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CRU Hack: More context

Filed under: — gavin @ 2 December 2009

Continuation of the older threads. Please scan those (even briefly) to see whether your point has already been dealt with. Let me know if there is something worth pulling from the comments to the main post.

In the meantime, read about why peer-review is a necessary but not sufficient condition for science to be worth looking at. Also, before you conclude that the emails have any impact on the science, read about the six easy steps that mean that CO2 (and the other greenhouse gases) are indeed likely to be a problem, and think specifically how anything in the emails affect them.

Update: The piece by Peter Kelemen at Columbia in Popular Mechanics is quite sensible, even if I don’t agree in all particulars.

Further update: Nature’s editorial.

Further, further update: Ben Santer’s mail (click on quoted text), the Mike Hulme op-ed, and Kevin Trenberth.

1,285 Responses to “CRU Hack: More context”

  1. 151
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Here are 2 stories that indicate the emails revealed climate science is bogus and climatologist at NAS and elsewhere are doing illegal things…Even if both these points were true (which I’m sure they are NOT0, it doesn’t, of course, change reality that global warming is happening….from my perspective the scientist have been a bit reticent on the avoiding the false positive side.

    Michael Schrage and David Buckner on FoxNews ( )


    NYT “Climatologist Leaves Post in Inquiry Over E-Mail Leaks”
    By JOHN M. BRODER, December 2, 2009,

  2. 152
    Phil. Felton says:

    The chair of the CRU inquiry has been announced:
    Note that in the supporting information to editors they state the following:
    2. A police investigation is currently underway into the source of the theft.

  3. 153
    Bruce says:

    Re Walter Manny (143)

    Since when is anger “invariably motivated by fear”?? I’m far more moved by “righteous anger”, and the AGW community have good grounds for that given the vitriolic attacks received. The fact that their anger is controlled is to the great credit of people such as Gavin!

  4. 154

    my only agenda is the science of science.

    I’m sure you’ll be very happy in the History of Science department at your local community college, meanwhile, world class scientists will continue to produce work that make you look like the intellectual midget that you are, and publish them in real time for you to no read on the LANL Arxiv.

  5. 155
    Jim Bouldin says:

    Anyone who has ever worked on constructing a database from dozens of individual, sometimes contradictory and inconsistently formatted datasets will share his evident frustration with how tedious that can be

    Tedious, slow, exasperating….and crucial and thankless. And then on top of that–if you’re lucky–you get to have conspiracy theorists, know-nothings and similar characters misinterpret all that tedious and thankless work–work that they would never have known of or cared a rat’s ass about if someone hadn’t stolen private emails–in order to conform to their ideological agenda, which is founded on scientist bashing!!!

    Now doesn’t that just make all you kids out there want to be scientists someday?

  6. 156
    John MacQueen says:

    Gavin, the real issue as I see it is this.

    The climate scientists involved are presenting “evidence” intended to drive human civilization into sweeping changes that impact every facet of our civilization to a degree not seen since the industrial revolution, if even then.

    [Response: Not true. Climate scientists are trying to work out what and why is going on and what likely scenarios are for the future. Many people including all world governments (not just scientists) have concluded that the prudent course of action based on that science is to work to reduce emissions. – gavin]

    To not retain and show all source data, processes, methods and code and to not freely present same to public scrutiny is ridiculous considering the magnitude of the impact they desire it to have on human civilization.

    [Response: The science is replicated and the data is much more open than it ever has been before. Every conclusion can be validated with public domain data. Again, you attribute to climate scientists attitudes I don’t know any of them to hold. Nobody wants AGW to be true. – gavin]

    To even talk of deletion of data or correspondence, to collude to prevent release of data, code, methods etc. to the point of breaking FOI act laws is downright criminal.

    [Response: Lots of things get lost over time, but no data has been deleted or destroyed in any real sense. All of the raw data is curated by the relevant Met. Services. – gavin]

    How annoying or demeaning it is to scientists egos is irrelevant in this case. They want to change the world, they and their work should be held to a very high standard indeed, above and beyond normal standards and all the “annoyances” of skeptics is to be expected.

    That they may be annoyed by skeptics and misrepresentation does not diminish the responsibility to be fully transparent at every level in their justification for the changes they are asking humanity to make at a global level.

    They have done science and humanity a great disservice in their attitude and actions IMO and it was not neccesary.

  7. 157
    Jeffrey Davis says:


    re: proof of human origin.

    Because when we burn coal and gasoline the CO2 that’s produced just goes “away.”

  8. 158
    Timmy says:

    BPL wrote:

    “Did you miss the point that this was just one set of trees, not all the tree ring data, or even a substantial minority of it?”

    Yeah I did. Where was that point made? It is my understanding that “the decline” was based on the summation of all tree ring data.

  9. 159

    j gordon, I can’t agree with your numbered points. The “skeptic” echo chamber may believe as you indicate, but I don’t see much to indicate that the general public does. To them, as best as I can tell at this point, this is basically just another round of “he said, she said”–albeit a more intense one than the typical example. And aren’t you rather anticipating the result of the investigations?

    I particularly can’t see how CRU is “done.” There’s nothing to indicate that the emails are directly relevant to CRU data, and CRU itself is highly consistent with independent data. (Actually, it is the “coolest” of the three major sets.)

    To me it’s just bizarre to imagine that some indiscreet/inappropriate comments (about which considerable ambiguity remains) in private emails could possibly be thought to negate a whole dataset the basis for which is well set forth in the published literature–particularly when it is consistent with the other evidence.

    Moreover, the increased transparency you desire (and which, I agree, is a Good Thing) seems to be coming about as CRU finds ways to bring online more of the previously inaccessible data. (As pointed out repeatedly in this and other threads, by far the biggest subset is the GHCN data, which has been freely available for some time.)

    As to Dr. Jones, he has “stepped aside” as director, but not from employment at the institution, as I understand it–and I’m betting that won’t change, FWIW.

  10. 160

    Actually, I’m misstating things a bit: CRU is distinct from HADCRU, as noted many times above. But if anything, that reinforces my main point.

  11. 161
    Bob says:

    RE: #146

    J. Gordon,

    While I disagree with almost everything that you said, your link is both intriguing and wise, and I wish all AGW supporters not only would read it, but more than that had read it, and followed its advice, for the past twenty years.

    A lot of the problem with the entire AGW issue is not the debate itself, but the tone of the debate. It has reached the point of hysteria, partly because creating hysteria is a tactic of the “skeptics.” [And for those skeptics out there, while the solutions to the problem are both technically and economically daunting, the only hysteria I’ve actually seen about it by AGW proponents are comical claims of such hysteria by skeptics. Until now, the tone of the AGW proponents has been one of calm but firm warning, not one of hysteria.]

    As to the quality and future of the CRU data, I would suggest that you thoroughly research the entire issue, and then come back with a new appraisal of the value of that data. The argument that it is now tainted is an absolute travesty that the world and the scientific community cannot afford. If you actually understand the nature of the data, how it was gathered and compiled, and what homogenization actually means, you would understand that there is nothing wrong with using what they have accumulated.

    You are right in one more thing, though, it is all about trust. A very well funded, well orchestrated and relentless decades long media campaign has succeeded in beguiling the general public into distrusting professional scientists and science on the single most important issue of our lifetimes. This isn’t unheard of, or unexpected. It’s happened many times before, with almost every important science based issue: lung cancer and smoking, DDT, CFCs, vaccines, and many more.

    Its time for someone on the science side to get smart and realize that its not all about science. It is also about trust, and that means public opinion. And, unfortunately, simply having the facts and the science on your side, or even the weight of professional opinion, isn’t enough, because its all too complicated, and the general public is very sadly far too uneducated (and overwhelmed by daily life) to ever understand the science, or even the scientific method.

    Someone needs to change the paradigm. The science is solid, and yet the deniers, while not exactly “winning,” have gained an outlandish amount of traction in the issues. Something new needs to be done.

  12. 162
    Steve Missal says:

    Re: 125.What angers me is how the scientific community does not understand how very serious these attacks are, despite how completely unfounded they are. There are millions of dollars being spent by conservative organizations and conservative media outlets. You guys are getting steamrolled by an enormous force that is just getting geared up. They are going to continue publishing more and more garbage in the months ahead. A few timid blog posts aren’t going to stop the onslaught. You need to fight back hard with everything you’ve got, or say goodbye to funding of this research. Don’t underestimate how far people like Rupert Murdoch will go to shut you down.

    Comment by Rob Z
    …and J. Gordon’s thoughtful post…I’d like to add my own reinforcement to their thoughts. Although the first post was furious, and the second measured, the issue is identical, and probably fundamentally crucial to the ameliorization of AGW. Professor Jones and co. have lived in the proverbial ivory tower, and many other scientists, unfortunately, live there as well. Even the retorts to the denialist claptrap in this blog seem tepid, an irritating sideshow for the researchers before they sling some more titillating number crunches back and forth. Forgive me if I sound tired and cynical at this point, but, my friends, the posts above ARE correct: you have missed the point of what is really happening. Locally, in Arizona, we have legislators clamoring for investigations etc on the ‘conspiracy’, and the paper is publishing this rubbish, and the average joe is clueless and eating this up. There is literally no time left to try to turn the enormous aircraft carrier around before it runs aground. I know I am merely a layman, but I live in the real world, have my e-mails under scrutiny at work, and know how absolutely vital it is that the scientific community gets politically savvy fast, faster than fast. Glib rejoinders and silence may serve your grouchiness, but it won’t serve my children or their children, and to be blunt, they are who count, not the egos of the Professor Jones or his ilk. AGW is real. We know it…the world will do what it will despite all handwaving or denying, and there will be desperate times ahead no matter what. How desperate is the question. You must begin addressing this in this light, not just as a sidebar to some technical debates.

  13. 163
    Joe says:

    Re: 96 and Gavin’s response.

    Sorry, Gavin, I may not have been as clear as I intended without the liver & beans to soak up the Chianti :)

    I wasn’t intending to imply dual standards, only that describing a published paper as “complete rubbish” when the only rebuttals seem to be a blog and another paper that has, itself, been rebutted is potential easy fodder for anyone who would like to make such a claim.

    Also, the original paper appears to be rooted firmly in the field of physics, and authored by two professors of physics. The rebuttals are both by people “not in that field” which, when non-climate scientists publish work critical of AGW is almost invariably taken as a sign of their work being defective – at least as reported by a highly politicised media.

    I’m on a very fast, and unexpected, learning curve at the moment because I’m genuinely interested in scientific validity and a quick brush-up on my theoretical physics may be the next stage in that. Until then I’m certainly not qualified to judge the quality or otherwise of that paper, nor that of the rebuttal. The learning curve is made a lot harder when it also involves picking through petty political points scoring by either side of the debate so I honestly don’t like to see potential ammunition for point scoring being handed out by anyone ;)

    As someone rather cynically observed on a forum I frequent, Mother Nature undoubtedly will balance out any effect mankind might have on this planet – if neccessary by killing off enough of us to make our impact negligible.

    Which raises a small linguistic point – isn’t it time that otherwise intelligent people remembered that “cynic” may be a bad word but “sceptic” never has been!

    [Response: I think it is tragedy that the word sceptic has been debased in the way that it has. Profesional scepticism is the hallmark of scientific enquiry and what it means in practice was eloquently described by Russell a century ago. However, the debasement that has happened is because of the contrarians who are dogmatic in their opposition to policies to reduce emissions have adopted the term to describe their ‘arguments’ when really they have as much in common with true scepticism as they do a cheese sandwich. Take G&T, don’t you think some would have noticed that the greenhouse effect violated the 2nd law when Fourier first proposed this over 100years ago? If it was convincing don’t you think someone would have agreed with them? – gavin]

  14. 164
    Mesa says:


    One reason CO2 is thought to be responsible for warming since 1970 since the models can’t come up with another natural cause – ie it wins by default. However, there was a similar magnitude of warming (according to the thermometer record), from say 1900-1940. It would seem that there are natural effects that could produce the magnitude of variation we have seen since the 1970’s, say .25C/decade. Further bolstering that case is the *lack* of warming over the past 10 yrs – ie that has to net out the drift assumed by CO2 warming. So at this point you have to concede that the natural variation in temperature must be around .25C/decade. Given that, the historical record is not statistically different from a 1 SD deviation from a random path over the past 100 yrs or so. (sqrt 10 * .25 C = .8 C). None of this is meant to construe that CO2 is not a warming gas ceteris paribus. Any thoughts?

    [Response: Our a priori estimates of the impacts of CO2 and the other forcings on the temperature explain well what we’ve seen in recent decades. Without them, we have no explanation, none. Earlier periods are affected both by uncertainties in the forcings and in the data, and so attributions are more uncertain, but the earlier period was associated with a slight increase in solar and a period without much volcanism along with changes in CO2. There is clearly a role for internal variability in both periods, but this is not unlimited in scope. – gavin]

  15. 165
    John Cooknell says:

    Thanks Gavin for the response, my point is the authors are not journalists illustrating a point, they are lead scientists making a statement about how we should take regard of scientific evidence produced by Climate Science. The authors clearly state “These emerging signals are consistent with what we expect from our projections” however I have given direct evidence (from their own NERC scientific studies) that this is not the case.

    Lead author, Terry Marsh, comments: “The river floods of summer 2007 were a very singular episode, which does not form part of any clear historical trend or show consistency with currently favoured climate change scenarios.”

    Mr Marsh adds: “The exceptional river flooding last summer fuelled speculation that flood risk is increasing due to global warming. Due to the inherent variability of the UK climate, any extreme hydrological event cannot readily be linked directly to climate change.”

    So summer floods of 2007 do NOT fit with their projections, which I understand for UK are a trend in increasing summer drought.

    So this diminishes the credibility of the whole statement, so I do not know why they felt they had to say that.

    Have you any idea?.

    [Response: You made this point already. And the answer is the same as before. – gavin]

  16. 166
    Jim Bouldin says:

    W. Manny says:
    Anger is invariably motivated by fear

    Then you don’t know anything about justice my man.

    and it would be interesting to hear what the AGW proponents here are afraid of

    What we’re afraid of is clowns, criminals and jackasses having an entirely illegitimate influence on scientific discourse and public policy related to stabilizing the climate, to the detriment of the world at large.

  17. 167
    RaymondT says:

    Gavin, The editorial by nature (Vol 462, No. 7273, 3 Dec 2009) which you posted in your website is typical of the argument used by alarmists to show AGW. Basically it starts by describing extreme weather events and then argues that “Denialists often maintain that these changes are just a symptom of natural variability. But when climate modellers test this assertion by running their simulations with greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide held fixed, the results bear little resemblance to the observed warming” (end of quote).
    The error in this reasoning is that the climate models have not been tested yet in their capability of predicting temperature over multi-decadal time scales and therefore cannot be used to TEST the assertion that the extreme climatic events observed in the late 20th century are due to AGW.

  18. 168
    Ray Ladbury says:

    G&T is an example of what Wolfgang Pauli would have called a paper that is so bad it’s not even wrong! When I read it, I had to wonder whether it might be an attempt to punk the denialist community ala Sokal. Given its pompous tone, turgid prose and elementary errors, it may well be the worst paper I have ever read.

    It is so bad that debunking it has been assigned to undergrad climae classes. It is so bad it is not worth even taking up a page of journal space to rebut it. This is a wonderful example of how in the Denialist Orwellian Doublespeak dialect “skeptic” has merely come to mean gullibility.

  19. 169
    Jim Bouldin says:

    Gavin, that Medawar piece was interesting, although I’m not quite sure what I make of it. Discussion section at the beginning?–maybe not.

  20. 170
    Donald Oats says:

    I’ve had a read of the Willis Eschenbach story and I’m glad that I did. It changed my mind on just how free FOI should be. Vicarious use of the privilege of FOI strikes me as unethical in the extreme. Now both WUWT and CA are clearly directed at finding fault in work of the mainstream climate scientists, but with the following qualification – their work must in some way support the theory of anthropogenic climate change (AGW in particular), or be a scientific rebuttal of someone else’s scientific work that is a criticism of AGW or some evidence supporting it. I simply haven’t seen an “audit” of work that is highly critical of AGW, however unsound or baseless that work may be. Has anyone seen a critical analysis of sunspot/temperature correlation articles, to test whether they’ve written their code correctly, QA’ed it, released all of it and all of the raw data, etc? Or a critical analysis of cosmic ray/climate link articles? Or CO2 is saturated articles? Or G&T’s “There is no greenhouse effect” blatant crap (that’s a scientific opinion)? Or Svenmark’s cloud chamber articles? Or Plimer’s book?

    Not as far as I am aware.

    Scientific scepticism is nothing at all like what is practiced at CA and WUWT. Their own websites betray the directed nature of their “interest” in climate science – to nullify research supporting AGW.

  21. 171
    dhogaza says:

    Also, the original paper appears to be rooted firmly in the field of physics, and authored by two professors of physics. The rebuttals are both by people “not in that field”

    Arthur Smith, one of the rebutters, has a PhD in physics …

    which, when non-climate scientists publish work critical of AGW is almost invariably taken as a sign of their work being defective

    Which breaks down the analogy …

  22. 172
    Sean Davis says:

    Gavin et al,
    The link to the recent Trenberth article from a few posts ago is broken. Comments are closed so Im commenting here.

    [Response: Fixed -thanks. – gavin]

  23. 173
    Dwight says:

    Jim Ryun wrote:
    The data are in dispute, but the glaciers in greenland DO uncover trees, the viking graves are in permafrost, so there is definitely a case. For the little ice age, there are the frost fairs. They happened, they deserve to be accounted for.”
    Maybe you can answer my question; is melting ice in Greenland still uncovering land that was open during the MWP? I think that your statements assert that things are still being uncovered, but I want clarification. Can you, or anyone else give me some documentation one way or the other?

    [Response: Depending on where you are retreating glaciers are uncovering land that was last ice free, 1000, 2000, 4000, 10,000 years ago. – gavin]

  24. 174
    Dean says:

    Regarding heavy rainfall events and AGW, are folks familiar with the hypothesis from Weather Channel Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro? It involves changes to the 1000 mb altitude that he says connects closely with AGW processes.

    He discusses the deluge that suburban Atlanta suffered in September. While the rainfall amount was not unprecedented, it was unprecedented to get that kind of rainfall without a tropical system. I also seem to remember that he lamented that with the emphasis on separating weather and climate, research on AGW impact of day-to-day weather is inadequate.

    His hypotehsis is blogged at

  25. 175
    PeterK says:

    I think we need to take care not to confuse skepticism about the findings of a science, and skepticism about the _process_ by which those findings were arrived at.

  26. 176
    Bruce Williams says:

    Is it true that that some of the original temperature data was knowingly deleted? I.E. Someone made the conscious decision to destroy the data knowing it was original data?

    [Response: No. If that was done it would be heinous, but it wasn’t. The original data rests with the met services that provided it. – gavin]

  27. 177
    steve n says:

    In Step 2 of your six steps, the link to the “IR spectra taken from space” is broken.

    Thanks for all of your hard work with this. Please tell those of us who support your position can do to help.

    [Response: I replaced it with something analogous. Thanks. – gavin]

  28. 178
    Dept. of Wild Hyperbole says:

    Patrick Michaels compared to Galileo:

  29. 179
    MarkB says:

    Gavin writes:

    “I am confident that both investigations will exonerate both Mann and Jones of any scientific impropriety.”

    Any ballpark figure on how long such investigations might take? 1 month? 1 year? It seems that as long as they haven’t reached a conclusion, political types will continue to assume guilty until proven innocent. Of course, if no wrongdoing is found, they will just say the investigators are part of the conspiracy.

    Also, while I see no evidence of scientific wrongdoing, the request by Dr. Jones to delete emails (while understandable given how they are being misused) seems to be a potential legal problem. I hope the investigators distinguish between these sorts of ill-advised moves and scientific ones.

  30. 180
    Bill says:
    Any comments ?

    [Response: Both Mike and I have described the email asking people to delete correspondence associated with an FOI request as ill-advised. – gavin]

  31. 181
    Bobby says:

    Re #154. I think this is the attitude people are troubled by in this field. Not what I would call the attitude of an intellectual giant.

  32. 182
    j gordon says:

    I thank comment #154 for eloquently reinforcing my point. Attacking people personally of whom you have no knowledge and who, ironically, basically agree with your science does nothing to further your cause. It merely demonstrates fear and insecurity. I do not question his credentials, credibility or intentions or those of anybody on this post. Reactively lashing out without reflection makes a person seem small and vindictive. That is not in anybodies best interest.
    The fact is that, even if the data was hacked by nefarious interests, if Dr. Jones had not said what he did then this would all be a nonevent. Discussions of particular data anomalies would have brought out the usual cabal, but the mainstream story would have held interest for about 12 hours before even Fox News got bored.
    The scientists involved have a choice, they can lament, circle the wagons and thereby be controlled by outside forces (that didn’t work very well), or they can pro-actively take a chance and change. I agree with Mr. Elifritz when he says in post #562, “It’s not just about climate science.” This is about meta-science now. The pressure you have felt in the past is nothing compared to what is starting now. All of your correspondence, data, methods, etc. are now fair game. You can cite various laws and privileges, and even if you win, you will lose in the court of public opinion. What are they trying to hide?
    Many scientists ask, “Why don’t people get it?” The reason they can’t understand the answer is because it is the wrong question. It is about trust. The man on the street does not understand the science, so he looks around and asks himself, “Whom do I trust the most?”
    There is absolutely nothing that can be done about nefarious interests, but you can control your own actions. Amaze everybody and open the flood gates, let everything you have out. Maybe it is not all perfect, so what? It is about trust.

    Thank you for allowing me to post. This will be the last. My best to you.

  33. 183
    Phil. Felton says:

    Joe says:
    3 December 2009 at 11:11 AM
    Re: 96 and Gavin’s response.

    Sorry, Gavin, I may not have been as clear as I intended without the liver & beans to soak up the Chianti :)

    I wasn’t intending to imply dual standards, only that describing a published paper as “complete rubbish” when the only rebuttals seem to be a blog and another paper that has, itself, been rebutted is potential easy fodder for anyone who would like to make such a claim.

    The point is with G&T that to anyone familiar with the physics it’s quite clearly a load of crap, it’s just not worth wasting time on it. They take 35 pages explaining why a glass greenhouse works which has never been in dispute, who the hell wants to wade through that rubbish!

  34. 184
    SecularAnimist says:

    Gavin wrote: “I think it is tragedy that the word sceptic has been debased in the way that it has.”

    Worse than “debased” — it has been turned on its head in classic 1984 doublespeak “war is peace” fashion.

    Far from being “skeptical”, the self-proclaimed “climate change skeptics” reveal themselves to be the most shockingly gullible people on the planet. They will literally believe anything, any inane rubbish at all, that the industry-funded deny-and-obstruct propaganda machine cranks out.

    This can be seen again and again in the comments that they post here and on every other blog in the universe where climate change is discussed. Their gullibility is truly extreme. And not only with regard to pseudo-science that might understandably bamboozle ill-informed laymen, but with regard to laughable conspiracy theories about the world community of climate scientists perpetrating a massive fraud in order to destroy capitalism and liberty (and Mom and apple pie).

  35. 185
    Ron R. says:

    I am glad that there is going to be an investigation (though I hope that Mr Russell is up to the task and that he employs people who understand the science). Sometimes things get stale and can use a breath of fresh air. Put it all out there. However in addition to looking at CRU the investigations into “climategate” very much needs to seriously focus a very bright beam of light on the email hack itself and especially where it came from, who was behind it. That, to my mind, is the real scandal here. Answers please. Don’t let the trail grow cold, get to the bottom of it. If it turns out to be a stooge for the usual suspects broadcast it from the rooftops.

    Also make clear that the environment these scientists have had to work under with all the harrassment they’ve had to endure from people like M&M, the Republicans and the constant Big Oil/Coal company attacks are way,way over and above what any scientist should have to put up with. Let the world know what the bastards are trying to doing.

    Oh and let’s not re-victimize the victims.

  36. 186
    John MacQueen says:

    “However, the debasement that has happened is because of the contrarians who are dogmatic in their opposition to policies to reduce emissions have adopted the term to describe their ‘arguments’ when really they have as much in common with true scepticism as they do a cheese sandwich.”

    Do you really believe this is new and scientists didn’t have to deal with such contrarian dogmatic skepticism in the past? It does not describe all skeptics.

    It also does not in any way excuse what the hacked e-mails showed in attitude as well as action. Especially in light of what the authors demand as far as changes of human civilization in terms of scale and cost using their data and methods as evidence.

    It is inevitable that we move from carbon based energy, but lets call a spade a spade here. This type of dogmatic tribal response and action shown by these e-mails has no legitimate place in this process.

  37. 187
    MarkB says:

    Walter Manny,

    Yoda says “fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…”

    but he didn’t say that fear is the only catalyst for anger. If so, global warming contrarians would be incredibly fearful, given the mass hysteria generated over this incident. They seem to get “outraged” when any minor error is discovered in climate science, when any discussions of error correction is conducted (“alarmists fabricating data!”), or when a climate scientist blinks. Perhaps it’s all motivated by fear of governments seeking to gradually reduce emissions.

  38. 188


    It’s not going to run away. It’s just going to wreak havoc on our agriculture and our economy.

  39. 189
    SecularAnimist says:

    Walter Manny wrote: “… there appears still to be an insistence that AGW theory is settled science.”

    Gavin replied: “… give that ‘settled science’ stuff a rest. We have never made any such claim.”

    With all due respect, Gavin, of course “AGW theory” is “settled science”.

    CO2, methane et al are greenhouse gases. That is settled science.

    Human activities have for over a century released large amounts of previously sequestered CO2 and other GHGs into the atmosphere, and continue to do so, at an increasing rate. That is settled science.

    The anthropogenic excess of CO2 and other GHGs is causing the Earth system to heat up. That is settled science.

    The anthropogenic heating of the Earth system resulting from anthropogenic GHG emissions is already causing rapid and extreme changes to the Earth’s climate, atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere and biosphere. That is settled science.

    And that is “AGW theory”, in a nutshell. It is settled science.

    Gavin, it is important to understand that when the denialists proclaim that the “science is not settled”, they are not merely saying that every last nuance and detail of the current and future impacts of anthropogenic GHG emissions have not yet been worked out.

    They are saying that the “science is not settled” with regard to whether there is a “greenhouse effect”.

    They are saying that the “science is not settled” with regard to whether CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

    They are saying that the “science is not settled” with regard to whether humans have increased the atmospheric concentration of CO2.

    They are saying that the “science is not settled” with regard to whether the anthropogenic increase in CO2 has any effect at all.

    They are saying that the “science is not settled” with regard to whether any warming is actually occurring.

    And when you reply that “we have not claimed the science is settled”, what the denialists hear is that CO2 may or may not be a greenhouse gas, and human activities may or may be increasing the CO2 content of the atmosphere, and even if they are the increase may not have any effect at all because the “greenhouse effect” itself may not even exist, and that the whole fundamental basis of our understanding of climate change may be completely bogus, and that neither you nor any other climate scientist nor all of the world’s climate scientists can say or know anything at all about it.

  40. 190
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Did _anyone_ actually ever say “the science is
    > settled”? If so, who, where, why and when?

    He also said, among much else worth reading:

    “… the downside of those bozos getting the government
    they deserve is that I end up getting the government
    they deserve too.”

  41. 191

    j. gordon:

    Phil Jones is finished, next year he will be lucky to have a job at a junior college in Siberia or a back office at an extreme liberal think tank in Colorado (a nicer place).

    And your qualifications to say this are what? Sorry, but there’s no reason at all to think Jones won’t be completely exonerated. I HAVE read through the emails and I didn’t see anything either unethical or illegal. Short-tempered, yes, but it’s hard not to get angry at ignoramuses accusing you of crimes and harassing you when you’re trying to get serious work done.

  42. 192
    Walter Manny says:

    Gavin, thanks for your reply and thanks as well for the new open dialogue that has ensued since the emails went public. I am even allowed to object to the use of “denier” now! I am curious to know where your confidence is coming from, though, that Jones and Mann will both be exonerated. Certainly in the case of the former, while you can parse “trick” and “hide” all you like, at a minimum he would like those emails back, especially in a day and age when any grown-up knows his emails should be written with the assumption that they could appear in the NYTimes the next day. And Mann’s insistence that no emails were ever erased hardly exonerates Jones’ request that they be so.

    As to the ‘settled science’, I am happy to give it a rest, and I will assume for the sake of argument that by your objection you mean that RC has moved past any scientific assumption that man-made emissions are the primary cause of significant, damaging, alarming and potentially catastrophic changes to the climate. That’s the “settled science” I am talking about, the unchallenged assumption (though it may be true) that I live with in my little corner of the teaching world. I expect you are talking about a different unsettled science.

    As to the angry emails you are getting, I think I can guess where that anger, born of a selfish fear of change, comes from. I am skeptical of the AGW science, to be sure, but I am not skeptical of our need to change our voracious lifestyles.

  43. 193


    the original paper appears to be rooted firmly in the field of physics, and authored by two professors of physics.

    BPL: And I have a degree in physics and I say their paper is crap of the purest ray serene. They should have had the competence not to make the mistakes they did, and the peer reviewers who let that paper be published ought to be fired.

    Their paper reduces to the proposition, “the second law of thermodynamics says you cannot transfer heat from a cold body to a warm one. Therefore, back-radiation from the cooler atmosphere cannot heat the warmer ground.”

    Well, they’re wrong. The second law says you can’t have NET heat transfer from a cooler body to a warmer one. And even that is only true if the heat isn’t pumped there by appropriately adding energy to the system. If G&T were right refrigerators wouldn’t work; the heat from the cooler interior couldn’t possibly warm up the radiator in back.

  44. 194
    Moira Kemp says:

    harry — 2 December 2009 @ 7:47 PM
    This is the UKMO “strict” Conditions of Use (their description) –
    You are not allowed to share restricted data with third parties “under any circumstances,” if you do they’ll take legal action.
    Also the German (even stricter by the look of it) –
    It took a fair bit of digging to find these, also many sites are not in English, or not the bits you suspect might be relevant, many are small – Bahrain for instance.
    This has to do with intellectual property rights (a huge issue in the age of the internet and often a minefield of conflicting interests), the need of met offices to fund their activities and pressure from governments to use as little taxpayer money as possible to do so. The Norwegian MO actually gives this as a reason for not translating everything!
    The World Meteorological Organization site is worth exploring to get a sense of how data sharing is a work in progress. It’s clear sharing a minimum of “essential” data has been the priority. Whether they make access to data “free and unrestricted” beyond this minimum amount is up to the the individual NMSs.
    For a list of minimum “essential” data –
    Annex I to Resolution 40 (Cg-XII)
    Data and products to be exchanged without charge and with no conditions on use –
    Also this pdf “Guidelines on Climate Data Management”-

  45. 195
    Timothy Chase says:

    Hopefully there is a book in the offing:

    Canadian Green party leader Elizabeth May has done, here what most journalists have not: she read ALL the leaked emails and comments on the basis of primary sources.

    Her conclusion? We’ve been had.

    Elizabeth May: An Informed Look at the East Anglia Emails
    Richard Littlemore
    3 December 09

  46. 196
    ccpo says:

    Why should we trust anything we laypersons read on RealClimate now that we know that way that Mann has characterized your and his attempts to ‘actively shape’ opinion in the way you deal with comments, etc.?

    Comment by Larry Johnson — 2 December 2009 @ 5:13 PM

    Do you frequent any of the anti-AGW sites? (Rhetorical?) Do you know that WUWT, supposedly the most popular science blog, not only deletes comments, but bans people? (Rhetorical.) Let us know when your invective is as actively sprayed there.

    It is dishonest to come here whining about a moderation policy that is inline with moderation at any site wishing to maintain a certain direction, whether AGW-related or not, and use that moderation policy as a critique of the scientists themselves.

    This is particularly true when there is no evidence of any kind that any of the science has been anything but objectively done work.

    This sort of argumentation by assertion shows you are not someone to be taken seriously. The hypocrisy of it is mind-blowing. Unless, of course, you can point us to a post you made prior to this one at WUWT, et al.?

  47. 197
    Matthew L says:

    I think sceptic colloquially has a broader meaning that may be something closer to ‘agnostic’. That is someone who prefers that people provide adequate evidence to ‘convince’ them rather be asked simply to ‘believe’ another person because of a higher level of knowledge. In general you could fit me into that camp.

    There is a huge range of views on the other side of the argument ranging from genuinely sceptical scientists (Lindzen, Spencer) who don’t dispute facts, just outcomes, through arrogent bloggers and journalists who just like stirring things up and ending up with the raving loonies on the religious and/or conservative Right who you could legitimately call ‘deniers’.

    On the AGW point, I am pretty much convinced on the science that CO2 is causing global warming, but but have yet to be convinced about the extent of that warming or the projections of doom. Certainly none of the graphs of global temperatures, sea level rise or ice melt yet show any catastrophic change. In fact despite recent press coverage, the sea level rise appears to be moderating rather than accelerating.

    I am not alone in that confusion. I am with an earlier commentator here who likened the job of a Climate Scientist as closer to an economist than, say, an industrial chemist. Unfortunately I suspect the climate scientists’ models may be plagued with the same uncertainty in outcomes as the average economic model – but with an even longer period of time before we know whether they are right or wrong.

  48. 198
    thefordprefect says:

    Thanks for all the considered replies Gavin!

    What I consider is an important step – There is already talk of legal charges being started by the “sceptics”. So many scientists have been called criminals and frauds. Why is no action being taken? Remember that the UK is the defamation capital of the world (guilty until you can prove innocence!). Reputations are already damaged so there should be a suitable cause for complaint.

    The release of these emails could just be a softener. A few awkward emails that have been verified as real has set the sceptics buzzing and started a fire in the media. I would have thought that the sceptics would have retained a number of emails etc. for release this weekend. Because of all the stuff of the last few weeks these do not even have to be real emails. Just cut the headers paste into your own juicy text and release. Denying the veracity of these would be to no avail because of prior valid mails.

    Is there anything that can be done to prevent this? Or do we all just sit back and let the heating continue!?


  49. 199

    23 Is everyone on this “we do science” site braindead? re: comment 9, no, champ, tree rings form on the outside of the tree as layers of growth are added to the wood already grown. Didn’t anybody here take 7th grade science?

    Comment by Tom Wiita
    I noticed that too, Tom, but it is just reads badly, clumsily put. He knows his cambuim from his phloem really.

  50. 200
    Guy says:

    I think the remit of the inquiry looks about right, and as far as I can tell the chair seems fair.

    It’s kinda scary though. I think this will become the world’s judgment on climate science (well, to be more accurate, if the report is critical in any substantial way of the scientific case for AGW, it will be game over for Joe Public… however the reverse will not be true). It’s a real bind – you have to have a non-climate scientists heading the review, but this runs the risk that they don’t understand the issues. Famously, the case in the UK last year against An Inconvenient Truth had a judge ruling incorrectly on a number of scientific points he clearly didn’t understand. The implications of that happening again on this stage would be far more serious.

    On the other hand, if there IS any genuine systemic flaw in climate science (and I think the only unlikely-but-possible candidate is peer review), I want to know about it. There’s a helluva lot resting on Sir Muir Russell’s shoulders…