Does anyone know if the ACS has come out with an official statement concerning the "Climate-gate"-East Anglia debacle? As the world's largest professional society, I think the ACS should come out with and offiicial statement (see Financial Time of London link: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8aefbf52-d9e1-11de-b2d5-00144feabdc0.html). The UN is traying to explan this away as if it is nothing(http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/29/ipcc-climate-change-leaked-emails).
The ACS should come out and challenge this fraud for what it is. However, right now, the ACS official position is aligned with the UN position. Internal efforts to get a dissenting opinion heard have started, but I'm not sure they have done much good yet. For the integrity of science, we should speak up now.
I agree that we should say something about the hacked emails. With people calling what they revealed the "worst scientific scandal of our generation" (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/6679082/Climate-change-this-is-the-worst-scientific-scandal-of-our-generation.html), ACS is almost obligated to say something, and doubly so because we have an official position on the issue. I read plenty of blogs and blog comments last weekend - people are losing their trust in science, or at least, in scientists.
It really amazes me, actually, that ACS even has an official position, given how young the climate change field is, how complicated the system it is studying is, and how much political incentive there is to reach certain conclusions. From the latter alone, you could make the case that the ACS as a body shouldn't touch the issue, although I suspect that is precisely why we did.
If we do go on talking about climate (as we surely will) and act like nothing has happened, people who already suspect that "climate change" has very little to do with science are just going to see that belief validated. Because only if it had nothing to do with science would scientific misconduct be irrelevant. (On the flip side, I have been encouraged by how many climate scientists I've seen alarmed by this.)
And I wish more people used the ACS Network. It would be a great place to discuss this.
It is not that the emails were hacked that concerns me at all. It is the obvious fraud that the these supposed "leading climate experts" are guilty of.
I think that climate change has very little to do with science - it is politically motivated. Science has been co-opted to perpetuate the myth and that is what we should protest about.
I wish more people used the ACS Network too!
Certainly there is far too much politics in the field. Because I'm not a climate researcher myself, I'm hesitant to make statements about what the science, when it is done correctly and honestly, says. (I do see politicians doing obviously bad science on climate all the time, however!) I did appreciate a statement recently posted by Eduardo Zorita, who is in the Department of Paleoclimate at GKSS, and certainly more qualified to speak than most of us: http://coast.gkss.de/staff/zorita/
"The scientific debate has been in many instances hijacked to advance other agendas. These words do not mean that I think anthropogenic climate change is a hoax... But I am also aware that in this thick atmosphere -and I am not speaking of greenhouse gases now- editors, reviewers and authors of alternative studies, analysis, interpretations,even based on the same data we have at our disposal, have been bullied and subtly blackmailed. In this atmosphere, Ph D students are often tempted to tweak their data so as to fit the 'politically correct picture'. Some, or many issues, about climate change are still not well known. Policy makers should be aware of the attempts to hide these uncertainties under a unified picture. I had the 'pleasure' to experience all this in my area of research."
The hacked (or leaked) emails seem to provide evidence of his claims.
But don't get me wrong, Kelly. From what we've seen in these emails, from the statements of other researchers, and just from our daily monitoring of the news, it's pretty clear that climate change as science has become far too political. You don't have to be an expert on climate to be alarmed at what the CRU files reveal. (Zorita also said that "research in some areas of climate science has been and is full of machination, conspiracies, and collusion, as any reader can interpret from the CRU-files.") But I'm confident that there are plenty of good climate scientists out there, doing their best. Hopefully I'm not wrong about that.
But as far as a good many politicians are concerned, I do think climate change has very little to do with science. It's a means to ends they've had in mind for a long time, that's all they care about. That's why they've been so quick to dismiss this whole hacking/leaking incident. They aren't concerned about possible scientific misconduct. They aren't that concerned about the science at all.
Great discussion. Thanks for your comments (all). I wish more of our colleagues would join in.
FYI, there appears to be a post-CRU scandal effort to get the American Physical Society to put their own 2007 climate statement "on ice."
Interesting statement by Hal Lewis at the end:
"I think it behooves us to be careful about how we state the science. I know of nobody who denies that the Earth has been warming for thousands of years without our help (and specifically since the Little Ice Age a few hundred years ago), and is most likely to continue to do so in its own sweet time. The important question is how much warming does the future hold, is it good or bad, and if bad is it too much for normal adaptation to handle. The real answer to the first is that no one knows, the real answer to the second is more likely good than bad (people and plants die from cold, not warmth), and the answer to the third is almost certainly not."
Careful phrasing is something I've been thinking about too. I came across a statement from the UN climate chief where he said that man's contribution to global warming was the "most credible piece of science that there is out there." When you think about all the science you know, that statement sounds nuts. And maybe, when he said that, it was a politician talking, I don't know. But if he means merely that humans emit gases with "greenhouse" properties - well, THAT is pretty settled. But that on its own is also almost irrelevant. More quantitative questions, like Lewis brings up above, are the crux of the matter. And phrasing matters a lot.