It’s the global warming scandal of the century, says Michelle Malkin!

The exposure of the warmist conspiracy, says Andrew Bolt!

The final nail in the coffin of anthropogenic global warming, bleats James Delingpole!

A stunning tour de force — four stars, says Leonard Maltin!

OK, so that last quote is made up. But the others aren’t. What is it these conservatives are so excited about?

Apparently, the networks of University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit were hacked into last night. Approximately 160 megabytes of files, containing hundreds or thousands of e-mails and documents were leaked as a result of the security breach, reports The Guardian.

The conservatives are mainly zeroing in on one particular e-mail from the center’s director, Phil Jones, dated from November 16th, 1999, which reads as follows:

From: Phil JonesTo: ray bradley ,mann@[snipped], mhughes@[snipped]Subject: Diagram for WMO StatementDate: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15 +0000Cc: k.briffa@[snipped],t.osborn@[snipped]Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm,Once Tim’s got a diagram here we’ll send that either latertoday or first thing tomorrow. I’ve just completed Mike’s Naturetrick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd [sic] from1961 for Keith’s tohide the decline. Mike’s series got the annual land and marinevalues while the other two got April-Sept for NH land N of 20N.The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for1999 with data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998.Thanks for the comments, Ray.Cheers, Phil

There you have it! The smoking gun! Irrefutable proof of the Anthropogenic Global Warming Super-Duper Major-Mega International Socialist Conspiracy!

If you see Al Gore parking his Ford Fusion hybrid near any major bridges, make sure to call the police!

Actually, what you have is a scientist, Dr. Jones, talking candidly about sexing up a graph to make his conclusions more persuasive. This is not a good thing thing to do — I’d go so far as to call it unethical — and Jones deserves some of the loss of face that he will suffer. Unfortunately, this is the sort of thing that happens all the time in both academia and the private sector — have you ever looked at the graphs in the annual report of a company which had a bad year? And it seems to happen all too often on both sides of the global warming debate (I’d include some of the graphics from An Inconvenient Truth in this category, FWIW.)

But let’s be clear: Jones is talking to his colleagues about making a prettier picture out of his data, and not about manipulating the data itself. Again, I’m not trying to excuse what he did — we make a lot of charts here and 538 and make every effort to ensure that they fairly and accurately reflect the underlying data (in addition to being aesthetically appealing.) I wish everybody would abide by that standard.

Still: I don’t know how you get from some scientist having sexed up a graph in East Anglia ten years ago to The Final Nail In The Coffin of Anthropogenic Global Warming. Anyone who comes to that connection has more screws loose than the Space Shuttle Challenger. And yet that’s literally what some of these bloggers are saying!

Incidentally, 2009 is shaping up to be the 5th warmist year on record, according to the conspiracists at NASA.

Nate Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.

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