AP reporters read emails, 1 million words, and queried “seven experts in research ethics, climate science and science policy.”
In the past three weeks since the e-mails were posted, longtime opponents of mainstream climate science have repeatedly quoted excerpts of about a dozen e-mails. Republican congressmen and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin have called for either independent investigations, a delay in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulation of greenhouse gases or outright boycotts of the Copenhagen international climate talks. They cited a “culture of corruption” that the e-mails appeared to show.
That is not what the AP found.
The Associated Press has emerged as one of the leaders in climate science reporting — just by actually talking to leading independent scientists and experts about major stories. That was clear back in October when they published perhaps the best news article debunking the myth of recent global cooling (see Must-read AP story: Statisticians reject global cooling; Caldeira “” “To talk about global cooling at the end of the hottest decade the planet has experienced in many thousands of years is ridiculous”).
In the case of the emails, while many in the status quo media have done a dreadful job — see WashPost goes tabloid, publishes second falsehood-filled op-ed by Sarah Palin in five months — the AP is in good company with its piece, “AP IMPACT: Science not faked, but not pretty“:
- Nature editorial: “Nothing in the e-mails undermines the scientific case that global warming is real “” or that human activities are almost certainly the cause.”
- Washington Times: “stolen e-mails mean less than they seem”
- Reuters: “ANALYSIS-Hacked climate e-mails awkward, not game changer”
- Hacked climate e-mail rebutted by scientists
- Time: “The truth is that the e-mails, while unseemly, do little to change the overwhelming scientific consensus on the reality of man-made climate change.”
The AP once again took pains to talk to thoroughly review the subject they were writing about and talk to leading independent experts:
The e-mails were stolen from the computer network server of the climate research unit at the University of East Anglia in southeast England, an influential source of climate science, and were posted online last month. The university shut down the server and contacted the police.
The AP studied all the e-mails for context, with five reporters reading and rereading them “” about 1 million words in total….
As part of the AP review, summaries of the e-mails that raised issues from the potential manipulation of data to intensely personal attacks were sent to seven experts in research ethics, climate science and science policy.
That approach makes for both fascinating reading and credible analysis:
“This is normal science politics, but on the extreme end, though still within bounds,” said Dan Sarewitz, a science policy professor at Arizona State University. “We talk about science as this pure ideal and the scientific method as if it is something out of a cookbook, but research is a social and human activity full of all the failings of society and humans, and this reality gets totally magnified by the high political stakes here.”
Mark Frankel, director of scientific freedom, responsibility and law at the American Association for the Advancement of Science saw “no evidence of falsification or fabrication of data, although concerns could be raised about some instances of very ‘generous interpretations.’ ”
The AP’s discussion of the individual e-mails that have stirred controversy is also worth reading. The AP again took pains to be fair:
None of the e-mails flagged by the AP and sent to three climate scientists viewed as moderates in the field changed their view that global warming is man-made and a threat.
Nor did it alter their support of the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which some of the scientists helped write.”My overall interpretation of the scientific basis for (man-made) global warming is unaltered by the contents of these e-mails,” said Gabriel Vecchi, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist.
Gerald North, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University, headed a National Academy of Sciences study that looked at “” and upheld as valid “” Mann’s earlier studies that found the 1990s were the hottest years in centuries.
“In my opinion the meaning is much more innocent than might be perceived by others taken out of context. Much of this is overblown,” North said.
Kudos to AP and the large team they put on this important story:
Associated Press writers Jeff Donn in Boston, Justin Pritchard in Los Angeles contributed to this report. Troy Thibodeaux in Washington provided technical assistance. Satter reported from London, Borenstein from Washington and Ritter from New York.
- 1700 UK scientists come forward to reaffirm climate science
- The American Association for the Advancement of Science reaffirms “The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society.”
- American Meteorological Society reaffirms “that the atmosphere, ocean, and land surface are warming; that humans have significantly contributed to this change; and that further climate change will continue to have important impacts on human societies”¦.”
- Statement on stolen emails by IPCC Working Group I on basic climate science
- Debunking Misinformation About Stolen Climate Emails