An independent British inquiry into "Climategate" unambiguously cleared the scientists at East Anglia University's Climate Research Unit (CRU) of willfully manipulating their data to support the case for human-caused global warming. The CRU scientists were also largely exonerated by an earlier investigation out of Britain's Parliament. Is the CRU's "small group of dedicated if slightly disorganized researchers" getting off too easily, or is Climategate now "officially a fake scandal"?
It's time to turn the page: The Climategate verdict is in, and it's "emphatic," says The Guardian in an editorial. Despite "all the conspiracy theories that have buzzed round the web," the report clears the CRU research as clean and fair, and "not tainted at all" by the few "casual remarks" in "now-infamous" hacked personal emails. The report's "sole caveat" is that the CRU team should improve its statistical analysis.
"Climate science: The dark side of the light"
This is a "whitewash": The CRU's statistical shortcomings are "surely a little more than 'regrettable,'" says Peter Foster in Canada's Financial Post. This "travesty" of a report would have us believe that those poor "unworldly boffins" at CRU have been pushing "draconian" cap-and-trade policies based on "dodgy data" they didn't handle properly, and this is no big deal? Clearly, "the fix was always in" on this inquiry.
There's something here for both sides: Critics will look for "evidence of a whitewash," says The Economist. But the inquiry, headed by Lord Oxburgh, wasn't interested in whether the CRU's scientific findings were correct, just if they'd been "biased and manipulated." They "found no such thing," but their call for greater transparency and better selection of data sets is what the more serious-minded critics have been asking for all along.
"A place in the sun"
Expect more "-gates": Climate change skeptics did have "a small kernel of a point in their manufactured tempest," says Jack Grant at The Moderate Voice. Scientists really don't understand statistics as well as they think. But non-scientists aren't as adept at interpreting data as they think, either, and we can expect more "scandals" like this in our "hothouse of new, unedited media" where "pundits" are "regarded as more credible than real experts."
"Lies, damned lies, and statistics..."