Global Warming

Peter Foster: Climategate Whitewash

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CRU scientists who removed caveats from IPCC reports are praised for warning of uncertainties in their published work


"Climategate scientists cleared of wrongdoing” read the headline in yesterday’s Post. Who expected anything else? The two self-inquiries launched by the University of East Anglia into its Climatic Research Unit (CRU) were always destined to produce whitewashes, as did a recent UK parliamentary inquiry, and as will an “independent” review by the UN.

The first of the UEA reports, from a committee headed by ardent warmist and anti-carbon profiteer Lord Oxburgh, appeared this week. As Lawrence Solomon points out elsewhere on this page, the choice of Lord Oxburgh indicated that the fix was always in for an inquiry which fails to address, let alone probe, most of the major issues. And yet there is a mountain of condemnation-by-faint-exoneration between the lines of the report’s ridiculously slim five pages.

Its attempt to present CRU head Phil Jones, and his beleaguered band, as unworldly boffins who were blindsided by all this attention is ridiculous. The report claims that it found a “small group of dedicated if slightly disorganised researchers.” The key question is: dedicated to what? Certainly, they weren’t expecting to be outed quite so spectacularly, but to paint them as innocents in the big bad world of climate realpolitik is nonsense. 

After reviewing a cherry-picked group of eleven CRU studies, the report gently raps the knuckles of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, for failing to note the reservations that CRU researchers so assiduously attached to their peer-reviewed work. “All of the published work was accompanied by detailed descriptions of uncertainties and accompanied by appropriate caveats,” notes the report. 

Global warming alarmists relentlessly chant that there is scientific “consensus” that the “science is settled.” Yet now we are told that somehow the main body for promoting the climate change agenda “neglected” to tell the world that the science wasn’t settled. What we are not told is that the scientists who removed the caveats in the IPCC reports were lead IPCC authors Mr. Jones and his CRU colleague Keith Briffa!

The CRU is concerned with temperature data. Indeed it is one of the principal sources for claims that the earth warmed alarmingly in the 20th century after 900 years of alleged climatic calm (Medieval Warm Period? Little Ice Age? Never happened). 

Data from the distant past is reconstructed from problematic “proxies” such as tree rings; but even assembling readings for more recent periods is difficult due to the thin coverage of weather stations and, more seriously, to the impact of the “urban heat island effect” on readings from stations where development has encroached. There, temperature increases may be due to traffic, tarmac and local barbecues rather than global climate.

To read the whole piece from the Financial Post, click here.

By Peter Foster