What happened to the evidence for man-made global warming?

Cognitive dissonance is the uncomfortable feeling you get when confronted with two contradictory ideas. For example, how can one be skeptical about man-made global warming when there is so much empirical evidence? Climategate has provided a way for some to resolve this issue - simply discredit all the evidence for global warming. By focusing on suggestive quotes from a handful of emails by a small number of climate scientists, it allows one to write off the entire field of climate science as a vast conspiracy. This line of reasoning allows Senator James Inhofe to conclude "This whole idea of global warming, I'm glad that's over. It's gone. It's done. We won. You lost. Get a life!"

This attack on an entire field of science is unprecedented. As historian Spencer Weart puts it, "we've never before seen a set of people accuse an entire community of scientists of deliberate deception and other professional malfeasance. Even the tobacco companies never tried to slander legitimate cancer researchers." One might argue that the stolen emails are being taken out of context and often parsed without scientific understanding. Nevertheless, lest we get bogged down in the details, the broader picture is that Climategate narrowly focuses on the behaviour of a handful of scientists and suggestive inferences about a few pieces of climate data. Somehow this allows skeptics to ignore the entire body of scientific evidence, meticulously accumulated by scientists all over the world. This evidence includes the following independent observations that paint a consistent picture of global warming:

The Climategate controversy hasn't even touched upon the empirical evidence indicating that human activity is the cause of recent warming:

One cannot deny that some of the Climategate emails are embarrassing for the scientists involved. Their comments and behaviour shouldn't be swept under the carpet and more transparency in climate science is a good thing. However, using quote-mined emails to disregard an entire scientific field is not the behaviour of people genuinely seeking to understand how our climate works. It is, on the other hand, a stupendous act of cognitive dissonance.

UPDATE 8/12/2009: Things Break has emailed me a few other pieces of evidence I'd overlooked:

UPDATE 11/12/2009: H/T to Drosera for mentioning another study:

Posted by John Cook on Monday, 7 December, 2009

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