From Piltdown man to global warming

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1912. The scene is a gravel pit in a small English village named Piltdown. A workman makes a grisly discovery of what appears to be a fossilized skull and jawbone. He subsequently passes the bone fragments to a local amateur paleontologist who determines them to be the jaw of an ape and the skull of a man. In other words, he had stumbled upon the long sought-after evolutionary missing link—a creature that is half-man and half-ape.

At least, that’s how it appeared. It wasn’t until 40 years later, after the discovery had greatly influenced the study of evolutionary theory, that it was revealed to be a hoax. The fossil was half-man and half-ape, but the jawbone of an orangutan had been deliberately combined with a human skull. So much for Piltdown Man.

Sometimes scientists make mistakes, get taken in by hoaxes or by data carefully crafted by overly-ambitious scientists. Sometimes the media takes science out of context to create a scientific theory that didn’t even exist.

Just two weeks ago, I wrote about the now-disproven link between the MMR vaccine and autism. There was no link cited in, or suggested by, the initial published paper. But the media and special interest groups somehow succeeded in spinning the data to reflect their own beliefs, not scientific knowledge. The global misperception that the MMR vaccine caused autism lasted 12 years and, although it was formally denounced this month, there is little doubt that the claim will persist.

Now, following a startling weekend admission by one of the leading authorities on climate change, we have to wonder how long it will be before current global warming theories go the way of Piltdown Man (and are revealed to have no scientific basis or, worse still, be a hoax) or the way of vaccine-autism link (where doubts will always persist about whether global warming really exists).

In a BBC interview, Professor Phil Jones conceded there has been no “statistically significant” global warming for the past 15 years. Admittedly, he doesn’t believe this is surefire proof that global warming doesn’t exist. There has been some warming (0.12 C per decade), but it isn’t statistically significant. Nor apparently is the cooling trend that has been evident since 2002. As such, Jones believes the lack of current warming is merely a blip in the midst of a long-term warming trend.

Until recently, Jones was director of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) that collects and analyzes raw data from weather stations around the world. It is one of the three primary sources of data for the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that has been at the core of almost all global efforts at combating climate change.

But that may soon change. In the interview, Jones made a second astounding admission—that the debate on climate change isn’t over. After years of referring to non-believers as skeptics and deniers, Jones now says, “This is not my view. There is still much that needs to be undertaken to reduce uncertainties, not just for the future, but for the … past as well.”

Jones’ admission is even more astonishing in light of the fact that just three months ago, thousands of leaked e-mails from the CRU revealed that Professor Jones and his scientist friends had attempted to prevent contradictory research from being published, enhanced their own climate data and withheld information—all in an attempt to foster the belief that the world was in a global warming crisis. In fact, one such e-mail stated, “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming . . . and it is a travesty that we can’t.” A 1999 e-mail from Jones stated that he had used a “trick” to “hide a decline” in temperatures.

The University responded by saying that it would make all data accessible as soon as possible, but as Jones now admits, some of that data is missing at best or, at worst, non-existent.

All of this, plus umpteen other data scandals from the IPCC reports (the ice on the Himalayas is melting; Holland is drowning, the Hockey Stick graph is a computer error, etc.) surely prove that some climate researchers have stepped beyond science into advocacy.

Holding to debunked science and making global policies based on debunked science benefits no one. It’s time to acknowledge the UN’s data is seriously corrupt and that global warming, as it has long been presented to us, may not be real at all.

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