Climate scientists dismiss skeptics in face of e-mail scandal | Environment| All topics from climate change to conservation | DW | 09.12.2009
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Environment

Climate scientists dismiss skeptics in face of e-mail scandal

After facing charges of "dramatizing" climate change, the environmental experts involved are refusing to cave in to pressure. Global warming skeptics have called "Climategate" prove climate change occurs naturally.

One windmill stands in front of a group of smoking chimneys

The scientists are confident that their research speaks for itself

Members of the Nobel-Prize-winning panel of climate scientists have rallied behind their colleagues, saying that they said had been "targeted" for email hacking to sway the outcome of the Copenhagen conference.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said he believed the hacking incident was a calculated act.

"The persons who have worked on this report, and those who unfortunately have been victims of this terrible and illegal act, are outstanding scientists, and have contributed enormously over the 20, 21 years of the existence of the IPCC," he told a press conference at the UN summit on Tuesday.

Nobel-winning environmental crusader Al Gore said the e-mails were taken out of context.

"These are private e-mails, more than 10 years old, and they've tried to blow it up into something that it's really not," Gore told CNN on Wednesday.

Dubbed "Climategate," global warming skeptics have said the thousands of e-mails and draft documents prove scientists manipulated data to dramatize the scope of climate change.

Some of the thousands of messages, purloined from scientists at Britain's University of East Anglia, a top center for climate research, expressed frustration at the scientists' inability to explain what they described as a temporary slowdown in warming. They also discussed ways to counter the campaigns of climate-change skeptics.

"No review necessary"

Hands typing on a computer keyboard

The hackers posted hundreds of private emails and other documents online

The authors have said their messages were sometimes intended to be flippant or ironic responses, and are being distorted to suit climate skeptics. Pachauri dismissed contentions that the IPCC's landmark Fourth Assessment Report should be reviewed.

In 2007, the study declared that the evidence of warming was "unequivocal" and damage to glaciers, snowfall and changing seasons were among the signs that climate change was already happening.

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said the incident had had scant impact at the Copenhagen talks and insisted the IPCC's integrity remained untouched.

"I do not believe that it has damaged the credibility of IPCC, given the fact that that is a process where 2,500 scientists do not research themselves but review works that had been published and peer reviewed," he said. "I think the science produced by the IPCC is rock-solid."

On Monday, Saudi Arabia seized the opening sessions of the UN climate talks to say that public trust in climate science had been "shaken" and an independent probe was needed. Pachauri dismissed this claim, stating that "oil and politics mix very well. I'm not too sure that oil and science mixes very well."

Support from the White House

A walrus sits on the edge of a small, partly-molten ice-berg

Most scientists believe that climate change will have a large impact

The White House dismissed as "silly" the notion that global warming science had been compromised by e-mails exposing a row between the climate scientists.

"I think everybody is clear on the science," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters. "I think scientists are clear on the science. I think many on Capitol Hill are clear on the science. I think that this notion that there is some debate ... on the science is kind of silly."

Separately, an IPCC working group said it "firmly stands" behind its work and the exhaustive process of open debate and independent peer review.

"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... during the past 20 years."

Pachauri has described the email interceptions as an "illegal act."

"The only issue that has to be dealt with as far as this occurrence is concerned is to find out who is behind it," said Pachauri.

ew/AFP/dpa

Editor: Sean Sinico

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