December 26, 2009

Stolen e-mails and climate change

What do the famous stolen emails mean for our understanding of climate change and policy?

An Associated Press story summarized a widespread opinion on the issue.
E-mails stolen from climate scientists show they stonewalled skeptics and discussed hiding data - but the messages don't support claims that the science of global warming was faked. [...]

[T]he exchanges don't undercut the vast body of evidence showing the world is warming because of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
I agree. But this is not the whole story. There is much more about climate change and policy than "the world is warming because of man-made greenhouse gas emissions." Climate scientists make bold predictions about the future. Some of those predictions include catastrophic outcomes. Some climate scientists advocate for immediate, drastic cuts in carbon emissions. Yes, climate scientists tell us that the world is warming due to greenhouse gas emissions. And yes, they are almost certainly right when they say so. But they are telling us other things as well.

The stolen e-mails undermine the credibility of many of the most outspoken climate scientists. Knowing that they are willing to censor both their more skeptical colleagues and those who ponder alternatives to emission cuts, and to hide and massage data in order to make a stronger case to the public is not enough to make me doubt that the world is warming because of human-made greenhouse gas emissions. But it does make me more skeptical of their more extreme, more catastrophic and less certain predictions.


  1. I tend to believe that there is more hype around his affair than it deserves. Everyone knows it was released right before the Copenhagen summit for a good reason: discrediting the IPCC. Now that it's over and the naysayers got what they wanted, don't you think it's more than time to move on to more constructive debates and look forward to the next debate? How much do we commit to Southern countries...

  2. CFC Theory Casts Doubt On CO2 Warming
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