An independent report into the climategate scandal has left the involved scientists mostly vindicated, with only a minor slap on the wrist.
The panel of inquiry, led by former U.K. civil servant Muir Russell, found that the scientists “rigour and honesty as scientists [is] not in doubt.” The report went on to say that they “did not find any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments.”
However the report did mention that they had found that there had “…been a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness” in failing to share their data with climate sceptics.
This is the third major investigation into the theft and spread of more than a thousand emails taken from a backup server at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit. The emails showcased climate scientists from the university badmouthing their critics, discussing ways to stonewall sceptics and how to freeze opponents out of peer-reviewed journals.
The scandal that followed put much of the IPCC’s assessments in doubt and gave rise to more hate directed the way of climate scientists who believe that humans have increased warming on Earth.
The full 160 page report can be downloaded here (PDF), which includes seven pages of summary introduction.
This is good new, and important news to report, being as it is the third (?) such, exonerating, investigative report.
I doubt the mass media will hype this news as much as the claims of "conspiracy", evidence suppression and the fudging of data sets. I'm sure the folks over at the East Anglia Climate Research Center, and every other global research center, have learned their lesson and the importance of sharing accurate information between colleagues. Scientists are sometimes slow to accept that the value of scientific research is often determined, not by the the density of their supporting data, but by the "density" of public confidence in the analysis.
When scientists (who are otherwise good at what they do) do not offer full transparency–a public service and duty–they risk losing the credibility of that public, and end up hurting public acceptance of a critical, truly global, issue.
The problem is also with the fact that scientists are cautious people, and don't like to make pronouncements of 'truth'. They tend to use phrases like: "We don't know all the answers." or "It is not certain." or "This is what the trend may indicate." or " We still have more questions."…all of these are truthful statements made by cautious researchers. But the public doesn't like ambiguity (our brains are designed to resolve ambiguity). We like definitive terms like "will be" and "does cause", etc.
We like out numbers neat. Sometimes scientists bend to the pressure to neaten their numbers.
Scientific uncertainty is part of the job. But it's also part of the mass media's job to explore this uncertainty. with an issue as politicized as Climate Change, this tension is all too easily exploited.
How to overcome it without sacrificing transparency and credibility….?