Anthropogenic Global Warming Conspiracy

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The global warming (aka climate change) debate has been raging the past few days due to hackers publishing private emails at a noted climate change research center.

The emails showed collusion between scientists to trick their data presentation, undermine opposing scientists, and hiding their doubts about their own research from everyone else.

Climate Emails Stoke Debate
Scientists' Leaked Correspondence Illustrates Bitter Feud over Global Warming


The scientific community is buzzing over the thousands of emails and documents, posted on the Internet late last week after being hacked from the computer of a prominent climate-change research center, which some say raise ethical questions about a group of scientists who contend that humans are responsible for global warming.

The email correspondence between dozens of key climate-change researchers around the world, including many in the U.S., paints a picture of an angry backlash by those who believe human activities are causing global warming against those who argue that the link between humans and climate change remains uncertain.

Some emails also refer to efforts by scientists who believe man is causing global warming to exclude contrary views from important scientific publications.

"This is horrible," said Pat Michaels, a climate scientist at the Cato Institute in Washington who is mentioned negatively in the emails. "This is what everyone feared. Over the years, it has become increasingly difficult for anyone who does not view global warming as an end-of-the-world issue to publish papers. This isn't questionable practice, this is unethical."

John Christy, a scientist at the University of Alabama at Huntsville who was attacked in the emails, said, "It's disconcerting to realize that legislative actions this nation is preparing to take, and which will cost trillions of dollars, are based upon a view of climate that has not been completely scientifically tested -- but rather orchestrated."

In all, more than 1,000 emails and more than 2,000 other documents were stolen Thursday from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University in the U.K. The identity of the hackers isn't certain, but the files were posted on a Russian file-sharing server late Thursday, and university officials confirmed over the weekend that their computer had been attacked and said the documents appear to be genuine.

"The selective publication of some stolen emails and other papers taken out of context is mischievous and cannot be considered a genuine attempt to engage with this issue in a responsible way," the university said.

Representatives of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, one of the biggest professional scientific organizations, expressed concern that the hacked emails would weaken global resolve to curb greenhouse-gas emissions. The association believes "that climate change is real, it is related to human activities, and the need to counteract its impacts is now urgent," Ginger Pinholster, an association spokeswoman, wrote in an email Sunday.

In the emails, which date to 1996, researchers in the U.S. and the U.K. repeatedly take issue with climate research at odds with their own findings. In some cases, they discuss ways to rebut what they call "disinformation" using new articles in scientific journals or popular Web sites. In others, they refer to scientific opponents of the man-made global-warming theory as "utter prats."

Among the more controversial issues raised by the emails are discussions of apparent efforts by climate researchers to make sure that reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that monitors climate science, include their own views and exclude others. In addition, emails show that climate scientists declined to make their data available to scientists whose views they disagreed with.

In one email, Benjamin Santer from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., wrote to the director of the climate-study center that he was "very tempted" to beat up Mr. Michaels. Mr. Santer couldn't be reached for comment Sunday.

In another, Phil Jones, the director of the East Anglia climate center, suggested to American climate scientist Michael Mann of Penn State University that skeptics' research was unwelcome: We "will keep them out somehow -- even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!" Neither man could be reached for comment Sunday.

A spokeswoman for the journal Science said papers are evaluated based solely on scientific merit and are reviewed by independent experts.

The emails were published less than a month before the opening of a major climate-change summit in Copenhagen. The summit was supposed to draft a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 treaty that established limits on the gases believed to cause global warming.

Expectations for the summit have been scaled back, as the global recession, which has dampened enthusiasm for potentially costly environmental measures, and a recent cooling trend in global temperatures have both undermined support for an ambitious pact. The U.S. Senate has also delayed action on a big energy and climate bill until next year.
—Jeffrey Ball contributed to this article.

Write to Keith Johnson at

* Download the emails and documents (The file is over 60 MB)