We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I am not a professional climatologist but a common-sense fellow. Therefore I think I have more credibility than the average person who makes a living from "climate change." I enjoyed Coyote's Catastrophe Denied, but I think even he gave too much credence to existing data.
It seems to me that there is no accurate way to measure "global temperatures" or "global climate" other than via the troposphere. Tree rings and sediments and weather stations are ridiculous "proxies" for "global climate." Furthermore, there is no such thing as a "global climate" anyway.
The reason is that, at sea level, the earth consists of thousands of climates and millions of micro-climates - all on land undergoing constant fluctuation and all impacted by natural ebbs and flows and much of it impacted in some way by man and his land use, urbanization, etc (The earth's population was 1.2 billion in 1850, now it is 6.8 billion.) - and the ocean remains incomprehensibly complex with all of its oscillations and strange fluctuating vertical and horizontal currents.
I am not a climatologist, but I am always a skeptic about whatever experts tell me. I am a skeptic even about the 0.6 degree F change in the past 150 years. I think all of our temperature data is meaningless beyond its immediate locale - except for the troposphere data which we have only for recent years.
Science is never about truth. It's just about the theory and hypothesis du jour. That's what it's supposed to be.
No, science is about coming to a close approximation. No theory is absolutely correct about any phenomenon, the best you're going to get is a very accurate guess.
No universal climate? Not the way you're thinking. But, it is possible to arrive at a close approximation by averaging conditions. Southern California is said to be a desert because over all the region's precipitation is so low. But when you look at weather patterns and climate in greater detail, you learn just how misleading describing parts of SC as a desert are.
There were times in the past when the Earth's overall climate was cold and dry; Other times when it was warm and wet; yet there really has been no time when the average climate applied everywhere and at all times.
The climate is something we tend to over-simplify, ignoring or disregarding details that contradict what we'd like to believe. The CRU people decided they didn't want to deal with complications that messed with their world picture, and now their decision to "pit" contrary data has rebounded to their harm. Just as the decision of AGW skeptics to "pit"* evidence contrary to their conclusions will come back to haunt them.
Climategate is not the end of the story of Climate Change. It is the start of a chapter that will result in many being burnt, and not all supporting the AGW trope.
*Yes, I watch The Good Wife, a rather dark anti-authoritarian story.