With the "ClimateGate" incident rippling out from the CRU data leak, people on the skeptic side are having a field day assaulting the bloody barricades of the professional credibility of a government sponsored climate research team.
Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.
I'm not. I know what it's like to merge data sets together to build a complete picture. I have empathy for what the people who're working at Hadley were doing; it's a lot of tedious, mind numbing work, prone to error and revision and re-doing. It's work that makes sitting down to file your taxes look like playing Sudoku for fun.
I can build a plausible chain of intent for everything the Hadley crew did. At no point does it involve "And now, now we shall perpetrate FRAUD!" with maniacal glee. I don't need to throw stones; they're getting enough to build a patio hurled at them.
I'd like to express an opportunity. We have a chance to educate on the fundamental science, rather than proselytize in sound bites. That window will close once this gets mulched in the news cycle, and exploiting that window is more important than smearing people. It's time to put away petty revenge, and teach.
We have a window where we can get an open, clear, and public debate on the climate going. In an effort to preserve their reputations, the Hadley people will eventually realize that their best effort is to present ALL the data, noise and all, and their methods of filtering it.
We need to let them have that opportunity. And then we need to establish that any data set that's out there, and the methods that are used to filter it, massage it, demonstrate how it works, are documented. I would recommend that we talk to the folks at code repositories like SourceForge about versioning information and data set check in.
That it takes FOIA requests to get data sets and methodologies released is a travesty in climate science. I propose that policy decisions can only be made based on data sets that are published with an open source or creative commons license, such as Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative, and that the source code of all statistical tools and all statistical methods used to interpret and analyze them be made open as well. We're all being asked to pony up; shouldn't we allow informed citizens to see what it is they're buying with their tax dollars?