(by Seth Borenstein, WashingtonTimes.com) LONDON (AP) — E-mails [hacked] from climate scientists show that they stonewalled skeptics and discussed hiding data, giving voice to scientists whose dissent remains difficult to find in news from the environmental conference that climaxes this week in Copenhagen.
The 1,073 e-mails examined by the Associated Press show that scientists harbored private doubts, however slight and fleeting, even as they told the world that they were certain about climate change.
The scientists were keenly aware of how their work would be viewed and used, and, just like politicians, went to great pains to shape their message. Sometimes, they sounded more like schoolyard taunts than scientific tenets.
The existence of skepticism was absent from many media reports last week on the climate change conference in Copenhagen, where officials from nearly 200 countries are attempting to draft a pact to roll back global emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases.
This week, they will be joined by world leaders, including President Obama, in a final push for a deal.
According to the e-mails, the scientists were so convinced by their own science and so driven by a cause “that unless you’re with them, you’re against them,” said Mark Frankel, director of scientific freedom, responsibility and law at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also reviewed the communications.
Mr. Frankel said he saw “no evidence of falsification or fabrication of data, although concerns could be raised about some instances of very ‘generous interpretations.’ “
Some e-mails expressed doubts about the quality of individual temperature records or why models and data didn’t quite match. Part of this is the normal give-and-take of research, but skeptics challenged how reliable certain data was.
The e-mails were stolen from the computer network server of the climate research unit at the University of East Anglia in southeastern England, an influential source of climate science, and were posted online last month. The university shut down the server, contacted the police and suspended a director.
The AP studied all the e-mails for context, with five reporters reading and rereading them – about 1 million words in total.
They suggest an effort to avoid sharing scientific data with critics. It is not clear whether any data was destroyed; two U.S. researchers denied it.
The e-mails show that several mainstream scientists repeatedly suggested keeping their research materials away from opponents who sought it under American and British public records law. It raises a science ethics question because free access to data is important so others can repeat experiments as part of the scientific method. The University of East Anglia is investigating the blocking of information requests.
“I believe none of us should submit to these ‘requests,’ ” declared the university’s Keith Briffa. The climate unit’s chief, Phil Jones, wrote: “Data is covered by all the agreements we sign with people, so I will be hiding behind them.”
When one skeptic kept filing freedom of information requests, Mr. Jones, who didn’t return AP requests for comment, told another scientist, Michael Mann: “You can delete this attachment if you want. Keep this quiet also.”
Mr. Mann, a researcher at Penn State University, told the Associated Press: “I didn’t delete any e-mails as Phil asked me to. I don’t believe anybody else did.”
The e-mails also showed a stunning disdain for global-warming skeptics.
One scientist practically celebrates the news of the death of one critic, saying, “In an odd way this is cheering news!” Another bemoans that the only way to deal with skeptics is “continuing to publish quality work in quality journals [or calling in a Mafia hit].” And a third scientist said the next time he sees a certain skeptic at a scientific meeting, “I’ll be tempted to beat the crap out of him. Very tempted.”
Associated Press. Reprinted from the Washington Times. For educational purposes only. This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or organization. Visit the website at www.washingtontimes.com.
1. Define stonewall, skeptic, skeptical and dissent as used in paragraph 1, and scientific method from para. 12.
2. a) According to Associated Press reporter Seth Borenstein, what information did many media outlets omit when reporting on the climate change conference last week?
b) Why do you think this is so?
3. a) How many emails were hacked from climate scientists recently?
b) From what source did hackers obtain the emails?
c) What did the hackers do with the emails?
d) What do you think the hackers motive was for hacking the emails?
4. a) How many AP reporters read the hacked emails?
b) What did the AP reporters conclude about the emails?
5. Why do the climate scientists’ attempts to prevent/block global warming skeptics from accessing their data raise a science ethics question?
6. How do climate scientists (who believe in the theory that man’s use of fossil fuels is causing catastrophic global warming) view scientists who are skeptical of the theory of global warming?
7. Most of the media has dismissed the fact that renowned climate scientists tried to prevent skeptics from obtaining/verifying their data. They have ignored the evidence that there is doubt among climate scientists about some of the statistics that are supposed to prove the existence of man made global warming. Many news reports attempt to excuse/explain away the questions that these emails raise. Do you think this indicates media bias? Explain your answer.
Global warming is an important issue to understand. The theory that man’s use of fossil fuels (burning coal, oil and gas for energy, which produces carbon dioxide, or CO2) is causing an imminent catastrophic change in the climate – global warming – is believed to be true by many scientists, climatologists, citizens, the mainstream media and Hollywood celebrities, and was made popular by former Vice President Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth.” People who believe in this theory say we must reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced by limiting/reducing the amount of fossil fuels we use, or by purchasing offsets.
The belief that man’s activities are not causing an imminent catastrophic change in the climate is held by many other scientists [see MIT’s Professor of Meteorology Dr. Richard Lindzen’s commentary in Newsweek here]. (This view is very unpopular in the media and widely condemned by those who believe man-made global warming is fact.) Those who do not believe man is causing the global temperature to rise don’t believe it is necessary to reduce the production of CO2 by reducing our use of fossil fuels or to purchase carbon offsets.
ON GLOBAL WARMING and the KYOTO TREATY (the treaty preceding COPENHAGEN):
Global warming is a controversial issue. Scientists today have two opposing views on global warming:
Read a commentary “Global Warming Consensus” at aei.org/article/101355.
For information on a movie showing the harmful effects on humans of policies aimed at curbing “global warming” go to noteviljustwrong.com.