User:Wikidemon/Climategate v2

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In process of paring down to avoid redundancy / overlap with existing article

"Climategate" is a controversy that arose in November, 2009 following the unauthorized publication of electronic files on the subject of climate change research that had been obtained from a server used by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, England.

Hacking incident[edit]

Unknown persons anonymously published, through multiple websites, thousands of e-mails and other documents archived over the course of 13 years,[1] which the university and police authorities have since said were illegally obtained.[1][2][3] The material comprised more than 1,000 e-mails, 2,000 documents, and commented climate study source code,[4][5][6] covering a period from 1996 until 2009.[7] Some e-mails included discussions of how to combat the arguments of climate change skeptics, unflattering comments about skeptics, queries from journalists, drafts of scientific papers,[8] and discussions that some pundits and commentators said advocate keeping scientists who have contrary views out of peer-review literature.[9] Most of the e-mails concerned technical and mundane aspects of climate research.

Origin of controversy[edit]

Need to further source and expand

A controversy arose involving a small number of e-mails, particularly those sent to or from climatologists Phil Jones, the head of the CRU, and Michael E. Mann of Pennsylvania State University (PSU), one of the originators of the graph of temperature trends dubbed the "hockey stick graph".[10] There is also discussion proposing to destroy various files in order to prevent data being revealed under the Freedom of Information Act.[11]

were made that climate scientists colluded[12] to withhold scientific information,[8] interfered with the peer-review process to prevent dissenting scientific papers from being published,[11] deleted e-mails and raw data to prevent it from being revealed under the United Kingdom Freedom of Information Act,[13] and manipulated data, all to make the case for the human influence on global warming appear stronger than it would otherwise appear.[13] 


The term "Climategate" is a reference to the Watergate scandal, used to suggest that there the incident is the subject of a scandal. London Daily Telegraph commentator Christopher Booker credits the appearance of the term to a news blog post[14] written by his colleague, James Delingpole.[15]

Initial response[edit]

In the United Kingdom and United States, there were calls for official inquiries into issues raised by the documents, and for the resignation or firing of scientists involved.[16][17]

Climate scientists issued rebuttals and described the incident as a smear campaign,[18] accusing the climate change skeptics of selectively quoting material out of context from the electronic files in an attempt to sabotage the Copenhagen global climate summit.[19] Kevin E. Trenberth stated that climate change sceptics had selectively quoted words and phrases out of context in an attempt to sabotage the Copenhagen global climate summit in December.[19] Michael E. Mann, director of Pennsylvania State University's Earth System Science Center and one of the scientists whose emails were called into question, said that sceptics were "taking these words totally out of context to make something trivial appear nefarious"[20] and called the incident a "high-level, orchestrated smear campaign to distract the public about the nature of the climate change problem".[21][22][23][24][24]

The University of East Anglia said that the documents and e-mails that had been released were deliberately selected in an "irresponsible" attempt to undermine the scientific consensus that potentially dangerous climate changes are a result of human activity.[25] Shortly thereafter, the University announced it would conduct an independent review on matters of data security, peer review, data integrity, and other relevant issues,[26] during which period Jones would stand aside temporarily as director of the Unit.[27][28] to be chaired by Sir Muir Russell.[13]

The Met Office, a UK agency which works with the CRU in providing global-temperature information, began to re-examine 160 years of temperature data to confirm its understanding of global warming.[29][30][31][30][32]

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change described the allegations of scientific misconduct "a serious issue".[33]

British police investigated the data disclosure as a probable case of hacking and information theft.[34]

Reactions to the controversy[edit]

This section to be condensed and refocused

Public reaction[edit]

In the wake of the controversy, a number of scientists became the target of harassment, including death threats. Tom Wigley, a former director of the CRU and now head of the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, condemned threats that he and other colleagues had received as "truly stomach-turning", and commented: "None of it affects the science one iota."[35] In relation to the harassment that he and his colleagues were experiencing, he noted: "This sort of thing has been going on at a much lower level for almost 20 years and there have been other outbursts of this sort of behaviour - criticism and abusive emails and things like that in the past. So this is a worse manifestation but it's happened before so it's not that surprising."[3]

Some of the scientists involved said that not only the release of the email, but the subsequent controversy about climate change and intimidation of scientists involved, seemed to have been deliberately orchestrated. David Karoly of the University of Melbourne, reported receiving numerous hate e-mails in the wake of the incident and said that he believed there was "an organised campaign to discredit individual climate scientists". Andrew Pitman of the University of New South Wales commented: "The major problem is that scientists have to be able to communicate their science without fear or favour and there seems to be a well-orchestrated campaign designed to intimidate some scientists."[36]


Some prominent climate scientists, such as Richard Somerville, called the incident a smear campaign.[18]

Kevin E. Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research said that he was appalled at the release of the e-mails but thought that it might backfire against climate sceptics, as the messages would show "the integrity of scientists."[8] He has also said that the theft may be aimed at undermining talks at the December 2009 Copenhagen global climate summit.[19]

The author and climatologist David Reay of the University of Edinburgh noted that the CRU "is just one of many climate-research institutes that provide the underlying scientific basis for climate policy at national and international levels. The conspiracy theorists may be having a field day, but if they really knew academia they would also know that every published paper and data set is continually put through the wringer by other independent research groups. The information that makes it into the IPCC reports is some of the most rigorously tested and debated in any area of science."[35]

Concern over actions of scientists[edit]

Climatologist Hans von Storch[37] said that the University of East Anglia (UEA) had "violated a fundamental principle of science" by refusing to share data with other researchers. "They play science as a power game," he said.[38] Judith Curry, a climatologist at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta wrote that the e-mails reflect a lack of openness about scientific data and an attack on dissenting opinions: "[I]t is difficult to understand the continued circling of the wagons by some climate researchers with guns pointed at sceptical researchers by apparently trying to withhold data and other information of relevance to published research, thwart the peer review process, and keep papers out of assessment reports. Scientists are of course human, and short-term emotional responses to attacks and adversity are to be expected, but I am particularly concerned by this apparent systematic and continuing behavior from scientists that hold editorial positions, serve on important boards and committees and participate in the major assessment reports. It is these issues revealed in the HADCRU emails that concern me the most [...]"[39]

Perception of climate change research[edit]

Political perception[edit]

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon rejected the view that the leaked e-mails had damaged the credibility of climate science. Speaking at the Copenhagen conference on climate change, he said: "Nothing that has come out in the public as a result of the recent email hackings has cast doubt on the basic scientific message on climate change and that message is quite clear – that climate change is happening much, much faster than we realized and we human beings are the primary cause."[40]

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that there is no doubt about the scientific evidence that underpins the Copenhagen conference: "Its landmark importance cannot be wished away by the theft of a few emails from one university research centre." Brown commented that the purpose of the climate change skeptics' campaign was clear, and its timing was no coincidence. "It is designed to destabilise and undermine the efforts of the countries gathering in Copenhagen."[41]

During a press briefing on December 7, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, "I think scientists are clear on the science. I think many on Capitol Hill are clear on the science. I think that this notion that there is some debate ... on the science is kind of silly."[42]

Saudi Arabia's lead climate negotiator Mohammad Al-Sabban said he thought the incident will have a "huge impact" on the Copenhagen conference. "It appears from the details of the scandal that there is no relationship whatsoever between human activities and climate change," he told BBC News the week before the summit.[33]

During the annual Queen's Speech debate in the House of Commons on 24 November 2009, the former Conservative Cabinet minister Peter Lilley challenged the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Miliband over the e-mails. Miliband declined to comment on the content of the e-mails but commented: "We should be cautious about using partial emails that have been leaked to somehow cast doubt on the scientific consensus that there is. That is very dangerous and irresponsible because the scientific consensus is clear."[43]

Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, an outspoken sceptic of climate change,[44] said "Ninety-five percent of the nails were in the coffin prior to this week. Now they are all in."[45] Inhofe stated on Fox News that an official investigation action has commenced, and that it will have an effect on the "Cap and Trade" legistlation.[46]

Scientific community perception[edit]

In response to the incident, 1,700 British scientists signed a joint statement circulated by the UK Met Office declaring their "utmost confidence in the observational evidence for global warming and the scientific basis for concluding that it is due primarily to human activities."[47] Met Office chief executive John Hirst and its chief scientist Julia Slingo asked their colleagues to sign the statement "to defend our profession against this unprecedented attack to discredit us and the science of climate change."[48]

The American Meteorological Society stated that the incident did not affect the society's position on climate change. They pointed to the breadth of evidence for human influence on climate, stating "For climate change research, the body of research in the literature is very large and the dependence on any one set of research results to the comprehensive understanding of the climate system is very, very small. Even if some of the charges of improper behavior in this particular case turn out to be true — which is not yet clearly the case — the impact on the science of climate change would be very limited."[49]

The American Geophysical Union issued a statement expressing concern that the emails were "being exploited to distort the scientific debate about the urgent issue of climate change" and reaffirming their 2007 position statement[50] with regard to human influences on climate. They stated that "Science and the scientific method is seldom a linear march to the 'correct' and indisputable answer. Disagreement among scientists is part of the energy that moves inquiry forward."[51]

Climatologist James Hansen said that the controversy has "no effect on the science" and that while some of the e-mails reflect poor judgment, the evidence for human-made climate change is overwhelming.[52]

See also[edit]


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  1. ^ a b "Climatic Research Unit update - 17.45 November 23". University of East Anglia – Communications Office. 23 November 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-12-05. Retrieved 2009-12-05. 
  2. ^ "Hacked E-Mails Fuel Global Warming Debate". Retrieved 2009-11-25.  Text " Threat Level " ignored (help); Text " " ignored (help) Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "wired_20_Nov" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  3. ^ a b Collins, Antonette (2009-12-08). "Climate scientist receives death threats". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 
  4. ^ "Congress May Probe Leaked Global Warming E-Mails". CBS News. 
  5. ^ "CRU's programming 'below commercial standards'". BBC Newsnight. 
  6. ^ "Climate email mess hits Australia". Sydney Morning Herald. 
  7. ^ Gardner, Timothy (Mon Nov 23, 2009 4:07 pm EST). "Hacked climate e-mails awkward, not game changer". Green Business. Reuters. Retrieved 24 November 2009.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  8. ^ a b c Revkin, Andrew C. (20 November 2009). "Hacked E-Mail Is New Fodder for Climate Dispute". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ Johnson, Keith (November 23, 2009). "Climate Emails Stoke Debate:Scientists' Leaked Correspondence Illustrates Bitter Feud over Global Warming". U.S. NEWS. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  10. ^ Flam, Faye (2009-12-08). "Penn State scientist at center of a storm". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  11. ^ a b Moore, Matthew. Climate change scientists face calls for public inquiry over data manipulation claims. The Daily Telegraph, 24 November 2009.
  12. ^ "Climate sceptics claim leaked emails are evidence of collusion among scientists". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-11-24.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Guardian_20_Nov" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  13. ^ a b c "Chair for climate e-mail review", BBC News, 3 December 2009, accessed 5 December.
  14. ^ James Delingpole (2009-11-20). Daily Telegraph  Text "Climategate: the final nail in the coffin of 'Anthropogenic Global Warming'?" ignored (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ Christopher Booker (2009-10-29). "Climate change: this is the worst scientific scandal of our generation". Daily Telegraph. 
  16. ^ Hickman, Leo, "Climate change champion and sceptic both call for inquiry into leaked emails", November 23, 2009, The Guardian. Retrieved November 25, 2009.
  17. ^ Matt Dempsey (November 23, 2009). "Listen: Inhofe Says He Will Call for Investigation on "Climategate" on Washington Times Americas Morning Show". The Inhofe EPW Press Blog. U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Archived from the original on 2009-12-05.  Unknown parameter |accesstime= ignored (help)
  18. ^ a b "Hacked climate emails called a smear campaign". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  19. ^ a b c Staff (22 November 2009). "Scientist: Leak of climate e-mails appalling". The Associated Press. 
  20. ^ Eilperin, Juliet (21 November 2009). "Hackers steal electronic data from top climate research center". The Washington Post. 
  21. ^ "Stolen E-Mails Sharpen a Brawl Between Climate Scientists and Skeptics -". Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  22. ^ John M. Broder (December 1, 2009). "Climatologist Leaves Post in Inquiry Over E-Mail Leaks". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-12-06. 
  23. ^ "University Reviewing Recent Reports on Climate Information". College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Pennsylvania State University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-12-06. Retrieved 2009-12-06. 
  24. ^ a b Genaro C. Armas, Associated Press (December 3, 2009). "Penn St. prof. welcomes climate change scrutiny". Google. Archived from the original on 2009-12-06. Retrieved 2009-12-06. 
  25. ^ Stringer, David (21 November 2009). "Hackers leak e-mails, stoke climate debate". The Associated Press. 
  26. ^ Hickman, Leo, "and agencies", "Climate scientist at centre of leaked email row dismisses conspiracy claims", November 24, 2009, The Guardian. Retrieved November 25, 2009.
  27. ^ "CRU Update 1 December". University of East Anglia – Communications Office. 1 December 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-12-05. Retrieved 2009-12-05. 
  28. ^ "Professor at centre of climate change email row stands down temporarily". The Daily Telegraph. 2009-12-01. Archived from the original on 2009-12-04. Retrieved 2009-12-01. Professor Phil Jones, the director of a research unit at the centre of a row over climate change data, has said he will stand down from the post while an independent review takes place. 
  29. ^ "Met Office to re-examine 160 years of climate data", The Times, 5 December 2009, accessed t December 2009.
  30. ^ a b David Batty and agencies, "Met Office to publish climate change data amid fraud claims", The Guardian, 5 December 2009, accessed 6 December 2009.
  31. ^ "Release of global-average temperature data", Met Office press release, accessed December 6, 2009.
  32. ^ "UK Met Office to publish climate record", CNN, 6 December 2009, accessed 6 December 2009.
  33. ^ a b "UN body wants probe of climate e-mail row". BBC. 2009-12-04. Retrieved 2009-12-09. Dr Pachauri told BBC Radio 4's The Report programme that the claims were serious and he wants them investigated. 
  34. ^ Wilkinson, Marian (2009-12-10). "No cover-up inquiry, climate chief". The Age. Retrieved 2009-12-09. 
  35. ^ a b Ravillious, Kate (2009-12-08). "Hacked email climate scientists receive death threats". The Guardian. 
  36. ^ O'Neill, Margot (2009-12-08). "The ugly side of climate politics". The Drum. ABC. 
  37. ^ "Hans von Storch". Archived from the original on 2009-12-05. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  38. ^ "Lawmakers Probe Climate Emails", Wall Street Journal, 24 November 2009.
  39. ^ Curry, Judith, quoted from her e-mail in "Curry: On the credibility of climate research", blog post, November 22, 2009, Climate Review blog. Retrieved November 24, 2009.
  40. ^ Staff (2009-12-08). "Human role in climate change not in doubt: U.N.'s Ban". Reuters. 
  41. ^ Gordon Brown (6 dec 2009). "Copenhagen must be a turning point. Our children won't forgive us if we fail". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-12-07.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  42. ^ AsiaOne News, December 8, 2009 Climate-gate global warming doubts 'silly': White House, last accessed 20091208
  43. ^ "Queen's speech debate: climate change". BBC News. 24 November 2009. 
  44. ^ "United States Senator James Inhofe : Press Room". Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  45. ^ Strassel, Kimberley A. (November 26, 2009). "'Cap and Trade Is Dead'". Opinion. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 27 November 2009. 
  46. ^ James Inhofe on Fox News
  47. ^ "Statement from the UK science community". The Times. 2009-12-09. Retrieved 2009-12-09. 
  48. ^ Webster, Ben (2009-12-09). "Top scientists rally to the defence of the Met Office". The Times. Retrieved 2009-12-09. 
  49. ^ "Impact of CRU Hacking on the AMS Statement on Climate Change". American Meteorological Society. 25 November 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-12-05. 
  50. ^
  51. ^
  52. ^ "James Hansen: Climate Change Evidence 'Overwhelming,' Hacked E-mails 'Indicate Poor Judgement' - The Human Condition Blog -". Newsweek. Retrieved 2009-11-26. 

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