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The CRU hack: Context

Filed under: — gavin @ 23 November 2009

This is a continuation of the last thread which is getting a little unwieldy. The emails cover a 13 year period in which many things happened, and very few people are up to speed on some of the long-buried issues. So to save some time, I’ve pulled a few bits out of the comment thread that shed some light on some of the context which is missing in some of the discussion of various emails.

  • Trenberth: You need to read his recent paper on quantifying the current changes in the Earth’s energy budget to realise why he is concerned about our inability currently to track small year-to-year variations in the radiative fluxes.
  • Wigley: The concern with sea surface temperatures in the 1940s stems from the paper by Thompson et al (2007) which identified a spurious discontinuity in ocean temperatures. The impact of this has not yet been fully corrected for in the HadSST data set, but people still want to assess what impact it might have on any work that used the original data.
  • Climate Research and peer-review: You should read about the issues from the editors (Claire Goodess, Hans von Storch) who resigned because of a breakdown of the peer review process at that journal, that came to light with the particularly egregious (and well-publicised) paper by Soon and Baliunas (2003). The publisher’s assessment is here.

Update: Pulling out some of the common points being raised in the comments.

  • HARRY_read_me.txt. This is a 4 year-long work log of Ian (Harry) Harris who was working to upgrade the documentation, metadata and databases associated with the legacy CRU TS 2.1 product, which is not the same as the HadCRUT data (see Mitchell and Jones, 2003 for details). The CSU TS 3.0 is available now (via ClimateExplorer for instance), and so presumably the database problems got fixed. Anyone who has ever worked on constructing a database from dozens of individual, sometimes contradictory and inconsistently formatted datasets will share his evident frustration with how tedious that can be.
  • “Redefine the peer-reviewed literature!” . Nobody actually gets to do that, and both papers discussed in that comment – McKitrick and Michaels (2004) and Kalnay and Cai (2003) were both cited and discussed in Chapter 2 of 3 the IPCC AR4 report. As an aside, neither has stood the test of time.
  • “Declines” in the MXD record. This decline was hidden written up in Nature in 1998 where the authors suggested not using the post 1960 data. Their actual programs (in IDL script), unsurprisingly warn against using post 1960 data. Added: Note that the ‘hide the decline’ comment was made in 1999 – 10 years ago, and has no connection whatsoever to more recent instrumental records.
  • CRU data accessibility. From the date of the first FOI request to CRU (in 2007), it has been made abundantly clear that the main impediment to releasing the whole CRU archive is the small % of it that was given to CRU on the understanding it wouldn’t be passed on to third parties. Those restrictions are in place because of the originating organisations (the various National Met. Services) around the world and are not CRU’s to break. As of Nov 13, the response to the umpteenth FOI request for the same data met with exactly the same response. This is an unfortunate situation, and pressure should be brought to bear on the National Met Services to release CRU from that obligation. It is not however the fault of CRU. The vast majority of the data in the HadCRU records is publicly available from GHCN (v2.mean.Z).
  • Suggestions that FOI-related material be deleted … are ill-advised even if not carried out. What is and is not responsive and deliverable to an FOI request is however a subject that it is very appropriate to discuss.
  • Fudge factors (update) IDL code in the some of the attached files calculates and applies an artificial ‘fudge factor’ to the MXD proxies to artificially eliminate the ‘divergence pattern’. This was done for a set of experiments reported in this submitted 2004 draft by Osborn and colleagues but which was never published. Section 4.3 explains the rationale very clearly which was to test the sensitivity of the calibration of the MXD proxies should the divergence end up being anthropogenic. It has nothing to do with any temperature record, has not been used in any published reconstruction and is not the source of any hockey stick blade anywhere.

Further update: This comment from Halldór Björnsson of the Icelandic Met. Service goes right to the heart of the accessibility issue:

Re: CRU data accessibility.

National Meteorological Services (NMSs) have different rules on data exchange. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) organizes the exchange of “basic data”, i.e. data that are needed for weather forecasts. For details on these see WMO resolution number 40 (see

This document acknowledges that WMO member states can place restrictions on the dissemination of data to third parties “for reasons such as national laws or costs of production”. These restrictions are only supposed to apply to commercial use, the research and education community is supposed to have free access to all the data.

Now, for researchers this sounds open and fine. In practice it hasn’t proved to be so.

Most NMSs also can distribute all sorts of data that are classified as “additional data and products”. Restrictions can be placed on these. These special data and products (which can range from regular weather data from a specific station to maps of rain intensity based on satellite and radar data). Many nations do place restrictions on such data (see link for additional data on above WMO-40 webpage for details).

The reasons for restricting access is often commercial, NMSs are often required by law to have substantial income from commercial sources, in other cases it can be for national security reasons, but in many cases (in my experience) the reasons simply seem to be “because we can”.

What has this got to do with CRU? The data that CRU needs for their data base comes from entities that restrict access to much of their data. And even better, since the UK has submitted an exception for additional data, some nations that otherwise would provide data without question will not provide data to the UK. I know this from experience, since my nation (Iceland) did send in such conditions and for years I had problem getting certain data from the US.

The ideal, that all data should be free and open is unfortunately not adhered to by a large portion of the meteorological community. Probably only a small portion of the CRU data is “locked” but the end effect is that all their data becomes closed. It is not their fault, and I am sure that they dislike them as much as any other researcher who has tried to get access to all data from stations in region X in country Y.

These restrictions end up by wasting resources and hurting everyone. The research community (CRU included) and the public are the victims. If you don’t like it, write to you NMSs and urge them to open all their data.

I can update (further) this if there is demand. Please let me know in the comments, which, as always, should be substantive, non-insulting and on topic.

Comments continue here.

1,074 Responses to “The CRU hack: Context”

  1. 851
    Gerry says:

    I have read a random selection of the stolen emails. You climate people are so polite, it makes me nervous. We biologists use way more 4-letter colloquialisms in our correspondence about certain publications (and the editors) in our field of study when we think the peer review process is compromised. More often than not, even our day-to-day email correspondence between collaborating researchers has some colourful language directed towards each other, often in jest, but often not!

    If anything, these hacked emails just prove you’re a bunch of wimps ;-)

    [Response: Maybe they are waiting until next week to really release the good stuff… – gavin]

  2. 852
    Joe V. says:

    To: ccpo

    Sorry to leave you hanging. But I diidn’t proof my post last night. Post 778
    should have included the The data file from the noaa site..

    Where’s the data? Maybe you could lead me to it. Because the paper in Nature nor the Noaa site seem to have it.

    [Response: Maybe if you looked in the right place, you’d see it i.e. the original N.Hem reconstruction from Briffa et al 1998 (the scaling and baseline are different). – gavin]

  3. 853
    Joe V. says:

    Thanks for the link!

  4. 854
    huxley says:

    Gavin Schmidt: For years now I’ve been following the AGW debate from both sides, including Richard Wolfson’s pro-AGW TTC course, “Earth’s Climate.” I buy the basic argument that CO2 is a GHG and increasing CO2 increases the earth’s temperature. But how much of the current warming is anthropogenic, I am not convinced and I remain agnostic.

    I am a software engineer by profession and I am aware of the limitations of computer models, especially when it comes to something as vastly complex as global climate and especially since the AGW models failed to predict the current ten-year lull in warming. It’s hard for me to understand how anyone can be 100% (or 90% = 100%) certain on either side of the AGW debate.

    [Response: No one on the mainstream side is 100% about anything (read the uncertainty guidelines from IPCC). That just doesn’t happen in real science. On the other hand, I’ve been getting a lot of email the last few days which indicate that 100% confidence of those writers that AGW can’t possibly be happening. I think there is a lesson there. – gavin]

    So much of the AGW argument boils down to “Trust us.” To a point I accept that. I respect science, scientists, and the scientific method. However, I have found the rush to judgment, “the science is settled” and anyone who disagrees is a “denialist” approach unsettling. I find skeptics such as Lindzen persuasive as well, so it’s a problem.

    [Response: Which mainstream science has told you the “science is settled”? Why would they still be a scientist in that case? There are some basic aspects of the this issue that are no longer subject to much debate in the community, but that is a long way from saying that all science is settled. – gavin]

    I must say, though, after reading through some of the CRU Hack emails and code plus ensuing discussion, my position has shifted. I don’t buy the “tempest in a teapot” spinning I read from you and other AGW defenders. As far as I’m concerned you and your associatees have betrayed your scientific integrity as Richard Feynman described such integrity in a quote I’m sure you are familiar with. I agree with the WSJ that, “The public has every reason to ask why [you and other AGW advocates] felt the need to rig the game if their science is as indisputable as they claim.”

    AGW may well be a serious threat. However, until its data and documentation are entirely open for others to examine and attempt to replicate, I say no to the AGW bandwagon and the huge, expensive changes to the global economic and technological system that AGW advocates demand.

    If AGW is the dire threat to civilization you say it is and the science is truly settled, then surely a way can be found to cut through any and all red tape to make this information available and bring further resources to bear on the problem.

    [Response: I agree with the last sentiment, though your paragraphs above do not sound like someone cautiously weighing risk management options. There are plenty of resources in the new Data sources page. Go through that (which might take a while) and try and convince yourself that there is nothing worth worrying about. – gavin]

  5. 855
    B.L. Manley says:

    I think a lot of posters and talking heads are totally missing the point here. The issue with CRU isn’t about science at all. It’s about the behavior of some of the most prominent and initiated individuals in the pro-anthropogenic camp. People are trying to turn this into a science debate to deflect from what the real problem is.
    If these guys really think like this, and are truly okay with their behavior then the problem is one of the overall CREDIBILITY of thousands of scientists, most of whom are JUNIOR to them. Most “ignorant” people can quickly see that the scientific process has indeed been totally corrupted by ideology and cannot be relied upon. If this were some junior researchers doing this that would be one thing. But no, this is total destruction of credibility by any measure.

    [Response: What does this “total destruction” look like? Really. What in those emails convinces you that the glaciers are not melting, the CO2 is not increasing, the CO2 is not a greenhouse gas, that the stratosphere is not cooling or that Arctic sea ice is all hunky dory? – gavin]

  6. 856
    Richard Steckis says:

    Gerry says:
    27 November 2009 at 9:24 PM

    “I have read a random selection of the stolen emails. You climate people are so polite, it makes me nervous. We biologists use way more 4-letter colloquialisms in our correspondence about certain publications (and the editors) in our field of study when we think the peer review process is compromised.”

    As a biologist I can relate to that!

  7. 857
    J. Bob says:

    834 – Brian, interesting point. You are right, we have relatively short time runs to work with, if one looks at the max and min points. To make matters worse, it’s the min and max points are of the most interest. But I’ll have to give it some thought. To date, I’ve looked at drawing straight lines on the max & min points to see if any “grouping” shows up, but the only thing that really stands out is the drop in Arctic sea ice in 07, and the relative “recovery” in the last 2 years.

    Thank you for the suggestion!!

  8. 858
    B.L. Manley says:

    Not sure who wrote the “response”, but again, you’re reverting to a scientific argument. It isn’t about science, it’s about the people doing it. It’s about their credibility. You can continue to believe what you want if it makes you feel better, but this is exactly how the general population will see this. That is all I’m saying.

  9. 859

    I cannot overstate the admiration and empathy I feel for you, my colleagues in climate science, for the exquisite work you perform to help understand our planet, and the rational and level-handed manner in which you conduct the discussion on this blog. It is a personal and professional inspiration, thank you.

    I have been a scientist for 30 years, pursuing my boyhood aspiration to contribute to a better planet for all. It is clear to me that climate scientists are driven by the same passion, and future generations will surely pay tribute to your efforts, ingenuity, and rationality.

    As to those who spend time gnawing through GOTO statements in code they don’t understand, while the Arctic ice is shrinking in full view on satellite photos, my contempt is only slightly tempered by my recognition, as a cognitive scientist, that human thought is frequently subject to explainable but nonetheless astounding vagaries.

    As a scientist, I stand by my opinions in full view: Winthrop Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, Australian Professorial Fellow, School of Psychology, University of Western Australia. ( A collection of private emails to collaborators in response to peer review are available upon request in exchange for a donation to a climate-related scientific body of your choice.

  10. 860
    RaymondT says:

    Gavin, One thing that surprises me when I read the Fourth IPCC report is that the history match of the temperature anomaly is not very good in the period 1901 to 1955 shown in Figs. TS.22 (Technical Summary) schematically for the global temperature and especially the global ocean temperature and in more detail in Figures TS.23 a) and b).

    [Response: The further back you go, the more uncertainties there are. Aerosol forcing is one of them, but so is the solar change, and even the scaling for the volcanoes. GHGs are pretty well characterised. – gavin]

    I understand that climatologists have hypothesized that SO2 may have cooled the earth. Correct me if I’m wrong but the rate of emissions of SO2 should be proportional to the rate of emissions of CO2. This would mean that the rate of increase in SO2 would have increased gradually as the populations increased and as countries became more industrialized.

    [Response: Not really. It depends on the sulphur content of the coal (oil and natural gas are less important), and that varies through time and regionally. Since the 1980s though, Clean Air acts in the developed world have led to large reductions there. There have been matching large increases from Asia though. – gavin]

    But the decrease in the temperature anomaly seems to decrease much more suddenly. Also the rate of increase in the anomaly was steeper that the average modelled increase in the period from 1901 to 1945. Even if you look at the more detailed figure TS.23 the measured temperature does not follow as well the average numerical values as after 1965. It appears that the climate models cannot history match as well the 1901 to 1965 period. Why is that ? Where could I find a detailed graph of each of the predictions in the ensemble of predictions in Figures TS.23 a) and TS.23 b)?

    [Response: You can look at all that data via ClimateExplorer (linked via the Data Sources page). – gavin]

  11. 861
    Joe V. says:


    In post 779 you state the data where they “show the decline” is in the updated Northern Hemisphere Temperature Reconstructions for Michael Mann, et. al. paper in Nature. But it seems that the paper was received on 14 May. 1997 and the updated Reconstruction was updated in July 2003. Were their earlier updates. The original, which I refrence seems to be from the same time period (1998). I just want to be sure that I have the corrected data.

    Thank you again for your patience!

    [Response: This has nothing to do with Mike Mann. The papers associated with the MXD ‘decline’ are by Briffa et al, 1998, Osborn et al 2000. The Briffa et al (2001) paper was more of a review, though it did update the MXD network a little (I think). The data from the different reconstructions is at NOAA. – gavin]

  12. 862
    Doug Gibson says:

    This has probably already been addressed at some point in the 2000 comments, but drawing parallels between the release of these e-mails and the leaking of the Pentagon Papers is inapt.

    The most significant difference between the PP and the CRU hack is that the PP weren’t just random “papers,” (that makes it sound like memos), but a prepared report, the final, or nearly final version of something that defense researchers had been working on for some time.

    That after much thought and effort they put out something so rank and self-serving, and yet still so damning was what made them so sensational. In such a context, too, the fact that the government would suppress a polished document – and go to such unconstitutional lengths to do so – seemed like an unconscionable betrayal of trust.

  13. 863
    AlC says:


    Thank you again for your energy and patience in keeping this going. I get the impression that there are many new people visiting this site, asking questions, learning things. You have been helpful in providing links to explain the basics for people new to the field. I certainly know that I have been learning a lot, even after previously reading your site a lot.

    Your new topic offers the possibility of making much more information easily accessible and findable to people. Maybe people will look at the data, process it themselves, and come to similar conclusions, or even scarier ones. It might wind up being like when the Skeptics Society had a conference to consider the science behind anthropogenic global warming and ended-up concluding that it was real, to the surprise of some and anger of others. A more powerful consensus, greater support for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, would be very helpful.

    Are you sure you didn’t leak those emails just to raise visibility for the issue? (Joke!)

  14. 864
    Ted Caplow says:

    What I find disappointing in the defense that you are mounting is the all-or-none, down with the ship mentality. The solidarity is admirable but only encourages your critics. Anyone who has been through a PhD program and worked as a professional scientist knows there are good scientists and bad scientists, big egos and little egos, meritorious promotions and overexposed enthusiasts. More difficult to face, yet even more ubiquitous to all human endeavour: there are senior experts whose judgement has waned as their careers have waxed. Simply put, some climate scientists, even well regarded ones who have done great science, have also said and done clearly silly things and displayed a monochromatic and polarized understanding of the world. Such a jealous view of one’s work is a hairsbreadth from bias, and bias is poison to science. Pretending it isn’t so does the world no favors, and only undermines the efforts of the great majority of scientists and students around the world. There are clearly acts here that bear self-criticism, and that criticism ought to be forthcoming.

    Scientists are not trained to be public leaders. The urgency and stakes in the climate debate have thrust some to very great heights and responsibilities. The spotlight can be too glaring or too thrilling, and for some luminaries, these emails have revealed limitations. If the result is that their reputations are diminished and their voices muted somewhat, it is sad for them personally but it is almost certainly GOOD for science – if we interpret “science” to mean respect for the truth, not the truth sayers.

    My friends and relatives turn to me — a minor environmental scientist only tangentially interested in climate but the nearest convenient scientist nonetheless — and want to know what to think of this email scandal. I choose to tell them that perhaps the exposure of these emails will be for the best in the long run, because it is inevitable now that some old wood will be chipped out to make way for some new growth in the field of climate studies.

    It will not surprise me to find that this post is censored out, but please consider that I don’t develop this line of thought with the least inention of unkindness to any of you who are involved. In the larger, historical picture, I hope this scandal results in a gentle and specific purge rather than an indiscriminate loss of confidence, and thereby becomes a healthy chapter in the coming of age of climate science.

    Ted Caplow, Ph.D.

    [Response: If I were interested in doing so, I could come up with a litany of bad behaviour, inappropriate comments, underhand tactics for pretty much any group of scientists (or politicians, or bus drivers, or economists), I’ve ever met. People that made a graduate student cry during a presentation. People who got upset at a perceived slight and overreacted appallingly etc. But pointing out individual human failings is neither something I am particular interested in doing in public, nor is it something that my talents are particularly suited to. We discuss the science here because that in the end is what matters. The ice core data exist and have worth independently of the character of the ice core data gathers (not to pick on them specifically). The issues associated with data uncertainties, theories or logic are interesting to us and we’ll discuss them in depth. But while there are plenty of places where people relish spending time ragging on flawed individuals, I don’t see the need to add this site to that list. – gavin]

  15. 865
    B.L. Manley says:

    “Total destruction” means that no one listens to them anymore. People don’t believe anything they say. No one believes their data. No one believes their observations, reason, methodology and conclusions. That is what this incident has caused and will cause. Voters will show this at the polls, and public funding for “science” will dry up.

  16. 866
    MBS1960 says:

    Mr. Gavin,

    You stated quite eloquently…” [Response: Science is a human endeavour, done by humans with human failings (and egos, and issues, and inspiration, and effort and determination). What makes science stand out is the way that it is self-correcting and is able to ratchet up our level of knowledge. The wonder of science shouldn’t be attached to the people doing it (some of whom are no doubt brilliant), but to the process itself. What you see in the text books is the end product of that process, not the actual messy, ego-ridden, competitive, social interactions of the scientists themselves. – gavin]”
    …and yet what we are being presented with (Humanity) as solutions. Seem to be weighted more by Political than Scientific agendas. I trust you both understand and not engaging in a wholesale dismissal of our concerns. A solution that seeks to sequester more than our Carbon Footprint should not be some necessary evil that those of you that feel urgency towards the issue of AGW are willing to accept…

  17. 867
    John Murphy says:

    Much as I am intrigued by the debate here, I cannot help but feel that the point is already lost.

    Because of ‘man-made climate change theory’ (which it is- theory), around the world, vast tracts of land are being de-forested, indigenous peoples removed from their lands and rivers being dammed- thus denying water to many thousands (if not millions) of people downstream. That’s not to mention the change and damage to entire ecological systems.

    The big businesses seemingly so dispised by some of those employed in the ‘climate change’ field are, in some cases, colluding with or being replaced by other big businesses with one goal- Taking the cash wrung out of our extra taxes, by way of ‘grants’ to demolish existing areas and exploit them for more cash.

    Now, I am no evangelist & certainly not so unrealistic as to think this never happened before & will never happen again… But, there is a problem… Most of these atrocious acts are being forced upon the people who cause the least, well- anything. They only take what they need to survive- food, shelter etc. No cars, tv’s hair-driers for them. Forest dwellers, peasants- people who would probably aspire to being ‘on the breadline’

    And its all being done in the name of ‘climate change’- renewables, sustainables. In many cases, laughables, if it wasn’t for the tragedy.

    If not for the ‘climate change’ pronouncements, most of these schemes would have caused international uproar- but no- its all for the greater good.

    Its all being done in the name of climate change that’s 90% certain humans are causing climate change. That % being calculated using, seemingly, software and protocols that have holes in- possibly large enough to drive a bus through. Not only that, it cannot be replicated as the institutions doing the calculations are ‘unable to release the raw data’- thus, for one example, eliminating the potential for anyone to fulfil your (expressed)desire to see a study that disproves the theories

    Im sorry, Mr Schmidt, but the science needs to be better. I have seen some quite inflammatory language used on this and other threads- including by you- suggesting that the ‘climate change deniers’ will and deserve to ‘get theirs’.

    Well, sorry to say, because of the ‘climate change’ protagonists, thousands, if not millions of innocent people have already ‘got theirs’ and the fat cat businessmen & politicians carry on ‘getting theirs’. But now its all for the greater good- to stop climate change.

    [Response: I think you need to do some wider reading. Tropical deforestation is not happening because of (basically non-existent) climate change legislation or concerns. Fisheries collapse, pollution of the Niger delta or the Bolivian rainforest, desertification, air pollution in India, the loss of Louisana wetlands, arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh, etc etc. are not being caused by climate scientists. The ‘biggest business’ in the world is the oil and gas industry – not usually a group of people known for their concerns about climate change (though in some companies that is changing). – gavin]

  18. 868
    Rob says:

    [Response: …..was simply an internal test to see what it looked like…… – gavin]

    Why on earth would they wanna like to test something that weird? Any ideas Gavin?

    [Response: I think they were trying to test whether the regional calibrations were stable so that if it turns out that the divergence is anthropogenic, the proxy record going back would be different or similar. Either way, it was a dead end and not used in any paper. – gavin]

    I’m sorry, I don’t get it. What would be the pass/fail-criteria from such a test?
    I.e it will be included in the paper if and excluded from paper if
    What do mean by “going back” is that amplitude wise?

    [Response: Scientists try different ways to look at data all the time. Only a very small part of that is thought interesting enough to write up for publication. It’s often said that by the end of a 5 year PhD you could do all the work in the thesis in six months if you had known ahead of time what was going to work. (“going back” meant in time i.e. would the reconstruction for the 14th C have been affected by the post 1960 problem). – gavin]

  19. 869
    Rob says:

    Re “the 10 year old graph”…
    Gavin, why was it justified to delete the data past 1960 in the Briffa 2000 when used in IPCC 2001?

    Couldn’t you just have included the decline and told the politicians that you “….make the assumption that it is likely to be a response to some kind of recent anthropogenic forcing….”. I’m sure they would have no problem with such assumption, after all they are intelligent people, yeah!

    Now I’m being mean, I know….but heck Gavin, if I made similar assumptions in my daily business, I’d probably kill people.


    [Response: No-one gets killed because of a judgment call on a single figure in a 600+ page report. Get a sense of proportion here! What do you think would have changed in the summary for policy makers if they’d made an other choice? – gavin]

  20. 870
    durox says:

    so finally the ppl are talking openly about the facts and misunderstandings! this is how it should’ve been from the start; after all, we’re all looking for solutions and explications, so what’s the point in being secretive? transparency is a beautiful thing, and science should be just that. Also, science should be based on skepticism, yes? ;]
    I know that most of the ppl who are working in this field ride bikes, and that we can’t accuse them of taking lots of money from interest groups. but still, the fact remains: mr Gore was very close in taxing me big $ for something the science is not sure about. cap and trade has so many bad chapters that it makes me sick.
    im all in for a cleaner environment, I pay extra taxes in Ca just for that, but enforcing gov. regulations based on speculations is just too close to the dark ages. Mr Gavin, are you aware that based on ‘your’ research, I might be ‘unlawfully occupying’ my own home because my windows don’t have 3 layers of glass? [cap&trade regulations]
    so next time when you say/think ‘skeptic’, please try to understand that I’m questioning AGW not because I consider you liars, but because I’ve learnt over the years that when the politics say ‘there’s no debate’ it actually means ‘you have no rights’. Let’s not give away even more of our rights based on some theories, not just yet!

    Ps I am deeply sorry for the personal inconveniences this whole situation brings to lots of honest and well-intentioned scientists. ;[

  21. 871
    PeterK says:

    (typo error in 1st version)
    The main impact of the CRU revelations is surely the apparent politicised corruption of the climatology profession, rather than the specifics of the consensus itself. But of course the former will raise doubts about the latter. It is vital that advocacy be stopped to allow real science through.

    [Response: The “real science” has been there all along. Might be a bit difficult to hear above all the screaming and shouting. – gavin]

  22. 872
    Rob Heusdens says:

    Personally I would advocate a two-fold policy. One is the climate change, and the policy would have to be that we need to prepare for the consequences of climate change and establish funds to enable countries to take measures, esp. the poor countries.
    The other is the fossil-fuel dependency and peak oil, which means that we take measures to reduce fossil-fuel dependency by better energy-efficiency and using durable energy sources.
    If we do nothing we know for certain that fossil fuel prices will get staggering high, so it pays off in the long run to use energy more efficiently and use durable sources.
    Oil companies regularly invest on time scales of 30-40 years for new drillings. My point is that investments in alternatives on such time scales would already be very economically worthwhile, but we ain’t investing that much as we could, since the doctrine is that they have to pay-back within 5-10 years (or 20 years at most).
    This is crazy. Why can oil-investments pay-back in over 30 years, and alternatives need to be paied back in 5-10 years.
    Is “big oil” the culpit of this?
    If there is a trillion barrels of oil yet to be drilled, there is of course an incentive of keeping oil-dependency as long as possible.
    If oil-profits would become re-invested in alternative technologies, oil-dependency could be brought down to almost zero within 20 years.
    If oil-companies and/or gas-companies don’t cooperate, then why don’t we nationalize them?

  23. 873
    JBowers says:

    812 sHx says:
    “It is reasonable to reject FOI requests on the basis that the the law provides exceptions, or that the requests are vexatious or frivolous. But the CRU did not have to comply with the request 100 times. It had to comply only once -just once!-, especially if the most of the requests were asking for the same data. It is completely irrelevant that so many of the FOI requests came as a result of a campaign.

    The exception in the laws that was used -namely, the confidentiality agreements- to deny the FOI requests seems to be only a convenient cover no to comply. If indeed, there is such binding agreements with the NMSs, then Phil Jones himself should have taken steps to find ways to release the CRU from such obligations so that the data became available to all researchers. Instead, as the emails suggest, his intentions were to do completely the opposite.

    It does not take a scientist or a lawyer to conclude that this is breach of trust, if not breach of law. It only takes a reasonable person to figure out that his and the CRU’s actions(or non-actions) was not right.”

    Well, I don’t know how law enforcement works elsewhere, but here in the United Kingdom it is enforced rigorously and nobody is above it… except the Queen. Your claim that Phil Jones could have made the data available if he’d tried is nonsense. There was no breach of law, only upholding of the law, and that was the right thing to do. As a British citizen I feel quite strongly about that.

    If you *are* in the UK, lobby your MP to try and get the law changed by an Act of Parliament. Until then, any person needing the data still has the option of following the exact same route of acquiring it that Phil Jones took. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out, and I’m pretty certain any true scientist would feel that having the data was more important than the means of getting it.

  24. 874
    Mike says:

    Kudos to Gavin and the other scientists here for maintaining an extraordinary degree of objectivity and patience in the face of so much baseless criticism. It’s easy to see how one would want to joke about “beating up” some of these nutters, and I’ve only seen the moderated stuff.

    Also, I think the term “skeptic” should not be applied to those who are politically opposed to your efforts unless it is earned. All good scientists maintain a healthy level of skepticism. The “denial” folk, on the other hand, seem to embrace any crackpot theory which agrees with their position, so they are in fact either highly gullible or not interested in truth. It would be an interesting turnabout to see a few of them punk’d with the climate equivalent of SCIGen. Even the idea that this might happen could push them to be more skeptical and drop the noise level on the internet about climate science down a notch or two.

  25. 875
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Huxley@853: What I take away from your post is that, no, you haven’t looked into climate science very deeply. Had you done so, you would realize that:
    1)there are many, many different kinds of computer model. Some are not reliable, while some are extremely reliable, and we do in fact rely on them when we cross a bridge, fly in a plane, use the intertubes…
    2)the confidence intervals and levels given have very precise statistical meanings, and that when we achieve 90% confidence on a result, we can take it to the bank.
    3)that none of the evidence in favor of anthropogenic causation amounts to “trust us”. You can delve into the evidence as deeply as your time and ability allow.

    As to the rest of your email, I have a question for you: What would it take to make you actually look at the evidence? After all, shouldn’t science be about evidence rather than personalities? It is not as complicated as you think. What would it take to get you to look at evidence rather than anywhere but.

  26. 876
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Dayahka, How about we start with the meta-principle that you guys actually LOOK at the damn evidence! How about we then introduce another meta-principle: If you have something to say, publish it in the damned literature so it can be subjected to scrutiny by people who actually understand the science.

    Finally, what the hell is wrong with a meta-principle that suggests our policy should be motivated by science (as the climate scientists contend) rather than 180 degrees against the science as you advocate?

  27. 877

    As if y’all don’t have enough on your plate, a group called Climate Science Coalition has accused the New Zealand weather service of deliberately fudging data. I’ll note that the NIWA chief scientist has a little less patience than you guys…


    “There’s been a whole lot of work behind this in terms of things like having overlaps between particular stations when they’ve moved. There’s a whole methodology, internationally accepted, where you actually work out how to correct for these sorts of site changes and so on.”

    “But you’ll be providing all that shortly?”

    “Well, we’re not going to run around in circles just because somebody has put out a press release. We will continue to put out what is reasonable to provide.”

    “Wouldn’t it be important –“


    “…for people to see the comparison studies between both sites?”

    “Look, we’re talking about scientific studies here. I’ve told you we’ll put out information about Wellington. Basically it’s not up to us to justify ourselves to a whole lot of people that come out with truly unfounded allegations. We work through the scientific process, we publish stuff through the literature, that’s the way that we deal with this stuff and I can’t have my staff running around in circles over something which is not a justified allegation. The fact that the Climate Science Coalition are making allegations about my staff who have the utmost integrity really really pisses me off.

    “That’s all I’ve got to say to you now – [click]”

  28. 878
    John Murphy says:

    In 867, I never said that damage was being done ‘by’ climate change scientists but ‘because of’ and ‘in the name of’ the science- and by big business. Just another reason why there is so much investment in this specific science.

    Oh, and I didnt make it up I was reading about it- on another (charitable) organizations website… A charity that is concerned about the damage being done in the name of climate change.


    Nice to see that you can be a ‘denial’ ist too :-)

    Ok, Im out of here, you’re doing a fine job Mr Schmidt, defending your corner, that is…. And you cant blame people for being sceptical. In my lifetime alone (and I’m sure there have been other things, I just cant remember), we have been threatened with nuclear war (60’s +) a new ice-age (the 70s +) total technology failure (run up to 2000)plus, most convincingly, a guy in Oxford Street sporting an ‘A’ board with ‘the end of the world is nigh’ on it (80’s & 90’S)…. Anyway, my money is on the Mayan calender. Therefore, as the worlds going to end in just over 3 years, it wont warm up much by then, so I dont know what you guys are all worried about….

  29. 879
    o says:

    Gavin, many thanks for your patience and resilience monitoring and answering all the questions and comments, but why are you the only one doing this, as it seems (I did not read them so have to rely on the discussions) that most of the stolen e-mails are concerned with other scientists that could also post here to answer comments and offer explanations.
    Incidently any comment on this:

    [Response: See above. No more personal stuff on this please. – gavin]

  30. 880
    Hank Roberts says:

    > the CRU did not have to comply with the request 100 times. It had to
    > comply only once -just once!-, especially if the most of the requests
    > were asking for the same data.

    Some governments charge for weather information instead of giving it away.
    CA’s threads list the countries. They used those lists in multiple overlapping FOI requests to pester the agency.

    They knew which information couldn’t be released; they requested it repeatedly.

    Have you ever babysat someone else’s 3-year old? Know what happens if you– just once–allow the kid something you’ve promised the parents not to allow?

  31. 881
    Rod B says:

    Doug Gibson (862), you find keeping a Classified war strategy under wraps somehow untoward?? I would find publishing Classified war strategies and assessments appallingly stupid.

  32. 882
    AJ says:

    Some interesting items to debate in the following letter sent last month to the EPA Administrator by Professor (Emeritus) Hayden of the University of Connecticut:

    Howard C. Hayden
    785 S. McCoy Drive
    Pueblo West, CO 81007

    October 27, 2009

    The Honorable Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator
    Environmental Protection Agency
    1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20460

    Dear Administrator Jackson:

    I write in regard to the Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases Under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act, Proposed Rule, 74 Fed. Reg. 18,886 (Apr. 24, 2009), the so-called “Endangerment Finding.”

    It has been often said that the “science is settled” on the issue of CO2 and climate. Let me put this claim to rest with a simple one-letter proof that it is false.

    The letter is s, the one that changes model into models. If the science were settled, there would be precisely one model, and it would be in agreement with measurements.

    Alternatively, one may ask which one of the twenty-some models settled the science so that all the rest could be discarded along with the research funds that have kept those models alive.

    We can take this further. Not a single climate model predicted the current cooling phase. If the science were settled, the model (singular) would have predicted it.

    Let me next address the horror story that we are approaching (or have passed) a “tipping point.” Anybody who has worked with amplifiers knows about tipping points. The output “goes to the rail.” Not only that, but it stays there. That’s the official worry coming from the likes of James Hansen (of NASA GISS) and Al Gore.

    But therein lies the proof that we are nowhere near a tipping point. The earth, it seems, has seen times when the CO2 concentration was up to 8,000 ppm, and that did not lead to a tipping point. If it did, we would not be here talking about it. In fact, seen on the long scale, the CO2 concentration in the present cycle of glacials (ca. 200 ppm) and interglacials (ca. 300-400 ppm) is lower than it has been for the last 300 million years.

    Global-warming alarmists tell us that the rising CO2 concentration is (A) anthropogenic and (B) leading to global warming.

    (A) CO2 concentration has risen and fallen in the past with no help from mankind. The present rise began in the 1700s, long before humans could have made a meaningful contribution. Alarmists have failed to ask, let alone answer, what the CO2 level would be today if we had never burned any fuels. They simply assume that it would be the “pre-industrial” value.

    The solubility of CO2 in water decreases as water warms, and increases as water cools. The warming of the earth since the Little Ice Age has thus caused the oceans to emit CO2 into the atmosphere.

    (B) The first principle of causality is that the cause has to come before the effect. The historical record shows that climate changes precede CO2 changes. How, then, can one conclude that CO2 is responsible for the current warming?
    Nobody doubts that CO2 has some greenhouse effect, and nobody doubts that CO2 concentration is increasing. But what would we have to fear if CO2 and temperature actually increased?

    A warmer world is a better world. Look at weather-related death rates in winter and in summer, and the case is overwhelming that warmer is better.

    The higher the CO2 levels, the more vibrant is the biosphere, as numerous experiments in greenhouses have shown. But a quick trip to the museum can make that case in spades. Those huge dinosaurs could not exist anywhere on the earth today because the land is not productive enough. CO2 is plant food, pure and simple.

    CO2 is not pollution by any reasonable definition.

    A warmer world begets more precipitation.

    All computer models predict a smaller temperature gradient between the poles and the equator. Necessarily, this would mean fewer and less violent storms.

    The melting point of ice is 0 ºC in Antarctica, just as it is everywhere else. The highest recorded temperature at the South Pole is -14 ºC, and the lowest is -117 ºC. How, pray, will a putative few degrees of warming melt all the ice and inundate Florida, as is claimed by the warming alarmists?

    Consider the change in vocabulary that has occurred. The term global warming has given way to the term climate change, because the former is not supported by the data. The latter term, climate change, admits of all kinds of illogical attributions. If it warms up, that’s climate change. If it cools down, ditto. Any change whatsoever can be said by alarmists to be proof of climate change.
    In a way, we have been here before. Lord Kelvin “proved” that the earth could not possibly be as old as the geologists said. He “proved” it using the conservation of energy. What he didn’t know was that nuclear energy, not gravitation, provides the internal heat of the sun and the earth.

    Similarly, the global-warming alarmists have “proved” that CO2 causes global warming.

    Except when it doesn’t.

    To put it fairly but bluntly, the global-warming alarmists have relied on a pathetic version of science in which computer models take precedence over data, and numerical averages of computer outputs are believed to be able to predict the future climate. It would be a travesty if the EPA were to countenance such nonsense.

    Best Regards,

    Howard C. Hayden
    Professor Emeritus of Physics, UConn

    [Response: WIth all due respect to the Professor, every statement, every logical step, every one of his readings of history, and interpretations of what the science says is wrong. I leave it as an exercise for the commenters to concisely give links that refute each and every point. – gavin]

  33. 883

    so I don’t know what you guys are all worried about…

    So since you apparently don’t either recognize any problems or think you might have any problems to solve, then I can understand your ignorance of problems solving methods and your willful denial of predictive techniques (math, engineering, physics and chemistry). Certainly I couldn’t recommend you getting any employment or pursuing any endeavors that might actually require those particular technological skills.

  34. 884
    PeterK says:

    Mike @ 874 : I think the term “skeptic” should not be applied to those who are politically opposed to your efforts unless it is earned.

    Then equally one should not apply the term “scientist” to anyone whose work appears to be politically influenced in the first place. Which, the dirty tricks evidence thrown up by the the CRU hack suggests, seems to be the bulk of the global climate science establishment.

    I agree though this skepticism about the *process* of climate science – ie *how* conclusions are arrived at – could usefully be differentiated from skepticism about the conclusions themselves – temperatures, forcings, etc.

  35. 885

    #867 John Murphy

    Yes, climate change is a theory. Thanks for pointing that out, so few here understand what a theory is. The climate change theory is similar to other theories like the theory that the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening. Sound absurd? Read the definition of the word:

    1 : the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another
    2 : abstract thought : speculation
    3 : the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art
    4 a : a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action b : an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances —often used in the phrase in theory
    5 : a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena
    6 a : a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation b : an unproved assumption : conjecture c : a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject

    In other words, context is key and certain analysis of a set of facts or evidence result in what may very well be accepted as fact or virtual certainty. Of course you can argue that a sunrise following a sunset is ‘only’ a theory (thus implying that we can not rely on such theories as fact) and therefore discount the probability of a sunrise following a sunset, but the odds of said ‘belief’ altering the facts as established is hardly likely to prevent the sun from rising.

    Context is key and with relative certainty some theories can be relied upon to represent reality with 90% or better certainty.

  36. 886
    dhogaza says:

    I leave it as an exercise for the commenters to concisely give links that refute each and every point.

    Without taking the time to check, I’d lay odds that most of them have already been gutted by the Skeptical Science site, while those that haven’t are so trivially wrong so as not to be worth the site maintainer’s time :)

  37. 887
    Anand Rajan KD says:

    Ron R: You do agree that science has to be objective. How successful it is in doing so, is always open to debate. But to claim that it is actually not possible to remain objective in any scenario in life, including science, and therefore plunge headlong into subjectivism…is that correct?

    What if the practioners of AGW science have bought into the cult of what they call “post-normal science”? What then? What is ‘post-normal science?’ The short answer is: old wine in new bottles. The long answer is: post-normal science is characterization and pursuit of science as a ‘democratic exercise’ rather than a search for facts and knowledge, where scientists distinguish themselves not by their ‘disinteresstedness’ but by as ‘stakeholders’. Post-normal science is politics wed to science, with no disturbing pricks to the conscience.

    To quote Jerome Ravetz, who defined and championed the concept, post-normal science is where “…quality is a replacement for truth in ..methodology. [We] argue that this is quite enough for doing science, and that truth is a category with symbolic importance, which itself is historically and culturally conditioned”.

    Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate Change at the University of East Anglia, has written extensively about post-normal science and AGW. Although his scientific position is that of a proponet of AGW, he is able to, from that position, articulate that the global coolers need to open up their minds to ideas coming in from all quarters.

    If a majority of the CRU scientists are engaged in post-normal science (the futerra documents lends credence), what they are is not scientists. They are a strange hybrid beast of a scientist-advertiser-activist-propagandist rolled into one. And their post-normal credo justifies to them absolutely what they do everyday.

    Intellectual honesty on the other hand is a different thing altogether. But it is not a chameleon. Dayahka’s position for example on this thread seems logical, although I may not agree with some conclusions. But Gavin would point out repeatedly about the gigatons of carbon being pumped into the atmosphere raising sea levels and wiping out human infrastructure, the very infrastructure that is causing the warming in the first place. Thus we find a AGW proponent supporting preemptive measures to sustain coastal and inland industrial/military human infrastructure. How did that come about?

    It comes about because one single point in the debate has been fixed. Everthing else bends and sways around it. In all directions.

    Ray Ladbury: So your strategy (if it can be called that) is: for percieved lightwieghts outright abuse, for in-betweeners – talking down; and for sustained intelligent attacks of some caliber, remonstrations to publish views in peer-reviewed literature! Why dont you stand your ground, and debate? Let me quote someone whom you might be familiar with: “To hide behind the dubious precision of scientific numbers, and not actually expose one’s own ideologies or beliefs or values and judgements is undermining both politics and science”

  38. 888
    David Gordon says:

    re: #885
    >The climate change theory is similar to other theories like the theory that the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening. Sound absurd?

    Yes it does, because it is. Sunrise and sunset are definitions, not theories. Demonstrating confusion between the two is probably not the best way to try and establish a point.

  39. 889
    Mark Sawusch says:

    Why would Phil Jones write to Michael Mann (1123163394.txt) “There is an issue coming up in IPCC. Every curve needs error bars, and having them is all that matters. It seems irrelevant whether they are right or how they are used. Changing timescales make this simple use impractical.”


    [Response: IPCC is an organisation, and like most organisations occasionally pronounces from on high how things should be. I would be entirely unsurprised that the leads put out a memo saying that everything needs to have proper uncertainties. Nothing wrong with that particularly, but there are always uncertainties that are extremely hard to formally estimate – ie a structural uncertainty in models. Thus the spread amongst alternative approaches is often a useful pseudo-uncertainty range. As for timescales, uncertainties do depend on averaging periods for instance, but other than that, I’m not really sure what he means. – gavin]

  40. 890

    #882 AJ – re. Professor Howard C. Hayden’s letter

    Re. Co2 as a pollutant:
    Atmospheric Co2 is natural and a pollutant.


    Cooling phase:
    Well, not really a cooling phase… natural variation inside the climate signal is expected while climate is 30 years + attribution.

    Tipping point:
    Humans did not exist in higher ppm of Co2, the Permian, PETM and Eocene optimum were extinction events. Professor is speaking far out of context here. What does he mean there was no tipping point??? anywhere form 70% to 95% of all species became extent. Or maybe his definition of tipping point is the earth being destroyed by a planet killer asteroid? Statements without context are generally meaningless.

    (A) CO2 concentration has risen and fallen in the past with no help from mankind.

    (B) The historical record shows that climate changes precede CO2 changes.

    But what would we have to fear if CO2 and temperature actually increased? … A warmer world is a better world.

    His assumptions are naive at best. Economy, Infrastructure, Capacity of modern civilization all occurred during a climate regime around thermal equilibrium. The additional GHG’s increase the rate of climate change that will be very difficult for human society to keep up with. The professor clearly has not examined in detail the results of the FACE experiments and related contexts. The negatives far outweigh any potential benefits. That is a broad subject so I will not detail here. but he simply has not examined in depth.

    CO2 is not pollution by any reasonable definition.

    A warmer world begets more precipitation.
    More precipitation means more flooding and heavy more debilitating snow storms in certain higher latitudes and regions.

    All computer models predict a smaller temperature gradient between the poles and the equator. Necessarily, this would mean fewer and less violent storms.
    This means more droughts in the certain tropical regions.

    Different atmospheric composition, different time, again no humans (which as has been pointed out before is a good thing as we would merely have been dinosaur munchies).

    Short term thinking too typical these days and unfortunate. The WAIS is already showing weakening. In my opinion, such short term thinking is naive and/or selfish to applicable degrees. It is also incredibly foolish.

    Consider the change in vocabulary that has occurred.
    There actually has been no change in vocabulary other than that which is imagined by those that wish to see a conspiracy. Climate change occurs up and down in temperature, global warming goes up. In this case human caused global warming influences and causes rapid climate change, (when considered in the context of natural geological timescales).

    global-warming alarmists have “proved” that CO2 causes global warming. Except when it doesn’t.

    Professor Haydens position is handicapped by a complete lack of relevant context. He also seems to completely misunderstand the use of models in relation to data.

    It would be a travesty if anyone believed anything this professor says regarding the subject of human caused global warming and climate change. If Professor Hayden wishes to learn more about the contexts, I would be happy to assist.

  41. 891
    David says:

    I remember when I was in high school (1972-76) that the concern was global cooling. Now the concern is global warming. I’m curious about how this transition occurred, and, what wrong with the old science.

    [Response: Start at Wikipedia and then read Peterson et al (2008). – gavin]

  42. 892

    #878 John Murphy

    I agree that a lot of ideas are either more damaging or a waste of time (and money) if that is your point. Any monies spent on solution development need to be targeted well or they will impede progress and capability (my opinion).

    As to: nuclear war (60’s +)
    That threat still exists of course.

    As to: a new ice-age (the 70s +)

    As to: total technology failure (run up to 2000)
    I fought that silliness pretty hard too.

    As to: the Mayan calender
    The Mayans were really into Venus and apparently there will be another solar passage of Venus in 2012. Maybe they were just too lazy or did not see any point in making a new calendar beyond that, just yet.

  43. 893
    Alex Jones Viewer says:

    I knew it you cannot even mention the names of the two people who will (imho) prove to be your nemesis, Christopher Monckton & Alex Jones. [edit of tiresome diatribe]

    [Response: In your humble opinion, you are going to be my nemesis? Well, IMHO… ummm… no. – gavin]

  44. 894

    #888 David Gordon

    Are you ignoring the fact that the definitions of sunrise and sunset represent actual observable, quantifiable events? IN the context of the debate, I believe my point is reasonably sound. Theories are not un-useful in understanding and often represent our view of the facts as well understood (sunrises follow sunsets, follow sunrises, etc.).

    The data as understood, that of sunsets and sunrises following each other throughout the course of human history, and very likely preceding human existence is still a theory. Personally, I consider that ‘theory’ a fact. How about you?

    There are other theories such as the earth revolves around the sun. But how can one really accept this as 100% ‘fact’, ‘virtual certainty’, or even ‘relative certainty’. If we acquiesce to the perspective as presented by #867 John Murphy, then we really can’t know much at all and therefore ‘all’ science is unreliable and can not be reasonably trusted? I find that position not only unreasonable, but untenable, foolish, naive and ignorant.

  45. 895
    David says:

    Thanks for links – I’ll give them a look.

  46. 896
    CM says:

    The Economist did a good job on the “Mail-strom” (the article, not so much the leader).

    Looks like the journalist kept an eye on this site. (Calling RealClimate an “anti-sceptic” blog doesn’t do you justice, though.)

  47. 897
    David says:

    p.s. Does this mean an ice age will never occur again (as long as humans continue their current self destructive ways?)

  48. 898
    AC says:

    Well, what exactly should we be looking for? Per James Hansen, it’s not the models:
    “Some are still “under the mistaken impression that concern about global warming is based on climate models, which in reality play little role in our understanding — our understanding is based mainly on how the Earth responded to changes of boundary conditions in the past and on how it is responding to on-going changes.”
    – Dr. James Hansen”

    And it’s not the CRU data, let’s say – but 80% of the recent paleo stuff in the recent IPCC report came from CRU, Briffa and Mann – see Ch 6.

    So where’s the “virtually certain” support for an unprecendented warming period over the last 50 years? Where’s the “virtually certain” support for “the only forcing that would explain this is human generated CO2?”. If the paleo data is suspect or the error range is too large, we don’t really know how warm the globe was 1,000 years ago, much less 10,000. So the “forcings” are unclear, the temperature variation is unclear. Not disproven, sure, but certainly not “virtually certain”.

    If the other data is so great, why does the IPCC seem to rely almost exclusively on the CRU stuff?

    [Response: Try reading the report. Or better, tally up all the references with a CRU author and compare them to the total. – gavin]

  49. 899
    Jen says:

    I’m not a scientist. I’m a small businessperson. Don’t know anything about how climate research is conducted. I have nothing to say about the technical side of this. Just throwing that out there first to let you know where I’m coming from.

    It seems to me that if science seeks to understand a thing, scientists should embrace challenges to their theories, and welcome their skeptics.
    The reason I’m saying this is that what really shocks me when reading the emails excerpted on the internet, is how these scientists could treat their skeptical colleagues so shabbily. The absolute contempt with which they held challenges to their theory is alarming.

    The most helpful friends I have as a human being are people who point out to me that some idea I have may be wrong, and give me an opportunity to assess and correct if needed.

    It’s just goofy, people, for scientists to exhibit this attitude. Why should I believe a thing you say if you won’t take the help of your critics? It makes it look as if they’re on to something.

    [Response: And that of course is the whole point. Science does work the way you expect – there are many different opinions and discussions about the right way to do things and sometimes things can get ugly. This is fine and to the good (read some of the early exchanges for a flavour). But there is a huge difference between colleagues disagreeing about a scientific point – and sometimes getting very personal – and the onslaught of nonsense that has been thrown at the climate science community from people who don’t know their greenhouse gas from a hole in the ground. This happens in other sciences too – quantum physicists are bombarded with crank stuff – but in no other field are these cranks held up in public as the new Galileos by people with very strong vested interests in the status quo and who have access to very effective media conduits. The paper mostly being discussed in these emails was one my Soon and Baliunas – and it was crap. The outrage was not because these people were skeptical but because they were incompetent. Lindzen for instance, has published a few skeptical papers, but these are greeted with scientific rebuttals and debate, not outrage. They may still be wrong, but he cannot be accused of incompetency. Thus there is a line below which the lack-of-quality of a work means that no-one will take it seriously. If you can get people to think that these papers were instead brilliant, you end up with the situation you describe. A phrase about lipsticks and pigs comes to mind. – gavin]

  50. 900

    #893 Alex Jones

    Have you really examined Christopher Moncktons perspectives and arguments?