Monday, 23 November 2009

Climategate: E-mail Scandal Could Melt Copenhagen Plans

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climate gateAs was reported here previously, the release of thousands of e-mails and documents from a climate research center threatens to expose some of the biggest scientific names in the global warming debate to serious charges of fraud, unethical attacks on colleagues, censorship of opposing viewpoints, and possible criminal destruction and withholding of evidence.

Michael Mann, James Hansen, Phil Jones, Michael Oppenheimer, Stephen Schneider, Kevin Trenberth — these are but a few of the "big guns" of global warming alarmism who are unfavorably exposed in the documents that were posted on the Internet by unknown hackers who penetrated the computer system of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at Britain's University of East Anglia.

Phil Jones, the director of the CRU, especially comes off very poorly in the newly revealed documents. In an e-mail of January 29, 2004 to Michael Mann, Jones refers to the recent death of global warming critic John L. Daly with this churlish comment: "In an odd way this is cheering news!" In the same e-mail, Jones then suggests to Mann that he has obtained legal advice that he does not have to comply with Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests from other scientists to release data and codes underlying his research claims. Devising ways to delay and deny FOI requests is the subject of additional e-mails, such as one from Jones to Gavin Schmidt (with a copy to Michael Mann) of August 20, 2009, arguing that the data from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is exempt from these requests. Jones writes:

The FOI line we're all using is this. IPCC is exempt from any countries FOI — the skeptics have been told this.

The IPCC's reports, of course, have been presented as the "last word" on climate science by Al Gore and most of the major media. Like all other UN agencies and programs, the IPCC claims to adhere to the highest standards of "transparency." However, many distinguished scientists, including former IPCC scientists, have objected to the IPCC's opaque process and criticize the unwillingness of the IPCC to release data it cites as the basis for its extravagant claims.

Some of the e-mails seem to confirm concerns that Jones, Mann, et al, have destroyed data that could expose their fraudulent methods. That appears to be the case here, where Jones suggests to Mann that he delete certain e-mails that apparently dealt with the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), which was released in 2007. He also suggests they get other colleagues to delete related material.

 In another e-mail to Mann, Jones may have set himself up for legal prosecution for attempting to thwart the UK's newly passed FOI law. Jones says, "I think I'll delete the file rather than send [it] to anyone," and "We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind."

"Hockey Sticks" and Hokey Data

Michael E. Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center (ESSC) at Pennsylvania State University, is the lead author of the now-discredited "Hockey Stick" graph used by the IPCC and Al Gore (most notably in his documentary, An Inconvenient Truth) to "prove" man-made, or anthropogenic, global warming (AGW).  

In a particularly damning e-mail exchange from 2003, Mann and Jones discuss a scheme for getting rid of Hans Von Storch, the editor of the journal Climate Research, for publishing the contrary research of distinguished fellow scientists.*

This theme of getting rid of Von Storch appears again in other e-mails, such as this exchange between climate alarmists Tom Wigley and Timothy Carter (with a copy to Phil Jones).

 And Hans Von Storch is not the only professional targeted by the climate activists, who appear to have taken political correctness to new levels in silencing those in the scientific community that voice disagreement with their apocalyptic scenarios. Among other examples is an October 12, 2009 e-mail exchange among Stephen Schneider, Michael Mann, Kevin Trenbreth, and one of Schneider's students. The student brings to their attention a BBC report that deviates from the BBC's usual The-Sky-Is-Falling! AGW propaganda. The student writes:

Paul Hudson, BBC's reporter on climate change, on Friday wrote that there's been no warming since 1998, and that pacific oscillations will force cooling for the next 20-30 years. It is not outrageously biased in presentation as are other skeptics' views.

The BBC report, in this case, was on the mark, as most scientists now agree (and even many of the alarmists now admit — though some still try to explain away) that global temperatures actually have cooled for the past decade. (See, for example here, here, and here.) Stephen H. Schneider, professor of environmental studies at Woods Institute for the Environment, passes on the student's query, asking his colleagues if they would like to try explaining "the past 10 years of global mean temperature trend stasis," which he recognizes as a problem in terms of keeping the public panicked over climate change.

Yes, this is the same Stephen Schneider who prior to 1978 was proclaiming that man-made CO2 emissions were going to drive planet Earth into global cooling and a new Ice Age. It is also the same Stephen Schneider who admitted in a 1996 paper that "scientists" sometimes have to use scare tactics, exaggerations, and suppression of doubts and contrary evidence in order to win public support for desired political policies. He said winning support required "loads of media coverage," and to obtain that scientists would have to "offer up scary scenarios." Here is the full quote:

On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the
 scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole
 truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the
 doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we
 are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people
 we'd like to see the world a better place, which in this context
 translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially
 disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad-based support, to capture the public's imagination. That, of course, entails getting
 loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make
 simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts
 we might have.... Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.

Michael Mann responds to Schneider's October 12, 2009 e-mail indicating that he will contact the Met Office (the British meteorological agency) and the BBC about the Paul Hudson report, which was causing the alarmists so much angst. Based on the other e-mails, as well as on what has been previously reported elsewhere about other retaliatory attacks, it may not be far-fetched to infer that Mann was intimating that he would have pressure applied to Hudson to toe the AGW line.

An amusing admission against interest in the above exchange (October 12, 2009) is this comment by Kevin Trenberth, who can't figure out what to say about the historic low temperatures:

Hi all

Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming? We are asking that here in Boulder where we have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record. We had 4 inches of snow. The high the last 2 days was below 30F and the normal is 69F, and it smashed the previous records for these days by 10F. The low was about 18F and also a record low, well below the previous record low. This is January weather (see the Rockies baseball playoff game was canceled on Saturday and then played last night in below freezing weather).

Trenberth then goes on to admit: "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." 

However, the alarmists' admitted inability to explain away this enormous fact has not lessened their certitude nor dampened their zeal for implementing a planetary climate regime.

The release of the e-mails has come at an inopportune time for many of the "experts" who may be appearing at — or whose scientific research is prominently tied to — the fast approaching United Nations climate change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. Claiming that man-made emissions are causing calamitous global warming, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change  (UNFCCC) to be voted on in Copenhagen will call for global governmental mandates to regulate and tax all human activities.

Public awareness of the content of the CRU e-mails could significantly undercut support for the UNFCCC. Thus, many of the media organs that have been most vociferous in promoting the global warming hype have been curiously subdued in reporting on the recent "Climategate" scandal. The University of East Anglia said that the purloined e-mails and documents had been selectively leaked to undermine "the strong consensus that human activity is affecting the world's climate in ways that are potentially dangerous." And, it seems, much of the media are content to go with that spin.

Many of the scientists in the "realist" or "skeptic" community, including those who have borne the brunt of attacks by Mann, Jones, et al, have not weighed in on the matter yet. Many voices on the realist/skeptic blogs and web sites expressed the need for caution, suggesting the e-mail releases could even be a hoax, or that false e-mails and documents could be mixed in with those that are genuine. That is a possibility. However, according to reports in the New York Times and elsewhere, some of the emails have been confirmed as genuine by the named authors. It may be some time before all of this massive trove of documents is vetted and certified. In the meantime, one of the websites that has sifted through a significant number of the emails and provided helpful summaries of their content, can be accessed here.


* Those scientists mentioned by name are: Willie Soon, a physicist at the Solar and Stellar Physics Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and an astronomer at the Mount Wilson Observatory; Sallie Baliunas, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in the Solar, Stellar, and Planetary Sciences Division and Senior Scientist at the George C. Marshall Institute; Patrick Michaels, retired Research Professor of Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia and former state climatologist for Virginia; and William Gray, a pioneer in hurricane forecasting, Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University (CSU), and head of the Tropical Meteorology Project at CSU.


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