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Energy / ENERGY

More Climate Change E-mails Hacked Before U.N. Conference

In this July 1972 photo provided by the U.S. National Archives entitled "Burning Discarded Automobile Batteries," black clouds billow from smokestacks in Houston, Texas. The photo is part of Documerica, an EPA project during the 1970s in which the agency hired dozens of freelance photographers to capture thousands of images related to the environment and everyday life in America. Modeled after Documerica, the agency has embarked on a massive effort to collect photographs from across the United States and around the world over the next year that depict everything from nature's beauty to humanity's impact, both good and bad. (AP Photo/U.S. National Archives, Marc St. Gil)(AP Photo/U.S. National Archives, Marc St. Gil)

photo of Coral Davenport
November 22, 2011

Just six days before the annual United Nations climate change summit, computer hackers have released another round of e-mails between climate scientists at the British University of East Anglia, in a move that appears designed to discredit climate change science.

The hackers or those behind them seem to be trying to recreate the fervor stirred ahead of the landmark 2009 climate change summit in Copenhagen, where world leaders hoped to forge a landmark global climate change treaty.

According to the University of East Anglia, the e-mails released on Tuesday are part of the same batch that was stolen years ago.  

 

The new ones also seem to indicate some disagreement among the scientists about their data, phrased in language that raises questions for readers.

“Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these further if necessary,” reads one message.

“I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run,” reads another.

"I find myself in the strange position of being very skeptical of the quality of all present reconstructions, yet sounding like a pro greenhouse zealot here!” reads a third.

Every independent governmental and scientific review of the first batch of East Anglia climate e-mails concluded that the scientists did not attempt to falsify climate science data, and that they did not undermine the foundations of climate change science.

However, many Republicans still point to the e-mails as a reason to resist any domestic action to curb climate change.

In the end, the 2009 Copenhagen summit collapsed without a binding treaty, in part because other countries questioned whether the U.S., the world’s largest historic greenhouse gas polluter, would ever act domestically to stop climate change.

And around the world, other nations point to the U.S.'s lack of action on climate change as the chief obstacle in forging any meaningful global pact. Negotiators going into the latest round of talks, set to start next week in Durban, South Africa, say they have no expectation of brokering a deal this year or likely in the coming years, given that the U.S. is almost certain not to pass domestic climate change legislation in the near future. 

Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and most vocal skeptic of climate science in Congress, leaped on the new e-mails as fresh evidence that the U.S. should not take action.

"Even before the Climategate emails were released in 2009, the so-called 'consensus' peddled by the IPCC was already shattered," Inhofe said. "Nevertheless, the Obama administration is moving full speed ahead to implement global warming regulations that will impose the largest tax increase in American history, significantly raise energy prices, and destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs."  

Climate scientists said the newest batch of e-mails do nothing to undermine established climate science.

“These leftover emails should be met with a collective yawn,” said Francesca Grifo, senior scientist and director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Scientific Integrity Program. “It’s time to condemn the real perpetrators in this story: the hackers who stole and released university property. The hackers and their allies are resorting to desperate measures to distract the public when our focus should be on how to respond to climate change.”

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