New Study Reaffirms How ‘Climategate’ Emails Were Misrepresented by Skeptics

During the height of the so-called “Climategate” controversy, misrepresentations of an email stolen from a top climate scientist were made famous on a Sunday talk show. But a study conducted recently again confirms what the scientist had originally said — that much of recent heat has been trapped deep in the ocean.

Igniting the controversy in 2009, numerous emails were stolen from the University of East Anglia. Climate change skeptics quickly seized on one of the emails where Kevin Trenberth, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, complained about the “travesty” that “we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment.”

Completely being taken out of context by the skeptics, Trenberth was referencing gaps in an “observing system” that make it difficult to say where short-term energy, or heat is going — not admitting lack of evidence for long-term climate change as some skeptics had charged. In the email, Trenberth pointed to research suggesting that the missing heat data might be trapped deep in the ocean.

Nevertheless, the conservative media pounced. Appearing on ABC’s This Week in 2009, conservative columnist George Will claimed that Trenberth’s email showed that “global warming has stopped,” and that since climate science is “a complicated business,” we “shouldn’t wager these trillions” on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

But according to a recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the ocean has played a “key role” in absorbing heat, which bolsters scientists’ climate models.

According to Media Matters, the “Climategate” debacle was a result of Sunday political talk shows choosing to allow politicians and pundits to debate the climate change issue rather than scientists. “On the rare occasion Sunday shows covered climate change between 2009 and 2012, not a single scientist or climate expert was part of the discussion,” Max Greenberg of Media Matters writes. “In addition, every politician who discussed climate change on the Sunday shows in 2012 was a Republican.”


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