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Climategate
New York: December 07, 2009
By John Stephenson

The science seemed sound. Manmade pollution was leading to global warming, causing the melting of the polar ice cap and the possible flooding of coastal cities. The United Nations in 2007 concluded that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal” and that “most” of the temperature increase was due to human activity. But that conclusion was based almost exclusively on now-controversial data from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU).

Inside the Climatic Research Unit, on the campus of the University of East Anglia in the U.K. , is a treasure trove of climate change data. Researchers have meticulously accumulated a wide-ranging array of data—everything from the thickness of Greenland 's ice layers to Siberian tree-ring counts and thermometer readings dating back centuries.

Now on the eve of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, disturbing new evidence has come to light that the data and the conclusions coming from CRU may have been fudged. And while CRU is not the universe of the climate change debate, it is the epicenter and the repercussions from the current scandal could threaten to derail the Copenhagen conference.

Computer hackers breached the security at CRU and posted on the web hundreds of pages of e-mails which clearly showed that the scientists had manipulated data to ensure that it supported their conclusions in the most dramatic fashion. They appear to have engaged in a pattern of blacklisting critics and even managed to destroy all the primary data which was the basis for their conclusions and forecasts.

Rather than act in a completely objective fact-based manner, it appears as if the science of climate change has been badly bungled. The e-mails have exposed a culture at CRU of pettiness, turf wars and highly politicized decision making, where the data was made to conform to the pre-ordained conclusions. The deletion of primary source data is unforgiveable and is worse than any dog-ate-my-homework excuse a school boy would ever give. It would appear that the science of climate change is nothing better than a branch of climate politics.

The repercussions to the scandal are enormous. It now seems as if the United Nations created a doomsday scenario out of information carefully compiled and massaged to convince the world that a climate crisis was at hand. One scientist from CRU was quoted as saying “It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that this has set the climate-change debate back 20 years. With the basic conclusion that the world is in fact warming, now in doubt, many skeptical nations are back-tracking on their commitment to climate change. The Saudis plan to argue in Copenhagen that carbon-emission controls are pointless given that the scandal has nullified the existence of a human link to climate change.

Right wing groups have been quick to seize on this opportunity by denouncing the findings as self-serving propaganda. In Hollywood , California , a group of conservatives has launched a campaign to strip Al Gore of his Academy Award for his movie An Inconvenient Truth.

Even without the current scandal, the science of climate change is debatable. We all know the difficulty that the local weatherman seems to have in predicting tomorrow's weather let alone in extending that to an entire planet. In forecasting global warming, a scientist has two huge obstacles to overcome; insufficient data and an enormous number of variables which can impact the results. The dirty little secret of climate science is that to get any significant level of government funding for climate research, the scientist had best be of the view that the world is in fact warming.

So what are the implications for investors if the planet isn't warming and climate change turns out to be a whole lot of hooey? Investments such as Canada 's oil sands, which have been blacklisted by so-called green funds could be back on the table. As I point out in my book, Shell Shocked: How Canadians Can Invest After the Collapse , Canada 's oil sands offer enormous oil resources in a part of the world that is politically stable.

Cooler weather would also mean a shorter growing season. And a shorter growing season means that an already stretched food supply is likely to get a lot tighter. Investors looking to profit from coming food shortages should consider investing in fertilizer or farm equipment companies.

StephensonFiles is a division of Stephenson & Company Inc. an investment research and asset management firm which publishes research reports and commentary from time to time on securities and trends in the marketplace. The opinions and information contained herein are based upon sources which we believe to be reliable, but Stephenson & Company makes no representation as to their timeliness, accuracy or completeness. Mr. Stephenson writes a regular commentary on the markets and individual securities and the opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. This report is not an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security. Nothing in this article constitutes individual investment, legal or tax advice. Investments involve risk and an investor may incur profits and losses. We, our affiliates, and any officer, director or stockholder or any member of their families may have a position in and may from time to time purchase or sell any securities discussed in our articles. At the time of writing this article, Mr. Stephenson may or may not have had an investment position in the securities mentioned in this article
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