Hacked Emails, Global Heating and Science Education

I just returned from England, which of course became the center of climate controversy after hundreds of e-mails were stolen from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University. As we all know by now, these private emails (but what is private in the world of the Internet), contained statements by Professor Phil Jones, head of the Climate Research Unit that have been viewed as “unscientific,” by virtue of being “uncritical.” Being in England at this time, and taking place during the runup to the Copenhagen Conference, gave me an opportunity to read reports in the U.K newspapers, and get a first hand feel of the controversy from the context of Great Britain.

During this week, I want to explore not only the underlying reasons for the hack job, but the timing of the outing of the emails. All of sudden, the global heating deniers have something to point at, and as we have seen, the major media outlets have identified a new crop of “climatologists” including Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin.

Yet, as we will see as the week progresses, the actuality of climate change has not been influenced by a few emails, but has been reinforced by reports and research on climate change. How this will play out in Copenhagen will be the focus of my own reports and writing this week and next. I also want to explore how this entire scenario is important to us as science educators, and how it might impact the way in which we teach science.