Climate Researcher Database Hacked


The King of Climate Deniers, Sen. James Inhofe

Email communication has made us efficient--yes--but also short-tempered, imprudent at time, and sloppy. Need proof? Check out emails between climate scientists stored on servers at the University of East Anglia that showed not a plot but perhaps too much information-sharing on climate change between scientists. The server was hacked into and the emails--almost 20 years worth from prominent scientists--showed up on a Russian FTP.The result is a bonanza for climate change skeptics and deniers, but before they crow too loud I would advise them to actually read the emails which contain in some cases poor choices of words but not any real information that shows a conspiracy from scientists to cook the numbers.

The most damning exchange was explained by the NYT's Andrew Revkin:

In a 1999 e-mail exchange about charts showing climate patterns over the last two millenniums, Phil Jones, a longtime climate researcher at the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, said he had used a "trick" employed by another scientist, Michael Mann, to "hide the decline" in temperatures.

Dr. Mann, a professor at Pennsylvania State University, confirmed in an interview that the e-mail message was real. He said the choice of words by his colleague was poor but noted that scientists often used the word "trick" to refer to a good way to solve a problem, "and not something secret."

At issue were sets of data, both employed in two studies. One data set showed long-term temperature effects on tree rings; the other, thermometer readings for the past 100 years.

Through the last century, tree rings and thermometers show a consistent rise in temperature until 1960, when some tree rings, for unknown reasons, no longer show that rise, while the thermometers continue to do so until the present.

Dr. Mann explained that the reliability of the tree-ring data was called into question, so they were no longer used to track temperature fluctuations. But he said dropping the use of the tree rings was never something that was hidden, and had been in the scientific literature for more than a decade. "It sounds incriminating, but when you look at what you're talking about, there's nothing there," Dr. Mann said.

You don't have to be too conspiracy minded to find a link with this story to the upcoming climate negotiations. But if anything, the emails prove that over decades the science has become more conclusive that climate change is happening and is more dangerous than ever. We need action to save the climate, create jobs, and gain energy independence. Maybe, in some perverse way, this story will help by popularizing the lengths that skeptics will go to to continue business as usual.

Many of the scientists exposed have responded on RealClimate. Go there to read what they have to say.

More in Climate Deniers and Skeptics:
Out of Ideas, Senate Climate Deniers Go To Procedural Tricks
Verizon Apologizes for Sponsoring Climate-Denier Rally