Here we go again.
After a federal probe and many other investigations cleared climate researchers at the University of East Anglia and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration two years ago of any misuse or manipulation of data after their e-mails were released to the media, the shadowy climate denial hackers are at it again.
A new batch of e-mails from the original file that was hacked from the University of East Anglia was “leaked” to the media using the exact formula from two years ago—isolating quotes from their original context and releasing them just before a major United Nations climate summit.
Little is different in the new batch of e-mails, which contains nearly 5,000 messages. The hackers simply caught scientists doing what scientists do—arguing vehemently to try and disprove each others’ hypotheses. I learned in high school science class that scientific theories have to be falsifiable, so it only makes sense that scientists quarrel about their findings. It doesn’t disprove the whole of human-caused climate change, about which there is an international scientific consensus, adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The main targets of the hackers, scientists Phil Jones and his colleagues, explain many of the cherry-picked quotes at Climate Progress, and provide the missing information on the other side of the ellipses.
But as the UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa kicked off Monday, the new cache of e-mail messages will prove to do little in the way of derailing the global negotiations, which are an attempt to produce a binding agreement that would limit greenhouse gas emissions and stabilize the climate.
As the global Occupy Together movements have highlighted climate change as a major issue among other grievances, the demonstrations have put pressure on international governments to help save the planet. Diplomats from the countries most affected by climate change have floated the idea of Occupying the UN talks after the former president of Costa Rica called on them to do so.
Climate action has flourished internationally and nationally as thousands gathered to surround the White House to pressure President Obama to deny the construction permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, an action hailed by many as the cause of the recent move to delay decision on the 1,700-mile tar sands pipeline until 2013. Other climate actions organized by 350.org and prominent environmental groups produced amazing displays by activists coordinating across the globe just this year.
In the context of the massive Occupy movements and the surge in environmental and climate activism, the new batch of e-mails almost seems like a last-ditch effort to create even the smallest stir at the Durban talks.
It seems unlikely that the e-mails will actually create any stir.
The questions now are: Who is behind the attacks on climate scientists? How are they funded? And who has the intent and the ability to launch such a PR campaign?