On the Climategate emails

Doubts about how much humans are contributing to changes in the climate have had an increasing number of things in their favor: a leveling off and even cooling of global temperatures over the past decade; the fact that Anthropogenic Global Warming theory (AGW) doesn’t account fully for a number of natural effects on the climate; admissions that the likes of Al Gore have trumped up the potential consequences of global warming in order to gain public attention; serious questions about the accuracy of the data that AGW proponents cite, and the scientific rigor with which the data have been collected.

What was missing was a paper trail indicating that warmists were manipulating the exchange of information and attempting to silence skeptics. Until now.

The recent release of several dozen megabytes of information from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia has struck a huge blow against the politics, and perhaps the science, of AGW. It’s unclear whether these data — including thousands of emails (UPDATE: sorry, make that “emails and other documents”) from some of the world’s most prominent warmists — were hacked by an outsider or leaked by a whistleblower on the inside. But the people who wrote and received the emails have verified their veracity.

Lest you doubt the impact of these emails, know that one of AGW’s greatest fanatics, George Monbiot of London’s Guardian newspaper, has described them as “a major blow” that “could scarcely be more damaging.” The fact that Monbiot tries to play down their impact on the science of AGW by concocting an over-the-top fake email, saying that only this kind of email would prove an over-arching conspiracy among warmists, merely shows that this crowd can do nothing but deal in hyperbole.

Science writer Ron Bailey — who, perhaps surprisingly for a staffer at uber-libertarian Reason Magazine, is convinced by the science of AGW, or at least was 18 months ago when I met him in Copenhagen — was compelled to write:

Hmmm. Data not agreeing with model predictions. Very interesting. And of course, Flannery is right, science does work through “a robust interchange and testing of ideas.” But interchanging ideas about how to hijack some aspects of peer review and by trying to suppress the work of researchers with whom one disagrees? Messy indeed.

Now, on to the emails.

I haven’t read through even a fraction of the emails, so I will only pass on what others, who have spent more time looking at them, have found.

One good summary is at Powerline blog, which includes emails suggesting that the CRU scientists tried to eliminate inconvenient “blips” in the data; complained about journalists, specifically Andrew Revkin of The New York Times, who were “not as predictable as we’d like”; and mused about ways to make sure the grant money from green-friendly corporations kept coming (while complaining about companies that funded alternative viewpoints). More from Powerline here, here and here.

Perhaps the most damning email threads describe the lengths to which the CRU crew went to silence debate. Pajamas Media has done a great job compiling messages along these lines. The PJM articles include: Charlie Martin on how the men violated the social contract of science; Rand Simberg on scientists as politicians; and Christopher Monckton, a British lord who gave an incredibly informative and entertaining talk this summer at a Georgia Public Policy Foundation event, and whose offer to debate Al Gore on the science of global warming has gone unaccepted, on why the CRU scientists are criminals.

A longtime thorn in the side of the AGW crowd, Steve McIntyre, hosts several discussion threads on some of the implications of the emails, including some back-and-forth about computer coding that I frankly do not understand in the least, here.

This undoubtedly won’t end the debate about global warming, but then again the only people who were trying all along to end the debate were the AGW crowd. What it ought to do, though, is provide real impetus for these supposed scientists to follow the normal procedures of science — including revealing their data so that others can test their hypotheses, a staple of scientific research that the CRU crew had until now avoided with all their might.

And at the very least, this ought to be reason enough for Congress, and the poo-bahs at next month’s U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen, to back off any dramatic new anti-carbon measures until we know whether the scandal goes deeper than this.

***

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162 comments Add your comment

David Axelfraud

November 24th, 2009
9:48 am

Weird, I just posted an article on your last blog about the global warming scam.

TGT

November 24th, 2009
9:55 am

It’s good to see someone at the AJC paying attention to this. AGW, as John Coleman, founder of The Weather Channel put it, is the “greatest scam in history.” (Personally I believe that title belongs to Darwinian Evolution, but that’s just me.) Also, AGW, as Australian geologist Ian Plimer says is the “new religion of First World urban elites.” I suppose we will see how strong their “faith” is.

lmno

November 24th, 2009
10:08 am

we can all agree that there is too much man made pollution and that conservation is wise. That should be good enough.

As fare as the “biggest scam in history” that honor would go to teh Debeers Corporation who convinced us that the non-rare diamond was something we needed.

Chris Broe

November 24th, 2009
10:21 am

Speaking of unfounded theories. I wonder if Isaac Newton ever figured on high gravity.

I think there’s more accurate science in the way the Coors light mountains on the cans turn blue when they’re cold.

Kick Me

November 24th, 2009
10:29 am

Kyle, are you really going to use secondhand, sensational reportage of “unread emails” to justify an empty skeptisism of the science of climate change? Stick with the experts, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC (http://www.ipcc.ch/). There’s consensus among the 10,000+ scientists from virtually every country on the legitamacy of the science of climate change.

Chris Broe

November 24th, 2009
10:33 am

I think what Kyle is saying is that if Diebold hadn’t gansta’d up the election for W in 2000, then by now Al Gore would have popped a cap-and-trade in America’s ass.

Icarus

November 24th, 2009
10:36 am

Dangerous precedent we’re setting here Kyle.

Sarah Palin had her Yahoo account hacked during the Presidential campaign. Those of us on the right screamed foul, and rightly so. Now we have emails stolen from folks we disagree with on the left, and we’re trumpeting this as a breakthrough?

As someone who remembers “dangerous global cooling” that was forced on my elementary school class in the late 70’s – and for the same reason that global warming was pushed in the 90’s – and global “change” is pushed today – I very much doubt the arguments from the left on this topic.

But I think the methods here take us a bit too far, and we won’t have the moral high ground the next time someone on “our” side gets hacked.

AJStrata

November 24th, 2009
10:42 am

You may like to know that those ‘blips’ were in the CRU data released, and show that the 2000’s are not much warmer (and in many places cooler) than the 1940’s. It seems the MWP was not the most recent time in history when we had similar warming, followed by a huge cooling off.

You can see the CRU data here: http://strata-sphere.com/blog/index.php/archives/11466

And you can see my assessment of the CRU’s own declared accuracy as it demonstrates there has been no statistically significant warming in the last 100 years: http://strata-sphere.com/blog/index.php/archives/11420

What we have are people hiding the truth of their own data so as to tell a completely false story, and get rich and famous

Jess

November 24th, 2009
10:46 am

Thank heavens a few seeds of doubt are finally being planted. I am a conservative who is interested in the environment. I believe improving the quality of our water and air are worthy goals, and can support reasonable efforts to do so. I am older and can remember when things were much worse than today, and would be happy to see them continue to improve.

What really bothers me, however, is our government, through the power of research dollars, trying to scare the american people into going along with an agenda they would never support if not for fear of the oceans rising and swallowing up coastline.

I think two things signal a turning point in this debate however. One is the increasing use of the term “climate change” rather than “global warming”. Climate change is really a meaningless term since the climate has always changed. And the second is the courage of Scientists who have been quieted by their grant hungry bosses, and who are now coming out.

Just hope it continues and gains strength before we saddle this country with an economy killing bill like cap-and-trade.

Kyle Wingfield

November 24th, 2009
10:48 am

Kick Me: The people alleged to have authored the emails have had the better part of a week to deny any or all of them. So far, they haven’t made a peep to that effect. There is every reason to believe that the emails are legitimate. As for “sticking with the experts” — these are the alleged experts! The work of Phil Jones and Michael Mann (the “hockey stick” creator) has featured most prominently in the IPCC’s work. Now they are revealed to have denied other researchers access to their data, discussed destroying data rather than hand it over in a Freedom of Information request, and planned to keep contrary views out of IPCC reports. So even if these are just a few bad apples, you can’t just separate them from the IPCC like that.

TGT

November 24th, 2009
10:49 am

Who’s to say this was a hacker? I know this is what is mostly being reported, but how do we know this was not a “whistleblower?”

dewstarpath

November 24th, 2009
10:57 am

I thought that the “global cooling” scare of the late
1970’s (I was also in grade school then) was the result
of the spectre of thermonuclear war.

Kyle Wingfield

November 24th, 2009
10:58 am

Icarus raises a good point. But I think this case is more similar to the Pentagon Papers case than that of Palin’s email account. (Interestingly, The New York Times deemed the Pentagon Papers, like the existence of the government wiretapping program a few years ago, worthy of publication regardless of the risk to national security…but the newspaper has chosen not to publish these emails.)

These were government employees, using their government email accounts to discuss government work that was shaping government policy — and the avoidance of certain government laws, insofar as they were trying to dodge a Freedom of Information request, up to the point of destroying the requested documents. It’s far different from accessing a personal email account, as in Palin’s case. I think there’s a sufficient distinction here to argue for one and against the other.

Here’s another question: Is this more of a whistleblower case? It’s still unclear who exactly obtained and released this information. But isn’t the very nature of this information and its release what whistleblower cases are all about?

dewstarpath

November 24th, 2009
11:00 am

- (CONT.) Although greenhouse gas emissions from
factories (and even nuclear plant cooling towers) was
probably another accused culprit.

JA

November 24th, 2009
11:02 am

CRU has called it a “hacker” and a “hacking incident” because the term hacking has a negative and even illegal connotation.

“Whistleblower” on the other hand has the implication that something bad was happenning at the CRU and that the whistleblower merely followed the freedom of information laws and exposed the collusion.

Subtle terminology there. I’m glad that the AJC took the more neutral term of “released.” I think that until we know for certain whether this was a hacking incident or a whistleblower release, we should use the neutral term of “release.” lest we subtly play into the spin machine.

Road Scholar

November 24th, 2009
11:02 am

Kyle, this is interesting in that conservatives do not recognize science, esp when it conflicts with their personal beliefs. The constant berating of intellectual “elitists” makes one wonder why they even go to doctors. As stated above, the increase in polution levels, esp as shown by the increase in asthma cases and severity of these cases, should be enough for us to clean up our act. Add to that the growth in world population and the increased use of petroleum by the “undeveloped” nations will add to that polution in the future, if nothing is done.

JackPoynter

November 24th, 2009
11:04 am

Although I currently live in Kansas, I grew up in Warner Robins, and always enjoy reading the Journal and Constitution. I am delighted to see that the Constitution has someone on its editorial board who can see through the nonsense of the AGW crowd. I spent several decades in the Washington DC area, and was involved heavily in the Y2K ‘crisis’. As far as I can see, the hysteria surrounding AGW is on a par with the hysteria surrounding Y2K, and is just another example of ‘millennial fervor’, as occurs periodically around the world. As usual, the passion on the subject is pumped up by leaders who should, and probably do, know better. Fortunately, there is enough silliness in the claims of the AGW crowd to alert people who know how to think. And now, we have evidence in the paper trail that not only are they engaged in bad science, but they are knowingly and purposefully engaged in activities to bolster their viewpoint in clear violation of the precepts of the scientific method, which can be expressed as: make the prediction, do the experiment, compare results to reality, modify theory if necessar, and make your theory, data, and results available publically for a real and honest peer review.

It is to be expected that the passionate believers in AGW should use any argument at their disposal to downplay the significance of the information in those emails; they have their position, and they are defending it. But that is politics, not science. We should leave that to Senator Gore, that is his bailiwick. We should simply demand that the data and calculations which have led to the AGW hypothesis be made public, and let science do what it does best, determine as much of the truth as we can, and honestly admit when we don’t know.

I see from news reports that the congress is beginning an investigation into this matter, as well they must, far too much money and the political future of our country and the world is at stake.

May you live in interesting times, as goes the old Chinese curse. And here we are, indeeed.

Icarus

November 24th, 2009
11:06 am

If it was a hack, bad.

If it was a whistleblower, I’m O.K. with it.

Frankly, been covered up trying to finish up work pre-holiday, so haven’t followed the details close enough. While most reports I’ve scanned used the term “hack”, I understand that the term could easily be changed depending on the actual circumstances of how these came about.

retiredds

November 24th, 2009
11:12 am

Kyle, God told Noah that the climate in his part of the world was going to change and that he should build and ark. I wonder what would have happened if he had told God he needed more proof.

Kyle Wingfield

November 24th, 2009
11:12 am

To lmno and Road Scholar: Sure, I agree that we should try to curb pollution. I just don’t think carbon dioxide — the main target of the AGW crowd — is a pollutant, and therefore it isn’t the substance that we ought to be most concerned about. In fact, I’d argue that we are doing less about real pollution precisely because of the fixation with CO2.

And, Road Scholar, the increasing questions about the accuracy of AGW theory will be a big test of whether liberals are willing to “recognize science, esp when it conflicts with their personal beliefs.”

Here’s the question that has never been answered: In what scenario, with what kind of evidence, would warmists be willing to concede that they were wrong about AGW? If there’s no answer to that question, then they’re not really engaging in science.

Kyle Wingfield

November 24th, 2009
11:13 am

retiredds: Are you suggesting climate scientists are God?

Jess

November 24th, 2009
11:14 am

Road Scholar,

To say conservatives do not recognize science is an awfully broad statement. To say they recognize bad science when they see it would be much more accurate.

Very few conservatives I know want to harm the environment. Not much kickback from them when we’ve implemented anti pollution measures in the past, and there probably will not be in the future. To use “bought” science to try and change the entire world economy by fear mongering is a different story.

Kyle Wingfield

November 24th, 2009
11:16 am

To clarify, Icarus: If the data turns out to have been stolen, as opposed to being released by a whistleblower, I would support the prosecution of the hacker(s) for any laws that were broken. But I also think the British government should now investigate whether the emailers themselves broke the FOI law.

TGT

November 24th, 2009
11:16 am

Road Scholar says, it “is interesting in that conservatives do not recognize science, esp when it conflicts with their personal beliefs.”

As if this is not the case with the AGW crowd. Again, as Ian Plimer (an ardent atheist) points out, “Environmentalism has many of the hallmarks of failed European socialism and Western (failed) Christianity. It has a holy book which few have read (IPCC reports), has prophets (Gore) who cannot be challenged, relies on dogma, ignores contrary evidence, has armies of wide-eyed missionaries…; imposes guilt, has a catastrophist view of the planet, and seeks indulgences.”

Leave it to an atheist to recognize a religion when he sees one.

John

November 24th, 2009
11:18 am

its been obvious for quite some time that the pro warmer pushers have had to get quite creative in their quest.. its good that things are out in the open before we take the next step.. Public inquiry would do a world of good.. do we have the stomach for it is another story..

JackPoynter

November 24th, 2009
11:20 am

With regard to ‘hack’ vs ‘whistleblower’: As noted on another site (I apologize for not remembering where it was) it isn’t necessary to invoke either demons or angels in this instance: common stupidity and carelessness is enough to explain how the emails were obtained. Evidently those folks were in the habit of taking shortcuts and leaving batches of information on publicly accessible ftp sites, which were ‘regularly trawled’ (per one of Phil Jones’ emails.) It seems that this has happened to them before, but without such dire consequences.

haybeav

November 24th, 2009
11:41 am

What people here are not realizing is these emails were all supposed to have been made public years ago due to the Freedom of Information act in the UK. But the scientists at the IPCC knew how damning this data was, so they intentionally withheld it from public eyes.

Some of the emails specifically talk about ways to withhold the email…

Hard Right Hook

November 24th, 2009
11:43 am

Why did the Vikings call it Greenland when they discovered it in 982?

The aspect of climate cycles seems to have some support. The issue is that they seem to take 500 to 1000 years to complete.

The thermometer has only been around since 1724; data collection was a little rough in the old days.

Rmoen

November 24th, 2009
11:44 am

Phil Jones and Kevin Trenberth are the lead authors of one of the most important chapters in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report. It’s clear to me that the United States needs our own objective, transparent ‘Climate Truth Commission’ to think through global warming.

For twenty years I believed in man-made global warming theory, but the evidence has changed. During that period we’ve had ten years of warming then ten years of little or no warming. I blame my confusion on the United Nations for getting ahead of their facts. When they claimed CO2 drives global warming, they were more concerned about politics and funding than science. One only needs to look at their track record: UN forecasts do not fit what actually happened.

– Robert Moen, http://www.energyplanUSA.com

El Jefe

November 24th, 2009
11:46 am

What I liked about the whole Climate Change/Global warming snake oil show, was the phrase, “consensus”.

I don’t remember all the sciences from my school days, but consensus wasn’t part of it. I do not recall there ever being consensus in science. If something can not be reproduced over and over then it is not accepted as valid. For example, the cold fusion headlines in the late 20th century.

k

November 24th, 2009
11:49 am

“This undoubtedly won’t end the debate about global warming, but then again the only people who were trying all along to end the debate were the AGW crowd.”

Wrong. Mcintyre and company were not trying to end the debate, they were simply striving to have one! They have been vilified for asking questions that are part of the *normal* scientific process. The AGW crowd is the one with the hypothesis. They are the ones making an assertion. The burden of proof is upon them but they refuse to open their work to inspection. Now we know why, the data is fabricated to support a desired outcome. It’s no wonder they resisted like they have. But shame on the media for steam-rolling “the skeptics” who where doing nothing wrong this entire time.

retiredds

November 24th, 2009
11:55 am

Kyle, I find it interesting that you would ask that question. No, scientists are not God. Scientists have been endowed by a Creator with a brain. A scientist can use that however he or she wishes, for good or evil. What I am suggesting is, so it is clear to you and others, that there are signs, indicators, clues, etc. that are out there. It is up to us whether we want to believe them or not. If the changes are ignored or denied then we are at our own peril. Noah did not deny what he was told, and I am sure got a massive amount of criticism and ridicule while building the ark from the doubters. Maybe had they asked Noah a few questions about why he was doing what he was doing some might have done like he did. As you might be aware, my argument is speculative but I think it has some parallels for today. To deny climate change at this point is rather foolish, just ask some of the hunters and fishermen in the mid-west and north west whether they see signs of climate change. And by the way, the science of climate change is settled, what isn’t settled is what we are going to do about it. We can sit around and argue all we want, but Mother Nature doesn’t really care what we think (i.e., humans are not the center of the universe). She will do what she will do regardless of whether we believe in climate change or not.

El Jefe

November 24th, 2009
12:09 pm

retiredds – the science of climate change is settled – this is pure bull.

Have you not looked outside your ivory tower?

No warming since the 90’s. Earliest snow storms in the mountain states.

The climate trends are not influence in great part by man and his machines. It is powered by something greater than puny man.

David Axelfraud

November 24th, 2009
12:11 pm

Al Gore said that the debate was over. Now, I don’t remember Al debating anyone on the subject. Most people are skeptical when a hack politician comes a knockin’ and tells us all that we are doomed unless we listen to him. Al Gore was a Vandy flunk out who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

David Axelfraud

November 24th, 2009
12:14 pm

El Jefe, there is no doubt that the climate changes. But, the problem is that politicians want us to believe that WE are the problem. It’s pure arrogance and stupidity on their part.

Quick story: Last winter it was 9 degrees outside on Michigan Ave. As I walked to work, two Green Peace “activists’ walked up to me and asked me for support to stop Global Warming. I said, well, with all due respect I welcome warm temps right about now. One of them yelled at me “THAT”S NOT HOW IT WORKS MAN!” I yelled back, “YOU CAN’T EVEN EXPLAIN HOW IT WORKS!” They both got angry and then I asked them if either one of them were Climatologists. They were confused. I’m guessing it had something to do with the pound of weed they smoked the night before.

retiredds

November 24th, 2009
12:19 pm

I see El Jefe has taken the bait and already made his pronouncement. So, El Jefe, you are 100% certain of your position and that any which deviates from yours is, to use your words, “pure bull”. So, you and I disagree about this and that’s all there is. You have your opinion and I have mine. I think I’m going to have a cup of coffee.

JackPoynter

November 24th, 2009
12:19 pm

Retiredds,

Signs and portents may be available, but they are generally recognized after the fact rather than before.

You say that ‘the science of climate change is settled,’ and perhaps it is in your mind. But a good scientist always questions, people are still doing experiments on Newton’s and Einstein’s theories, looking for exceptions, not to disprove them necessarily but to extend them.

Cutting off debate, which is what the AGW folks want, is a parliamentary procedure when a vote is necessary, but this arena should not be political, regardless of what Ms. Pelosi wants.

And in regard to Mother Nature doing what she wants, rather than what we want, it is certainly true. The objective is to discover what she wants, which will not be accomplished by cooking data and hiding information.

I certainly agree that we need to decide what if anything we are going to do about it. You should agree, however, given your statement that humans are not the center of the universe, that attempting to change global dynamics by our actions smacks of the fallacy of central position, which states that we are responsible for everything about us, and that someone also needs to be punished for anything that goes wrong, ourselves if no one else.

But all that’s just philosophy. We simply need to be able to confirm or deny AGW calculations, and we can’t do that without seeing the data and analyzing their methodology.

JP

TGT

November 24th, 2009
12:24 pm

“The science of climate change is settled.”

Yes, it’s settled. Climates do indeed change. However, what is not settled is the claim by AGW alarmists that man’s burning of fossil fuels is, in any significant way, warming the planet.

John

November 24th, 2009
12:26 pm

When the stakes are sky high you dont discount information because it was lifted in a illegal manner.. it is what it is and should be taken into account based on its own.. They are dishonest deceptive bullies that cherry pick who and what makes the final cut to push their political agenda.. Peer review is a running joke.. The fact that billions have poured into their pockets is CRIMINAL

Warren Bonesteel

November 24th, 2009
12:30 pm

The problem with Mann, the IPCC report, et al, is that they have always ignored that big yellow thing in the sky.

Now (If you actually read any of their emails and documents) we find that they’ve been running a three-card monte game on us. By admiting hat the material came from their organization, Mann, et al, have admitted to tax evasion, fraud, and conspiracy to committ fraud and tax evasion, among many other crimes. Read the emails and douments. It’s all right there in black and white. There’s no accusations needed. They’ve already confessed.

Jefferson

November 24th, 2009
12:31 pm

Some people are never happy.

JackPoynter

November 24th, 2009
12:37 pm

Here’s an article from the Wall Street Journal addressing congressional action on these emails:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125902685372961609.html?mod=rss_Today’s_Most_Popular

Kyle, if there’s anything in the Journal about it, I didn’t see it, sorry.

This is the article that says it may have been neither a hack nor a whistleblower:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/23/the-crutape-letters%c2%ae-an-alternate-explanation/

Anen Wayman

November 24th, 2009
12:39 pm

Thebes

November 24th, 2009
12:42 pm

Take a look at some of the comments in the source code. Programming code is commented by the author to let others know what a function does… it stands alone and can not be “taken out of context”. The code is even more incriminating (and I am not using that word in the colloquial sense) than the emails. This is FRAUD.

Some of the code comments talk about a function set up to ignore certain kinds of data. Other places talk about the need to not use the data created for the past(!) after 1960 without hand correcting it so it looks authentic.

I can’t say that the earth didn’t get warmer in the 90’s, but its not matching the “scientists” deluded vision of man killing earth. Now we see why, the facts were bent to fit the theory and we are not really all going to die. Some scientists are going to end up fired though…

Ragnar Danneskjöld

November 24th, 2009
12:48 pm

Presumably the consensus today is that global warming is just the latest in the long string of leftist hoaxes – Amchitka, Population Bomb, Coming ice Age, Freon causing Ozone erosion, DDT causing bird deaths, Keynesian economics. Our friends on the left are exceedingly slow learners, or are incredibly devious controllers.

StJ

November 24th, 2009
12:51 pm

This is just another angle in the Democrat/Socialist/Communist/UN plan to strip us of our rights. Good thing someone exposed the dirty little details…maybe that will help people wake up to what is really going on.

More taxation = less individual freedom.

Churchill's MOM

November 24th, 2009
12:51 pm

Raghead you are on a roll. Are you coming home fro Thanksgiving?

JackPoynter

November 24th, 2009
12:54 pm

My last comment still says “awaiting moderation.” Since all it does is point to the websites which I referenced earlier, does that mean linking to another website is forbidden here?

Ragnar Danneskjöld

November 24th, 2009
12:59 pm

Dear Mom @ 12:51, thanks for asking, flying back to ATL tomorrow night, driving to the Tennessee reunion the next morning. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

November 24th, 2009
1:02 pm

Good news, due to the mushrooming adverse publicity arising from exposure of the global warming fraud, President Chauncey will be changing the topic with his Afghanistan announcement, maybe today.