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article imageIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change refutes 'climategate'

By Stephanie Dearing     Dec 6, 2009 in Science
On the cusp of global greenhouse gas emission negotions which begin Monday in Copenhagen, the IPCC has issued a statement backing the science behind findings of climate change.
The rumours and speculation about climategate have brought the attention of the world to zero in on the Copenhagen climate change negotiations in a way that never would have happened three weeks ago. In response to climategate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), based in Geneva, Switzerland, has issued a statement assuring the world that the science behind IPCC conclusions on climate change is sound: "... IPCC WGI 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."
The IPCC Working Group went on to say "... The body of evidence [for climate change] is the result of the careful and painstaking work of hundreds of scientists worldwide. The internal consistency from multiple lines of evidence strongly supports the work of the scientific community, including those individuals singled out in these email exchanges, many of whom have dedicated their time and effort to develop these findings in teams of Lead Authors within the production of the series of IPCC Assessment Reports during the past 20 years."
While divisions between schools of thought on climate change have always existed, the emergence of climategate has given climate change skeptics fuel and presents a threat to the success of the Copenhagen negotiations. The negotiations were already threatened by disagreement among world leaders on how to implement greenhouse gas emission controls, resulting in the coining of the moniker nopenhagen. Skeptics claim that the Copenhagen conference is not much more than green washing. Green washing normally refers to product or business promotions which claim the product/business is environmentally friendly, when this is not the fact. Public opinion is now swinging against controlling greenhouse gas emissions, even going so far as to claim that science is at death's door because of climategate.
There are two people who have been targeted by climategate, Professor Michael Mann who works at Penn State University in the United States, and Professor Phil Jones, who is based at the University of East Anglia. Mann's work, said Penn State in a release, underwent an investigation in 2005-2006, which resulted in the finding that his methodology was sound. Penn State is conducting a review into the matter, as is East Anglia. Jones stepped down from his position while the investigation is conducted. Both investigations are internal.
Mann has responded to the leaking of emails saying "It's an 11th hour smear campaign where they've stolen personal e-mails from scientists, mined them for single words or phrases that can be taken out of context and misrepresent what scientists are saying."
The controversy over climategate is now spilling over onto key environmental leaders, such as Al Gore. Gore, who was to make a presentation on his new book, Our Choice, at an appearance at the climate summit on December 16th, cancelled -- and not even the event organizers know why. However, there are many who allege he has cancelled because of climategate. Some 3,000 ticket-holders are affected by the cancellation. There was no word if ticket holders would be reimbursed. Some Hollywood glitteratti are now demanding that the two Oscars for An Inconvenient Truth be rescinded.
RealClimate, one of the websites which the illegally hacked emails were sent to, said, in part, "... More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords. The truly paranoid will put this down to the hackers also being in on the plot though.
Instead, there is a peek into how scientists actually interact and the conflicts show that the community is a far cry from the monolith that is sometimes imagined. People working constructively to improve joint publications; scientists who are friendly and agree on many of the big picture issues, disagreeing at times about details and engaging in ‘robust’ discussions; Scientists expressing frustration at the misrepresentation of their work in politicized arenas and complaining when media reports get it wrong; Scientists resenting the time they have to take out of their research to deal with over-hyped nonsense. None of this should be shocking... "
Although the Copenhagen website does not refer to climategate, the latest news is that it is thought hackers from Russia were behind the release of the emails, with the implication that there was a sinister purpose behind the hack. Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the Vice-Chairman of the IPCC told press "This was not a job for amateurs." However, it is anticipated that some nations participating in the negotiations, such as Saudi Arabia, will use climategate to resist agreement on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The Sierra Club has asked the RCMP to investigate an apparent Canadian link to climategate, saying the emails were published on at least one Canadian web site.
The IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
More about Climategate, Intergovernmental panel climate change, Inconvenient truth, Gore, Michael mann
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