By now most have heard about the hacking of emails at the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, with revelations of questionable conduct by Michael Mann, Phil Jones, and others, including apparent efforts to cover up embarrassing facts and manipulate refereeing processes at journals. There have been piles of posts all over, and many people spouting off about this, with global warming skeptics pronouncing this to be the definitive proof that they are right (or at least not as unprofessional as some of those arguing for anthropogenic global warming). I note the response of those at the CRU. I also note that they should indeed be embarrassed at some of which has been uncovered.
It is indeed unfortunate that the scientific discussion has degenerated into such a slime pit of personalistic attacks and exaggerations. The skeptics are on the attack now, but the other crowd has attacked as well, and much of this is truly internecine. Thus, two of the major contenders and players in the emails are Michael Mann and Patrick Michaels. They were both in the same department at the University of Virginia for some time and were both there when the great controversy over the "hockey stick" erupted (neither are there now). This was a diagram first cooked up by Mann that showed rapid recent warming compared to earlier periods, which received lots of publicity, including in one IPCC report. It turned out the original study was flawed in terms of both data and statistical methodology. Some of the more pathetic floundering in the emails surrounds this. However, it must be noted that more recent data and better statistical methodology has largely confirmed the hockey stick result. We have been in a period of amazingly exceptionally rapid warming recently.
I will also note that this hack job may well be revenge for an attack from the other side on Michaels that was overdone. This was triggered by a Paul Krugman column on May 27, 2006, in which he attacked Michaels for testimony he gave a Senate committee about other testimony by James Hanson. While I agreed that Michaels could be criticized for some of what he said (just as I think Mann and crew can be criticized for some of what they have said), I thought at the time and said so in various places that the attack on him was overdone. One can read Brad DeLong's account of Krugman's argument, Michaels' own defense of himself, and Hansen's take on it. This stuff has been going on for some time.