April 16, 2010
Climate Research Unit,
University of East Anglia
Last year during the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, The Guardian newspaper’s respected environmental columnist, George Monbiot, described in painful and often hilarious detail the trail of missteps and communications blunders at East Anglia University that turned a deceitful email hack job into a focused attack on the credibility of climate science.
This week, the findings of an independent investigation of the stolen emails commissioned by the university were made public. The authors of the university’s report, relying on more diplomatic language, essentially confirmed Monbiot’s version: “We saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit and had it been there we believe that it is likely that we would have detected it. Rather we found a small group of dedicated if slightly disorganized researchers who were ill-prepared for being the focus of public attention. As with many small research groups their internal procedures were rather informal.”
Every independent analysis of the online hack job – by the Associated Press, Pennsylvania State University, the Science and Technology Committee of the British House of Commons – has reached essentially the same conclusion. While there are concerns about how some scientists chose to communicate with each other, there is nothing in the stolen emails that undermines the scientific consensus that climate change is real and getting worse.
That, of course, won’t dissuade climate deniers and their allies in Congress, the media, and free market think tanks from exploiting the American media’s he said-she said meme to undermine public confidence in climate science. But the consistent conclusions of the independent investigations should bolster the work this year of heads of state, finance ministers, and diplomats charged with ensuring the planet’s environmental and economic security. It also will help Senate lawmakers, who are set to introduce a climate and energy bill on April 26.
Next week in Washington environment and finance ministers gather in separate meetings at the very moment that the climate crisis and economic crisis have collided. USCAN joined 24 other organizations, eight of them Canadian, in sending a letter to President Barrack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to make climate change a priority on the G-20 agenda in Toronto in June.
In the letter to President Obama and Prime Minister Harper, groups from both nations assert that the steps needed to cool the planet and make the transition to a low-carbon economy represent a clear formula for solving the global economic recession. The groups noted that during the G8 and G20 meetings last July in L’Aquila and Pittsburgh, and in Copenhagen, world leaders committed to fight climate change, phase out subsidies for fossil fuels and support innovative mechanisms to generate climate finance for developing countries mitigation and adaptation efforts.
There is no dispute about the science of climate change or the consequences of the global recession. Next week in Washington, world leaders have another chance to take steps that reduce the risks of both.
Talk to you next week, Keith Schneider