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Dr_Evil_Mouse
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Academia at its absolute worst. What the hell were these guys thinking?

I had a student tell me about this earlier last week and I thought at the time that he was just flirting with some ridiculous conspiracy theory. Not only was he right, but now the conspiracy theories are going to be flying fast and thick.

Breach in the global-warming bunker rattles climate science at the worst time

Doug Saunders

Norwich, England — From Saturday's Globe and Mail Published on Friday, Dec. 04, 2009 9:19PM EST Last updated on Saturday, Dec. 05, 2009 11:33AM EST

A short drive from the windswept North Sea coast of England, the Climatic Research Unit occupies a squat, weather-beaten grey concrete building on the campus of the University of East Anglia.

This scientific bunker holds the world's largest trove of climate-change data, gleaned from Siberian tree-ring counts, Greenland ice-layer measurements and centuries-old thermometer readings.

Now the pirating of thousands of e-mail messages from within its walls has revealed a dangerous bunker mentality among the scientists who guarded those records and a data-fudging scandal that has created a crisis of confidence in global-warming science that is threatening to destroy the political consensus around next week's carbon-policy summit in Copenhagen.

Said one scientist working at the institute: “It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that this has set the climate-change debate back 20 years.â€

The crisis intensified yesterday as the head of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the main scientific and political authority on global warming, announced an investigation into the university's practices and the reliability of the findings that have underpinned the UN's climate-change conclusions. The university has launched its own inquiry and on Wednesday ordered the CRU's embattled head, Phil Jones, to step down until it is complete.

On a political level, coming on the eve of the Copenhagen summit, the controversy has been catastrophic: In the last few days, it has prompted opposition politicians in the United States, Britain and Australia to argue that human-caused global warming is a myth.

Saudi Arabian officials now say that they will argue in Copenhagen that carbon-emission controls are pointless because the CRU scandal has nullified any evidence of human-caused atmospheric temperature increase.

The reports the CRU produced from its now-controversial data were the main source of the UN's key global-warming document, the IPCC's report of 2007, which concluded that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal†and that “most†of the global temperature increase since the mid-20th century has been caused by human activity – a conclusion, still supported by the majority of atmospheric scientists, that most governments adopted as the basis of their carbon-emissions policy.

That consensus has been shaken by hundreds of pages of messages, apparently stolen from the lab's servers, which have been interpreted as suggesting that the scientists at the CRU manipulated data to make it deliver a more dramatic message about the human contribution to global warming, destroyed data files that did not support their hypothesis, and tried to prevent critics within the scientific community from having access to their raw information and methods.

Unusually, even sympathetic scientists and some activists have concluded that the credibility of climate science has been seriously harmed.

“We should not underestimate the damage caused by what has happened, either for the science or for the politics of climate change, and potentially it could have some very far-reaching consequences,†said Mike Hulme, a climate scientist at East Anglia whose e-mails were among those included in the pirated files and who has been critical of the secrecy and lack of impartiality in his colleagues' work.

Independent scientists are quick to point out that the actions described in the e-mails do not describe anything like a fabrication of global-warming evidence, and that two other major sets of historical data drawn from the same sources, both held by NASA institutions in the United States, also show a historical warming trend.

That has not stopped right-wing politicians in Western countries from using the scandal to dramatic effect: Yesterday, a group of Hollywood conservatives launched a campaign to revoke the Academy Award given to Al Gore, the former vice-president and a carbon-cap advocate, for his climate documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

But perhaps more important than the ammunition the CRU affair has given to conspiracy theorists is what it has revealed about the awkward role scientists have come to play in the heated world of climate policy.

“I think there is a serious problem with the way scientists are used, and the way they position themselves, in climate-policy debates,†Prof. Hulme said. “Wherever you look around climate change, people are bringing their ideologies, beliefs and values to bear on the science.â€

The CRU files, apparently hacked or leaked from the institute's server, began appearing on websites on Nov. 17, and reached the attention of climate-skeptic groups and the media two days later.

The most contentious e-mail was written by Prof. Jones, the director of the CRU, who wrote to colleagues in 1999, as they studied measurements of Siberian tree rings, which scientists have long realized do not reflect local temperature changes after 1961: “I've just completed Mike's trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 to hide the decline.â€

While it seems clear that he is using “trick†to refer to a change in algorithm to remove the nonsensical data after 1961 and “decline†likely refers to the quality of the data, the phrase has led some of the more extreme critics to conclude that a data-shaping plot was at work.

Referring to weather data from the last decade, another scientist wrote: “The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't.â€

While such insinuations of poor scientific practice have drawn the most attention, more damaging for climate scientists are e-mails which reveal the hostile, partisan, bunker-like atmosphere at the lab, which goes to ridiculous lengths to prevent even moderate critics from seeing any of the raw data.

In one e-mail, Prof. Jones wrote that climate skeptics “have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I'll delete the file rather than send it to anyone.â€

As it happens, Prof. Jones admitted earlier this year that he “accidentally†deleted some of the CRU's raw-data files, material that the centre says amounts to about 5 per cent of its collection.

Prof. Jones wrote of efforts to deter skeptics from having access to data: “We will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!†In another, he asks that several of his colleagues “delete any e-mails†about their work on the IPCC's 2007 report.

That sort of language has led many people, including climate scientists, to worry that the scientific findings of the centre have been undermined by scientists who see themselves as activists trying to prove a case rather than impartial arbiters of scientific fact.

As the political fallout escalated yesterday, it became apparent that it may take some time for climate scientists to repair their collective reputation.

In Australia, 10 shadow ministers in the opposition Liberal Party resigned in the wake of the revelations, in protest against their party's support for Australia's carbon-reduction bill.

In the United States, Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner, leader of a climate-skeptic caucus, declared that the e-mails “call into question the whole science of climate change†and pledged to resist any climate bill.

And Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, announced that the e-mail leaks provide sufficient proof that climate change is not man-made that there should be no policy resulting from the Dec. 7-18 Copenhagen summit, in which the world's nations will try to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

“It appears from the details of the scandal that there is no relationship whatsoever between human activities and climate change,†said Mohammad al-Sabban, the head of the Saudi Arabian delegation. “Climate is changing for thousands of years, but for natural and not human-induced reasons.â€

While some climate scientists have taken a defensive posture, the crisis has led a number of others to conclude that their approach to the subject needs to change.

Prof. Hulme leads a group of CRU scientists who believe that the extraordinary political importance placed on their research, and the activist, ideological way that research has been used by the IPCC, has put scientists in the position of being the authors of policy – a position that distorts the role of science in society.

“If we simply believe that science dictates policy, then I'm afraid we're living in an unreal world,†Prof. Hulme said. “If people are arguing that science policy should flow seamlessly from the science, then science becomes a battleground, where people start saying that we must get the science on our side. We have lost an openness and a transparency that leads to good science.â€

Prof. Hulme is one of several scientists calling for the raw data of climate-change research to be made available to everyone, including climate-change skeptics, on the Internet. That, he says, would allow genuine research to proceed unhindered. Some of his colleagues also say the IPCC now does more harm than good and should be disbanded.

That position has led some of his colleagues to attack him. This week, several said in Internet posts that such transparency would be unworkable because the matter of climate is too urgent and the stakes too high to allow skeptics to have any influence on policy.

That, Prof. Hulme said, is exactly the attitude that led to the sort of questionable practices chronicled in the CRU e-mails.

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yeah, this is about as bad as it gets. im sure some of what is evidenced in the article can reasonably be explained, but wowser. no doubt, this will be spun in a million different ways, and none of them is good.

what the hell were they thinking, indeed. how does an entire discipline do damage control.

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Norwich, England — From Saturday's Globe and Mail Published on Friday, Dec. 04, 2009 9:19PM EST Last updated on Saturday, Dec. 05, 2009 11:33AM EST

..."Independent scientists are quick to point out that the actions described in the e-mails do not describe anything like a fabrication of global-warming evidence, and that two other major sets of historical data drawn from the same sources, both held by NASA institutions in the United States, also show a historical warming trend."

...On a political level, coming on the eve of the Copenhagen summit, the controversy has been catastrophic: In the last few days, it has prompted opposition politicians in the United States, Britain and Australia to argue that human-caused global warming is a myth...

...Saudi Arabian officials now say that they will argue in Copenhagen that carbon-emission controls are pointless because the CRU scandal has nullified any evidence of human-caused atmospheric temperature increase...

...In the United States, Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner, leader of a climate-skeptic caucus, declared that the e-mails “call into question the whole science of climate change†and pledged to resist any climate bill....

...“It appears from the details of the scandal that there is no relationship whatsoever between human activities and climate change,†said Mohammad al-Sabban, the head of the Saudi Arabian delegation....

...And Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, announced that the e-mail leaks provide sufficient proof that climate change is not man-made that there should be no policy resulting from the Dec. 7-18 Copenhagen summit, in which the world's nations will try to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

Couldnt help but notice that the worlds largest exporter of oil and the largest consumer nation of the stuff are the ones making a big deal here- by their logic, the hacked emails exonerate the oil industry from the science that increasing CO2 levels has been linked with Climate Change. For example, in their own words:

United States Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner: (the hacked emails) “...call into question the whole science of climate changeâ€...

Saudi Arabia: (the hacked emails) "...has nullified any evidence of human-caused atmospheric temperature increase"..."the e-mail leaks provide sufficient proof that climate change is not man-made that there should be no policy resulting from the Dec. 7-18 Copenhagen summit"

I doubt Bangladesh, India, The Phillipines, Tuvalu, The Marshall Islands, and The Cook Islands and other nations losing large tracts of land to the oceans in coming years will also be in Copenhagen shouting CLIMATEGATE exonerates the guilty parties.

Betcha lots of people go for it hook line and sinker. By the time the truth about it comes out- the damage will be done- Copenhagen will be old news, and so will Climategate.

Dirty oil money wags the dog.

Strange, isn’t it that media are not wondering about who hacked into the computers and who paid them?

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I think that while it's tempting to want to follow the money here - and there is no doubt no shortage of opportunism going on - the real culpability still rests in the laps of these jackasses who were playing scientist but who actually weren't acting like real scientists. That seems to me to be the real crime here.

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I got a kick out of reading one of Michael Crichton's last novels- "State of Fear". Very foretelling of today in an ass backwards kind of way.

In a nutshell the premise of the story is that Global Warming is a hoax devised by left leaning scientists and greens, who are on the one hand manipulating science by doctoring IPCC reports, and on the other hand, secretly using covert weather modification (geoengineeering) to convince the world that the earth is warming. Anyone who gets in their way like FBI and Homeland security agents are simply put down using that old eco-activist trick- injecting the victim with Australian Blue Ringed Octopus Venom.

In the book, rag tag groups of eco activists armed with this octopus venom and well funded by left leaning hollywood actors are spending enormous amounts of money: triggering tsunamis in the Pacific to sink islands, triggering lightening strikes and deluges to drown boy-scout jamborees in heartland America, even setting off explosives to crack off huge chunks of Antarctica's ice sheets to raise the ocean levels. Any and all things to convince the world that the threat of climate change is real.

After reading the book- I couldnt help but feel that there was some sort of mixed up truth woven into the pages, so I started researching this weather control stuff- and it turns out that the technologies to control and make weather do exist- and who else but the petro-chemical industry- and the Military Industrial complex thought these technologies up and today own the patents.

Here's the punchline. Not long after reading the book, I heard Crichton won a journalism award for writing it. Not just any award- but he won the American Association of Petroleum Geologists award for Journalism

Here's what the director of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Larry Nation, had to say about State of Fear: "It is fiction, but it has the absolute ring of truth."

Truthiness as Colbert would put it.

Follow the money!

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Strange, isn’t it that media are not wondering about who hacked into the computers and who paid them?

Doing a google search shows results of media outlets asking that question (although not many) dating back to Nov. 20th, only a day after it was reported. Mrs. May should hire better fact checkers.

I'm thinking that while its tempting to want to follow the money here- such an investigation is unlikely, as the media receive a detrimentally unhealthy imbalance of funding from the oil industry.

I think the reason is pretty simple - finding out who hacked (or leaked) the information takes considerably longer to discover then just reporting the instant available information on hand and let's face it, speculation articles about possible suspects are easily shadowed by "hacked" information itself. Nor does it make as much money.

Personally, I thought it was leaked not hacked. The narrow selection of information made available on the Russian FTP servers even suggested it, hackers usually exploit the entire database, one that includes servers in Saudi Arabia even.

But I guess it doesn't matter much anyway, seems they've got a suspect.

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Saudi Arabia said:

"the e-mail leaks provide sufficient proof that climate change is not man-made that there should be no policy resulting from the Dec. 7-18 Copenhagen summit"

What could the worlds largest oil exporter possibly have to lose over CO2 caps hmmmmm.... ROTFL

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Personally, I thought it was leaked not hacked. The narrow selection of information made available on the Russian FTP servers even suggested it, hackers usually exploit the entire database, one that includes servers in Saudi Arabia even.

Things don't add up there for me.

For one thing, hackers by nature are usually about thwarting the man, not helping him out- unless they happen to be on the payroll.

One could argue that when given the opportunity to exploit the entire database, hackers instead chose 3,000 specific emails to help cover their tracks- thus making it seem like an inside job

Another thing that doesn't add up about the whistle-blower inside job theory is that nobody has come forward as the whistle blower. There was no one single person involved with every one of the 3,000 "leaked" emails. Multiple accounts of different scientists were compromised, thus either the hackers had access to the entire database, or, the longshot theory: a collusion of a team of professional IPCC climate scientists to deliberately cast doubt on their own work- despite the negative effect on reaching some- any kind of consensus at Copenhagen-? These scientists who care about the climate have still refused to come out and take responsibility for the leak?

Call me a skeptic if you like, but I find this story is working out for team oil a little too well.

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Things don't add up there for me.

For one thing, hackers by nature are usually about thwarting the man, not helping him out- unless they happen to be on the payroll.

One could argue that when given the opportunity to exploit the entire database, hackers instead chose 3,000 specific emails to help cover their tracks- thus making it seem like an inside job

Another thing that doesn't add up about the whistle-blower inside job theory is that nobody has come forward as the whistle blower. There was no one single person involved with every one of the 3,000 "leaked" emails. Multiple accounts of different scientists were compromised, thus either the hackers had access to the entire database, or, the longshot theory: a collusion of a team of professional IPCC climate scientists to deliberately cast doubt on their own work- despite the negative effect on reaching some- any kind of consensus at Copenhagen-? These scientists who care about the climate have still refused to come out and take responsibility for the leak?

Call me a skeptic if you like, but I find this story is working out for team oil a little too well.

No theory here, just initially it seemed strange that it was only those emails touched. But the last thing I thought was a scientist being a "whistleblower" as you imply. I was thinking more along the lines of an IT guy frustrated with his job. I dunno, I really didn't have any specific thought on who, but there is a lot more people then just climate scientists working at CRU. I tend not to jump on conspiracy bandwagons, it's just too easy and convenient for either side.

In film perhaps hackers are all about "thwarting the man" but it's naive to think that's how it is in real life.

But it appears they suspect it was Russian secret service anyway. I wouldn't discredit there may be a political agenda to it, but I certianly wouldn't start saying there is either. Who knows, maybe Russia hopes to warm up the climate so it frees up the arctic seas so they can get to the huge reserves of fossil fuels there or maybe it was just some dumb kid who got lucky and hacked a mail server.

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Well the truth has come out- the emails were stolen and not leaked, and it turns out that Glenn Beck's take on the story was also a load of bullshit!.

"Climategate" exposed: Conservative media distort stolen emails in latest attack on global warming consensus

Since the reported theft of emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, conservative media figures have aggressively claimed that those emails undermine the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activities are causing climate change, dubbing the supposed scandal "Climategate." But these critics have largely rested their claims on outlandish distortions and misrepresentations of the contents of the stolen emails, greatly undermining their dubious smears.

More about the deliberate smear and distort campaign here.

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Not sure who Glenn Beck is, but if he works fox I wouldn't know, that's the last source of news I would consider reading or watching. Much like CNN.

I won't argue (and haven't) that humans play part in global warming, but to be honest I see the words "claim" and "reality" being used quite a bit at that link, yet I see no reference to exactly how they came to the "realities" outside of other media releases and/or past statements made by the CRU scientists regarding the context days after this all started.

It doesn't surprise me that the media distorted the context of the emails, but it wouldn't surprise me if all this is just PR damage control either. I am curious though why they still haven't said much about who "stole" or "hacked" the emails, seems to me that would be a major bit of backing for them.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

In the wake of the recent Albertan political defections, Climate Change denier and Wild Rose Alliance leader Danielle Smith was interviewed on CBC radio yesterday.

She mentioned the climategate emails as proof that the science of climate change is flawed, therefore the Tar Sands exploitation should be moving full steam ahead business as usual.

More Big Oil Pretzel Logic.

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