The scientific theory behind global warming seems straightforward. Carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere reflect heat back to the Earth's surface. The more carbon dioxide in the air, the more heat that is reflected.
The revelation of a trove of damaging e-mails among leading scientists in the global warming community raises a troubling question in this regard: If the science is so straightforward, why on the warming Earth would scientists need to fudge the research to prove it?
Or, to quote from some of the correspondence in the emerging Climategate controversy, why would there be any need to use a "trick" to "hide the decline" in temperatures suggested by some data? Why would there be an urgent need to "delete any e-mails you have had" about data for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or to orchestrate a response to deny information requests because "IPCC is an international organization, so is above any national FOI (freedom of information act)?"
Why would the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, one of the world's premier institutions for climate research, purge the "original raw data" on which predictions of global warming are based and retain only the "value-added" — that is, the massaged — data?
And why would scientists feel compelled to prevent publication of studies that cast doubt on the relationship between human activity and global warming, "even if we have to redefine what the peer review literature is?"
These questions don't disprove global warming or man's contribution to it. But that turns the issue on its head.
Science relies on objective, empirical and replicable evidence to assess the validity of a hypothesis. It uses a process of peer review to scrutinize the quality of scientific information.
For years, Chicken Littles have warned of the ever-worsening, ever more impending doom of global warming whose source, out of a universe of variables, they have attributed to man. A scientific consensus exists about this theory. The issue, they claim, is settled.
What Climategate suggests is that the consensus is contrived and that the issue, rather than being settled, has been steamrolled. George Monbiot, a leading figure in the global warming community, wrote on his blog, "There is a word for the apparent repeated attempts to prevent disclosure revealed in these e-mails: unscientific."
In place of transparent, reputable science supporting man-made global warming, we encounter the dogma of global warmism. As with other dogmas, global warmism declares that doubters are deranged heretics and demands that non-believers, such as the more than 700 international scientists who dissent from the IPCC findings, be scourged.
The high priests of global warmism are meeting in Copenhagen, devising a catechism to massively reduce carbon emissions at a cost of trillions of dollars. In a regulatory edict in support of the faith, the Obama administration's Environmental Protection Agency has declared carbon dioxide — which is as natural to the atmosphere as oxygen and is produced by every living creature — to be a threat to human health.
Perhaps all of this is for the good. But to convince a skeptical world, global warming activists must rely on something more compelling than dogma and more convincing than the hocus pocus fear of carbon Armageddon. They must use science.
No one should be more dismayed by the sullying of the scientific method and the adulteration of scientific research on global warming than scientists themselves.