by Judith Curry
Two years ago on Thanksgiving, I was working on my Climategate essay An open letter to graduate students and young scientists in fields related to climate research. It was a topic of family discussion, and my 4 nieces and nephews (high school and college age) were all discussing and commenting on my essay. I was also involved in extensive e-discussions with Joe Rom and Andy Revkin, who were hosting my letter on their blogs.
Two years later, what is different? Well, since I mentioned Joe Romm, he now regards me as “the most debunked climate scientist on the planet.” The partisanship in the climate debate has become increasingly shrill. But there is a growing “middle” in the climate debate, that I think can be partly attributed to Climategate 1.0.
My reactions to this batch of emails? My first reaction was email fatigue. Then I was intrigued by several of the emails that were quoted, since they are of relevance to issues I have been writing or thinking about. My prediction is that the MSM won’t pay much attention to this, but that it will provide fodder for the climate blogosphere for quite a while.
Other comments on Climategate 2.0
While partisan bloggers on both sides are making the expected statements, this statement from Marc Morano is something that I can agree with: “The new emails further expose the upper echelon of the UN IPCC as being more interested in crafting a careful narrative than following the evidence.“
David Appel has a good post with some disturbing excerpts from the emails. I find this statement from Appel to particularly insightful: “Much of this is “inside baseball” stuff, but all of us eat that kind of stuff up and form powerful impressions from it. ”
Rob Mikolewski has another good article at the Capital Report New Mexico:
Right after I got my bachelor’s degree I worked at a university and saw how petty and vicious the squabbles can get among those in academia and Henry Kissinger once had a memorable quote about why that happens: “It’s because the stakes are so small.” But the stakes aren’t low here.
On a thread at collide-a-scape, Alexander Harvey has an insightful comment, some excerpts:
You can hear people being cautious, and sometimes downright rude, particularly concerning modelling. You even get people telling other people that they are flat out wrong (commonly statitistician criticising statistical approaches of others).
You will find the unspoken middle ground on display, This is the ground that the science community left largely publically undefended and where many of the sceptics are camped out. I think it quite shocking that this territory was largely left publically unoccupied by the science community. It is where the debate seems to take place internally, yet externally, in the public domain, the existence of that debate is denied or downplayed.
In the emails, you may find disagreements, but I think that there is more than that. Some, more, or many scientists are just plain sceptical about what can and cannot be determined.
The contrast between what they say to each other when it is just between themselves and the all seeing but forgotten videocam, and what those that choose to lead the debate say in public can be quite stark, in my opinion.
Keith, I really do think there is a story in this, that is not just interesting but in the public good. If you can persuade people that you wish to tell it, without sensationalising it, perhaps they would talk with you. People that have balanced views that might wish to express them.
If you can do this, don’t expect anyone “important” to thank you for it. Many would hate it. It amounts to muddying pools. Personally I think things need to get worse before they can get better, that there is a boil that needs to be lanced. Also that the current stasis is the time to get it out of the way. It is not like it could hamper policy decisions right now, as nobody seems to be planning on making any.
In terms of the science nothing much will actually change just its perception. Nothing much has actually changed for decades.
I think that there are some in the climate community that are trying to row back and express the greyness of much of the science. By grey I do not mean, whether the GHE exists, whether the temps are rising, or whether CO2 is a GHG, but what can and cannot be stated and with what confidence. Many dissidents get this, for which we should all be thankful, so do others. People that believe that treating people like adults is worth a try.
JC request to the hacker: Next time you release emails, please wait until AFTER thanksgiving (U.S. holiday).