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Portland Press Herald/ Friday, December 4, 2009

What's 'Climategate' all about? Here's a primer
The world's top scientific backers of 'climate change' have had their private views exposed.

One of my children spent a year at the University of East Anglia in England, and before visiting the campus my vision of it as a place of elegance came from photos of Oxford and Cambridge.

But UEA is a "new school," and its structures are made of gray pressed-concrete slabs piled on each other in cubes.

I thought it was the ugliest campus I had ever seen, but now something uglier than its buildings has come out of it.

It's hard to know where to start in describing what is now called "Climategate," because people who keep up with alternative news sites (or read British newspapers) have seen a full two weeks' worth of stories about the burgeoning scandal revealed by thousands of hacked e-mails from UEA's Climate Research Unit. The CRU is a clearing house for most of the principal scientists behind the research documenting what used to be called "global warming," but became "climate change" after the "warming" leveled off more than a decade ago.

However, readers who have depended on major newspapers or networks remain mostly ill-informed, because the story hasn't been covered well (or in some cases, at all) by the mainstream media, for reasons that remain unclear.

This space will not suffice for a full account, but lots of analysis is available by typing "Climategate" into a search engine. For those for whom it is still unclear, here's a summary:

The e-mails reveal a highly disturbing mindset among the world's top contributors to the current level of concern over their allegations that the planet is 1) warming; 2) that the warming is unique in history and it is primarily caused by human activity that releases carbon dioxide into the air; 3) the results of that C02 increase will be uniformly detrimental; and 4) we must spend trillions of dollars and greatly restrict our standard of living over the entire century to forestall it.

According to critics, however, only the first of those contentions is real, and even that minor warming has apparently come to a halt. All the others are matters of significant dispute by thousands of creden-tialed scientists, not merely "a few dissidents and deniers."

And now, thanks to a hacker who may have been worried that valuable records were about to be destroyed, we have accounts of what CRU-related scientists were saying about their ideas and their critics over the past several years.

Two of the principal figures in what was called "the Team" are the CRU's director, Philip Jones, and Penn State Professor Michael Mann, co-creator of the now-discredited "hockey stick" temperature graph cited by Al Gore and others as proof of unprecedented warming.

Here is what one British critic with significant credibility, Lord Monckton of Brenchley, says the Team did (my comments are in parentheses):

■ The CRU had "profited to the tune of at least $20 million in research grants from the Team's activities." (Total government money poured into "climate change" studies greatly dwarfs the far-smaller sums given by private enterprise to critics.)

■ The Team "tampered with the complex, bureaucratic processes of the U.N.'s climate panel, the IPCCt so as to exclude inconvenient scientific results from its four Assessment Reports, and to influence the panel's conclusions for political, not scientific, reasons." (One e-mail from Jones discussed using "tricks" to "hide the decline" in some historic temperature records, a phrase that has become iconic.)

■ It "conspired in an attempt to redefine what is and is not peer-reviewed science for the sake of excluding results that did not fit what they and the politicians with whom they were closely linked wanted the U.N.'s climate panel to report. They had tampered with their own data so as to conceal inconsistencies and errors." (In reporting this, The Wall Street Journal came up with what is so far the best headline on the topic: "Forging a Climate Consensus.")

■ They "expressed dismay at the fact that, contrary to all of their predictions, global temperatures had not risen in any statistically significant sense for 15 years, and had been falling for nine years. They had admitted that their inability to explain it was 'a travesty.'"

■ They had "interfered with the process of peer-review itself by leaning on journals to get their friends rather than independent scientists to review their papers."

■ They had "successfully leaned on friendly journal editors to reject papers reporting results inconsistent with their political viewpoint."

■ They had "campaigned for the removal of a learned jour-

nal's editor, solely because he did not share their willingness to debase and corrupt science for political purposes."

■ They had "mounted a venomous public campaign of disinformation and denigration of their scientific opponents."

■ And they had committed a possible crime by acting "to conceal and then to destroy computer codes and data that had been legitimately requested by an external researcher."

Jones, the CRU director, has stepped down pending an investigation, and pressure is rising at Penn State for an inquiry into Mann's involvement.

As has been noted, this does not "disprove" global warming. However, it casts great doubt on the credibility - and honesty - of its staunchest proponents.

And with President Obama set to propose hugely expensive, growth-killing "remedies" at a conference in Copenhagen on Monday, being certain about the science is vital.

M.D. Harmon is an editorial writer. He can be contacted at 791-6482 or: mharmon@pressherald. com


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