Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Climategate: Gordon Speaks


I've been reading my always excellent blog sources, so I'm ready to comment on Climategate ....
Climatic Research Unit e-mail hacking incident - Wikipedia
... Unidentified persons allegedly hacked a server used by the Climatic Research Unit, posting online copies of e-mails and documents that they found.[5] The incident is being investigated by Norfolk police[18] and involved the theft of more than 1,000 e-mails and 3,000 other documents,[9] consisting of 160 MB of data in total.[12] ...
For my own record, here's my take:
  1. UK researchers have a very innocent approach to email. In the corporate world we write email the way I used to write my medical notes -- to be read in a courtroom. Remember Lomasney chaps.
  2. If the released emails are the worst the hackers found, there's not much of a story here.
  3. I'd make a solid wager that five years from now the climate consensus will not have materially changed. The science will stand. (I would love to be able to invest in a Climate Futures Market. I hope we get one.)
  4. Scientific fraud is not rare. So it must always be considered. There is, however, stronger evidence of fraud among the solar forcing research community and among the denialist astroturfers.
  5. Research data is money, power, tenure, fame, grants, hot babes (ok, 5/6) -- it is the currency of science. I sympathize with scientists who want to hold on to their data, though not with the Journals that may impede open sharing. In this case, however, we are talking about research with inestimable implications. In the case of Climate Science, we must insist on an unusual degree of access to research data. There's already progress but sharing is not natural for most scientists. Encouragement will be needed.
  6. I'm looking forward to learning who the hackers are, and what their motivations were.
  7. There's room for rational disagreement about the risks and approaches to global climate change. The denialist community is making it hard to engage in that dialog. That may be one of the more pernicious effects of their quest for fame.
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