The e-mails leaked from the University of East Anglia in November 2009 produced what is popularly called "Climategate." They exposed the thoroughly unethical behavior of a group of climate scientists, mainly in the UK and US, involved in producing the global surface temperature record used and relied on by governments.
Not only did these climate scientists hide their raw data and their methodology of selection and adjustment of temperature data, but they fought hard against all attempts by independent outside scientists to replicate their results. They also undermined the peer-review system and tried to make it impossible for skeptical scientists to publish their work in scientific journals. There is voluminous evidence in the e-mails to this effect. In the process, they damaged not only the science enterprise -- full publication of data and methods, replication of results, open debate, etc -- but they also undermined the public credibility of all scientists.
However, the most serious revelation from the e-mails is that they tried to "hide the decline" in temperatures, using various "tricks" in order to keep alive a myth of rising temperatures in support of the dogma of anthropogenic global warming. There have now been a number of investigations of the activities of this group, mainly in the UK. These have all turned out to be complete whitewashes, aimed to exonerate the scientists involved. None of these investigations has even attempted to learn how and in what way the data might have been manipulated.
Much of this is described in the "Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the corruption of science" by A. W. Montford. Meteorologist Joseph D'Aleo and others have made a commendable effort to show how data might have been altered. But an independent effort to reconstruct the global temperature results of the past century really demands a dedicated project with proper resources.
The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) Project aims to do what needs to be done: That is, to develop an independent analysis of the data from land stations, which would include many more stations than had been considered by the Global Historic Climatology Network. The Project is in the hands of a group of recognized scientists, who are not at all "climate skeptics" -- which should enhance their credibility. The Project is mainly directed by physicists, chaired by Professor Richard Muller (UC Berkeley), with a steering group that includes Professor Judith Curry (Georgia Tech) and Arthur Rosenfeld (UC Santa Barbara and Georgia Tech).
I applaud and support what is being done by the Project -- a very difficult but important undertaking. I personally have little faith in the quality of the surface data, having been exposed to the revealing work by Anthony Watts and others. However, I have an open mind on the issue and look forward to seeing the results of the Project in their forthcoming publications.
As far as I know, no government or industry funds are involved -- at least at this stage. According to the Project's website www.berkeleyearth.org, support comes mostly from a group of charitable foundations.
Atmospheric physicist S. Fred Singer is Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia and former director of the US weather satellite service. He is a Senior Fellow of the Independent Institute and the Heartland Institute. He is the author or co-author of Unstoppable Global Warming , Nature not Human Activity Rules the Climate , and Climate Change Reconsidered .