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Rick Edmund
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Rick Edmund

Rick Edmund is a United Methodist church pastor in Maryland. He resides on Smith Island, which has been impacted by rising sea-level and in 2007 testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment about climate change and the Chesapeake Bay. ALL POSTS

Science calls for us to be open minded

Q: Given the furor surrounding the pirated e-mails coming out of the University of East Anglia, what's the real takeaway lesson? Does it say more about the way renowned climate scientists work, or how climate skeptics have operated in shaping the public debate over global warming?

The scientists at the University of East Anglia who sought to curtail opposing thoughts were acting out of selfish reasons, seeking to justify their own positions on climate change. The same can be said for those who have used this forum to make personal attacks on members of this Planet Panel. The same can also be said for any of us who are not open to changing our minds on this terribly complex issue of world wide climate that we are just beginning to unravel.

The idea behind science as I see it is to examine what we know and to find out what we don't know. It follows then that all of us should be "skeptics" who are ready to question the data presented, but also ready to question our own positions and possibly change our minds if we see enough evidence that counters our current beliefs. Until we stop using selective science to back our own point of view, we will wallow in a quagmire of statistics delaying any actions that may need to be taken to reduce the impact that we are having on our planet. Science and our understanding of why we exist should drive our beliefs on this issue -- not the other way around.

The real lesson to be learned concerning these pirated emails is whether or not we as members of the human species are willing to lay aside any selfish actions of our own for the good of future generations.

By Rick Edmund  |  November 26, 2009; 9:19 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg     Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Selfishness? Selfishness? Are you insane? These are not children playing with toys. These are multimillionaires who have made their money by selling what granting agencies want to hear. Their so-called scientifiic opinions will determine whether or not the USA will squander trillions of dollars chasing a Quixotic fantasy.

We really must strive to focus on the big picture. Three main points are evident from the emails. The first point is that the CRU scientists spent the last ten years massaging data to fit preconceived notions of climate change. One of them, Trenberth, plaintively appealed to his fellows that they could not account for the lack of warming in the last ten years. That was an admission of total failure in their efforts to massage the data. Notice that they have nothing to say about advances in theory, revisions of theory or "you name it" about theory. Active scientists are engaged in theory. These are burned out old men riding a gravy train.

The second big point is that they conspired, over a period of years, to violate Freedom of Information laws in the USA and UK. And they conspired to delete data that was under an FOI request. That is criminal behavior that must be punished. Given the weight of the responsibility on their shoulders, they should be tried for treason.

The third thing is that they conspired to prevent publication of articles critical of their work and undermined editors who published those articles. Such behavior is typical of a communist cabal, as described in great detail by Bertolt Brecht in "The Measures Taken," which was published years ago.

Half of the people responsible for IPCC reports are CRU people. To permit the Copenhagen summit to go forward is highly irresponsible. We now know that it is based on bad science produced by bad men.

Posted by: JohnMarshall3 | December 5, 2009 11:08 PM
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When politicians ask the people to pay $ Billions to establish publicly funded institutions that are chartered to investigate and report on complex issues like climate science, the people expect the whole truth.

When there is evidence of social advocacy, manipulation of data, bias in analytical method, or sleight of hand in reported results, the people will not accept the policy recommendations, and will feel betrayed by both the scientists and the science. Such an impending disaster for science should be avoided at all costs.

While they don't know the science, most people are very experienced in the manipulation of numbers, a slick narrative, and a sales pitch that includes "trust me", "today only" and "press hard there are six copies". They've all bought used cars.

When politicians tell the people that a scientific concensus requires that they spend $ Trillions and drastically change their lifestyles forever or face certain global catastrophe, people expect a full and open discussion, including the opinions of experts from all sides of the issue. They won't accept the used car salesman's devious, high pressure sales pitch.

The public face of global warming has included limited disclosure of what's inside the climate science black box, accompanied by increasingly shrill threats that if action isn't taken right now, the world will be overwhelmed by horrific natural disasters.

The Hadley Center CRU disclosures, including the highly suspicious code comments about underlying data manipulation, e-mails describing the use of Mike's trick to hide the decline, and suppressing dissenting views appears a worse deception than a used car dealer's pitch.

So what are people to conclude about the quality of Hadley CRU, NOAA and the other climate centers work? And why does Huntington, Alabama come to different conclusions? And why does one of the most experienced climate scientists alive, MIT'S James Lindzen, disagree vigorously with the IPCC consensus and complain that it's seriously politicized.

This science needs to be vetted, in detail, by diverse qualified representatives in a full public forum. Special focus should be on the period from 1988 to 2010, where cooling is noted by many scientists as being outside the black box's 100 year projections from 1997.

Only then can we seriously consider $ Trillions and a radical lifestyle change that will punish Billions of people. Continued investigation, I hope, will lead us to that full assessment.

Posted by: Multikultur | December 5, 2009 4:18 PM
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"...The same can be said for those who have used this forum to make personal attacks on members of this Planet Panel."

It has become apparent that the level of discourse in the Washington Post forums (at least the ones I've looked at) has for the most part fallen into a deep, dark pit. What happened? I timidly start reading comments hoping against hope that there will be lively discussion, true debate, or at least basic civility in the exchanges. Instead they almost immediately devolve into a crazed battlefield and I despair of this ever changing- it has become the norm. This is really, truly depressing.

The take home message for me regarding the apparent attempt to manipulate scientific communication is pretty close to Pastor Edmund's. We are selfish when we stifle debate or exchange of ideas. If our own ideas are sound and worthy of consideration by the rest of the community, there's no threat! They will stand on their own and do not need to be defended with vitriol, name-calling, distortion, or manipulation. Guess it proves that the scientists who may have done so are just as human as the rest of us in these forums.

Posted by: ceblakeney | December 5, 2009 10:45 AM
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I agree completely with Rick Edmund in this.

Both Liberals & Conservatives have been guilty at times of only seeking evidence that supports their viewpoints. This atmosphere is counterproductive to really understanding complex systems.

For the pro Global Warming side: Any evidence that added to questions about the overall understanding of climate change was considered an obstacle to be avoided, dismissed, ridiculed or thwarted.

For the anti Global Warming side: Any evidence that Climate Change was not a completely understood phenomena became evidence that it was completely falsified. No matter how minimal, accurate, compelling or not.

The expression "Reasonable Doubt" comes to mind. A sense of self righteousness propels many on both sides to ignore any reasonable context for questions.

Posted by: gconrads | December 5, 2009 9:54 AM
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Posted by: umterps_no1 | December 3, 2009 12:35 PM
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Scientific beliefs can be warped by chicanery.

Scientists can be gullible and can follow the herd mentality.

It took 40 years to thoroughly debunk The Piltdown Man hoax which was based on cobbled-together "evidence."


Thanks to the internet, the sway of Al Gore, the "Meltdown Man," will be limited to a mere 20 years.

Posted by: dumbreddown | November 29, 2009 3:40 AM
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