Once “ClimateGate” made the The Daily Show, it became abundantly clear to me that the CRU email hack has had a very negative impact on the credibility of climate science.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Scientists Hide Global Warming Data|
While I agree with Chris and Phil that in reality, the science remains strong, public perception of global warming has suffered a major blow. Unfortunately, the mainstream media now has a hold on the story, and people will continue to jump to whatever uninformed conclusion best suits their agenda. But note, Stewart nails the real issue at the end:
“if you care about an issue, and want to make it your life’s work, don’t cut corners. It’s disheartening for people inclined towards the scientific method and it’s catnip to these guys who are going to end up celebrating tonight, drunk, roaming the Arctic Circle trying to scullf*ck polar bears. Which are quickly disappearing because of rising oceans. Caused now, apparently, by God’s tears.”
Nicholas Kristof–co-author of the moving book Half The Sky and voice that inspired Silence Is The Enemy–has a thoughtful Op-Ed in last week’s NYTimes entitled The Religious Wars. He touches on a topic that we’ve discussed for years here at The Intersection and in the most controversial chapter of Unscientific America:
Traditionally, religious wars were fought with swords and sieges; today, they often are fought with books. And in literary circles, these battles have usually been fought at the extremes.
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Whatever one’s take on God, there’s no doubt that religion remains one of the most powerful forces in the world. Today, millions of people will be giving thanks to Him — or Her or It.
Another new book, “The Faith Instinct,” by my Times colleague Nicholas Wade, suggests a reason for the durability of faith: humans may be programmed for religious belief, because faith conferred evolutionary advantages in primitive times. That doesn’t go to the question of whether God exists, but it suggests that religion in some form may be with us for eons to come.
Science indeed proves that earth is billions of old, that evolution explains biodiversity, and that impulses in our brain can account for behavior. Yet science also has its limitations. ‘Faith‘ is not synonymous Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or the teachings of any specific religion.
In the end, despite all of the clamor from both extremes–and perpetual insistence that there is one way to live, to think, and to be–the truth is that we can only define faith for ourselves. I share Kristof’s hope that the coming crop of books marks an armistice in the religious wars moving away from both religious intolerance and irreligious intolerance.
Phil Jones is standing aside pending an independent inquiry into what happened at CRU. Skeptics are going to smell blood in the water, even though it is hard to see what else the East Anglia unit could have done in this case. Given the massive levels of attention this story has drawn, some kind of inquiry makes sense; and Jones certainly cannot investigate himself.
To be clear, while the jury remains out, none of us who think the “Swifthack” is no big deal are arguing that every last email that has been revealed is necessarily defensible. Rather, we’re arguing that when viewed in proper context, what has been revealed simply does not go to the core issues of whether climate change is human caused and what we need to do about it.
Meanwhile, in a statement that I’ve only just become aware of, I note that the American Meteorological Society–a leading scientific membership organization–fully supports this view:
For climate change research, the body of research in the literature is very large and the dependence on any one set of research results to the comprehensive understanding of the climate system is very, very small. Even if some of the charges of improper behavior in this particular case turn out to be true — which is not yet clearly the case — the impact on the science of climate change would be very limited.
We’ll continue to follow this important story on the blog in the run-up to Copenhagen.