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Continued: Peter Havanac: Global warming alarmists can't stand the heat

  • Article by: PETER J. HAVANAC
  • Last update: July 25, 2010 - 5:31 PM

The recent screed by James P. Lenfestey ("The truth: Still there, still inconvenient," July 19) was a classic example of how global-warming alarmists spin a story via selective filtering of facts and ad hominem attacks on so-called "deniers."

Lenfestey repeats the usual call for an end to debate over the entire question of global warming, citing the "scientific consensus." He seizes on one quote from the report of a British panel investigating the practices of English climate scientists: "The rigor and honesty of the scientists is not in doubt." He fails to mention numerous less-supportive findings, such as "there was unhelpfulness in responding to requests and evidence that e-mails might have been deleted in order to make them unavailable should a subsequent request be made for them. University senior management should have accepted more responsibility for implementing the required processes for [Freedom of Information Act] ... compliance."

The review panel was not "independent," as claimed. Muir Russell, its chair, is a former vice chancellor at the University of Glasgow. This should be a red flag; professional groups generally have a poor record of self-policing the behavior of their members. One of the panel's four members, Prof. Geoffrey Boulton, was for 18 years on the faculty of East Anglia's School of Environmental Sciences, which included the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) -- the source of the controversial "Climategate" e-mails. In December 2009, Boulton signed a petition that declared that the global climate records scientists at East Anglia "adhere to the highest levels of professional integrity." So much for any claims that the panel was open-minded and objective.

The Labor Party's Graham Stringer, the only member of the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology with scientific qualifications (a doctorate in chemistry), called the Russell report "inadequate" and said that Parliament needs to re-examine the Climategate affair thoroughly. Stringer said that Russell failed to address three key issues: (a) Why did the CRU delete e-mails? (b) Why did Russell (a nonscientist) conclude that the unit's work was reproducible when it refused to make the needed data available? (c) Why did the University of East Anglia fail to follow Parliament's recommendations for handling the inquiry and producing the report?

In the United States, Penn State University didn't even bother to pretend it was conducting an independent review of the alleged activities of Prof. Michael Mann regarding a plan with his East Anglia comrades to undermine a scientific journal that dared to publish three papers contradicting views held by Mann and other global-warming alarmists. Instead, Penn State performed an entirely in-house review that, not surprisingly, exonerated Mann.

Neither result should be unexpected. Both Penn State and East Anglia receive millions of government dollars in global-warming research funding. Any findings of significant scientific misbehavior by their employees would likely result in a dramatic loss of funding.

Not content to simply cherry-pick agreeable quotes from the report, Lenfestey engages in ad hominem attacks. Instead of dealing with the nuances and details of the Russell report, he veers off to criticize S. Fred Singer ("hypocrite") and Bjorn Lomborg ("pseudo-scientist") based on a couple of books whose objectivity and veracity is unproven.

This is somewhat amusing, since there are far more pseudo-scientists residing on the alarmist side of the debate; they are the ones who are misrepresenting the results of various scientific studies and attempting to create a climate of fear.

Finally, Lenfestey casts a large net to aggregate conservative talk-show hosts, journalists and several notable think tanks ("vehicles of opposition to mainstream climate science") and accuse them of naivite and deception. Is it likely that all these people are lackeys of the oil industry?

Perhaps the incessantly repeated global warming alarmist narrative demands that we believe this to be true, unlikely as it seems.

Peter J. Havanac, Blaine, is a retired meteorologist.

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