Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Climategate Was a Hoax

My hometown paper the other morning published an op-ed from Victor Davis Hanson crowing about how climate change was now a dead issue.  Hanson is supposed to be this well-respected academic (Fresno State classics scholar, Hoover Institution, etc.) but this was amateur hour.  Naturally he dredged up the canard about the earth cooling over the past ten years, which I ranted about previously.  We also got complaints about how Al Gore has a big house. (Note to skeptics: no one cares about Al Gore. He's not the king of climate change.)

I wouldn't've commented on it except that Prof. Hanson also felt no qualms about continuing to slander honest scientists.  Referencing Climategate, he claims that climate scientists were "manipulating scientific evidence" -- fighting words, basically, in the scientific community.  But he makes no mention of the six (6!) independent investigations that cleared the scientists of any scientific misconduct. (Check out this extremely informative page from UCS which explains exactly what Climategate was all about and what the investigations found.)

Sometimes it seems like these fact-free memes will just continue to circle the globe for decades and we'll be reading the same thing in 2037.  But this op-ed came out shortly after the Berkeley group's highly publicized re-analysis of the surface temperature records, one of the key pieces of evidence for global warming that had been under question thanks to the Climategate emails.  For added drama the group's leader, Richard Muller, had been a pretty vocal skeptic of some parts of climate science.  But clearly he let the data speak for themselves and reported a finding almost exactly identical to the previous 3 data reconstructions (NASA, NOAA, HadCRU).

It was a pretty big black eye for climate skeptics and anyone who really thinks that scientists were "manipulating" the data.  Bad luck for Prof. Hanson, I guess, although I doubt he cares.  The money quote from Dr. Muller: "the biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously by other teams in the US and the UK."  And the money graph (via the BBC), comparing the new results with the older three:

The four curves are remarkably similar and they all go up.  Maybe this will mark a turning point regarding the media's coverage of Climategate -- a talkingpoint of equal and opposite weight, as it were.  We can only hope.