The Climate Email Hack Won’t Change the Regulations


Critics are trying to use hacked emails to discredit climate change scientists – but however that campaign plays out, UK companies will still have to deal with carbon credits next year, says Peter Judge

The more we look at the email hack at the Climatic Research Institute (CRU), the more it’s obvioulsy an orchestrated campaign to tarnish the reputation of climate scientists.

Comments on our site have suggested that the original theft was actually an inside job by a whistle blower – on the basis that the information looks like the kind of data that would be revealed in response to a “freedom of information” inquiry.

Whatever the source, there’s no doubt that climate change critics – or deniers, if you prefer – seized on the data and made the most of any item that could make it look as if climate scientists were massaging the data.

In the process, of course, they failed to find the really big smoking gun that a conspiracy theory says should be there. There is no email where Dr Phil Jones says “OK, we’re making it up,” or acknowledges bribes from turbine makers.

The realclimate blog – which originally alerted CRU to the theft – says the real interest is what is not in the emails:  “no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP [mediaeval warm period]’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords.”

Without anything more substantial, this is a smear campaign, pure and simple.

The selection of evidence looks similar to the approach of those keen to deny evolution. Science operates on consensus, but critics overstate their opposing views, and require the mainstream to have more than a consensus. If it’s not unanimous, then it’s “just a theory”.

And the timing is obviously designed to interfere with the UN Copenhagen summit, where the world witll be attempting to agree a successor to the Kyoto protocol.

There are two lessons for IT: 

1. Protect your data.
There may not be much to do about an internal whistleblower, or determined opponents after your information, but private data should remain private.

If it gets out, it should at least be possible to tell how it got out, and there should be procedures to handle the leak afterwards. Guardian Jobs for instance told everyone who might have been affected by its loss of CV data.

2. After this media storm, you will still have to deal with carbon.
The UK’s carbon reduction commitment (CRC) will require large organisations to account for their greenhouse emissions – and there is a big risk that organisations are not going to be ready in time, or else will try to use inadequate technology.

Other companies will find that CRC impinges on their energy plans – and the details may mean life or death for specific projects

eWEEK is holding a web seminar on 15 December, during the Copenhagen summit, designed to deal with the issues that carbon accounting will raise for IT departments.

Join us in this interactive event, Carbon Credits, Copenhagen and UK IT.

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