"Of course there are gaps in our knowledge about Earth's climate system and its components, and yes, nothing has been made clear enough to the public," says Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeller at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and one of the moderators and contributors to the influential RealClimate blog. "But this climate of suspicion we're working in is insane. It's really drowning our ability to soberly communicate gaps in our science when some people cry 'fraud' and 'misconduct' for the slightest reasons."And there it is: the real damage done by those who are quick to claim misconduct or worse.
If it gets to the point where climate scientists need to retain a lawyer every time they publish a paper, there is going to be a lot less openness of the real state of the science, uncertainties and all. Perhaps there already is.
The usual suspects who immediately jump on any inconvenient result, who root around until they find something -- anything -- to whinge about, no matter how trivial or silly, are helping to shut down the science, not, as they like to claim, just criticiquing it. It goes without saying that there is, of course, the need for honest and direct scientific critique, but you have to wonder if any science can properly develop in an environment like this.
(*) But I do ask a lot of her.