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Will clash of science and politics undermine Copenhagen summit?

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Phil Jones, the head of East Anglia University’s Climatic Research Unit where the emails originated, has stepped down temporarily as the university looks into whether the key science produced by the center to bolster influential UN reports was compromised. Pennsylvania State University has also begun an inquiry into whether paleoclimatologist Michael Mann, a co-author of last month’s Copenhagen Diagnosis document that upheld major climate change tenets, made any scientific missteps in his research.

White House still sees serious climate threat

The White House and Congress have balked at investigating the issue. White House science adviser John Holdren says the revelations have not swayed the administration belief that global warming is a serious threat that needs policy prescription, including a cap-and-trade bill that would reduce US carbon emissions by up to 20 percent by 2020.

There appears to be no so-called smoking gun in the emails that disproves the theory of human-influenced climate change.

“There is so much information that tells us the planet has been warming,” Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeler at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said during a teleconference call with reporters Friday. “No independent study is going to come up with anything other than what we’ve already concluded.”

But allegations that influential climate scientists worried about the political implications of their studies -- one email called the lack of warming in the last decade “a travesty” -- is disconcerting to many in the scientific community, especially since it now throws doubt on key findings.

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