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|British Researcher Leaves Post
Temporarily Amid Probe Sparked by Hacked Emails.
scientist at the heart of a scandal over climate-change research
temporarily stepped down Tuesday as director of a prominent research
group amid an internal probe that follows the release of hacked
emails involving him and other scientists.
The University of East Anglia in the U.K. said Phil Jones, head
of the university's Climatic Research Unit, had decided to step
aside from the director's post.
The announcement comes less than a week before world leaders are set
to meet for a climate summit in Copenhagen. The two-week conference,
sponsored by the United Nations, is supposed to come up with tougher
policies to curb greenhouse-gas emissions and slow global warming.
The need for such action has been buttressed in large part by
research by Dr. Jones and his colleagues in East Anglia and around
the world. But hackers recently stole emails and documents from the
East Anglia center that suggested Dr. Jones and other like-minded
scientists tried to squelch the views of dissenting researchers and
advocated manipulating data.
The fallout from the hacked emails is spreading beyond the U.K.
Also Tuesday, Penn State University confirmed that Michael Mann -- a
climate scientist on its faculty who figures prominently in the
emails -- is under "inquiry" by the university.
Dr. Mann's work reconstructing historic global temperatures has,
over the past decade, become a focal point of debate. Penn State
said in a statement that its inquiry, which stems from disclosed
emails written by Dr. Mann, is a preliminary step to determine
whether a full investigation is needed. He didn't respond to
requests for comment.
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama's top science adviser --
John Holdren, a climate scientist who sent one email among those
hacked and posted -- is due to testify on Capitol Hill. The House
committee holding the hearing has billed it as a way to explore "the
urgent, consensus view...that global warming is real, and the
science indicates that it is getting worse." Dr. Holdren's office
declined to comment. Dr. Holdren has long spoken of the
"overwhelming" evidence of man-made global warming.
The emails have led to calls for probes into the state of climate
science from U.S. politicians skeptical that humans are causing
global warming. They have also drawn criticism from some
In one email, Dr. Jones suggested to Dr. Mann that they should try
to keep out of scientific journals the research of scientists who
challenge the idea of man-made global warming. We "will keep them
out somehow -- even if we have to redefine what the peer-review
literature is!" the email says.
The East Anglia institute that Dr. Jones headed has become a key
player in building evidence for the U.N.'s argument that humans are
behind global warming. In statements released by the institute in
recent days, Dr. Jones has defended the integrity of the institute's
scientific work, while saying that he and his colleagues "accept
that some of the published emails do not read well."
On Tuesday, Dr. Jones said the East Anglia institute couldn't
continue to do its work with him as its director amid the
controversy. "What is most important is that CRU continues its world
leading research with as little interruption and diversion as
possible," he said in the statement. "After a good deal of
consideration," he wrote, he decided to step down from the
director's job pending the investigation.
Longtime critics of the premise that humans are responsible for
climate change cheered word of the move by Dr. Jones and the inquiry
into Dr. Mann. "I think we're making headway," said Oklahoma's James
Inhofe, the senior Republican on the Senate Environment and Public
On Tuesday, Mr. Inhofe sent a letter to the chairwoman of the Senate
Environment and Public Works Committee, Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.),
that called for hearings on whether any U.S. laws were broken by the
scientists, or "any taxpayer-funded research deliberately obscured
or manipulated." A spokesman for Ms. Boxer didn't immediately
respond to a request for comment.