It doesn’t help their case any when warming advocates deliberately (or ignorantly) refer to climate change skeptics as “deniers” of global warming.
The deniers fall into the Luddite camp; those who reject any notion that man made climate change is even possible and indeed, harbor delusions that there is a world-wide conspiracy of thousands of scientists across several disciplines who are manipulating data to garner more grant money and enslave them. They see Climategate as a vindication of this view and believe the entire science of global warming has been “debunked.”
The skeptics are, for the most part, willing to examine all relevant data while attempting to keep an open mind about the conclusions reached regarding global warming. Their criticisms are confined to specific aspects of the debate and do not generally tail off into conspiracy theories or conclusions that AGW is a complete fiction.
There are indeed some skeptics who have reached the scientific conclusion, buttressed by their own evidence, that the science of AGW is flawed and is not “settled” in any sense of the word. Are they deniers because their criticisms of warming evidence like “the hockey stick” or the even more problematic ice core temp studies seek to debunk what is now “established” AGW science? Or are they responsible scientists seeking the facts?
Warming advocates do not even try to separate the two which can lead to idiocy like this from the Guardian today:
Attempts have been made to break into the offices of one of Canada’s leading climate scientists, it was revealed yesterday. The victim was Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria scientist and a key contributor to the work of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In one incident, an old computer was stolen and papers were disturbed.
In addition, individuals have attempted to impersonate technicians in a bid to access data from his office, said Weaver. The attempted breaches, on top of the hacking of files from British climate researcher Phil Jones, have heightened fears that climate-change deniers are mounting a campaign to discredit the work of leading meteorologists before the start of the Copenhagen climate summit tomorrow.
“The key thing is to try to find anybody who’s involved in any aspect of the IPCC and find something that you can … take out of context,” said Weaver. The prospect of more break-ins and hacking has forced researchers to step up computer security.
Fears of further attacks by climate-change deniers have also put Copenhagen delegates under increased pressure to reach a comprehensive deal to limit carbon emissions, with Britain’s chief negotiator, energy and climate change secretary Ed Miliband, warning last week that there was no certainty that a deal would be reached. “We need to have our foot on the gas all the time,” he said on Thursday. “We should not be complacent about getting a deal.” It was crucial that Britain, and Europe, showed ambition in setting an agenda for a tough, binding agreement and not let the efforts of climate sceptics derail negotiations, he added. “Our children will hold us in contempt if we fail now.”
The poor scientists are not familiar with a media feeding frenzy. Everyone and their brother is out to make a name for themselves by scooping the world and proving that warming advocates are cooking the books. Breaking and entering is a serious matter as is purloining personal papers and emails. This kind of nonsense should be punished. But stunts like impersonating workers are as old as newspapers and is hardly evidence that anyone is out to “smear” prominent climate scientists.
And talk about conspiracy nuts! To ascribe this competitive activity on the part of bloggers, writers, and press to get dirt on climate scientists as to “climate-change deniers” who “are mounting a campaign to discredit the work of leading meteorologists before the start of the Copenhagen climate summit tomorrow,” is balmy. If this is organized in any way I will eat my Bears hat. Positing a conspiracy to discredit Copenhagen is as loony as saying the entire AGW movement is one gigantic, organized conspiracy to force One World Government down our throats. It doesn’t track that way if you know anything about how the modern media works.
Nevertheless, Climategate deniers - those who are whistling past the graveyard believing that the scandal doesn’t change anything - have sought to lump both deniers and skeptics together in an effort to counter the growing perception that these are scientists with something to hide. It doesn’t help AGW science or their case against the CRU hack when so many of their colleagues are fighting tooth and nail against FOIA requests to reveal the underlying data that supports their theories.
On that subject, Jim Lindgren of the Volokh Conspiracy has a great post on the quest of Steve McIntyre to get the authors of the hockey stick graph to release their data so that their conclusions can be duplicated. What McIntyre found without that data was shocking, as Lindgren’s link to Bishop Hill’s post on the subject shows:
[In 2005, Steven] McIntyre discovered that an update to the Polar Urals series had been collected in 1999. Through a contact he was able to obtain a copy of the revised series. Remarkably, in the update the eleventh century appeared to be much warmer than in the original — in fact it was higher even than the twentieth century. This must have been a severe blow to paleoclimatologists, a supposition that is borne out by what happened next, or rather what didn’t: the update to the Polar Urals was not published, it was not archived and it was almost never seen again.
With Polar Urals now unusable, paleclimatologists had a pressing need for a hockey stick shaped replacement and a solution appeared in the nick of time in the shape of a series from the nearby location of Yamal.
The Yamal data had been collected by a pair of Russian scientists, Hantemirov and Shiyatov, and was published in 2002. In their version of the data, Yamal had little by way of a twentieth century trend. Strangely though, Briffa’s version, which had made it into print before even the Russians’, was somewhat different. While it was very similar to the Russians’ version for most of the length of the record, Briffa’s verison had a sharp uptick at the end of the twentieth century — another hockey stick, made almost to order to meet the requirements of the paleoclimate community. Certainly, after its first appearance in Briffa’s 2000 paper in Quaternary Science Reviews, this version of Yamal was seized upon by climatologists, appearing again and again in temperature reconstructions; it became virtually ubiquitous in the field: apart from Briffa 2000, it also contributed to the reconstructions in Mann and Jones 2003, Jones and Mann 2004, Moberg et al 2005, D’Arrigo et al 2006, Osborn and Briffa 2006 and Hegerl et al 2007, among others.
Read the whole post on McIntyre’s tireless efforts to get to the bottom of the mystery. It wasn’t until years later when the Royal Society published a paper using Yarmal data and was he able to hold the Society to their longstanding policy of requiring authors to archive the underlying data to make it publicly available. Finally, nearly 10 years after his first request, McIntyre got a hold of Briffa’s data and was able to destroy the hockey stick graph.
The lesson? The snoops who are digging for a smoking gun at the Canadian climate facility are misguided for engaging in illegal activity. But they wouldn’t be tempted if there was more transparency in the AGW community. The same holds true for any lab in the world and one would expect that the same standards these scientists would hold skeptics to would be honored.
That said, lumping “skeptics” in with “deniers” is a transparent smear and should be abandoned.