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Impact of CRU Hacking on the AMS Statement on Climate Change

AMS Headquarters has received several inquiries asking if the material made public following the hacking of e-mails and other files from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia has any impact on the AMS Statement on Climate Change, which was approved by the AMS Council in 2007 and represents the official position of the Society.

The AMS Statement on Climate Change continues to represent the position of the AMS.  It was developed following a rigorous procedure that included drafting and review by experts in the field, comments by the membership, and careful review by the AMS Council prior to approval as a statement of the Society.  The statement is based on a robust body of research reported in the peer-reviewed literature.  As with any scientific assessment, it is likely to become outdated as the body of scientific knowledge continues to grow, and the current statement is scheduled to expire in February 2012 if it is not replaced by a new statement prior to that.

The beauty of science is that it depends on independent verification and replication as part of the process of confirming research results.  This process, which is tied intrinsically to the procedures leading to publication of research results in the peer-reviewed literature, allows the scientific community to confirm some results while rejecting others.  It also, in a sense, lessens the impact of any one set of research results, especially as the body of research on any topic grows.  The AMS plays an important role in the scientific process through its peer-reviewed publications, as well as through its many other activities, such as scientific conferences.  The Society strives to maintain integrity in the editorial process for all its publications.

For climate change research, the body of research in the literature is very large and the dependence on any one set of research results to the comprehensive understanding of the climate system is very, very small. Even if some of the charges of improper behavior in this particular case turn out to be true — which is not yet clearly the case — the impact on the science of climate change would be very limited. 

The AMS encourages ethical behavior in all aspects of science and has established a record of affirming the value of scientists presenting their research results “objectively, professionally, and without sensationalizing or politicizing the associated impacts” (see AMS Statement on the Freedom of Scientific Expression).

Keith L. Seitter, CCM
Executive Director

 

 

 

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