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Mail on Sunday: We are seeing a welcome change in tone from the global warming activists and their media cheerleaders. They are suddenly a little less breezy in their certainty. They are more cautious about abusing their critics as ‘deniers’, a word cynically chosen to evoke comparisons with Nazi sympathisers.

It is only a small change and there is a long way to go. The Prime Minister’s heavy-handed dismissal of doubters as ‘flat-earthers’ shows that, as in so many other things, he is painfully slow to absorb new trends in thought and knowledge.

Yet the disclosure of deeply embarrassing emails exchanged between Green academics has done much to convince fair-minded scientists and politicians that the question of whether human activity causes global warming is more open than they thought it was.

The emails, with their talk of ‘tricks’, their apparent glee at the death of an opponent, their nervousness about Freedom of Information requests and their discussions about deleting inconvenient information, are seriously damaging for the Green cause – as the leading environmental commentator George Monbiot has honourably recognised.

The public have always been more cautious about this issue than either governments or media. They have also been required to pay heavily for dubious projects such as windpower, and denied their own choice of domestic lightbulb. They have smelt a faint whiff of fanaticism, and now their fears have been confirmed.

What is now needed is a reshaping of the debate, in which the global warming partisans acknowledge that their case is not universally accepted, that their remedies are not necessarily the right ones and that their critics have motives as honest as theirs.

It is a pity that it should have taken the theft of private correspondence to get us to this point, but it is an ill wind that blows nobody good.

Copyright 2009, MoS