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UK 'Climategate' inquiry largely clears scientists

Last updated: 31 March, 2010
London, Mar 31, (AP): 9:29 IST

The first of several British investigations into the e-mails leaked from one of the world's leading climate research centres has largely vindicated the scientists involved.

The House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee today said they'd seen no evidence to support charges that the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit or its director, Phil Jones, had tampered with data or perverted the peer review process to exaggerate the threat of global warming - two of the most serious criticisms levied against the climatologist and his colleagues.

In their report, the committee said that, as far as it was able to ascertain, "the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact," adding that nothing in the more than 1,000 stolen e-mails, or the controversy kicked up by their publication, challenged scientific consensus that "global warming is happening and that it is induced by human activity."

The 14-member committee's investigation is one of three launched after the dissemination, in November, of e-mails and data stolen from the research unit. The e-mails appeared to show scientists berating sceptics in sometimes intensely personal attacks, discussing ways to shield their data from public records laws, and discussing ways to keep sceptics' research out of peer-reviewed journals.

One that attracted particular media attention was Jones' reference to a "trick" that could be used to "hide the decline" of temperatures. The e-mails' publication ahead of the Copenhagen climate change summit sparked an online furor, with sceptics of man-made climate change calling the e-mails' publication "Climategate" and claiming them as proof that the science behind global warming had been exaggerated - or even made up altogether.

Phil Willis, the committee's chairman, said of the e-mails that "there's no denying that some of them were pretty appalling." But the committee found no evidence of anything beyond "a blunt refusal to share data," adding that the idea that Jones was part of a conspiracy to hide evidence that weakened the case for global warming was clearly wrong.

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