The new climate game

Lawrence Solomon
Financial Post
April 10, 2010

Right from the early days of the global warming controversy, they whacked any scientist who dissented from the view that CO2 was warming the planet in a dangerous way. Up popped other skeptical scientists, and WHACK!! Down they went.

Up popped skeptical journalists and WHACK! Down they went, too. Then more whacks for new scientists who surfaced, or pesky scientists who resurfaced.

Today, decades later, the climate science establishment is still whacking away, faster and more frenetically than ever, as more and more skeptical scientists, journalists and politicians surface. And now there’s a new species of skeptic in need of whacking down ­— the many inquiries that have sprung up in the wake of Climategate, the unauthorized release of some 3,000 documents from the computers of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University showing that data had been manipulated and destroyed.

East Anglia University was the first to establish an inquiry into its conduct. Then it started a second inquiry to complement the first. The Met Office, the UK government’s meteorological department, announced its inquiry to redo the data that CRU had destroyed, a process that would take it three years. The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office began an inquiry, to ascertain whether the country’s Freedom of Information Law had been broken. The local police force, working with Scotland Yard, also began an inquiry.

All these would and will need to be whacked, and more would, too. The IPCC itself announced an inquiry. Across the Atlantic, Penn State University, home to Michael Mann, one of America’s most important doomsayers, launched an investigation.

The UK government also decided it needed an inquiry, and fast, to address Climategate before it could call national elections, which were imminent. Its House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee expedited matters by holding a one-day hearing into Climategate during which it took no direct testimony from skeptical scientists. With nothing much discovered the members of the parliamentary committee declared its job done.

“Clearly we would have liked to spend more time of this,” explained the committee’s chair, Phil Willis, en route to the hustings, but “We had to get something out before we were sent packing.”

But many expect the House of Commons committee to pop up again after the elections, particularly since the committee asked whether “publicly funded research groups [were] being as open as they can be, and ought to be, with the details of their methodologies.”

The UK Met Office hasn’t completed its investigation but it has nevertheless been whacked, for announcing its inquiry early on, in December, embarrassing the government before the Copenhagen climate change meetings. The Met Office then assured everyone that it didn’t expect to find anything amiss after its investigation.

In some cases, whacking was not required — at least not by the climate change establishment. The inquiries set up by East Anglia University have as their members people of satisfactory credentials. Consider Lord Oxburgh, who chairs one of the two inquiries. He is also the head of Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment, a lobby group for global warming legislation, and an advisor to Climate Change Capital, which aims to cash in on the $45-trillion market in the coming low-carbon economy. Others on the inquiries have strikingly similar credentials, so much so that the London Telegraph reported that “almost all their members were committed, even fanatical advocates of global warming.”

Whacking was also not required for the Penn State inquiry, which interviewed no skeptical witnesses and has already exonerated Mann on three of four charges.

But a Penn State whacking may nevertheless be required after the Inspector General at the U.S. National Science Foundation, a major funder of Penn State’s global warming research, unexpectedly popped up. The Office of Inspector General states that “in accordance with our research misconduct regulation, (45 C.F.R. part 689), when the OIG is provided with an institution’s investigation report, we review it for fairness, accuracy and completeness.”

When it does, it will represent the first time that an independent investigative government organization will have scrutinized alleged climate change wrongdoing, but it may not be the last, or the most searching.

As made clear in an 84-page Minority Staff report produced in February by the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, criminal charges will be aggressively pursued if the chief force behind the report, Senator James Inhofe, finds himself once again a Senator in the majority after the November elections in the U.S.

Entitled “Consensus’ Exposed: The CRU Controversy,” the report asserts that “The scientists involved in the CRU controversy violated fundamental ethical principles governing taxpayer-funded research and, in some cases, may have violated federal laws… An independent inquiry conducted by the UK’s Information Commissioner has already concluded that the scientists employed by the University of East Anglia, and who were at the centre of the controversy, violated the UK’s Freedom of Information Act. … In our view, the CRU documents and emails reveal, among other things, unethical and potentially illegal behavior by some of the world’s preeminent climate scientists.”

And then the whacking might really start, with the climate scientists at the business end of the mallet.

Read the sources for this column. 

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