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“Climategate” Investigation Continues

Mann_treeringAbout a month ago, hackers released a series of emails between climate researchers that called into doubt the validity of scientific findings about man-made global warming. One of the researchers whose emails were leaked was Dr. Michael Mann, Professor of Meteorology here at Penn State. Dr. Mann’s emails contained criticisms of a pair of papers that deny the man-made global warming theory. Dr. Mann’s email partner states that they will keep the papers out of the IPCC report “even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is.”

The story has been picked up by media outlets around the world and resulted in the resignation of Dr. Mann’s email partner, Dr. Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia. Both Penn State and the University of East Anglia have launched investigations into the research practices of Dr. Mann and Dr. Jones, and the United Nations hasn’t ruled out their own inquiry. Global warming critics are using the emails as proof that the theory of man-made global warming is a hoax, but more and more scientists are stating that the emails do not significantly damage the man-made global warming theory’s validity.

On December 4, a group of 25 leading climate researchers wrote in a letter to Congress that “the content of the stolen e-mails has no impact whatsoever on our overall understanding that human activity is driving dangerous levels of global warming. The body of evidence that underlies our understanding of human-caused global warming remains robust.”

Dr. Jones refers to a “trick” of Dr. Mann’s, that has been speculated to mean the altering of data to make it fit Dr. Mann and Dr. Jones’ hypothesis. This “trick” has been trumpeted by global warming skeptics as proof that man-made global warming is a hoax, but Dr. Mann states that it simply referred to the replacing of proxy temperature data from tree rings in recent years with more accurate data from air temperatures. The pair of articles that Dr. Jones discusses burying also turned out to have been underwritten by the American Petroleum Institute, hardly an unbiased source of funding.

So while at first glance it appears that these emails would discredit Dr. Mann and greatly damage the validity of the man-made global warming theory, it seems that the emails have been taken out of context and that Dr. Mann and Dr. Jones’ research remains valid upon closer inspection. But we’ll have to wait and see what the investigations of Penn State and the University of East Anglia find out in order to get the full picture.

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About the Author

Chase Tralka

Chase Tralka is a Senior majoring in Information Sciences and Technology with a minor in Security and Risk Analysis. He is from Northern New Jersey and is involved in far too many organizations to list here. He enjoys photography, cycling, and listening to obscure free jazz music.

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