For those who would believe the detractors and naysayers about the importance of “climate-gate” or as the Huffington Post called it “swift-hack” I say this; read the original emails, in their entirety, and you’ll see that the alleged cover-up is nothing more than simple short-hand and debate within a research group.  Science is a way of looking at the world that demands skepticism and debate.  In every research program there are disagreements about what the data indicate.  Researchers argue about what hypotheses to develop and test, what data to collect, what methods to use to collect those data, what statistical tests to use and what their results mean.  None of the disagreements mean that there is disagreement between the researchers on the validity of the research, or the final results.  The disagreements mean that the scientists are conducting research the way they are supposed to.

Further, using words like “trick” or “manipulating data” does not mean that researchers, or research groups are attempting to fool anyone.  When scientists use terms like “trick” or “manipulating data” they are referring to techniques and short-cuts used to normalize data in such a way that they can be analyzed using statistical tests.  Statistical tests aren’t “one size fits all” and mathematically analyzing phenomenon that exist in the real world is not always easy.  Scientists often have to use “tricks” or “manipulate data” to make sure that tests are mathematically sound.  The problem with the word trick is that it is used in everyday language to indicate a negative action by one person or a group of individuals designed to fool someone else.  When scientists use the word, they are using it to refer to “tricks of the trade” or skills they have related to their work.  Those who want to call into question the integrity of the scientists conducting research on climate change have manipulated the meaning of the word “trick”, and in doing so have manipulated thousands around the world.

The irony of this “scandal” is that the perpetrators, who illegally collected those emails and distributed them on the net, are doing exactly what they accuse this group of researchers of.  The people behind this attack are telling the public half-truths about the “data” they’ve collected in an attempt to manipulate them.  Let’s understand that when it comes to whether or not climate change is real, among the scientific community, there is no scandal.  Global Climate Change is a real phenomenon, and the data is overwhelming that human activity has caused the majority of it and is accelerating it drastically.  This is not a conclusion that most of us in the scientific community have come to, based on what others have told us.  Most of us have taken the time to review the data, to look at the methods and the results.  This has allowed us to draw our own conclusions.  That’s how science works.

The scientific data back up what we are observing in our world, almost everyday.  Our planet is giving us a global wake-up call about our changing environment.  From melting ice sheets in the Antarctic, to rising ocean levels, to severe weather across the globe, to shifting seasonal patterns, we are witnessing the beginning of a transformation of our climate.  We have almost stepped over the precipice, into a strange world we will hardly recognize, but we haven’t yet.  There is still time for us to make a difference and slow down, and in some cases stop, or possibly reverse, the effects of climate change, but it will take bold action.  To halt this kind of activity will require our leaders to show the kind of courage and foresight that seems to be rare these days.  When everyone is consumed with polls and being re-elected, how can they possibly be bold, or courageous?  However, that’s what it’s going to take, and we have to elect and support leaders that will be bold.  Further, we, as citizens, have to change our behaviors in fundamental ways.  First, we have to stop looking for excuses and reasons to not believe what the scientific community is telling us.  Even if it hurts our bank accounts a little, or inconveniences us in small ways, we have to understand that climate change is real, and if we don’t do something about it, it threatens our existence as a species.  To put it another way, the very survival of our children and grandchildren could be at stake.

The longer we deny what the data is indicating, and look for ways to justify our lifestyles, the more we threaten the lives of our children and grandchildren.  We are being issued a global wake-up call.  Will we have the courage, the commitment and the cooperation necessary to answer the call?

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