The Drudge Report linked to a number of articles updating the public on Climategate including a number of concessions from Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. In an interview with BBC Jones admitted that there was no statistically significant rise in temperature in the past fifteen years, that the Medieval Warming Period was as warm or warmer than today and that he had trouble keeping track of the information. In fact, “Colleagues have expressed concern that the reason he has refused Freedom of Information requests for the data is that he has lost some of the crucial papers.”
While these are all undoubtedly important revelations, this one is an answer that should grab Congress’s attention. BBC asked, “When scientists say “the debate on climate change is over”, what exactly do they mean – and what don’t they mean?” Jones answered,
It would be supposition on my behalf to know whether all scientists who say the debate is over are saying that for the same reason. I don’t believe the vast majority of climate scientists think this. This is not my view. There is still much that needs to be undertaken to reduce uncertainties, not just for the future, but for the instrumental (and especially the palaeoclimatic) past as well.”
If the vast majority of climatologists do not believe the debate on climate change is over, why do our politicians pushing for cap and trade and a transition to a “clean energy economy” repeatedly assert that the science is settled? Because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said so and told us that a warming planet was “unequivocal.”
One of the additional benefits of Climategate is that it’s bringing dissenting science from the backburner to the front. The UK’s Times highlights the work of climatologist John Christy, a former lead author on the IPCC, who studied the upward biases in weather stations. Christy said, “The popular data sets show a lot of warming but the apparent temperature rise was actually caused by local factors affecting the weather stations, such as land development.”
Anthony Watts, creator of the website SufaceStations.org and blogger at wattsupwiththat.com does similar work in the United States. SufaceStations.org is a project that monitors the quality of data at America’s 1,221 weather stations. Once a believer that manmade carbon dioxide had a significant effect on the earth’s atmosphere, Watts’ change of heart is largely based on the lack of credible science.
Watts is widely known in the climate change science community for visiting weather stations across the country. He found that several biases in the location of many of the temperature reading devices. Many are on unnatural surface temperatures: on cinder, asphalt, wood chips, and concrete. They lay on top or roofs or on airport runways. Other spots for stations included spots next to an incinerator, waste management facilities (where it’s much warmer) and outside of an air conditioning unit right next to where the warm air is released. One station in Baltimore had readings of over 100 degrees F when no other nearby station did. That station has been shut down but the climate records remain. His conclusion is that most of the weather stations have an upwards bias of 1 degree Celsius and in many cases, it’s 2 degrees C.
Kevin Trenberth, the author reserved for the observed temperature changes chapter in the IPCC report acknowledged these biases but also noted other physical changes such as rising sea levels and ice cap losses as other evidence for global warming.
The UK will go forth conducting an independent review of the Climategate scandal. One member of the independent panel already resigned after skeptics questioned his impartiality. Given the importance of this review, his resignation is admirable; let’s hope the six-member panel of investigators remains impartial.