Climate Email Investigator Resigns After Backing Researchers

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

One of the investigators looking into claims that climate change scientists covered up flawed data has been forced to resign after publicly backing the researchers

A member of the panel investigating claims that climate change scientists covered up flawed data, has been forced to resign just hours after the investigation began, after it emerged that he had previously backed the researchers during a media interview.

Dr Philip Campbell, the editor-in-chief of the journal Nature, was forced to stand down after he told Chinese State Radio last year that he did not believe the emails showed any evidence of improper conduct at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU).

He said in a statement that he was stepping down to ensure that the ability of the review team to carry out its investigation would not be called into question.

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“The scientists have not hidden the data. If you look at the emails there are one or two bits of language that are jargon used between professionals that suggest something to outsiders that is wrong,” he was quoted as telling the Chinese radio station, in both the Daily Telegraph and the Times newspapers.

“In fact, the only problem there has been is on some official restrictions on their ability to disseminate data. Otherwise they have behaved as researchers should,” he said.

In his statement explaining his reasons for stepping down, Dr Campbell said that he had made the remarks in good faith on the basis of media reports of the leaked emails. “As I have made clear subsequently, I support the need for a full review of the facts behind the leaked emails,” he said.

“There must be nothing that calls into question the ability of the review to complete this task and, therefore, I have decided to withdraw from the team.”

The furore began back in November when hacked private emails from University of East Anglia’s CRU were used by climate change “deniers”, to criticise the scientific consensus around global warming in the run-up to the Copenhagen summit.

The deniers claimed it showed the Unit had manipulated data to build a false picture of climate change, interfered with the academic peer-review process, and obstructed Freedom of Information requests. The CRU subsequently said it would release all of its climate research data in an effort to defuse the furore.

Yet there is little doubt that the ensuing “Climategate” scandal weakened the perceived case for carbon reduction, and may have been instrumental in the failure of the UN’s Copenhagen summit to produce strong commitments.