Via Katherine Goldstein
A few weeks ago, hackers broke into the emails of one of the Climate Research Unit of The University of East Anglia, and climate skeptics have been having a field day making mountains out of molehills about what the emails contain. The verdict on global warming is in -- it's caused by humans and it is happening and nothing in the emails remotely challenges that. However, with the internet abuzz about what has been labeled "ClimateGate," we thought we should set the record straight about the rumors, lies and insinuations about what the emails actually contain -- and what they "prove" about climate change.
"ClimateGate" itself is a misnomer, the nickname should be "SwiftHack" for the way people with political agendas have "swiftboated" the global warming reality. As world attention turns to the climate conference in Copenhagen this December, this email hack acts as a distraction from the huge task at hand of getting world leaders to commit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As professor Richard Somerville says, "We're facing an effort by special interests who are trying to confuse the public."
CLAIM: Scientists have manipulated data.
Skeptics have been pointing to an email from scientist Phil Jones where he said he used a "trick" with his data. As climate expert Bob Ward writes, "Scientists say 'trick' not just to mean deception. They mean it as a clever way of doing something -- a short cut can be a trick." RealClimate also explained that "the 'trick' is just to plot the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the recent warming is clear. Scientists often use the term 'trick' to refer to ... 'a good way to deal with a problem', rather than something that is 'secret', and so there is nothing problematic in this at all."Scientists Doubt It
CLAIM: Scientists had private doubts about whether the world really is heating up.
TRUTH: Combing through over a decade of personal correspondence, which is then taken out of context can seem to prove just about anything. Skeptics have been pointing to one email from Kevin Trenberth, in which he said, "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't." However, this is clear example of cherrypicking quotes. Trenberth was referring to that there was an "incomplete explanation" of the short-term variability of temperatures, but concludes that "global warming is unequivocally happening."Suppressing Evidence
CLAIM: These scientists worked to suppress evidence and deleted emails.
TRUTH: Thousands of emails from over 13 years were stolen, and edited, and have been taken out of context for those with a political agenda. As blogger Jeff Masters writes,Silencing Dissent
"Even if every bit of mud slung at these scientists were true, the body of scientific work supporting the theory of human-caused climate change—which spans hundreds of thousands of scientific papers written by tens of thousands of scientists in dozens of different scientific disciplines—is too vast to be budged by the flaws in the works of the three or four scientists being subject to the fiercest attacks."
As climate czar Carol Brower says, "I'm sticking with the 2,500 scientists [of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.] These people have been studying this issue for a very long time and agree this problem is real."
CLAIM: Scientists have been working to remove skeptical peers from the climate discussion.
TRUTH: Organization politics, disagreement and strife are hardly foreign ideas in university, research and scientific communities. As the blog run by climate scientists Real Climate writes, "Since emails are normally intended to be private, people writing them are, shall we say, somewhat freer in expressing themselves than they would in a public statement." Again, this does not remotely prove any sort of cover-up, and the critiques of these papers were made and debated by scientists PUBLICLY, but perhaps less bluntly than they were stated in the emails. (Here's what the "infamous" line about keeping people out and peer review was ACTUALLY about.)This Changes Everything
CLAIM: These emails are the final nail in the coffin for the idea that humans cause global warming.
TRUTH: If the denier's wildest claims were true that are bantered around throughout the Internet, wouldn't nearly 15 years of emails ACTUALLY SHOW some of these insipid rumors to be true?Reopens Debate
More from Real Climate: "More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords. The truly paranoid will put this down to the hackers also being in on the plot though."
CLAIM: This reignites the debate about if global warming is real.
TRUTH: There is strong consensus in scientific community that global warming is real and is caused by humans. The top scientists in the world have just released a new report on the realities of global warming. Kevin Grandia summarizes some of the key points about emissions, melting ice sheets, and rising sea levels. The emails don't change any of this reality.