(Nederlandse versie hier)
What do you do if you don’t agree with the science (or with the perceived political implications thereof), but don’t have any real evidence to back up your position?
You could try breaking in the computer system of a renowned institute, to then release the stolen emails and documents via internet. If your catch is big enough, there will surely be something that could be spun to embarrass the scientists in question (and, by extension, discredit the whole field). Especially emails written before they had their morning coffee serve that purpose really well.
That must be the line of thinking of the hackers who broke into the web server of the Climate Research Unit (CRU in England), and released an enormous amount of emails of the past 13 years.
This (illegal) activity led to quite a “blog-storm” on the internet, with partly predictable reactions, as if suddenly all evidence for the human impact on climate change has been swept away. It is indicative of the speed with which so-called “skeptics” come to their conclusion. As if the conclusion was already in the drawer, waiting to be opened. Perfect timing, just before the Copenhagen climate negotiations.
Even the most eye catching emails, as discussed on several blogs, are relatively innocent if put in the proper context. Some do show a peek in the kitchen of how the scientists in question communicated with each other (not much different from other people, actually) and here and there is some dirty laundry. That scientists do not think highly of so-called “skeptics” comes as no surprise. Many emails are (logically) multi-interpretable: As Ben Hale noted, through ideological glasses it may look like there’s a lot of shady business going on, but –as an example- the same email could also be seen as a more direct way of saying the same as what was later described in a scientific paper. Some climate scientists have also reacted and provide come highly needed context (e.g. Gavin Schmidt at RC).
It is clear that in many discussions about this a mountain is made out of a molehill. No conspiracy of anthropogenic global warming being a complete hoax, or anything of that kind, has been uncovered. The scientific basis for our current understanding of climate change is as solid as it was before, in spite of all the screaming to the contrary.