Climategate originated when the architects of the campaign that drew the world’s attention to global warming were attacked and accused of doctoring their data. As a result, the incident was also dubbed “mediagate” in relation to certain media outlets that were too eager to make a big deal out of false allegations.
It was a foregone conclusion that certain corporate and political interests were not going to accept that their products, policies and practices were not going to be happy with proof that there was a need for reducing dependency on fossil fuels and to stop polluting the atmosphere.
The early concepts of anthropogenic contributions to the warming of the atmosphere of the entire globe began with the poisonous smogs of London and other newly industrialized, heavily populated urban centers that relied upon coal burning for heat and for powering steam machines.
But former Vice President Al Gore made one of the hugest splashes in history with his series of lectures on global warming, which were heavily loaded with attention to human, or anthropogenic contributions to the phenomena. His message reached the pinnacle when a documentary called “An Inconvenient Truth” garnered an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize.
But “Climategate” was born into a complex and treacherous world of conflict in political, scientific, corporate, human and group resistance to or support for cleaning up mankind’s contributions to pollution of the atmosphere and waters of the Earth.
There is one major operative concept in the climategate controversy. Climate involves the atmosphere of the entire planet. Weather involves actual events that occur at specific times. Thus, global warming involves the entire atmosphere and can definitely be active while record colds are experienced in specific locations as forms of weather.
The latest episode of climategate involves East Anglia University, the university’s Climate Research Unit, and Professor Phil Jones.
In the United States, Pennsylvania State University and Dr. Michael Mann were involved. Then there is NASA’s shameful weakness in collecting temperature data.
In 2009, over 1000 E-Mails were stolen from the Climate Research Unit in Britain and were circulated to certain Right wing and corporate interests in the US and abroad. The goal was to discredit the science and the reputations of the scientists behind the warnings of the proponents of global warming.
Two investigations ensued. The British Government’s initial investigations found no attempts by scientists to manipulate or to falsely represent the data, distort the peer review, or to forward fraudulent findings in support of global warming.
The Penn State review came to the same conclusions on the part of Dr. Mann, who had corresponded with his British counterparts in some of the stolen E-Mails. None of his actions were found to seriously deviate from established and required practices.
Dr. Mann was accused of using a “statistical trick” in order to manipulate data. This accusation received the most attention. In reality, Dr. Mann was working with his counterparts to put together one graph from two disparate sources, using statistical tools for co joining the graphs into one. This is a common and necessary practice and did not constitute manipulating data in order to present fraudulent or false results.
In the case of NASA’s faulty temperature data, the stolen e-mails implicated NASA’s Dr. Reto A. Ruedy, who told an interviewer that NASA’s findings from climate data was worse than that from both the East Anglia Climate Research Unit and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center [NCDC].
Apparently, there were very good measuring stations, and then there were NASA’s measuring stations, which were not always very good, according to Dr. Ruedy. His statements were used to create a firestorm of controversy and the Media Matters article serves as an example. Dr. Ruedy’s statements provided some exoneration for the beleagured Penn State and British scientists, while causing enormous problems for NASA and the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change.
The current conclusions of climategate are leaning toward leaving the climate change complexities and controversies out of the process of making energy policy. There is influence and backwash from all sides that are looking for a particular outcome to support their position, thus compromising the science and the work of the scientists. The public dropped their previous levels of alarmed interest in reducing dependency on fossil and the volatility of spectacular reporting confused the issue into a lesser stance than it deserves.
Now, with the BP Gulf oil spill, the call for attention toward reducing dependency on fossil fuels is again at fever pitch. The greatest environmental disaster in American history has temporarily created a national and even world wide resolve to find alternative energy resources, while Climategate quietly sneaks off to hide in shame.
Media Matters, “CEI’s Horner enlists Fox News in manufacturing another climate email scandal”, March 2010
Anthony DiMaggio, “Witness to Mediagate: Making Sense of the “Climategate Scandal”, Monthly Review, June 2010
Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, “Freeing Energy Policy From The Climate Change Debate”, Yale, Environment 360, March 2010