Hit & Run

It's Not Exactly "Climategate" But ….

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The email revelations from the British Climate Research Unit sure have provoked a lot embarrassed spinning by proponents of impending catastrophic climate change. For example, Australian Broadcasting Online offers these choice observations from global warming activist, Australian of the Year (2007) and Copenhagen Climate Council chairman Tim Flannery:

A few days ago computer hackers stole private emails and research documents from the University of East Anglia.

In one of the leaked emails, respected US climatologist Kevin Trenberth admits that scientists cannot account for the lack of global warming to date.

"The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't… Our observing system is inadequate," the email says.

Climate change sceptics are hailing the emails as proof the research data has been skewed and suppressed.

But Dr Flannery says the scientific community knows enough to say greenhouse gases cause global warming, and that humans are responsible.

"The thing is we deal with an incomplete understanding of the way the Earth's system works, we know enough to say as the IPCC said that greenhouse gases cause warming," he said.

"They are 90 per cent-plus sure that it's caused by humans, we can go that far.

"In the last few years, where there hasn't been a continuation of that warming trend, we don't understand all of the factors that creates Earth's climate, so there are some things we don't understand, that's what the scientists were emailing about."

Dr Flannery says scientists are working to find out how the whole system works.

"These people (scientists) work with models, computer modelling. When the computer modelling and the real world data disagrees you have a problem. That's when science gets engaged.

"What Kevin Trenberth, one of the most respected climate scientist in the world, is saying is, 'We have to get on our horses and find out what we don't know about the system, we have to understand why the cooling is occurring, because the current modelling doesn't reflect it'.

"And that's the way science progresses, we can't pretend to have perfect knowledge, we don't."

He says science works through a robust interchange and testing of ideas that can look messy when you are in the middle of it.

Hmmm. Data not agreeing with model predictions. Very interesting. And of course, Flannery is right, science does work through "a robust interchange and testing of ideas." But interchanging ideas about how to hijack some aspects of peer review and by trying to suppress the work of researchers with whom one disagrees? Messy indeed.