OPINION WSJ.com NOVEMBER 28, 2011
A new batch of leaked emails again shows some leading scientists trying to smear opponents.
By JAMES DELINGPOLE
Last week, 5,000 files of private email correspondence among several of the world's top climate scientists were anonymously leaked onto the Internet. Like the first "climategate" leak of 2009, the latest release shows top scientists in the field fudging data, conspiring to bully and silence opponents, and displaying far less certainty about the reliability of anthropogenic global warming theory in private than they ever admit in public.
The scientists include men like Michael Mann of Penn State University and Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia, both of whose reports inform what President Obama has called "the gold standard" of international climate science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The new release of emails was timed to coincide with the second anniversary of the original climategate leak and with the upcoming United Nations climate summit in Durban, South Africa. And it has already stirred strong emotions. To Rep. Ed Markey (D., Mass.), for example, the leaker or leakers responsible are attempting to "sabotage the international climate talks" and should be identified and brought "to justice."
One might sympathize with Mr. Markey's outrage if, say, the emails were maliciously rewritten or invented. But at least one scientist involved—Mr. Mann—has confirmed that the emails are genuine, as were the first batch released two years ago. So any malfeasance revealed therein ought to be blamed on the scientists who wrote them, rather than on the whistleblower who exposed them.
Consider an email written by Mr. Mann in August 2007. "I have been talking w/ folks in the states about finding an investigative journalist to investigate and expose McIntyre, and his thus far unexplored connections with fossil fuel interests. Perhaps the same needs to be done w/ this Keenan guy." Doug Keenan is a skeptic and gadfly of the climate-change establishment. Steve McIntyre is the tenacious Canadian ex-mining engineer whose dogged research helped expose flaws in Mr. Mann's "hockey stick" graph of global temperatures.
One can understand Mr. Mann's irritation. His hockey stick, which purported to demonstrate the link between man-made carbon emissions and catastrophic global warming, was the central pillar of the IPCC's 2001 Third Assessment Report, and it brought him near-legendary status in his community. Naturally he wanted to put Mr. McIntyre in his place.
The sensible way to do so is to prove Mr. McIntyre wrong using facts and evidence and improved data. Instead the email reveals Mr. Mann casting about for a way to smear him. If the case for man-made global warming is really as strong as the so-called consensus claims it is, why do the climategate emails show scientists attempting to stamp out dissenting points of view? Why must they manipulate data, such as Mr. Jones's infamous effort (revealed in the first batch of climategate emails) to "hide the decline," deliberately concealing an inconvenient divergence, post-1960, between real-world, observed temperature data and scientists' preferred proxies derived from analyzing tree rings?
This is the real significance of the climategate emails. They show that major scientists who inform the IPCC can't be trusted to stick to the science and avoid political activism. This, in turn, has very worrying implications for the major international policy decisions adopted on the basis of their research.
That brings us to the motives of the person calling himself "FOIA" who leaked the emails onto the Internet last week.
In his introductory notes, he writes: "Over 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day. Every day nearly 16,000 children die from hunger and related causes. One dollar can save a life. . . . Poverty is a death sentence. Nations must invest $37 trillion in energy technologies by 2030 to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at sustainable levels. Today's decisions should be based on all the information we can get, not on hiding the decline."
For the service he has performed in pursuit of this larger end, FOIA deserves not opprobrium but gratitude.
Mr. Delingpole is a contributing editor of the Spectator and author of "Watermelons: The Green Movement's True Colors" (Publius Books, 2011).