• Online publication seized on by denial bloggers
• No evidence that data was falsified, says Met Office
By Leo Hickman, Suzanne Goldenberg and Caroline Davies
www.guardian.co.uk, Monday 23 November 2009 20.42 GMT
The University of East Anglia is to launch a review into the theft and online publication of hundreds of emails sent by scientists in its climate research unit.
Selected and unverified extracts from the emails have been used by climate change deniers to claim that the scientists colluded to manipulate climate data, causing a storm on deniers' blogs. The charge is rejected as "despicable" by those involved and as groundless by leading scientific bodies.
With less than two weeks before the crucial UN climate change summit in Copenhagen, climate scientists and campaigners are assessing the damage the incident has caused to the public understanding of global warming. Opinion was split last night over how to deal with the fallout. …
The Met Office, which jointly produces global temperature data with the climate research unit, said there was no need for an inquiry. "If you look at the emails, there isn't any evidence that the data was falsified and there's no evidence that climate change is a hoax," a spokesman said.
"It's a shame that some of the sceptics have had to take this rather shallow attempt to discredit robust science undertaken by some of the world's most respected scientists. It's no surprise, with the Copenhagen talks just days away, that this has happened now."
Michael Mann, director of the earth system science centre at the University of Pennsylvania, and a long-term target of sceptics, agreed the timing was suspicious.
"What appears to have happened is that going into this monumental climate summit in a couple of weeks the other side, which does not favour taking action to combat climate change, resorted to an illegal smear campaign," he said.
"They are going through them and cherry-picking them for any word they can find that is cited out of context and can appear incriminating. I think it's despicable."
He told the Guardian the emails – though embarrassing – did not undermine the body of science. "This doesn't make any difference at all in degree of consensus on climate change," Mann said. "I hope it boomerangs back on the criminals." …