British university to investigate integrity of climate data
Skeptics contend leaked e-mails prove conspiracy
LONDON - A British university said yesterday that it would investigate whether scientists at its prestigious Climatic Research Unit fudged data on global warming.
Thousands of pieces of correspondence between some of the world’s leading climate scientists were stolen from the unit at the University of East Anglia and leaked to the Internet late last month. Skeptics of man-made global warming say the e-mails are proof that scientists have been conspiring to hide evidence showing that global warming was not as strong as generally believed.
Phil Jones, the director of the unit, stepped down Tuesday, pending the result of the probe.
The university had promised an inquiry when Jones stepped down, but did not specify what the investigation would encompass. Yesterday’s announcement was the first acknowledgment that the research itself would be under scrutiny.
East Anglia said its review will examine the e-mails and other information “to determine whether there is any evidence of the manipulation or suppression of data, which is at odds with acceptable scientific practice.’’
The university said former civil servant Muir Russell would lead the inquiry, and Russell said he “has no links to either the university or the climate science community.’’
East Anglia wants the review completed by the spring.
The theft of the e-mails and their publication online - only weeks before the UN summit on global warming in Copenhagen - has been politically explosive, even if researchers say their content has no bearing on the principles of climate change itself.
There was further criticism following the revelation that the university had thrown out much of the raw temperature data on which some of its global warming research was based. The university said in a statement last week that the data, stored on paper and magnetic tape, were dumped in the 1980s.
The release of the data has prompted some lawmakers in Britain to warn that critics of climate change want to wreck any global agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that could be achieved at the Dec. 7-18 UN climate change summit in Copenhagen.
Ed Miliband, Britain’s climate change secretary, yesterday called those challenging the mainstream scientific view on climate change irresponsible and dangerous. “We have to beware of the climate saboteurs, the people who want to say this is somehow in doubt and want to cast aspersions on the whole process,’’ Miliband told reporters.
Republicans in the US House have grilled government scientists on the leaked e-mails, with Representative James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin saying the world needs to reexamine experts’ claims.
Scientists called before the House’s climate change committee said the e-mails don’t change the fact the earth is warming. “The e-mails do nothing to undermine the very strong scientific consensus,’’ said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Jane Lubchenco.