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Ross McKitrick: Response To The Climategate Inquiries

News broke on or around November 19 2009 that a large archive of emails and files from the Climate Research Unit had been released on the internet. The contents of the files were sufficiently disconcerting to the public, governments and university administrations to prompt the establishment of a number of inquiries. This paper reviews the official inquiries.

During the public uproar over the climategate emails, the main concerns that were repeated over and over could be distilled to the following questions.

1. Did the scientists involved in the email exchanges manipulate, hide, invent or otherwise misrepresent evidence in IPCC or WMO reports so as to mislead readers, including policymakers?

2. Did the scientists involved delete emails or other documents related to the IPCC process in order to prevent disclosure of information subject to Freedom of Information laws?

3. Did the scientists involved in the email exchanges express greater doubts or uncertainties about the science in their own professional writings and in their interactions with one another than they allowed to be stated in reports of the IPCC or WMO that were intended for policymakers?

4. Did the scientists involved in the email exchanges take steps individually or in collusion to block access to data or methodologies in order to prevent external examination of their work?

5. Did the scientists involved in the email exchanges take steps individually or in collusion to block publication of papers, or to intimidate or discredit journals, in order to prevent rival scientific evidence from being published?

My examination of the Climategate inquiries centers on the extent to which they succeeded in providing credible answers to these questions. As will be shown, the various inquiries reviewed evidence that leads to an affirmative answer in each case, and in many cases the inquiries reached affirmative answers, yet couched the conclusions in terms that gave the opposite impression. In other cases they simply left the questions unanswered. In some cases they avoided the issues by answering irrelevant questions.

Full report