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The Guardian responds

Filed under: — group @ 24 March 2010

We recently ran two articles that were quite critical of aspects of the Guardian’s coverage of the stolen emails. This is a response from Dr. James Randerson, the editor of the Guardian’s environmental website.

I edit the Guardian’s environment website and was part of the editorial team that produced the 12-part investigation by veteran science journalist Fred Pearce into the hacked East Anglia climate emails. I’m very grateful to RealClimate for giving us the opportunity to respond to the recent posts on the investigation: “The Guardian Disappoints” and “Close Encounters of the Absurd Kind”.

I should say first that we hold RealClimate in very high regard. The site is part of the Guardian Environment Network, a collection of more than 20 hand-picked websites including Grist and Nature’s Climate Feedback blog with whom we have a mutual content sharing agreement. Under the arrangement, the Guardian website republishes RealClimate blogs regularly. We take seriously your criticisms and are considering them carefully. The Guardian has a commitment to accuracy and correcting factual errors.

Such is the public interest in this story that ever since the emails were released in November, there has been a strong demand for an in-depth journalistic account of what they tell us about how climate scientists operate. As RealClimate rightly pointed out, the response from much of the media has been lazy to the point of “pathology”.

No other media organisation has come close to producing such a comprehensive and carefully researched attempt to get to the bottom of the emails affair. The investigation tries to reflect the complexity and historical context of the story, and runs to some 28,000 words – of which around half appeared in the printed newspaper.

Dr. Schmidt did not mince his words though when he said that Fred’s investigation falls, “well below the normal Guardian standards of reporting”, while Dr Ben Santer wrote, “I am taking this opportunity to correct Mr. Pearce’s omissions, to reply to the key allegations, and to supply links to more detailed responses.” Both have also criticised our experimental online exercise to harness the expertise of people with a special knowledge of the emails in order to create a “peer reviewed” account of what they tell us.

More on that later, but it is wrong to suggest that this is a lazy substitute for traditional journalistic standards and that key protagonists were not invited to respond prior to publication. On the contrary, the investigation was subject to rigorous editorial checking and Fred contacted numerous individuals in the course of his research. Many (particularly those at UEA) declined to comment.

The other side of the story

The RealClimate commentary reads like a distorted fairground mirror of the Guardian investigation – one that highlights the uncomfortable bits but blurs the rest. The posts did point out that “Some of the other pieces in this series are fine” but do not reflect the large amount of analysis in the investigation of the way the emails have been misused by those with a political agenda and the extensive context we included to indicate the pressure scientists writing those emails were under from time-consuming requests for data.

In part 2 (How the ‘climategate’ scandal is bogus and based on climate sceptics’ lies), for example, we detail how the “hide the decline” email has been misused by Sarah Palin, Senator James Inhofe and others to create, apparently deliberately, the impression that climate scientists had fiddled the figures.

Almost all the media and political discussion about the hacked climate emails has been based on soundbites publicised by professional sceptics and their blogs. In many cases, these have been taken out of context and twisted to mean something they were never intended to.

In part 1 (Battle over climate data turned into war between scientists and sceptics) and in a separate piece that appeared in the newspaper (Climate scientists have long been targets for sceptics) Fred outlines the tactics and motivations of some on the “sceptic” side of the debate.

All this happened against the backdrop of a long-term assault by politically motivated, and commercially funded, climate-change deniers against the activities of many of the key scientists featuring in the emails.

Similarly in Part 7 (Victory for openness as IPCC climate scientist opens up lab doors) Fred explains how the emails give a special insight into what being on the end of that assault was like.

In the leaked emails, [Ben Santer] is seen sharing those experiences with other victims of hectoring and abuse by the more rabid climate sceptics. Others had their own horror stories, including Mike Mann over his hockey stick graph, Kevin Trenberth over his analysis of hurricanes and warming in the aftermath of Katrina, and later Jones over his escalating data wars. In each case, they argue, legitimate debates about scientific analysis and access to researchers’ data have been turned into vindictive character assassination.

And in the concluding part of the investigation (Part 12: Climate science emails cannot destroy argument that world is warming, and humans are responsible), Fred lays out unequivocally that nothing in the emails casts doubt on the case for climate change being attributable to human actions.

Is the science of climate change fatally flawed by the climategate revelations? Absolutely not. Nothing uncovered in the emails destroys the argument that humans are warming the planet. None of the 1,073 emails plus 3,587 files containing documents, raw data and computer code upsets the 200-year-old science behind the “greenhouse effect” of gases such as carbon dioxide, which traps solar heat and warms the atmosphere. Nothing changes the fact that carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere thanks to human emissions from burning carbon-based fuels such as coal and oil. Nor the calculations by physicists that for every square metre of the Earth’s surface, 1.6 watts more energy enters the atmosphere than leaves it.

And we know the world is warming as a result. Thousands of thermometers in areas remote from any conceivable local urban influences tell us that. The oceans are warming too. The great majority of the world’s glaciers are retreating, Arctic sea ice is disappearing, sea levels are rising ever faster, trees are climbing up hillsides and permafrost is melting.

These are not statistical artefacts or the result of scientists cherry-picking data.

Looking under every rock

There are few, if any newspapers in the world with a stronger commitment to action on climate change than the Guardian and our sister paper the Observer. We have a team of 6 full-time environment correspondents as well as three editors and a collection of bloggers and columnists.

It was the Guardian that orchestrated a global editorial carried by 56 newspapers in 45 countries on 7th December 2009 to call for action from world leaders at Copenhagen. [RC: Also at RealClimate]

And we have been instrumental in supporting the 10:10 climate change campaign which aims to inspire individuals, organisations and businesses to cut their carbon emissions by 10% in 2010. The UK branch of 10:10 has signed up nearly 60,000 people and over 4000 businesses and organisations.

But only by looking thoroughly under every rock can those of us pressing for action on climate change maintain with confidence that the scientific case remains sound. Fred’s investigation shows that confidence is indeed well placed, but to claim that the emails do not throw up some troubling issues looks like the inward-looking mentality that is sometimes (perhaps understandably) expressed in the emails themselves.

The two posts published so far on RealClimate come to over 8500 words and it has been suggested that a line by line response to each of the points made would not be productive. I say again that we are totally unembarrassed about correcting genuine errors, but many of the points raised at RealClimate are differences of interpretation. There were implications that the investigation omitted some key information which in fact appeared in Fred’s pieces – for example that the data on Chinese weather station locations from the Phil Jones et al 1990 Nature data were eventually released publicly and that the two studies Jones had threatened to keep out of the IPCC AR4 report were in fact cited there.

However, I would like to make four points:

  • Dr Phil Jones, the head of the Climatic Research Unit at UEA has said in an interview with Nature that the handling of the records of the Chinese weather station data from his 1990 Nature paper (which Fred wrote about in part 5 of the investigation) was “not acceptable… [it’s] not best practice,” and he acknowledged that that stations “probably did move”. He added that he was considering a correction to Nature. To our knowledge, no other media organisation or blogger had used the emails to shed light on the controversy over the 1990 paper so a correction would not be on the table without the Pearce investigation.
  • Dr. Schmidt states that we imply Dr Tom Wigley supported allegations of “fabrication” from climate sceptic Douglas Keenan. We do not make that assertion in the piece. Also, Dr Schmidt does not reproduce the most eye-catching quotes from a May 2009 email from Wigley to Jones in which he raises serious doubts about the quality of Jones’s scientific team and his handling of the Chinese weather station data.The hacked emails do not include a response from Jones if there was one.
  • As Dr. Schmidt pointed out, we have made three small corrections to the piece “Controversy behind climate science’s ‘hockey stick’ graph” at the request of Dr Michael Mann, but none changed the main point the article was making, which was that in 1999, Mann’s hockey-stick reconstruction was the subject of intense academic debate amongst climate scientists.
  • Neither of the RealClimate blogs dealt with Fred’s piece on FOI requests, but a statement from the UK’s deputy information commissioner Graham Smith has made clear that he believes that FOI legislation was not followed correctly. He wrote, “The emails which are now public reveal that [climate sceptic David] Holland’s requests under the Freedom of Information Act were not dealt with as they should have been under the legislation. Section 77 of the Freedom of Information Act makes it an offence for public authorities to act so as to prevent intentionally the disclosure of requested information.” This is a serious issue worthy of discussion and debate.

Peer-reviewed journalism

I mentioned above our attempt to create a definitive account of the emails by leveraging the expertise of people involved or with a special knowledge of the messages and the issues they discuss. This account will eventually be expanded into a book. In practice, this means us adding annotations from people to the online versions of the articles so that readers can watch a form of living peer-review in progress. Click on the yellow highlights in the pieces themselves to read the annotations.

This represents an extraordinary commitment to transparency that we believe is unique in journalism. What other news organisation would open itself to direct criticism in this way including, for example, annotations that read “this is absolutely false” and “this is really bad”? The respected Columbia Journalism Review has praised the approach. “Regardless of whether you agree with Pearce or Schmidt, the Guardian’s approach appropriately acknowledges that evidence leaves room for some degree of interpretation. It is this kind of detailed, intellectually honest (even technologically innovative) reporting that news outlets like The New York Times should be striving for,” it wrote.

In the same spirit we have showcased diverse critical opinions on the issues and our own coverage of them, including from Dr Myles Allen, Dr Vicky Pope, Dr Mike Hulme and the Guardian’s environment correspondent Dr David Adam. Again few newspapers would have reflected such diverse viewpoints.

The reaction from some to our online annotation exercise has been hostile though. On our letters pages Dr Myles Allen and Dr Ben Santer wrote last week:

Claiming to produce “the definitive” analysis now is a brazen attempt to pre-empt the inquiries’ conclusions…What is wrong with the old-fashioned approach of checking facts before publication? When the final version is published, you will no doubt make much of the fact that “everyone had a chance to comment”, implying that any statement that was not challenged must therefore be true.

Our intention is not to undermine or pre-empt the ongoing inquiries into the CRU emails. Each of those has a very specific remit and none is attempting to produce a detailed account that uses the emails to shed light on recent climate controversies. Nor is this an exercise in blackmailing scientists into fact-checking on the cheap – if it were then it would be a monumental false-economy.

In truth, this is a serious-minded attempt to make sense of a large volume of new information about a complex and highly charged issue. No other newspaper has ever offered its journalism up for very public and exacting scrutiny in this way. We sincerely invite those involved who know the issues most thoroughly to contribute.

507 Responses to “The Guardian responds”

  1. 151

    How can I get in touch with Chris O’Dell? I would like permission to reprint much of his letter as reproduced on RealClimate a few months ago:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/01/lc-grl-comments-on-peer-review-and-peer-reviewed-comments/#more-2710

    I’m writing a book called “The Case for Global Warming,” and Dr. O’Dell’s discoveries about the peer-review system failure in the case of Lindzen and Choi 2009 would be relevant.

  2. 152

    James Randerson
    Re. #110 Ray Ladbury, #142 Scott A Mandia: Here, here.

    This simple point is you are mistaken in the context represented. The earth as a system and the human race have significant challenges ahead and getting this story right is critical in relation to sustainability and survivability around the world.

    This story needs every aspect represented in relevant context.

    – Reporting he said she said is a disservice to the public.
    – Reporting any data, inference, or insinuation out of context is irrelevant and adds additional confusion.
    – The public needs to know what is going on and it is clear form the manner of reporting from the Guardian that you and/or your staff don’t really understand what is going on here.

    The story is not the email hack. The story is in getting the public to understand the critical juncture that the human race and all of its needs are at in relation to several key problems.

    Environment, energy, economy.

    – Climate change is serious and human caused.
    – The bees are dying and we are still not sure why?
    – Peak oil either has arrived or soon will.
    – Life in the oceans are under severe stress and 90% of the big fish biomass is already fished out, plus ocean acidification is occurring which threatens entire bio webs.
    – The monetary economy is tied to resource availability and capacity.
    – The earths economy is changing with the climate so resources will become increasingly more difficult to attain, package and distribute.

    All of this adds up to what the worlds security organizations are waking up to:

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/security
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/summary-docs/leading-edge/2009/2009-may-leading-edge

    You have a job. Your job is to inform the public, not of the argument, but of the reality and potentials the human race is now facing due to the coincidence of large events converging in relation to human adaptive capacity. The more the public is aware, the easier it will be for us to get relevant policy from our policy makers since they don’t do anything unless they get votes for it, it is up to the media and the people to do it right.

    So inform the public and get it right, because your future also relies on how good a job you do. We have serious time pressure here so pretend your future depends on your actions right now, because in reality, it does.

    If you wish to discuss additional contexts, please feel free to contact me

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/contact-info

    It is critical that you not just interview people or scientists for your articles, but that you actually get the context correct and headline the context, not the confusion.


    Our best chance for a better future ‘Fee & Dividend’
    Understand the delay and costs of Cap and Trade
    http://www.climatelobby.com/fee-and-dividend/
    Sign the Petition!
    http://www.climatelobby.com

  3. 153
    Jack Maloney says:

    RE comment #33 by Completely Fed Up:
    ” ‘The Information Commissioner’s Office decided that UEA failed in its duties under the Act…’

    “WRONG.

    “The DEPUTY stated that it was illegal to breech the act (tautology alert: illegal to break the law!!!) and that criminal sanction for any such breech is not possible.

    “NEVER that the UEA failed in its duties.

    “And NEVER the ICO. Just the deputy speaking out of his arse.”

    Deputy ICO Commissioner Graham Smith is responsible for FOI issues. His official statement represents the ICO’s view: “The prima facie evidence from the published e-mails indicate an attempt to defeat disclosure by deleting information. It is hard to imagine more cogent prima facie evidence.”

    The ICO statement was a response to the UEA’s attempt to minimize or dismiss the significance of CRU’s resistance to FOI requests.

    The letter also confirmed the ICO’s previous statement that the university had failed in its duties under the Freedom of Information Act by rejecting requests for data.

  4. 154
    Gerry Quinn says:

    In #108 and #114, Ray Ladbury and Steve Fish respond to my #100 (about Phil Jones’s “hide the decline” email).

    Ray Ladbury claims that Jones “said exactly what he was doing in the paper”. Fancy giving a reference to this paper, Ray? As for the word “hide”, please note that it is Jones’s word, not mine!

    Steve Fish is a tad more cautious: “The primary product of a scientist is a research publication in a peer reviewed journal. Please provide a citation for such a publication by Phil Jones in which he hid any tree-ring data. Otherwise, you are just blowing smoke.”

    Steve, I suspect, is trying to blow a little smoke himself. As I understand it, the merged series appeared on the cover of a WMO report on climate change. Feel free to correct me with links if I am wrong; with spinners on both sides of the story, it is sometimes a little hard to be sure of the facts!

    Such covers may not have been Jones’s “primary product”, but they were his product, and are significant in impressing policy-makers, who might well not inquire too closely into the detailed genesis of authoritative looking graphs, but would have been alarmed by an obvious discrepancy in the proxy data. A discrepancy that in fact existed, but was hidden.

  5. 155
    Timothy Mason says:

    Pachauri defends climate science on the Guardian site.

  6. 156
    Walter Manny says:

    “This (Ray’s creationist/’climate denialist’ analogy) is a perfect example of why climate science is losing credibility.”

    Such analogies result in a loss of credibility only outside the RC bubble. The regulars and moderators here do actually and sincerely believe AGW skeptics and creationists to be of the same order of ignorance, thus there are relatively few “Inline Responses” to well-intentioned hyperbole or name-calling. Ray is not a climate scientist, but an accomplished physicist who is thoroughly and passionately convinced we humans and our emissions are doing great harm. The Guardian and Randerson have committed the sin of not being sufficiently passionate, thereby offering aid and comfort to [insert pejoratives here].

  7. 157
    Shibui says:

    Completely Fed Up #137

    But don’t you think that might cast doubt on the earlier proxy results? If they don’t work now, why should they be trusted to give us an accurate picture of past temperatures?

  8. 158
    Doug Bostrom says:

    It’s genuinely tragic to see “all that need be said” lost in a welter of dart-tosses wide of the mark. Here’s a post neatly capturing the essence of this issue and which bears repetition:

    Ray Ladbury says: 25 March 2010 at 7:01 PM

    James Randerson, Let me try to explain this to you. Let’s say that you had a leak of emails from paleontologists, selectively edited by a bunch of creationists. And let’s say they were just as snarky, just as dismissive of the Discovery Institute. Would you have devoted a 12-part series to this incident? Would you have given equal time to Discovery Institute spokespeople? I think not.

    So, I ask, how are climate denialists any more credible than creationists? After all, the theory of the greenhouse effect is every bit as old as Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. And there is every bit as much evidence showing that we are warming the planet as there is that we and chimpanzees evolved from a common ancestor. And just as there is no credible alternative theory to evolution, there is no credible model of Earth’s climate other than the consensus model. So, pray, why treat climate denialists any differently than any other anti-science cultists?

  9. 159
    Brian Dodge says:

    “The [stolen] emails as a body remain in the public domain for years…” Mike Brisco — 26 March 2010 @ 4:37 AM
    Just like all that stolen music released on Napster is now in the public domain?

    I think what you mean is now that the denialists have stolen the emails etcetera, they will have no qualms about abusing science, scientists, the political process with this illegally obtained information because the gutless wonders at UKICO will “investigate” the scientists instead of the thieves.

  10. 160
    Frank Giger says:

    Ed (128) writes:

    “The bad news is, we live in democracies, to varying degrees. The US has a form of democracy that is usually plutocracy. So Congress can’t or won’t just do the right thing. Politicians are NOT scientists. A few of them understand it when scientists talk to them. But many politicians do not. To make things happen, you have to get a million or so people calling senators every day and saying the same thing. That doesn’t happen when most people don’t understand the situation.”

    Wow. I had no idea that it is bad news that I live in a country with a representative form of governance. What form of governance would be good news?

    In other places it’s suggested that newspapers not be allowed to write on Climate Change – or at a minimum be censored to content to ensure that they only support scientists.

    If y’all think having to adjust to AGW is bad, try adjusting to a world without representative forms of governanace and a fully censored press (which usually go hand in hand).

    It is sentiments like this that make an awful lot of people very wary of the motivation of the AGW side of the argument.

  11. 161
    Sekerob says:

    What shocked me most and same time revealing was the responses of George Monbiot which gave me to think that he actually had even the remotest understanding on the chief topic he was reporting on. At times in the initial xxxGates period I did also have the impression he was trying to moderate his initial kneejerks, but damage done. He’ll have to do allot before he’ll redeem credibility in my book. Reading the Guardian these days: NOT!

  12. 162
    Dave G says:

    From Dr Randerson’s response, on behalf of The Guardian:

    “This account will eventually be expanded into a book.”

    A book, you say?

    From Dr Randerson’s post #70:

    “Also, I’m afraid I don’t recognise the “utter silence” on the climate emails issue that you suggest exists outside the UK. There is at least as much interest, if not more, in the US by my reckoning.”

    Lots of interest in the US, eh?

    Would a book which examined the stolen emails in their proper context sell as well in America as a book which panders, at least to some degree, to denialist blogs? Far more Americans than Brits are sceptical of AGW, so it probably wouldn’t.

    Did the potential US sales figures of the future book affect the accuracy of the Guardian articles?

  13. 163
    Septic Matthew says:

    152 John P. Reisman. You write generally good posts, and I am glad that you maintiain the OSS Foundation.

    About this,however: – Life in the oceans are under severe stress and 90% of the big fish biomass is already fished out, plus ocean acidification is occurring which threatens entire bio webs.

    Overfishing is a separate problem from global warming, and is being addressed independently of global warming.

    Peak oil and AGW are at least closely related in the sense that the proposed solutions have a lot of overlap. Each would still be a threat without the other, but they can be addressed together.

  14. 164
    Hank Roberts says:

    > The [stolen] emails as a body remain in the
    > public domain for years…” Mike Brisco

    Bzzzt! If you go looking for the stolen email, have all your security settings prepared. Remember, while you’re likely to just get a warning from Google because it’s somebody’s poorly set up website, you may also be going to a site run by someone who, ya know, steals stuff online.

    When you’re looking for stolen goods, don’t assume the people offering them to you are doing so because they’re on your side.

    They may be using the stuff as bait for fools.

    Google gives you one warning at dicey sites. Don’t ignore it.

  15. 165
    Aaron Lewis says:

    Re #110 Oakwood RL tends to correctly and precisely state the settled science and thereby rarely is criticized by RC. I on the other hand tend to see problems with the climate models and I believe that that climate models significantly under predict AGW. Thus, while RC often publishes my comments, they do criticize them. RC has credibility because they are very fair.

  16. 166
    Greg C. says:

    #150 –

    The page to which you linked is a perfect example of taking a discussion and selectively highlight parts to make it seem as if a conspiracy has been revealed while missing the forest for the trees. The discussion had nothing to do with hiding anything, but rather was people hashing over what the proper trade-off should be between precision and brevity in a particular bullet point. Scientists have to make this kind of trade-off all the time when communicating science to a group that is outside their field; there’s nothing nefarious about it.

    In particular, from my reading of the (stolen) e-mails, it looked like the problem was that there are conflicting studies on exactly what is going on with storms regarding whether they were getting stronger or weaker, so rather than saying something that potentially inaccurate (that storms were getting stronger, since there were apparently some studies suggesting that they were getting less numerous as the wind patterns shifted) or verbose (describing the whole situation about what differing studies have to say about storms) they decided to simply drop mentioning what was happening to storms altogether and instead focus the bullet point on the part that they were confident about, namely that particular wind patterns were changing.

  17. 167
    Jesús Rosino says:

    I think The Guardian has done a generally good job, but this is a war in which the slightest mistake is magnified by the denialist machinery, so we have to be extremely careful, and, more than anytihg else, we have to correct every mistake. I’ll just say that I’ve seen denialists pointing at some of this articles in The Guardian as a proof that climate science is under question (because EVEN The Guardian has now concerns) and I think people who don’t pay much attention to it have actually been misled by the headlines and the comments from skeptics. That’s a pretty sad outcome.

    The support to the Guardian in this thread go along the line of “there are some minor things wrong, but they’re not scientists and it is a difficult task”. That might be acceptable. What is not acceptable is that you are shown to be wrong and, instead of making big and clear (in your original article) what’s wrong, you just add a comment saying “this guy says we are wrong (link)”. This is the “he says… the other says…” game in which journalists love to hide their head. Scientists are bothering to write you because they are able to speak to you in a way that you can understand. If you just copy & paste what both sides of the debate are saying you are just wasting the time of the scientists and messing the readers around. You evade the responsability of making a decision of whether you were wrong or not and leave the task to the reader. We already have the Internet as a blank page for that fake neutrality in which nonsense has the same privileges as science.

    This is a widely applicable, but more specifically, I think that these statements about Jones et al 1990 are not correct and should have been already corrected:
    “[Fred Pearce] reveals how researchers tried to hide flaws in a key study”
    “The paper became a key reference source for the conclusions of succeeding reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”
    “what data is available suggests that the findings are fundamentally flawed.”
    “[Jones et al 2008] raises serious new questions about one of the most widely referenced papers on global warming, and about the IPCC’s reliance on its conclusions.”
    “Energy & Environment, a peer-reviewed journal”

  18. 168
    Deep Climate says:

    I read comment #1 (from Ben Santer) and I just couldn’t go on.

    I find Fred Pearce’s misreporting on McIntyre-Santer controversy sloppy and irresponsible. The Guardian’s refusal to allow Santer to set the record straight in its pages, let alone issue a much-needed correction, is reprehensible.

    I have not read a single Fred Pearce article in the Guardian that is not riddled with errors. Especially disappointing is his tendency to take contrarians’ speculations about climategate at face value, even when their statements are nonsensical or at odds with the known facts.

    David Adams, on the other hand, is one of the finest science correspondents around. I would strongly suggest that if a book is in the offing, it should be Adams who is given primary responsibility; perhaps, he can fix Pearce’s mistakes for the permanent record.

  19. 169
    Doug Bostrom says:

    oakwood says: 26 March 2010 at 2:41 AM

    RC would do much for its credibility to show that this type of view has nothing to do with its own science and beliefs.

    Here’s the shot that went below Oakwood’s waterline and penetrated planks and scantlings, thus pouring such an uncomfortable lake of cold water into Oakwood’s cargo of misunderstanding as to evoke an impassioned plea for fairness, a metaphorical mattress of false concern desperately thrust into a gaping hole too large to plug:

    “James Randerson, Let me try to explain this to you. Let’s say that you had a leak of emails from paleontologists, selectively edited by a bunch of creationists. And let’s say they were just as snarky, just as dismissive of the Discovery Institute. Would you have devoted a 12-part series to this incident? Would you have given equal time to Discovery Institute spokespeople? I think not.

    So, I ask, how are climate denialists any more credible than creationists? After all, the theory of the greenhouse effect is every bit as old as Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. And there is every bit as much evidence showing that we are warming the planet as there is that we and chimpanzees evolved from a common ancestor. And just as there is no credible alternative theory to evolution, there is no credible model of Earth’s climate other than the consensus model. So, pray, why treat climate denialists any differently than any other anti-science cultists?”

    Comment by Ray Ladbury

    Oakwood’s response was necessarily elliptical, essentially an emotional appeal. Ladbury’s remark is impossible for climate science rejectionists to directly counter, his analogy being entirely appropriate.

    Just as those who reject biological evolution cannot present a useful alternative explanation, climate research rejectionists are unable to mount a coherent and robust alternative explanation for what mainstream climate researchers predict and observe regarding Earth’s climate system. Just as for those who reject biological evolution, those who reject the findings of direct research into the behavior of Earth’s climate must also selectively reject findings from a plethora of other fields of inquiry tangentially germane to climate research, further degrading the self-consistency of their argument.

    Inevitably, detailed attempts at contrary argument by the climate science rejection movement closely mimic the kind and quality of pseudoscience practiced by evolution rejectionists. Similarly to those who reject the multiple disciplines involved in confirmation of climate science findings, evolution rejectionists must ignore results from geology, paleontology, genetics and a host of other threads of inquiry for only by so doing can their superstitious beliefs remain intact.

    The similarity between the two groups of rejectionists is eerily amusing because various findings from the same primary fields of research must be rejected by each rejectionist camp though each faction seeks to reject different scientific findings.

  20. 170
    Ron says:

    For Editor

    [edit. take it elsewhere, ok]

  21. 171
    Deep Climate says:

    A number of comments (#15, 30, 45, 116 etc.) discuss Steve McIntyre, and his methods and motivation. For the record, I have no idea what McIntyre’s exact motivation might be. It is likely that it is not primarily monetary, as he has made a lot less money out of attacking science, than, say, Pat Michaels.

    However, media accounts of McIntyre and his partner Ross McKitrick invariably gloss over their long-standing co-operation with think tanks and PR professionals, who most assuredly do earn their keep from financial support from certain fossil fuel companies and others implacably opposed to regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

    So, here’s a short primer on those connections, which include the Marshall Institute, Friends of Science, APCO Worldwide and the Fraser Institute:

    http://deepclimate.org/2010/02/04/steve-mcintyre-and-ross-mckitrick-part-1-in-the-beginning/

    http://deepclimate.org/2010/02/08/steve-mcintyre-and-ross-mckitrick-part-2-barton-wegman/

    As for examples of McIntyre’s vicious and unjustified attacks on climate scientists, these two posts may be of interest:

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/10/04/climate-auditor-steve-mcintyre-yamal/

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/08/14/dropping-the-p-bomb/

    It should be mentioned with regard to that last post, that the contrarians’ false and baseless accusations of plagiarism and fraud have received extensive airing, and even a sympathetic hearing, in the media coverage of “climategate”. And, yet the evidence for misconduct on the “other” side is infinitely more compelling. For an additional example, consider the clear evidence of apparent plagiarism (and worse) in the Wegman report.

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/12/22/wegman-and-rapp-on-tree-rings-a-divergence-problem-part-1/

    Or look at the gaming of the peer review system – not by mainstream climate scientists, but by fringe researchers with links to oil-funded lobby groups:

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/12/02/in-the-beginning-friends-of-science-talisman-energy-and-the-de-freitas-brothers/

    The Guardian and other well-meaning media outlets have also been, for the most part, overly lax in criticizing clear ethical lapses in the right-wing media. For example, here is an account of the National Post’s role in the contrarian Bali open letter of 2007:

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/12/10/bali-2007-revisited/

    And that was only one instance of a clear pattern of deception at the National Post:

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/12/08/in-the-beginning-the-national-post-terence-corcoran-and-tom-harris/

    There has been a massive media failure to investigate properly the contrarians and their claims. That’s the real scandal of “climategate”.

  22. 172
    t_p_hamilton says:

    Jerry Quinn asks:”Ray Ladbury claims that Jones “said exactly what he was doing in the paper”. Fancy giving a reference to this paper, Ray? As for the word “hide”, please note that it is Jones’s word, not mine!”

    Shouldn’t you know the paper being discussed, and reading it, first?

    An analogy to “hide the decline”: My neighbors car recently stopped running in 2010 (certain tree proxies stopped tracking temperatures in 1960). It is unsuitable for use (unsuitable for use). Not using the car (proxies) because they don’t work after a certain time is not the same as hiding them, trust me!

  23. 173

    #162 Septic Matthew

    Thanks, understood. My point being that the confluence of these multiple events have the strong potential to impede capacity for progress in mitigation and adaptation re. AGW, thus the serious time pressure problem. The breaking down of the oceanic biowebs in relation to land based systems will likely have serious ramifications.

    Though separate, these things combined will make for a challenge that from a perspective of magnitude of difficulty, as the costs increase exponentially as the degradation ripples and resonates through the global climate and biological economy in relation to the human and monetary economy, may become unaffordable on a scale that is difficult to imagine at this point.


    Our best chance for a better future ‘Fee & Dividend’
    Understand the delay and costs of Cap and Trade
    http://www.climatelobby.com/fee-and-dividend/
    Sign the Petition!
    http://www.climatelobby.com

  24. 174
    t_p_hamilton says:

    Ray Ladbury is right on about the AGW denier crowd being just as scientific as creationist crowd. Ever hear of scientific creationism? The young earth creationists even have a peer reviewed journal, with lots of sciency papers and mathematics. That is the whole point – it only looks like science to the gullible (which includes many scientists from outside the field in question, so it is exactly the same order of ignorance). Even down to the bogus arguments that the second law of thermodynamics is violated!

  25. 175
    Geoff Wexler says:

    To James Randerson.,

    If you want to do something really unusual, which would gain you respect why don’t you organise an extended report into the consensus science of global warming? No , I don’t mean just repeating the conclusions, but the reasons why they have been reached. It would have to go rather further than a description of Tyndall’s experiment and the usual diagram showing infra-red bouncing off the sky.

    You would have to introduce it carefully, by advising readers not to give up if they encounter some difficult bits. It may be old stuff , but I can’t remember the media, including the BBC having done it before. If you did it well , you would find lots of hyperlinks to it. You are the editor , but I think it should be carried out by an experts in climate science not a geologist or particle physicist (like the BBC) , and not a journalist.

    It would of course have to include a remedial section for ex-chancellors of the exchequer which would show how to get a reasonably consistent estimate of a medium term trend from noisy data. The next stage might be to include some of the history of the subject and then proceed to the real experiment which would be to include some science, particularly the following topics,forcing, sensitivity, the role of water vapour, the oceans,feedbacks, delayed warming, finger-prints and understanding the ice cores.

    Others here will probably say that is too ambitious? But when the French exploded their first H bomb, le Monde carried quite a technical explanation of its mechanism. It didn’t cause the paper to go bankrupt.

    Why leave all the ‘science’ to the commentators who contribute after your blogs?
    Why must all the blogs all be geared towards hyping semi-political controversy or sensation of other kinds, instead of providing information? [Global warming is news and requires a better quality coverage].

  26. 176
    bill says:

    Worrying about winning or losing the media debate is marginal. The issues are peak oil and population growth, which together demand an alternative approach. Where I am puzzled is why these self evident problems are not at the heart of the public policy debate, instead we are squabbling about whether xyz number of yarmal trees proves anything or not. Could it be the case that the geographers have been called into existence to gloss problems that are just too hard for politicians to frankly address (peak & population)?

  27. 177
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Septic Matthew notes: Overfishing is a separate problem from global warming, and is being addressed independently of global warming.

    Overfishing is being “addressed” alright:

    CITES fails to protect 5 species of sharks from overfishing and finning
    Rejected trade ban ‘sounds death knell’ for bluefin tuna

    A child’s garden of the latest overfishing news.

  28. 178
    GuardianSucks says:

    Give me a break

    I WILL NEVER EVER READ THE GUARDIAN AGAIN.

    They very clearly have an agenda to push and their “journalism” is slightly below-par of the National Inquirer

    SHAME ON YOU GUARDIAN! SHAME! SHAME!

    You didn’t care about the truth at all, you only wanted to please your readers.

    GIVE ME A BREAK!!!!

  29. 179
    Anand says:

    CFU:
    It is people like you whose foul-mouthed hoo-ha and thoughtless ejaculations that drags down the level of what passes for ‘debate’ at RealClimate.

    Most of the replies of your ilk consist of monosyllabic cackles which do not bring out the true nature of your opposition – which therefore becomes petty grandstanding and nothing more.

    Your bullying in this playground survives, as I have said before, only because of the role you serve here. I have much regard for Jim Bouldin and Gavin Schmidt – not for their publications but for their conduct on their own blog, in spite of protections they may afford your kind by taking on their face, the rotten eggs flying your way.

    Maybe you can take a leaf out of their book.

    Regards

  30. 180
    Hank Roberts says:

    > BlogReader
    Not reading carefully.

    Points to email about the SPM.
    Know what the initials stand for?
    The WG1 is not identical to the SPM.
    Why? “S” stands for “summary”
    The original is not changed and remains available.

  31. 181
    Steve Fish says:

    RE- Comment by Jack Maloney — 26 March 2010 @ 11:54 AM:

    You say- “Deputy ICO Commissioner Graham Smith is responsible for FOI issues. His official statement represents the ICO’s view.”

    The ICO is a serious agency and it doesn’t release its “official findings” by way of highly edited media interviews. There would be a document with a finding that included a discussion of exactly what actions of the University of East Anglia (UEA) Climate Research Unit (CRU) had violated the UK Freedom of Information Act. Please provide a reference to such a document.

    Because you will be unable to document your claim, you should consider apologizing for your misstatements before continuing with your, apparent, trolling.

    Steve

  32. 182
    Deep Climate says:

    I think there are valid comparisons to be made between creationists and climate contrarians. I would also argue that the “9-11 truthers” and climate science “hoaxers” have much in common.

    But there is one important difference: The idea that basic climate science is not only yet to be “settled”, but based on a hoax and fraud, has itself become part of acceptable civil discourse. There has been a widening of the Overton window in this case that we don’t see in the case of the truthers and birthers.

    Yes, the science should be explained better (per Geoff Wexler in #175). But it also needs to be explained, how for example, Gwyn Morgan ex-CEO of Encana can write the following (about the U.N. conference in Copenhagen) and get away with it:

    The award for Best Actor goes to the scientists at University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) whose leaked e-mails show a pattern of remarkably unscientific advocacy and outright deception … These and some 800 other messages, available for all to read on the Internet, paint a picture of a conspiracy to cover up adverse data and discredit the work of those they label “global warming deniers.”

    “Outright deception”. “Conspiracy”. In the pages of the Globe and Mail, a newspaper that supposedly accepts the scientific consensus on climate change.

    That’s what happens when “climategate” is covered as a bona fide “science” story, rather than what it really is: an ugly, despicable attempt to smear the world’s top climate scientists and derail progress on dealing with the most pressing environmental problem of our time.

    The Guardian is simply not getting it right much of the time. Not on the science, and not on the science disinformation. And if the Guardian can’t get it right, what hope is there for the rest of the media?

  33. 183
    Ron R. says:

    People need to be careful about nit-picking and hair-splitting with your friends. Nothing would make the skeptics happier. The thing is that we have two different professions here with different Modus Operandi, I’d even different loyalties. Traditionally the scientific is concerned purely with scientific discovery and supporting data, interested only in pure research. They’ve left the facts to others to sort out what they want to do with. The journalistic is concerned with making a variety of information, including science and the scientific process known and understandable to people.

    When people maliciously intend to obstruct scientists from doing their work as the professional skeptics do by continually throwing time consuming road blocks in their way that tends to be upsetting to those trying to do science. I mean, on the one hand the professional skeptics are deliberately doing everything they can to trip up climate scientists, they then turn around and scream about imperfections in the science. These are clearly not honest people who are only interested in the truth, they have an bought-and-paid-for agenda. When climate scientists (or evolutionary scientists) realize that it understandably tends to make them upset (they really should have legal teams to tackle this kind of thing for them). They rightly feel they didn’t get into this line of work only to have to continuously field bogus inquiries.

    Journalists loyalties, on the other hand, lie with their readers (and sadly increasingly with commercial backers). They are charged with being the answer people, a big task. Since many of the public continue to question the science (thanks to professional skeptics) journalists feel that they have an ethical (and monetary) obligation to recognize and service those diverse readers. They feel pressured to provide “balance”, even when it is unwarranted. Thus many go out of their way to give a forum to nutballs. They feel pressured to prove that they are objective by questioning everything, even things that are unquestioned by the great majority of authorities. If a comparably large contingent of the population felt that the earth was flat and the sun is actually only a small ball 30 miles out in space journalists would likely give equal time and coverage to them. The science side tends to get frustrated with this and expects the journalist side to just parrot their talking points without regard to the impact on the paper.

    So when a paper like the Guardian does try to get it right the scientific side needs to appreciate the fact that they are sticking out their necks for the truth. And of course, science is never completely settled. Sometimes they are indeed wrong about issues (though they are self-correcting). I happen to think that for all the harm that creation “scientists” have done they have also done some good by keeping evolutionists honest, forcing them to prove, as far as possible, their assertions. Conversely, journalists need to realize that these scientists are people too, not robots, and as such are prone to the frustrations and failings of people. I happen to find it amazing that climate and evolutionary scientists have keep the degree of decorum that they have.

  34. 184
    Steve Fish says:

    RE: Comment by BlogReader — 26 March 2010 @ 10:37 AM:

    Your quote from a stolen and edited e-mail of a private conversation is about how to deal with data. Your unenlightened opinion, for which you have no idea of the relevant context, doesn’t count for anything. In any case, because ALL of the data were ultimately presented in a peer reviewed research article, and the decline has become an active sub area of research, you are blowing smoke.

    A main point is that what scientists say in private conversation or anybody says in private doesn’t mean squat. What is important ethically and legally is what people actually do.

    Steve

  35. 185
    Ammonite says:

    Re #172 t_p_hamilton and Jerry Quinn:

    ‘An analogy to “hide the decline”: My neighbors car recently stopped running in 2010 (certain tree proxies stopped tracking temperatures in 1960). It is unsuitable for use (unsuitable for use). Not using the car (proxies) because they don’t work after a certain time is not the same as hiding them, trust me!’

    I too have reservations about using certain tree-ring proxies when they are known to breakdown at times but the cause is not understood. Perhaps the car above also stopped running in 2001!? Perhaps it recovered in 2002 but failed again for different reasons in 2004…

    Jerry, the salient point for me is that temperature reconstructions are broadly consistent whether tree-ring data is included or excluded. The recent sharp rise in temperature is prominent in multiple independent studies and begs an explanation. Hopefully this represents an example of healthy skepticism on my part, a weighing of complex and challenging specific information in a broader context with wider support. I don’t lose any sleep over problematic behaviour in individual tree-ring proxy studies. I do lose sleep over the decade on decade temperature rise unfolding in line with climate scientists predictions re AGW.

  36. 186
    Andrew Hobbs says:

    #153 Jack Maloney

    “The ICO statement was a response to the UEA’s attempt to minimize or dismiss the significance of CRU’s resistance to FOI requests.” Incorrect. The statement was given in response to “…persistent enquiries from the Sunday Times journalist, Mr, Leake.” and “…The ICO does not wish to encourage further media reports on the matter, indeed our original press statement was only drafted for one journalist in response to a specific enquiry.”

    “The letter also confirmed the ICO’s previous statement that the university had failed in its duties under the Freedom of Information Act by rejecting requests for data.”
    Incorrect on two counts. One, the ICO has clarified in their letter to the UEA that there was only prima facie evidence of an offence under section 77. However prima facie evidence does not mean that it is true. It only allows a presumption of fact unless it is rebutted. However the truth or otherwise via presentation of evidence and of arguments and rebuttals has been specifically ruled out since the ICO sees no point, since nothing can be done due to the time limits. Two, the matter at hand deals with ‘the Holland case’ and so “the FOI request at issue did not concern raw data but private email exchanges”.

    Therefore no conclusions can be drawn. The statement nowhere indicated that an offence had been committed under the FOI Act, which would require an ICO decision notice. In fact the letter from the ICO to the UEA specifically states “The statement was not inaccuate and the ICO is not responsible for the way in which the media and others may interpret or write around an ICO statement.”, and “Errors like this are frequently made in press reports and the ICO cannot be expected to correct them, particularly when the ICO has not itself referred to penalties or sanctions in its own statement.”

    The latter clearly indicates that the ICO considers Leake to have misinterpretted the press statement.

    As for complaint made under the section 50, that has still to be decided.

    ICO and UEA letters at – http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/CRUstatements/ICOcorrespondence

  37. 187
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Walter Manny says of my position “The Guardian and Randerson have committed the sin of not being sufficiently passionate,… ”

    It would seem that they level of passion does not extend all the way to telling the truth or practicing the normal standards of journalism.

  38. 188
    Kris says:

    #177, Steve Fish:

    Here: http://bit.ly/ctGtkq is an official letter from the Information Commissioner to UEA clarifying the press statement. (The link is to a Google copy, the original was on bishophill blog, but apparently it has been pulled). Relevant excerpt:

    “The prima facie evidence from the published emails indicate an attempt to defeat disclosure by deleting information. It is hard to imagine more cogent prima facie evidence. Given that this was in the public domain and has
    been discussed in the media and on various websites over a number of weeks, the
    ICO’s view, as I indicated when we spoke yesterday, is that the University must have
    understood that the question whether an offence under section 77 had been
    committed would be looked at. In the event, the matter cannot be taken forward
    because of the statutory time limit. ”

    This is subsequently reiterated:

    “The fact that the elements of a section 77 offence may have been found here,
    but cannot be acted on because of the elapsed time, is a very serious matter.
    The ICO is not resiling from its position on this.”

    Offence under section 77 is destruction of data under a FOIA request (Jones’ infamous email about deleting the AR4 emails). However, the deletion of data is only an offence if the requesting party was entitled to obtain the information.

    What I get from all of this is:

    – If the offence was commited or not depends on whether the information in question was or was not exempt from FOI, so
    – ICO would have to make an investigation to determine that, however
    – the statutory time limit has passed, so the ICO is actually not allowed to press charges (and hence will not investigate?)

    For Prof. Jones that may be actually worse than if he was charged, because then he could at least try to prove his case in court. Here, he is left with an allegation and no right to defend himself.

    Also, of interest is a statement to the parliamentary committee investigating the case made by the former Information Commissioner (http://bit.ly/afNr0K )
    and his oral testimony (http://bit.ly/abpi7Y ). He basically views the whole thing as a problem with the law itself and recommends to change it.

  39. 189
    Septic Matthew says:

    173, John P. Reisman

    How would the fee and dividend address the carbon fuel content of imported goods? As written at your site, it would continue the push of manufacturing to “developing” nations like China and India, as the EU carbon offsets have done so much of. It becomes a net loss to the environment (consider their industrial pollution) and a net loss to the EU (and potentially to the US.)

  40. 190
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Gerry Quinn, Well, since you are too lazy to go find the reference yourself, here it is:
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v391/n6668/abs/391678a0.html

    And Jones cited it. If you had any decency, you’d apologize to Jones, but I’m not waiting up.

  41. 191
    Edward Greisch says:

    160 Frank Giger: Of course you are right and I was sarcastic. The problem with democracy is that Congress didn’t pass ANY climate change legislation yet.

    Under the present circumstance, we as a species would have a much better chance of survival if Jim Hansen had been appointed world dictator for matters of climate in 1988.
    Since we have a democracy/plutocracy, survival requires that we scientists take political action. That is a fish-out-of-water thing.

    How would you proceed?

  42. 192
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Oakwood,
    Oh, struck a nerve, did I? Well, perhaps you can point out where the tactics of the climate denialists differ from those of creationists. When I look, I see:
    1)Both creationists and denialists refuse to acknowledge the overwhelming mountain of evidence contrary to their position.
    2)Both concentrate on single studies or misinterpretations of studies to try to weaken the case of their opponents.
    3)Both seek to further their case in the courts, on editorial pages and in the political process rather than in the peer-reviewed literature.
    4)Neither presents any coherent alternative to the theories they oppose.
    5)Both are motivated in their opposition by ideology rather than evidence.
    6)Both allege conspiracy and censorship by the “mainstream science journals”.
    7)Both receive support from political or ideological think tanks.
    8)Both decry the role of consensus in science.
    9)Neither has advanced understanding of their subject matter.
    10)Both seek to change the scientific method (climate deniers by “auditing” rather than replicating results and creationists by introducing supernatural causation)

    I could go on. If you like, I could also substitute anti-vaxers or Moon-landing hoaxers. But I think this is sufficient to illustrate that anti-science is anti-science, whether motivated by a particular religious sentiment or by libertarian ideology. It’s time to tell the truth, whether it offends or not.

  43. 193
    Kris says:

    #128 Edward Greisch:

    “The bad news is, we live in democracies, to varying degrees. The US has a form of democracy that is usually plutocracy. So Congress can’t or won’t just do the right thing. ”

    Well, the EU (supposedly a democracy) did manage to implement the RoHS (lead-free solder) and WEEE (electronic waste recycling) directives, effectively forcing ALL electronic industry in the world into a costly retooling, and despite the fact that everyone in the industry hates these regulations. The same EU also implements its own CO2 reduction policy (ETS and decreasing emission quotas), despite the protests from the industry and member states.

    “The problem we have with GW is overcoming a TRillion dollar cashflow.”

    The EU CO2 permits currently trade at around EUR 13 per ton (peak was EUR 32.90, but now we are in recession and mostly everyone fits within free preallocated quota hence there is no much demand for extra permits). The world emissions are 27Gt/y, at current price this is $0.35T. At $37 per ton you get a nice $1T… Now show me a government which will not be seduced by a prospect of taxing THAT.

    Which is why I believe that some form of a CO2 taxation scheme will be ultimately pushed through worldwide — it is, after all a tax on air, an ultimate dream of every government. The only question, in my opinion, is how effective it will be — i.e. how much emission reduction it will actually accomplish. I, personally, would not bet on the 450 ppm target.

  44. 194
    Hank Roberts says:

    > using certain tree-ring proxies when they are known to breakdown
    > at times but the cause is not understood

    Yeah, but why do you believe that’s a fair description of reality?
    Could you say which proxies, out of how many available proxies?
    Could you say what kind of tree, out of how many kinds of trees?
    Could you say where this occurs, out of how many locations looked at?
    Could you say _when_ this occurs, out of what span of time studied?
    Could you, in other words, show you understand what’s known so far?

    If so you’d be up to about equal to what any senior in high school should be able to find out in half an hour at the library. Can you attain the level of writing a school science paper about this issue?

    It ain’t much to ask.

    If not, you’re probably reading Blog Science and very confused.

    Suggestion: find out what the science has to say, instead of believing what some guy on a blog tells you about it.

  45. 195
    Edward Greisch says:

    152 John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation): Agreed that the journalists have got to get it right. How do we get the journalists to get it right?
    Do you want Gavin to take a job at the Guardian? [I doubt if that would be OK with Gavin.]
    Do you want free tuition for journalists in science and math courses at night?
    Do you want RC to ghost-write articles for the Guardian?
    Do you want RC to edit articles before the Guardian publishes?
    Do you want the Guardian to hire only scientists as reporters from now on?

    None of these seem likely to happen. Is there anybody out there who could help, maybe by offering free courses to journalists? I don’t see any short term solutions that are likely to happen.

    Since journalism school does not require the courses that would enable journalists to get it right on their own, just telling them to get it right isn’t going to work. They don’t have that ability. I mean they have not taken the Engineering and Science Core Curriculum, never mind degrees in science. The journalists also have no experience as researchers in science. Science majors don’t take journalism courses.

    Long term solutions to the problem:
    Run for the school board.
    Get appointed to the State Board of Regents. Change the requirements for graduation.
    Get appointed to the University Board of Trustees. Change the requirements for graduation.
    Create a new major in science journalism.

    Longer term solution: Just wait for evolution to take care of it. Woops! evolution was what we were trying to avoid since evolution involves a lot of death.

  46. 196
    Len Conly says:

    I would urge James Randerson to read Jeff Masters of Weather Underground on the creation of the “manufactured doubt” industry by Hill and Knowlton in 1954:

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1389.

    “Create doubt, uncertainty, and confusion. Throw mud at the anti-smoking research under the assumption that some of it is bound to stick. And buy time, lots of it, in the bargain.”

    The controversy over the East Anglia emails reeks of Hill and Knowlton.

    Hill & Knowlton have undermined public confidence in the science around asbestos, lead, cadmium, the ozone hole, you name it.

    “In 1954, the tobacco industry realized it had a serious problem. Thirteen scientific studies had been published over the preceding five years linking smoking to lung cancer. With the public growing increasingly alarmed about the health effects of smoking, the tobacco industry had to move quickly to protect profits and stem the tide of increasingly worrisome scientific news. Big Tobacco turned to one the world’s five largest public relations firms, Hill and Knowlton, to help out. Hill and Knowlton designed a brilliant Public Relations (PR) campaign to convince the public that smoking is not dangerous. They encouraged the tobacco industry to set up their own research organization, the Council for Tobacco Research (CTR), which would produce science favorable to the industry, emphasize doubt in all the science linking smoking to lung cancer, and question all independent research unfavorable to the tobacco industry. The CTR did a masterful job at this for decades, significantly delaying and reducing regulation of tobacco products. George Washington University epidemiologist David Michaels, who is President Obama’s nominee to head the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), wrote a meticulously researched 2008 book called, ‘Doubt is Their Product: How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens Your Health.’ In the book, he wrote: ‘the industry understood that the public is in no position to distinguish good science from bad. Create doubt, uncertainty, and confusion. Throw mud at the anti-smoking research under the assumption that some of it is bound to stick. And buy time, lots of it, in the bargain’. The title of Michaels’ book comes from a 1969 memo from a tobacco company executive: ‘Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy’. Hill and Knowlton, on behalf of the tobacco industry, had founded the ‘Manufactured Doubt’ industry.”

    “Suffice to say, the Manufactured Doubt campaign against global warming–funded by the richest corporations in world history–is probably the most extensive and expensive such effort ever. We don’t really know how much money the fossil fuel industry has pumped into its Manufactured Doubt campaign, since they don’t have to tell us. The website exxonsecrets.org estimates that ExxonMobil alone spent $20 million between 1998 – 2007 on the effort. An analysis done by Desmogblog’s Kevin Grandia done in January 2009 found that skeptical global warming content on the web had doubled over the past year. Someone is paying for all that content …

  47. 197
    ccpo says:

    Like #15 above, I too would like to have a well-researched piece on the key skeptics … which I presume the Guardian would be able to do since their articles include the following comment, repeated above:

    All this happened against the backdrop of a long-term assault by politically motivated, and commercially funded, climate-change deniers against the activities of many of the key scientists featuring in the emails.

    Dr Randerson, it really would clear the air considerably if the funding and the political motivation of the likes of McIntyre, Watts, Mosher etc could be exposed, particularly given the mud that has been thrown at the chair of the IPCC and some of the people appointed to the various enquiries that are going on. Would you please urgently at very least publish the information that you collected to support the Guardians comments above?

    Comment by Margaret — 25 March 2010 @ 2:07 AM

    Look up Naomi Oreskes, among others. The research has already been done.

  48. 198
    Edward Greisch says:

    193 Kris: “Now show me a government which will not be seduced by a prospect of taxing THAT. Which is why I believe that some form of a CO2 taxation scheme will be ultimately pushed through worldwide — it is, after all a tax on air, an ultimate dream of every government.”

    CO2 is NOT air. We can only hope that they do in fact tax CO2, and soon and steeply.

  49. 199
    Edward Greisch says:

    Reference: “Fighting Identity” by Michael Vlahos

    Question: Are we creating identity for the denialists?

  50. 200
    Ammonite says:

    #194 Hank, my understanding is informed through summary reviews by authors such as D’Arrigo regarding recent (post ~1970) changes in tree growth temperature sensitivity at various locations in northern forests and their possible causes. To be clear, I claim no expertise and in no way seek to cast aspersions on tree-ring analysis or any of the scientists involved. I intend to educate myself further on the topic but probably won’t be aiming at the ‘school science paper’ level.