Accuracy in Media

British writer and environmental activist George Monbiot yesterday acknowledged that troubling comments within the hacked e-mails of some climate scientists are a “major blow” to the quest to convince people that man is responsible for global warming.

Monbiot, a columnist for The Guardian, wrote at his blog that he is “dismayed and deeply shaken” by the e-mails. He also called for the resignation of the head of the climate research unit that was hacked:

Yes, the messages were obtained illegally. Yes, all of us say things in e-mails that would be excruciating if made public. Yes, some of the comments have been taken out of context. But there are some messages that require no spin to make them look bad. There appears to be evidence here of attempts to prevent scientific data from being released, and even to destroy material that was subject to a freedom-of-information request.

Worse still, some of the e-mails suggest efforts to prevent the publication of work by climate sceptics, or to keep it out of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I believe that the head of the unit, Phil Jones, should now resign. Some of the data discussed in the e-mails should be re-analyzed.

Monbiot rejected the argument that the e-mails completey undermine the science underpinning global warming theory. He also couldn’t resist the urge to take a satiric shot at critics of that theory by penning an imagined “damning e-mail which confirms that the entire science of global warming is indeed a scam.”

But kudos to him for admitting that the scandal is at least a bit scandalous. That is one huge step farther than New York Times environmental reporter Andrew Rivkin has been willing to travel.