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Observations of anthropogenic global warming

Papers on the Climategate

Posted by Ari Jokimäki on November 21, 2019

This is a list of papers on the Climategate. The list is not complete, and will most likely be updated in future in order to make it more thorough and more representative.

Rhetorical Strategies for Scientific Authority: A Boundary-Work Analysis of ‘Climategate’ (Ramírez-i-Ollé, 2015)
Abstract: “The term ‘Climategate’ refers to the episode in November 2009 when emails between climate scientists were stolen and published online. The content of this private correspondence prompted criticism from diverse commentators who cast doubts on the methods, claims, and members of the climate science community. In response, individual scientists and scientific institutions published statements responding to the allegations of scientific fraud. Gieryn’s concept of ‘boundary-work’ can be used to analyse the rhetoric of scientists in situations where their legitimacy is disputed. More specifically, boundary-work can be used to analyse the responses of scientists in terms of: how they represent the attributes of science, what types of boundary-work they undertake (e.g. expulsion, expansion, and protection), and the professional interests that come into play. A boundary-work analysis of the commentaries published in the aftermath of Climategate reveals that scientists characterised climate science as consensual, asocial, and open. Scientists depicted climate science as consensual with the purpose of expelling dissenters and protecting areas of climate science from criticism. Scientists also described knowledge about climate as being ideally produced apart from society so that they could preserve their autonomy and exclude individuals who are accused of being ‘politically biased’. Scientists characterised climate science as necessarily open as the means to justify both existing and additional public funding for science and to avoid external corrective interventions against scientific opacity. Scientists and their critics alike interpreted the stolen emails as embarrassing deviations from the alleged social demands of a consensual, objective, and accessible science.”
Citation: Meritxell Ramírez-i-Ollé (2015) Rhetorical Strategies for Scientific Authority: A Boundary-Work Analysis of ‘Climategate’, Science as Culture, 24:4, 384-411, DOI: 10.1080/09505431.2015.1041902.

Public interest in climate change over the past decade and the effects of the ‘climategate’ media event (Anderegg & Goldsmith, 2014) [FULL TEXT]
Abstract: “Despite overwhelming scientific consensus concerning anthropogenic climate change, many in the non-expert public perceive climate change as debated and contentious. There is concern that two recent high-profile media events—the hacking of the University of East Anglia emails and the Himalayan glacier melt rate presented in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—may have altered public opinion of climate change. While survey data is valuable for tracking public perception and opinion over time, including in response to climate-related media events, emerging methods that facilitate rapid assessment of spatial and temporal patterns in public interest and opinion could be exceptionally valuable for understanding and responding to these events’ effects. We use a novel, freely-available dataset of worldwide web search term volumes to assess temporal patterns of interest in climate change over the past ten years, with a particular focus on looking at indicators of climate change skepticism around the high-profile media events. We find that both around the world and in the US, the public searches for the issue as ‘global warming,’ rather than ‘climate change,’ and that search volumes have been declining since a 2007 peak. We observe high, but transient spikes of search terms indicating skepticism around the two media events, but find no evidence of effects lasting more than a few months. Our results indicate that while such media events are visible in the short-term, they have little effect on salience of skeptical climate search terms on longer time-scales.”
Citation: William R L Anderegg and Gregory R Goldsmith 2014 Environ. Res. Lett. 9 054005, https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/9/5/054005.

Boundaries, breaches, and bridges: The case of Climategate (Garud et al. 2014) [FULL TEXT]
Abstract: “We examine the incident known as “Climategate” in which emails and other documents relating to climate scientists and their work were illegitimately accessed and posted to the Internet. The contents of the files prompted questions about the credibility of climate science and the legitimacy of some of the climate scientists’ practices. Multiple investigations unfolded to repair the boundary that had been breached. While exonerating the scientists of wrongdoing and endorsing the legitimacy of the consensus opinion, the investigating committees suggested revisions to some scientific practices. Despite this boundary repair work, the credibility and legitimacy of the scientific enterprise were not fully restored in the eyes of several stakeholders. We explore why this is the case, identify boundary bridging approaches to address these issues, and highlight policy implications.”
Citation: Raghu Garud, Joel Gehman, Arvind Karunakaran (2014). Research Policy 43(1): 60-73, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2013.07.007.

Climategate, Public Opinion, and the Loss of Trust (Leiserowitz et al. 2013) [FULL TEXT]
Abstract: “Nationally representative surveys conducted in 2008 and 2010 found significant declines in Americans’ climate change beliefs, risk perceptions, and trust in scientists. Drawing upon the Social Amplification of Risk Framework, this analysis empirically examines the impact of “climategate”—an international scandal resulting from the unauthorized release of emails between climate scientists in England and United States. The results demonstrate that “climategate” had a significant effect on public beliefs in global warming and trust in scientists. The loss of trust in scientists, however, was primarily among individuals with a strongly individualistic worldview or politically conservative ideology. Nonetheless, Americans overall continued to trust scientists more than other sources of information about global warming. Several other explanations for the declines in public understanding are also explored, including the poor state of the economy, a new administration and Congress, diminishing media attention, and abnormal winter weather.”
Citation: Anthony A. Leiserowitz, Edward W. Maibach, Connie Roser-Renouf, Nicholas Smith, Erica Dawson (2013), American Behavioral Scientist, 57(6): 818-837. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764212458272.

Climategate: A Case Study in the Intersection of Facticity and Conspiracy Theory (Bricker, 2013)
Abstract: “In 2009, the Climate Research Unit had over 1,000 private e-mails stolen and made publicly available. Quickly, several of the e-mails were widely reported in the media: supposedly providing proof of conspiracy among scientists supporting the Anthropogenic Climate Change hypothesis. Despite the inaccuracy of the accusations, the charge of conspiracy stuck. In this essay, I argue that a set of interrelated variables (existing anti-elitism, the consistency of the charge with existing ideology, the perceived accuracy of the narrative, and the poor rhetorical response by the accused) caused the Climategate conspiracy to resonate even after the charge was proven false. This essay adds to contemporary rhetorical theory about conspiracy theory by considering variables beyond paranoid style and accuracy of the charge.”
Citation: Brett Jacob Bricker (2013) Climategate: A Case Study in the Intersection of Facticity and Conspiracy Theory, Communication Studies, 64:2, 218-239, DOI: 10.1080/10510974.2012.749294.

Climate change and ‘climategate’ in online reader comments: a mixed methods study (Koteyko et al. 2013) [FULL TEXT]
Abstract: “Climate change has rarely been out of the public spotlight in the first decade of this century. The high‐profile international meetings and controversies such as ‘climategate’ have highlighted the fact that it is as much a political issue as it is a scientific one, while also drawing our attention to the role of social media in reflecting, promoting or resisting such politicisation. In this article, we propose a framework for analysing one type of social media venue that so far has received little attention from social scientists – online reader comments. Like media reporting on climate change, reader comments on this reporting contribute to the diverse, complex and contested discourses on climate change, and can reveal the meanings and discursive resources brought to the ongoing debate by laypeople rather than political elites. The proposed framework draws on research in computer‐mediated communication, corpus linguistics and discourse analysis and takes into account both the content of such ‘lay talk’ and its linguistic characteristics within the specific parameters of the web‐based context. Using word frequencies, qualitative study of co‐text and user ratings, we analyse a large volume of comments published on the UK tabloid newspaper website at two different points in time – before and after the East Anglia controversy. The results reveal how stereotypes of science and politics are appropriated in this type of discourse, how readers’ constructions of climate science have changed after ‘climategate’, and how climate‐sceptic arguments are adopted and contested in computer‐mediated peer‐to‐peer interaction.”
Citation: Koteyko, N. , Jaspal, R. and Nerlich, B. (2013), Climate change and ‘climategate’ in online reader comments. The Geographical Journal, 179: 74-86. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4959.2012.00479.x.

The legacy of climategate: revitalizing or undermining climate science and policy? (Grundmann, 2012) [FULL TEXT]
Abstract: “The release of emails from a server at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) in November 2009 and the following climategate controversy have become a topic for interpretation in the social sciences. This article picks out some of the most visible social science comments on the affair for discussion. These comments are compared to an account of what can be seen as problematic practices by climate scientists. There is general agreement in these comments that climate science needs more openness and transparency. But when evaluating climategate a variety of responses is seen, ranging from the apologetic to the highly critical, even condemning the practices in question. It is argued that reluctance to critically examine the climategate affair, including suspect practices of scientists, has to do with the nature of the debate which is highly politicized. A call is made for more reflection on this case which should not be closed off because of political expediency.”
Citation: Grundmann, R. (2012), The legacy of climategate: revitalizing or undermining climate science and policy?. WIREs Clim Change, 3: 281-288. doi:10.1002/wcc.166.

The legacy of climategate: undermining or revitalizing climate science and policy? (Maibach et al. 2012) [FULL TEXT]
Abstract: “In mid‐November 2009, emails were removed without authorization from a University of East Anglia server and posted to the internet; within 24 h an international scandal was born—alleging fraud by leading climate scientists—which almost immediately became known as climategate. Multiple investigations concluded that no fraud or scientific misconduct had occurred. Despite the exonerations, however, the email controversy has had impacts, both negative and positive. On the negative side, a small minority of the American public and a somewhat larger minority of American TV news professionals—mostly political conservatives—indicated that the controversy made them more certain that climate change is not happening, and undermined their trust in climate scientists. Conservative organizations and politicians continue to cite the controversy in justifying their opposition to government action on climate change. On the positive side, the controversy impressed upon the climate science community the need for improved communication and public engagement efforts, and many individuals and organizations have begun to address these needs. It also reminded the climate science community of the importance of transparency, data availability, and strong quality assurance procedures, stimulating many organizations to review their data management practices. Although it is too soon to gauge the lasting legacy of the controversy, if the climate science community takes it as an opportunity to improve its already high standards of scientific conduct—as well as improve its less well‐developed approach to public engagement—the long‐term prognosis is good.”
Citation: Maibach, E. , Leiserowitz, A. , Cobb, S. , Shank, M. , Cobb, K. M. and Gulledge, J. (2012), The legacy of climategate: undermining or revitalizing climate science and policy?. WIREs Clim Change, 3: 289-295. doi:10.1002/wcc.168.

“Climategate” and The Scientific Ethos (Grundmann, 2012) [FULL TEXT]
Abstract: “In late 2009, e-mails from a server at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia were released that showed some climate scientists in an unfavorable light. Soon this scandal was known as “Climategate” and a highly charged debate started to rage on blogs and in the mass media. Much of the debate has been about the question whether anthropogenic global warming was undermined by the revelations. But ethical issues, too, became part and parcel of the debate. This article aims to contribute to this debate, assessing the e-mail affair in the light of two normative analyses of science, one proposed by Robert Merton (and developed further by some of his followers), the second by a recent suggestion to use the concept of honest brokering in science policy interactions. On the basis of these analyses, different aspects of malpractice will be discussed and possible solutions will be suggested.”
Citation: Reiner Grundmann (2012) Science, Technology, & Human Values, 38(1):67-93, https://doi.org/10.1177/0162243911432318.

Climategate, Public Opinion, and the Loss of Trust (Leiserowitz et al. 2012) [FULL TEXT]
Abstract: “Nationally representative surveys conducted in 2008 and 2010 found significant declines in Americans’ climate change beliefs, risk perceptions, and trust in scientists. Drawing upon the Social Amplification of Risk Framework, this analysis empirically examines the impact of “climategate”—an international scandal resulting from the unauthorized release of emails between climate scientists in England and United States. The results demonstrate that “climategate” had a significant effect on public beliefs in global warming and trust in scientists. The loss of trust in scientists, however, was primarily among individuals with a strongly individualistic worldview or politically conservative ideology. Nonetheless, Americans overall continued to trust scientists more than other sources of information about global warming. Several other explanations for the declines in public understanding are also explored, including the poor state of the economy, a new administration and Congress, diminishing media attention, and abnormal winter weather.”
Citation: Anthony A. Leiserowitz, Edward W. Maibach, Connie Roser-Renouf, Nicholas Smith, Erica Dawson (2012) American Behavioral Scientist, 57(6):818-837, https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764212458272.

Advocacy in the tail: Exploring the implications of ‘climategate’ for science journalism and public debate in the digital age (Holliman, 2011) [FULL TEXT]
Abstract: “This article explores the evolving practices of science journalism and public debate in the digital age. The vehicle for this study is the release of digitally stored email correspondence, data and documents from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the UK in the weeks immediately prior to the United Nations Copenhagen Summit (COP-15) in December 2009. Described using the journalistic shorthand of ‘climategate’, and initially promoted through socio-technical networks of bloggers, this episode became a global news story and the subject of several formal reviews. ‘Climategate’ illustrates that media-literate critics of anthropogenic explanations of climate change used digital tools to support their cause, making visible selected, newsworthy aspects of scientific information and the practices of scientists. In conclusion, I argue that ‘climategate’ may have profound implications for the production and distribution of science news, and how climate science is represented and debated in the digitally mediated public sphere.”
Citation: Holliman, R. (2011). Advocacy in the tail: Exploring the implications of ‘climategate’ for science journalism and public debate in the digital age. Journalism, 12(7), 832–846. https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884911412707.

“Climategate” Undermined Belief in Global Warming Among Many American TV Meteorologists (Maibach et al. 2011) [FULL TEXT]
Abstract: “Television (TV) meteorologists are a potentially important source of informal climate change education in that most American adults watch local TV news and consider TV weather reporters to be a trusted source of global warming information. In January 2010, we used a Web-based survey of TV meteorologists nationwide to assess the impact of “Climategate”—the unauthorized release of, and news stories about, e-mails between climate scientists in the United States and the United Kingdom—on their beliefs about climate change; the response rate was 52%. Most respondents (77%) had followed the story; 42% of those who did indicated it made them more certain that global warming is not happening. Conservatives (57%) were more likely than moderates (43%) and liberals (15%) to endorse this view (χ2 = 49.89, p < 0.001), and those who believed global warming is not happening (74%), or who did not know (46%), were more likely to endorse the view than those who believed it is happening (25%; χ2 = 108.59, p < 0.001). Multivariate analysis showed that political ideology, belief in global warming, and gender each predicted a negative impact of the story, but certifications from professional associations did not. Furthermore, respondents who followed the story reported less trust in climate scientists (2.8 versus 3.2; p < 0.01), and in the IPCC (2.2 versus 2.7; p < 0.01), than those who had not. We conclude that, at least temporarily, Climategate has likely impeded efforts to encourage some weathercasters to embrace the role of climate change educator. These results also suggest that many TV weathercasters responded to Climategate more through the lens of political ideology than through the lens of meteorology."
Citation: Maibach, E., J. Witte, and K. Wilson, 2011: “Climategate” Undermined Belief in Global Warming Among Many American TV Meteorologists. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 92, 31–37, https://doi.org/10.1175/2010BAMS3094.1.

‘Climategate’: Paradoxical Metaphors and Political Paralysis (Nerlich, 2010) [FULL TEXT]
Abstract: “Climate scepticism in the sense of climate denialism or contrarianism is not a new phenomenon, but it has recently been very much in the media spotlight. When, in November 2009, emails by climate scientists were published on the internet without their authors’ consent, a debate began in which climate sceptic bloggers used an extended network of metaphors to contest (climate) science. This article follows the so-called ‘climategate’ debate on the web and shows how a paradoxical mixture of religious metaphors and demands for ‘better science’ allowed those disagreeing with the theory of anthropogenic climate change to undermine the authority of science and call for political inaction with regard to climate change.”
Citation: Brigitte Nerlich (2010) Environmental Values, 19(4):419-442, doi:10.3197/096327110X531543.

The Global Warming of Climate Science: Climategate and the Construction of Scientific Facts (Ryghaug & Skjølsvold, 2010) [FULL TEXT]
Abstract: “This article analyses 1,073 e‐mails that were hacked from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in November 2009. The incident was popularly dubbed ‘Climategate’, indicating that the e‐mails reveal a scientific scandal. Here we analyse them differently. Rather than objecting to the exchanges based on some idea about proper scientific conduct, we see them as a rare glimpse into a situation where scientists collectively prepare for participation in heated controversy, with much focus on methodology. This allows us to study how scientists communicate informally about framing propositions of facts in the best possible way. Through the eyes of science and technology studies, the e‐mails provide an opportunity to study communication as part of science in the making across disciplines and laboratories. Analysed as ‘written conversation’ the e‐mails provide information about processes of consensus formation through ‘agonistic evaluations’ of other scientists’ work and persuasion of others to support one’s own work. Also, the e‐mails contain judgements about other groups and individual scientists. Consensus‐forming appeared as a precarious activity. Controversies could be quite resilient in the course of this decade‐long exchange, probably reflecting the complexity of the methodological challenges involved.”
Citation: Marianne Ryghaug & Tomas Moe Skjølsvold (2010) The Global Warming of Climate Science: Climategate and the Construction of Scientific Facts, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 24:3, 287-307, DOI: 10.1080/02698595.2010.522411.

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