You may have read that a prestigious climate research organization (the CRU) out of the University of East Anglia in England was attacked by "hackers" and had a significant volume of emails between the scientists leaked to some climate change denial blogs.
The theft was discovered when the hackers attempted to sabotage realclimate.org to post the emails. This was thwarted, so the thieves evidently decided to send the emails to some friendly bloggers who eagerly posted them. RealClimate provides the definitive rebuttal to the farcical claims of the deniers:
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.
We're talking about leading climatologists talking behind the scenes in private emails, and somehow they never admit to any of the conspiratorial claims of the deniers all these years. Of course this means the deniers shout "see, this proves what they've been saying all along!"
Today, the story took a new twist as the attack shifted to New Zealand's government climate research group, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (or NIWA, and their response is found at that link) for "manipulating" some data which demonstrates the steady warming curve observed in New Zealand over the past 100 years. This attack is sourced to New Zealand's "Climate Science Coalition" (no link for them), which as Deltoid notes, "(Note: New Zealand Climate Science Coalition contains no actual climate scientists.)"
|Their claims are easily rebutted along the lines that this is a transparent, statistically acceptable technique for creating a continuous curve out of temperature data sets gathered at different altitudes. Go up a tall building and observe that it is colder than at street level. If you were trying to plot a temperature graph using some data from the top of a building, and some from the street, what sounds more valid; treating them as identical or trying to adjust one for the bias that the change in altitude introduces? I laughed when I read the denialist describing how he uncovered this crime:
To get the original New Zealand temperature readings, you register on NIWA's web site, download what you want and make your own graph. We did that, but the result looked nothing like the official graph. Instead, we were surprised to get this:
[image not reproduced, emphasis added]
See, they found a worldwide conspiracy to concoct non-existent climate change that is so incompetent as to provide a download link to the unaltered data proving it is all a sham. This is so like that time the CIA admitted they murdered JFK on the front page of their web site. Faux-pas! If you're going to fudge data, you fudge data, and only someone who takes independent measurements of the same phenomenon is going to be able to prove you've done something improper. You don't bother with publicly advertised statistical adjustments, you just go into your excel table, and alter the damn numbers to say what you want. After all, this would be very easy, it's not like the Exxon funded denialist industry ever bothers doing any primary science work like recording temperature and CO2 levels or drilling ice cores anyway. It's not like they typically have any scientists capable of even doing this sort of work.
This is the (international) right wing puke funnel in action, trying to mainstream a climate science scandal. It also reeks of a classic orchestrated PR disinformation strategy. They've dubbed the CRU-hack as "climategate", and so using their fabricated scandal, create an imagined link to the NIWA data adjustment as "New Zealand's Climategate" despite there being no connection whatsoever between the two. The idea could be that by laying the groundwork with the CRU hack, now the denialists are trying to dribble out "see, another lying climate scientist" stories ahead of the Copenhagen summit. Each story on its own is meritless, but in a death of a thousand cuts, the cumulative effect is to damage the public perception of climate scientists as sincere people.
The principle behind this has a plausible basis in psychology, where papers like this have found that negative information has a persistent effect on one's perception of a subject, even after that negative information is proven incorrect.
Moreover, the older basis of using false attacks was the knowledge that the people who see the initial attack, don't always see the rebuttal that disproves it. So 10 people hear the false charge, and 8 of them hear the rebuttal, leaving 2 who still believe the charge to be true.
This book is in my Christmas wish list. I believe it turns out that there really is a worldwide conspiracy to confuse the public about climate change in order to further the profit interests of a narrow few. It's just not the one the denialists yammer about, it's the one they're unwittingly participating in.
Climate change is the prime test of our generation. Tyler Durden complains in Fight Club that we have no great war. He's wrong, this is it. Expect more stories like this before Copenhagen.