Feeds

Climategate: Why it matters

The scandal we see and the scandal we don't

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Analysis Reading the Climategate archive is a bit like discovering that Professional Wrestling is rigged. You mean, it is? Really?

The archive - a carefully curated 160MB collection of source code, emails and other documents from the internal network of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia - provides grim confirmation for critics of climate science. But it also raises far more troubling questions.

Perhaps the real scandal is the dependence of media and politicians on their academics' work - an ask-no-questions approach that saw them surrender much of their power, and ultimately authority. This doesn't absolve the CRU crew of the charges, but might put it into a better context.

After a week of scrutiny of the emails, attention is now turning to the programming source code. Three quarters of the material released is the work of the academics, much of which they had jealously guarded. This includes a version of the world's most cited and respected temperature record - HADCRUT - and a number of surveys which featured prominently in the reports of the UN's climate change panel, the IPCC. The actors here shaped the UN reports, and ultimately - because no politician dare contradict the 'science' - shaped global policy.

The allegations over the past week are fourfold: that climate scientists controlled the publishing process to discredit opposing views and further their own theory; they manipulated data to make recent temperature trends look anomalous; they withheld and destroyed data they should have released as good scientific practice, and they were generally beastly about people who criticised their work. (You’ll note that one of these is far less serious than the others.)

But why should this be a surprise?

The secretive Jones is no secret

The secretive approach of CRU director Jones and his colleagues, particularly in the paleoclimatology field, is not a secret. Distinguished scientists have testified to this throughout from the early 1990s onwards. A report specifically commissioned four years ago by Congress, the Wegman Report, identified many of the failings discussed in the past week.

Failings are understandable, climatology is in its infancy, and the man-made greenhouse gas theory is a recent development. However no action was taken. A little like Goldman Sachs, the group that includes the CRU Crew was deemed to be too important to fail - or even have the semblance of fallibility.

A lightning recap of what CRU is, and what role it plays, helps bring the puzzle out of the shadows.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study
Fat guy? Drink or smoke? You're worse than a TERRORIST
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.