“Climategate”: a manufactured controversy

Recent headlines about "climategate" were predictable enough - but the "revelations" do not undermine the overwhelming evidence that climate change is manmade.

The headlines were predictable enough – “New worries over Climategate data” railed The Express, “Climate scientists manipulated and hid data” screamed Fox News. But when The Sunday Times writes “The great climate change science scandal” and The Guardian headlines, “Leaked climate change emails scientist hid data flaws,” and when even George Monbiot is calling for resignations, it sounds serious right?

If you were just going on the headlines of the past couple of weeks, you could be forgiven if you were left with the perception that the whole climate crisis has now been exposed as a fraud, a theory based on falsified data manipulated by dodgy scientists hell bent on getting increased research funding from a government that wants any excuse to raise our taxes.

Most of the revelations in this manufactured controversy have focussed on jealousies and tribalism among some scientists, cock ups by others, or alleged misdoings by one scientist – Phil Jones at UEA. However, crucially, none of the ‘revelations’ have undermined the theory that global warming is real and that it is being driven by human-caused increases in greenhouse gas emissions. This theory remains unscathed and based on an overwhelming amount of solid evidence.

In December, 1,700 leading scientists in Britain signed a statement from the Met Office in agreement with the IPCC’s central findings that:

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal…

“Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations”

In a strongly worded statement, the US based Union of Concerned Scientists says:

“Climate contrarians are inflating the importance of an erroneous reference to Himalayan glaciers in a 2007 U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report to attack the scientific body and its chairman, Rajendra Pachauri. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) expects ideological bloggers, some members of Congress, and fossil-fuel industry front groups to try to exploit this relatively small error in the report to bolster conspiracy theories about the IPCC and climate scientists.”

At least The Guardian has the decency to add this sentence within its coverage, “The revelations on the inadequacies of the 1990 paper do not undermine the case that humans are causing climate change, and other studies have produced similar findings.” The same cannot be said of almost any of the other recent coverage.

Chris Mooney of MIT was spot on when he wrote in the Washington Post:

“The central lesson of Climategate is not that climate science is corrupt. The leaked e-mails do nothing to disprove the scientific consensus on global warming. Instead, the controversy highlights that in a world of blogs, cable news and talk radio, scientists are poorly equipped to communicate their knowledge and, especially, to respond when science comes under attack.”

18 Responses to ““Climategate”: a manufactured controversy”

  1. Claire Spencer

    A thousand times yes. RT @leftfootfwd: “Climategate”: a manufactured controversy: //is.gd/7FUYs

  2. John Gamblin

    RT @leftfootfwd: “Climategate”: a manufactured controversy: //is.gd/7FUYs

  3. Ann Danylkiw

    RT @leftfootfwd: “Climategate”: a manufactured controversy: //is.gd/7FUYs //media irresponsibility

  4. Agus Sari

    RT @adanylkiw: RT @leftfootfwd: “Climategate”: a manufactured controversy: //is.gd/7FUYs //media irresponsibility

  5. iklimkarbon.com

    RT @adanylkiw: RT @leftfootfwd: “Climategate”: a manufactured controversy: //is.gd/7FUYs //media irresponsibility

  6. Andrew Merrie

    I agre wholeheartedly RT @adanylkiw: RT @leftfootfwd: “Climategate”: a manufactured controversy: //is.gd/7FUYs //media irresponsibility

  7. Tracey Cheetham

    RT @thedancingflea: A thousand times yes. RT @leftfootfwd: “Climategate”: a manufactured controversy: //is.gd/7FUYs

  8. Dave Sag

    RT @adanylkiw: RT @leftfootfwd: “Climategate”: a manufactured controversy: //is.gd/7FUYs //media irresponsibility

  9. Jack Sutcliffe

    ‘Hockey stick’ graph creator Michael Mann cleared of academic misconduct: //trunc.it/5cckm

  10. Anon E Mouse

    Joss Garman – The only thing manufactured here are the fact you actually believe there is no problem with “Climategate”.

    Of course in a fashion typical of the left at present, you talk at people and smear those who disagree with your scientifically flawed views yet never answer a single point any dissenters raise. If you make these posts Joss at least have the courtesy to substantiate the claims you make. So let’s try this:

    Glaciers gone by 2035? Rainforests 40% reduction? Water vapour? 1998 hottest year on record? And on and on and on and on.

    Oh and I’ve read your diatribes here before Joss so I won’t hold my breath waiting for an answer from you or any kind of debate.

  11. Gordon Rae

    I don’t understand why so many people, especially on the left, are hung up on the question of why climate change is man-made. By itself, that tells us nothing. What matters is that towns like Cockermouth fall into the sea, people are made homeless, and communities are disrupted. The knowledge we need is how to change the future. It is not controversy that is being manufactured, but conformity. There are thousands of datasets on climate, and they each ahed light on a different aspect of the problem. There are no scientific reasons to fudge the data to make it look like everything fits together, only political reasons. I see a clear analogy with the MP’s expenses. The Guardian’s decision to publish the data and crowdsource its interpretation was not an attack on democracy, but a restoration of it, in the face of a small group who said “you don’t need to know the details, just trust us.” The IPCC has been withholding information and suppressing dissent, when what we need is more publication of data, and more discussion of it. That is the only way we will get the scientific innovation that will ensure we have an earth nto pass on to future generations.

  12. Senorviva

    “The leaked e-mails do nothing to disprove the scientific consensus on global warming.”

    Probably not, but what they do achieve is to damage the public perception of the independent, unbiased scientist.

    What irritates me about the CRU emails was the effort to withhold source information from independent scrutiny (including avoiding FoI requests). For scientists to issue a report and then actively withhold the source information is a matter of concern for ‘believers’, genuine sceptics (by which I mean persons interested in testing the merits of any argument put before them without bias) and screaming deniers alike.

    If the arguments prepared by CRU are sound, (which I reckon they probably are, though I’m not a scientist) then they should stand up to even hostile scrutiny. In fact, surely this would gain them greater merit?

    By refusing to release information the CRU has laid itself open to precisely the sorts of claims of self-interest and money-grabbing rightly levelled at the deniers themselves. And if they do stand by their analysis of the data, they have done this for no good reason at all. In this regard Chris Mooney is right to say:
    “ the controversy highlights that in a world of blogs, cable news and talk radio, scientists are poorly equipped to communicate their knowledge and, especially, to respond when science comes under attack.”

    Given the potential consequences of a breakdown in trust in our scientists, and considering the awful ramifications of what they are telling us, I think the most important thing is to concentrate on re-establishing that trust as soon as possible.
    If the arguments prepared by CRU are sound, (which I reckon they probably are, though I’m not a scientist) then they should stand up to even hostile scrutiny. In fact, surely this would gain them greater merit? To refuse to release information is to lay yourself open to precisely the sort of claims of self-interest and money-grabbing rightly levelled at the deniers themselves.

    The one thing that has been hurt most in all of this is the public perception of the independent, unbiased scientist. Given the potential consequences of a breakdown in trust in our scientists (given what they are telling us) I think the most important thing is to concentrate on re-establishing that trust as soon as possible.

  13. Joss Garman

    @ Senorviva: I completely agree.

  14. joogal

    the whole thing is flawed and we need to start form scratch and look at the science again, all this sceptics are payed by big oil is a diversion as oil and energy companies are supporting global warming research with millions of pounds these are unavoidable truths. Why is that because they want to save the planet not a chance in hell!!! Its all about making money and the warmist camp is heavily funded by big business should make every true enviromentalist skin crawl to jump into bed with goldman sachs among others, the most corrupt financial institutions on the planet so please stop the big oil shill nonsense these people have hooked there bandwagon onto the enviromental movement and corrupted it for profit on carbon trading estimatated to rake in trillions with goldman sachs there as the middle man. When i was at school we where told about the medieval warm period and little ice age which is now called psuedo science along with the next ice age scare when will people learn one of the loudest doom merchants then was schneider one of the loudest doom merchants now dr schneider!! you could,nt make this up. cheers

  15. Mr. Sensible

    Gordon, it could be argued that the unfortunate events in Cockermouth may be as the result of increased rivers from climate change.

    Now that it’s been proved that this was just a manufactured skeptic machine…

  16. Old Holborn

    Ermm..

    India has pulled out of the IPCC. “”There is a fine line between climate science and climate evangelism”

    //www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/7157590/India-to-pull-out-of-IPCC.html

  17. Anon E Mouse

    Chris Mooney says: “The central lesson of Climategate is not that climate science is corrupt”

    Then he must be either mad or lying. Glaciers? Why won’t anyone defend their position and explain why that claim was wrong?

    What are you Global Warming – sorry it’s not any more I forgot – Climate Change I meant supporters afraid of?

    And as for Joss Garman, considering his paymasters, the phrase “He would say that wouldn’t he” springs to mind.

  18. Get Labour Out

    Worth reading the responses to the article //bit.ly/bC1Ht9

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