I’ve spent more time than is probably healthy trying to get up to speed on the charges and counter charges flying around the blogosphere over the past week regarding the stolen ClimateGate emails. It’s been kind of fun; I have learned a lot about the science.
Still, as an interested layperson who is unable to fully evaluate the sometimes complex scientific back-and-forth or separate a legitimate scientific question from a spurious politically-motivated smokescreen, I stand by my thoughts from my last post about whom to trust. In an age when anybody can present anything on the internet and every claim has a counterclaim, the major scientific organizations—who are scientifically conservative by nature when their institutional credibility is on the line—have the last word for me.
Progressively louder blogosphere shouting doesn’t carry anywhere near the same value as when the American Meteorological Society weighs in:
The beauty of science is that it depends on independent verification and replication as part of the process of confirming research results. This process, which is tied intrinsically to the procedures leading to publication of research results in the peer-reviewed literature, allows the scientific community to confirm some results while rejecting others. It also, in a sense, lessens the impact of any one set of research results, especially as the body of research on any topic grows. The AMS plays an important role in the scientific process through its peer-reviewed publications, as well as through its many other activities, such as scientific conferences. The Society strives to maintain integrity in the editorial process for all its publications.
For climate change research, the body of research in the literature is very large and the dependence on any one set of research results to the comprehensive understanding of the climate system is very, very small. Even if some of the charges of improper behavior in this particular case turn out to be true — which is not yet clearly the case — the impact on the science of climate change would be very limited.
You can read their entire position statement on the science of climate change here, which ends with the following conservative (in my opinion) warning: “Prudence dictates extreme care in managing our relationship with the only planet known to be capable of sustaining human life.”
And whom should I not trust? Well, could it be any clearer?
Gets pretty funny when it turns to the actual scientific literature. And the English teacher in me loves hearing the phrase “febrile nitwits” used in a public forum.