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The CRU hack

Filed under: — group @ 20 November 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update: The official UEA statement is as follows:

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

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

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

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

Update II: Please comment on the next thread.

1,092 Responses to “The CRU hack”

  1. 951

    SE: There is at least a 75% chan

    SE: There is at least a 75% chance that the release was the act of a Whistle blowing and not hacking.

    BPL: Did you wipe that pseudo-figure off before displaying it here?

  2. 952
    s. wing says:

    Gavin, thank you for your response to my comment #754, on which I again comment…

    [Response: Again weird. Why is a figure that no-one had ever mentioned in the 10 years since it was published until Thursday this week now the most important issue in climate science? … – gavin]

    Very good question. The simple answer is that the figure is becoming a barometer for the integrity of the climate science community, at least in their dealings with the public.

    That graph was cooked. What it looks like the data shows is a manipulated artifact. You know it and now I know it. Your website once carried a ‘Julia Child cookbook’ article (Stefan’s?) on somebody else’s cooked graph and, if so inclined, you would have no difficulty at all in doing a similarly damning expose on this graph.

    Whether you admit that, or you instead continue to defend the graph and minimize its relevance, speaks to your own scientific integrity in your dealings with the public. You are effectively choosing whether your website is communicating the science issues in a balanced manner or is instead a petty partisan vehicle for one side of a polarized debate.

    [Response: … Are we supposed to imagine that this was influential in your thinking on the subject and now you feel confused? Ha. … – gavin]

    Exactly so. If you are referring to my prior assumptions on the scientific balance of you and your website then you have hit the nail on the head.

    [Response: … Am I supposed to “think carefully” about every figure that has ever been published (regardless of how influential or not) that anyone might have an issue with? That’s just ridiculous. … – gavin]

    If you are going to comment on and defend the figure then yes you should.

    [Response: … Science is always a work in progress and if you want to know what the community thinks of as the most informative and useful figures, read the the last IPCC report. – gavin]

    That is not mainly what I want to know. I am more interested in obtaining a reasonable approximation to the scientific truth. In that quest, I will decide for myself which figures and information are most informative and useful, which in turn I judge to a large extent on the perceived integrity of the sources.For example, the IPCC report would mean diddly squat to me if I decided I couldn’t trust the process and/or its authors. Ditto your website. The same will be true for the public at large.

    Explaining the science is the easy part for you. Establishing and maintaining your credibility with the public is the main battle for your website and, more generally, for effectively communicating the grave risks of climate change to the general public. And, not by your choice, this particular graph is currently prominent in that discussion.

    Again, you should not try to defend the graph or minimize its relevance. It was cooked, and you should admit that.

    Thanks, s. wing

    [Response: How could I minimize a relevance that is already zero? There are no hard and fast rules for making figures, and so the issue is only to be clear what it is you have done. I agree that the caption on the WMO report was not clear enough to know exactly what had been done. Captions on similar graphs in the IPCC reports for instance are much better in that regard. – gavin]

  3. 953
    Bill says:

    re #914/ Gavin’s comment: I was not talking about temp proxy’s from trees nor, about the CRU raw original dataset which you have said is ‘ not available except out in the remote stations in handwriting form. I was merely saying that if we are relying on the GISS dataset for decision making , we need to be very sure that its totally valid.

    [Response: I think you are a little confused. What decision is being made that depends on the monthly global mean temperature in Oct 2009, or Jul 1902 or decadal mean of 1940-1949? Decisions are instead being made given the conclusions arrived at from weighing the balance of evidence from hundreds of studies, data set, models and observations that concluded that the human imprint on climate is significant and likely to grow. There is no such thing as a ‘totally valid’ observation – every data set is uncertain in some way – whether it is on how you deal with station moves, or how you tie together two different satellites, deal with changes in instrumentation, correct for missing values etc. However, the conclusions you make must be robust to those issues – and they are – see the IPCC report for details. – gavin]

  4. 954
    James Staples says:

    What was it the Wise Man said? Something like, “There is no pool shallow enough that, somewhere on the www, someone will be drowning in it?”
    George Soros, BTW, has funded many a Good Thing – including several Noble Petition Initiatives in Oregon State, where I live; sooooo…..
    Note to Hackers and Quacks; Don’t be messin’ with Mr. Soros – or we’ll send Guido and Vinnie to have ‘little talk’ wit’ch ya!

    [Response: It’s probably worth pointing out that, contrary to some rumours, RealClimate has nothing to do with George Soros and I’m pretty sure I’d remember if I’d met or communicated with him. – gavin]

  5. 955
    Jebediah Springfield says:

    What I find most disturbing is this (from the WSJ):

    “More recent exchanges centered on requests by independent climate researchers for access to data used by British scientists for some of their papers…Many of the email exchanges discussed ways to decline such requests for information, on the grounds that the data was confidential or was intellectual property.”

    Isn’t this a basic violation of the transparency needed for good science?

  6. 956
    dhogaza says:

    Gavin – as a key NASA and climate player you are in a position to help change what appear to be very lenient attitudes towards attempts to thwart full and total compliance with every FOIA request. Please do that. Now

    CRU’s FOI compliance people rejected McIntyre’s claim. Why should Gavin “as a key NASA player” try to get CRU to respond to FOI request when the legal people say the law doesn’t require them to do so? Especially when the FOI request covers data that CRU doesn’t have the legal right to distribute?

    I really don’t understand the thinking of you people …

    1. felony hacking of a server is fine

    2. CRU should be forced to release raw data it doesn’t have full rights to

    3. FOI requests should be fulfilled even if there’s no legal obligation to do so

    4. Journals should publish crap as long as it’s denialist crap, abandoning quality standards in order to do so


  7. 957
    vukcevic says:

    Two major blogs ‘RealClimate’ and ‘WUWT’ are the most prominent internet discussion platforms currently voicing many views and opinions on the matter of the unauthorized release of emails.
    There are scientists of either persuasion attending both blogs. It does not require great deal of courage to express your view publicly to a sympathetic audience. In many authoritarian societies scientists risked frequently not only ‘excommunication’ but personal freedom or even more to stand by their ideas.
    Hereby I propose that contributors from both camps ‘RealClimate’ and ‘WUWT’ (using their real names) should be welcomed by moderators to post on the competing blog.
    The above will be posted on both ‘RealClimate’ and ‘WUWT’ and I hope the moderators, in the interest of freedom of scientific expression, will publicly issue invitation and welcome the opposition.

  8. 958
    Neo says:

    Looking forward to Dendro Shiyatov explaining to the Russian authorities about Briffa sending money to his personal bank account so as to avoid tax. (0826209667)

    [Response: He is responsible for his own tax returns, but it is worth noting that tax avoidance is perfectly legal (tax evasion is not). – gavin]

  9. 959
    David Horton says:

    My apologies to #715, I was caught by the curse of the shifting thread numbers. New #729 was the most foolish denial comment of the year. But as always, plenty of competition (#721, #747, #765) – the opportunity for misplaced gloating seems to have really flushed them out..

  10. 960
    CM says:

    Further to Martin Vermeer’s point above that it’s legal to delete materials not subject to a FOI request, most of the people commenting on the illegality of deleting emails are probably not familiar with the relevant British law and practice. Nor am I. But the official guidance states that “staff must identify email messages that are records of their business activities and those that are not” and are in fact required to eventually delete those that do not belong in the corporate official record.

  11. 961
    Juan says:

    Am I correct when I say that even thought the guy in the “prettied up” his graph for presentation, the actual data from the research is available unaltered?

    [Response: Of course. – gavin]

  12. 962

    another denier: Are these emails illegally hacked? There seems to be a suggestion they are from a whistleblower at UEA

    BPL: The “suggestions” of that nature are all coming from the denialists in an effort to make the hackers look noble, instead of like the criminals they actually are.

  13. 963
    Brian Fox says:

    A simple thank you for this thread.

    Since I discovered RC it’s been a great resource to help understand & explain climate change.

    Here, though, you have really gone the extra mile to put the context and understanding into this scandal.

    Don’t let the bastards grind you down !

  14. 964
    Eli Rabett says:

    Eli strongly suggests Mr. Hunkins monitor nasawatch. Giss is but a very small part of NASA.

  15. 965
    encs says:

    Looking forward to Dendro Shiyatov explaining to the Russian authorities about Briffa sending money to his personal bank account so as to avoid tax.

    Christ, get a life.

  16. 966
    Deech56 says:

    This was an interesting paragraph from the Washington Post article:

    Christopher Horner, a senior fellow at the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute who has questioned whether climate change is human-caused, blogged that the e-mails have “the makings of a very big” scandal. “Imagine this sort of news coming in the field of AIDS research,” he added.

    Can we now say that Chris Horner equates AGW denialism to AIDS/HIV denialism? We should be so lucky.

  17. 967
    Allan says:

    If this event had involved a political party there would be howls of laughter by most in the community followed by demands of resignation of those whose actions have been brought into the public light by this courageous whistle blower.
    Any person or group who rely on the public purse either as a scientific bureaucratic or academic researcher also rely on public goodwill.
    In Australia we have recently had CSIRO management attempt to stop a paper written by one of its academics in the very subject he was employed to write about ie the best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions economically.
    It is plain to me as a layman who is trying to educate myself about AGW that I can no longer trust at all relevant research is published because of the endemic censorship within flagship climate institutes.
    Trust is hard won and easily lost.
    And if you loose the trust of the media, look out.
    Just ask any politician.

  18. 968
    Timothy Chase says:

    Bill wrote in 933:

    Re 912 &] #914 ex Timothy

    My concern re. GISS data.It seems to be the main (?only)dataset which can be validated and is acceptable to the mainstream IPCC in making policy which may affect huge numbers of people and involve trillions of dollars. There is nothing vague about wanting to see data validation before such regulatory decisions are made.As the satellite data doesn’t seem to be seen as very relevant to IPCC for policy makers( although not to me), we had better check to see whether the only existing surface station data and analyses are robust and relatively error free.Suitable for purpose,so to speak.

    As the following post at Logical Science indicates: Pouring Salt On Climate Critics “Contaminated” WoundsLogical Science
    Logical Science, Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    … both UAH and RSS much the same warming trend in global measurements as NASA GISS.

    Although not mentioned Hadley CRU likewise shows nearly the same exact trend as NASA GISS (once one accounts for different base years) but for recent years due to its lack of coverage in the arctic.

    Please see the following for the similarity of GISS, NCDCC and HadCRU:

    Global Temperature from GISS, NCDC, HadCRU
    January 24, 2008

    … and the following for HadCRU’s lack of coverage in the arctic:

    A warming pause?
    6 October 2009

    … and there is a somewhat warmer trend using satellite-based skin temperature measurements with NOAA’s AVHRR.

    In fact the only trend which really stands out is UAH. It has a rather embarassing history of errors.

    Please see for example:

    Over the years, a lot of problems with the UAH analysis have been identified, but the most significant was discovered in 2005. UAH didn’t properly adjust for orbital decay, which changes the time of day calculation. After this flaw was corrected, warming was found to be 40% higher than previously thought.

    4. The Temperature Record, “The satellites are the most accurate thermometers.”

    … and it likely has fairly significant errors today — as suggested by seasonal trends.

    Please see:

    Seasonal divergence in tropospheric temperature trends
    March 5, 2009

    … and:

    Seasonal divergence in tropospheric temperature trends, part 2
    March 26, 2009

    Likewise (as included in the piece by logical science), when you calculate US temperature trends based upon the “best stations” as picked by Climate Audit, it shows a nearly identical warming trend as that shown when you include all stations. What errors exist seem to be evenly distributed about the actual values, and as such, given the law of large numbers they tend to cancel out, where the average measurement is known with a far greater degree of accuracy than any of the measurements that it includes.

    Your continued concerns have already been addressed and at this point have been shown to be unfounded. I can only assume either you are uninformed or have an axe to grind.

  19. 969
    Bill1234 says:

    Gavin, your reply to 864 makes no sense.

    I suppose you are making the argument that YOU are NOT Jones, but what he’s done here with the resistance of calls for his raw data is not defensible.

    As regards your own GISS dataset, what is needed is NOT the adjusted data, but the raw data so that the algorithm used to adjust the data can be tested against other averaging methods, including one which considers rural data WITHOUT adjustments, weighted wrt geographic extent.

    [Response: Sure. The raw data is the GHCN data (v2.mean.Z) (publicly available, as has been the case for decades). – gavin]

  20. 970
    Jerry Steffens says:

    The number of comments on this post is going up faster than the CO2 content of the atmosphere!

  21. 971
    Ron R. says:

    To parahrase Shakespeare, this is a tempest in a teapot. Much ado about nothing.

  22. 972
    Eve says:

    I loved the Team’s method of dealing with C02 scenario’s. Synthesis team being the IPCC.

    I want to make one thing really clear. We ARE NOT supposed to be working
    with the assumption that these scenarios are realistic. They are
    scenarios-internally consistent (or so we thought) what-if storylines.
    You are in fact out of line to assume that these are in some sense
    realistic-this is in direct contradiction to the guidance on scenarios
    provided by the synthesis team.

    If you want to do ‘realistic CO2 effects studies, you must do sensitivity
    analyses bracketing possible trajectories. We do not and cannot not and
    must not prejudge what realistic CO2 trajectories are, as they are
    ultimatley a political decision (except in the sense that reserves and
    resources provide an upper bound).

    ‘Advice’ will be based on a mix of different approaches that must reflect
    the fact that we do not have high coinfidence in GHG projections nor full
    confidence in climate ystem model projections of consequences.


    [Response: And you find this amusing why? Perhaps instead of scenarios for future emissions, you would prefer they hired a soothsayer? – gavin]

  23. 973
    petek says:

    Should be published to create a fair view.

    Seems to become a sceptic. If this was altready posted, delete it.

  24. 974

    another denier: Why not let anyone interested have the data and code for these studies?

    BPL: For the tenth or twentieth time, THEY ALREADY DO. Why don’t you read the rest of the thread before posting?

  25. 975
    conversefive says:

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

    As is, maybe, AGW?

    [Response: Sorry, but no. – gavin]

  26. 976
    Rod says:

    I anxiously anticipate skeptics calling for access to your instruments once they invent an issue with the raw data. It just won’t end with them, it’s epistemological lunacy.

  27. 977

    BPL: Don’t confuse climate with weather

    Joe V: Climate is the accumulted results of weather paterns over a long time series. So how is it not important to be able to predict the weather when considering climate prediction.

    BPL: Educate yourself. Study a textbook on probability and statistics. When you understand how a ca si no can stay in business even though every hand of bla ckj ack or rol l of the di ce is unpredictable, you will understand how weather is different from climate.

  28. 978
    Tom Graney says:

    Let’s face it, the general public doesn’t do science very well and when you add in a large dose of politics, it becomes hopeless. It is going to take a very ,very long time to the dust to settle from this, so those of you doing the science might as well just resign yourselves to doing nothing but science and leave the political sphere and the blogosphere entirely alone. Nothing but time will solve your problem now.

  29. 979
    Jim Bouldin says:

    CRS at 2:24PM says:

    “I cannot tell you how damaging this might be, but since public interest in, and belief in, our science is now flagging, this may in fact be a watershed event. I’m expecting that our cause is thrown back years, if not permanently.

    You’re kidding right? How about you give your name and what
    “climate solutions” it is you work on. Better yet, how about you not give up the ship because some criminals stole some information and gave it to deniers who then fire-hosed the crap all over the internet. Just before Copenhagen and the Senate bill debate of course.

  30. 980
    Jim Bouldin says:

    “To parahrase Shakespeare, this is a tempest in a teapot. Much ado about nothing.”

    Has there ever been anything from the crowd that’s foaming at the mouth over this that isn’t?

  31. 981
    Hank Roberts says:

    J. Bob says: 22 novembre 2009 at 3:50 PM
    “… a more realistic … 40-year convolution filter”

    “more realistic” according to whom? Are you quoting your own work from
    wattsup in /2009/09/09/forecasting-the-earth’s-temperature/ ?

    I’d recommend relying more on Tamino’s work; BPL cautioned there:

    “I am very suspicious of sinusoidal curve fits to almost any data unless you have strong a priori reasons for suspecting a particular physical mechanism. The reason is that sinusoidal curves can be fit to any data at all. All you’re doing in such a case is Fourier-analyzing the data….”

  32. 982
    Xyrus says:

    #948 Comment by Joseph Hunkins — 22 November 2009 @ 3:49 PM
    “Gavin – as a key NASA and climate player you are in a position to help change what appear to be very lenient attitudes towards attempts to thwart full and total compliance with every FOIA request. Please do that. Now.”

    Seriously, have people actually read these emails?

    First, Gavin is not a god (though he is trying ;) ).

    Second, you may have noticed that Gavin work for GISS which is a US institution while the hack occured at CRU which is in England. While both countries have implementations of FOIA’s, they are different and have completely separate jurisdictions.

    And again, you need to read the emails. Not just the selected quotes or emails your favorite filter wants you to see. Anyone reading the email chains in regards to these request can see the scientists were fed up with frivolous requests. Even their FOI rep agreed the requests were unreasonable.


  33. 983
    vukcevic says:

    Re: 957
    vukcevic says:
    22 November 2009 at 3:57 PM

    From WUWT
    “Reply: When do we not welcome all views? All we ask is for commentators to behave courteously. ~ ctm”

    You may consider this as an invitation to voice your views on WUWT.
    Phil Clarke is already there, anyone else?

    “then Gavin should have nothing to fear and should immediately release ALL the documents, in their context and entirety.”

    Phil Clarke (13:24:56) :
    It’s not Gavin’s to release. Even so, – absolutely not. Some seem to have lost sight of the fact that there were personal and private communications, some even marked CONFIDENTIAL, that have been distributed after an illegal act. You don’t ameliorate one crime by committing another. These communications were sent with a perfectly legitimate expectation of privacy, and could and should only be reproduced with the permission of the sender.

    Phil Clarke is already there, anyone else?

  34. 984
    Ray Ladbury says:

    vukcevik says “Hereby I propose that contributors from both camps ‘RealClimate’ and ‘WUWT’ (using their real names) should be welcomed by moderators to post on the competing blog.”

    Thanks, but we’ll keep the scientists. You can keep your loons.

  35. 985
    dhogaza says:

    I loved the Team’s method of dealing with C02 scenario’s.

    If you can tell “The Team” exactly what treaties and laws will be adapted in the coming decades, and exactly what effect they’ll have on the consumption of fossil fuel and human emissions of CO2, I’m sure once proven correct they’ll be more than happy to adopt your authoritative numbers rather than their scenarios based on possible actions we might take.

    I love the way denialists castigate “The Team” for not being able to predict future political actions and technological advances. The Team … such pikers!

  36. 986
    Ray Ladbury says:

    There appear to be lots of folks who think they can make the coming crisis go away via calumny and character assassination alone. And yet, just as before, there are still all those mountains of evidence bearing witness to their false witness. Sorry guys, but unless you can get self delusion accepted as a global policy, at some point you’ll have to look at the evidence. Your quarrel is with objective reality, not with scientists.

  37. 987
    Rod B says:

    gt4 (way back in 634…) As a skeptic, I’m bothered that skeptical scientists have a very difficult time getting grants to pursue their ideas. But I have no problem per se with the proponents getting grants and funding; there’s nothing untoward about that.

  38. 988
    Xyrus says:

    #952: Comment by Jebediah Springfield — 22 November 2009 @ 3:54 PM

    “What I find most disturbing is this (from the WSJ):

    More recent exchanges centered on requests by independent climate researchers for access to data used by British scientists for some of their papers…Many of the email exchanges discussed ways to decline such requests for information, on the grounds that the data was confidential or was intellectual property.

    If by independent researchers you mean Steve McIntyre, then yes. And depending on where the data is coming from there may very well be restrictions on dissemination.

    “Isn’t this a basic violation of the transparency needed for good science?”

    No. The research is published and peer-reviewed. What the FOI requests were for was BEYOND that and was deemed unreasonable (if not a breach of policy).


  39. 989
    AJ says:

    There seems to be some ridicule here of the hypothesis that it was someone with legitimate access to these files that released them. I haven’t seen any evidence either way, certainly nothing to justify criticism of the idea that it was an insider. The only common-sense observation I have is that it would take a really, really, really bored individual to illegally hack this server, not knowing what was contained within, and sift through all the correspondence. It is far easier to believe that someone who was privy to this information was responsible for its release. Of course the relevance of this is that someone with a far better understanding of the situation than us (general public) felt that something unethical was going on. This comment from the Examiner:

    “Persons knowledgeable in information security hold that this is not the behavior of a hacker. A hacker normally boasts of his act, even if he were hired or otherwise suborned to commit his act by someone else. These two reports provide illustrations of such behavior.

    Other commenters have observed that the very form and organization of the archive, which expands to 168 MB of text files, word-processing documents, PDF files, raw data, and even program code, indicate that someone already having access to the system logged in through his usual channels, made the archive, and then logged out. The user’s choice of words indicate someone having a motive to disclose to the world certain activities and mindsets that the user found distasteful, at least.”

  40. 990
    Xyrus says:

    #958: Comment by Neo — 22 November 2009 @ 4:04 PM

    Looking forward to Dendro Shiyatov explaining to the Russian authorities about Briffa sending money to his personal bank account so as to avoid tax. (0826209667)

    [Response: He is responsible for his own tax returns, but it is worth noting that tax avoidance is perfectly legal (tax evasion is not). – gavin]

    To add to Gavin’s point, in the email Shiyatov asks for all the proper paperwork for the approval and accounting. There was nothing nefarious about it.

    Try reading the whole email instead of just the parts you like.


  41. 991
    Peter Webster says:

    Re: message 898

    Please explain, Charlie, when was it a “mistake” to provide a scientist with data?

    BTW, and as an aside, I think the 1940’s bump raises some unanswered questions.
    Are you saying these should not be raised or some groups think they should not be raised?



  42. 992
    CM says:

    Neo, these innuendos about Russian scientists are ugly, ignorant cheap shots.

    It is perfectly legal to transfer funding to scientists’ bank accounts. It is perfectly legal to send $10,000 dollars twice rather than $20,000 once. The thing was, single transfers of over $10,000 triggered mandatory reporting to the tax authorities. Avoiding costly bureaucracy, not to mention the attention of cleptocratic officials, by not sending too much money at a time would not only be legit, it would be responsible use of the taxpayers’ money used to fund the Russian scientists.

    Look, the email’s from 1996, five years after the fall of Communism. Do you have the vaguest notion of the bureaucratic and logistic hoops Russians had to jump through to get anything done at all (let alone world-class research)? Do you have the vaguest notion of the state the Russian tax system was in, or rather the state the Russian tax systems were in, in 1996? I don’t think so. Having done some NGO work in Russia in the early 1990s, I very much understand the Russian scientists’ concern with transferring the funding in such a way that they could actually keep some of it to do science with.

  43. 993
    Rod B says:

    mommycalled (724), you need to call on Barney Frank for support??? You have my sympathies!

  44. 994
    vukcevic says:

    In last hour or so a number of hits to my website came from :
    obviously to find out my attitude to AGW. Not much there on the matter, but for those interested here it is:
    I believe that there is climate change but not necessarily AGW. My work on the subject is still ‘work in progress’, initial draft can be found here:
    You are welcome to ‘take it apart’ here or anywhere else you whish, as long as I am told where to find it, in case I whish to respond. My email is vukcevicu(at)

  45. 995

    manacker: If you have put in the hard study based on rational skepticism (see Wiki for definition) and found holes in the science supporting the premise that AGW, caused principally by human CO2 emissions, is a potential serious threat, then you are a RATIONAL SKEPTIC (a group, which appears to be growing).

    BPL: Let me rephrase that for you so it’s more accurate. “If you have put in the hard study based on rational skepticism (see Wiki for definition) and found holes in the science supporting the premise that AGW, caused principally by human CO2 emissions, is a potential serious threat, then you are a SELF-DECEIVED PSEUDOSCIENCE CRACKPOT (a group which is probably no larger than it ever was).”

  46. 996
    Neo says:

    CM, nobody has to explain to me about insensitive cleptocratic officials. How I feel will make no difference, but those cleptocratic officials might feel a bit different about it all, and what they will do is something that neither of us can predict.

  47. 997
    SE says:

    Barton Paul Levenson says:
    22 November 2009 at 3:50 PM

    SE: There is at least a 75% chan

    SE: There is at least a 75% chance that the release was the act of a Whistle blowing and not hacking.

    BPL: Did you wipe that pseudo-figure off before displaying it here?”

    It is not a pseudo figure as the more or less the average. Given the targeted nature of the emails someone with some inside knowledge is by far the most likely subject.

    I should have stated there is probably a 75% chance or more that it was an insider a whistle blower that released the emails.

  48. 998
    Rod B says:

    Ray (734), evidence, even strong evidence, that indicates AGW does not make the theory incontrovertible

  49. 999
    Thoughtful Tom says:

    Thank you for your work – this is clearly politically motivated. Your patient responses speak volumes for your integrity. I don’t work in your field and I am sick to death of the deniers and the “It’s all a HOAX” crys every week.
    For what it is worth I post the truth on – a neutral site that for some reason attracts a huge percentage of deniers.

    THANK you for you public service in running this site and dealing with this tempest (in a teapot).

  50. 1000
    bz says:

    It’s illegal, at least in the US, to structure payments to avoid reporting transfers of over $10,000.