The Real Hoax Was Climategate

July 02, 2010 1:44 pm ET — Chris Harris

For nearly a decade, Sen. Jim Inhofe's (R-OK) biggest claim to fame has been his oft-repeated line that global warming is "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."

While Inhofe has been a consistent opponent of science, that's where his consistency ends.  In 2003, he conceded that the earth was warming, but denied it was caused by human activity and suggested that "increases in global temperatures may have a beneficial effect on how we live our lives."

In 2009, however, he appeared on Fox News to declare that the earth was actually cooling, claiming "everyone understands that's the case" (they don't, because it isn't).

Inhofe's battle against climate science kicked into overdrive when a series of illegally obtained emails surfaced from the Climatic Research Unit at East Anglia University.  The emails allegedly showed climate scientists had tampered with data and engaged in a conspiracy to falsify the science proving climate change.  The ensuing scandal, dubbed "Climategate," provided Inhofe with an opportunity to amplify his message

When the dubious reports surfaced about flawed science, manipulated data, and unsubstantiated studies, Inhofe was ecstatic.  In March, he viciously attacked former Vice President Al Gore for defending the science behind climate change, saying:

After weeks of the global warming scandal, the world's first potential climate billionaire is running for cover. Yes, I am talking about Al Gore. He is under siege these days. The credibility of the IPCC is eroding, EPA's endangerment finding is collapsing, and belief that anthropogenic global warming is leading to catastrophe is evaporating. Gore seems to be drowning in a sea of his own global warming illusions. Nevertheless, he is desperately trying to keep global warming alarmism alive.

Unfortunately for Senator Inhofe, none of those things are true.  One by one, the pillars of evidence supporting the alleged "scandals" have shattered, causing the entire "Climategate" storyline to come crashing down.  For instance:

  • After the hacked emails drew criticism, a panel established by the University of East Anglia to investigate the integrity of the research of the Climatic Research Unit wrote: "We saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit and had it been there we believe that it is likely that we would have detected it."
  • Responding to allegations that Dr. Michael Mann tampered with scientific evidence, Pennsylvania State University conducted a thorough investigation. It concluded: "The Investigatory Committee, after careful review of all available evidence, determined that there is no substance to the allegation against Dr. Michael E. Mann, Professor, Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University.  More specifically, the Investigatory Committee determined that Dr. Michael E. Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research, or other scholarly activities."
  • London's Sunday Times retracted its story, echoed by dozens of outlets, that an IPCC issued an unsubstantiated report claiming 40% of the Amazon rainforest was endangered due to changing rainfall patterns.  The Times wrote: "In fact, the IPCC's Amazon statement is supported by peer-reviewed scientific evidence. In the case of the WWF report, the figure had, in error, not been referenced, but was based on research by the respected Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) which did relate to the impact of climate change."
  • The Times also admitted it misrepresented the views of Dr. Simon Lewis, a Royal Society research fellow at the University of Leeds, implying he agreed with the article's false premise and believed the IPCC should not utilize reports issued by outside organizations.  In its retraction, the Times was forced to admit: "Dr Lewis does not dispute the scientific basis for both the IPCC and the WWF reports," and, "We accept that Dr Lewis holds no such view... A version of our article that had been checked with Dr Lewis underwent significant late editing and so did not give a fair or accurate account of his views on these points. We apologise for this."

Given his history of ignoring facts, there's little hope that this new information will change Senator Inhofe's mind regarding climate change.  But the rest of the world must know that Climategate, not climate change, is the real hoax.