Science depends on good quality of data. It also relies on replication and sharing data. But the last couple of days have uncovered some shocking revelations. Computer hackers have obtained 160 megabytes of e-mails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in England. These e-mails, which have now been confirmed as real, involved many researchers across the globe with ideologically similar advocates around the world. They were brazenly discussing the destruction and hiding of data that did not support global warming claims. The academics here also worked closely with the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Professor Phil Jones, the head of the Climate Research Unit, and Professor Michael Mann at Pennsylvania State University, who has been an important scientist in the climate debate, have come under particular scrutiny. Among his e-mails, Professor Jones talks to Professor Mann about the "trick of adding in the real temps to each series...to hide the decline [in temperature]." Professor Mann admitted that this was the exchange that he had and explained to the New York Times that "scientists often used the word 'trick' to refer to a good way to solve a problem, 'and not something secret.'" While the New York Times apparently buys this explanation, it is hard to see the explanation for "to hide the decline."
And there is a lot more. In another exchange, Professor Jones tells Professor Mann: "If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone" and "We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind." Professor Jones further urges Professor Mann to join him in deleting e-mail exchanges about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s controversial assessment report: "Can you delete any e-mails you may have had with Keith re: [the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report]?" In another e-mail, Professor Jones told Professor Mann and Professor Malcolm Hughes at the University of Arizona and Raymond S. "Ray" Bradley at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst: "I'm getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data. Don’t any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act!"
Professor Jones complains to another academic: "I did get an e-mail from the FOI person here early yesterday to tell me I shouldn’t be deleting e-mails" and "IPCC is an international organization, so is above any national FOI. Even if UEA holds anything about IPCC, we are not obliged to pass it on." We only have e-mails from Professor Jones' institution, and, with his obvious approach to delete files; we have no idea what damaging information has been lost.
Another professor at the Climate Research Unit, Tim Osborn, discusses in e-mails how truncating a data series can hide a cooling trend that would otherwise be seen in the results. Professor Mann sent Professor Osborn an e-mail saying that the results he is sending shouldn't be shown to others because the results support critics of global warming. Time after time the discussions refer to hiding or destroying data.
Other global warming advocates also privately acknowledge what they won’t concede publicly, that temperature changes haven’t been consistent with their models. Dr. Kevin Trenberth, the head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and prominent man-made global warming advocate, wrote in an e-mail: “The fact is we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”
There were also been discussions to silence academic journals that publish research skeptical of significant man-made global warming. Professor Mann wrote: "I think we have to stop considering 'Climate Research' as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal." Other emails refer to efforts to exclude contrary views from publication in scientific journals. Pat Michaels, a climate scientist at the Cato Institute, told The Wall Street Journal: "This is what everyone feared. Over the years, it has become increasingly difficult for anyone who does not view global warming as an end-of-the-world issue to publish papers. This isn't questionable practice, this is unethical."
The New York Times argues: "The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here." -- This from the same news organization that regularly publishes classified government documents! Yet, these e-mails were covered by England's Freedom of Information Act and should have been released when they were requested. Hiding data, destroying information, and doctoring their results raise real questions about many American academics at universities such as Pennsylvania State University, University of Arizona, and University of Massachusetts at Amherst. When at all possible available data must be shared.
Usually academic research is completely ignored by the general public but in this case proposed regulations, costing trillions of dollars, are being based on many of these claimed research results. This coordinated campaign to hide scientific information appears unprecedented.
John R. Lott, Jr. is a columnist for FoxNews.com. He is an economist and was formerly chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission. Lott is also a leading expert on guns and op-eds on that issue are done in conjunction with the Crime Prevention Research Center. He is the author of eight books including "More Guns, Less Crime." His latest book is "Dumbing Down the Courts: How Politics Keeps the Smartest Judges Off the Bench" Bascom Hill Publishing Group (September 17, 2013). Follow him on Twitter@johnrlottjr.