The debate about global warming has been enlivened by the release of e-mails to an from the University of East Anglia. This was an involuntary release - someone hacked into their computer.
The issue is whether or not global temperatures have been rising because mankind in all his activities is producing increasing amounts of carbon dioxide, which acts as a greenhouse gas. If this hypothesis is true (and only 41% of the UK population believes it) then the Copenhagen conference which aims to reduce carbon dioxide production is more important than even the current financial crisis. There is an alternative hypothesis which states that fluctuation in global temperature is a natural phenomenon and that it has happened in the past and may well happen in the future. Warming sceptics like Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit have held that the data being presented by various authorities (including NASA) have been doctored to produce graphs that support the warming hypothesis (the famous 'hockey-stick' graph).
The facts that the Thames froze over in the seventeenth century and that grapes were grown in northern England in Romans times are not reflected in the hockey stick graph. I have not read many of the e-mails and I don't intend to - it is outside my field of expertise - but those I have read are alarming. They seem to suggest that there has been a conspiracy to massage the data to eliminate the cold spell in the seventeenth century and make it appear that temperatures were stable until recently. There has certainly been a conspiracy to circumvent the Freedon of Information Act. Now this might have been that they genuinely did not want the data to be in the hands of someone like McIntyre for fear that he would cherry-pick from it, but from the tone of the e-mails that I have seen it appears that it was the climate scientists at East Anglia who were manipulating the data. There are a huge number of emails, so there may be more to come.
My own position on anthropogenic global warming is one of mild scepticism. Scientists are human and I have seen enough scientific fraud to believe that no-one is above manipulating data. When all the climate journals are controlled by people of the same opinion, a little healthy scepticism is not out of place. Carbon dioxide is released from solution by warming that solution - take a bottle of soda pop from a fridge and you will see what I mean. The graphs seem to me to show that CO2 levels rise after a rise in temperature, not before. This would be what one expects if there were a lot of CO2 dissolved in the sea. CO2 is also a growth factor for plant life. There are a lot of blue-green algy in the Pacific. So vast are the oceans of the earth that I would have thought that they had ample buffering capacity to deal with the small amount of CO2 produced by mankind, which is only 7% of the total production.
But then, I am not an expert in this field, just a bit scepticical about what scientists tell me.