THE Climategate scandal continues to unfold. The thousands of emails leaked to the internet from the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia reveal a tight-knit, influential group of scientists whose attitude to their profession is, to say the least, distorted.
It seems that a religious belief in disastrous climate change has destroyed their common sense and their appreciation of what is the appropriate way to carry out research.
Climategate may at least demonstrate that the concept of a scientific consensus with regard to global warming is nonsense. There may indeed be thousands of scientists contributing to the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but on any particular aspect of the overall story all have to rely on the word of the few scientists who are directly involved. And when the particular aspect concerns experimental data on which the whole story rests, the data purporting to show the world is getting warmer, then the consensus argument is indeed on shaky ground.
On the evidence so far, there is not much doubt that the group of scientists linked to the CRU has behaved fairly badly. Any individual email from the Climategate pile may be explained and excused as a stupid mistake of the time, but when all are taken together it seems obvious enough that there have been lots of violations of what might be called the scientific code. The most glaring examples concern efforts to keep basic sets of data out of the hands of people who may not be sympathetic to the official story about the disastrous nature of global warming. This, when the CRU is specifically paid to collate the data gathered by national meteorological services across the world, and to make the data available to outside scientists to check and to use.