the so-called "climategate" scientists are not guilty of scientific misconduct. This is the fifth review to have reached the same conclusion.
Climate change skeptics, though, will not be deterred. As has always been the case with conspiracy theorists, they are happy to ignore the abundance of evidence that refutes their beliefs and focus instead on a few instances of fuzzy numbers, clumsy statements and less-than-perfect science. All it takes is a few embarrassing e-mails, taken out of context, for them to claim that the whole global warming house of cards is falling.
Even so, this controversy is a good reminder that scientific inquiry must be an open and honest process, so as to minimize these sorts of incidents which needlessly set back the cause of saving the planet. Dishonesty in any scientific endeavor undermines legitimate science, and is almost always counterproductive to the cause it is meant to serve.
In any case, there is a sort of selective blindness on the part of climate change deniers. They are eager, for instance, to hold up the powerful winter blizzards as evidence that global warming doesn't exist, but where are they during the summer heat waves, like the one sweeping through the East Coast right now? Sean Hannity is curiously silent on this front during the summer months.
We know that these trends -- hotter summers, and yes, bigger storms in the winter -- are indeed a predicted result of climate change. But we cannot hold the weather of any single day, in a single location, as proof or disproof of climate change. We must be careful not to point to these high temperatures alone as evidence of global warming, lest we make the same flawed interpretation. Anecdotal evidence is just not good enough. Rather, we must rely on global data, collected over many years; and luckily, the data is on our side.
Photo Credit: Mike Clarke.