Plenty of pixels have been rendered over the leaked e-mails from the climate research unit at the University of East Anglia. I’m not in a position to add anything to the argument that hasn’t already been advanced. This won’t change the general consensus over climate change research, but it damaged the credibility of the field because the conduct at issue is both poor, it’s been badly explained, and it gives ammunition to those seeking to shut down any policy trying to affect change in this area. Anyone who claims that scientists needn’t be bothered with trying to better communicate their research can look at this fight and see why they’re wrong. And anyone who thinks this didn’t affect the credibility of scientists (or at least climate scientists) is at risk of losing their own credibility (especially if they should know better).
What I would like to see happen because of this event is a strengthening of computer security. The investigation getting little attention is the one local police are conducting into the alleged hacking that produced the leak. At least one other university’s climate research group has been targeted for theft and computer hacking, according to the National Post (H/T The Intersection). Just because a lab is not conducting classified or proprietary research is no excuse to be lax about securing your computers. I also have to believe that researchers are bringing data home on their laptops and not securing them either. It’s not nearly the problem that occurs when government data is stolen off of unsecured or unencrypted laptops employees take home. However, the consequences of this data breach ought to persuade any group with data that isn’t secured to change their practices before it happens to them. That it probably won’t is a shame.