Jan 172010
 
Authors: Ian Bezek

As you’ve probably heard, the global climate change conference is going on in Copenhagen. This is an exciting event, offering a rare chance for scientists to be treated like famous stars, basking in the adulation of the unscientific masses who fawn over their every chart and spreadsheet.

Sadly for these reveling scientists, some of their scientific cohorts decided to cheat to try to bring more glory for themselves by juicing up their data and silencing the opinions of opponents.

The scandal, as it is now known, is Climategate, and it’s showering the festivities in Copenhagen with a blizzard of skepticism.

It all started when an unknown group of hackers broke into the prestigious Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Britain.

These hackers released thousands of e-mails and bits of source code from the CRU’s research collected over a 13-year timespan. In it, all sorts of juicy tidbits were found that indicated that these climate researchers were illegally enhancing their scientific performance for team Global Warming.

The e-mail that has gotten the most attention was one sent from the head of the CRU, Phil Jones, that said, “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie, from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”

Kevin Trenberth, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research made a very interesting comment in another of the e-mails, saying, “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment, and it is a travesty that we can’t.” Oops. That’s a tough one to explain for the people who claim that there is a “consensus” of scientists who are absolutely certain that the theory of global warming is correct.

Actually, I should note that many scientists now refer to “global warming” instead as “climate change” since they can’t prove the earth is getting hotter, but they can prove that it is changing — just as it has always been changing since it came into being. But I digress …

Climategate, like any “gate” controversy, wouldn’t be fun without some lawbreaking. Let’s take a look at another of the leaked e-mails, in which the now-suspended Jones said, “If (global warming skeptics) ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone. Does your similar act in the U.S. force you to respond to enquiries within 20 days? – our’s does! The UK works on precedents, so the first request will test it. We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind.”

What’s this? We have documented proof that an elite scientist would rather “delete the file” than follow British law. If the theory of global warming were so airtight, why are these great scientists running around deleting data in violation of national law?

Of course, that’s not the only thing they deleted. They also managed to delete the opinions of their opponents. From another of Jones’ e-mails, we read, “The other paper by (a global warming skeptic) is just garbage (…) I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”

That’s right, the “consensus” you’ve heard about; the claim that there is unanimous belief in global warming is just not true. I could make a “consensus” on the Collegian’s opinion page too if I deleted the opinion of columnists with whom I disagree.

Needless to say, the hacked e-mails from the CRU have made people think twice before caving to international pressure to throttle our economy in the name of fighting global warming. Let’s think long and hard before signing any climate change agreement.

Editorials Editor Ian Bezek is a senior economics major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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