The Sciences

Climategate's death rattle

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitJul 2, 2010 12:41 AM


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Hear that choking sound? That's the dying gasps of Climategate. The Pennsylvania State University's investigation into allegations of misconduct by climate scientist Michael Mann found him innocent, specifically saying:

... the Investigatory Committee determined that Dr. Michael E. Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research, or other scholarly activities.

Mann, as you may recall, was a key figure in the so-called Climategate fiasco, where leaked emails were purported to show scientists fixing data to make global warming evidence appear stronger. Since Day 1 of this I have been calling it a non-event, a manufactured controversy by global warming denialists trying to make enough noise to drown out any real talk on this topic. And time and time again I have been shown to be correct. This conclusion by the committee is yet another nail in Climategate's coffin. But let me be clear: that has almost no bearing on what the denialists will say or do. They will continue to beat this drum, have no doubt. Climategate may be dead, but the zombie attacks will continue. Case in point: I have written several times about Virginia State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who wants to waste taxpayers' money investigating the work Dr. Mann did while he was at the University of Virginia. UVa is fighting these charges. They petitioned a judge to set aside Cuccinelli's subpoena for records from that time. The Union of Concerned Scientists just put out a press release saying that Cuccinelli's response to that petition has serious and critical factual errors:

Cuccinelli's response acknowledges the existence of investigations that have cleared Mann and other scientists of misconduct charges stemming from emails stolen from a British university last year, claiming those investigations "speak for themselves." But Cuccinelli's response repeats misleading claims to justify his subpoena, despite the fact that the investigations he referenced debunked the claims he is making. Furthermore, he gets basic facts wrong about the content of the emails.

Wow. You'd almost think Cuccinelli has some sort of agenda he's pushing. As I've pointed out in the links above, Cuccinelli's investigation has all the hallmarks of a political witchhunt, and I strongly suspect these new conclusions clearing Mann of any academic wrongdoing will not stop the Attorney General. Nor will it stop the deniers at large. Expect the comments below to be filled with changing goalposts, poisoning of the well (something along the lines of "scientists shouldn't be investigating scientists", even though what they were investigating was Dr. Mann's scientific conduct), distractions, diversions, and just general noise -- anything to bury the cold fact that the scientists involved with modeling global warming did not cheat, did not fake any data, and the bigger issue that climate change is real. Remember, when it comes to deniers of all stripes:

Related posts: - Climate scientists cleared of malpractice by panel - Deniers abuse power to attack climate scientists - Climate change followup - UVa will fight climate change attack

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