New Scientist has just published my review of the first book on “ClimateGate”–Fred Pearce’s The Climate Files. It’s based on a series of 12 investigative reports by Pearce in the Guardian, and, well, I have to say I had real problems with it (just as the RealClimate guys had problems with those reports).
[Pearce] takes a “pox on both houses” approach to the scientists who wrote the emails and the climate sceptics who hounded them endlessly – and finally came away with a massive PR victory. But that’s far too “balanced” an account.
In truth, climategate was a pseudo-scandal, and the worst that can be said of the scientists is that they wrote some ill-advised things. “I’ve written some pretty awful emails,” admitted Phil Jones, director of the CRU at the time….
So why did ClimateGate get to be such a big deal? Read More
Penn State University has now completed its investigation of climate research Michael Mann with respect to “ClimateGate”–and sure enough, it’s an exoneration. My understanding is that the report, which releases at 330 pm today, can be found here.
You’ll recall that Mann had previously been found clean on three other counts; the remaining question being looked into was whether Mann had engaged in any actions that “seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or other scholarly activities.”
And now, the answer is no. The ClimateGate vindications just keep on coming….all smoke, no fire, thus far–and probably always.
See here. I am glad this story is being covered and that people are starting to denounce the investigation in suitable terms:
Rachel Levinson, senior counsel with the American Association of University Professors, said Cuccinelli’s request had “echoes of McCarthyism.”
“It would be incredibly chilling to anyone else practicing in either the same area or in any politically sensitive area,” she said.
Cuccinelli’s “civil investigative demand” sent to the University of Virginia can be found here in PDF, so you can see just how extensive it is. In the space of a month, the idea seems to be that UVA must vomit up pretty much anything in any way related to Mann’s science, including all his emails with fellow scientists, his computer codes, data, “structured or unstructured information,” etc.
Cuccinelli’s defense of what he’s doing, to the Post, doesn’t remotely cut it:
“In light of the Climategate e-mails, there does seem to at least be an argument to be made that a course was undertaken by some of the individuals involved, including potentially Michael Mann, where they were steering a course to reach a conclusion,” he said. “Our act, frankly, just requires honesty.”
It doesn’t merely require honesty, it also requires massive stress, work, and legal advice. And in light of the Climategate emails, no such argument holds up.
Moreover, if we were going to have such an inquiry into everyone ever suspected or accused of “steering a course to reach a conclusion”….well, that would be the end of research, I would think.
P.S.: The Union of Concerned Scientists has more.
In my talks, I often discuss the different groups who came to meet with me when I worked on Capitol Hill with regard to who was most effective. On science related issues, the general breakdown fell into two categories (with exceptions):
Both types introduced themselves as the “honest broker” of scientific information, but the latter often made the stronger impression with staffers. Now removed from the Hill for several years, this invitation recently landed in my inbox:
If you haven’t yet heard my Point of Inquiry podcast with Michael Mann–probably the most popular show I have done so far–I encourage you to listen here. In it are refuted numerous false claims about Mann with regard to the so-called “ClimateGate” fiasco.
I bring this up because some people never tire of the same old routine, and so there is yet another round of attacks on Mann afoot, courtesy of usual suspects like Fox News, Steven Milloy, etc. Once again, the fact is that Mann’s employer, Penn State University, vindicated him on numerous charges relating to “ClimateGate”–although one aspect of that investigation currently continues.
At the AAAS meeting in San Diego last month, I spoke with EarthSky’s Lindsay Patterson, and the resultant podcast just went up. You can listen here, or by playing the embedded audio below, and I’ve also pasted some transcribed sections below:
And now, the write-up: Read More
I want to continue to blog about some of the most memorable content–and in this respect, there was nothing like the show’s closing. I asked for Mann’s final words, and boy did I get them. He pointed out that the strength of climate science alone was clearly insufficient to stop the denial movement, and said that we probably should have expected a revival of that movement in the past three months–although even he didn’t expect how low it would go:
Despite all the talk a few years ago about ‘the debate being over’…the forces of anti-scientific disinformation were just lying dormant. But they would be back. And so this didn’t surprise me at all, and in fact, I fully expected that, in advance of the Copenhagen summit, that we would see an increased number of in attacks.
I guess what we all underestimated was the degree, the depth of dishonesty, dirtiness, and cynicism to which the climate change denial movement would be willing to stoop to advance their agenda. That’s the only thing that I think surprised many of us.
It’s live here, and here’s part of the show description:
For the scientists who study global warming, now is the winter of their despair.
In the news, it has been climate scandal after alleged climate scandal. First came “ClimateGate,” then “GlacierGate,” “Amazon Gate,” and so on. In public opinion polls, meanwhile, Americans’ acceptance of the science of global warming appears to be declining. Even a freak snowstorm now seems to sow added doubt about this rigorous body of research.
In response to growing public skepticism—and a wave of dramatic attacks on individual researchers—the scientific community is now bucking up to more strongly defend its knowledge. Leading the charge is one of the most frequently attacked researchers of them all—Pennsylvania State University climatologist Michael Mann.
In this interview with host Chris Mooney, Mann pulls no punches. He defends the fundamental scientific consensus on climate change, and explains why those who attack it consistently miss the target. He also answers critics of his “hockey stick” study, and explains why the charges that have arisen in “ClimateGate” seem much more smoke than fire.
Once again, the show is here, and you can subscribe on iTunes for further episodes…
Update: The show airs just in time, apparently; Joe Romm documents yet another unfair and bogus attack on Mann, this time from the Wall Street Journal….
Following this discussion thread at the CFI/Point of Inquiry forums, I’ve decided to announce my show’s guest a week early from now on, and call for audience questions for him/her. I’ll take a sampling from those questions that appear on the forums, and ask them on the air.
The guest for Friday is going to be Penn State University climatologist Michael Mann, and we’ll be talking about the unprecedented wave of recent attacks on climate research–and climate scientists. So I am sure there will be many, many questions that folks will come up with. Don’t leave them in comments here–although comments are open. Leave them on this CFI forum thread if you want me to consider them. (Note that I believe you’ll be required to register over there.)
Michael E. Mann is Director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State, and author of the famous “hockey stick” study, as well as dozens of other peer reviewed papers. He’s also a contributor to RealClimate.org, and is the author, with Lee R. Kump, of Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming:
So any questions for Michael Mann? If so, leave them here–and they may just make their way into the interview!
Also, compose your questions sooner rather than later, as we’ll be recording fairly early on this week…..
This is one of the main stories here at the AAAS meeting in San Diego:
SAN DIEGO—A symposium organized here at the last minute by two of the world’s most prominent scientific organizations addressed recent attacks on an increasingly beleaguered climate science community. The panel met in the uncertain aftermath of the release of e-mails stolen from prominent climate scientists and critiques of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The panel of academics was convened by National Academy of Science President Ralph Cicerone, in conjunction with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (which publishes ScienceNOW), which is holding its annual meeting here. At a time when the biggest headlines on science have been over the flaws or legitimacy of climate science, said Cicerone, recent skirmishes over climate research “have really shaken the confidence of the public in the conduct of science [overall].” He cited a number of recent polls, which show a “degradation” in the respect of the public for science in general.
Climate researchers have taken the biggest hit. They are feeling the brunt of what IPCC author Chris Field has described as a “feeding frenzy” since the November e-mail release. “The situation is completely out of hand,” said Texas A&M climate scientist Gerald North. “One guy e-mailed me to say I’m a ‘whore for the global warming crowd.’ ” His PowerPoint presentation included a slide quoting conservative talk show host Glenn Beck: “If the IPCC had been done by Japanese scientists, there’s not enough knives on planet Earth for hara-kiri that should have occurred.”
I get the sense that scientists and their institutions are so concerned over what has occurred in the past few months that there are going to be very real changes made, so as to ensure that better defenses of science are mounted in the future. It will be very interesting to watch what develops on this front…