The Island of Doubt

Another critical mass of climate change pseudoskeptics will be gathering today for an D.C. lunch event titled “The Climategate Scandals: What Has Been Revealed And What Does It Mean?” It features: Pat Michaels of the Cato Institute and Joseph D’Aleo of ICECAP and is being hosted by Ben Lieberman of the Heritage Foundation and Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

More on the speakers and hosts later, but first, let’s look at the description of the event, which appears on the invitation reproduced by invitee Sheril “Intersection” Kirshenbaum:

The scientific case for catastrophic global warming was already showing signs of weakening when the Climategate scientific fraud scandal broke in November of 2009. This release of thousands of computer files and emails between leading global warming scientists showed evidence of data manipulation, flouting of freedom of information laws, and attempts to suppress publication of research that disagreed with the alarmist “consensus.”

In truth, the scientific case for catastrophic global warming was affected not one wit by the release of the CRU (University of East Anglia) emails and evidence for fraud has refused to surface, as at least three independent academic investigations have shown. The most recent of those investigations found “no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit and had it been there we believe that it is likely that we would have detected it.”

Climategate has raised many questions about the reliability of key temperature records as well as the objectivity of the researchers and institutions involved, but it is far from the only global warming-related controversy.

Yes, questions have been raised by many an amateur with little understanding of the methods used to gather and analyze the temperature records or the records themselves, but the answers are unequivocal. The Earth continues to warm at a pace consistent with the science behind anthropogenic global warming. Again, here’s the conclusions of the most recent panel of scientists to look into that very issue:

There have been various analyses of similar publicly available data sets by different international groups. Although there are some differences in fine detail that reflect the differences in the analytical methods used, the results are very similar.

The Unit has devoted a great deal of effort to understanding how instrumental observations are best combined to derive the surface temperature on a variety of time and space scales. It has become apparent from a number of studies that there is elevation of the surface temperature in and around large cities and work is continuing to understand this fully.

Next we are told:

It has been followed by revelations that some of the most attention-grabbing claims in the 2007 UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report – the supposed gold standard of climate science – were simply made up.

If anything that appeared anywhere in the official IPCC reports or supplementary material was made up, it hasn’t come to light yet. As Stefan Rahmstorf writes at Real Climate, “We already investigated this and came to the conclusion that of the mistakes discussed excitedly in the media, nothing much remains except for the Himalaya mistake.” He refers to the reference to 2035 as the time at which the Himalayan glaciers could disappear. There have been conflicting notions of where the number came from. It could be a typographical flip of 2350. The real problem with the reference wasn’t that it was made up, but that it was attributed to a grey-literature WWF report rather than peer-reviewed science. In any case, climatologists remain worried about precipitous melting trends in the Himalayas. It is also useful to note that the 2035 date never made it into the final Synthesis Report of the IPCC Fourth Assessment.


Before laws regulating energy use are enacted that could well cost trillions of dollars, it is crucial to understand the extent to which the alleged scientific consensus supporting global warming alarmism has been discredited by these scandals.

It would be just as fair to write that such laws could save trillions of dollars, and likely will, if even the low end of climate-warming effects come to pass. And in any case, the “scandals” are nothing but alarmism generated by pseudoskeptics. None of the scientists involved in the email controversy have been discredited. Indeed, but Michael Mann and Phil Jones have been exonerated.

Join us for a discussion featuring two scientists who have closely studied climategate.

Sure, you could do that. You could attend an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation, which has been caught misrepresenting the science at the behest of ExxonMobil for years, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which has been doing the same for almost as long. You could spend your lunch hour listening to Pat Michaels, a scientist who feels comfortable in the embrace of a group that has repeatedly demonstrated its fellows can’t read even the simplest of climate science papers, and Joseph D’Aleo, whose idea of a reputable journal for publishing climate science is the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Or you could stay at home and read some of the literature produced by scientists who have actually studied the climate itself. Your choice.

On the other hand, they are providing lunch.