ClimateGate Updates

Last night, the University of East Anglia announced that Phil Jones, a central figure in the e-mails and other documents disclosed last month, would temporarily step aside as head of the Climate Research Unit pending an independent review of the matter.  Penn State University has also announced an investigation regarding the conduct of Michael Mann, a PSU climate scientist who also features prominently in the disclosed correspondence.  More from the BBC and NYT.

On the commentary front, Reason‘s Ron Bailey thinks the affair is a “hot mess.”

Researchers at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia and their colleagues around the globe may have fiddled with historical climate data and possibly the peer review process to ensure that publicized temperature trends fit the narrative of man-made global warming—then they emailed each other about it. Now those emails and other documents have been splashed all over the Web. Revelations contained in the leaked emails are roiling the scientific community and the researchers may be in pretty serious trouble. But the real tragedy of the Climategate scandal is that a lack of confidence in climate data will seriously impair mankind’s ability to assess and react properly to a potentially huge problem.

I think his analysis is spot on, and I recommend reading the whole thing.

In other commentary, Megan McArdle has “become considerably more concerned” as she’s dug deeper into what the disclosed documents reveal, and Glenn Reynolds thinks it’s worth reminding ourselves how scientific inquiry is supposed to proceed.  Bret Stephens also recommends that we “follow the money” in order to understand some climate researchers’ motivations.  After all, if it’s relevant that a given climate “skeptic” received money from an energy company, shouldn’t we care that a climate researcher’s grants increased six-fold as global warming fears rose?  I think we should seek to evaluate arguments and analyses independently of the identities and interests of the authors, but what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Finally, in a little side note — both amusing and sad — could the claim that Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2035 been the result of a typo? Madhav Khandekar thinks so. It appears the real scientific estimate was for 2350.