White House Science Officials Defend Climate Change Data Amid E-Mail Scandal

WASHINGTON -- Top White House science officials defended the validity of global warming research against repeated Republican attacks Wednesday that cited leaked e-mails from some climate researchers. 

The e-mails from a British university's climate center, were obtained by computer hackers and released last month. Climate change skeptics contend the messages reveal that researchers manipulated and suppressed data and stifled dissent. 

In the first Capitol Hill airing of the issue, House Republicans read excerpts from at least eight of the e-mails, saying they showed the world needs to re-examine experts' claims that the science is settled. One e-mail from 2003 was by John Holdren, then of Harvard University and now the president's science adviser. 

The brewing controversy led to the resignation this week of Phil Jones, the head of the climate research unit at the University of East Anglia, the source of the e-mail exchanges. The university is investigating the matter. Penn State University also is looking into e-mails by its own researcher Michael Mann. House Republicans asked for a separate hearing or investigation into the issue, but were rebuffed by Democrats. 

"These e-mails show a pattern of suppression, manipulation and secrecy that was inspired by ideology, condescension and profit," said U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, a Republican. 

The science is proper and this is about a small fraction of research on the issue, said Holdren, a physicist who has studied climate change. 

"The e-mails do nothing to undermine the very strong scientific consensus ... that tells us the Eearth is warming, that warming is largely a result of human activity," said another government scientist Jane Lubchenco. A marine biologist and climate researcher, she heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.