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EDITORIAL: Universities take action on Climategate

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The Obama administration might think Climategate is a nonevent, but on Monday, Pennsylvania State University announced it was launching an investigation into the academic conduct of Michael Mann, director of the school's Earth System Science Center. Yesterday, it was announced that Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, would step aside while his university conducts an investigation. With so much fraud being exposed in the academic community that studies and promotes global-warming theories, an example has to be made of someone.

There are dozens of researchers at other institutions involved in this scandal surrounding leaked e-mails that discuss covering up evidence of global cooling and destroying research that discounts global warming. For example, in the United States, the National Center for Atmospheric Research is in the thick of the e-mail chain.

Mr. Mann is front and center in the debate over what constitutes unethical research. In the current controversy, he is named in about 270 of the more than 1,000 leaked e-mails, many of which detail disturbing and improper academic behavior. On Monday, he told the Penn State student newspaper that the controversy over the leaked e-mails was simply part of a systematic smear campaign to prevent climate researchers from doing their work and that the leaks were timed to derail next week's climate summit.

The evidence suggests that his troubles were not created by a smear campaign but are the result of his own shenanigans. In an e-mail titled "IPCC & FOI" (referring to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Freedom of Information Act), Mr. Jones wrote to Mr. Mann, asking: "Mike: Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith [Briffa] re [the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report]? Keith will do likewise. ... Can you also email Gene [Wahl] and get him to do the same? I don't have his new email address. We will be getting Caspar [Amman] to do likewise."

Although Mr. Mann acknowledges that he received this message, he claims that neither he nor anyone else actually deleted any e-mails to hide information from a Freedom of Information request on how the United Nation's IPCC report was written. His e-mail response at the time, however, is quite damning because the language makes it seem that he went along with Mr. Jones' proposed initiative to destroy evidence. Far from criticizing the request, Mr. Mann wrote back: "I'll contact Gene about this ASAP. His new email is: generwahl@yahoo.com. Talk to you later, Mike."

This disturbing willingness to participate in skullduggery is consistent with other leaked communications with Mr. Mann, including his now notorious e-mail about how "to hide the decline [in temperature]," which demolishes leftist claims that global temperatures are increasing.

Untold millions in federal funds have been granted to American academics and institutions ensnared in Climategate. Congress and the administration should be investigating the charges of destroyed documents and data as well as the general unwillingness to share data funded by taxpayers. An academic investigation is a start, but it's not enough, considering the role of many institutions in this cover-up. With so much federal money for academic research involved, trusting universities to get to the bottom of this scandal is akin to leaving a fox in charge of the henhouse.

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