Saturday, November 20, 2010

ClimateGate after a year

A year ago I posted The Science Story Of The Century?  I made several points:

1. This almost certainly wasn't a "hack".  Rather, it was an information leak by someone on the inside.  The data does not fit the pattern of an external attacker - it's been far too carefully collected.  This took considerable time, and the data in fact looks like what would have been collected had CRU prepared to release the data requested under the FOIA request.

2. The emails were damning.  I reference Jone's request that his colleagues delete data.  I didn't reference the "hide the decline" email, which has sort of gone viral in the public's consciousness (well, it got on Jon Stewart's show, anyway).

3. Short term, I predicted a change in the public's view of climate science:
While the public has a very low appetite for esoteric scientific arguments, personal conflict is a very different matter. Given that more than a little of this looks dodgy (just why are they trying to get around FOIA requests), and since this is the first whiff of just how much money is floating around the Climate Research community, and you have the making of a story that the general public might be able to sink its teeth into.

Given that the general public doesn't believe the Anthropogenic Global Warming hype anyway, this seems like the most significant short term impact - the narrative becomes not "dodgy science", but rather "dodgy scientists".
4. Long term, I predicted that the scientific community would start to analyze the data and code.  This is the one prediction that is still up in the air.  A number of climate scientists have broken ranks with the establishment (Jones, Mann, Schmidt, et al.), but it remains to be seen whether climate science in general can right itself.  There is still a huge amount of government funding pushing a "green" control agenda, and which needs the threat of climate catastrophe to do it.

Overall, though, the biggest change in the last year is the shift in the public mood.  While the public in general doesn't follow this as closely as you or me, there has been a remarkable collapse in public support for Can And Trade, Carbon Markets, etc.  Last year's Copenhagen summit was a disaster for the establishment, and the upcoming Cancun summit is already being declared dead on arrival (well, at least coughing up blood).

While the public aren't paying a lot of attention to the details, they've definitely caught a whiff of something unpleasant.  Good.

Most surprising to me is that the Usual Suspects haven't figured out how to address any of this.  There have been three whitewash commissions that reported "Nothing to see here; move along".  It hasn't helped, either with people paying attention to the science or to the public in general.  The scientific community will have to come to grips with the fact that this simply cannot be swept under the rug.  To do that, they will need to jettison some of the scientists that have caused the biggest drop in public trust.  That's likely to be a long term effort.

2 comments:

DirtCrashr said...

Sadly Bill Nye The Science Guy has a nifty new Kids EcoClimate Propaganda Science LabTool and a deeply vested interest in seeing outcomes go his way vs. "deniers"...

Alex said...

My ultra liberal friends still claim that this wasn't a scandle. But they seem to live in an alternate universe.