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No Easy Climate Answers: The Aftermath of “Climategate” and the Copenhagen Accord By Stefanie e. dittert, rhino energy llC


hether your views align more closely with Al Gore’s inconvenient truths or Lord Christopher Monckton’s unapologetic skepticism on the topic of anthropogenic global warming, one common thread has recently weaved its way through both camps: uncertainty as to how the events of the past few months will ultimately impact global climate change legislation, particularly with regard to carbon emissions. The controversy began in November, a mere two weeks before the world’s leaders were set to gather in Copenhagen for the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference. A scandal that has been christened as “Climategate” rocked the Climate Research Unit (“CRU”) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. More than 1,000 emails and 2,000 other documents spanning the past 13 years were copied from a campus server and distributed across the internet. An initial read through the most controversial of these emails suggested misconduct by some of the world’s foremost american coal council

climate change scientists. Widely publicized quotes were trumpeted by skeptics to imply efforts by CRU to commit a litany of sins: the conscious distortion of global average temperature data to better support the theory of global warming; the destruction of emails and files to avoid disclosure to critics under the US and UK Freedom of Information Acts; and the discrediting and silencing of global warming dissenters in both scientific journals and the peer review process for reports issued by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”). In the aftermath that followed, these claims were unequivocally rebuked by the scientists involved. Their most common argument was that their words were taken out of context and misrepresented to imply a meaning that was never intended. With regard to data manipulation, scientists at CRU maintained that their publications were of the highest quality and consistent with those from other institutions such as NASA. The Associated Press conducted an independent review of the emails and

declared they did not support claims that any climate change science had been distorted. Months after the initial breach, the battles continue, and the truth seems to be somewhere in the middle of the two camps. Both the University of East Anglia and the British government have initiated investigations into the allegations. The University has commissioned an independent review to evaluate whether its peer review process complies with best practices in the scientific community. Furthermore, CRU issued a statement that it would publicly publish the full body of its climate change data as soon as it received the necessary clearance from certain non-disclosure agreements. Though all these actions are steps in the right direction, there remains a troubling underpinning to the situation. The Climate Research Unit is one of the world’s foremost repositories for data in support of anthropogenic global warming and a critical source of data that supports the climate models and conclusions of the IPCC. In 39

Profile for American Coal Council

American Coal Issue 1 2010  

American Coal Issue 1 2010