What do scientists think about stolen emails?

Today, when we talk with Ed Perry, Outreach Coordinator of the Global Warming Campaign of the National Wildlife Federation, we will be discussing the witch hunt by members of the Young Americans for Freedom, the 9.12 Project, and the Commonwealth Foundation who have used stolen emails as one more pretext for attacking climate science in general as well as particular climate scientists. Mr. Perry has told local news, "What we see here is a character assassination of [Michael Mann] who has submitted articles in peer reviewed scientific journals that have been vetted by other scientists and his character's being assassinated.” Co-host of this show, Peter Buckland, told another local news outlet, "This going after Michael Mann is really just kind of this way of manufacturing a controversy which is meant to fuel denial of climate change."

Mann has been exonerated of 3 of 4 charges by an investigative team at Penn State. One more charge is being taken up by another panel with more expertise on the particular charge. The American Association for the Advancement of Science has stated that it supports these investigations and finds them appropriate.
Scientific integrity demands robust, independent peer review, however, and AAAS therefore emphasized that investigations are appropriate whenever significant questions are raised regarding the transparency and rigor of the scientific method, the peer-review process, or the responsibility of individual scientists. The responsible institutions are mounting such investigations.
These seem reasonable measures to many. Some say that YAF, the 9.12 Project, and the Commonwealth Foundation and their corporate and think tank backers think that climate science is guilty until found innocent which they think is impossible because it's guilty. As one science teacher recently told me, "They won't let go until they get the answer they want."

What do scientists think of these shenanigans?

Two letters were recently submitted from prominent scientists and organizations asserting that climate change is real, thoroughly supported through the scientific enterprise, and that we must act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (like CO2) immediately. On December 4th, 2009 (updated December 7th), 29 scientists wrote "An Open Letter to Congress from U.S. Scientists on Climate Change and Recently Stolen Emails" that states:
As U.S. scientists with substantial expertise on climate change and its impacts on natural ecosystems, our built environment and human well-being, we want to assure policy makers and the public of the integrity of the underlying scientific research and the need for urgent action to reduce heat-trapping emissions. In the last few weeks, opponents of taking action on climate change have misrepresented both the content and the significance of stolen emails to obscure public understanding of climate science and the scientific process.

We would like to set the record straight.

The body of evidence that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming is overwhelming. The content of the stolen emails has no impact whatsoever on our overall understanding that human activity is driving dangerous levels of global warming. The scientific process depends on open access to methodology, data, and a rigorous peer-review process. The robust exchange of ideas in the peer-reviewed literature regarding climate science is evidence of the high degree of integrity in this process.
The signatories on that letter come from environmental, biological, physical, chemical, and atmospheric scientists from the United States' most prestigious and elite universities and organizations including the Union of Concerned Scientists, Harvard, MIT, Rutgers, Ohio State, Rice, UC San Diego, and Stanford.

The letter above reaffirms an October 21, 2009 letter, itself a reaffirmation of a 2006 statement, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, American Statistical Association, and 13 other scientific organizations. They write:
Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver...

If we are to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, emissions of greenhouse gases must be dramatically reduced. In addition, adaptation will be necessary to address those impacts that are already unavoidable. Adaptation efforts include improved infrastructure design, more sustainable management of water and other natural resources, modified agricultural practices, and improved emergency responses to storms, floods, fires and heat waves.
Scientists had good reason to believe that this was occurring almost fifty years ago and the evidence today is incontrovertible. As the AAAS has stated elsewhere, “the pace of change and the evidence of harm have increased markedly over the last five years. The time to control greenhouse gas emissions is now.” The scientists in relevant fields think these emails are a distracting political ploys. Manufactured controversies.

So why the misdirection? What are the motives behind the climate denialist movement? What can you do about it? Listen today, Friday February 26th from 4-5 pm and get the scoop from Ed Perry.

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