Category Archives: Science

The break in at CRU

The Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the UK was hacked and more than a thousand of its member's email messages were posted on-line.  The global warming deniers are jumping on the emails as proof that global warming is fraudulent.  Wired Magazine's Threat Level blog has an informative write-up on it.

RealClimate, a blog on climate science by climate scientists (some of whom had emails that were released), made some interesting points including:

More interesting is what is not contained in the emails.
There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George
Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid
of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of
the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our
socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords. The truly paranoid will put
this down to the hackers also being in on the plot though.

Instead, there is a peek into how scientists actually interact and
the conflicts show that the community is a far cry from the monolith
that is sometimes imagined. People working constructively to improve
joint publications; scientists who are friendly and agree on many of
the big picture issues, disagreeing at times about details and engaging
in ‘robust’ discussions; Scientists expressing frustration at the
misrepresentation of their work in politicized arenas and complaining
when media reports get it wrong; Scientists resenting the time they
have to take out of their research to deal with over-hyped nonsense.
None of this should be shocking.

It’s obvious that the noise-generating components of the blogosphere
will generate a lot of noise about this. but it’s important to remember
that science doesn’t work because people are polite at all times.
Gravity isn’t a useful theory because Newton was a nice person. QED
isn’t powerful because Feynman was respectful of other people around
him. Science works because different groups go about trying to find the
best approximations of the truth, and are generally very competitive
about that. That the same scientists can still all agree on the wording
of an IPCC chapter for instance is thus even more remarkable.