Noted environmental writer George Monbiot, author of Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning, calls the leaked documents from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit a “major blow.” On his website and in The Guardian, he writes:
The emails extracted by a hacker from the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia could scarcely be more damaging(1). I am now convinced that they are genuine, and I’m dismayed and deeply shaken by them.Yes, the messages were obtained illegally. Yes, all of us say things in emails that would be excruciating if made public. Yes, some of the comments have been taken out of context. But there are some messages that require no spin to make them look bad. There appears to be evidence here of attempts to prevent scientific data from being released(2,3), and even to destroy material that was subject to a freedom of information request(4).
Worse still, some of the emails suggest efforts to prevent the publication of work by climate sceptics(5,6), or to keep it out of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(7). I believe that the head of the unit, Phil Jones, should now resign. Some of the data discussed in the emails should be re-analysed.
The hack or unauthorized disclosure of these documents may have been illegal (unless protected by the UK’s whistleblower law). Yet the documents themselves also provide evidence of illegal activity by several climate researchers.
Monbiot is quick to note that the leaked documents do not disprove global warming nor discredit the wealth of evidence that human activity contributes to cliamte change. They do, however, suggest that some specific claims and data sets will need to be reanalyzed.
Climate researcher Judith Curry argues that the leaked documents raise two “broader issues”: “lack of transparency in climate data, and ‘tribalism’ in some segments of the climate research community that is impeding peer review and the assessment process.” She’s right. Tyler Cowen’s comments are also worth a read.