Dec 14, 2009

ClimateGate Links

For someone like moi, who's been researching the global warming debate for several months, the past few weeks have been especially fascinating. The ClimateGate files, apparently released into the public domain on November 13, began receiving widespread notice on Nov. 20th.

Since then, it's been a non-stop whirlwind as bloggers have examined these files, the prominent climate scientists in the purloined e-mails have attempted damage control, and political partisans have spun this development to the far reaches of the solar system and back.

The widespread discussion of these matters is a marvelous thing. So is the multiplicity of voices taking part. But it can be tough for someone unconnected to this debate to get a handle on the controversy.

Below is a list of links worth taking a look at. Because ClimateGate's real impact won't be fully understood for some years, anything written within the first few weeks is highly preliminary. Nevertheless, some of the main themes are already evident.

  • the 1,073 e-mails may be read or searched here

  • Global warming with the lid off
    -this Wall Street Journal editorial highlights some of the most serious concerns

  • Tom Fuller's coverage in the San Francisco Examiner is thorough, sober-minded, and even-handed. This article links to all 7 parts of a series he wrote as the ClimateGate story began to unfold. Highly recommended.

  • Special Investigation: Climate change email row deepens as Russians admit they DID come from their Siberian server
    -don't be misled by the headline, this is a solid view of the larger story

  • Climategate peer review: science red in tooth and claw
    -"Claiming lack of peer review was once a reasonable weapon in scientists’ [arsenal]...After climategate, all can see that this line of logic is as effective as a paper sword."

  • Global warming, loyalty oaths, and Climategate's smoking gun
    -"These scientists wrote a report for politicians everywhere. The report was paid for and backed by the United Nations...These scientists, to promote their personal viewpoint, hid evidence that global warming couldn't be judged as accurately as all of their statements indicated."

  • Data horribilia: the HARRY_READ_ME.txt file
    -some of the color commentary here may be over-the-top, but this paints a picture of a junior computer programmer struggling mightily to make sense of poorly-documented data analysis tools. Although he works hard to keep his work logically consistent, he eventually appears to throw up his hands and to make changes he knows are questionable - in order to produce results he knows are expected. If this is how world-class climate data gets produced, we all need to be very worried.

  • Scientists are not software engineers
    -"Arguably, these are the most important computer programs in the world...[and they are] complete and utter train wrecks."

  • More on Climategate
    -"The closed-mindedness of these supposed men of science, their willingness to go to any lengths to defend a preconceived message, is surprising even to me. The stink of intellectual corruption is overpowering. "

  • Why the GlimateGate controversy matters
    -"If the phrase ‘an informed citizenry’ is to be more than a pious and empty sentiment, we need to make rational decisions with all the evidence available. If we are to give our consent to dramatic changes in public policy, we need to know all the weaknesses of a hypothesis."

  • Climate-change - a story too often told the same way
    -This article rambles a little, but contains solid analysis: "So science was not speaking with one voice on the matter. It only seemed to be, because the media, on the whole, was giving no other story. Then this Climate Research Unit thing happened, and it was the end of the monologue."