Hacked global warming e-mails – what's new?

The story of the hacked global warming e-mails continues to unfold with new developments and lots of divergent opinions on what they mean, or don't mean.

Copenhagen is set to host world leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference in December. Will it be affected by the global warming e-mails that were hacked and released?

When the news broke that "more than 169 megabytes worth of global-warming emails and related files were either hacked and/or leaked from computers at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Center in Britain and released to the world via the Internet," as the Monitor's Pete Spotts wrote, some reactions were to be expected: Skeptics of global warming were jubilant because they say the e-mails prove that human-caused global warming is false, a fraud perpetrated by scientists.

Supporters countered that statements from the e-mails were taken out of context.

The Los Angeles Times predicts that after healthcare, Afghanistan, and financial regulatory reform, global warming will be the next partisan divide in the US. Anyone who tries to read some of the thousands of impassioned blog posts on this topic would say that it has already happened.

The New York Times zeroes in on the arrogance shown in the scientists' e-mails.

And in Britain, the Telegraph points out that "Climate change sceptics have been forced to change their own graph showing a decrease in global temperatures after admitting that they got it wrong."

Also in the news about climate change as well as concerned with the e-mails:

-- A trio of climate scientists calls the furor over the hacked e-mails "a smear campaign":

"We're facing an effort by special interests who are trying to confuse the public," said Richard Somerville, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a lead author of the UN IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, reports SolveClimate, vai Reuters.

--  Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., had earlier announced an investigation into the e-mails. (See below.) Now, "The U.S. Senate's leading global warming skeptic has sent letters to several climate change scientists and to the inspectors general of various federal agencies notifying them to retain breached documents and e-mails that he says prove researchers are manipulating data to make the case for global warming," says FOX News.

– The president will attend the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen after all.

Obama to Offer Firm Pledge on Emissions Cuts in Copenhagen, reports The New York Times:

Carol Browner, the president’s senior adviser for energy and climate change, said the president hoped that the announcement of the American target would spur other countries to show their cards.
“Obviously we hope other major economies will put forth ambitious action plans of their own,” she said at a White House briefing Wednesday morning

– In an article titled "Global warming accelerates; Climategate rumbles on," Reuters notes that "skeptics are "using a flood of leaked e-mails from a British University — dubbed 'Climategate' – to question the findings" of the Copenhagen Diagnosis. (For more details, see "Amid charges of global warming hoax, new warning on climate change.")

– Sen. Inhofe announced that he would probe whether the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "cooked the science to make this thing look as if the science was settled, when all the time of course we knew it was not."

– In Britain, former chancellor Lord Lawson, a global warming skeptic, called for an inquiry into data "manipulation" about global warming, as a result of the e-mails. (See here for an interview with Lawson.)

– Climate scientist geochemist Thomas Crowley, a professor of geosciences and director of the Scottish Alliance for Geosciences and the Environment at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, criticizes skeptics and the press in an e-mail interview with The Washington Post's Andrew Freedman.

Professor Phil Jones Director of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, says that charges of conspiracy over climate change are "rubbish," reports the Guardian.

– Security experts say the hack could lead to future attacks, reports ChannelWeb, which adds that there could be "... more malicious attacks down the road, as hackers use cybercrime to further political agenda." Also, the individuals whose e-mails were exposed now have some of their private information in the public domain and could be subject to phishing or worse.

– The University of East Anglia. which had been criticized for its tepid response to the extensive e-mail theft, announced that plans to launch a review of the incident.

– In an analysis of the impact the e-mails might have on the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen and on a possible US climate bill, Reuters says they aren't the game-changer that skeptics hope.

– But many think that the credibility of climate scientists and climate science have been damaged.

In any case, the issue doesn't seem likely to disappear quickly. And we'll keep following it.

Editor’s note: For articles about the environment, see the Monitor’s main environment page, which offers information on many topics. Also, check out our Bright Green blog archive and our RSS feed.

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