Climatic Research Unit email controversy

TitleClimatic Research Unit email controversy
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication2015

The Climatic Research Unit email controversy (also known as "Climategate") began in November 2009 with the hacking of a server at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) by an external attacker, copying thousands of emails and computer files to various internet locations several weeks before the Copenhagen Summit on climate change.The story was first broken by climate change critics with columnist James Delingpole popularising the term "Climategate" to describe the controversy. Those denying the significance of human caused climate change argued that the emails showed global warming was a scientific conspiracy, that scientists manipulated climate data and attempted to suppress critics. The CRU rejected this, saying the emails had been taken out of context and merely reflected an honest exchange of ideas.
The mainstream media picked up the story as negotiations over climate change mitigation began in Copenhagen on 7 December. Because of the timing, scientists, policy makers and public relations experts said that the release of emails was a smear campaign intended to undermine the climate conference. In response to the controversy, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released statements supporting the scientific consensus that the Earth's mean surface temperature had been rising for decades, with the AAAS concluding "based on multiple lines of scientific evidence that global climate change caused by human activities is now is a growing threat to society."
Eight committees investigated the allegations and published reports, finding no evidence of fraud or scientific misconduct. However, the reports called on the scientists to avoid any such allegations in the future by taking steps to regain public confidence in their work, for example by opening up access to their supporting data, processing methods and software, and by promptly honouring freedom of information requests. The scientific consensus that global warming is occurring as a result of human activity remained unchanged throughout the investigations.