It's no use pretending this isn't a major blow. The emails extracted by a hacker from the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia could scarcely be more damaging. I am now convinced that they are genuine, and I'm dismayed and deeply shaken by them.
Yes, the messages were obtained illegally. Yes, all of us say things in emails that would be excruciating if made public. Yes, some of the comments have been taken out of context. But there are some messages that require no spin to make them look bad. There appears to be evidence here of attempts to prevent scientific data from being released, and even to destroy material that was subject to a freedom of information request.
Worse still, some of the emails suggest efforts to prevent the publication of work by climate sceptics, or to keep it out of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I believe that the head of the unit, Phil Jones, should now resign. Some of the data discussed in the emails should be re-analysed.
And now, Tim "Global-Warming-Is-Settled-Science" Flannery, Chairman of the Copenhagen Climate Council, is backtracking:
We’re dealing with an incomplete understanding of the way the earth system works… When we come to the last few years when we haven’t seen a continuation of that (warming) trend we don’t understand all of the factors that create earth’s climate...We just don’t understand the way the whole system works… See, these people work with models, computer modelling. So when the computer modelling and the real world data disagree you’ve got a very interesting problem… Sure for the last 10 years we’ve gone through a slight cooling trend.
Given their past zeal as defenders of the IPCC, CRU, etc., both of these gentlemen are to be commended for eating crow.
As a side note, I don't think anything that's come to light so far completely undermines AGW theory. But, the fact is that even most "skeptics" have always admitted that humans were contributing to global warming. The debate has not been whether the earth has warmed over the last century, but how much of that warming was caused by humans, how much it is likely to warm in the future, and therefore how many liberties humanity should be prepared to forfeit to combat it.
Alarmist have relied on models produced by CRU for the IPCC to argue for draconian controls over CO2 production, cost and consequences be damned, while so-called skeptics have argued that the science is not clear and therefore a more measured and less invasive approach is appropriate. Now, in light of climategate, even some of the most ardent alarmists are starting to sound like skeptics.