My reflections on Climategate 10 years later, and also reflections on my reflections of 5 years ago.
Last week, an email from Rob Bradley reminded me of my previous blog post The legacy of Climategate: 5 years later. That post was the last in a sequence of posts at Climate Etc. since 2010 on Climategate; for the entire group of posts, see [link] Rereading these was quite a blast from the past.
While I still mention Climategate in interviews, the general reaction I get is ‘yawn . . . old hat . . . so 2010 . . . nothingburger . . . the scientists were all exonerated . . . the science has proven to be robust.’ I hadn’t even thought of a ’10 years later’ post until Rob Bradley’s email.
Now I see that, at least in the UK, the 10 year anniversary looks to be rather a big deal. Already we are seeing some analyses published in the mainstream media:
- The Guardian – Climategate 10 years on: What lessons have we learned?
- The Spectator – James Delingpole: My finest hour
Two starkly different perspectives. While I personally think Delingpole’s article is a superb analysis, it would not surprise me if the ‘establishment’ media in the UK is looking to rewrite history and cement the ‘exoneration,’ especially with this forthcoming one hour BBC special Climategate: Science of a Scandal, set to air November 14.
According to Cliscep (not sure what the source of this information is), McKitrick and McIntyre were both interviewed for the BBC special, but apparently McKitrick was cut completely. Lets see how they edit McIntyre. […]
Did climate scientists learn anything from Climategate?
Looking forward, should Climategate matter? Only if scientists failed to learn the appropriate lessons.
At the time of Climategate, I wrote an essay entitled On the credibility of climate research. I raised four key issues: Lack of transparency, climate tribalism, the need for improved analysis and communication of uncertainty, and engagement with ‘skeptics’ and critics of our work.
At the time, I was rather astonished by the failure of climate science ‘leaders’ (apart from the climagaters defending themselves) to make public statements about this and show some leadership.
Interesting insights into the ‘leadership’ void at the time of Climategate are revealed by a tranche of emails obtained by the CEI [link] dated the first half of 2010, involving scientists involved in Climategate emails as well as others who are regarded as the keepers of the IPCC ‘flame’ – e.g. Michael Oppenheimer, Steve Schneider, Gabi Hegerl, Eric Steig, Kevin Trenberth.
It is very interesting to see what they were concerned about in the aftermath of Climategate. They were trying to understand why Climategate was newsworthy, and they were mostly concerned about protecting themselves from the same things that Climategate emails revealed: attacks on scientists’ reputation, ‘skeptics’ getting mentions in the mainstream media, public perceptions of scientists’ credibility, how to convince the public that AGW is ‘real’ with 3 slides in 10 minutes, top 10 list of denialist mistakes.
Steve Schneider perceptively states: “A mega heat wave this summer is worth 3 orders of magnitude more in the PR wars–too bad we have to wait for random events since evidence doesn’t seem to cut it anymore with the MSM.”
In my post Climategate essays, I pointed the way for climate science out of this morass. How was this received by climate scientists? Michael Lemonick’s follow up essay Why I Wrote About Judith Curry to his article Climate Heretic: Judith Curry Turns on her Colleagues, provides the following insights:
“Simply by giving Judith Curry’s views a respectful airing, I’ve already drawn accusations of being irresponsible — and it’s valid to raise the question of whether giving her any sort of platform is a bad idea.