Tue Nov 24th, 2009 at 05:11:37 AM EST
The fallout from (illegally) released emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia continues to reverberate through the blogoshphere.
Monbiot has just released a scathing indictment:
Yes, the messages were obtained illegally. Yes, all of us say things in emails that would be excruciating if made public. Yes, some of the comments have been taken out of context. But there are some messages that require no spin to make them look bad. There appears to be evidence here of attempts to prevent scientific data from being released(2,3), and even to destroy material that was subject to a freedom of information request(4).
Worse still, some of the emails suggest efforts to prevent the publication of work by climate sceptics(5,6), or to keep it out of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(7). I believe that the head of the unit, Phil Jones, should now resign. Some of the data discussed in the emails should be re-analysed.
Monbiot's post comes in the wake of at least two notable scientists, working in the field of climate science, who've also publicly outed some of their displeasure. Samplings below the fold.
, at the Georgian Institute of Technology, here
However, even if the hacked emails from HADCRU end up to be much ado about nothing in the context of any actual misfeasance that impacts the climate data records, the damage to the public credibility of climate research is likely to be significant. In my opinion, there are two broader issues raised by these emails that are impeding the public credibility of climate research: lack of transparency in climate data, and “tribalism” in some segments of the climate research community that is impeding peer review and the assessment process.
1. Transparency. Climate data needs to be publicly available and well documented. This includes metadata that explains how the data were treated and manipulated, what assumptions were made in assembling the data sets, and what data was omitted and why. This would seem to be an obvious and simple requirement, but the need for such transparency has only been voiced recently as the policy relevance of climate data has increased. The HADCRU surface climate dataset and the paleoclimate dataset that has gone into the various “hockeystick” analyses stand out as lacking such transparency.
2. Climate tribalism. Tribalism is defined here as a strong identity that separates one’s group from members of another group, characterized by strong in-group loyalty and regarding other groups differing from the tribe’s defining characteristics as inferior. In the context of scientific research, tribes differ from groups of colleagues that collaborate and otherwise associate with each other professionally.
And Hans von Storch, at the GKSS Research Centre in Germany, also pitched in:
Also mails from/to Eduardo Zorita and myself are included; also we have been subject of frequent mentioning, usually not in a flattering manner. Interesting exchanges, and evidences, are contained about efforts to destroy "Climate Research"; that we in the heydays of the hockeystick debate shared our ECHO-G data with our adversaries; and that Mike Mann was successful to exclude me from a review-type meeting on historical reconstructions in Wengen (demonstrating again his problematic but powerful role of acting as a gatekeeper.)
I would assume that more interesting issues will be found in the files, and that a useful debate about the degree of politicization of climate science will emerge. A conclusion could be that the principle, according to which data must be made public, so that also adversaries may check the analysis, must be really enforced. Another conclusion could be that scientists like Mike Mann, Phil Jones and others should no longer participate in the peer-review process or in assessment activities like IPCC.