Don't hold your breath expecting climate change data to be revealed

I've been following the 'hacked emails' story - the climate change 'storm' - since it first broke.

Those of us who follow websites like Climate Audit and other science oriented sites were not surprised. People who do, although they had no proof until now, knew something of the sort had had to be going on.

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They knew their freedom of information requests were being blocked at every turn. They knew they found it exceedingly difficult to get anything published in academic journals. And they had already proved over and over that there were errors with data selection and methods in publications by University of East Anglia (UEA) scientists and their colleagues.

Steve McIntyre, who edits Climate Audit, together with his colleague Ross McKitrick, was responsible for almost single-handedly demolishing the ‘science’ behind the so called hockey stick temperature graph, which became such an icon for the global warming catastrophe movement. He has been requesting information from UEA for years without success.

In what sounds like a turn for the good and seems to be a victory for increased transparency, the University has now agreed to publish its raw temperature data.

This sounds great. But take notice of the qualification to this statement, namely that this will only be after they have received agreement from their associates in other countries who have provided data under restrictive agreements.

Unfortunately this has been the major argument used by the UEA to deny McIntyre and others freedom of information and other requests in the past. The university’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Trevor Davies released a statement saying: ‘Some countries may refuse permission due to the economic value of the data.’

So, when the hubbub dies down, will they fall back on this excuse again? I don’t think McIntyre will be holding his breath waiting for the data.

The mentality amongst these scientists which has led to this circling of the wagons is so self-defeating. They complain that all these information requests are very time-consuming and that sceptics just want to find fault with their work. If they published their data and methods in the first place, people would have no need to make these requests.

Sceptics do want to find fault, that much is true. But that is how science is supposed to work. Each new theory or development only stands up as long as it withstands rigorous testing. So, blocking access to data only achieves a slowing down of much-needed progress in climate science.

Unfortunately, by their approach, these scientists seem to fail on two grounds. They appear to have both preconceived ideas as to what the outcome should be and also believe that their work should be above criticism.

These people believe their own propaganda so much that they cannot even accept the real world observations of what global temperatures have been doing in recent years.

In one email, climatologist Kevin Trenberth, Head of Climate Analysis at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research, wrote: ‘The fact is we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.’ Do you reckon their science is settled?

With attitudes that entrenched, the likes of Steve McIntyre will not be holding their breath waiting for the promised raw temperature data from the UEA.

  • Mike Thornhill is interested in understanding real climate science.

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