‘Climategate’ Scientists Should be Barred from U.N. Panels on Climate Change, Critics Say

By Christopher Neefus | December 2, 2009 | 6:17 PM EST

University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit. (Photo Courtesy of CRU)

(CNSNews.com) - Scientists from around the globe, including one who contributes to United Nations reports on climate change, say if researchers involved in the “Climategate” scandal altered or hid data -- as some leaked e-mails seem to suggest, they should be barred from taking part in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
“Climategate” refers to the disclosure more than a week ago of more than 3,000 e-mails apparently obtained by a computer hacker from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) in Norwich, England, that purportedly show several prominent climatologists engaging in what U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) called “possible deceitful manipulation of important data and research” used by the U.S. Global Change Research Program and IPCC.
As CNSNews.com reported Tuesday, Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has called for a Senate investigation, suggesting the e-mails reveal “a possible conspiracy by scientists, some of whom receive or have received US taxpayer funds, to stifle open, transparent debate on the most pressing issues of climate science.”

Dr. Eduardo Zorita, an IPCC contributor who is a scientist at the Institute for Coastal Research at GKSS Research Centre outside Berlin, Germany, said the scientists involved in the scandal “should be barred from the IPCC process.” 

“Research in some areas of climate science has been, and is, full of machination, conspiracies, and collusion, as any reader can interpret from the CRU-files,” Zorita wrote on Web space provided by the climate and marine research center of the e-mail correspondence.
“They (the e-mails) depict a realistic . . . picture of what the real research in the area of the climate of the past millennium has been in the last years. The scientific debate has been in many instances hijacked to advance other agendas,” he added.
The thousands of e-mails, first discovered on a Russian computer (FTP) server, were apparently posted by an anonymous hacker known only as “FOIA” – short for Freedom of Information Act” -- and include correspondence from top climate researchers, including Penn State University’s Mark Mann and CRU Director Phil Jones.

The e-mails include:
-- A 2004 note from Jones to Mann (then at the University of Virginia) discussing research by skeptics of man-caused warming. Referring to two particular reports, Jones says, “I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow - even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”
In a separate e-mail, Jones says of the death of a prominent skeptic, John Daly, “In an odd way, this is cheering news!”
-- Ben Santer, a researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who was a lead author of the first annual IPCC report in 1995, wrote to colleagues last October, “Next time I see Pat Michaels at a scientific meeting, I’ll be tempted to beat the crap out of him. Very tempted.”
Michaels, who is a prominent skeptic of man-caused (“anthropogenic”) global warming and a fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, has criticized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), saying its finding that carbon endangers mankind relied on potentially outmoded data like the United Nations’ IPCC reports.
In one paper, Michaels said the IPCC’s fourth annual report (referred to as AR4) “missed, omitted, ignored or unfairly dismissed relevant portions of the refereed scientific literature that are highly germane (to the finding).”
-- In May 2008 e-mails leaked from CRU, scientists talk about erasing all communications they have regarding contributions to the report in the wake of a British Freedom of Information (FOI) request being sent to the university. One e-mail from Jones titled “IPCC & FOI” says, “Mike, Can you delete any e-mails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis. Can you also e-mail Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new e-mail address.”
Deleting information to avoid producing it for a Freedom of Information request is a criminal violation under the penal code of the United Kingdom.
Mann, who is a prominent climatology statistician, has denied deleting e-mails, telling Science magazine in an e-mail: “I did not delete any emails at all in response to Phil Jone's [sic] request, nor did I indicate to him that I would.”
On Tuesday, Jones, who is the director of the East Anglia CRU, temporarily stepped down from his post while the university investigates the incident.
“My colleagues and I accept that some of the published emails do not read well. I regret any upset or confusion caused as a result. Some were clearly written in the heat of the moment, others use colloquialisms frequently used between close colleagues,” Jones said in a statement released by the university.
Jones defended the integrity of the unit’s research publications.
“We are, and have always been, scrupulous in ensuring that our science publications are robust and honest,” Jones said. “One has to wonder if it is a coincidence that this e-mail correspondence has been stolen and published at this time. This may be a concerted attempt to put a question mark over the science of climate change in the run-up to the Copenhagen talks.”
Members of the United Nations, including a U.S. delegation led by President Barack Obama, will gather in Denmark later this month at the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen to hammer out an agreement on a treaty to set stringent controls on greenhouse gases.
And legislation to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions is currently pending in Congress.
Mark Morano, the executive editor of the online magazine Climate Depot and a former climate researcher for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said if the e-mails bear out as genuine, the scientists in question should be removed from the debate.
“Their willingness to massage data, to manipulate data,” he said, “should be enough to bar them from the future process.”