Thursday, December 10, 2009

Climate Change With Purty Pitchers

Our friend the cephalopod has a great post up about climate change. It’s got lots of graphics and graphs and I don’t think it required any hacking into computers to retrieve, either.

Honestly, the whole “climate gate” thing amuses me greatly. Some tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists who believe climate change is a giant hoax cooked up by eeevul lie-brul scientists and tree huggers basically stole some e-mail communications and then went on a fishing expedition looking for evidence to support their crackpot theory.

In other words: the exact opposite of the scientific method. Scientists do not cook up a hypothesis and then go out and find evidence to support that hypothesis, ignoring all contrary data. Any good investigator knows that’s a surefire way to get a false view of the world. What scientists do is test their hypotheses, and make their conclusions available to review by their peers. The hypothesis is modified as the data dictates. Hypotheses that do not stand up to this rigorous testing are revised.

This particular "e-mail-gate" hypothesis has been debunked a hundred times already (here's a wonderful video that explains it all very simply). Basically, a lay person eavesdropping on a scientific discussion may be unfamiliar with certain terminology used in the scientific community. But cherry-picking certain quotes and statements because they appear inflammatory, with the express intent of deluding the lay public, is highly irresponsible.

I wonder who would be behind such a plan. I’m thinking .... thinking .....

Of course, it’s mere speculation on my part. We are still compiling a complete body of evidence.

So when a business group like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which has received millions of dollars in funding from ExxonMobil, decides to file suit to see e-mails from NASA climate scientists, let me be the first to say: No. You show us your private e-mails, so we can manipulate, extrapolate, cherry-pick, and exaggerate, and maybe we’ll talk.