November 22, 2009
Documents Raise Questions About Climate Change Validity
Tons of private emails and papers supposedly sent between several of the world's top climate scientists in the last 13 years were stolen by hackers and posted online.
The files were taken from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, a famous center that focuses on the investigation of natural and anthropogenic global warming.
The authenticity of the emails has not been established and those connected to the documents have no comment so far.
The emails were first pulled from the Internet onto a Russian server, and then sent to several websites. An anonymous statement was attached to the emails.
The statement read: "We feel that climate science is, in the current situation, too important to be kept under wraps. We hereby release a random selection of correspondence, code and documents. Hopefully it will give some insight into the science and the people behind it."
A spokesperson for the University of East Anglia quickly responded to the allegations, saying that: "We are aware that information from a server used for research information in one area of the university has been made available on public websites. Because of the volume of this information we cannot currently confirm that all this material is genuine."
"This information has been obtained and published without our permission and we took immediate action to remove the server in question from operation. We are undertaking a thorough internal investigation and have involved the police in this inquiry."
In one of the controversial emails, dated November 1999, a scientist noted that: "I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie, from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline."
This specific sentence is the target of skeptics, who take this statement as evidence of altering statistics, but nothing has been confirmed.
"It does look incriminating on the surface, but there are lots of single sentences that taken out of context can appear incriminating," Bob Ward, head of policy and communications at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, said to The Guardian in England. "You can't tell what they are talking about. Scientists say 'trick' not just to mean deception. They mean it as a clever way of doing something - a short cut can be a trick."
The emails have not hugely affected the large amount of evidence that backs the deduction that contemporary climate change is mainly caused by human doings, Ward said.
The emails are mainly about paleoclimate data, which rebuilds past climate figures by pulling information from ice cores and tree rings. "Climate change is based on several lines of evidence, not just paleoclimate data," Ward noted. "At the heart of this is basic physics."
Professor Michael Mann, head of Pennsylvania State University's Earth System Science Center, said: "I'm not going to comment on the content of illegally obtained emails. However, I will say this: both their theft and, I believe, any reproduction of the emails that were obtained on public websites, etc, constitutes serious criminal activity. I'm hoping the perpetrators and their facilitators will be tracked down and prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allows."
Prof Bob Watson, the chief scientific consultant at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs stated that, "Evidence for climate change is irrefutable. The world's leading scientists overwhelmingly agree what we're experiencing is not down to natural variation."
"With this overwhelming scientific body of evidence failing to take action to tackle climate change would be the wrong thing to do "“ the impacts here in Britain and across the world will worsen and the economic consequences will be catastrophic."
The controversial emails emerged weeks prior to the large climate-change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, meant to build the foundation for a new global agreement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and battle the ongoing climate change.
The timeline for the agreement has been plagued by the economic slump, which has put environmental topics in the background in a few countries.
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