Thursday, February 11, 2010

Yahoos are going to protest "Climategate"

Warning: This post is a piece of political activism written on the author's behalf and do not necessarily represent the views of all the 3E-COE's members.

In case you haven't heard, climate change denialists in the United States are all atwitter over thousands of emails stolen from East Anglia University's climate program. One of their prime targets has been Michael Mann at Penn State University who some have alleged has fabricated conclusions by using a "trick" commonly used in sciences that use statistics. They call it Climategate!

Do they even understand what the science is? I can't tell. They should get into the peer review process of science journals and learn how climate science is actually done by climate scientists.

The editor of Nature, one of the world's two most prestigious and rigorous scientific journals (Science is the other) wrote the following:

Nothing in the e-mails undermines the scientific case that global warming is real — or that human activities are almost certainly the cause. That case is supported by multiple, robust lines of evidence, including several that are completely independent of the climate reconstructions debated in the e-mails.

First, Earth's cryosphere is changing as one would expect in a warming climate. These changes include glacier retreat, thinning and areal reduction of Arctic sea ice, reductions in permafrost and accelerated loss of mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Second, the global sea level is rising. The rise is caused in part by water pouring in from melting glaciers and ice sheets, but also by thermal expansion as the oceans warm. Third, decades of biological data on blooming dates and the like suggest that spring is arriving earlier each year.

Denialists are against this stuff because it is the clearest evidence out there that the following equation is true:
Fossil-fuel intensive industrial technological activity x Growth economy = Ecocide
The plain truth of this equation is too obvious to ignore as Nature's editor pointed out above. Michael Mann's statistical trick may be a way to play with data; that's what research can be: playing with data to see what's in it. But people want Mann's head on a platter.

Here at Penn State, a group of notable denialists, The Young Americans for Freedom, are going to protest. Good. I am eager to see this public display of intense ignorance and brow-beating. Here's what their press release says for the Climate Gate protest:

Do you care about academic integrity? Today, a group of three Penn State employees are supposed to conclude an inquiry into whether PSU professor Michael Mann violated university policy. If these three employees so choose, they can clear Mann of wrongdoing, and cut off any further investigation.

A PSU professor is involved in an international, climate-related scandal, and the internal inquiry involves only three people, all of whom are Penn State employees. No outsiders will monitor the proceedings. Does this seem right to you?

If the initial inquiry decides that Mann needs to be investigated further, a committee of five tenured Penn State professors will be appointed to do the job. Again, there will be no external oversight. Does this seem right to you?

Even if the Penn State investigation committee finds that Mann did wrong, they are under n! o obligation to inform the public—the only people they are required to inform are Mann’s donors. Again, does this seem right to you?

Penn State is the ninth ranked university in the country for receiving government research and development grants. Don’t you think they should be held to a high standard?

Come join us when we take a stand for honesty, integrity and truth on February 12th, at noon, in front of the Hetzel Union Building on Penn State’s University Park Campus (Pollock Road entrance). Your commitment and concern will make a difference! This demonstration is jointly sponsored by PSU Young Americans for Freedom and The 9-12 Project of Central PA.
High standard? Do they know anything about the people investigating him or for what the final charge is? I have met two of them: Nina Jablonski is an anthropology professor and head of Department of Anthropology at Penn State. She was on the Colbert Report too for her book Skin. and Alan Walker. Walker is a fellow in the National Academy of Sciences. He's one of the most vetted and admired anthropologists in the world writing on human evolution. You think they want science to suffer as a discipline? I think not. What external oversight committee do these people want? Exxon Mobil's front groups? The FBI? Lehman Brothers and all their "free market" friends?

I think I will try to make it. So will some of the folks from Eco-Action. If you go, bring some counter-signage and be prepared for a bit of spectacle. If you feel so compelled, please write letters to the editor of The Collegian decrying this as nothing short of denialist tragedy.

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