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article imageClimategate is 'elephant in the room' for Obama's carbon plans

By Michael Krebs     Dec 6, 2009 in Politics
President Obama's decision to head to Copenhagen for the final sessions there is a symbolic gesture on the importance of the matter - but the 'climategate' scandal may cast a longer shadow for Democratic strategists.
The UN's Copenhagen conference on climate change that kicks off on Monday is already seen as an event that is as much about agenda as it is about science. And while the perceived threats to humanity on climate change are very much matters of a global nature, the attendance of U.S. President Barack Obama at the summit's ending sessions - a reversal from the White House's previous decision not to attend - is a symbolic reflection of America's commitment to a worldwide emissions treaty.
However, the problem for President Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress - in broadly supporting the cap-and-trade legislation still pending in the Senate - is the scientific collusion scandal known as "climategate."
The elephant in the room is the questions raised by the emails which have been made public,” Congressman John Shadegg, (R-Ariz), told Politico. “Anyone who thinks that the emails are insignificant, that they don’t damage the credibility of the entire movement, is naïve.”
After a large body of emails from the University of Anglia and a number of prominent climate change scientists were hacked and placed online - revealing attempts to manipulate scientific data on global temperatures, disallow peer review on the methodologies behind the publication of that data, and generally display derision toward other scientists who held alternative views on the causes and machinations of climate change - it was later revealed that the University of Anglia team threw away all of the core temperature data from which their entire body of work was based.
This is the long shadow of "climategate" that has been cast over both the UN Copenhagen summit and the Obama administration's desire to put forward American cap-and-trade legislation. The controversy has united and mobilized Republicans, many of whom see the cap-and-trade issue as one of economics. With 2010 elections on the horizon across the U.S., the "climategate" matter is certain to present meaningful challenges to supporters of carbon emission legislation.
The White House has held to its assertion that the controversy has not changed the science, citing the general "consensus" among scientists that has been referenced often.
"The scientists may be able to change their story and do more research, but once Congress passes a law, it will be as difficult to undo the consequences of that law as putting milk back in the cow," Congressman James Sensenbrenner, (R-Wisc.) told Politico.
More about Climate change, Climategate, Copenhagen, Global warming, Democrats
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