Climate science must move on from UK email scandal

LONDON Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:16am EST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Reviews last year of a scandal over scientists' leaked emails correctly ruled out data manipulation and showed it was time for climate science to move on, a panel of UK lawmakers said on Tuesday. It is the fourth British review of a scandal dubbed "climategate" which had partly involved the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, based in eastern England.

Leaked emails had appeared to show scientists sniping at climate change skeptics and trying to block publication of certain articles, and drew much media attention in the run-up to a major U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Three reviews were published last year, one by the same panel of lawmakers as reported on Tuesday, and two subsequent independent reports. All three exonerated the climate scientists of trying to manipulate data.

Tuesday's report referred to the view of Britain's chief scientific adviser, John Beddington, that the overall case for climate change was "pretty unequivocal" and tried to draw a line under the affair.

"In our view it is time to make the changes and improvements recommended and with greater openness and transparency move on," it said.

Tuesday's review echoed the others in stressing that there was a need for greater transparency when climate scientists replied to requests for information, urging them to provide the data, techniques and computer programs which would allow others to replicate their findings.

"Providing the means for others to question science in this way will help guard against not only scientific fraud but also the spread of misinformation and unsustainable allegations," the report said.

The review noted that UEA's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) had since invested in new posts which would make it easier to release data.

One of the original, leaked emails had referred to "tricks" to "hide the decline" in temperatures, which the reviews last year accepted were colloquial references to scientific methods and not attempts to mislead people.

Tuesday's report expressed most concern over a claim that CRU scientists had deliberately deleted emails, to avoid having to disclose these to members of the public asking questions about their work under freedom of information rules.

"On the allegation that e-mails were deleted to frustrate requests for information, a firm conclusion has proved elusive," it said.

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