- The Washington Times - Friday, December 4, 2009

LONDON | A British university said Thursday that it would investigate whether scientists at its prestigious Climatic Research Unit fudged data on global warming.

Thousands of pieces of correspondence between some of the world’s leading climate scientists were stolen from the unit at the University of East Anglia and leaked to the Internet late last month. Skeptics of man-made global warming say the e-mails are proof that scientists have been conspiring to hide evidence showing that global warming was not as strong as generally accepted.

Phil Jones, the director of the unit, stepped down Tuesday pending the result of the investigation.

The university had promised a probe when Mr. Jones stepped down but didn’t specify what the investigation would encompass. Thursday’s announcement was the first acknowledgment that the research itself would be under scrutiny.

East Anglia said its review will examine the e-mails and other information “to determine whether there is any evidence of the manipulation or suppression of data which is at odds with acceptable scientific practice.”

The theft of the e-mails and their publication online - only weeks before the U.N. summit on global warming - has been politically explosive, even if researchers say the messages’ content has no bearing on the principles of climate change itself.

There was further criticism after the revelation that the university had thrown out much of the raw temperature data on which some of its global warming research was based. The university said last week that the data, stored on paper and magnetic tape, was dumped in the 1980s to save space when the unit moved to a new location.

The release of the data has prompted some lawmakers in Britain to warn that critics of climate change want to wreck any global agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that could be achieved at the Dec. 7-18 U.N. climate change summit in Copenhagen.

Ed Miliband, Britain’s climate change secretary, on Thursday called those challenging the mainstream scientific view on climate change irresponsible and dangerous.

“We have to beware of the climate saboteurs, the people who want to say this is somehow in doubt and want to cast aspersions on the whole process,” Mr. Miliband told reporters.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have grilled government scientists on the matter, with Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, arguing that the e-mails show that the world needs to re-examine experts’ claims that the science on warming is settled.

The University of East Anglia’s investigation comes in addition to a probe by Pennsylvania State University, which is also examining e-mails by its own researcher, Michael Mann.