A shout-out to Allen Brooks of Parks Paton Hoepfl & Brown, an energy investment baking firm, who spent 23 pages “musing” about the debate over climate change, which he refers to as “Climategate.” With the UN Framework Conference on Climate Change in full swing in Copenhagen, these musings are proving to be particularly timely.global warming

The recent spate of e-mails hacked from the computer at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Center (CRU) have already raised the issue of sound science, as some of them seem to imply that “concerted and supposedly coordinated efforts [were made] to prevent the publication of scientific data and analyses that challenge the global warming orthodoxy,” the report states.

Even more bizarre, a British court recently determined that this “orthodoxy” is equivalent to a religion. “In a case involving the termination of an employee who claimed that his strong moral beliefs about global warming forced him to live his life in a certain way that clashed with the demands of his job, the role of global warming orthodoxy was at issue,” the report states. “The employee was terminated for his inability to fulfill his job responsibilities, according to his employer. Justice Burton of the British court stated, ‘A belief in man-made climate change and the alleged moral imperatives is capable, if genuinely held, of being a philosophical belief for the purpose of the 2003 Religion and Beliefs Regulations.’ Some climate change critics would suggest that this is what global warming science has become – a religion.”

Given the lack of raw data, much of it destroyed because of computer storage capacity issues in the 1980s, it can be argued that evidence for man-made climate change is more faith-based than fact-based. One e-mail quoted in the New York Times read, “It’s Sunday evening, I’ve worked all weekend, and just when I thought it was done, I’m hitting another problem that’s based on the hopeless state of our databases. There is no uniform data integrity.”

So what information is being used? Some of it comes from indirect indications of temperature change such as tree rings and ice cores. While most of these data support the theory that temperatures declined in the 19th century and rose in the first half of the 20th century, the tree ring data actually shows a sharp decrease in temperature over this time period.

“Because of this data conflict, Dr. Phil Jones, the head of the CRU, removed the later tree-ring temperature-derived data and replaced it with direct thermometer readings when preparing the temperature graph that was used for the cover of the 1999 report of the World Meteorological Organization and was designed to show that temperatures in the past several decades were the warmest in the past millennium,” Brooks writes. “No one was ever told of this data shift, and the line on the graph suggests one continuous data source. The shift in data is done so well that only a blown-up chart shows the termination of one data source and the start of another.”

Is this gross negligence or something more sinister? Brooks notes that part of the e-mail discussion from the CRU discusses how to avoid the release of data under the US Freedom of Information Act and how to keep secret the fact that the UK has a similar law. “By working diligently to prevent disclosure of data and computer codes that underlie the climate models producing the cataclysmic forecasts, these scientists have done great harm to their efforts,” he writes.

This is truly troubling. The oil and gas industry is stuck in a terrible rut here. Many industry folks are scientists by training and understand the rigorous scrutiny that accompanies any new findings in the scientific realm. Yet to argue against climate change is tantamount to saying the Beatles are bigger than Jesus.

Let’s hope that nothing is rotten in the state of Denmark this week.