In the most optimistic sense, they will have no effect. Climate negotiations should be based on science, and science ideally is impartial. It is unfortunate that the authors of the emails said anything to call their research into question (although in most of the cases, the evidence against climate change from the emails seems taken out of context or to be somewhat successfully making mountains out of molehills), but in their defense, the emails were private correspondence, and in that sense were written in a privately colloquial language. For example, a lot of hubbub was made about a “trick” one scientist claimed to have used to manipulate data. To scientists, a “trick”, is only something that makes data easier to process, not a smoke-and-mirrors ruse. Without “tricks” we’d have no chain-rule in calculus, and multiplication would still be about adding a number to itself a certain number of times; 2 x 3 = 2 + 2 + 2.
Unfortunately, impartial science is only marginally involved in climate negotiations. Ultimately policy-makers decide what happens, and as we all know, politics is anything but impartial. Policy-makers need to worry about things like public image, the always-upcoming election, and respecting different sides of a debate, even if it’s frustrating to everyone that there is a debate at all.
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