The context of Climategate

Defenders of the climate scientists whose embarrassing e-mails have cast doubt on their work are saying that the messages are taken out of context. Well, Steven F. Hayward supplies the context in a fascinating article on the whole fiasco and what it means.

Basically, the principles were the researchers responsible for the famous “hockey stick” graph that shows global temperatures as being essentially flat for the last millennium, then shooting up in the 1990s. But this model ignores the Medieval Warming Period beginning in the year 1000 (in which Greenland was apparently actually green, with data from tree-rings and other sources suggesting that the pre-industrial Middle Ages were actually warmer than today). The hockey stick graph also ignores “the Little Ice Age” from the 16th century through the 1850s.

Climategate has to do with researchers trying to make the Medieval Warming Period disappear. The e-mails record the “hockey team” trying to suppress that data. They also record climate scientists admitting that the hockey-stick graph has problems. We also see evidence of scientists using selective data to prove their pre-conceived theories and leaving out evidence that doesn’t fit. The attempts to sabotage their critics by manipulating the peer review process did not involve just climate change deniers, but respected paleo-climatologists. The article also shows how the Climategate crew are refusing to share their data, which in some cases has apparently been destroyed to evade British Freedom of Information Act requests. That flies in the face of the scientific method, in which evidence must be subject to continued testing and replication.

HT: my son Paul