Part driven by a primitive urge to crucify our heroes and part by a voyeuristic longing to look at somebody else’s inbox, news of the now infamous leaked climate emails spread faster than you could say ‘Copenhagen’. Yes it’s true; despite breathing the rarefied air of science, scientists are sometimes seized by the impulse to get back to being plain old Clark Kent again.  Politicians have affairs, celebrities do drugs and scientists… express personal views.

Not such a big deal you might think. But when the stakes are this high and world is on the precipice of a paradigm change, the personal becomes the profane. However, the truth is that frustration is getting to them scientists. Climate models that provide more questions than answers, inconvenient/incomplete data that blows holes in hypotheses, demands on time from meetings, conferences and workshops not to mention climate sceptics and sceptical decision-makers.

Some excerpts of the good, bad and ugly in a climate scientist’s inbox

(To see all the emails visit

The Good

“This is a complex issue, and your misrepresentation of it does you a dis-service. To someone like me, who knows the science, it is apparent that you are presenting a personal view, not an informed, balanced scientific assessment”

“When scientists color the science with their own PERSONAL views or make categorical statements without presenting the evidence for such statements, they have a clear responsibility to state that that is what they are doing. You have failed to do so. Indeed, what you are doing is, in my view, a form of dishonesty more subtle but no less egregious than the statements made by the greenhouse skeptics, Michaels, Singer et al. I find this extremely disturbing”

The Bad

“Remember all the fun we had last year over 1995 global temperatures, with early release of information (via Oz), “inventing” the December monthly value, letters to Nature etc etc? I think we should have a cunning plan about what to do this year, simply to avoid a lot of wasted time”

“As always I seem to have been away bullshiting and politiking in various meetings for weeks! I try to convince myself that this is of use to us as a dendrochronological community but I am not so sure how much that is really true these days”

The Ugly

“Our population is only 25 % of yours so we only get 1 for every 4 you have. His name in case you should come across him is  Piers Corbyn. He is nowhere near as good as a couple of yours and he’s  an utter prat but he’s getting a lot of air time at the moment”

“The other stuff is of course interesting but I would have to see it and the board would want the larger implications of the stats clearly phrased in general and widely understandable (by the ignorant masses) terms before they would consider it not too specialised. I suspect that this might not be straight forward”