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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. 751
    George says:

    #

    I’ve read through perhaps half of the documentation. What’s most troubling about many of the e-mails isn’t the putatively falsified data…there may be explanations for many of the out of context quotes. Rather, what emerges is a decade-long pattern of behavior where the AGW advocates:
    1) Demand that the skeptics publish in “peer-reviewed journals” while
    2) Taking steps to block those publications including sharing of supposedly anonymous copies for review
    3) Coordination of response strategies based on this information
    4) Threatening the editorial board of one journal that allowed a skeptical paper to “slip through” (that’s a direct quote).
    5) Telling skeptics to address their work through comments then ensuring that those comments are unpublished by the journal in question.

    Taken together its an outrageous and deeply unethical set of actions that prevents the normal scientific process of peer review to function.

    This would never be tolerated in the disciplines I’ve been involved in…and I find it appalling to see in such an important field of science.

    [Response: ‘Peer review’ is a filter. The nature of a filter is that it filters out things. Asking that the criticism goes through the same filter as the original papers is completely valid. As is making sure that the filter is working properly, which it certainly doesn’t some of the time. Read the background to the Soon and Baliunas case to get a better sense of what was actually going on. – gavin]

    Comment by George — 21 November 2009 @ 12:32 PM

    Gavin, I’m sorry but the behavior demonstrated in this e-mail correspondence cannot be dismissed so cavalierly. What it shows is not that the filter was specifically tuned to exclude only one side of the debate…and that the gatekeepers of the journals kept criticisms quiet and private to avoid the annoying public from finding out.

    That’s a travesty of the peer review process.

    [Response: Not true. There are bad papers rejected that are supportive of AGW as well. It’s just that there are far more bad papers that use faulty logic, inappropriate methods and show ignorance of basic physical principles that attempt to show that GW is nothing to worry about than the other way around. – gavin]

  2. 752
    Ron R. says:

    This is typical rightwing desperation in action. And it appears the GW skeptics have learned well from their Creationist brethern. They apparently spend all their waking hours scouring scientific publications frantically searching for any word or even a whole sentence that is not QUITE as positive as the rest of the work and then proceed to BLOW IT OUT OF ALL PROPORTION.

    You know if there were a true conspiracy I’d expect something more along the lines of:

    “EYES ONLY – READ AND DESTROY. Welcome comrades! We are making good progress in our presentation of our global warming story as almost everyone of note now believes it! However there is more work to do before we can declare Victory in our efforts to destroy the mighty United States. We can take advantage of the recent anomolous warming only so long before the world begins to cool again. The accord in Copenhagen will be an important step in our efforts to crush the US energy companies, a key domino to the overthrow of that wetched regime. We must keep the pressure up! We will instruct our people to become ever more dire in their “warnings”. Make sure that they are paid handsomely for their loyal efforts to the cause. Moscow is behind us 100%! Father Stalin would be proud!”

  3. 753
    Jen says:

    Gavin, I appreciate the time and effort you’re putting into dealing with this feeding frenzy. It’s important that there is someone with technical knowledge to respond to the mischaracterizations. I work as an atmospheric scientist and realize full well that time spent trying deal with issues like this must not be trivial and is NOT covered under project funding. However, it is not wasted time. Thank you for taking it head on.

    One thing I find curious about the emails is the very limited number of researchers and research subjects included. The emails have been ENORMOUSLY filtered to focus on a select few researchers and one or two subjects in climate work – e.g,. where are the mundane everyday sorts of emails? I doubt many of the group rejoicing over this episode realize the true breadth of research that goes on or even the number of scientists involved. These emails are obviously “cherry picked” to focus on the small slices of time when researchers were dealing with “contrarians.” The intent is blatently obvious.

    Chins up…

  4. 754
    s. wing says:

    Gavin, your marathon string of detailed responses continues to sound reasonable on every single point with the sole glaring exception of the hockey stick graph for the 1999 WMO Statement. You are defending a long-time colleague, I understand that. But any serious past mistakes should be admitted and the record set straight. The unfortunate politicization of your field makes this even more imperative. Your glib dismissal of this incident is entirely unsatisfactory to me, as I now detail.

    First, thank you for your response to my comment #545, which began…

    [Response: An uninformative or incomplete caption in a WMO brochure is not ‘scientific misconduct’ by any stretch of the imagination. …]

    Similarly, your response to comment #641 (Lazar) included…

    [Response: … The incompleteness of a caption in a brochure while unfortunate is nothing like as serious, nor does it rise to deliberate misrepresentation. The procedure used should simply have been noted more clearly. – gavin]”

    This is not even remotely correct in my opinion. Most simply, the legend is also wrong/incomplete, so anyone just looking at the graph would get the completely wrong impression. This is already unacceptable.

    More fundamentally, attempting to fix the caption &/or legend would have been just papering over the cracks because the entire graph as plotted does not, and can not, reasonably represent the underlying scientific data in a way that is honest and helpful to the interested layperson, which is the intended readership. Instead, that graph looks for all the world like it is 3 independent data sets reproducing the ‘hockey stick’ shape – blade and all – and with excellent agreement on the blade. (The agreement of the lines towards the tip of the shaft is not even perfect – with green ending up above red and red ending up above blue. This reinforces the false impression of 3 independent data sets in excellent, but not perfect, agreement.)

    Now we find out that agreement is manufactured and that the top half or so of the blade doesn’t come from the stated data sets at all. That visual image is therefore profoundly misleading. Period.

    Also, this was not just any old graph in any old “brochure” (your word). The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) describe themselves as the United Nations’ authoritative voice on climate, and the graph in question forms the front page graphics for the 1999 edition of their annual climate statement:

    I note your point that this is not a peer-reviewed paper. It is is instead the different issue of communicating the science to the public (where you yourself have done so much valuable work). However, that by itself certainly does not rule out the possibility of scientific misconduct, which is what still appears to me to have happened when this plot was made back in 1999.

    You must have the constitution of a Spartan to have even got this far with these replies.

    What I would like to respectfully ask you now is that you agree to later give a more detailed and considered statement on this particular plot and incident, and what if anything should be done to put things right. I would suggest a timescale of, say, within some days from now, perhaps after having consulted with relevant colleagues, and certainly after you have had a decent sleep and a chance to reflect further. Will you do this?

    Sincerely, s. wing

    [Response: Again weird. Why is a figure that no-one had ever mentioned in the 10 years since it was published until Thursday this week now the most important issue in climate science? Are we supposed to imagine that this was influential in your thinking on the subject and now you feel confused? Ha. Am I supposed to “think carefully” about every figure that has ever been published (regardless of how influential or not) that anyone might have an issue with? That’s just ridiculous. Science is always a work in progress and if you want to know what the community thinks of as the most informative and useful figures, read the the last IPCC report. – gavin]

  5. 755
    Joe1347 says:

    Ok, Scientists, it’s starting to look like it’s time to put down your pencils and sliderules and stop wasting your time writing papers and doing that silly peer reviewed research stuff. Otherwise, you won’t have scientific careers in a few years if this story gets any more out of control and Congress decides to cut off all funding for climate science in an attempt at damage control.

    The Scientific Community that already understands the facts needs to push back hard and fast on this story. It’s clearly starting to get out of control on the web with regards to creating uncertainty in the general public towards whether global warming is actually real. Hopefully it’s not too late already. Suspect that the mainstream press will be all over it next week since they just love any controversy that brings in viewers (and advertisers).

  6. 756
    Dave Reesor says:

    To Richard Ordway;

    Kindly tell us all why is it not warming when the models say it should be? Why is an AGW believing scientist in Boulder Colorado calling the lack of warming a travesty? Why has the severity of hurricanes in the Atlantic abated when we were told Katrina was just the beginning of catastrophic hurricanes? How did polar bears survive a completely ice free Arctic in the past? Why is the ice pack over most of Antarctica increasing? Why is the Sahara greening, and is that a bad thing??

    These are all scientifically proven but inconvenient facts. They are not theory. Please give specific answers to them.

    The average person does not care about … “the importance of the differences in oscillations per centimeter of water vapor vs. carbon dioxide (CO2 is closer to the spectrum where the Earth is giving off most of its heat energy.” It may be AGW industry approved theory, (dogma), but when your theory conflicts with observed facts, the science is in fact, not settled. That is not rocket science, it is common sense.

    So please answer directly, “Why isn’t it warming, even while CO2 levels have continued rising, and your models say it would?”

    [Response: Here. – gavin

  7. 757
    Oakden Wolf says:

    “No. The problem with Soon and Baliunas was their methodology, not their results (which were pre-determined in any case). Same for Douglass et al and same for McClean et al (and note that an author on the last one, was actually the editor on the first). – gavin”

    I posted the same thing to Tom Fuller on his Examiner column before I started reading this thread (and I’m going to finish it, too!)

  8. 758
    Alan Millar says:

    “Response: Gavin…….Maybe. Geologically speaking we are still quite close to the Pleistocene ice age cycles (though we are currently in an interglacial). However, there is some evidence that the impacts we are making to the carbon cycle might have started to pull us out of the ice age cycles all together. In which case the answer would be no. But it will be clearer in a few thousand years. – gavin]”

    So, given that AGW is a fact, which scenario would you prefer that mankind should prepare for? A permanent global temperature rise of upto 6c or a return to a glacial period?

    I know which I will vote for, as 30k years ago, where I am currently sitting in the UK was three kilometres higher on top of an ice sheet!!

    Alan

    [Response: Preventing an ice age is a long way from being a problem worthy of immediate attention. – gavin]

  9. 759
    Tim Roesch says:

    My experience with all of this goes back to the blistering comments flung from one scientist to another while people were dying of AIDS.

    Scientists need to be brutally honest, transparent and incredibly sensitive to how non-scientists might view remarks.

    Shall we go back to the Love Canal ‘fetal wastage’ and ‘adverse pregnancy outcomes’ comments to see why and important topic like ‘global warming’ needs far less petulance and far more clear, authoritative science?

    I am getting very tired of being the lone ‘scientist’ in the room trying to explain excrement like this to those who do not have science degrees.

    Clean up your acts! Read some science history!

  10. 760
    Oakden Wolf says:

    gt4: “In fact, CA encourages discussions with the believers and the most interesting discussions are often between McIntyre (or others) and a person on the establishment side.”

    I’ve tried a couple of times. Try to post one thing at CA or any other blogs that provides a mainstream scientific explanation for a strongly-believed skeptical position, and you’ll get gang-banged by a massive bunch of the believers asking you irrelevant questions and questioning your sanity, political viewpoint, and fundamental right to exist. The possibility of rational discussion on those sites is zero, zilch, NADA.

  11. 761
    Tristan says:

    Ok let me clarify a few things since it is apparent the Gavin and a few others having reading issues. In post 501 I stated that

    All it takes is dishonesty from the top minds to establish a base. When those who are at the top of the field establish a “fact” those below them often will accept it as the truth. When these facts become anchor points for others work and arguments, all of the following work is corrupted and invalid.

    We can we believe your work, when your foundation may have been built from sand?

    SO we skip to 526

    As Gavin points out inline above at 498, Tristan’s mistaken notion is that science relies on original founders and everything would be overthrown if something were found wrong with the earliest work.

    I don’t know were you came up with that but I clearly made no such claim. I stated the foundation created by the top minds. AGW has no doubt changed over time has it not? Original premonitions have been discarded as new and pertinent information has been revealed has it not? Just as Quantum Physics has now become the foundation for modern physics. It took the original concept and broke it down even further , finding that there is a new level beneath, a NEW foundation. If you are not able to grasp this simple concept of progression than, AGW is in much deeper trouble than anyone realizes. [edit]

  12. 762
    Alan Millar says:

    We are asked to implicitly trust people who seem to have not the slightest view of IT reality.

    I always tell my executives that, whilst it is perfectly acceptable to discuss technical matters openly by e-mail, they should not use this medium for opinion, personnel or personal matters. I always say that such matters should be discussed by other medium such as face to face or the telephone or snail mail.

    I emphasize that, if made public, that the tone of e-mails can seem harsh and out of context.

    I never discuss contentious or personal matters by e-mail I generally use the phone or face to face discussion to resolve the matter.

    So called scientists, from this correspondence, seemed to think that deleting e-mails was as simple as pushing a delete button on the system!!

    The sheer hubris!!

    Alan

  13. 763
    Oakden Wolf says:

    I’ll be curious to see how many more posts there were after #669, but that’s how far I got today.

    One of the themes here has been about how the emails at times discuss how to address the poor science that was managing to get published, and how there could be ways to get the journals to improve their editing standards, or to give up on some journals altogether. This seems like attempts to quell dissenting opinions.

    Has it been forgotten that ExxonMobil (successfully) advocated the removal of Bob Watson as IPCC Chairman to the Bush Administration? And that was just one thing they did, of many, mainly funding many of the holier-than-thou skeptics who have responded to the hacked emails and who are apparently “shocked… shocked to find out that gambling is going on in here!”

    Exxon’s Weapons of Mass Destruction

  14. 764
    cm says:

    I worked on the Hubble Space Telescope project in the operations area, I am a Computer Scientist, not an astronomer. But I dealt with astronomers and their computing needs on a daily basis. The HST data was proprietary to the proposing astronomers for one year, after that in most cases it was public domain. Astronomers from other telescopes who would not share their data were looked down upon. There was also wide range of views when it came to theories of what was happening in the cosmos.

    Here, it seems like these scientists are in general agreement and are doing whatever they can to keep this agreement.

    It amazes me is the how hard the CRU worked to hide their underlying data. If the data is right and matches the theories, it should be able to withstand any scrutiny. If the kooks analyze it wrongly, why not point out why they were wrong? Is there something to hide in the data?

    These e-mails also make some of the writers look unethical. Even if they are not, if someone is thought to be unethical, it makes everything they say suspect. That is the problem with these disclosures. This seeming lack of ethics tends to devalue all of their other work.

  15. 765
    steve says:

    I’m not a climate expert but am skeptical of an organization that receives funding to research a problem. If the problem is found out to be false, then the funding would dry up.

    Anyways these emails, to me suggest that there be an investigation. It is needed to save the IPCC’s reputation as legitimate researchers.

    [Response: Great logic. The only people who should be trusted to research an issue are those that can’t actually employ anyone to do so. You have it completely backwards; almost all research – in medicine, cosmology, climate etc. is funded so that people can research it. If it doesn’t pan out, people move on to different topics. – gavin]

  16. 766
    Jeff L. says:

    The one good thing that has come out of the CRU leak is that many more people seem to be visiting RealClimate lately. I have no desire to read the leaked emails, but I realize that some people may find them shocking. Academia is a cut-throat business, and it has its share of egos. (Anyone who has heard Claude Allegre give a scientific talk knows what I am talking about.) But to assume that some kind of conspiracy has taken place is simply preposterous.

  17. 767
    Jens J says:

    A “trick” is what scientists use to deal with a problem? Strange, I thought an important part of science was not to deal with problems but to transparently inform about any problems encountered in data collection, modeling, analysis or methodology so that the reader can make an as informed and unbiased picture as possible. “Dealing with problems” using “tricks” sounds like something someone that really don’t want the full picture to be known would use. And what about the last part of the statement of Jones: “to hide the decline”. What secret scientific codephrase would that constitute?

    I’m not saying that the various tidbits of information regarding odd research practice that has been appearing lately throws AGW out the window, but it does make one wonder about the “real scientists” claim. “Real science” shouldn’t ever be this prone to discussion regarding data collection and methodology, and even if the results are correct, research like that would (or should) not get someone through grad school, and yet we are supposed to trust it for world wide policy decisions.

  18. 768
    dhogaza says:

    Well, I am very mildly interested in this global warming stuff, but I do find the global paranoiah and fascination with conspiracy theories quite scary. My personal advise to you – stop threatening the hacker with a legal action.

    I’m amazed by the number of people who seem to believe that those who commit felonies should go unpunished, if caught. Those who do should think carefully about the implications of this.

  19. 769
    bi -- IJI says:

    “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.”

    This is interesting. Can you reveal more about the attempt to upload the file to RealClimate? Did the cracker crack into realclimate.org too, or is there already a publicized feature on realclimate.org allowing third parties to upload data? Where did the upload come from? etc.

    bi

    [Response: I was wondering when someone would ask. It was a hack into our server around 6am Tuesday. The IP address was from a computer in Turkey. – gavin]

  20. 770
    Xyrus says:

    Re:657
    Al says:
    …”It’s not a conspiracy in that sense. But it is an ideology, in every sense.”

    Ideology?

    Religion is an ideology. Climatology is a science.

    Ideologies deal with the abstract. Climatologists on the other hand deal with the concrete (like results of scientific research). Petabytes of data and analysis show that the climate is changing and we are the most probable cause (or at the very least we are contributing). No amount of ideological thinking is going to change that anymore than believing that there is no gravity will enable you to spontaneously fly.

    Can a climatologist have his or her own ideologies? Sure. They’re human. But the scientific process eliminates that. Eventually someone will show that your work is trash when they can’t reproduce your results or find fundamental flaws in your methods.

    But thousands of research scientists sharing the same “ideology” to fudge results and tamper with research? That’s conspiracy.

    And there’s still the question of why? Conspiracy or not, ideologies don’t just spring into existence for no reason. Something is always driving it. You don’t get rich in climate research and you certainly don’t get powerful and those are usually the two big motivators. What’s the nefarious purpose if there were a conspiracy? What is the goal of following this mythical ideology? What’s the ulterior motive?

    ~X~

  21. 771
    TCO says:

    Gavin:

    You have made several comments indicating that the emails are not nescesarily damning. That’s fine…but do any of the emails bother you? Any of them at all? I’m just asking for YOUR take…not RC overall. Not Mike’s. YOURS.

    Do any of the more oft-quoted snippets GIVE YOU CONCERN? Not NESCESARILY a mathematical PROOF of malfeasance…but a reasonable man concern of NON-OBJECTIVE attitude towards science. Of an obsession with MESSAGE rather than MATH!”

  22. 772
    Leo G says:

    Gavin, understand about organizations protecting a revenue stream. quick question, were the bought data set id’s released to inquirers so they too could purchase them?

  23. 773
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    Gavin, remember Gen. McAuliffe’s response at the Battle of the Bulge.

  24. 774
    Xyrus says:

    #679 Jere Krischel says:
    “Really? How ever did life survive in the oceans in ages past when the CO2 levels were many times higher?”

    Because the life at that time period had evolved the proper coping mechanisms to handle it. Life adapts to it’s surroundings, but it is a relatively slow process. A sudden spike in ocean acidity would be quite detrimental to such lifeforms.

    “You want to look at reasons for reef die off, look at agriculture run off. Making an enemy out of plant food just doesn’t make sense.”

    o_O

    Agricultural runoff IS plant food. Ocean acidification affects all regions, not just coastal zones.

    And again, you’re totally missing the point. Our way of life and all current life forms on this planet are adapted to survive in their respective environments. Change that environment too rapidly and life won’t keep up. Life forms will die, others will take their place.

    But you cannot simply ignore the impact of those changes. Everything depends on everything else. Screw up something too much in one area and it will impact you. We are not yet so advanced that we can survive independent of our planet or the ecosystem which provides for us.

    ~X~

  25. 775
    TCO says:

    (regarding the Jones, I will delete if FOIed comment to Mann) [Response: It is obviously not meant seriously, but that is hard to discern from little snippets like this. – gavin]

    It’s possible. But how is it OBVIOUS? Do you have enough info to really judge that so definitively Gavin? Or just suggesting a possibility that is less damning?

    [Response: It’s obvious because I know the people involved. – gavin]

  26. 776
    Xyrus says:

    #690
    George Hebbard says:

    “I know the hacking, and posting was unethical. But so is waterboarding.”

    *clap clap clap*

    And I was expecting a Godwin reference. Way to take the discussion down a notch.

    “The two opposing viewpoints- 1) we can solve the problem of overpopulation and misuse of resources by driving the world back to the stone ages,”

    Only the absolute crazies are even close to suggesting anything like this. The climate community in general is suggesting scaling back on fossil fuel consumption, more efficient technologies, and encouragement of renewable sources and nuclear power.

    “2) we can enrich-en the people of the world so that they move to reasonable family sizes if we use technology properly, constitute WAR.”

    Yeah. World peace where everyone shares a common ideology. That might just take a few more millenia.

    And what of the resource expenditure in the meantime? How long to we maintain the staus quo waiting for the people of the planet to “see the light” of the western world. So far we’ve been doing a bang up job.

    “Which way will you have it?”

    Neither, because your choices are as ludicrous as they are overbroad.

    ~X~

  27. 777
    John H. Detweiler says:

    This is an integrity issue, not a scientific issue. Significant papers and supporting data should always be in the public domain — otherwise, they don’t exist.

  28. 778
    David. says:

    Let´s put the tiresome ¨Big Oil funds deniers¨ canard to bed.

    From the docs folder of FOIA.

    …………………………………………………………………………………………….

    SHELL INTERNATIONAL

    Mick Kelly and Aeree Kim (CRU, ENV) met with Robert Kleiburg (Shell International’s climate change team) on July 4th primarily to discuss access to Shell information as part of Aeree’s PhD study (our initiative) and broader collaboration through postgrad. student project placements (their initiative), but Robert was also interested in plans for the Tyndall Centre (TC). What ensued was necessarily a rather speculative discussion with the following points emerging.

    Shell International would give serious consideration to what I referred to in the meeting as a ‘strategic partnership’ with the TC, broadly equivalent to a ‘flagship alliance’ in the TC proposal. A strategic partnership would involve not only the provision of funding but some (limited but genuine) role in setting the research agenda etc.

    Shell’s interest is not in basic science. Any work they support must have a clear and immediate relevance to ‘real-world’ activities. They are particularly interested in emissions trading and CDM

  29. 779
    Susan says:

    Quoting Barney Frank, who denies things that he has said that have been recorded, is not too smart.

  30. 780
    Timothy Chase says:

    NikFromNYC wrote in 710:

    I must point out that “hide the decline” doesn’t mean, as Fox News headline claims “hide the decline in temperature”. It means to minimize the appearing of a decline in temperature during modern times when thermometers actually show a rise. That’s not a bad decline to “hide” since it’s obviously a false decline.

    Agreed — although prior to 1960 there is essentially no divergence. Moreover, the divergence problem is something which is seen with some species and populations, not with others.

    NikFromNYC wrote in 710

    However this cuts both ways in a very serious way. Given that no other explanation has been offered for this “divergence problem” perhaps the explanation is the utterly obvious one: cold-adapted trees grow faster when it warms up but then suffer when that warming becomes too hot. Extrapolated into the past this would mean that some tree ring proxies would indeed not only hide hot periods but make them look like cooling periods.

    Actually there are a variety of explanations.

    For example, drought-related stress, stress due to increased levels of ozone and global dimming, where global dimming is due to anthropogenic aerosols, reflective (sulfates and nitrates) and non-reflective (largely organic and inorganic carbon). Like increased levels of carbon dioxide, increased levels of ozone and inorganic carbon are largely the result of the combustion of fossil fuel.

    However, the evidence for one or another explanation at this point is inconclusive. In any case, Gavin has already stated that further study is needed, and if as is the case we are able to identify species that appear to be immune to the effect, then the divergence problem remains a problem, but not a particularly serious one. Or alternatively we can always rely on other proxies.

    Regarding the latter please see for example:

    Recent warmth appears anomalous for at least the past 1,300 years whether or not tree-ring data are used. If tree-ring data are used, the conclusion can be extended to at least the past 1,700 years, but with additional strong caveats. The reconstructed amplitude of change over past centuries is greater than hitherto reported, with somewhat greater Medieval warmth in the Northern Hemisphere, albeit still not reaching recent levels.

    Michael E. Mann et al. (September 9, 2008) Proxy-based reconstructions of hemispheric and global surface temperature variations over the past two millennia, PNAS vol. 105 no. 36 13252-13257 (Open Access)
    http://www.pnas.org/content/105/36/13252.full

    There are a number of recent papers on the divergence, but one recent review which may be of value would be:

    D’Arrigo et al (2008) On the ‘Divergence Problem’ in Northern Forests: A review of the tree-ring evidence and possible causes, Global and Planetary Change, v. 60, iss. 3-4, p. 289-305.

    It includes the possible non-linear response to temperature that you suggest, the possible effects that I have listed — and others. If you are interested in the subject you can find this and other relevant accessible papers using Google Scholar.

  31. 781
    Sandra Kay says:

    I just have to ask; How is this explained?

    ” Phil, Here are some speculations on correcting SSTs to partly explain the 1940s warming blip. If you look at the attached plot you will see that the land also shows the 1940s blip (as I’m sure you know). So, if we could reduce the ocean blip by, say, 0.15 degC, then this would be significant for the global mean — but we’d still have to explain the land blip.

    I’ve chosen 0.15 here deliberately. This still leaves an ocean blip, and i think one needs to have some form of ocean blip to explain the land blip (via either some common forcing, or ocean forcing land, or vice versa, or all of these). When you look at other blips, the land blips are 1.5 to 2 times (roughly) the ocean blips — higher sensitivity plus thermal inertia effects. My 0.15 adjustment leaves things consistent with this, so you can see where I am coming from. Removing ENSO does not affect this.

    It would be good to remove at least part of the 1940s blip, but we are still left with “why the blip”.”

    [Response: It’s an attempt to see the importance of a problem in the 1940s ocean temperatures that was isolated last year, but has not yet been corrected for in the main indices. While waiting for that correction, Wigley is trying to estimate how big of an affect it might have on any work that used the uncorrected data. – gavin]

  32. 782
    burnitalldown says:

    “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.”

    Global warming doesn’t exist because you say it does.

    [Response: Duh. It exists because it exists, and your or my opinion on the subject is irrelevant. – gavin]

  33. 783
    Ray says:

    Gavin wrote: > Trenberth is talking about our inability to be able to measure the net radiation balance at the top of the atmosphere to the requisite precision to be able to say on short time scales what the energy budget is doing. The observations are inadequate for that – not sure who is saying otherwise.

    Here’s one person:

    http://fortcollinsteaparty.com/index.php/2009/10/10/dr-william-gray-and-dr-kevin-trenberth-the-global-warming-debate-continues/

  34. 784
    Timothy Chase says:

    Steven Mosher wrote in 613:

    They should have trusted that open debate would yield the next right action in the shortest time possible.

    Anne van der Bom wrote in 685:

    Debate? Are you referring to is an endless repetition of innuendo, strawmen, faulty logic and debunked talking points usually found on ’skeptic’ sites? Opening up the data and playing nice would not help this ‘debate’ moving forward because the purpose of this ‘debate’ is stagnation. A bit more data would not change that.

    Agreed. Furthermore, I am afraid it won’t be much use to those who are ideologically opposed to all forms of birth control, view environmentalism as necessitating the use birth control, and view the recognition of anthropogenic global warming (and thus the science of climatology) as environmentalism’s trojan horse.

    Please see for example:

    Steven Mosher to Speak Against Population Control at Heritage Foundation Book Event
    Population Research Institute, 06/05/08
    http://www.pop.org/20080608829/steven-mosher-to-speak-against-population-control-at-heritage-foundation-book-event

    An Interview with Steven W. Mosher, President of the Population Research Institute
    By John Mallon
    Old address: http://www.pop.org/main.cfm?id=151&r1=10.00&r2=1.00&r3=0&r4=0&level=2&eid=678
    A copy in the web archive:
    http://web. archive .org/web/20061012063337/http://www.pop.org/main.cfm?id=151&r1=10.00&r2=1.00&r3=0&r4=0&level=2&eid=678

    300 Million and the Environment
    Friday, October 20, 2006
    By Joseph A. D’Agostino (Vice President of the Population Research Institute)
    http://theologyofthebody.blogspot.com/2006/10/300-million-and-environment.html

  35. 785
    Ron says:

    Re:
    603
    Ray Ladbury says:
    21 November 2009 at 3:44 PM
    Ray, now your getting closer to a language I can understand. Furthermore, when you say, “…policy should be based on science rather than wishful thinking”, we are both singing off the same page of the hymn book. We may not, however, be listening to the same drummer yet. For example, as I’m equally devoted to truth, how could I be offended by anything you say about those who don’t see the world through your filters–if it’s true, great. But Ray, for goodness sake, use your head for a minute— do you really think you’re going to win an argument over a science disagreement by calling somebody names? If you REALLY wanted them to see their errors , you’d instead explain your insights in clear and non-emotional language. Based on the assumption that you have a finite amount of psychic energy, you have two choices. One is to devote these energies to building up clear and unequivocal evidence for your point of view, and employing the “nicely” method you recommended in post # 639, engage the other side in reasoned and reasonable debate. Quicker than you might think, either you, or they, or both sides together will move on to a better understanding of just what is really going on in our earth’s climate, and we’d all be better for it. Your other choice, as I’m sure you must realize, is to fritter away your time dreaming up new slurs and barbs and then, to add insult to the injury this does to your reasoning processes, having to dream up a rationale for this vitriolic verbosity (although it did impress Scott Mandia—maybe it was, as he suggested, the brutality) , thus firmly committing yourself to an unshakeable position. Now you’ve left science for quasi religion. Worse, like Narcissus you soon hear only your own voice. Too bad. You also know Ray, that while we must allow some emotion into our lives to make us full bodied humans, if emotion, despite our best efforts, leaks into our science it’s a deadly poison. But if the saving of the world becomes an excuse for grinding it into our science, then soon there is no science and the world is not a better place. A quick suggestion from an old journalism teacher I knew, if you want to be objective in your thinking and reporting, drop the adjectives. There are a couple of other things that if you don’t know by now it’s because you refuse to see them. Your tactics are NOT winning converts, and your opponents are NOT stupid people. You may not like them, but it’s a fool who doesn’t try to know his enemy. If you’re thinking Steve McIntyre is one of those “innumerate wannabes” then you’re not even in this game, let alone winning. After years of reading a wide range of blogs on both sides and the middle it is my opinion a case can be made that McIntyre has won every battle so far. He’s got a clear and limited focus, and he stays pretty close to it—to make sure the game is played by the (statistical) rules. Believe me Ray, it’s a tar baby if you try to fight it.
    Take care, Ron

  36. 786
    David Horton says:

    #715 In the running for the most foolish denial comment of the year.

  37. 787

    Having worked in a media setting for 30 years, some advice to those whose emails were hacked.

    Refuse to respond to ANY questions about them other than a general one time statement that they are being misinterpreted because those that are publishing them have no real understanding of climate physics.

    The peer review speaks for itself. Leave it that way.

    No, this will not satisfy those that make a deal out of it, but NOTHING you can say will. So why say anything.

  38. 788
    Steven J Heimel says:

    Okay. Can we step back a little and get the big picture? My understanding is this. Tell me if I am wrong, The emails largely had to do with dealing with an already known problem with dendrochronology. The oceans are still rising, the Arctic ice is still melting back worse in the summer, the glaciers are still withdrawing. And all of this is still exceeding IPCC models, as the modelers well know. The hockey stick has acquired another crook. So what? Be glad, world! Even with that, things (including methane releases from the permafrost I am willing to bet) are worse than the models predicted. I write this from 61 north. And none of this has anything to do with Al Gore.

  39. 789
    Steve Geiger says:

    Anne van der Bom (699)

    “Not reading a certain web site because it does not reflect your opinion is incompatible with someone who calls himself a skeptic.”

    You are obviously not getting my point (although maybe I didn’t state it well ;-)

    I love the discourse…I really don’t take the main posts (either on this site or CA) as any sort of gospel..and I acknowledge they both come from a fairly, uh, partisan point of view…what I *really* like is when authorities of a different opinion get together and discuss these differences. When Rob Wilson or Judith Curry chime in on CA…now that’s good stuff…with some degree of give and take. Or even the few times that Gavin has posted with Lucia’s site (or vica versa)…those are good interactions (well, not always, but most of the time perhaps). Anyway, I think this release is overall a good thing…a LOT of these ‘leaked’ (or stolen or whatever) emails probably should have been released anyway due to FOIA requests.

  40. 790
    MattInSeattle says:

    Ray Ladbury: “The denialists don’t have the first idea about climate science, data analysis, how science is done or even basic arithmetic”

    Finally, after years of this broken record from you, we know what you mean by science. It means that to the outside world, you pretend you got it all figured out. There are few unknowns, and if they exist, they are trivial. There is little left to discuss. Confidence is sky high.

    Meanwhile, internally, this shaky house of cards is on display as recently as last month when Tom Wigley wrote: “How come you do not agree with a statement that says we are no where close to knowing where energy is going or whether clouds are changing to make the planet brighter. We are not close to balancing the energy budget. The fact that we can not account for what is happening in the climate system makes any consideration of geoengineering quite hopeless as we will never be able to tell if it is successful or not! It is a travesty!”

    Science? Hah. Advocacy is more like it.

    How many times did I ask “How do we know the cloud parameterization unknowns of the mid-90’s aren’t going to show up again in another form? How do we know what we don’t know?”.

    “Don’t worry!” I was assured. “That was then, this is now. Now we got it”, with a slide into nastier and nastier comments from you and others at Tamino’s place.

    It’s nice to know there are a few on the inside that see this for what it is. But it saddens me that some scientists feel the need to artificially stretch confidence intervals so far.

    Screwed by the clouds again. A decade later. I freakin’ knew it.

    [Response: Wigley is describing the fact that we don’t have good enough measurements of the radiation at the TOA to quantify exactly how much energy is coming and going out of the system. That information would be great to have, and without it short-term budgets of the energy flows in the system are poorly constrained. Long-term assessments like the ones we have stressed here are less affected by that because you can use the ocean heat content rise as a proxy. – gavin]

  41. 791
    Brian Dodge says:

    @ Jere Krischel — 21 November 2009 @ 6:18 PM
    “Really? How ever did life survive in the oceans in ages past when the CO2 levels were many times higher?
    try googling petm benthic foraminifera extinction carbonate compensation
    “Ocean acidification (the carbonate compensation depth [CCD] rapidly shoaled by more than 2 km [100,000 years)).” which resulted in “Major extinction of benthic foraminifera in the deep-sea (30-50% of species).” http://www.oceanleadership.org/files/11_PETM_in%20Review.pdf Forams can drift into less acid waters, and some extant species have evolved to exist without carbonate shells. Stationary ecosystems(e.g., Great Barrier Reef) aren’t likely to fare as well.

  42. 792
    dhogaza says:

    I have been doing a lot of research with algae. I can tell you that lately (as in last 12 years) there has been an explosion of algae around the world. It counters any extra Co2 production.

    Wow, that’s cool, you’ve just proven that all those instruments around the world that measure atmospheric CO2 concentrations are broken!

    I’m impressed. Is there a Nobel Prize for algaeabra?

  43. 793
    NB says:

    I should probably add that you have many megabytes of information never intended for publication published on the net. Thousands of people, mostly unsympathetic to you, searching through it looking for all kinds of hints and contradictions. This is a situation where they will inevitably find what they want to find. It’s probably worse than you think.

  44. 794
    dhogaza says:

    Does anyone else note the cosmic symmetry of this revelation happening at the same moment that the US health insurance companies succeed in beating down a public option proposal that Americans by a large majority are in favor of, and that individual states can opt-out of if they (ostensibly) feel it’s not good for their citizenry?

    Well, this is seriously off-topic, but anytime you match an event to what’s more or less a continuum you’re going to get a match.

    FDR tried to get public health care through. Social Security for the elderly made it, not health care. Truman tried to pick it up and run with it. Eisenhower backed limited reform. Medicare for the elderly wasn’t the sum total of LBJ’s efforts, it’s what survived (actually it was first a compromise Truman proposal that went nowhere). Nixon offered Teddy K support for a compromise much like might get passed today, Teddy turned him down confident he’d be able to ram through more (and is on record of having, later in life, regretted turning down Nixon’s offer). Clinton y’all know about.

    So just about any individual event you care to think about can be matched to some victory by the health care establishment against efforts to broaden government involvement … when FDR first proposed federal guarantees for health care, we were ahead of the world. Now we’re too scared to catch up to Costa Rica …

  45. 795
    Howard S. says:

    706. David Harper,

    You have got to be kidding.

    “Gavin… there is talk ,, you are about to throw Jones ,,,under the bus”,,, ,propagandist for CRU. Be very careful,,,, “Gavin had a great idea”.Cover your back. There are a lot of angry people out there.”

    Do you honestly think that was a post you should put here in the open?
    I swear it reads just like the e-mails.

    Are you a “Team” player in the e-mails using a synonym?

    You should have just e-mailed Gavin that.

    As with so many previous scandals the delerium in the defenders during the aftermath is part of the denial and cover up which usually turns bad for the offenders and defenders.

    So have at it. Take more rope. There’s more coming.

    [Response: Again weird. Me having a good idea (and it has been known to happen) is fodder for the conspiracy theorists. Ha. – gavin]

  46. 796
    J. Austin says:

    I can’t help but be reminded of Carl Sagan…

    “It seems to me what is called for is an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs: the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses that are served up to us and at the same time a great openness to new ideas. Obviously those two modes of thought are in some tension. But if you are able to exercise only one of these modes, whichever one it is, you’re in deep trouble.

    If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you. You never learn anything new. You become a crotchety old person convinced that nonsense is ruling the world. (There is, of course, much data to support you.) But every now and then, maybe once in a hundred cases, a new idea turns out to be on the mark, valid and wonderful. If you are too much in the habit of being skeptical about everything, you are going to miss or resent it, and either way you will be standing in the way of understanding and progress.

    On the other hand, if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish the useful as from the worthless ones. If all ideas have equal validity then you are lost, because then, it seems to me, no ideas have any validity at all.

    Some ideas are better than others. The machinery for distinguishing them is an essential tool in dealing with the world and especially in dealing with the future. And it is precisely the mix of these two modes of thought that is central to the success of science.”
    -From “The Burden Of Skepticism” by Carl Sagan

    It seems one only needs to read through these comments to discern which posters lack said “machinery.”

    I have to believe that Mr. Sagan was quite well versed in Plato after reading “…But if you are able to exercise only one of these modes, whichever one it is, you’re in deep trouble.” as it reminds me of those poor souls trapped in the realm of true belief, stuck between ignorance and knowledge as described by Diotima, and recounted by Socrates in Plato’s ‘Symposium’

  47. 797
    mondo says:

    Re #713: “However this cuts both ways in a very serious way. Given that no other explanation has been offered for this “divergence problem” perhaps the explanation is the utterly obvious one: cold-adapted trees grow faster when it warms up but then suffer when that warming becomes too hot. Extrapolated into the past this would mean that some tree ring proxies would indeed not only hide hot periods but make them look like cooling periods.”

    There is another possible explanation for the ‘divergence’ problem. Isn’t it entirely possible that the trees are actually demonstrating the true situation, while the temperature records have been affected by poor quality stations, UHI effects, and ‘adjustments’ intended to support the AGW hypothesis. [edit]

    [Response: Tell that to the glaciers, or the pine bark beetles, or the ocean SSTs, or the Arctic sea ice etc. etc. – gavin]

  48. 798
    Timothy Chase says:

    PS to my comment above

    I had said, “I am afraid it [open debate with regard to settled issues of science] won’t be of much use to those who are ideologically opposed to all forms of birth control, view environmentalism as necessitating the use birth control, and view the recognition of anthropogenic global warming (and thus the science of climatology) as environmentalism’s trojan horse.

    Please see for example:

    Steven Mosher to Speak Against Population Control at Heritage Foundation Book Event
    Population Research Institute, 06/05/08
    http://www.pop.org/20080608829/steven-mosher-to-speak-against-population-control-at-heritage-foundation-book-event

    Of course opposition to birth control may not be the only reason for being ideologically opposed to climatology and the recognition of anthropogenic global warming. Some ideological motives are far more mundane. For example, libertarianism is a distinct possibility with the following organizations: Acton Institute, American Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute, competitive Enterprise Institute, Defenders of Property Rights, Federalist Society, Foundation for Reasearch on Economics and Environment (FREE), George C. Marshall Institute, Heartland Institute, Heritage Foundation, Hoover Institute, Locke Institute and Reason Foundation.

    Then again, opposition to the recognition of anthropogenic global warming may have a financial component, e.g., organizations which receive funding from Exxon and other fossil fuel companies — or funding from the Koch, Scaife, Bradley, Olin, or Castle Rock Foundations. But nowadays opposition due to a lack of available data is extremely unlikely at best — unless of course one either hasn’t expended the effort or doesn’t know how to look.

  49. 799
    manacker says:

    There has been a lot of talk about the legality, morality and consequences of leaking confidential data for whistle-blowing, but here are some examples.

    Sherron Watkins, the Enron executive who warned company founder, Ken Lay, of potential whistle-blowers in the company, eventually testified before US Congress and became known as the “Enron whistle-blower”, although she never “blew a whistle”. Time magazine named her a “person of the year 2002”.

    Stanley Adams, an executive at Hoffmann-LaRoche, passed on company evidence of price fixing to the EU predecessor organization in 1973. He was arrested for industrial espionage by the Swiss government and spent six months in jail.

    Katharine Teresa Gun, a translator for a British intelligence agency, leaked top-secret information to the press concerning activities of the USA leading to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Gun was charged with leaking official secrets, and after many people demanded that the case be dropped, the prosecution dropped the case. Among the protesters were Daniel Ellsberg, the US government official who leaked the “Pentagon Papers” and US actor Sea Penn, who described her as “a hero of the human spirit”.

    So one person’s hero (for whistle-blowing) is the next guy’s jailbird.

    Max

    [Response: Whistle-blowing to expose criminal behaviour is fine. Releasing private correspondence to simply embarrass people is not the same thing at all. – gavin]

  50. 800
    richard says:

    Maybe it is time to let the Chancellor at UEA launch a full investigation that will clear the names of the principles. Usually agreement to get to the bottom of a controversy can put it to bed faster than fighting it. Just a thought at this stage.


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