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The email system of one of the world's leading climate researchers was just reported to be infiltrated by hackers. Protected information and email messages sent from climate scientists at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) began turning up on public websites today. Why the CRU was targeted is still unclear--though there's speculation that with the global climate meeting in Copenhagen nearing, opponents of climate action may be going so far as to be doing illegal reconnaissance.The CRU is perhaps the leading authority on human-caused climate change--they played a key role in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment Report. Which is perhaps the most respected, well-researched, and authoritative report currently available on climate change.
According to the BBC, "A university spokesman confirmed the [CRU's] email system had been hacked and that information was taken and published without permission." An investigation has begun, and the police have been notified. There's also an internal investigation underway.
As of now, there are only theories as to why the attack was carried out. But many point to the increasing tensions between climate change deniers and scientists in the lead up to COP15 at Copenhagen. The BBC reports that "Graham Cluley, a computer security expert, suggested that December's key climate summit in Copenhagen, which has made headlines around the world, could have increased the university's profile as a possible target among hackers." Which is certainly likely--there's no doubt that intensity is rising around the debate:
"There are passionate opinions on both sides of the climate debate and there will be people trying to knock down the other side," Mr Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos, told BBC News. "If they feel that they can gather inside information on what the other side is up to, then they may feel that is ammunition for their counterargument."Plenty of facts remain to emerge before we go spinning our climate change denier conspiracy theories, so stay tuned--things could get interesting.