10 January 2010

Climategate: Glantz versus Chase

UPDATE: Mickey points me to the comment thread related to his article which he characterizes as "tongue in cheek" -- I've copied a few of Mickey's additional comments below.

Mickey Glantz is a longtime friend and mentor. A few days ago he had this letter in the Boulder Daily Camera, based on a posting at his new blog:

Let`s be honest. We have all said things on e-mail ranging from serious to silly to stupid. We have all sent curt responses based on the fact that those receiving it understand the context of the abbreviated message. I am not condoning or excusing the sometimes dumb, sometimes uncaring and sometimes deceptive comments that have appeared in the so-called "Climategate" so-called "scandal." That situation will be sorted out by others, most likely investigative committees. Yes, the e-mails were illegally hacked. Nevertheless, they are now public. So, the public will read them and they have through the media. E-mailing has its consequences.

There is no question in my mind that the integrity of both the scientists and of e-mail security has been damaged. Others will assess that level of impact. But here I want to call for a level playing field. It`s a good faith challenge to the climate skeptics who are using "climategate" (also called "emailgate") to discredit the science of climate change, though they cannot discredit the impacts of a changing climate on people today and in the future.

I call upon the climate change skeptics ---- political, scientific and media ----to share with the world a block of their unbroken, years-long chain of e-mails about climate change. I am asking them to do this on a voluntary basis in order to show us that they are super human and do not share the human frailty of "loose lips" that the rest of humankind is subject to.

Doing so would provide outsiders an even broader context in which they can evaluate the content of the e-mails that had been hacked and released from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (involving scientists at Penn State and at NCAR). Let society be the judge about the words and motives of all involved in the climate change issue at the political, scientific and media levels, and let society be the judge on the merits of the finding and interpretation of the science of climate change.

After all, isn`t turn about fair play? Or what is good for the goose should be good for the gander as well, no?

In response, Thomas Chase, a professor and climate modeler at the University of Colorado (and former student of one Roger Pielke, Sr. and a valued colleague of mine at CIRES here at CU) had this letter to the editor, published yesterday:

Michael Glantz offers an interesting challenge to climate scientists whose opinions differ from the party line ("Skeptics, show us your e-mails"). I am one of those scientists. This is, however, an impractical challenge because there is no way to remove all personal information involving one's self and countless others.

However, because I teach and do climate research at the University of Colorado, I do assume all my e-mails are the property of the Colorado State Government and if necessary could be examined in depth by the appropriate officials. I am confident that there would be no e-mails, even if "taken out of context," which would indicate (as the Climatic Research Unit e-mails do) that I was trying to rig the peer review process or trying to keep contrary information out of international summary documents. But these are relatively minor issues.

The real challenge to all scientists is to actively challenge the validity of their conclusions by seeking and supporting independent reproduction of their results. This is the foundation of science: intellectual self-criticism. The single biggest scandal revealed in the emails from the Climatic Research Unit is the lengths they went to refuse outside requests to make data and methodology available over the course of years including discussions about resisting Freedom of Information Act requests. Something like this would never show up in my e-mails. I have always enthusiastically aided anyone trying to reproduce or refute my results.

That the work produced by the Climatic Research Unit is not completely and independently reproducible because the data and methods were actively hidden from public scrutiny indicates that whatever was occurring over time at the Climatic Research Unit, it was never related to science.

It is nice to see a few fresh voices entering this discussion. Climate science will be better for it, wherever you stand on the issues.


Some additional comments from Mickey from the Camera comment thread:
I agree that there is an arrogance of climate science. i worked with them for 34+ years. i refused to work on the ipcc after the first one in 1990 because of politics of scientific information and manipulation. BUT, i have come to believe in various ipcc findings about global warming. i know the naysayers and later called skeptics (and now a.k.a. deniers). my concern is how to get back to objectivity -- AND civility --- on the part of both sides. I fear it is not possible. science suffered from the exposure of these emails but i fear the scientific establishment instead of improving the waay it operates, made a circle with the wagons to protect itself rather than correct itself.