Climategate Consequences: The Mann Report

When the Climategate story first broke, a lot of adherents of the skeptical view of anthropogenic climate change were mightily excited -- proclaiming it the "end of the global warming hoax." They have been disappointed because the breaking story wasn't immediately followed by the resignation of everyone involved, the termination of all U.S. action on cap and trade, and tar and feathers for Al Gore.

This was a little unrealistic. There are a lot of vested interests involved, a lot of money that depends on the CO2-driven AGW narrative, a lot of people with wealth and reputations on the line. That's a lot of inertia, and the narrative won't change course quickly.

That doesn't mean nothing is happening, however.

One of the people mentioned often in the Climategate emails is Dr. Michael Mann, a professor at Pennsylvania State University and the original first author of the famous "hockey stick" papers. When Climategate broke, there were a number of emails that seemed to show Mann was connected to the climate clique and some misconduct. This prompted what must have been a flood of emails. Penn State announced an inquiry into Mann's conduct just a few days later.

Today's breaking news is that the initial report on Mann's conduct has been released. The report itself isn't very exciting. If not a whitewash, it's at least a bit of a graywash, as they very carefully restricted the topics and questions they considered. But it's not a complete vindication for Mann, either (no matter what the Huffington Post says). The report concluded that Mann should be subject to further investigation, saying there was a real question whether Mann's conduct "may be undermining confidence in his findings as a scientist," or "may be undermining public trust in science in general and climate science specifically." In effect, the committee says there is evidence that Mann violated the social contract of science.

The report announces the formation of a university committee to investigate this further, and frankly, Mann could be in some trouble on this.

Consider some of the things we've seen as a result of the Climategate story: Mann apparently didn't actually delete emails when requested, but he also didn't say anything against it until after the request was exposed. He may not have directly manipulated data, but he didn't struggle when other people talked about it. He certainly participated in discussions of how to prevent skeptics like Steve McIntyre from getting access to data, and wasn't very forthcoming with his own data, which on the face would seem to violate Penn State policy. And while being wrong isn't scientific misconduct -- and it's a good damn thing -- the fact is that Mann's work has been seriously questioned on a number of occasions, as was documented in the Wegman report.

The Wegman report was, by the way, excluded from consideration by the initial committee at Penn State, which also didn't even communicate with Steve McIntyre. What this report really tells us is that even though they clearly tried to limit exposure as much as possible, the Penn State committee recognized there was enough controversy, and enough public attention, that they couldn't issue a simple whitewash.

Mann isn't the only scientist feeling some global warming, though. Dr. Phil Jones already "stepped aside" from his position as the director of the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU) when it first became clear that they had avoided releasing data under the freedom of information laws in the U.S. and UK.

More shoes have been dropping in the last few days for Jones. After investigation, the UK Information Commissioner's Office concluded Jones and others had broken the law, although they may be able to escape prosecution because of the restrictive statute of limitations. (Or maybe not.) It has also come out that Jones may have worked to conceal bad science from others that happened to be inconvenient.

Jones may avoid jail, but it seems unlikely he'll ever be back as the head of CRU.

Add to this that Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the IPCC, has been caught in a number of conflicts of interest. He pushed the disappearing glaciers story in order to get millions in grants. He is implicated in defending the conclusions after he knew they were unsupported, when it became clear that the IPCC reports misstated peer-reviewed science to suit its pre-defined conclusions and when IPCC authors admitted the results were slanted to have a political result. Pachauri has, so far, resisted calls to resign, but the calls continue, and it seems impossible that Pachauri won't develop a desire to move on to other challenges before too long.

So, after just a few months, we're seeing several of the major figures in the climate cartel are at least being subjected to public ridicule and exposure, and a pretty good chance of worse.

This kind of investigation takes much longer than people expect -- if you're old enough, you'll remember that Watergate dragged on for a couple years. The fact that we're seeing some people facing some real consequences already is a sign that we're still exploring just that snowy tip of the iceberg.

But what's under the water? There are lots of other areas that take longer to investigate. We've already seen that there were financial reasons why Copenhagen's one result was to protect the carbon exchange markets; but what other financial issues are there? How is the UN involved financially? Who stands to benefit the most from continuing the CO2-driven AGW narrative? We don't know the answers yet, but we can say one thing with certainty.

There is more to come.