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‘Climategate’ Scientists Exonerated

February 25, 2011

An investigation led by the US Commerce Department has found no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of federal climate researchers whose emails were leaked in a debate over global climate change.

In late 2009, thousands of emails were leaked from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in the UK. In the days after the incident, allegations spread that the emails revealed the manipulation of scientific data in favor of manmade global warming.

While the controversy, dubbed “Climategate,” made headlines around the world, the investigations that have cleared the scientists of any wrongdoing have not had the same impact.

Thursday’s report from the Commerce Department’s inspector general is the latest to exonerate the scientists whose communications with the CRU were stolen and made public in 2009. The department reviewed all 1.073 leaked emails, but focused on 289 that involved scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA’s deputy undersecretary for operations, Mary Glackin, said she welcomed the report since “none of the investigations have found any evidence to question the ethics of our scientists or raise doubts about NOAA’s understanding of climate change science.”

An investigation in March 2010 by the British House of Commons’ Science and Technology committee released results of their investigation into the scandal. Their report also revealed that nothing in the 1,000+ emails conflicted with the scientific consensus that “global warming is happening and that it is induced by human activity.”

The committee concluded that the scientific reputation of the CRU “remains intact.”

Investigations by the National Research Council and Pennsylvania State University have also concluded that there was no indication of scientific misconduct.

The new report did question the handling of some freedom of information requests by NOAA and asked the agency to review the circumstances under which funds were transferred to the British researchers. Glackin said monies were used for workshops that assisted the governments of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam in improving their climate forecasting work.

Climate change has raised concerns in recent decades as data continues to show temperatures increasing around the world. Climate experts are concerned that continued global warming could affect agriculture and the environment, increase the spread of diseases and cause disruptions in society and the economy.

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