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The CRU hack

Filed under: — group @ 20 November 2009

As many of you will be aware, a large number of emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia webmail server were hacked recently (Despite some confusion generated by Anthony Watts, this has absolutely nothing to do with the Hadley Centre which is a completely separate institution). As people are also no doubt aware the breaking into of computers and releasing private information is illegal, and regardless of how they were obtained, posting private correspondence without permission is unethical. We therefore aren’t going to post any of the emails here. We were made aware of the existence of this archive last Tuesday morning when the hackers attempted to upload it to RealClimate, and we notified CRU of their possible security breach later that day.

Nonetheless, these emails (a presumably careful selection of (possibly edited?) correspondence dating back to 1996 and as recently as Nov 12) are being widely circulated, and therefore require some comment. Some of them involve people here (and the archive includes the first RealClimate email we ever sent out to colleagues) and include discussions we’ve had with the CRU folk on topics related to the surface temperature record and some paleo-related issues, mainly to ensure that posting were accurate.

Since emails are normally intended to be private, people writing them are, shall we say, somewhat freer in expressing themselves than they would in a public statement. For instance, we are sure it comes as no shock to know that many scientists do not hold Steve McIntyre in high regard. Nor that a large group of them thought that the Soon and Baliunas (2003), Douglass et al (2008) or McClean et al (2009) papers were not very good (to say the least) and should not have been published. These sentiments have been made abundantly clear in the literature (though possibly less bluntly).

More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords. The truly paranoid will put this down to the hackers also being in on the plot though.

Instead, there is a peek into how scientists actually interact and the conflicts show that the community is a far cry from the monolith that is sometimes imagined. People working constructively to improve joint publications; scientists who are friendly and agree on many of the big picture issues, disagreeing at times about details and engaging in ‘robust’ discussions; Scientists expressing frustration at the misrepresentation of their work in politicized arenas and complaining when media reports get it wrong; Scientists resenting the time they have to take out of their research to deal with over-hyped nonsense. None of this should be shocking.

It’s obvious that the noise-generating components of the blogosphere will generate a lot of noise about this. but it’s important to remember that science doesn’t work because people are polite at all times. Gravity isn’t a useful theory because Newton was a nice person. QED isn’t powerful because Feynman was respectful of other people around him. Science works because different groups go about trying to find the best approximations of the truth, and are generally very competitive about that. That the same scientists can still all agree on the wording of an IPCC chapter for instance is thus even more remarkable.

No doubt, instances of cherry-picked and poorly-worded “gotcha” phrases will be pulled out of context. One example is worth mentioning quickly. Phil Jones in discussing the presentation of temperature reconstructions stated that “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” The paper in question is the Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998) Nature paper on the original multiproxy temperature reconstruction, and the ‘trick’ is just to plot the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the recent warming is clear. Scientists often use the term “trick” to refer to a “a good way to deal with a problem”, rather than something that is “secret”, and so there is nothing problematic in this at all. As for the ‘decline’, it is well known that Keith Briffa’s maximum latewood tree ring density proxy diverges from the temperature records after 1960 (this is more commonly known as the “divergence problem”–see e.g. the recent discussion in this paper) and has been discussed in the literature since Briffa et al in Nature in 1998 (Nature, 391, 678-682). Those authors have always recommend not using the post 1960 part of their reconstruction, and so while ‘hiding’ is probably a poor choice of words (since it is ‘hidden’ in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is completely appropriate, as is further research to understand why this happens.

The timing of this particular episode is probably not coincidental. But if cherry-picked out-of-context phrases from stolen personal emails is the only response to the weight of the scientific evidence for the human influence on climate change, then there probably isn’t much to it.

There are of course lessons to be learned. Clearly no-one would have gone to this trouble if the academic object of study was the mating habits of European butterflies. That community’s internal discussions are probably safe from the public eye. But it is important to remember that emails do seem to exist forever, and that there is always a chance that they will be inadvertently released. Most people do not act as if this is true, but they probably should.

It is tempting to point fingers and declare that people should not have been so open with their thoughts, but who amongst us would really be happy to have all of their email made public?

Let he who is without PIN cast the the first stone.

Update: The official UEA statement is as follows:

“We are aware that information from a server used for research information
in one area of the university has been made available on public websites,”
the spokesman stated.

“Because of the volume of this information we cannot currently confirm
that all of this material is genuine.”

“This information has been obtained and published without our permission
and we took immediate action to remove the server in question from
operation.”

“We are undertaking a thorough internal investigation and we have involved
the police in this enquiry.”

Update II: Please comment on the next thread.


1,092 Responses to “The CRU hack”

  1. 451
    Robert says:

    “Ethics doesn’t stop at the exit of the town hall. – gavin”

    Hit a nerve there, did I gavin? You are going to give me a lesson on ethics? Please, after reading some of these e-mails, it’s obvious you don’t know what the word means. People who are paid by the public should EXPECT their work to be examined by the public. It is not just our right, it’s our obligation. People who are paid by the public shouldn’t call the exposition of their work illegal or unethical.

    [Response: Sure, I’ll give you a lesson. I’m a govt. civil servant and all of the work I do is published in the public domain, the model I work on has it’s source code open for all to see, and the institution I work for has published all of its code and data related to the surface temperature record. I have been involved in two FOIA requests and provided all the information requested in a timely manner. I provide supplemental data and support for people interested in our work to whoever asks. Yet hacking into my personal or work computers is still illegal (try it and see). Flinging accusations of ‘unethical’ behaviour at me without any substance is itself unethical. I take full responsibility for any emails I have written (including some that were in this archive) and I challenge you to find anything unethical in my conduct. Go on. – gavin]

  2. 452
    Ron Taylor says:

    Gavin, you have done an excellent job with this.

    The “trick” issue is shop-well by now, but I want to add a perspective that I don’t think has been covered. Take the statement: “The trick is to show that everyone can be covered with health insurance without showing an increase in the budget deficit.”

    Is that an ominous statement? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on your mindset. If you believe or are determined to show that the writer is devious and a liar, then you would say, “yes,” and ascribe twisted interpretations that support that position. If you trust the writer as a person of integrity, then you would probably say, “no,” and present supportive interpretations.

    The deconstruction of such statments is the currency of partisan political pundits, so politicians are careful about the words they choose in order to avoid (as much as possible) having their ideas misrepresented.

    Climate scientists in this case are certainly guilty of underestimating the nastiness of the political environment they are in and the depth to which their attackers are willing to go. It should be a good wakeup call.

    Beyond that, this event characterises the state of mind of those who do not like the results of climate science. If you do not like the message, but cannot refute it, then attack the messenger.

    I see nothing here that in any way undermines the findings of climate science.

  3. 453
    Brian Macker says:

    BPL,
    “Reflect also on the fact that Feynman was in the habit of intimidating lonely, neurotic women in bars to get them into bed with him, as he describes in one of his books, treating it as a joke.”

    I read the book in question. Do you always lie this much? He hit on the fact if you don’t tip the strippers, talk to them, that they tend to go to bed with you. How is that intimidation?

    What is particularly low about this is that you are using misinformation to redefine science away from what it actually should be about. So if Feynman picks up a stripper and actually enjoys sex with her that means he doesn’t understand the scientific process.

    I’m all for sexy strippers hanging out with scientists.

  4. 454
    Ernst says:

    It is true that hackers are a problem nowadays, my linux box reports many break in attempts, but to the best of my knowledge nobody ever passed the defense lines. The stolen CRU data which is now publicly made available causes quite some trolling on the internet. But so far I’ve not seen anything coming close to disclosing global warming as a scam or whatever is claimed by the trolls and the global warming deniers.

    Meanwhile the consequences of global warming continue to become available and they have absolutely nothing in common with the CRU data center. Greenland is for instance showing accelerated melting, it is picked up as a gravity feature, as shown last week in Science. And such results will fill the peer-reviewed journals for the next coming years.

  5. 455
    Alan Davis says:

    Hi Guys:

    The hack was mentioned on the Rush Limbaugh show this Friday. Over 1/3 of his audience are American political Independents and Democrats. With most American polls showing that environmental concerns are falling in importance with the public, and that there has been a +/- 20 % decline in the number of people who don’t believe in AGW, this does not bode well.

  6. 456
    sad ex scientist says:

    oh dear….I don’t care whether climate change is caused by humans or not at the moment…my only care is the damage that this discussion is having on science as a whole…I know scientists are human, but they set themselves up as truth bearers. Almost a new priesthood. The people who wrote these emails and most of the comments on this site have dragged science through the mud. Science should be seen for what it is..a presentation of facts, even those that don’t support the scientist’s current theory. Its a discussion..hiding data that doesn’t support your theory is low. Its the difference between telling the ref in a football game that it was a handball and taking the consequences, or screaming denial or sneaking off with the excuse that it was the ref’s fault for not spotting it. Shame on you all…you have cheapened my great love.

    [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]

  7. 457
    TomD says:

    Up until now, one side in this debate has claimed, in rather high-handed and self-righteous fashion, to be “scientists seeking truth”. The other side has been labeled as deniers and mere statisticians, or worse.

    What has become clear through these candid emails is that both sides are mere advocates of their own point of view. Nobody is attempting to find “truth”. Gavin, et al, promote their message relentlessly just as McIntyre, et al, do on the other side.

    It is left to the rest of us in the middle to sort through the wreckage and try to guess what is really going on and what the best response is.

    [Response: Your best approach is not to go with single individual’s opinion (not even mine), but instead rely on the assessments of independent bodies – the National Academies, Royal Society, the AGU, AMS etc. Read their reports, and then look up more details on any issue that particularly interests you. We’ve tried to help by providing context to things that you’ll see in the media or on the web, but always with links to the primary material (so you don’t need to take our word for it). Good luck. – gavin]

  8. 458
    Paul A says:

    Hacking into emails looking for evidence of a conspiracy confirms that the ‘sceptic’ community is shifting from denial of evidence and into the realms of outright conspiracy theory. The fact that they are seemingly happy to rely on unethical and criminal methods shows them for what they truly are. No-one should be surprised by occasional unfortunate comments, errors, and even bad behaviour revealed in private email correspondence. But I have seen no evidence that such behaviour is widespread or the norm.
    If only the denialist community were subject to the same level of scrutiny and had to work to the same standards as you. Their hypocrisy is truly nauseating.

  9. 459
    Al says:

    Can you explain the multiple references in the emails to evading FOIA responses, for example as in “delete all email [on certain topic] and I will do the same”?

    [Response: No. But I am not party either to those FOIA requests, nor the timing and nor do I know what happened or what the scope was. – gavin]

    That makes it OK does it?

    [Response: No. But it means I have no idea what (if anything) was done, whether it was relevant to the FOI or not or what indeed the specific FOI request requested. – gavin]

  10. 460
    Dan says:

    “I think the mistake AGW believers made was when then let people like Al Gore proclaim that the debate is over. ”

    The “debate” was conducted by climate scientists through peer-reviewed journals and conferences. Thus, the consensus that was formed. That is what Gore was referring to. He was correct.

  11. 461
    sebert says:

    A nice little bone for the caveman. Kilimanjro is still ice free and the artic ice cap is almost gone. But a couple of questionable emails negates all other evidence and the opinion of 97% of the world’s scientific community? Enjoy your little moment of hope. The sane among us will address the issue without you.

  12. 462
    Ken Hall says:

    I have to say that it is extremely hypocritical of the climate alarmists to condemn hacking in this case. Why? Well, climate alarmists have endorsed and taken part in vandalism, criminal damage, and all sorts of illegal activity in order to “prevent a greater crime” as they perceive it according solely to their own opinions.

    Well you don’t seem to like the same thing when done back to you. This hack was done to help prevent a greater crime. That of mass-murder through global depopulation, which is the alarmist’s real goal.

    [Response: Who’s being alarmist here? – gavin]

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    Personally I hope that there is a great deal more of this information to be uploaded.

    Hiding data is completely unscientific and unjustifiable. It looks very very dodgy.

  13. 463
    petek says:

    @440

    Tricky problem. No, the debate is not over, but the scientific fundamentals are well established. Yes, there are problems with the accuracy of the models. It sounds strange, the longer the forecast period is, the more accurate they become. If we had better short and medium term models in place, that really could do the trick. In English, imho the article could be more precise, but gives a kind of overview.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,662092,00.html

  14. 464
    Sloop says:

    Reply to #288 “Sookum John”

    There is nothing monolithic about the thousands of government officials in all nations and at all levels of government who are deeply concerned about the risks of global atmospheric/ocean/climate change. I constantly argue and differ with my colleagues on all manner of issues. The level of scientific agreement on the reality and risks of climate/ocean change is unprecedented in the history of science. This scientific consensus and what we see in the data itself is so deeply alarming for those of us charged with environmental protection/management and sustainable economic development that there is now unprecedented consensus within and between governments that forceful and comprehensive action must be taken locally, nationally, and globally as soon as possible and feasible.

    I am a little left of centrist in my political values for the most part, but witness every working day that no political view has a monopoly on truth. You would be better served by trying to refrain from such a, if you’ll pardon my frankness, paranoid interpretation of my posting– my colleagues in environmental governance and science don’t ride around in unmarked helicopters plotting how to reduce individual liberties and bring about global stalinism, a thought as repellent to me as it is apparently to you.

    In reality, there are so many serious environmental problems we are grappling with that if there was any possibility that we could de-prioritize work on one issue because the science is uncertain, we would as soon as we could. The science of AGW is doing the opposite-it is forcing us to move it to the top of our multiple and diverse agendas, particularly as it is increasingly driving so many other environmental issues/problems.

    As for your second point regarding to my allusion to possibly the need for government to step in on this blogosphere dispute–I acknowledge that was/is a provocative statement. I made because of how disgusted and concerned I am with the twisted and fallacious attacks upon this science discipline. It comes across as orchestrated and sophisticated. It is potentially an incredible dis-service to present and future public interests, especially as we move into a series of critical policy initiatives over the next 5 to 10 years. Climatologists need to focus on the work we all need from them. We cannot afford them to be publicly defamed and distracted from their research. The value of pubic investment in their work is being at least to some degree diminished by this unprecedented attempt at obfuscation and denial. The findings themselves are not being affected but that’s not point as many folks realize.

    I do not have at this time any particular ideas about what should be done, but I’m beginning to conclude that it is time for US policy and executive leaders to take a closer look at what’s going on and whether it merits action. It is not in general a new or unfamiliar issue- executive agencies and legislators are well-acquainted with the use of pseudo-science to influence policy, law and executive management and regulation.

    O, and by the way idiotic reactionary orthodoxy that diminishes public values rarely results in jail time. Such a phenomena would fill up our incarceration facilities even faster that mandatory drug sentencing.

  15. 465
    Stuart says:

    “I think the mistake AGW believers made was when then let people like Al Gore proclaim that the debate is over”

    I think Al Gore was talking about scientific debate on manmade global warming in the peer reviewed journals, not on the amazing ability of people to rehash any old tired argument to debate with blogs (or on the ability of people to nitpick over leaked emails)

    The debate over whether humans are contributing warming has been over for quite a while. You won’t find any current debate in the scientific literature over whether humans are increasing greenhouse gases or whether those greenhouse gas increases cause warming. The evidence for this is more than compelling and there is evidentally no evidence against either. That is why Gore is correct to say the debate is over.

    There are questions about the details of course – like precisely how much warming by 2100 this will cause and the like, but the kind of “debate” we see on blogs where ridiculously even the co2 record is still disputed, is not scientific debate. That kind of debate was done by scientists decades ago and it’s now over and has been over for a long time.

    Also remember that Al Gore is providing his assessment. If you are offended by his assessment that the debate is over then just consider I am equally offended by the suggestions that there is still debate going on over whether humans are warming the planet. It’s little different from the people arguing on websites that we didn’t land on the moon. It doesn’t constitute the kind of debate Gore is talking about or the kind of debate I am interested in.

    I think Gore could have been more specific, but then again when you are making public statements it’s short and sweet is the answer. Hardly anyone would read the mess I scrawled above. “The debate is over” is a nice succinct way of capturing the essence of what I said.

  16. 466
    Biff Larkin says:

    What I have seen from these e-mails is evasiveness, secretivness and attempts to control the debate.

    Science this ain’t. As many have pointed out, this is politics. Just do the science, people.

    If the truth won’t out from the science then we are all doomed anyway, aren’t we?

  17. 467
    Breenbriar says:

    I have spent 4 hours reviewing the hacked data and e-mails. I to must point out, as a layperson, the movement jumped the shark when the talk of “consensus” was infused with “The debate is over.” Scientific LAWS are still challenged today.

    Of the hundreds of e-mails I reviewed, I conclude that the most recognized scientists promoting the AGW theories have lost the crucial scientific perspective in pursuit of something “other than science.”

    As a self proclaimed skeptic, I hope this event finally begins to open the doors to genuine scientific debate. I would say, at a minimum, the revelation of the data and correspondence found clearly shows, the debate is not over and at best “overwhelming consensus” was either contrived or purchased.

    [Response: Wrong. The consensus on the main planks of the science is solid. No need for one to purchase it. – gavin]

  18. 468
    Sigurdur says:

    Most people say that is it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.

    Albert Einstein.

    I think everyone involved in this needs to ponder that statement.

  19. 469
    dhogaza says:

    Presumably the CRU

    England.

    research was funded using public money (e.g. NOAA)

    United States.

    So many denialist presumptions, so many fails.

  20. 470
    Marco says:

    Gavin, next time someone invokes the Appeal to Authority fallacy, refer them to this page:
    http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-authority.html
    Appeal to Authority is fully acceptable in many cases. It doesn’t become a logical fallacy until it is a FALSE authority.

  21. 471
    G. Karst says:

    I think people must remember, the claim, was this, was only a portion of the documents leaked!

    I see a crowd assembling with a rail, bag of feathers, and a bucket of tar.

    If anyone is close to this… they are well advised to come completely clean, and lay out the entirety (all dirty laundry), so that they can avoid the tar brush. This is not the time to be shredding documents (oops – too late). There are just too many, in various places to get them all. Best to come clean and polish the image later. Fess up… own your mistakes and let’s move on. GK

  22. 472
    M Yoxon says:

    My opinion after spending some time reading the emails is that this is a damaging, potentially scandalous, episode. As a non-scientist I am dependent upon the scientific community to promote rigorous, non-partisan discussion of the facts. Of course, scientists are entitled to hold opinions of their own, to disagree with one another, and should be aware of the political ramifications of their findings, but they should always be primarily motivated by examination of the evidence to hand.
    I think the emails show a lack of respect for debate, for the neutrality of the peer-review process and for the validity of dissent. It’s a rather startling to see the politicisation of academia and the cabals that seem to have formed. Again, as a non-scientist, I’m surprised at how purile some of the emails are, how fundamentally personalities seem to have skewed the proper functioning of science.
    I’m naturally a sceptic in all things, and though I remain convinced that climate-change demands action, I’m dismayed that scientists involved seem not to regard a degreee of scepticism as at all worthwhile. It is necessary for the layman to trust in the impartiality of scientists and I’m afraid this layman finds it increasingly hard to do so.

  23. 473
    Petter says:

    Well, I hope the person wh commited this crime gets caught, and holds on hard to the soap when he showers in the big house.

    People who accuse Gavin or anyone else for being upset aboutthat their mails were hacked, have allready proven that they have since long left the deabte and headed into the denialist world. Have fun, and greet the Discovery-institute.

  24. 474
    Endre Varga says:

    “Scientific LAWS are still challenged today.”

    Mankind as a whole has not enough time to check every theory that could exist, therefore we go for the most plausible (most promising) ones. There is an overwhelming amount of immediate theories that must be checked, therefore we have no time checking each and every “skeptic” alternative. Call it denial and arrogance, I call it pragmatics.

  25. 475
    Endre Varga says:

    Re: 460

    Also, how on Earth is now Einstein is an authority on AGW?

  26. 476
    Gordon says:

    In response to 441, try reading sometime McIntyre or McKitrick’s requests to CRU or Hadley for information and
    their totally absurd responses. I am glad to hear that you would never do that, Gavin. You just delete unfavorable comments or respond sarcastically to criticsms in comments when you know the commenter cant reply in kind.

  27. 477

    #150 MR states:

    Evidently there is a lot of funding to be had if you can postulate that a catastrophe is about to happen and none to be had proving nothing is wrong.

    Gaving pointed you to a link that shows otherwise and I have a link titled: The Denail Machine that also shows how much money the Singers,

    Plimers, Moncktons, etc. are making from taking their denialist positions – FAR MORE than Gavin and others who make a living showing real science.

    http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/global_warming_denial_machine.html

    #160 states:

    “It’s a shame it wasnt the Heartland Institute’s email server that got hacked – that would have been FAR more interesting”

    No need to hack. The evidence for their ties to the fossil fuel industry are well documented (see link above) and ALL of their lame arguments have been debunked here at RC and many other places. They actually have nothing to hide.

    #174 Willow1977 states:

    This is the exact same problem that we had in the 70s when many of these same groups predicted a new ice age. They ‘knew for a fact’ the earth was cooling and we were heading into a new ice age, so they made sure the data fit.

    Not true – not even close! There were VERY FEW jounral articles about global cooling in the 70s. There were MANY MORE about global warming.

    See: http://www.skepticalscience.com/ice-age-predictions-in-1970s.htm

    #195 Ordway’s list of scientists:

    Have you ever checked Sourcewatch.org, Exxonsecrets.org, or DeSmogblog.com and searched these names? Are you aware that many of these folks are making a fortune from taking his denialist position? Why would Soon put his name on the Oregon Petition’s bogus The Journal of Physicians and Surgeons if he were credible?

    You need to do some fact-checking.

    #201 Mike Sullivan:

    Gavin responded but I elaborate here:

    http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/global_warming_scientific_consensus.html

    As an analogy, why should Realclimate discuss why gravity makes things float when the scientific consensus is that gravity makes things sink?

    #218 Ron Johnson states:

    I was not sure about climate change, now I am.

    See my link just above about the consensus. No rational human being can ignore it. As Steve McIntyre is fond of saying: “It is truly breathtaking.”

    #226 Adam:

    I suggest clicking on the Start Here button at the top of RC’s page and also my Suggested Reading page:

    http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/suggested_reading_climate_change.html

    #248 Adam:

    Yes we all owe Gavin serious props for manning the ship today and everyday.

    #285 Timothy states:

    This is the biggest problem that some people, including myself, have with your data. We cannot check your work. That is the biggest problem. We cannot check your work. (Repeated for emphasis)

    So do you check the work of the doctor you see? Do you really read the journals in which your doctor publishes?

    You TRUST those people because there has been a long chain of oversight before they get to these positions such as education credentials,
    certifications, word of mouth recommendations, a history of excellence, etc. We trust our scientists for the same reasons. They took rigorous science and mathematics courses at reputable institutions, they were vetted by a job search committee that included personal reference checks, they publish data that is peer-reviewed and then they release their findings to the world for the utmost scrutiny. What more do you want?

  28. 478
    Anthony Jackson says:


    “Scientific LAWS are still challenged today.”

    Mankind as a whole has not enough time to check every theory that could exist, therefore we go for the most plausible (most promising) ones. There is an overwhelming amount of immediate theories that must be checked, therefore we have no time checking each and every “skeptic” alternative. Call it denial and arrogance, I call it pragmatics.”

    Except when those THEORIES are shaping world economic policy,
    then every possibility must be checked!

  29. 479
    caerbannog says:

    Breenbriar said, “I have spent 4 hours reviewing the hacked data and e-mails.”

    That’s quite likely the first (and only) 4 hours that he’s spent studying *anything* written by legitimate scientists.

  30. 480
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    The science isn’t affected by any of this. The data’s there. The description of the experiments and studies are there. The science hasn’t changed.

    People are shocked to discover that scientists are people who have opinions and interests? Baloney. Ginned up outrage.

    The “worst” of the emails that I’ve seen was the one that talked about ignoring a certain journal. To me that was the equivalent of the White House ignoring Fox News. If a journal was being used to give bad science a forum and the cover of respectability there’s nothing there. Shock that scientists wouldn’t just fold their hands and pray on the issue and not have bad thoughts as if they’re Aloysius Gonzaga is just malarkey and bunk.

  31. 481
    UEA CRU Postgrad says:

    I’m deeply upset at these accusations and grossly misrepresentative snapshots into the functioning of the CRU, one of the world’s finest climate institutions.

    Jones, Briffa and Osborne are 3 great men. Having been lectured by all 3 over the past 4 years, one thing that I have certainly come to terms with is that, without doubt, they always explore both sides of an argument. Indeed, with my own research this year which, may I add, could be groundbreaking, an open-minded and scientific approach has always been taken. I am frequently reminded by my lecturers not to ‘cherry pick’ or smooth data in order to show a scientific fact, NOT scientific assumption.

    Honest guys, honest jobs, honest opinions.

  32. 482
    Chortle says:

    I find it remarkable that an overwhelming tone of the emails smacks as much of politics and attempts to limit real debate rather than a search for truth. One of Mann’s emails speaks directly to this — i.e. it’s not about the truth but rather plausible deniability.

    Its obvious that transparency in this debate has not been important to those behind AGW theory.

    If anything, we can all hope that this event will serve to FINALLY have real, public debate on this issue.

  33. 483
    Doug says:

    What is so painfully clear from this is how the science of AGW has long since been replaced by the NEED for AGW. You can see it here with Gavin, his responses, can see it all over the community. They need AGW. It is their life. It is their reason of existing. For it to not be what they have claimed means they are not what they claim. It would personally devalue them. What these emails have proven is what many of us have known for some time. These scientists aren’t really scientists. Science requires objectivity and that has been replaced with necessity a long time ago. When you read the cheering of measurements or the frustrations at not getting expected results, it’s a sad statement of where this is. What a sad cast of characters you all are. So sad.

    [Response: What rot. No-ones needs AGW. Personally, I was very happy doing paleo-modelling work that had very little to do with AGW. The study of the dynamic Earth system is complex, challenging, mysterious and rewarding with or without a substantial human component to recent warming. That of course drives more interest from the outside world, but we would still be studying climate and weather even if CO2 levels had been steady for the last hundred years. – gavin]

  34. 484
    Rod says:

    Unless I have read the UK FOI act incorrectly, how would CRU be subject to it? The only entity at EAU that should be subject to it is the university’s governing body.

  35. 485
    Endre Varga says:

    469, where are these messages? Are they in the leak? I could not find them with fulltext search.

  36. 486

    The deniers, lacking scientific evidence to support their opinions, resort to stealing, personal attacks and smearing of science in general. The deniers are engaging in a war on science.

    Even if anthropogenic CO2 emissions were not causing climate change we would need to cut CO2 emissions.

    The oceans continue to become more acidic with human-caused CO2 emissions, independent of climate change observations and models. Important marine organisms that make calcium carbonate shells and structures are beginning to die off because of the increasing acidity of the water. Coral reefs in the Galapagos are dying now and other reefs are threatened.

    CO2 emissions need to be cut rapidly to save marine ecosystems from increasing acidity, apart from the need to stop rapid climate change.

  37. 487
    Sean says:

    I’m confused about this divergence problem. Why do we have any confidence at all in using proxy methods to determine past temperatures when there is no correlation (or weak correlation) to modern instrumental records (post 1960?). One would think that the tree ring/ice core data would be calibrated appropriately to reflect the most recent temperature records that we have, not the oldest (pre 1960). If someone could point me to an answer I would be grateful. Thanks

    [Response: First off, the divergence problem doesn’t affect all records and so there is enough other stuff to use in reconstructing past climates. Specifically, there is no divergence problem with ice cores, or corals and many other tree ring proxies. It would of course be better if we understood what was causing the apparent divergence in the cases where it does occur, and researchers like D’Arrigo and Wilson have been looking specifically at that (as has Briffa of course). The recent Salazar et al paper might be a good start for you. – gavin]

  38. 488
    Anton says:

    No mention of Soros – hahahaha.

    Please explain:
    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2009/11/20/climate-cuttings-33.html

  39. 489
    Matt Peterson says:

    “My handyman showed me a neat trick for applying caulking so that you get a smooth bead.

    My mechanic showed me a neat trick for getting the head off of a Flathead Ford. It involved loosening the bolts and then cranking the engine over.”

    Both of those use the word ‘trick’ as they were used in the emails, and in neither example was the word ‘trick’ used to mean ‘deceit’. Instead, the word ‘trick’ in those instances in synonymous with ‘method’

  40. 490
    Perik Erikson says:

    “Your best approach is not to go with single individual’s opinion (not even mine), but instead rely on the assessments of independent bodies -the National Academies, Royal Society, the AGU, AMS etc.”

    big smile here

    their jobs dependent on GW

    [Response: The Royal Society which has been in existence since 1660, depends on GW? That’s the funniest thing I’ve read all day (but it’s been a slow day). – gavin]

  41. 491
    PhilG says:

    You say that these e-mails are private, but these are e-mails transmitted by people working on government funded projects. In accordance with the UK freedom of information act all such e-mails should be archived and may be scrutinised by the public on request. They cannot be regarded as private in any sense.

    The trouble is that some of these e-mails indicate the extent to which these researchers are willing to avoid such obligations.

  42. 492
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    re: 6

    “anyone without something to hide”.

    Wonderful. I hadn’t quite expected reductionism that early in the discussion.

    Privacy. What an idea.

  43. 493
    John Doe says:

    I don’t think anyone can put an innocent spin on all of the many attempts to hide or destroy emails that were subject to FOIA requests. Very very illegal. http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/the_warmist_conspiracy_tthe_emails_that_really_damn_professor_jones/ And it really stretches credibility to say, as Gavin has, that all of these many emails were just suggestions that no one acted upon. Really?

    And another email that no one is commenting on yet:

    From: Gary Funkhouser
    To: k.briffa@uea.ac.uk
    Subject: kyrgyzstan and siberian data
    Date: Thu, 19 Sep 1996 15:37:09 -0700

    Keith,

    Thanks for your consideration. Once I get a draft of the central and southern siberian data and talk to Stepan and Eugene I’ll send it to you.

    I really wish I could be more positive about the Kyrgyzstan material, but I swear I pulled every trick out of my sleeve trying to milk something out of that. It was pretty funny though – I told Malcolm what you said about my possibly being too Graybill-like in evaluating the response functions – he laughed and said that’s what he thought at first also. The data’s tempting but there’s too much variation even within stands. I don’t think it’d be productive to try and juggle the chronology statistics any more than I already have – they just are what they are (that does sound Graybillian). I think I’ll have to look for an option where I can let this little story go as it is.

    Not having seen the sites I can only speculate, but I’d be optimistic if someone could get back there and spend more time collecting samples, particularly at the upper elevations.

    Yeah, I doubt I’ll be over your way anytime soon. Too bad, I’d like to get together with you and Ed for a beer or two. Probably someday though.

    Cheers, Gary
    Gary Funkhouser
    Lab. of Tree-Ring Research
    The University of Arizona

    [Response: Why do you think this email is interesting? he’s just talking about a duff data set. These things happen. – gavin]

  44. 494
    pete best says:

    RE 418. And tens of millions (even in the hundreds of millions) do not. Don’t tell me that majorities don’t have a say in how we should should obtain our energy. People can believe in what they like but they are not a majority except in the USA perhaps there are seemingly 50+ % who seem to keep want to keep using fossil fuels at ever increasing rates that the global economy requires (2-3% per annum – 28% increase in the last decade).

    There is nothing wrong with the science of AGW/GHG theories. Orthodoxy has been hit by the critics who are the scientists themselves. Science becomes orthodoxy because it has withstood stringent empirical analysis. The alleged skeptics of AGW only fear for their prosperity and not for the science but they do not participate in the scientific process but choose to cinrumvent it via blogs, the mass media etc. However its all wrong and does not challenge orthodox science which is more battle tested than any other explanation.

  45. 495
    Clarity Please says:

    I suspect there will be nothing of interest in these emails, from the excerpts I have read on here, they seem as others have said ambiguous, and perhaps to reflect a debate that has become too politicised. To those outside the immediate debate, whether laypeople or scientists in other disciplines such as myself, this politicisation lead to disquiet, and we will want to see this clarified.
    I think what is needed is a website which publishes the state of the climate research, which objectively discussed the key papers on both sides of the debate, and where the relevant papers are published behind the discussion so that those who want to look deeper can do so, and with the full data sets for those who wish to look deeper again. Its no good if you try and peer down the rabbit hole only to be told only members of the club can see the data. There needs to be absolute transparency, and even-handedness. This may exist already, but if so I don’t know where to find it. I am a scientist, though not involved in climatology research, and I don’t want to see this polarisation of the debate with each side demonising the other. Also in the face of so much obvious polarisation I am appalled that the science is regarded as “settled” and so those who wish to debate all sides of the argument get frozen out, or ridiculed, or professionally undermined.
    If those scientists whose objective research apparently demonstrates global warming is a significant issue wish non climatologists to take this seriously, then it needs to be communicated clearly to the general public, but be communicated in such a way that it is easy to drill down into the research. It seems to me that there is either a superficial level of discussion that is too easy to write off as coming from one camp or the other, or the discussion is too esoteric. We need to have something that takes the public from the general to the specific which can be trusted.
    I have a scientific background, and am worried to see the debate as polarised between right wing global capitalists and left wing luddites.
    I am minded to distrust the arguments of those funded by oil companies etc in the “denier” camp, but feel denier is an appalling way to put it, seemingly trying to equate having doubts about global warming with holocaust denial. That said, arguments of both sides of the debate must be debate clearly with both sides able to access the same data to support or rebut each other’s claims.
    Of course, if the fate of millions of lives and society as we know it may depend on the outcome, then its easy to see why folk get twitchy, yet haven’t we learned as scientists that the alarmist claims are normally found to be exaggerated, e.g. Malthus, Ehrlich, etc…
    …if people are finding that data doesn’t support the theory, then they should not be too quick to cast aside the data…and I hope that has not been happening here, its no good just publishing the results you like, that could set the research back decades, and be self defeating.

  46. 496
    Skookum John says:

    481 @FishOutOfWater: “CO2 emissions need to be cut rapidly to save marine ecosystems from increasing acidity, apart from the need to stop rapid climate change.”

    How convenient. Did all the marine ecosystems die back when CO2 was over 1000ppm?

  47. 497
    Xyrus says:

    Here’s what I don’t get, irrespective of the emails.

    The skeptics and their more extreme brethren always claim there is some sort of global conspiracy by climate scientists, and are now using this hack to further their agenda (similar to how FOX news used the “terrorist fist jab” to further their own agenda.

    But the question is why? If there really was a global conspiracy, then why would it exist? There’s got to be some driving reason behind it, and usually such reasons are money, power, or both.

    So let’s examine that. Let’s start with money. The typical argument is that their is a conspiracy so that climate scientists can ask for more funding to continue to line their pockets with grants and the like.

    Really? Let’s just think about that for a moment. In the US, out of the trillion+ national budget where does climate science rank? The total spent on climate research doesn’t even register. In fact, you could increase it a hundred fold and it would still only make a small percentage of the budget.

    Most researchers are tenured or government positions. The government certainly doesn’t pay in the 7 figure range, and I’m not aware of any Universities that do either. They’re not AIG where they pay out inhumanly large bonuses. To find those pay grades, you have to go to the private sector. And while there may be private sector researchers, they make up a small percentage of the group.

    Ok. Not a lot of money. So could it be power? Considering that there are thousands of researchers, what kind of power would they be after? The ability to enforce energy and environmental awareness on everyone?

    Whenever I hear climate conspiracy, I always ask WHY? Why is there a conspiracy? What would researchers gain from such a conspiracy? At least with other conspiracies, you have some pretty solid reasons. With a climate conspiracy, worst case scenario is what? Wide adoption of renewable energy? Less pollution? A thicker ozone layer? Heaven forbid.

    A climate conspiracy? Really? Is it really so hard to show reproducible research to counter the climate change consensus that the debate has boiled down to “IT’S A CONSPIRACY!!!!”?

    Yeah. Like acid rain was a conspiracy. Like the ozone depletion was a conspiracy. Those darn evil scientists, always looking to harm society for their personal gain.

    ~X~

  48. 498
    Perik Erikson says:

    “The Royal Society which has been in existence since 1660, depends on GW? That’s the funniest thing I’ve read all day”

    In what world do you live?
    There are lots of people today who make a living out of GW.

    [Response: Sure. Just not the Royal Society. – gavin]

  49. 499
    John Finn says:

    As many of you will be aware, a large number of emails from the University of East Anglia webmail server were hacked recently (Despite some confusion generated by Anthony Watts, this has absolutely nothing to do with the Hadley Centre which is a completely separate institution).

    The organisations are not quite as separate as you claim. The name of the temperature record is HadCru. tere is considerable collaboration between the 2 groups.

    [Response: I collaborate with colleagues in Paris, does that mean that the CNRS in Gif-sur-Yvette is the same thing as NASA GISS? Strange thought. (the origin if the HadCRU data set is described here). I will note that Watts corrected his post, though the confusion lives on. – gavin]

  50. 500
    Steve says:

    This is one reason why I delete my email as soon as I’ve read it and it’s no longer relevant. And I don’t trust any computer for which I don’t have the root password for.


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