Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
The new Washington
Post Weather website
Jump to CWG's
Latest Full Forecast
Outside now? Radar, temps
and more: Weather Wall
Follow us on Twitter (@capitalweather) and become a fan on Facebook
Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 11/23/2009

Science historian reacts to hacked climate e-mails

By Andrew Freedman

* Damp Thanksgiving week: Full Forecast | Cruising the Atlantic *

A scandal erupted in the world of climate science late last week after anonymous hackers posted years worth of selected private email correspondence between a handful of prominent climate scientists. The emails were stolen from a server at the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit in Britain.

Climate skeptics -- those who either doubt the mainstream consensus that Earth has warmed during the past century or who doubt human influence is the primary cause of any warming -- have seized upon the contents of the emails as evidence that mainstream climate scientists have been involved in a conspiracy to block those with alternative views from publishing papers in academic journals, in addition to other allegations.

Although the personal emails do not provide any scientific evidence that would counter the scientific consensus that human emissions are altering the climate system, they are likely to be politically damaging, because they raise the appearance of impropriety in the scientific process.

In one of the messages, Phil Jones, who heads up Britain's government-run Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, alluded to a "trick" that a colleague performed to analyze historical temperature data. You can read up on the specifics of the scandal, and why that particular email may not be as shady as it sounds, here, here and here.

In order to shed some light on what this scandal may mean for the scientific community and for public perceptions of science, I have contacted several highly respected experts to seek their insight. Keep reading for my first interview (ironically, conducted via email), with Spencer Weart, a science historian with the American Institute of Physics.


Spencer Weart, science historian. Photo copyright Christian Bibas.

Originally trained as a physicist, Weart is author of the book, "The Discovery of Global Warming," among others. I reached him while he was attending a science history conference, and he shared insights from his conversations with colleagues as well as his own observations.

Spencer Weart: My most interesting conversations were with historians who have been studying the history of the tobacco companies that did their best, and quite successfully for many years, to cover up the fact that smoking kills people by the million. Some interesting parallels, but...

Andrew Freedman: What effects do you think this will have on public perceptions of climate science and climate scientists?

SW: I don't expect this to have much impact on public perceptions of climate and climate scientists. Opinions have become so fixed that it would take serious evidence to shift a significant number of people. Since the late 1980s, just about every year and sometimes almost every month, a group of people (mostly the same ones) have exclaimed, "Now in these latest (whatever) we finally have proof that there is no need to worry about climate change!" There is a segment of the public that has believed every new claim. The rest will continue to doubt such claims in the absence of truly solid proof.

AF: What do you think this story reveals about the conduct of climate science?

SW: Back around 2000 leading climate scientists talked to each other mostly about their science--debating one another's data and analysis and negotiating travel, collaboration and other administration--and a little bit about policy. As time passed they have had to spend more and more of their time answering criticism of the scientific results already established, criticism mostly based on ignorance, fallacious reasoning, and even deliberately deceptive claims. Still more recently they have had to spend far too much of their time defending their personal reputations against ignorant or slanderous attacks.
"...we've never before seen a set of people accuse an entire community of scientists of deliberate deception and other professional malfeasance. Even the tobacco companies never tried to slander legitimate cancer researchers."
The theft and use of the emails does reveal something interesting about the social context. It's a symptom of something entirely new in the history of science: Aside from crackpots who complain that a conspiracy is suppressing their personal discoveries, we've never before seen a set of people accuse an entire community of scientists of deliberate deception and other professional malfeasance.
Even the tobacco companies never tried to slander legitimate cancer researchers. In blogs, talk radio and other new media, we are told that the warnings about future global warming issued by the national science academies, scientific societies, and governments of all the leading nations are not only mistaken, but based on a hoax, indeed a conspiracy that must involve thousands of respected researchers. Extraordinary and, frankly, weird. Climate scientists are naturally upset, exasperated, and sometimes goaded into intemperate responses... but that was already easy to see in their blogs and other writings.

AF: For a science historian such as yourself, how valuable are these emails? And what is your impression of them thus far?

SW: There would be a lot to learn if the owner of these emails (I suppose the University) would release them for analysis; for example, you could run up statistics on the types of interchanges and the structure of networks of discussion among researchers. Of course no scholar can make use of stolen material, and in particular one cannot legally or ethically quote a private message without the explicit permission of the writer.
Historians do often work with collections of letters that have been donated to archives. Typically we spend countless hours trying to understand the context; scholarly reputations have been ruined by interpretations that turned out to be mistaken. The risk of misinterpretation is far greater with emails, written so much more casually than letters. Our society is having difficulty dealing with this new form of communication. Look at last week's verdict on the Bear Sterns hedge fund managers who were accused of misleading investors. The prosecutrs based their case on a few seemingly incriminating sentences drawn from a mass of emails. When the jury saw the whole set of emails, they quickly found that there was no crime, just ordinary business chatter. From what I've seen, I expect that will be the verdict on the climate scientists' emails.

Check back here tomorrow for an interview with Thomas Crowley, a geochemist who has served as a reviewer for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. For more reaction from climate scientists, check out this post from Judith Curry at Georgia Tech, and this from the folks at the blog RealClimate (some of whom were the targets of the email hack).

The views expressed here are the author's and interview subject's alone and do not represent any position of the Washington Post, its news staff or the Capital Weather Gang.

By Andrew Freedman  | November 23, 2009; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Climate Change, Freedman, Interview Series: Controversial Climate E-mails, News & Notes, Science  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: Cloudy, damp & raw Thanksgiving week
Next: PM Update: Work week off to wet start

Comments

"emails do not provide any scientific evidence"

They provide other things like that the Global Warming Club tried to manipulate the journals that published their papers… That they attempted to stack the deck on their peer review committees by booting out anyone that disagreed with them... That they used some questionable data in their models… That the primary data series used in a number of the models is not public…

Posted by: AnonymousAlso | November 23, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

You miss the point Andrew, and the real damage these emails expose.

Try as you might to belittle their significance, the email trove calls into question the very authority of scientists who favor the warming alarm and questions their integrety. They are exposed for the fraudsters they are, and there is no excuse for attempting to suppress the debate, as you and your crowd repeadetaly have done!

If you truly have the facts on your side (and you Dont!) then why do you resort to suppression and intimidation? Fraudster!

Posted by: ubimea | November 23, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Freeman: As a journalist, don't you think you should interview one additional historian in opposing view to make your reporting more balanced?

The person you interviewed has clearly something to lose if the hacked email are true. What else do you expect him to say?

As a scientist, I am amazed to see journalism degrades to propaganda. I suppose you, in your profession, must at least try to hide your own agenda when doing your job.

Posted by: ZekeZ | November 23, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

It's interesting how the media is so uncritically printing "excerpts" from "emails" released anonymously by people who broke the law to get into someone's account, without so much as mentioning the remotest possiblity that the dishonest people who broke into the accounts may have altered a word or two here and there to make them sound sinister.

Again, in the media's deference and politeness, these are just honest "skeptics" without a shred of disingenuousness or agenda to them. Even though the oil companies spend millions of dollars funding "think tanks" and websites with the specific purpose of confusing the public into inaction, I am sure these thieves had NO agenda other than the edification of the public.

Our media is every bit as credulous and innocent as when they were reporting on the crusade by the oil industry (usually euphemistically referred to as "the Bush Administraion") to get the American public to believe Saddam Hussein was getting ready to attack him. People wouldn't LIE with billions of dollars in profits on the line, would they? Nah.

Incredible.

Posted by: B2O2 | November 23, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Hay, B2O2: You think global warming proponents have no agenda (and dollars) in line and they wouldn't like, would they?

The authors of those emails have already confirmed, directly and indirectly, that those messages are genuine. Are they illegally obtained? Probably. To me, it is a far lesser sin than using a "trick" to "hide the decline" in science.

Posted by: ZekeZ | November 23, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

ZekeZ: I think you're missing the part of the post where it states "I have contacted several highly respected experts to seek their insight. Keep reading for my first interview (ironically, conducted via email)." Other views will be represented on this issue in coming days, but we've chosen to post one interview at a time lest we overwhelm our loyal weather fans with climate coverage.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | November 23, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Dear Andrew: Thank you for responding. Your message shows you are at least trying to balance your report.

That said, I am still troubled by this one sided report. The person you chose has a substantial personal interest in the outcome of the debate. His view has at least an appearance of bias. A journalist has an obligation to his readers to cite a more neutral interviewee or report an opposing opinion.

There are plenty of people who are skeptical about man-made global warming. They are not hard to find.

Posted by: ZekeZ | November 23, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

The job of a journalist is to report ACCURATE information. If Andrew reported skeptic arguments to counter every piece of legitimate climate science, it would act to give credibility to a scientifically unsubstantiated argument. That would not be good journalism would it?

Posted by: jfva | November 23, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone started looking through this data?

It is available at:

http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Climatic_Research_Unit_emails%2C_data%2C_models%2C_1996-2009

There is no argument. Pouring over this information, it is incontrovertibly clear that these people have been colluding.

This is NOT science. It is pure Leftist driven politics driven from the old criminal minded Stalinist mindset. Read through this stuff if you have the stomach for it.

They do everything they can to suppress or manipulate data that does not support their agenda.


Professional Scam Artists frothing at the mouth for grant money. This is not science. It is pure Junk Science.

There are a few in the mix who are skeptics and try to challenge and stick to pure science. They are targeted by the AGW Mafia and silenced.

Who will write the first book putting all of this into analysis and laying out the case against them?

It certainly won't be anyone from the MSM or MSP.

But whoever writes the book based on this will become a rich, famous celebrity overnight. And an international hero for “writing” the wrong of the AGW SCAM.

Posted by: C0rrupt_0_Crats | November 23, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Dear Andrew:

One more thing. From your response, I now believe you are a reasonable journalist. You don't need anyone else to tell you how to do your job.

However, there is a career opportunity in front of you. The man-made global warming has a great potential to become THE worst scandal in science history. Someone in your profession may seize the opportunity, most won't. If I were you, I'd seriously look into the "minority" side of the debate.

"Opportunity is the most perishable commodity in the world".

By the way, for whatever it is worth, I am a scientist with a humble title of Distinguished Professor.

Posted by: ZekeZ | November 23, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

As true with the IPCC consensus, scientific hypotheses often evolve to accepted reality through three stages.

First is justifiable skepticism and, perhaps, ridicule.

Second, it is violently opposed, especially by those with vested interests in the status quo, be it the state of science or science based policy.

Third, it is accepted as being self-evident, at least with those sufficiently open minded to accept the facts.

But what are facts? I leave it to the late Stephen Jay Gould to answer: “In science, 'fact' can only mean confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent. I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | November 23, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

The blog reactions to this scandal (here, but much more so on other forums) have once again highlighted the inequality of having named authors answer questions written by anonymous commenters. Having reported on climate science for this site for two years, it's getting quite tiresome. I find it hard to believe that most people who comment would suffer retribution against them if they were to use their real name.

So, I humbly request those who comment to use their real names whenever possible. This is not a requirement, but rather a request, in the interest of equality in this dialogue. After all, you know my name, and even what I look like.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | November 23, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Dear Steve:

You seem to assume that skeptics have a financial interest in status quo, while the the AGW believers are pure angels.

Please apply the same standard in term of motives. The AGW proponents have the same, if not more financial and career interest at stake. If AGW is wrong, a lot of "scientists" will have their reputations tarnished and grant money dried up, not to mention political power.

Particularly, UN is involved with treaties to distribute wealth among nations. So AGW is not about money, is it?

Posted by: ZekeZ | November 23, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Dear Andrew:

I saw your request that people use real names here. You know why so few people do so against AGW?

AGW is on the side of political correctness, which dominates the media and academia. You know what happens when you are not PC?

Internet is a great place for people to speak freely without worrying about political correctness or unwanted attention.

Posted by: ZekeZ | November 23, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

ZekeZ,

You seem well informed on the issues. Perhaps you can tell me what the significance of the use of the "trick" to "hide the decline" is in the context of the scientific work at issue- i.e. how that trick was scientifically inappropriate, what should the appropriate method have been, etc.- and what its significance is. Surely the supposed malfeasance you and others insinuate will be self-evident.

In any case, I'm struggling with your formulation of the monetary stakes here. I think you point out grant money and scientific reputations* and some vague insinuation about the sinister intents and motivations of nameless faceless (non-existent?) UN bureaucrats being somehow equal to the multiple trillion dollar (yes, that's with a t) per annum fossil fuel revenues, and the interests of myriad related industries, (like automotive, commercial air, tourism, etc.), that hang in the lurch. Perhaps your arithmetic techniques differ from mine, but I'm struggling to get there from here.

Dan Hunt

* Fyi, being exposed as a fraud does not normally help here. Also fyi, turning over a scientific paradigm as well established as AGW would guarantee fame and fortune even if it were done by a scientist currently well within the mainstream, e.g. James Hansen. It's the stuff few scientists in history can lay claim to, and they're all very well known to this very day.

Posted by: Majorajam | November 23, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Scandal rocks foundation of physics: conspiracy, data manipulation, fraud, and more:
Newtongate: the final nail in the coffin of Renaissance and Enlightenment ‘thinking’

Posted by: CapitalClimate | November 23, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

"There are plenty of people who are skeptical about man-made global warming. They are not hard to find."

No they're not hard to find. Unless of course you are looking amongst the people who actually have the training, experience and scientific background needed to fully grasp this incredibly complex science:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090119210532.htm

"In analyzing responses by sub-groups, Doran found that climatologists who are active in research showed the strongest consensus on the causes of global warming, with 97 percent agreeing humans play a role."

Contrary to the belief (and pious yearning) of many still in this country, science is not decided by mob rule. We are pretty well doomed as a civilization if that ever becomes the case.

Posted by: B2O2 | November 23, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Dear Dan:

The author of that email needs to explain what trick he would use to "hide the decline", and it is the job of honest journalists to ask questions.

As a scientist, I consider it a fraud to conceal the data (decline) that disprove a hypothesis.

Many people in academia are funding driven, as shown in those hacked emails. I know first-hand how nasty things go when scientists fight for grants.

For your last point: A scientist does NOT get fame by exposing a fraud, journalists do. Scientists are known for establishing, not for destroying something. Blowing a whistle does nothing but harm to advance a scientist's career. That may be part of the reason few scientists speak out against AGW.

Posted by: ZekeZ | November 23, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Dear B2O2:

You know why 97% "active" researchers in that field believe in AGW?

Because, if they don't, they can't get grant and they can't get their papers published in "peer reviewed journals" so they become inactive. Just that simple. See those hacked emails.

AGW is the mob not other way around.

By the way, even if the 97% is real, that means nothing in science, where one person can gets it right over everyone else.

Posted by: ZekeZ | November 23, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

ZekeZ,

I think in fact the author does explain, if we're referring as I believe we are to the same email. The 'trick', as it happens, is in the peer reviewed literature filed under 'the divergence problem'. And it's not much of a trick, as I understand it. It involves plotting the observed temperature record alongside the proxy record- the decline that is being hidden in this context is that of the (divergent) proxy record since 1960. This is a subject, btw, that has been debated in the realm of science and amongst the 'skeptic' community for some time before the mysterious appearance on the scene of these emails.

In that context, I'd be interested to know what hypothesis this 'hidden' data supposedly invalidates. This is your assertion- certainly you have something to back it up?

As regards allegations of fraud, these are pretty serious, no? You wouldn't be refusing to put your real name on these posts for fear of legal liability if those claims are proven entirely baseless in a court of law, would you?

In any case, in answer to your response, I wasn't talking about fraud, I haven't alleged it, and there is manifestly no proof of it, your unsubstantiated allegations notwithstanding (and frankly, the idea that journalists should be called on to arbitrate scientific disputes is, shall we say, novel). I am talking about hundreds of peer reviewed papers that map out a picture of the radiative balance of our planet, and what that means for dumping carbon wholesale in the atmosphere. I am talking about the scientific evidence which is overwhelming as currently understood. The first scientist or scientists that can overturn that science in the realm of science will be a very famous person indeed.

Dan Hunt

Posted by: Majorajam | November 23, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

That NewtonGate blog post is a riot. Such secrecy, corruption and pettiness! I just knew that calculus stuff was all a big hoax.

Let's just cancel the scientific age entirely. Voodoo and superstition is a great foundation for a modern civilization.

Posted by: B2O2 | November 23, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

The issues quickly boil down to a couple of key items, for which primary thanks goes to Steve McIntyre for breaking Michael Mann's (and Al Gore's) "hockey stick." The exposed e-mails show that alarmist scientists (Michael Mann, Phil Jones, Keith Briffa, et al) invested an inordinate amount of attention and effort in preventing and frustrating critical review of hockey stick studies. To that end they sabotaged Freedom of Information requests and subverted peer review and the publishing of dissenting studies. Saving the hockey sticks derived from proxies such as tree rings is essential to pinning climate change on human activity, because they have been used to hide the higher warming experienced during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP). If the MWP is allowed to stand, the current alarmist predictions involving accelerated warming through positive feedbacks must fall, since the same warming occurred during the 500-year MWP without triggering fearsome positive feedbacks. As even alarmists admit, CO2 warming rates diminish with increasing CO2, and doubling CO2 produces less than 2 degrees C of warming. Anything above that requires undemonstrated and therefore unproven positive feedbacks in a weather setting where negative feedbacks are the norm.
Hundreds of studies show that the MWP was real and widespread, while current weather refutes the predictions of computer models. As Kevin Trenberth, the author of one of the purloined e-mails noted, “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.” I heartily concur.
Michael B. Combs, Major, USAF (Retired), Gualala, California

Posted by: MajorMike | November 23, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

ZekeZ -

"Because, if they don't, they can't get grant and they can't get their papers published in "peer reviewed journals" so they become inactive."

Ah, yes. Possibly my absolute timeless favorite on the Rotating Roster of Red Herrings from the denial crowd. That "scientists routinely (and uniformly worldwide) flush their reputations down the toilet to keep that grant money flowing in" canard. Funny that this only seems to happen in this one field. (Excuse me, maybe you are a scientologist and believe the entire field of medicine is a hoax as well; I assume too much here.)

There's just one big fly in the ointment of your "it's all about the grants" conspiracy theory (actually many, but they would require you have some real connection to science and how it works to understand). The biggest funder for domestic climate change research is something called the National Science Foundation. As a "scientist" no doubt you have heard of the NSF. Perhaps you even realize who appoints the head of the NSF (and by extension, anyone whom he or she wants to replace in the grant administration hierarchy). That would be, yes, the President of the United States.

Now, I'm sure that as ZekeZ, Ph.D. you've been quite busy in your lab cranking out peer-reviewed literature (I'll just take your claim at face value). But I'm sure you must have noted who was president for the past eight years while all this hoax literature was being funded by the NSF. Yes, the oil man whose political rise was largely sponsored by oil contributions; who was denying AGW until about 2006; whose V.P. was CEO of an oil services company and then fought to the Supreme Court to keep his meetings with Big Oil (in which we know Iraq was discussed) from the American people; whose NSA and later Secretary of State came from Chevron (and had a freaking oil tanker named after her); who spent their entire 8 years in power promoting the agenda of Big Oil, whether it was in manipulating EPA statements, squelching rises in CAFE standards or pollution regulations. The man who crusaded with insane tirelessness for an unprovoked invasion of the world's second largest oil reserves using the most unbelieveable exaggerations and confabulations of "evidence of threat"? Who then helped Hunt Oil get set up with the Kurds to take some of the spoils.

Now, you're telling me this oil industry advocacy group masquerading as a presidential administration couldn't find SOMEONE even remotely passable as a scientist to head the NSF who could swallow the denialist point of view enough to stem the tsunami of studies FUNDED BY THE NSF ITSELF showing human involvement in this? If the whole operation is so corrupt, why was it corrupt in *this* direction (human-caused GW), rather than the other one?

Shouldn't that tell you something? Shouldn't it put the slightest crack in your conspiracy theory mindset? I mean, unless you have an emotionally-invested agenda here. Oh, I'm sure that's not the case.

Posted by: B2O2 | November 23, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

MajorMike -

"As Kevin Trenberth, the author of one of the purloined e-mails noted, “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.” I heartily concur."

So I take it that you do not believe in modern medicine, and get your treatments from the local witch doctors? I used to work in medical research, and cannot tell you how many times I heard "it's a travesty that we cannot explain X or Y or Z yet". Scientists are trained to find answers, and agonize until they do. That's one of the things that drives them.

Face it. You dearly, dearly, dearly wish that the world's climatology community was in some big conspiracy over this, so that you would not be called upon to take responsibility and rethink some elements of your lifestyle. You will seize on anything to confirm and enable that.

Bravely signed,

His Majesty, King Henry the VIII of England (retired), Cambridge, England

(signature satirically posted to point out the pointlessness of internet commentary "signatures")

Posted by: B2O2 | November 23, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Dear B2O2 (aka King Henry the VIII):

Thank you for your long post above, which shows exactly why the whole AGW is fishy: It is political and not scientific. People like you are promoting/defending it for political reasons. You shout it loud and clear.

It is sad that there is so much political interest in a supposedly scientific endeavor, as shown by B2O2. In this environment, science can hardly be untainted.

Posted by: ZekeZ | November 23, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Andrew,

I have looked through the e-mails, and read through some summaries of the documents. While the e-mails may not "provide any scientific evidence that would counter the scientific consensus that human emissions are altering the climate system," perhaps you are framing the issue to narrowly. Is not the most important question: whether we should decrease CO2 levels in the atmosphere through efforts such as cap and trade legislation? I do not have doubts that our activities on Earth have affected our climate. I do however doubt whether CO2 has as much impact "as advertised."

Many of us believe that CO2 is the driving force because of earlier studies by the researchers involved in these e-mails, and because of the subject matter in "An Inconvenient Truth." What becomes very apparent in the reading of the leaked e-mails is that the scientists themselves have doubts about how much CO2 affects climate. They openly recognize that their computer models are inadequate, that cloud and heat island effects may have more of an impact than thought, and despite a rise in worldwide CO2 levels, the Earth has actually cooled during the past 10 years. And this is only in the most recent of the 1000+ e-mails. The more troubling (earlier) e-mails indicate how these scientists attempted to drown out debate by whatever means necessary, including bullying and obfuscation.

In the words of Kevin Trenberth in an e-mail of October 14, 2009, "[w]e are not close to balancing the energy budget...we can not account for what is
happening in the climate system." When a leading researcher makes such a statement, it becomes very clear that the science of global warming is not settled. One cannot also ignore the many other recent studies that factors other than CO2 (such as land use and other greenhouse gases) are primarily driving climate change.

Finally, please do not rely on "highly respected experts" to interpret the e-mails -- I think you might have difficulty finding a "highly respected expert", i.e., a climate scientist, to openly criticize the actions of other climate scientists. Instead, see the e-mails for yourself at www.anelegantchaos.org -- one does not need to be a scientist to see the problems involved with the (political) science being conducted.

I look forward to more insightful columns by the Post, including deeper attempts to uncover the various mistruths perpetuated by these scientists. While these scientists may ultimately be found to be correct, we should not condone their reprehensible actions of hiding (and perhaps falsifying) data, drowning out debate, and failing to inform the public when they have serious concerns about their own theories.

In short, please talk about the "impropriety," don't take the easy way out and indicate that there is merely an "appearance of impropriety."

Sincerely,

Richard W. Ward, JD, M.ChmEng

Posted by: WestEndVoter | November 23, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Concerning the "consensus" for AGW, the great scientist Freeman Dyson says most of the consenters are really low-level scientists, leading respected Columbia University economics professor Jagdish N. Bhadwati to conclude that they form "the consensus of incompetents."
According to Dan Hunt: "The first scientist or scientists that can overturn that science in the realm of science will be a very famous person indeed." Many in the past, such as Darwin and Galileo, did just that while suffering the consensus of fools.
By the way, Mann et al did not publically disclose that their proxies diverged from recent instrumental records. In other words, that the proxies could not be relied upon to provide the warming information they were reputed to show. That is lying by omission, and I would be happy to be called into a court of law to give that opinion on the basis of the e-mails I have read. I would think that their authors would not be similarly pleased.
Michael B. Combs

Posted by: MajorMike | November 23, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Re: "hiding the decline":

"If you think that global warming rests on a few temperature data sets and models, you are very wrong. If you don't understand this then you don't know enough to have an opinion on the subject, and you most likely will be treated just like any other ineducable troll.
Grab a climate textbook and do some reading...it will help if you have some physics background too. Yeah, science takes effort..."
Hacked emails, tree-ring proxies and blogospheric confusion

Posted by: CapitalClimate | November 23, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

I am tired of people labeling everyone who thinks the science is not settled as a skeptic. I am only skeptical of the scientists in this field. These emails only confirm my suspicion.


Is AGW real? The answer is we really do not know either way. Until data can be tested and reproduced by independent organizations, the science is not fully settled.

I think Andrew must agree with this sentiment.

Posted by: Tom8 | November 23, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

ZekeZ - my point, which you have completely evaded, is that the NSF is the largest funder of climate research in this country, and the head of it is a presidential appointee. Surely you would not argue with the assertion that the Bush administration was, let's just say "on good speaking terms" with Big Oil. (If you disagree with that one, well, we're just not living on the same planet I'm afraid.)

And if researchers have been consistently pumping out fraudulent findings to please their "sugar daddies" at the NSF for the past 8 years as you all regularly charge, why have they been vehemently saying that human burning of fossil fuels is causing warming? That's really not kissing up very well to the folks pulling the grant strings, is it?

You have not explained this part of the Big Grant Funding Conspiracy. I'm afraid you need to.

Posted by: B2O2 | November 23, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

B2O2,

This "Grant Funding Conspiracy" issue was well hashed out in the Eilperin column comments. This is not only about funding, but also reputation. These scientists were -- and still are -- the "rock stars" of the global warming community.

Anyway, one does not have to look to motive, the e-mails and documents speak for themselves.

RWW

Posted by: WestEndVoter | November 23, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

MajorMike -

"Freeman Dyson says most of the consenters are really low-level scientists"

It's great fun to play with statisical fallacy, isn't it? If I am to get excited about that statement, then I have to also cast grave doubt onto every scientific discipline known to man. There are thousands or tens of thousands of researchers in every scientific field. By definition, the vast majority of them are "low-level scientists" (depending of course on where you set that magic bar).

Note that Dyson (who famously is a dissenter) did NOT have the nerve to claim that "most of the more respected climate researchers disbelieve the consensus". He didn't because he knows that would be pitifully false.

Again, 97% of those actively studying climate change agree with the AGW consensus. And yes there are thousands of them. Naturally, the majority "low level scientists" (but please don't tell them that).

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090119210532.htm

Posted by: B2O2 | November 23, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

RWW -

Well that was a nice hand wave. I participated heavily in the commenting after her article, and repeatedly brought up this question. Nobody who was accusing the climatology community of painting its results to please their grantors would respond to this. Any ideas?

Posted by: B2O2 | November 23, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect Michael, just about nothing that you have said so far is correct. McIntyre's criticism of Mann has (rather pointedly) not recommended any competing temperature reconstruction as more accurate or methodology as more robust- something of a sticking point with scientists, (much as movie reviewers are not often respected by film makers).

There is, to my knowledge, no 'study' let alone hundreds that supports your assessment of the MWP as even a global phenomenon, let alone warmer or even as warm as current temperatures. Indeed, if every damning critique you've ever read of Mann and the hockey stick were 100% accurate, the only thing that would change is that we would know that we don't know what historical temperatures were with the resolution necessary to say when it was last as hot as it is right now.

In other words, throwing out the hockey stick entirely only means we can't say anything about how anomalous current temps are on a millennial scale. This is hardly overturning of the tenets of AGW, which are based in our understanding of the physical interaction of matter and energy, and the geological character of the planet, not the historical temperature record.

Notwithstanding its far overstated significance, the scientific community remains convinced in the main by Mann and 'the team's' work, in spite of McIntyre and other's criticism of it. There have been many improvements in methodologies and data compilation over the decade since MBH98 to get around known and since discovered issues with proxies and methods, (many people credit McIntyre with helping to point out some of these issues, though his approach in largely forgoing traditional scientific forums in favor of popular media has been seen by critics as anti-science).

Irrespective, all temperature reconstructions that have been proffered amongst the scientific community have supported the MBH 98/99 hockey stick including most notably Mann's recent paper and Whal & Amman (including, for example, bore holes, the temp record, proxy series without tree rings, etc.). That does not bode well for the accuracy and import of McIntyre's criticism.

Time will tell about the hockey stick, but in the meantime Michael, if I were you I would spend a bit more time on non-echo chamber sites fact checking your understanding so as to avoid such misstatements associated with your byline in the future.

Dan Hunt

Posted by: Majorajam | November 23, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Actually B2O2, you never brought up the question of funding, at least under the B2O2 moniker. The question of funding, however, was asked by others not named B2O2, and then answered by multiple posters.

The e-mails came from a lab outside of the US, so your assumption that NSF was the only cash cow is a bit misleading. See, e.g.,

Date: Fri Aug 13 17:37:10 2004
Dear Colleagues,

This note is to solicit your possible collaboration in an application to the European Commission under Framework 6...At this stage we envisage a total budget application of about 17 million Euro with a
nominal share of 5 million for WorkPackage 1.

---
22 million Euro. Not exactly chump change from the European Commission.

-RWW

Posted by: WestEndVoter | November 23, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Dan Hunt

Your logic is specious. Mann has to prove his studies are accurate; McIntyre doesn't have to do Mann's job for him. In fact, McIntyre can fall back on hundreds of other studies that prove the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than the current century.

Dan, you wrote: "There is, to my knowledge, no 'study' let alone hundreds that supports your assessment of the MWP as even a global phenomenon, let alone warmer or even as warm as current temperatures."

Dan, your knowledge is very thin: "20th Century Climate Not So Hot, Cambridge, MA - A review of more than 200 climate studies led by researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has determined that the 20th century is neither the warmest century nor the century with the most extreme weather of the past 1000 years. The review also confirmed that the Medieval Warm Period of 800 to 1300 A.D. and the Little Ice Age of 1300 to 1900 A.D. were worldwide phenomena not limited to the European and North American continents. While 20th century temperatures are much higher than in the Little Ice Age period, many parts of the world show the medieval warmth to be greater than that of the 20th century."

There are many more footnoted in Ian Plimer's "Heaven and Earth - Global Warming, the Missing Science."

History and geology show what the hockey stick tries to hide: a thousand years ago, vineyards grew in England where none can grow now, and in many lands (Alps, Greenland, etc.) retreating Little Ice Age glaciers reveal evidence of sites of human habitation during the Medieval Warm Period that are uninhabitable today.

Since you mentioned echo chambers, the e-mails reveal that RealClimate has been used by Mann et al as a means for filtering and suppressing dissenting studies, not as a venue for increasing the understanding of the far from settled science of climate change.

The evidence of natural climate change is clear and has been incontrovertible covering millions of years. The evidence for AGW can't even stand up to the cooling of the past 11 years that none of the computer models predicted or can explain.

Michael B. Combs

Posted by: MajorMike | November 23, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

You know, the REST of the science historians are going to be poring through this treasure trove for years to come. Perhaps they will even use the debris from the mushroom cloud to aid in forging public policy institutions that are actually guided by the scientific method.

Why Mr. Weart would want to ignore the biggest development in his field in order to make apologies for those bound for history's dustbin is a mystery.

Posted by: blackjeans | November 23, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

B202

Can I just call you B? Consensus isn't science, and the survey questions asked would even get agreement from skeptics like me: Yes, there has been global warming in the past 200 years since the end of the Little Ice Ages; Yes, human activity may make a significant contribution to warming. For the second question, the belief can be there, but the proof still isn't. AGW theory does not say that temperatures will go down while CO2 goes up, but that has been the case for 36 of the past 64 years. Even NASA admits that 1934 was the warmest year, and that 6 of the 10 warmest years in the last 100 years were over 50 years ago.

How many more years of cooling will it take to move some of the climate researchers from belief in AGW (which has been their funding source) to the realization that climate change is natural and expected.

10,000 years after the end of the last Ice Age, after sea levels rose 440 feet, and 5,000 years ago the Holocene Climate Optimum was warmer and facilitated the rapid advance of civilization, perhaps they will notice the obvious, that today's climate is merely one of many natural possibilities.

The genius of humanity is adaptation to change, not futilely attempting to stop changes that are natural and inevitable.

Michael B. Combs (B, you can call me M for short)

Posted by: MajorMike | November 23, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Dan,

You are shifting the burden of proof. It is up to those offering up a hypothesis based on dendochronology (in particular the specific methods used by the scientists when using dendochronology) to prove that dendochronology is accurate. If dendochonology or other methods of temperature reconstruction are inaccurate, it's not up to someone else to replace one inaccurate reconstruction. For instance with the methods used, it looks like dendochronology as practiced by the scientists in question under-reports warm weather, which that undermines reconstructed temperatures and hence the need to "hide the decline." The implications of these studies are profound for the world and if the data does truly bear it out, the raw data and methods used should be published far and wide instead of locked up and actively dodging FOIA requests. Up until now I've been one of the people on the fence on global warming, but in seeing what was said and the explanations given trying to explain the contents, it greatly concerns me given the seriousness of the subject matter. It does not seem not object science is being practiced, but instead it reminds me more political "facts" where someone has an agenda/ideology and then just picks and chooses to get things to fit and throws out whatever is in their way. Using the scientific method it looks like the methodology used for the tree rings was invalidated by thermometers, which would mean you throw out your hypothesis/methods rather than using methodology you know was invalidated and then tweaking it ("hide the decline") to fit the result you want it to be.

Dave

Posted by: SpanishInquisition | November 23, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Andrew for doing the interviews. I look forward to the rest!

To me, the least damaging that I've seen so far is the one about the trick. Based on my feeble knowledge of statistics from an economic statistics course I took in college, a trick doesn't distort the data (although it may be used to change how it is presented).

Far more damaging is that it appears a number of scientists have actively sought to discourage dissenting views, and even engaged in possibly illegal activity by seeking to circumvent FOI requests. Far from what the historian you interviewed may say, public confidence in the global warming hypothesis has been shaken over the past year (I think it was Andrew who wrote a post about the change in sentiment in the Pew polls a month ago). Many will look at this, and, rightly or not, associate it with the broader realm of climate science.

At the very least, it's going to make it harder for politicians to do anything about global warming. Denying it won't make the problem go away.

Posted by: nlcaldwell | November 23, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

I can address most of the talking points hitting this article:

The personal attacks on CRU scientists aren't germane - this is a scientific issue. I don't believe "ZekeZ" is a working scientist. The money on climate controversy is entirely on the denialist side. The scientists have to spend their grants on data gathering and analysis. The suppression is on the part of those trying to harrass scientists for publishing correct, if inconvenient, results. The "Junk Science" trope was coined by tobacco lobbyist Steven Milloy to describe research connecting smoking to lung cancer.

The hockey stick is robust, as was reaffirmed when Steve McIntyre was shown to have made false accusations against Keith Briffa, and when Briffa's work was upheld by independent replication along the lines demanded by skeptics, and McIntyre's hastily hacked together subset of data, and analysis, were shown to be completely wrong. That hockey stick's been joined by at least 11 other major hockey stick temperature or temperature rated to carbon dioxide studies. the statement "science believes now" and "the consensus is" are identical.

The "travesty" referred to by Kevin Trenberth is specifically that we can't get all the energy budget for the Earth measured yet. One big reason - the Triana satellite was built, funded, ready to launch. The Bush administration mothballed it. Triana would have given us the Earth's energy budget. Climate denialists did not want the open questions settled.

AGW is not political. It's the result of 200 years of carefully established science. The tiny subset of researchers at CRU did not establish AGW - that's a lie. People who think AGW is not real aren't skeptics, they're science-deniers. At this point, tens of thousands of scientists have validate AGW, and the burden of proof has shifted to legitimately dissenting scientists and the politicized science deniers.

Freeman Dyson is not accurate enough to usefully discuss climate science. For instance, I'm working on a project right now comparing his 5 "equally sized" short term carbon reservoirs. He's off in that description by a couple orders of magnitude. He also alleges a negative feedback cycle he refuses to give evidence for, and postulates a fix even the possibility of which also has no evidence.

Plimer's book is not scientific in nature. Most chapters are irrelevant padding, the germane ones are outdated and debunked claims, mixed with fabricated charts from denialist venues and crackpot theories like the iron sun.

This is not a big development. This is a harassment campaign. It's teabagger science. The entire dirty tricks smear campaign smacks of Lysenkoism on the part of the science deniers. They were more satisfied when GW Bush put a Young Republican dropout in charge of NASA publications and removed all references to AGW (and the Big Bang) from scientific press releases.

Posted by: MarionDelgado | November 23, 2009 11:38 PM | Report abuse

http://www.infowars.com/dr-tim-ball-on-the-significance-of-the-cru-hacked-documents/
http://www.corbettreport.com/
Significance of the Hacked CRU Climate Change Documents!
November 23, 2009
Retired climatologist Dr. Tim Ball joins us to discuss the significance of the recently leaked emails and documents from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University which expose deceit, duplicity and collusion between climate researchers to maintain the fraud of the manmade global warming theory. These emails reveal stunning behind-the-scenes details about how this fraud has been developed and perpetuated, and Dr. Ball shares his insights on what they show.Video clip for you to witness:
http://www.infowars.com/dr-tim-ball-on-the-significance-of-the-cru-hacked-documents/

Posted by: PaulRevere4 | November 23, 2009 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Richard Ward: Thanks for your comment. Plenty of bloggers and journalists are combing through the emails message by message, and scientists are rebutting them and explaining them (most clearly at http://www.realclimate.org). My goal is to provide perspectives from the voices of leading minds in the climate field and related disciplines. My hope is that these admittedly brief interviews will be educational and will make readers think about how they are interpreting these emails, no matter where they stand on the climate issue.

As for the statement in the story that the emails raise the appearance of impropriety, I stand by that. I don't think there is any solid evidence that, for example, the researchers in question did in fact delete correspondence that was subject to a freedom of information act (the British version of FOIA, I believe) request, but it does look like they sought to do so.

Personally, I think the biggest impact from this scandal, in the short to medium term, is the political hit that climate science will take in the eyes of the American public, the press, and some corners of the policy making community. It is no accident that this occurred in the runup to the Copenhagen climate summit, in my view. Politics is about the appearance of power and authority as much as it is about actual power, and to many people, climate science was just taken down many notches simply by casting doubt on the motives of scientists.

This comment may have gotten off track from your comment, my apologies. Best, - Andrew

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | November 24, 2009 12:37 AM | Report abuse

Someone asked "Why Mr. Weart would want to ignore the biggest development in his field in order to make apologies for those bound for history's dustbin is a mystery."

I don't want to put words in Mr. Weart's mouth, but I think it's safe to say that he doesn't think that this is the 'biggest development in his field.' Although he clearly he thinks it is an interesting one.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | November 24, 2009 12:44 AM | Report abuse

I just want to thank folks for a rather productive back and forth on this issue here in the comments section. Compared to previous climate chatter on this blog, this has been remarkably devoid of comments that violate the Post's guidelines, such as personal attacks. -AF

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | November 24, 2009 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Marion Delgado

After you said you would "address most of the talking points in the article," you addressed none - unless spirited affirmations and protestations are your ideas of support for your position. Boiling down your remarks, you are saying "this is the science, and that's that."

The hockey stick will never be robust because it ignores or suppresses the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. The nearly one decade of delaying tactics that Mann and Briffa employed to discourage scientific inquiry into their studies speaks volumes about their works lack of substance.

Throwing in gratuitous comments about teabaggers, harassment, and dirty tactics say much about your approach to seeking truth, and nothing about AGW skeptics. Less heat, more light, would serve your positions better.

Posted by: MajorMike | November 24, 2009 2:13 AM | Report abuse

Hi everyone,

As I have stated on this site before, there needs to be much more data transparency in climate science. This whole situation could have been avoided if data was open and public. More attention needs to be focused on the courageous response by Dr. Judith Curry. I feel that this response is nearly perfect...

Andrew posted the link to the response at the bottom of his column.

Best,

Scott

Posted by: meteoscott | November 24, 2009 2:58 AM | Report abuse

Skeptics and conspiracy buffs need to understand that even without any CRU data nor the publications of it scientists, there are MULTIPLE lines of evidence for AGW:

1) UAH, RSS, and GISS show warming
2) Rapidly warming Arctic
3) Rapidly decreasing sea ice extent
4) Rapidly thinning sea ice
5) Rising ocean heat content
6) Cooling stratosphere
7) Net increase in downwelling LW
8 ) Net decreasing TOA LW emission
9) Increased species migrations/extinctions
10) Increased severe weather occurrences
11) Glacier mass loss and retreats increasing
12) Rising sea levels
13) Most importantly: rapidly rising human emissions of GHGs that have not been seen in millions of years.

None of these things read emails and have decided to play along in a massive international conspiracy.

Scott A. Mandia, Professor - Meteorology
http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/

Posted by: ProfMandia | November 24, 2009 6:13 AM | Report abuse

Andrew,

Thank you for your response. Please note that realclimate.org is run by four scientists, at least one of which (Mann) is the subject of the e-mails.

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/category/extras/contributor-bios/

Perhaps you could suggest a more neutral reviewer of these e-mails.

As a former researcher myself (e.g., at Johns Hopkins under an NSF grant), I was sickened by the tactics used used by the scientists to persecute PhD students, exclude dissenters from peer-reviewed publications, and the use of deceptive tactics to present data in a manner which would support their theories. For example, while journalists are quick to dismiss the word "trick", remember that "trick" was used to "hide the decline." Perhaps "trick" has multiple meanings, one of which is benign; however, "hide" does not. These scientists used a trick (e.g., technique) to obfuscate ("hide") something of importance. Pure scientists should not have a need to "hide" anything.

Hiding, persecuting, and excluding in pure science is not proper. Period. One should not base trillion dollar decisions on slanted science. This is the real story which can be gleaned from the leaked e-mails.

For the record, I support limiting or taxing carbon emissions from dirty energy sources for reasons other than CO2 emissions (e.g., acid rain, heavy metals emissions, national security). I also believe we are warming the earth. However, the misconduct by these scientists should make us question whether CO2 is the primary cause of the warming, or whether other sources (smog, land use, black carbon, other GHG) is the real cause.

The e-mails make it clear that these scientists cannot balance the energy budget. Should then we not be concerned about their conclusions?

Richard W. Ward, JD, M.ChmEng

Posted by: WestEndVoter | November 24, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Hi Prof. Mandia,

I think you would agree that all of the listed evidence in support of AGW theory you gave in the above post is completely dependent on the quality and length of observational data used for comparison. If the data that you use as a base reference changes or is altered slightly, so may your analysis… Any reference to data manipulation should be fully investigated and/or looked into because of the implications it has on other research analyses. The methods used to adjust a data set (for the better or worse) should be fully documented and disclosed publicly, in good faith, so that any subsequent researcher can fully understand what goes into his or her analysis. This is what science is, the sharing of information, technology and knowledge for the better understanding of the world around us. WIthout this, we lack the knowledge to make decisions (in science and policy) based on ALL available information, technology and knowledge. I only hope that this incident helps us work towards a more transparent science.

Best,

Scott

Posted by: meteoscott | November 24, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Responses to a few of the personal comments above:

ZekeZ: you think I have "a substantial personal interest in the outcome of the debate." Well, yes, I don't want my children to live in a world impoverished by climate change. And as a sometime scientist I am upset by wild and unsupported claims that essentially the entire scientific community is not only mistaken but corrupted. Financially, the income from my book on the history of global warming is negligible, and I could have earned a lot more writing about other subjects... or, like some, writing a book that denied global warming. I have no other personal material stake in the issue.

blackjeans: I don't understand why you say I "want to ignore the biggest development in his field" when, as you see, I am writing blog posts and interviews and have inspected the materials. What I am trying to understand, of course, is not the actual science of global warming, which I have studied over the past 20 years through many thousands of published scientific articles, and which readers of this blog can find well explained in many places. What I am interested in is the extraordinary politicization, which has placed climate scientists under extraordinary pressures. To be clear: many now are claiming, in effect, that the world's best scientists, thousands of them, who have contributed to framing the statements on global warming issued by our own and most other governments, the IPCC, National Academy of Sciences, Royal Society, American Physical Society, and on and on, have been engaged for many decades in a massive, secret conspiracy. I don't think the stolen emails and computer code provide a smidgen of evidence for that. Alas, the claims result in good scientists getting exasperated, angry, and spending far too much of their time on politics. Speaking of which, I won't post here again, I've got another book to write (on nuclear energy history).

- Spencer Weart

Posted by: sweart | November 24, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Richard - The reason I pointed to real climate's explanations is that, because they are involved with this scandal, they are attempting to explain the context of the emails that were taken completely out of context. Why would you not ask for an explanation from the primary source prior to rushing to judgment?

Secondly, you wrote "The e-mails make it clear that these scientists cannot balance the energy budget. Should then we not be concerned about their conclusions?" The energy budget comments were contained in a published paper, although with more scientifically-oriented wording. In other words, it is not news that scientists haven't quantified the entire energy budget of the earth's atmosphere. That should encourage further study, but it does not invalidate the studies that have already been done, according to the researchers I've spoken with.

Scott, I concur that Judith Curry's comments were provocative and provide a call to action for the scientific community to change their defensive posture towards the skeptic community, because it is harming the perceptions of their research and leading to less clarity, not more. I wonder if research institutes are going to start requiring transparency officers soon, to keep up with demands for data. Perhaps there is a job in it for ya?

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | November 24, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Dear Spencer:

Your denial of personal interest omitted the most obvious.

If AGW is indeed a hoax as evidence mounting, your book would be part of it, and a large portion of your career would have devoted to promoting a scam. To people like you and me in academia, this would be much worse than losing a few bucks. Of course you know this.

Having personal interest is fine, denying the undeniable is something else.

Posted by: ZekeZ | November 24, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

The conspiracy meme is becoming tiresome. There is no widespread conspiracy. Widespread groupthink maybe, but no evil global coalition which intends to deceive the public.

The e-mails evidence corruption and a small conspiracy at worst, motivated likely by personal weakness. However, this "small conspiracy", because it was made by supposedly pure scientists, has great impact because others accepted the findings, and relied upon their work. Furthermore, governments believed in their work, and funded further studies, establishing a "gravy train", which the e-mails show is hard to resist.

As a former chemical engineer -- and chemical process modeler -- my concern is that the mathematical models are all wrong. While Professor Mandia claims "UAH, RSS, and GISS show warming" and there are "rising sea levels", my understanding is that the Earth has not warmed in the past 10-15 years according to real surface temperature measurements, and that sea level rise is tapering off or even halting (dSeaLevel/dTime being nearly zero for the past four years, and the second derivative being significantly less than zero, if one looks at the raw data). I see the seeming halt in sea level rise as being extremely probative, as it is not as sensitive to site specific errors associated with temperature measurement (e.g., urban heat island effects).

Finally, the e-mails themselves indicate a recognized "lack of warming". I am inclined to take the e-mails at face value.

There are lots of theories, and lots of empirical observations, but as evidenced by the failure of the models to predict this most recent 10-15 year period of "no warming", it again is clear that the science is not settled. The scientists simply cannot explain what is going on with regards to world climate. Yes the world has warmed, and yes, some of the warming was likely caused by the act of man. However, this warming has not been proven to continue into the most recent 10-15 years.

In other words, the scientists have not satisfied their burden of evidence in proving their own theories. If such flawed theories were presented in a Daubert hearing in my current practice of law, the testimony would not be permitted as being "more prejudicial than probative." Why then do these unproven theories prevail in the "court of public opinion"?

Apply Occam's Razor, and the answer should be apparent.

R. Ward


Posted by: WestEndVoter | November 24, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Spencer,

I have to humbly digress with your statement:

"To be clear: many now are claiming, in effect, that the world's best scientists, thousands of them, who have contributed to framing the statements on global warming issued by our own and most other governments, the IPCC, National Academy of Sciences, Royal Society, American Physical Society, and on and on, have been engaged for many decades in a massive, secret conspiracy."

The concern is not that "thousands" of world class scientists have been engaged in a conspiracy but that, the record shows that there are some scientist out there that have adjusted data with a specific outcome in mind and without full disclosure, and I would think that most concerned scientists, as myself, simply worry about the repercussions in climate science of data that could possibly be adjusted one way or another. You must remember, that many of the CRU data sets are widely used in climate science (i.e HadCRUT) and these data sets are probably sited in hundreds if not thousands of the scientific literature pieces you discussed. So any adjustment or statistical methods applied to the raw station data or observations (for any science), MUST be well documented and openly available.   

Best, 

Scott

PS - Andrew: I am a statistics jedi in training… no data officer position for me! 

Posted by: meteoscott | November 24, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

"sea level rise is tapering off or even halting (dSeaLevel/dTime being nearly zero for the past four years, and the second derivative being significantly less than zero, if one looks at the raw data)"

Nope. Global mean sea level has risen over 10 mm in the past four years. See, e.g., http://ibis.grdl.noaa.gov/SAT/SeaLevelRise/LSA_SLR_timeseries_global.php

Mark

Posted by: imback | November 24, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Spencer:

I'll comment on this statement:

"To be clear: many now are claiming, in effect, that the world's best scientists, thousands of them, who have contributed to framing the statements on global warming issued by our own and most other governments, the IPCC, National Academy of Sciences, Royal Society, American Physical Society, and on and on, have been engaged for many decades in a massive, secret conspiracy."

No. As a AGW skeptic, I don't believe there is an "massive, secret conspiracy". IMHO, AGW is a massive scientific scandal that comes from many contributing factors. The top culprit is money. Researchers have a strong incentive to overstate the importance of their research. The entire science community is hungry for a larger slice of the fed budget. When begging for money, nothing is more compelling than the possible coming doom of humanity. At beginning, some AGW scientists may sincerely believe in that and got funding for their projects. Then more scientists follow suit. Then more money comes not only to the climate field, but also all relevant areas. The entire science community may have benefited by the bigger slice of the pie. Worse yet, politicians starts to get involved the the whole AGW become too big and too important to fail.

No need to have a orchestrated conspiracy. It is just happens so naturally. A lot of people in academia get jobs, careers advanced, papers/books published.

When questioned, they have an easy defense: How can so many top scientists be wrong? The words between the line is: I have a lot of company even if I am wrong. Well, maybe nobody is completely wrong. Collectively, a hoax is born.

Posted by: ZekeZ | November 24, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

This whole "trick" for "hiding the decline" thing sure gets a lot of legs when you have hordes of thousands of relatively science-naive bloggers out there, all thoroughly convinced that they have been handed a smoking gun. Few of them have the background to even begin to understand the context, or why that language might be entirely appropriate and on the level (and spoken of in such a casual way between colleagues). All these bloggers know is that those lying, scheming, greedy (somehow, I never got that one) socialists want to take away their SUVs. And they've at last caught them in the act with a smoking gun.

And then, you have a relatively small number of bloggers who at least have a cognitive context in which to place the phrase. Here's one of them.

http://scienceblogs.com/islandofdoubt/2009/11/hacked_emails_tree-ring_proxie.php

I sure hope humanity doesn't shoot itself in the head in the next few months over this. Be mindful of what role you play in shaping humanity's destiny here, folks.

Posted by: B2O2 | November 24, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

the truth be told for once. i have respected robert felix for a few years now, and believe his take on all of this. http://www.iceagenow.com/ al gore is a phony they have been lying to all of you for years to line there pockets.

Posted by: deveinmadisonva | November 24, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Ho, hum, yet another "article" that ignores the extremely anti-science behavior of the so-called scientists. Any real scientist should be outraged by the attempts to suppress dissenting views, and the refusals to share data and methodologies. Perhaps it's too much to expect the vast majority of the population who have no scientific or engineering training to understand this. It is clearly too much to expect most journalists to understand this. I'm a bit disappointed in the "science historian" who trained as a physicist, but maybe it's been too long since he performed any experiments.

Posted by: brave_dot | November 26, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

You do what anybody from your side of the fence would do: You look ONLY for those who agree with your point of veiw on things. As my previous husband was an attorney and a good one, let me caution you this young man: There are always two sides to every story and then there are the FACTS. These, you may well be dismissing - a faux paux at best.

Read between the lines, do some serious research. Do you really believe those guys you referenced would actually admit to the possibility they may have been misled or are downright wrong? Good Lord, man, didn't your mother teach you anything?

I believe that once you get into that ivory tower you report from, you forget whatever you may have learned in journalism school. I, too, was once a reporter, but I always had a much larger body of research and notes than I ever used in the final piece.

But you guys nowadays shoot from the hip. Have you even read or examinied some of these emails - stolen or other? I actually have and find them very intriguing - surely worth a better look than hunting up some guy whose rep would be marred if he admitted to being snookered.

Sorry, you don't seem the sort of reporter I'd bother to read anymore. Good luck growing up.

Posted by: snoocks2 | November 26, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse


The author does not seem to get that the "Global Warming" nonsense is over.
A fraud involving billions of dollars has been exposed. There is no global warming, there was never any global warming. They made it all up for glory. This fraud makes Bernie Madoff look like a petty theif. There is no global warming, it was all a huge lie perpetrated by people who simply wanted it to be true. The sientist, and I obviously use that term loosly, have been lying since they first said "global warming". Somebody has to go to jail to make the other scientist know that a decade long con job is not exceptable "science". I also think that all scientists who made the decision to lie about the most important issue on earth and about earth shoud be charged with fraud. They took our money and used it for fraudulent means. They should have to pay the money back and somebody is going to jail.

Posted by: sarah39 | November 27, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

sarah39:

"The sientist, and I obviously use that term loosly, have been lying since they first said "global warming". Somebody has to go to jail to make the other scientist know that a decade long con job is not exceptable "science". "

It's not just a decade long it's more than a hundred years long. It was started by Fourier, Tyndal and Arrhenius (Nobel prize winner in Chemistry) more than a hundred years ago because they knew it would generate research grant opportunities for more than a hundred years in the future. It's not just the biggest scientific conspiracy of all time, it's the biggest conspiracy of all time.

Posted by: candmoneill | November 28, 2009 6:05 AM | Report abuse

What most to seem to be missing here is that one can remain completely agnostic on the issue of AGW and still be outraged by what has been revealed. The question is not whether the people in question were lying for a "good" reason or were lying as part of a broad conspiracy. The question is whether now that they have been found to be dishonest what is to be done?
I urge everyone who believes that the Emails can possibly be read in some context that explains away clear evidence of fraud, suppression of dissent, disdain for the scientific method and tax evasion among many other sins to read not just the Emails but the coverage of the Harry_Read_ files in which CRU is shown to not be able to replicate its own work. There is enough data and source code in the documents for independent IT experts to render their opinion on the quality of the models being produced. The kindest opinions I've seen so far include words like "d rivel" and "rubbish" but most are even less charitable.
I can understand why the "denier" crowd would want to maximize the import of all this for political gain. What I am having trouble understanding is how the "warmest" side believes that minimizing it is to their own advantage. They are, after all, basing their policies on the premise that the science is sound. I would think they'd want the heads of anyone who put their science in doubt as the Hockey Team surely has.

Posted by: DAVEDECARO | November 28, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Phil Jones to Michael Mann on Feb. 3, 2005:
“The two MMs [McKitrick and McIntyre] have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the U.K., I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone."

And, indeed, the CRU subsequently announced that they had “inadvertently deleted” the requested data.

Many scientists, not just skeptics, had called for the raw station data's release in order to test the conclusions of the (many) papers relying on it. This is standard scientific practice.

So I'd love to hear how this is somehow benign because it's "out of context". Read it within full context (via links above) - it smells just as bad.

Posted by: billso | December 4, 2009 9:17 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2012 The Washington Post Company