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Sarasota Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 11 years ago

MY VIEW: Global-warming e-mails matter

by: Rod Thomson

Quite the brouhaha has erupted over revelations that scientists at the heart of studying global warming have apparently been cooking the data and then trying to cover it up.

First, let me say I am agnostic in the church of global warming. Common sense dictates that throwing millions of tons of CO2 into the air cannot be a good thing and perhaps could have far-reaching consequences.

But common sense also reminds me that the Earth is huge, the sun is a much more powerful emitter and, most importantly, we know that the Earth has gone through many cooling and warming cycles in its history when there was no influence by man.

So, is it getting warmer? Probably, although that is not 100% definitive. The warmest recent year was 10 years ago, but the trend is generally upward. Is the warming driven by man? Not clear at all. And the data presented on this issue seems to be inordinately cherry-picked to fit a pre-conceived end.

Newsroom friends back in the 1990s told me the debate on man-made global warming was over while they sneered and walked away in disgust that such flat-Earth troglodytes would even question the conclusion of the enlightened.

Well, no. It was not settled then, and it is not settled now.

A growing petition drive from the scientific community — people who actually know something about the topic — is asking the United States not to take any drastic measures. The petition includes this statement:

“There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will cause, in the foreseeable future, catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”

That statement has been signed by 31,000 American scientists — 9,000 with doctorate degrees in climatology and related fields. These are people who should be in the know.

Those who claim there is a “consensus” on the issue have a different definition of the word than I do. And I’m not alone.

Last July, scientists from the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, revolted against the group’s editor when he wrote in their publication there was “consensus” on “anthropogenic climate change.” Some members called for his resignation for making scientifically unsound, political statements.

Now, all these tens of thousands of scientists may be wrong. Thousands of other scientists are quite convinced we are the problem and the need to act is urgent. The point is, there is huge uncertainty among highly qualified people.

The debate now is actually hotter than ever, which brings me back to the e-mails.

Most all of the people, on both sides, rely, to a degree, on data from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which gets a lot of data from the global-warming center of the world — the University of East Anglia, in England.

It was from that institution that we discovered that climate scientists at East Anglia who promote man as the cause of warming colluded to withhold scientific information; interfered with the scientific peer-review process to block dissenting scientific papers; manipulated data to make the case for global warming appear stronger than it was; and thwarted public discovery by deleting e-mails and raw data to prevent data from being revealed under the Freedom of Information Act.

That revelation is a world of hurt in the effort to convince enough people that man-made global warming is for real. Because those of us who are laymen and rely on the experts now find those experts are fixing the game, which suggests in many minds that they don’t have the evidence, they know they don’t have the evidence and so they have to cheat.

That is a huge undermining of the case for man-made global warming — that its backers must lie and deceive. The great problem for the actual truth winning out on this issue is that so many powerful people now have so much personally invested in man-made warming being true. It might be, but it is difficult to see if we will ever get to the truth.

And a word of warning on this issue. If you rely on your traditional mainstream media newspaper or television station for all of your information, you will be woefully under-informed. The bias toward man-made global warming has been deeply imbedded for many years. I watched it first-hand.

Needless to say, it was not the mainstream media that broke the e-mails story, and you have seen precious little about it in your local daily newspaper.

Rod Thomson is executive editor of the Gulf Coast Business Review. He can be reached at [email protected].


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