A new batch of stolen emails between climate scientists hit the Web yesterday, less than a week before U.N. climate talks begin in South Africa.
The emails appear to be part of the same trove of messages taken from a British university and posted to the Internet in November 2009, just before a major U.N. climate meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark. Both sets of emails feature the same scientists and were pulled from roughly the same time frame.
The 2009 incident, dubbed "Climategate," sparked accusations that climate scientists had manipulated and suppressed data that did not support the idea that human activities have contributed to climate change. Several independent reviews found no evidence for those accusations, although a few of the investigations found fault with scientists' compliance with information-sharing laws.
The University of East Anglia, the school from which the first batch of emails was taken, said that it could not confirm the authenticity of the newly released messages, citing the "sheer volume of material."
The school also said there was "no evidence of a recent breach of our systems." But researchers featured in the trove of the more than 5,000 emails said those they had examined appeared to be authentic.
The new emails were posted on a Russian server yesterday in a large file that also contained a note hinting at a motivation for the latest data dump.
"'One dollar can save a life' -- the opposite must be true," the note says. "Poverty is a death sentence. Nations must invest $37 trillion in energy technologies by 2030 to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at sustainable levels."
Climate skeptics applaud
The hacker or hackers claimed to have another 220,000 messages between climate scientists, but no immediate plans to release them. The note also contained excerpts from several of the scientists' emails.
Climate skeptics said the new emails provide more evidence for their claims that mainstream climate scientists have distorted the evidence for climate change.
"The apparent release of the Climategate 2.0 emails is just one more reason to halt the Obama EPA's job-killing global warming agenda," Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement.
Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Center on Energy and Environment, said the messages "make it clear that the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is an organized conspiracy dedicated to tricking the world into believing that global warming is a crisis that requires a drastic response."
And the skeptical blogosphere was equally abuzz, with the popular blog "Watts Up With That?" featuring a post on the email release headlined "Climategate 2.0 emails -- They're real and they're spectacular!"
But researchers featured in the messages said they were confident the emails did not contain any smoking guns that would undermine the central tenets of climate science or provide evidence of scientific misconduct.
Scientists see 'leftovers' from earlier hacking
"They're the leftovers from Thanksgiving 2009," said Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. "All the stuff that they didn't put out then, this is just another selection from that thing. There hasn't been a fresh hacking incident. It's just more of the same."
Another scientist who appears in both batches of "Climategate" emails, Pennsylvania State University climatologist Michael Mann, called the incident "a truly pathetic episode."
"Agents doing the dirty bidding of the fossil fuel industry know they can't contest the fundamental science of human-caused climate change," he said in an email. "So they have instead turned to smear, innuendo, criminal hacking of websites, and leaking out-of-context snippets of personal emails in their effort to try to confuse the public about the science and thereby forestall any action to combat this critical threat."
In its statement yesterday, the University of East Anglia also questioned the timing of the latest email release.
"These emails have the appearance of having been held back after the theft of data and emails in 2009 to be released at a time designed to cause maximum disruption to the imminent international climate talks," UEA said in its statement. "This appears to be a carefully timed attempt to reignite controversy over the science behind climate change when that science has been vindicated by three separate independent reviews and a number of studies."
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Norfolk Police, who have been investigating how the emails released in 2009 were taken from the University of East Anglia's servers, told the London Guardian, "We are aware of the release of the document cache. The contents will be of interest to our investigation, which is ongoing."
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500