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Climate scientists exonerated in 'climategate' but public trust damaged

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"What is the future of climate science and climate policy after the final inquiry into the released e-mails from CRU?" wonders Mike Hulme, a professor of climate change at the UEA, in a statement. "I believe the CRU e-mails have been a game-changer for science – but has done little to alter the policy conundrums raised by climate change."

Insights into an insular world

The e-mails provided insights into what turned out to be an insular world, where one scientist threatened to beat up skeptical colleagues and others seemed to collude against skeptics in the peer review process.

The most damaging e-mail, perhaps, came from Mr. Jones, who wrote in reference to Pennsylvania State University climatologist Michael Mann's famous "hockey stick" graph showing increased global warming, " ...I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie, from 1981 onward) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline."

In a report commissioned by UEA, Russell found no fault with the "rigor and honesty" of scientists. But he faulted CRU scientists for not using proper labels on the 1999 graph referenced by Jones. The report concluded the result was misleading, but found it was not deliberate since the research caveats were included in the text next to the graph.

Failure to release requested data was ultimately not an issue, Russell found, because qualified researchers could easily find global warming data in other places. And while several e-mails revealed at least an intent to subvert the peer review process in order to exclude skeptical research, the report found that CRU scientists did not ultimately undermine the IPCC's peer review process.

Scandal fueled public distrust

But the report found that the scientists' failure to address climate change uncertainties may have fueled public "distrust" of global warming, especially of the man-made kind.

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