Saturday, December 5, 2009


Phil Jones, director for the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia has resigned his position temporarily, pending an investigation into his conduct. Here's an editorial in The Boston Globe and an article in the Guardian. The UN is investigating to see if their own climate data has been corrupted by fraud. Here's an article in The Guardian. The University of East Anglia has appointed an independent investigator, according to the New York Times.

So far, I see three potential examples of scientific misconduct revealed in the Climategate e-mails.

First is the interference with the Briffa tree ring data (see here). Phil Jones of CRU, Michael Mann of Penn State, and Gavin Schmidt of NASA are all involved. In 1999 they altered the data to show warming instead of cooling. In 2009 they curtailed the data to hide the cooling. Every scientist I speak to agrees that both manipulations are deceitful. The perpetrators of the deceit admit to it freely and claim they were doing the right thing.

Second is the destruction of the original tapes and notebooks that held the global land station records. If transcribed and re-formatted digital versions of the original data are available, we have little reason to complain. But if the only versions of the data left have been subjected to several generations of corrections, the loss of the originals is more serious, especially in the light of Phil Jone's attitude towards data correction, as displayed in his manipulation of the Briffa data, and his attitude towards sharing information, as displayed in his admission by e-mail that he had deleted file in anticipation of Freedom of Information Act requests.

Third is what appear to be efforts to subvert the impartial peer-review process in climate science journals. The climate researchers in the e-mails come across as people who believe without doubt that the world is being warmed by mankind, and that anyone who disagrees is contemptible. They sound more like zealots than scientists. Nevertheless, they believed they were doing the right thing.

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