Excerpts of New Senate Climategate Report
February 23, 2010
Posted by Matt Dempsey firstname.lastname@example.org
Excerpts of New Senate Climategate Report
The emails (and the data and computer code released to the public) were written by the world's top climate scientists, many of whom had been lead authors and contributing lead authors of various sections of the IPCC reports and were thus intimately involved in writing and editing the IPCC's science assessments. This is no small matter. As noted science historian Naomi Oreskes wrote, the "scientific consensus" of climate change "is clearly expressed in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change." According to one top Obama Administration official, the IPCC is "the gold standard for authoritative scientific information on climate change because of the rigorous way in which they are prepared, reviewed, and approved...
These scientists work at the most prestigious and influential climate research institutions in the world. For example, Dr. Phil Jones was director of the CRU until he was forced to temporarily resign because of his role in the scandal. According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), CRU is "among the renowned research centers in the world" on key aspects of climate change research. It also has "contributed to the scientific assessments of climate change conducted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)." CRU's CRUTEM3 is one of the key datasets of surface temperatures utilized by the IPCC in its Fourth Assessment Report...
The IPCC's work serves as the key basis for climate policy decisions made by governments throughout the world, including here in the United States...
In short, the utility and probity of the IPCC process and its results are crucial to policymaking with respect to climate change here in the United States.
SECTION 1: Inside the Email Trail
As noted, the CRU controversy features emails from the world's leading climate scientists-emails that show disturbing practices contrary to the practice of objective science and potentially federal law...
The emails also raise a fundamental question: What, if any, are the boundaries between science and activism? Wherever one draws the line, many scientists confront, and engage in, the political process at some level. As the National Academy of Sciences wrote in "On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research," "science and technology have become such integral parts of society that scientists can no longer isolate themselves from societal concerns."...
Along with apparently hiding data and information, the scientists complained that mainstream scientific journals were publishing work by so-called "skeptics" who disagreed with their views about the causes of climate change...
These emails do not read as a group of scientists in full agreement about the fundamental issues in paleoclimatology. Rather, they put the lie to the notion that the science is "settled," and that key facets of the climate science debate are no longer in dispute. As one pulls back the veil, and gets beneath the "nice, tidy story," one sees serious disagreement over the extent of 20th century warming and whether it was anomalous over the past millennium. As Phil Jones admitted to the BBC recently, "There is much debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period was global in extent or not." "Of course," he continued, "if the MWP was shown to be global in extent and as warm or warmer than today (based on an equivalent coverage over the NH and SH) then obviously the late-20th century warmth would not be unprecedented."
SECTION 2: Inside the IPCC "Consensus"
The scientists involved here played key roles in shaping and editing the very IPCC reports adduced as dispositive proof of a scientific consensus on catastrophic global warming. The emails and documents reveal, among other things, an insular world of scientists working within the IPCC to generate reports that reflected their biased conclusions on the causes of climate change. In this section, we describe the IPCC in more detail, and try to explain its somewhat opaque inner workings. We also show the links between this controversy and the IPCC, specifically by identifying the scientists in the CRU scandal who exercised great influence over the IPCC assessment reports.
SECTION 3: Legal and Policy Issues in the CRU Controversy
The released CRU emails and documents display potentially unethical, and illegal, behavior. The scientists appear to discuss manipulating data to get their preferred results. On several occasions they appear to discuss subverting the scientific peer review process to ensure that skeptical papers had no access to publication. Moreover, there are emails discussing unjustified changes to data by federal employees and federal grantees.
These and other issues raise questions about the lawful use of federal funds and potential ethical misconduct. Discussed below are brief descriptions of the statutes and regulations that the Minority Staff believe are implicated in this scandal. In our investigation, we are examining the emails and documents and determining whether any violations of these federal laws and policies occurred.
SECTION 4: Endangerment Finding and EPA Reliance on IPCC Science
As we noted in the introduction, the significance of the CRU scandal potentially affects domestic climate change policy. We are investigating the extent to which the CRU scandal reveals flaws in the IPCC's Assessment Reports, as many of the scientists at the center of this scandal drafted and edited those reports (for more on this point, see Section 2). In turn, we are examining whether flaws in the IPCC's work weaken or undermine EPA's "Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases Under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act."