Page last updated at 14:50 GMT, Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Responses to hacked UEA climate change e-mails and data

Antarctic coast (AFP/Getty)
The findings from stolen e-mails are dividing opinion

Scientists at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia are facing a fierce attack following the hacking of thousands of e-mails and data which climate sceptics cite as proof that data has been manipulated. Commentators have been offering opinions on what it all means.

The New Scientist editorial calls for climate scientists to rethink how they deal with their detractors:

Scientists in general need to address how such destructive antagonism can be prevented, before the flow of research data dwindles. If that were to happen, science itself becomes the victim.

James Delingpole at the Telegraph has been closely following the affair he calls "Climategate". He cites the Australian Herald Sun's Andrew Bolt ("a scandal that is one of the greatest in modern science") and adds that it is:

[T]he scientific equivalent of the Telegraph's MPs' expenses scandal.

Environmentalist George Monbiot insists in the Guardian that the only way forward is for the scientists involved to apologise for their mistakes and show that they won't happen again, instead of just ignoring the matter:

The handling of this crisis suggests that nothing has been learnt by climate scientists in this country from 20 years of assaults on their discipline. They appear to have no idea what they're up against or how to confront it.

John Tierney in the New York Times sees the e-mails as exposing insufficient spirit of questioning among the researchers:

As the scientists denigrate their critics in the e-mail messages, they seem oblivious to one of the greatest dangers in the climate-change debate: smug groupthink. These researchers, some of the most prominent climate experts in Britain and America, seem so focused on winning the public-relations war that they exaggerate their certitude - and ultimately undermine their own cause.

Hannah Devlin in the Times' Eureka Zone Science blog judges one of the scientists' "tricks" to be good rather than bad practice:

There is nothing dodgy about discarding data you know to be flawed. Frankly, I'd be amazed if tree ring data were the best measure of recent temperatures... we've got thermometers, haven't we? What interested me was why recent years are special and why climate scientists appear to be confident that tree ring data from earlier than this was so reliable.

Simon Brooker says in the Telegraph that the influence of the academic unit cannot be overestimated:

What we are looking at here is the small group of scientists who have for years been more influential in driving the worldwide alarm over global warming than any others, not least through the role they play at the heart of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In its leading article on what David Cameron can do about Conservative climate sceptics, the Independent ponders the argument:

The Independent professes itself rather baffled by climate-change sceptics. As with most conspiracy theories, the conspiracy theorists have failed to ask the one obvious question: Why? Why would more than 90 per cent of climate scientists invent the idea of global warming?

David Aaronovitch in the Times is concerned about the motivations behind those carrying out a review, including Lord Lawson:

They somehow believe that the whole global warming schtick is an amazing confidence trick performed upon the peoples of the world by a group of scientists and socialists, and pursued by politicians keen to get their hands on green taxes (though for what nefarious purpose we do not know), and which has taken in almost all the governments of the world, from the US to China.

In contrast, Liz Hunt at the Telegraph says she's warming to Lord Lawson:

The debate is so polarised, with both sides so closed off to the views of others, that no sane person wants to listen any more. So I welcome the cool-headed intervention of Lord Lawson and his new think tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, as a forum for re-energising the debate, and damping down hysteria.

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