Photo via Catch the Fire
Here comes another headache--perhaps the biggest one yet--for the defenders of the vast scientific consensus view that climate change is caused by man. We're all well aware of the so-called 'Climategate' saga, which finally seemed to have been fading away. Unfortunately, it looks like it's about to get reignited, and we thought you should hear it here first: the university now famous for getting its email database hacked into, the University of East Anglia, has been ruled to have "breached data laws" by withholding information, and has violated the UK's Freedom of Information Act. But let me emphasize that this ruling has no bearing on the data itself--just the bad, no, illegal behavior of these researchers. The BBC has the story:
Officials said messages hacked in November showed that requests under the Freedom of Information Act were "not dealt with as they should have been" . . . In a statement, Deputy Information Commissioner Graham Smith said it was an offence under section 77 of the Freedom of Information act "to prevent intentionally the disclosure of requested information".So the gist of the story is that the University of East Anglia researchers did violate the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to supply requested information.
He said the requests were made by a climate change sceptic in the 2007-2008 period and as the case was more than six months old "the opportunity to consider a prosecution was long gone" under existing legislation.
I'm not going to lie, or try to spin this--this is bad. These scientists engaged in the illegal withholding of data. As a result, their actions have created a major setback for all those hoping for progress in addressing the growing threat of global climate change.
Because that's the one thing that none of this calls into question. None of the data itself has been manipulated. The science stands, and scientists worldwide--the vast majority of whom have not withheld information or behaved improperly--still agree vehemently that climate change is occurring, and that it is caused by man.
But there is no excuse for breaking the law, no matter how unfairly under assault from climate skeptics they felt they may have been. These actions have put the burden on all of us to seek the truth and present the data untainted by scandal. So I'm asking you, rational readers--because I know a torrent of angry or snide comments are on the way--look at the data, and listen to (the rest of) the vast majority of the world's scientists. The evidence for man-caused global warming is still very much there. If you need proof, see: RealClimate's Climate Change Data Source.
This is not a blow to the evidence of climate change, but it is a blow to the credibility of climate scientists. It's important to recognize the difference.