EDITORIAL: Global warming’s ‘dirty laundry’

University of Virginia should disclose climate emails

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Those who say man alone is responsible for overheating the planet frequently dismiss any role the sun might play. As can be seen in an ongoing freedom-of-information lawsuit leveled against the University of Virginia (UVA), sunshine is precisely what the heralds of climate catastrophe fear most of all.

The American Tradition Institute (ATI) is going after 12,000 emails sent or received by Michael E. Mann while he was on the staff of the publicly-funded university. Mr. Mann is famous for coming up with one of the “tricks” used to “hide the decline” in global temperatures. On Wednesday, ATI released a small selection of emails it hopes will convince a Prince William County judge that full disclosure of the rest is in the public interest.

In March 2003, for example, a trusted colleague of Mr. Mann’s emailed to find out how the UVA professor arrived at his conclusions. Mr. Mann admitted he was missing crucial data and “can’t seem to dig them up.” Though he was working on this project on the taxpayers’ dime, he provided the information for the researcher’s personal use only. “So please don’t pass this along to others without checking w/ me first,” Mr. Mann wrote. “This is the sort of ‘dirty laundry’ one doesn’t want to fall into the hands of those who might potentially try to distort things.”

David Schnare, a scientist and lawyer who runs ATI’s Environmental Law Center, said he was shocked that anyone claiming to be a scientist wouldn’t keep a detailed log of his research activities. “In science, there is no dirty laundry,” Mr. Schnare told The Washington Times. “Science progresses by proving to yourself that you were wrong, that your hypothesis was in error. Every time you’re wrong, it means you can cut off some area of research and start on a better one.”

The institute has about 200 emails that it obtained from a number of sources, including the Climategate leaks. The messages show preachers of imminent climate catastrophe like Mr. Mann weren’t interested in the kind of open discussion that allows scientific progress. Various exchanges included warnings to “PLEASE DELETE” the email after reading.

Mr. Mann insists disclosure would have a chilling effect. “Allowing the indiscriminate release of these materials will cause damage to reputations and harm principles of academic freedom,” he wrote in an August letter to UVA.

As important as it is to protect Mr. Mann’s feelings from being hurt, trillions of dollars are at stake with climate-policy decisions being made based on his work. From cap-and-trade to the Kyoto treaty, it’s not enough to make a choice based solely on a trust that this secretive cabal of climate scientists is telling the truth. The taxpayers paid Mr. Mann; they deserve to know exactly what they were getting for their money.

So far, the Climategate disclosures have unmasked shoddy methods in service of a leftist public-policy agenda. Compelling release of all communications - dirty laundry and all - is the only way to provide the full context. Let an informed public decide on its own whether they’ve been hoodwinked by charlatans, or that the sky really is falling.

The Washington Times

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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