009 at 7:31 PM