LONDON — A leading climate change scientist whose private emails are included in thousands of documents that were stolen by hackers and posted online says the leaks may have been aimed at undermining next month’s global climate summit in Denmark.
Kevin Trenberth, of the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Colorado, said Sunday that he believes the hackers who stole a decade’s worth of correspondence from a British university’s computer server deliberately distributed only those documents that could help attempts by skeptics to undermine the scientific consensus on man-made climate change.
Trenberth, a well respected atmospheric scientist, said it did not appear that all the documents stolen from the university had been distributed on the Internet by the hackers.
The University of East Anglia, in eastern England, said hackers last week stole from its computer server about a decade’s worth of data from its Climatic Research Unit, a leading global research centre on climate change. About 1,000 emails and 3,000 documents have been posted on Web sites and seized on by climate change skeptics, who claim correspondence shows collusion between scientists to overstate the case for global warming, and evidence that some have manipulated evidence.
“It is right before the Copenhagen debate, I’m sure that is not a coincidence,” Trenberth said in a telephone interview from Colorado.
At least 65 world leaders will attend the Copenhagen climate summit in December as representatives of 191 nations seek agreement on a new global treaty on limiting emissions of greenhouse gases.
Trenberth, a lead author on the 2001 and 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments, said he had found 102 of his own emails posted online. “I personally feel violated,” he said.