The following editorial appeared in the Dallas Morning News:
Not long ago, a computer hacker stole a large trove of e-mails between leading climate scientists from around the globe and published them on the Internet. Suddenly, the heat is on - as well it should be.
The e-mails are hugely embarrassing to orthodox climate scientists - that is, those who share the consensus view that temperatures are rising dangerously around the globe and that human-produced carbon emissions are at fault. Why? Because they reveal cutthroat efforts to deny or otherwise hide from the public truths inconvenient to their viewpoint and to marginalize colleagues who dissent.
One top British scientist wrote of the lengths to which he would go to keep the public from finding out data compromising the case for man-made global warming: "If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the U.K., I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone." No wonder they were sensitive about this stuff. In another e-mail, an American colleague said, "The fact is we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment, and it is a travesty that we can't."
Many climate-change skeptics cite the e-mail trove as a smoking gun proving that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by activists and biased scientists. If only that were true, we could all rest easier at night.
But the scientific basis for concluding that anthropogenic (man-made) climate change is happening is far too broad and deep to be shattered by these e-mails. It's folly to believe otherwise and dangerous to back off of efforts to shrink our collective carbon footprint.
Nevertheless, this peek at how scientists operate should disabuse us of the idea that science is an undertaking unsullied by personal passions or ideological commitments. The documents show some of the world's most respected scientists behaving with stunning pettiness and a lack of integrity.
Ours is a culture in which science has tremendous authority as an arbiter of truth. These e-mails indicate that powerful scientists are not above abusing that authority to deceive and to bully those who disagree in good faith.
This scandal shows why it's prudent, as a general matter, to be more skeptical of scientists. Alas, the effect of this scandal may be to give climate-change deniers an unmerited sense of vindication and to complicate international political efforts to address the crisis. That would be terribly unfortunate.
The real lesson here is not that climate change is a hoax, but that scientists sometimes have feet of clay - with which they kick themselves in the rear end.
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