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ClimateGate: NPR Sees Silver Lining

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

National Public Radio recently reported on the e-mails "stolen" from a British climate laboratory.

It started right off by letting listeners know, e-mails aside, that anthropogenic, or man-made, global warming and its consequences remain the "consensus" view. It provided no information on the number of dissenters, what they dissent about or whether the number of dissenters has grown.

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The piece said nothing about the e-mails' apparent effort to explain away the inconvenient fact about the lack of global warming over the past decade -- something inconsistent with the computer models used by the global warming alarmists. It said nothing about destroyed data. It said nothing about the possibility that this scandal (a word not used) may have resulted not from computer hackers, but a whistle-blower.

It never gave the listener any idea of the importance of the compromised Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the U.K. or of its influential role in promoting the "consensus" of man-made global warming. The NPR piece gave no sense of the gravity of these e-mails or whether they shed doubt on the very question of whether man's activity is causing global warming, to what degree and whether the alarmists who demand immediate and costly action are right to do so.

NPR failed to report that some of the scientists engaging in questionable tactics -- including using self-described "tricks" to explain away phenomena that go against conventional wisdom -- are some of the biggest names in the global warming alarmist community.

It said nothing about the amount of money the U.N. wants "polluting" countries to spend. It said nothing about the loss in jobs -- assuming the United States agreed to mandate huge cuts in CO2 emissions -- or whether the hit to our economy can be justified given what the compromised e-mails say about the scientists' own doubts.

The NPR piece said little about the apparent effort to stop scientific papers challenging the "consensus" view from getting into peer-reviewed journals. This allows contrary theories to be dismissed because, after all, they aren't reviewed by peers! Though it briefly mentioned "possible boycotts" (with no elaboration), the piece said nothing about the retaliation against legitimate journals that have published skeptical papers. The e-mails urge an effort by the global warming crowd to punish journals that publish skeptical papers by not sending their own papers to them, thus undermining the publications' credibility.

NPR played a sound bite from a professor who felt politics kept his skeptical paper from being published. The sound bite, however, was immediately countered by another sound bite from a scientist who dismissed the first as, in effect, paranoid. If the prof's paper was rejected because his theory "wasn't new" -- as the other scientist argued -- why wasn't the professor told this when his paper was repeatedly rejected, if only to defuse any conspiracy theory? We don't know because the NPR story never asked.

The piece never talked about professor Michael Mann of Penn State University. Apart from Al Gore, Mann is probably the most important voice in the Gore-bull warming world.

Scientific American magazine called Mann the "Man Behind the Hockey Stick" -- referring to the famous or, depending upon your point of view, infamous "hockey stick" graph that shows a huge recent increase in worldwide temperature, supposedly coinciding with a huge increase in CO2. The increase in CO2 is, again supposedly, primarily the result of man-made activity. The term "hockey stick" is used because the graph -- showing temperature over a long period -- looks like a hockey stick with its long flat shaft on the ground and the blade part sharply poking upward (reflecting a recent upward spike in temperature).

Mann's critics say he fudged the data to exclude or minimize the Medieval Warm Period (A.D. 800 to 1300), when the Earth's temperature was actually hotter than today. If man-made activity is heating up the Earth and will continue to do so with catastrophic consequences, how do you explain that 1,000 years ago, with no factories or autos and far fewer people, the Earth was actually warmer? The e-mails suggest that there may be at least something to the critics' charges.

One crosses the line from scientist to advocate when, if faced with conflicting or unexpected data, the scientist tries to get around it rather than to understand it. If data cause a re-examination of previously held assumptions, so be it.

The incurious NPR piece did almost nothing to inform its listeners of the seriousness of this e-mail scandal. It spun this as if a couple of kids carjacked a Lexus and went joyriding.


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