The boss of the UK climate research unit that had its emails hacked and posted online has quit his post while an inquiry into the manipulation of climate data is carried out.
Professor Phil Jones, director of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU), stepped down yesterday after internal emails from the unit were leaked onto the web, suggesting that the department had systematically tweaked climate data used by the UN in order to build up the case for man-made global warming. The emails also showed that the CRU practised a policy of only releasing data to sympathetic scientists considered to be on-side in the climate debate.
Critics also suggest that Jones and his team deliberately blocked papers that didn't fit in with their world view from inclusion in the Intergovernmental Climate Report published by the UN.
In one email dating from 2004, Jones said of two papers he regarded as being off-message: "I can't see either being in the next IPCC report. Kevin [Trenberth] and I will keep them out somehow - even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"
Jones said he stood by the science produced by his researchers and suggestions of a conspiracy to alter evidence to support a theory of man-made global warming were 'complete rubbish', saying he was standing down as director of the CRU until an independent review into the hacked emails had been completed.
"What is most important is that CRU continues its world-leading research with as little interruption and diversion as possible," he said. "After a good deal of consideration I have decided that the best way to achieve this is by stepping aside from the director's role during the course of the independent review and am grateful to the university for agreeing to this. The review process will have my full support."
The university's vice-chancellor, Edward Acton, said: "I have accepted Professor Jones's offer to stand aside during this period. It is an important step to ensure that CRU can continue to operate normally and the independent review can conduct its work into the allegations."
Aside from the email scandal, it was revealed at the weekend that the CRU has rather conveniently deliberately deleted all the raw climate data it held due to 'reasons of space', leaving only what it describes as 'enhanced' data that can no longer be checked against actual measurements. The CRU's concept of 'enhancement' includes such scientifically-proven techniques as adding in figures twice and editing the numbers to make them fit in with mathematical climate models.
The issue is of fundamental concern as the CRU is, or rather, was, the world's foremost repository of climate data on which practically all research into global warming is based. Now the original data has been deliberately deleted, there's no way to check the scientists' claims against the facts, meaning that the rest of the world will simply have to take the anthropogenic global warming industry's word for it, reducing what should be a scientific debate to the level of a religious belief.