Who Framed Climate Science?
NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies/Public Domain
Thank heavens that so-called 'ClimateGate 2.0' fizzed out faster than Herman Cain's presidential campaign. Dealing with obnoxious, fact-free allegations from overheated climate skeptics is a green blogger's nightmare. I suppose our work is made easier by the stark baselessness of the charges 'revealed' by the emails–six independent inquires (six!) have now cleared the scientists involved of wrongdoing.
But the fact remains: We don't know who the instigator was in the first place. Who's the hacker who sought to frame climate science? It's increasingly looking like the perpetrator who stole the emails (an illegal act in England) indeed has an activist agenda.
In November, just before another major international climate conference opened, this time in Durban, South Africa, another round of e-mails between the scientists were distributed online. Like those released in 2009, they were part of a trove taken from a computer server at the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in England; as before, the e-mail hijacker alerted the public to the e-mails in comments posted on various blogs. But November’s leaker left additional clues behind as well. Not much — an encrypted file and a note ending in what seemed to be a taunt — but enough to revive fervent speculation about what sort of person might be behind the stunt.Little is yet known, but the clues seem to indicate that it's the work of an activist anti-climate activist (duh). Read the whole Times piece for some fun he-said-she-said speculation as to who the perp might be (fun for climate wonks, anyways), none of which is really illuminating at all. That we know so little about the case two years after the initial breach lends the Climate Gate nonsense undue validity (we focused on the content of the emails rather than the actual crime; their theft).
The note, somewhat cryptic, seemed to suggest that efforts to fight global warming siphoned money from worthy causes like fighting poverty. “Every day nearly 16,000 children die from hunger and related causes,” it said. Then the note’s author seemed to dangle a challenge for hackers and programmers, saying that even though he was releasing 5,000 e-mails, “The rest, some 220,000, are encrypted for various reasons.”
“We are not planning to publicly release the pass phrase,” the note added coyly. The stunt was enough to jump-start a police investigation that had long seemed dormant.
It's high time to get a serious investigation underway.