Saturday, November 28, 2009

Climategate: Blame the IPCC?

Some of the more interesting fallout from Climategate is that numerous warmers are saying that the climate studies should finally be open to scrutiny from without. Mike Hulme, who is no friend of skeptics, has joined that chorus. Hulme says:
The key lesson to be learned is that not only must scientific knowledge about climate change be publicly owned — the I.P.C.C. does a fairly good job of this according to its own terms — but the very practices of scientific enquiry must also be publicly owned, in the sense of being open and trusted. From outside, and even to the neutral, the attitudes revealed in the emails do not look good. To those with bigger axes to grind it is just what they wanted to find.
Even admitting that the leaked material does "not look good" is fairly surprising given how partisan Hulme is. He says he doesn't believe the leak will have any impact on the Copenhagen meeting to forge some sort of new, political consensus on controlling human activity in regards to greenhouse gases. Hulme says it will have no impact since Copenhagen "is about raw politics, not about the politics of science." However, outside politics "the reverberations of this episode will live on." He says: "Climate scientists will have to work harder to earn the warranted trust of the public." Hulme then goes for the political jugular of climate science:
It is possible that some areas of climate science has become sclerotic. It is possible that climate science has become too partisan, too centralized. The tribalism that some of the leaked emails display is something more usually associated with social organization within primitive cultures; it is not attractive when we find it at work inside science.
Think about what he said. First, he seems to be saying that the process of studying climate has become partisan and too centralized. His description of his fellow climatologists is not pleasant by any means. He describes their behavior as "tribalism" more fitting "primitive cultures" and says it is unattractive within science. He is not excusing the actions. He is not claiming that context exonerates the culprits. He is not saying they were misunderstood or are victims of some evil conspiracy. He basically is saying they acted in a unattractive way that is not befitting science.

He then goes a step further. He wonders whether the IPCC itself "has run its course." He also says: "The IPCC itself, through its structural tendency to politicize climate change science, has perhaps helped to foster a more authoritarian and exclusion form of knowledge production—just at a time when a globalizing and wired cosmopolitan culture is demanding of science something much more open and inclusive."

While I've read a lot of material by warming skeptics this is much harsher. Hulme says that the structure of the IPCC has politicized the science involved. While many warming groupies are still denying that such politicization has taken place, Hulme is admitting it rather openly. And he describes the politicization as "authoritarian and exclusive." It seems he is saying that the IPCC is really to blame for Climategate—something that I've not seen from any of the skeptics so far.

Andrew Revkin, at the New York Times, another faithful advocate of warming, also posts another message that Dr. Judith Curry wrote an associate of Michael Mann, one of the Climategate principals. She asks a series of questions which seem to reveal what her own reading of the Climategate files reveals about what was going on at the Climate Research Unit, one of the main centers of warming advocacy in the world. Her questions are pretty much the same ones I would ask based on my reading of the material. I will post just her questions. She does flesh each one out immediately after asking it, if you wish to see the full email follow the link. In each questions she first describes what she sees in the leaked material and then asks her question.
1. What appears to be a conspiracy to organize the deletion of e-mails in contravention of Freedom of Information laws. Do you reject this type of action?

2. What appears to be collusion to “oust” journal editors who decide to publish articles your associates disagree with. Is this a course of action that you believe is reasonable?

3. What appears to be cooperation to modify data sets and papers to achieve defined goals rather than clear presentation. Is there a defense of these actions?

4. What appears to be attempts to keep peer-reviewed, scientific papers from being considered in the I.P.C.C. process. Do you think that lead authors in the I.P.C.C. process should be the ones to judge their own work?
I concur 100% with what Dr. Curry describes and believe her questions deserve answering. However, I won't be holding my breath while waiting.

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