When the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming held a hearing on the state of climate science on December 2, the Republicans were ready to focus it on the Climategate fraud scandal. And the first witness, President Obama’s science adviser, Dr. John P. Holdren, was ready to respond.
Instead of summarizing his written testimony in his oral remarks, Holdren read a prepared statement on Climategate. He said that the controversy involved a “small group of scientists” and was primarily about one temperature dataset. He said that such controversies were not unusual in all branches of science and that they got sorted out through the peer review process and continuing scrutiny. Holdren also said that openness and sharing of data was important, which is why the Obama administration is strongly committed to openness. In the case of the disputed dataset (the “hockey stick” graph), the National Academies of Science (NAS) undertook a thorough review of it and all other similar datasets and concluded that the preponderance of evidence supported the principal conclusion of the research. Holdren concluded by predicting that when the dust settles on this controversy, a very strong scientific consensus on global warming will remain.
Well, that sounds pretty plausible, but anyone who has followed Dr. Holdren’s amazing career knows that he is a master of plausible buncombe that disguises his “outlandish scientific assertions, consistently wrong predictions, and dangerous public policy choices,” as my CEI colleague William Yeatman has put it. Everything that Holdren said in his opening statement is incomplete and misleading. But explaining that is a job for another day. The point is that the alarmist establishment and environmental pressure groups have settled on these talking points in order to try to contain and sanitize the scandal.
When Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) and other Republicans on the committee challenged Holdren’s analysis of Climategate, the president’s science adviser responded by repeating that it was just a small group of scientists engaged in some narrow research. Any mistakes or misdeeds on their part couldn’t possibly compromise the scientific consensus, which is as strong as it is vast.
But when asked about some of his own extreme statements and predictions, Holdren replied that scientific research had moved on from the latest UN assessment report in 2007. The most up-to-date scientific research was contained in a report written by some of the world’s leading climate scientists and released last summer. Holdren mentioned and referred to this report, Copenhagen Diagnosis, several times during the course of the hearing.
I remember when Copenhagen Diagnosis came out because nearly every major paper ran a story on it. Global warming is happening even faster than predicted, the impacts are even worse than feared, and that sort of thing. I also remembered that the authors of Copenhagen Diagnosis included many of the usual conmen who are at the center of the alarmist scare. So I asked my CEI colleague Julie Walsh to compare the list of authors of Copenhagen Diagnosis with the scientists involved in Climategate.
I’m sure it will come as a shock that the two groups largely overlap. The “small group of scientists” up to their necks in Climategate include 12 of the 26 esteemed scientists who wrote the Copenhagen Diagnosis. Who would have ever guessed that forty-six percent of the authors of Copenhagen Diagnosis belong to the Climategate gang? Small world, isn’t it?
Here’s the list of tippity-top scientists who both wrote the authoritative report that Holdren relied on to support his statements and belong to the “small group of scientists” who are now suspected of scientific fraud:
Nathan Bindoff, also a lead author of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 Fourth Assessment Report (hereafter LA-IPCC FAR)
Peter Cox, also LA-IPCC FAR
David Karoly, also LA-IPCC FAR and the Third Assessment Report (TAR)
Georg Kaser, also LA-IPCC FAR
Michael E. Mann, also LA-IPCC TAR (the hockey stick scandal made him too radioactive to participate in writing FAR)
Stefan Rahmstorf, also LA-IPCC FAR
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, merely “a longstanding member of the IPCC.”
Stephen Schneider, also LA-IPCC FAR, TAR, and the First and Second Assessment Reports (SAR) plus two of the IPCC’s synthesis reports
Steven Sherwood, only a contributing author to IPCC-FAR
Richard C. J. Somerville, co-ordinating LA-PCC FAR
Eric J. Steig, no connection to IPCC listed
Andrew Weaver, also LA-IPCC FAR, TAR, and SAR
In the interests of space, I’ve left out all of their distinguished positions as professors, editors of academic journals, and heads of institutes. You can search for their Climategate emails here.
Then there are those Climategate figures who didn’t help write Climate Diagnosis, but who have been involved in the IPCC assessment reports. Here are three that come to mind:
Phil Jones, contributing author IPCC TAR
Kevin Trenberth, co-ordinating LA-IPCC FAR and SAR, LA-IPCC TAR, and an author of the summaries for policymakers for FAR, TAR, and SAR
Ben Santer, convening LA-IPCC First Assessment Report
Now, I wouldn’t want to jump to any conclusions here, but it kind of looks to me like the “small group of scientists” caught out by Climategate are pretty much the same people who make up the vast and strong scientific consensus on global warming and write the official reports that the U.S. and other governments rely on to inform their policy decisions. I’m sure Dr. John P. Holdren, President Obama’s science adviser, has a plausible alternative explanation. He always does.