The Real Climategate Scandal

The global warming scandal keeps getting worse. Revelations over the last few weeks show that many important assertions in the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were based on misquotes and false claims from environmental groups, not on published academic research as originally claimed. This is on top of the recent mess regarding data, where the three most relied-on data series used by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2007 assessment report still not been released. Other information indicates that data have been systematically biased to produce a rise in measured temperatures when actual temperatures were falling or flat.

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Take some of the false claims in the 2007 IPCC report.

– The IPCC claims that the Himalayan glaciers could melt away as soon as 2035. The forecast was based on a media interview with a single Indian glaciologist in 1999, and the Indian glaciologist who was interviewed, Syed Hasnain, says that he was misquoted, indeed he had provide no date. Professor Hasnain discovered the mistake in 2008 when he read the IPCC’s published report, but he said: “There are many mistakes in it. It is a very poorly made report. . . . My job is not to point out mistakes. And you know the might of the IPCC. What about all the other glaciologists around the world who did not speak out?”

Even more disturbingly, Rajendra Pachauri, the U.N.’s climate chief, first denied that he knew about the error before the Copenhagen global warming conference. He only admitted that he knew about it before the conference when a writer for the journal Science, Pallava Bagla, pointed to email correspondence that he had with Pachauri last fall.

– The IPCC warned that because of global warming the world had “suffered rapidly rising costs due to extreme weather-related events since the 1970s.” They cited one study to support their claim, but when the research was published in 2008, after the IPCC report was released, the study noted: “We find insufficient evidence to claim a statistical relationship between global temperature increase and catastrophe losses.”

– The IPCC warned that up to 40 percent of the Amazon rain forest might be wiped out by global warming, but the sole source for that claim was a non-refereed report authored by two people who the Sunday Times of London referred to as “two green activists,” one of them with the World Wildlife Fund.

– The IPCC even got wrong the percentage of the Netherlands that is below sea level. The report claims that the percent is 55 percent, when the right number is 26 percent.

On February 3rd, Mr. Pachauri however defended the UN’s IPCC report by saying that the critics “are people who deny the link between smoking and cancer; they are people who say that asbestos is as good as talcum powder. I hope that they apply [asbestos] to their faces every day.” While Pachauri admits that the IPCC was inaccurate about the Himalayan glaciers melting, he claimed that the attacks were motivated by “business interests” who “spread a lot of disinformation.”

Finally, it should be noted that Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office, which enforces that country’s freedom of information act regulations, has come to some conclusions regarding Climategate. The ICO found that the University of East Anglia breached violated British law by refusing to comply with requests for data concerning claims by its scientists that man-made emissions were causing global warming. The UK Daily Mail reports that “the scientists will escape prosecution because the offences took place more than six months ago.” Out of 105 freedom of information requests, Professor Phil Jones, who headed the university’s Climate Research Unit, only complied with 10 requests.

For too long global warming proponents have claimed that their claims can’t be questioned. Science should be more transparent than this. But relying on misreported news stories and white papers put out by non-scientists from advocacy cases isn’t science. Why these climate temperature data has been hidden and why researchers won’t answer questions on adjustments that they have made has become quite troubling. In this age of computers and website, there is no excuse for hiding data.

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