Last week, Rajendra Pachauri, who heads the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told BBC Radio that there would be a full investigation of the revelations contained in e-mails and documents leaked from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit. This must have been done awfully quickly, as the IPCC’s Working Group I released a statement on Friday announcing it “condemns the illegal act which led to private emails being posted on the Internet and firmly stands by the findings of the AR4 and by the community of researchers worldwide whose professional standards and careful scientific work over many years have provided the basis for these conclusions.” Meanwhile, the UK’s Met Office announced it would fully reexamine its temperature records to ensure the records are accurate and reliable, even though the reexamination could take three years and is opposed by the British government.
The Washington Post has a follow-up story on the controversy, highlighting charges that prominent climate scientists have sought to marginalize dissenting views. The story quotes NOAA’s Thomas Karl saying some climate perspectives, such as those of Roger Pielke Sr., are marginalized because they are not supported by the peer reviewed literature — but it appears this claim is false. (More here.)
For a more comprehensive overview of the ClimateGate controversy, see Steve Hayward’s cover story from the Weekly Standard. Here’s a small bit:
The emails do not in and of themselves reveal that catastrophic climate change scenarios are a hoax or without any foundation. What they reveal is something problematic for the scientific community as a whole, namely, the tendency of scientists to cross the line from being disinterested investigators after the truth to advocates for a preconceived conclusion about the issues at hand. In the understatement of the year, CRU’s Phil Jones, one of the principal figures in the controversy, admitted the emails “do not read well.” Jones is the author of the most widely cited leaked e‑missive, telling colleagues in 1999 that he had used “Mike’s Nature [magazine] trick” to “hide the decline” that inconveniently shows up after 1960 in one set of temperature records. But he insists that the full context of CRU’s work shows this to have been just a misleading figure of speech. Reading through the entire archive of emails, however, provides no such reassurance; to the contrary, dozens of other messages, while less blatant than “hide the decline,” expose scandalously unprofessional behavior. There were ongoing efforts to rig and manipulate the peer-review process that is critical to vetting manuscripts submitted for publication in scientific journals. Data that should have been made available for inspection by other scientists and outside critics were released only grudgingly, if at all. Perhaps more significant, the email archive also reveals that even inside this small circle of climate scientists–otherwise allied in an effort to whip up a frenzy of international political action to combat global warming–there was considerable disagreement, confusion, doubt, and at times acrimony over the results of their work. In other words, there is far less unanimity or consensus among climate insiders than we have been led to believe.The behavior of the CRU circle has cast a long shadow over the entire climate science community, and many honest scientists will now undeservedly bear the stigma of Climategate unless a full airing of the issues is conducted. Other important climate research centers with close ties to the CRU–including NASA’s Goddard Institute and the Climate Change Science Program at NOAA–should not be exempt from a full-dress investigation. Such a reevaluation must begin with an understanding of the crucial role the CRU circle has played in the global warming drama.
UPDATE: The NYT‘s Public Editor, Clark Hoyt, weighs in on the Times‘ ClimateGate coverage. Among other things, Hoyt explains why the Times decided not to post the leaked e-mails on its website. Hoyt concludes: “So far, I think The Times has handled Climategate appropriately — a story, not a three-alarm story.”