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Science Subpoenaed

Your editorial (“Science subpoenaed," May 13, 2010) about Attorney-General Cuccinelli of Virginia (my home state) demanding documents and e-mails relating to Prof. Michael Mann from the University of Virginia (my university) has raised my interest. I note first of all your choice of words. You refer to Michael Mann as “internationally respected.” I would use more neutral language, like “prominently mentioned in the EAU (East Anglia Unit) e-mails, aka Climategate.”

You state, correctly, that “no evidence was given of wrongdoing [by Mann].” But isn’t that the purpose of the investigation? Certainly the references in the University of East Anglia’s e-mails to “Mike [Mann]’s Nature trick” in order to “hide the decline [of temperature]” might lead one to think that there has been some skullduggery. It even suggests that you might have a conflict of interest, which has produced a certain amount of bias. Of course, I would never accuse you of that, Heaven forefend.

You then identify Mann with the “famous” hockey stick graph [Nature 1998], which did away with the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and also the Little Ice Age (LIA), from which the global climate is just now recovering. It may have escaped your notice that Mann has now discovered the existence of the MWP and LIA [PNAS 2008], which has bent the shaft of the hockey stick all out of shape. Well, who says that the age of miracles has passed?

Fortunately, the blade of the hockey stick is still there, showing rapidly rising temperatures in the past 30 years, thanks to the valiant efforts of Prof. Phil Jones. We are breathlessly waiting for expert scrutiny of his methods of selecting data from thousands of weather stations to arrive at a single number for “global temperature.” Perhaps he will reveal the algorithms he devised to “adjust and correct” the raw data. But unfortunately, he did not save the original temperature records; as the saying goes: “The dog ate them.”

You then state that the UEA e-mails were “stolen.” Perhaps they were; but until you have evidence you may be accusing an unknown whistleblower who resented what was being done to the climate data and to science. I won’t even mention what the resulting climate scares are doing to the economies of nations and the living standards of their populations. We will soon become more aware of these consequences.

I was wondering just how long it would take the editorial to suggest a parallel between climate skepticism and the tobacco lobby. Well done! It’s too bad that global warming cannot be shown to cause lung cancer, not yet, at any rate. But more research money may yet uncover such a connection. There’s still hope.

Atmospheric physicist S. Fred Singer is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, and former founding Director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service. He is author of Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate (The Independent Institute).

From S. Fred Singer
HOT TALK, COLD SCIENCE: Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate
Distinguished astrophysicist S. Fred Singer explores the inaccuracies in historical climate data, the limitations of attempting to computer climate models, solar variability, the effects of clouds, ocean currents, and sea levels on global climate, and factors that could mitigate any human impacts on world climate.

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