Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hackergate/Swifthack/Climategate and the war on science

Usually this blog doesn't focus much on the science behind climate change or the huffing and puffing of the climate denial industry, however the latest smear campaign against climate scientists has been widely (and often badly) reported in the media so I think a comment is warranted.

Recently a person or persons unknown hacked into the files of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the UK and stole over a decades worth of emails between the unit and other climate scientists around the world. These private files were then released on the internet. Unsurprising, after mining through thousands of emails, the hackers and the so called climate "skeptics" managed to find a few phrases in a few emails which they could take out of context. This is unsurprising given the candid nature of email between colleagues and the huge volume of emails stolen. The usual charges of "fraud", "conspiracy" "falsifying data" etc then emanated out from the climate denial machine.

What made this round of accusations different from the week before was the extreme lengths it is clear some people are willing to go to smear climate scientists and drag science itself through the mud. The timing of this action is unlikely to be coincidental and instead part of an effort to disrupt the current global talks on preventing dangerous climate change. A number of media outlets have picked up on this story and unfortunately have failed to dig a little deeper to see whether the "skeptics" accusations hold water when the emails are viewed in context, or with a basic understanding of what the scientists were actually talking about.

Below I have posted two very good youtube videos which do dig deeper to explain these emails in an accessable and entertaining way.
Recommend watching.

1 comment:

  1. The "hide the decline" thing relates to the tree ring data set in the "hockey stick" stoush of a few years back. So this is not even a new issue, just another bogus attack on a data set that's one of the most extensively reviewed and investigated – and which is relatively incidental to the overall scientific findings.

    What's important to understand about this "revelation" is that no grand conspiracy is revealed. No plan for world government, no conspiring to frighten the world into paying climate scientists higher salaries, no grand scheme to make millions of data points produced by thousands of scientists line up contrary to nature.

    Meanwhile I have an article titled When Old Men Kill Their Children at Online Opinion and that has drawn some angry responses for some reason. Enjoy.

    I am doing a rerun of my how to talk to sceptics talk today (Wednesday 9 December, starting 5:30pm -- I didn't write the blurb, which is a bit stronger than my original text).