Global WarmingGate: What Does It Mean?

Late on the night of of November 19, news broke on PJM and elsewhere that a large amount of data had been stolen from one of the major climate research institutions by an unknown hacker and made available on the Internet. The institution is the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit, home institution for Dr Phil Jones and one of the world's centers of research into anthropogenic global warming (AGW), or "climate change."

The hackers released about 172 megabytes of data, and we can be sure examining it closely will take some time. But after a few days, certain things are beginning to become clear.

  • The data appears to be largely, perhaps entirely, authentic.
  • The emails are incendiary.
  • The implications shake the scientific basis for AGW, and the scientific reputations of some of AGW's major proponents, to their roots

Let's look at the files and emails first. (For a running list of the interesting emails, see Bishop Hill's list.) As I wrote earlier, you have to be really careful with this sort of thing, because it would only require salting a few really inflammatory fakes through a collection of otherwise real emails to make a convincing hoax (think Rathergate.) But since the data first came out, a number of the emails have been corroborated by recipients, and none of them have been refuted. So, at least tentatively, I think we need to accept them as authentic.

If we do accept them as authentic, though, they truly are incendiary. They appear to reveal not one, not two, but three real scandals, of increasing importance.

  • The emails suggest the authors co-operated covertly to ensure that only papers favorable to CO2-forced AGW were published, and that editors and journals publishing contrary papers were punished. They also attempted to "discipline" scientists and journalists who published skeptical information.