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Climategate Redux: Why Doubt Persists

Ahead of a U.N. climate conference, another large cache of emails stolen from climate scientists has been published. Where does such fervent doubt over climate change come from?

What’s the Latest Development?

Hackers have just released a large cache of emails taken from computer servers at a British university and claim the messages are proof that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by climate scientists. It is believed the emails were obtained in 2009, when other messages from the same climate scientists were released to the public just ahead of an important U.N. climate conference. Since then, numerous independent bodies including the Environmental Protection Agency and British House of Commons have dismissed the hackers’ claims.

What’s the Big Idea?

Why do some groups consistently oppose conclusions reached by a majority of the scientific community? Naomi Oreskes, a science historian and professor at the U of California, San Diego, wrote a book about the topic called “Merchants of Doubt”. While opposition is often labeled as a ‘contrary viewpoint’, she says, it typically has no basis in science whatsoever. During her research, she found links between groups that oppose climate change research and the tobacco industry, which long opposed its links to diseases like lung cancer.



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