Climategate 2.0? Not really

Well it seems the hacker(s) behind the original release of the so called climategate emails have released another bunch. This time releasing about 5,000 not previously released emails, and also admitting to having another 220,000 emails.

I venture you won’t need much guessing who immediately jumped on this to proclaim that “here comes Climategate II“, indeed none other than James Delingpole:

And as before, they show the “scientists” at the heart of the Man-Made Global Warming industry in a most unflattering light. Michael Mann, Phil Jones, Ben Santer, Tom Wigley, Kevin Trenberth, Keith Briffa – all your favourite Climategate characters are here, once again caught red-handed in a series of emails exaggerating the extent of Anthropogenic Global Warming, while privately admitting to one another that the evidence is nowhere near as a strong as they’d like it to be.

I like how he put the word scientists in quotes. And of course proceeds with smearing the names of actual scientists who write and read research. Nothing like Delingpole who said that he does not have the time, or the expertise, to read the scientific literature on climate change and global warming. He even said he was an interpreter of interpretations.

Not to mention that he accused these scientist of exactly the same thing during the original climategate. Yet nine independent investigations have vindicated climate science and climate scientists on the hacked University of East Anglia emails.

Which should give you pauze as these emails are from the same batch, so these won’t exactly contain the most ‘juicy’ material. So we should first research, and not just broadcast unsubstantiated claims. Something Media Matters warns for:

The previous release of hacked emails triggered a storm of ill-informed media coverage in December 2009, with news outlets rushing to quote the documents without taking the time to research the context or ask experts to translate the scientific language. (As we know, terms used in scientific discussions often have a different meaning than when used in normal public conversation.)

As a result, numerous mainstream news outlets repeated allegations that the emails showed scientists doctoring data to exaggerate global warming. That claim has become part of the version of history told by conservative media even after multiple investigations found it to be false. But the damage had been done. A study conducted by researchers at Yale and George Mason University found that “Climategate deepened and perhaps solidified the prior observed declines in public beliefs that global warming is happening, human caused, and of serious concern.” This contrasts with the views of the vast majority of climate scientists.

Last month an independent study set up by physicist Richard Muller — and funded by the Koch family — investigated criticisms of the prevailing global land temperature records, including the record produced by the University of East Anglia. Announcing the results, Muller stated:

When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn’t know what we’d find. Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that. They managed to avoid bias in their data selection, homogenization and other corrections.

There are individuals, corporations and interest groups who seek to distract from the mounting body of evidence indicating that humans are changing the climate. In fact, an action plan created by the American Petroleum Industry outlined a strategy to manipulate media outlets in order to create confusion among the public about climate science.

The question is: will mainstream media outlets allow themselves to be manipulated by a campaign to distract the public from the big picture on climate change? Or will they fulfill their responsibilities as journalists? Looks like we’ll find out if they’ve learned their lesson to research first, then report.

But I think the response from the UEA to the emails gives the best impression on what is actually their intent:

While we have had only a limited opportunity to look at this latest post of 5,000 emails, we have no evidence of a recent breach of our systems.

If genuine, (the sheer volume of material makes it impossible to confirm at present that they are all genuine) these emails have the appearance of having been held back after the theft of data and emails in 2009 to be released at a time designed to cause maximum disruption to the imminent international climate talks.

This appears to be a carefully-timed attempt to reignite controversy over the science behind climate change when that science has been vindicated by three separate independent inquiries and number of studies – including, most recently, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature group.

As in 2009, extracts from emails have been taken completely out of context. Following the previous release of emails scientists highlighted by the controversy have been vindicated by independent review, and claims that their science cannot or should not be trusted are entirely unsupported. They, the University and the wider research community have stood by the science throughout, and continue to do so.

Yes just like the original release of emails this is again right before important climate talks. Again to create controversy and delay us from taking action on climate change. While the signs are getting more clear we must act, someone is trying their best to discredit scientists and their research.

So the question we should be asking is not “have scientists committed fraud”, but “why release these emails now and who would be behind this?”.

Collin Maessen is the founder and editor of Real Skeptic and a proponent of scientific skepticism. For his content he uses the most up to date and best research as possible. Where necessary consulting or collaborating with scientists.