Update 11/25 3:20 pm: Grifo clarifies in an interview that the group "does have concerns" about the alleged behavior of some scientists in this case. "If a US scientist deleted emails persuant to freedom of information act requests, that's reprehensible," she says. "Ultimately a lack of transparency doesn't work."
Yesterday I asked Francesca Grifo, senior scientist and director of the Scientific Integrity Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), about the possibility that the University of East Anglia's Phil Jones was asking colleagues to delete emails requested under information requests. Citing a busy schedule, she declined to be interviewed, instead sending the following statement through a spokesperson:
We expect a high degree of scientific integrity by scientists, whether they be in university labs or federal offices. But what may or may not have happened does not change the science - ice sheets are melting, sea level is rising and the top ten hottest years since 1880 include 2001 through 2008.
UCS's Peter Frumhoff has also downplayed the issues raised by the emails, stating in a press release that the emails show:
scientists at work, grappling with key issues, and displaying the full range of emotions and motivations characteristic of any urgent endeavor.
In an email to Insider, University of Colorado, Boulder, policy expert Roger Pielke Jr. takes issue with the UCS response:
The comment from UCS reflects the exact sort of thinking that got climate science into this mess, specifically, an inability to differentiate the health of the scientific enterprise from the politics of climate change. It is possible to attend to both at the same time. As important as climate change is, it does not justify abandoning standards of scientific integrity. The reality of climate change and the need to respond does not excuse the sort of behavior revealed in the emails.