Repeated break-ins point to ‘orchestrated campaign’ by climate skeptics

A series of repeated break-in and computer hacking attempts at a Canadian climate research institute are a sign of a “well-orchestrated campaign of harassment” against climate researchers ahead of the Copenhagen summit, several news sources report.

Employees at the University of Victoria, in British Columbia, have revealed that the school’s Centre for Climate Modelling has experienced at least two break-ins in recent months, as well as several attempts at hacking into the center’s computer network.

The news comes a week after revelations that computer hackers stole thousands of emails from a climate research center at the University of East Anglia in the UK, some of which purportedly show attempts to cover up data that does not fit with claims about global warming.

Those leaked emails are at the center of a political push-back by climate skeptics, who are arguing that the “Climategate” emails show that global warming is a fraud, or at least has been exaggerated.

Canada’s National Post reports:

Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria scientist and key contributor to the Nobel prize-winning work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says there have been a number of attempted breaches in recent months, including two successful break-ins at his campus office in which a dead computer was stolen and papers were rummaged through.

“The key thing is to try to find anybody who’s involved in any aspect of the IPCC and find something that you can … take out of context,” Mr. Weaver said, drawing a parallel to the case of British climate researcher Phil Jones, who was forced to step down this week after skeptics seized upon hacked emails they allege point to a plot to exaggerate the threat of climate change.

“People don’t like it, so they try to discredit it, and the way they try to discredit it is by attacking the individual responsible for it,” Mr. Weaver said.

“They went through my desk drawers,” Weaver told the Victoria Times-Colonist. “It was bizarre and the only computer that wasn’t secured was stolen. It wasn’t secured because it was broken. There was nothing on it … They were trying to find any dirt they could, as they have done in the UK.”

The Post reports that Canada’s federal government is investigating some of the hacking attempts, as the university’s climate research center is run by Environment Canada, the country’s environmental protection agency.

In recent days, many US politicians opposed to a climate deal in Copenhagen have used the University of East Anglia email controversy to push for a US withdrawal from the climate negotiations. US House Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) said the leaked emails showed that efforts to prevent climate change amount to “scientific fascism.”

On Thursday evening, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin urged President Barack Obama to boycott the Copnehagen summit next week, because she believes the leaked emails prove that fears of climate change are based on “junk science.”

The Times-Colonist reports:

Weaver worries that climate-change deniers, many funded by large oil companies, are succeeding in scaring or confusing people.

It comes down to a battle between science and ideology, he said. While science is about explaining all observations, ideology is about using only those observations that support a preconceived notion, he added.