- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 7, 2010

An independent investigation into the British global warming scientists involved in the “climategate” e-mails concluded Wednesday that researchers did not intentionally skew data, though they did violate freedom of information laws and allowed the dissemination of misleading information.

The report’s authors gave a near-total exoneration of the work of scientists at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit.

“We find that their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt,” according to the investigation, led by Muir Russell.

More than 1,000 e-mails to and from CRU researchers were either hacked or leaked last year, in the run-up to a major meeting of world leaders called in Copenhagen in December to hash out a new global policy.

The e-mails exposed a combative approach the scientists took toward their critics and seemed to indicate scientists were shaping some data to fit their own beliefs about what conclusions should be reached.

In one e-mail, Phil Jones, the director of CRU, talked about using a “trick” to try to shape data on a key chart that showed spike in temperature at the end of the last century, and in another he asked that e-mails be deleted to try to prevent them from being released under freedom of information laws.

CRU is one of only a few centers to maintain broad climate data. Questions about its methods and conclusions could undermine much of the research that suggests the Earth’s atmospheric temperature is warming due to manmade greenhouse gas emissions.

Wednesday’s report is one of several investigations into aspects of CRU e-mails, and was meant to focus on whether the scientists violated research standards. An earlier investigation by another panel concluded that CRU’s science about global warming remains sound.

Steve McIntyre, who made many of the information requests that angered CRU and who runs Climate Audit, a website skeptical of global-warming claims, said the investigation was a whitewash.

“I guess the main question coming out of the Muir Russell report is when is he going to be appointed to the House of Lords and his choice of appellation. Lord Muir of Holyrood?” Mr. McIntyre wrote on ClimateAudit.org.

He said the investigation only sought to hear from CRU scientists, not critics, and never asked key questions about their activities.

The report did accuse the researchers of failing to follow through on British freedom of information laws, and said the researchers need to be more open in general in order to boost confidence in their work.

Also, concerning the “trick” e-mail from Mr. Jones, the investigation found that while the manipulation of data in a now-famous chart was not misleading, the researchers should have said somewhere on the chart exactly what they were doing with the data.

Officials at the University of East Anglia took the report as a complete vindication.

“The overwhelming conclusion of this report is clear - that the scientific integrity of UEA, its CRU and its scientists is beyond reproach,” said Vice-Chancellor Edward Acton. “We hope this means that the wilder assertions about the climate science community will stop.”

Mr. Acton also announced the university was reinstating Mr. Jones as director of CRU. He had stepped down after the e-mails came to light.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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