A refrain we often hear is that we should listen to the scientists, when it comes to issues like climate change. And I agree.
Now the Climategate e-mails have been debated at some length. Poneke did an extensive blog post where he advocated that there was real cause for concern about what they unveiled. Some attacked him for this and said it was no big thing.
The UK Parliament is holding hearings on the e-mails, and one notable submission is from the Institute of Physics, representing 36,000 scientists.
Some quotes from their submission:
The CRU e-mails as published on the internet provide prima facie evidence of determined and co-ordinated refusals to comply with honourable scientific traditions and freedom of information law. The principle that scientists should be willing to expose their ideas and results to independent testing and replication by others, which requires the open exchange of data, procedures and materials, is vital.
That was the opening, and then:
There is also reason for concern at the intolerance to challenge displayed in the e-mails. This impedes the process of scientific ‘self correction’, which is vital to the integrity of the scientific process as a whole, and not just to the research itself. In that context, those CRU e-mails relating to the peer-review process suggest a need for a review of its adequacy and objectivity as practised in this field and its potential vulnerability to bias or manipulation.
The whole peer review process for climate science needs reviewing they say.
Fundamentally, we consider it should be inappropriate for the verification of the integrity of the scientific process to depend on appeals to Freedom of Information legislation. Nevertheless, the right to such appeals has been shown to be necessary. The e-mails illustrate the possibility of networks of like-minded researchers effectively excluding newcomers. Requiring data to be electronically accessible to all, at the time of publication, would remove this possibility.
The law sets out the minimum necessary disclosure, but ethical scientists should be disclosing far more than the minimum.
Now the practises disclosed by Climategate do not mean that there is not a link between greenhouse gas emissions and increasing temperatures. Few people argue that.
But what it does mean is that you can’t expect the nations of the world to commit hundreds of billions of dollars on mitigation efforts, when the key scientists involved in climate research have failed to follow good scientific practice with their data, and make it open.
The climate science “industry” needs to not ignore Climategate but adopt a universal policy of full and open access to all data, and to not treat those with different scientific theories as enemies.