- - Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Wesley Pruden’s column “The scam that will not die” (Dec. 17) and the editorial “Al Gore, soothsayer” the same day were on the mark in ridiculing James Hansen and Al Gore for their self-serving flimflammery: promoting the notion of human-caused global warming long after the idea had been discredited by empirical science. (I think we are currently experiencing the 17th consecutive year of no global warming.)

There is another individual who must be included in any accounting of perpetrators of this hoax: Michael Mann, a Penn State climatologist credited with the “hockey stick graph” showing an abrupt 20th-century temperature rise. This graph gave a scientific veneer to what otherwise might have been dismissed as politically motivated speculation derived from unreliable climate models. The temperature trends in Mr. Mann’s graph are now known to be wrong, having been arrived at through biased data selection and fudged computer algorithms.

Exposure of the professor’s trickery led to an investigation under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act and demands that the federal funds given to the University of Virginia while he was there be returned. At the time, the president of Penn State, Graham Spanier, promised to investigate the charges, and after an internal review, to no one’s surprise assurances were made that there had been no wrongdoing and no federal funds would be returned. (Note that this is the same Graham Spanier who is currently out on bail and was indicted for perjury and endangering the welfare of children in connection to the Jerry Sandusky scandal.)

An overly ambitious scientist manipulating data to achieve a desired outcome is unsurprising when fame and funding are in the offing. However, while bad politics primarily wastes only money, the damage when scientists promote falsehoods is more substantial. In a technical world, who do the lay public rely on if the purveyors of science cannot be trusted? Mr. Mann belongs on anyone’s shortlist of global warming miscreants.

Waldorf, Md.



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