If you’ve read some of my previous posts, then you’ll likely have a flavor of my worldview and my life experiences. While there is no prerequisite reading needed to understand this post, background is usually useful in interpreting someone’s opinion, which is more or less what this post is about.
First, I generally agree that the earth has been slowly warming over the past several years, at least by the reported temperatures measured by scientists working in this field of study. I’m not sure that this fact is being challenged by many neutral observers. The controversy comes as people offer explanations for the observed warming. I have been generally skeptical in believing that the cause of warming should be attributed to man’s use of fossil fuels.
For the past couple of weeks, there has been increasing controversy over leaked emails from climate researchers, suggesting that data was fudged. In addition, there is alleged collusion between researchers to alienate scientists who hold opposing viewpoints. I don’t wish to argue politics, viewpoints, or science. I would like to comment on how important, and how very frail, is the element of integrity in this dramatic situation.
Whether it be the noble field of science, the sacred area of religion, or the fundamental area of marriage and family, integrity is the glue that holds everything together. I’m not sure what the truth will turn out to be in regard to climate science, but because of a breach in the integrity of the process, I’m not sure it even matters any more. The concepts of truth, morality, and nobility of thought and intent are the foundational building blocks of trust. Trust is such a fragile thing that when one crack appears, the whole structure is doubted. I have unfortunate experience in this area of life, and I’ve learned the hard way about the pain from loss of integrity.
I’ve been amused at how various scientists, politicians, and even regular guys like me have tried to explain away or smooth over this breach of trust. Some have said that it was really no big deal. Others have explained that nuances in expressions were unfortunate but benign. And the hard core members try to ignore the trust factor and focus only on the science.
There is but one way to remedy this situation. In fact, there is only one way to fix an integrity problem, no matter which arena of life is affected. Truth must come to the surface, no matter how ugly or dark. Integrity can never be restored outside the cleansing action of truth. If the data was manipulated, then say so. Admit it. Then let the data speak for itself. If proper scrutiny reveals that the data is valid, then the accusations are false, and faith is restored.
Of this I’m certain: the issues that have been raised about climate research will not go away on their own. There are plenty of politicians and others that have money, careers, and reputations on the line who will see to it. The debate over climate change will now be secondary. And it’s all because of the importance and fragility of that most important quality: integrity.