Climategate: Officially a Fake Scandal


Despite relentless noise from climate skeptics about the so-called “Climategate” email scandal, an independent review released today cleared the scientists involved of wrong-doing.

East Anglia University, home of the Climatic Research Unit whose servers were hacked to obtain the emails in question, commissioned an independent review council to look into whether there was any evidence of malfeasance among scientists involved in the email exchange. The panel concluded:

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 disorganised researchers who were ill-prepared for being the focus of public attention. As with many small research groups their internal procedures were rather informal.

The panel did note that there is a need for greater collaboration between climate scientists, outside of just the small group at CRU. But the university called the conclusion “gratifying.”

Other independent analysis has also made it clear that skeptics are making a lot of noise out of nothing. The Science and Technology Committee of the British House of Commons also looked at the case and declared earlier this month that there was no evidence that scientists had misrepresented climate data. They did, however, cite CRU director Phil Jones, for improper handling of freedom of information act requests. An inquiry at Pennsylvania State University into the role of climate scientist Michael Mann also reached a similar conclusion: the climate evidence is solid, even if the researchers might have behaved poorly. East Anglia has commissioned a separate Independent Climate Change E-mail Review investigation, which is still underway.

The reviews haven’t put a damper on the efforts of climate skeptics to exploit the emails. The Heritage Foundation and Competitive Enterprise Institute are planning an event on it later this week titled, “The Climategate Scandals: What Has Been Revealed And What Does It Mean?”

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.