Phil Jones is standing aside pending an independent inquiry into what happened at CRU. Skeptics are going to smell blood in the water, even though it is hard to see what else the East Anglia unit could have done in this case. Given the massive levels of attention this story has drawn, some kind of inquiry makes sense; and Jones certainly cannot investigate himself. To be clear, while the jury remains out, none of us who think the "Swifthack" is no big deal are arguing that every last email that has been revealed is necessarily defensible. Rather, we're arguing that when viewed in proper context, what has been revealed simply does not go to the core issues of whether climate change is human caused and what we need to do about it. Meanwhile, in a statement that I've only just become aware of, I note that the American Meteorological Society--a leading scientific membership organization--fully supports this view:
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.
Exactly. We'll continue to follow this important story on the blog in the run-up to Copenhagen.