I thought of killing myself, says climate scandal professor Phil Jones
THE scientist at the centre of the “climategate” email scandal has revealed that he was so traumatised by the global backlash against him that he contemplated suicide.
Professor Phil Jones said in an exclusive interview with The Sunday Times that he had thought about killing himself “several times”.
He acknowledged similarities to Dr David Kelly, the scientist who committed suicide after being exposed as the source for a BBC report that alleged the government had “sexed up” evidence to justify the invasion of Iraq.
In emails that were hacked into and seized upon by global-warming sceptics before the Copenhagen climate summit in December, Jones appeared to call upon his colleagues to destroy scientific data rather than release it to people intent on discrediting their work monitoring climate change.
Jones, 57, said he was unprepared for the scandal: “I am just a scientist. I have no training in PR or dealing with crises.”
The incident has taken a severe toll on his health. He has lost more than a stone in weight and disclosed he is on beta-blockers and using sleeping pills. He said the support of his family, and especially the love of his five-year-old granddaughter, had helped him to shake off suicidal thoughts: “I wanted to see her grow up.”
He remains at risk, still receiving death threats from around the world including two in the past week: “I was shocked. People said I should go and kill myself. They said that they knew where I lived. They were coming from all over the world.”
Jones has temporarily stood down as director of the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia. He fiercely defends the unit’s science — “I stand by it 100%” — but now accepts that he did not treat Freedom of Information (FoI) requests for the data as seriously as he should have done. Jones believes that the unit was maliciously targeted with multiple FoI requests by climate change sceptics determined to disrupt its work.
SCIENTISTS at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based.
It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years.
The UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation.