Last week a minor brouhaha erupted on right wing blogs, dutifully reported by major media, over the purported implications of selected paragraphs and sentences of e-mail and other documents stolen from a major climate research department at East Anglia University in England.

Accusations that several thousand climate scientists are joined together in a huge conspiracy (while the climate change deniers are not similarly conspiring) have been shouted from the rafters:

– “The crimes revealed in the e-mails promise to be the global warming scandal of the century,” Michelle Malkin

– “The blue-dress moment may have arrived.” from Chris Horner at The National Review

– That supposed scientific “consensus” about global warming may actually be a conspiracy. –American Spectator

And on and on.

The sad thing, as usual, is that the tantrum on the street corner pulls attention from the serious news:

The last decade has been the warmest of the modern period.

The ice sheets are both losing mass (and hence contributing to sea level rise). This was not certain at the time of the IPCC report.

Arctic sea ice has declined faster than projected by IPCC.

Greenhouse gas concentrations have continued to track the upper bounds of IPCC projections.

Observed global temperature changes remain entirely in accord with IPCC projections, i.e. an anthropogenic warming trend of about 0.2 ºC per decade with superimposed short-term natural variability.

Sea level has risen more than 5 centimeters over the past 15 years, about 80% higher than IPCC projections from 2001.

The biggest scandal is how little attention the seriousness of the climate situation is getting — beginning in the U.S. Congress. The next is the know-nothingism that is at the heart of the opposition to the science and the findings it brings, and the spread of that know-nothingism by those whose lives and businesses will suffer greatly if they prevail. The next is that invasion of privacy, theft of personal and professional property and distribution of the stolen material is being celebrated by those in under different circumstances would condemn it. The nasty comments and professional jargon being held up as “the smoking guns” are hardly worth a mention, except in some future biographies or histories of the discoveries being made and serious work done.

Sir Issac Newton had some opinions about privacy and truth.

I gladly embrace your proposal of a private correspondence. What’s done before many witnesses is seldom without some further concern then that for truth: but what passes between friends in private usually deserve ye name of consultation rather then contest,

Of course the denialists would take this to disprove the calculus…

More more good articles on the purloined letters see here [Real Climate], here [Scholars and Rogues,] and here [Climate Progress.] And, finally, a post by a philosopher of science who know many of those whose mail was stolen.

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