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Posted at 10:15 AM ET, 11/22/2010

A year after climategate, applying lessons learned

By Andrew Freedman

* Holiday rain? Full Forecast | Still waiting for D.C. freeze *

A year ago at this time, while policymakers and journalists (including myself) were gearing up for the Copenhagen Climate Summit, a story began percolating in the blogosphere about a voluminous trove of stolen emails sent between prominent climate scientists. The emails purportedly contained evidence that climate scientists had fudged temperature data and interfered in reviews of studies that did not adhere to mainstream views of manmade climate change. As numerous investigations have found, the scientists involved in the emails did not commit scientific fraud, and the emails' scientific significance was negligible.

The dustup that came to be known by many as "climategate" did not weaken or overturn any part of the scientific consensus on climate change - that global warming is very likely due in large part to increasing emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities. However, it drastically altered discussions of climate science during the past year. It has had a lasting impact on how climate scientists approach their work, how the media covers climate science, and how policy makers view the reliability of climate science research.

Climategate almost immediately caused climate scientists to lose control of the media narrative, and put them on the defensive for much of the year. Prior to climategate, the narrative had evolved into one that focused more on what society should do to slow and halt climate change, rather than on questions about the fundamentals of climate science. Almost instantaneously, many in the press switched into "cover the conflict" mode, with stories portraying climate scientists as scheming to rig scientific data and prevent the publication of dissenting opinions from the scientific literature.

"The final nail in the coffin of anthropogenic global warming", read one particularly egregious headline in the UK Telegraph.

The coverage reflected several converging factors. First, journalists love conflict, and are about as attracted to stories that involve the potential toppling of conventional wisdom as a weather geek is to Doppler radar imagery. Most reporters were ill-equipped to read and interpret the approximately 1,000 emails that had been released and analyze them for their scientific significance.

Instead, many resorted to quoting phrases out of context, such as one scientist's now infamous use of the word "trick" to describe a research technique. As the author of the blog ClimateSight stated: "How could journalists have possibly had time to carefully examine the contents of one thousand emails? It seems much more likely that they took the short-cut of repeating the narrative of the deniers without assessing its accuracy."

The situation was compounded by a reflexively defensive scientific establishment that immediately appealed to its authority - the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had won the Nobel Peace Prize, after all - rather than promising thorough investigations into possible wrongdoing and acknowledging any scientific errors that may have been made.

For many climate scientists, late 2009 and most of 2010 was filled with soul-searching, frustration, and depression.

The public ridicule that was unleashed against some researchers, most especially Phil Jones, the head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, where the email hack took place, was debilitating. At one point Jones, the one who had used the word "trick" to describe a temperature analysis method, says he faced numerous threats of violence from critics and even considered suicide. According to Nature magazine:

He received some 200 abusive or threatening e-mails, the most troubling of which targeted him and his family. "Someone, somewhere, will hunt you down," read one. "You are now blacklisted," read another. "Expect us at your door to say hello."

At last, however, efforts to learn the lessons of the past year are now taking place, particularly within the scientific community. Scientists realize they need to be more open with their data and methods, and there is now a global effort underway to create the first open-source record of global surface temperatures. Scientists say they must also be more willing to publicly address challenges to their research, and engage both proactively and defensively with the media and the public.

There have been encouraging signs of progress during the past two weeks, when the American Geophysical Union announced a renewed push to connect climate scientists with journalists who are seeking answers to questions about climate science, and dozens of climate researchers launched a new (non AGU-sponsored) initiative to form a "rapid response network" to enter the news cycle and dispel scientific disinformation before it becomes ingrained in conventional wisdom.

In addition, in the new issue of the journal Science, a group of prominent climate scholars published a letter calling for the formation of a climate science education group that would foster a more climate-literate public through various forms of communication.

"The initiative must make concerted efforts to provide people, organizations, and governments with critical information, to address misperceptions, and to counter misinformation and deception. In doing so, it will have to overcome psychological and cultural barriers to learning and engagement," the letter states.

Finally, what at first might appear to be a foreboding development for climate science - the election of numerous lawmakers who outright deny the existence of manmade climate change, and the related prospect of congressional investigations into climategate and how climate science is conducted and funded - actually constitutes another opportunity for climate science communication.

As outgoing South Carolina Republican Rep. Bob Inglis told witnesses at a climate science hearing last week, "I'd encourage scientists who are listening out there to get ready for the hearings that are coming up in the next Congress," he said.

"Those will be difficult hearings for climate scientists. But I would encourage you to welcome those as fabulous opportunities to teach."

Climate scientists' new public stance might best be described as akin to President Obama's rallying call to campaign workers during his 2008 campaign for the White House: "Fired Up.. Ready to Go!" That's major improvement from the past year, when it seemed that the dominant mode of public engagement was more along the lines of, "D-Fence.. D-Fence.. D-Fence!"

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

By Andrew Freedman  | November 22, 2010; 10:15 AM ET
Categories:  Climate Change, Freedman, Media, Science  
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Comments

Andrew, the disconnect, at least in part, is that you are defending political choices not scientific ones. It is a political choice to splice the temperature record to the proxy record while also deleting the inconvenient part of the proxy record. A scientific depiction would have showed both.

It is a political choice to tell people "very likely" or 90% or other such probabilistic statements when those probabilities are not calculated but completely fabricated. Catastrophic projections in models are the issue, not the scientific basis of greenhouse warming or AGW. To point to politicians who deny the basic science is a distraction, the real issue is whether there will be high sensitivity and 10 or 20 degrees C of warming in Greenland to cause significant melting in less than a few centuries.

It is political to give data to a friendly researcher while denying to critics under the grounds that it is not releasable. For to state above that "Scientists realize they need to be more open with their data and methods" is disingenuous. Those scientists need to stop obfuscating about whether the data should have been released in 1995 or earlier when it was requested. They need to stop pretending that certain other public data was the same when it was not.

The future hold fabulous opportunities not to "teach" i.e. make more political claims, but to come clean. Yet another media blitz is not going to help because the political arguments in the other direction are too strong (e.g. high costs, poor EROEI on alternatives, the various elephants in the living room like China, etc).

Posted by: eric654 | November 22, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

It's still getting cold in the fall and the Arctic air masses are arriving on schedule during the winter. What may be happening is that we are starting to get winters here that are "normal" for Wilmington, NC or the Grand Strand of South Carolina rather than what has been accepted as "normal" for Washington, DC. This is how anthropogenic global warming is supposed to operate.

Unfortunately the politicians, particularly those on the right, are putting their own spin on things, both in the areas of climate policy and financial policy. The biggest threat to us is probably not a climate threat, but the threat of a massive contraction of the money supply, chiefly due to the Right's efforts to "game" national and international policies regarding public debt and planned "austerity programs" which, if implemented, will only serve to cut off the availability of money, except for the very rich who have it stashed away somewhere.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | November 22, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Freedman wrote, "As numerous investigations have found, the scientists involved in the emails did not commit scientific fraud, and the emails' scientific significance was negligible."

Your treatment of climategate has done immeasurable harm to your credibility. You have steadfastly ignored the completely valid, reasonable and fair criticisms from people like Steve McIntyre. You simply refuse to address his criticisms. You pretend they don't exist. Sticking your head in the sand won't make the issue go away. Perhaps it goes away in your mind, but the rest of us still see it.

Take the sentence above that I quoted from you. That sentence is completely false. You may wish it to be true, but it isn't. I suppose from your perspective, if you only look at the investigations that you choose to look at, and pretend the other investigations either don't exist or aren't valid, then in your mind you could possibly consider that a true statement. But if you look at the investigations that people like Steve McIntyre have done, you are forced to see that sentence of yours for what it is - pure wishful thinking.

Let's do a quick spot check on your investigations and see how thorough they were. Phil Jones wrote an email to at least one of his colleagues asking them to delete all emails pertaining to AR4 and a certain "study" by Keith Briffa. Bear in mind that when he sent that email, the University had received a freedom of information request covering that information! Deleting the emails pertaining to the information after you have received the FOI request is against the law!

--continued in my next comment--

Posted by: Mr_Q | November 22, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

--continued from my previous comment--

My question to you, Mr. Freedman is - What did your "investigations" reveal as to the motive of that request by Phil Jones? Why did he ask Michael Mann to delete all correspondence re AR4 and Keith Briffa?

Phil Jones has admitted that he did indeed delete those emails. Why?

People wanting honest, unbiased information on climategate should go here. There is enough research to keep you busy for a week.

As far as the question I asked Mr. Freedman, I wish him luck in finding an answer to it. One of the "investigations" completely failed to ask him about that because, according to them, "Muir Russell told the Parliamentary Committee that he didn’t ask Jones (or anyone else) about email deletions since that would in effect be asking them to confess to a crime."

That is one heck of a thorough investigation there! Not!

I encourage anyone who wants to know more about the "investigations" into climategate to follow the first link that I provided. It will talk about climategate and the investigations into climategate. You don't even need to bother with the comments if you prefer. Simply read Mr. McIntyre's articles/posts on the issue. He provides fair and honest reporting. Which is precisely why Mr. Freedman pretends that he doesn't exist. He can't honestly refute anything that Mr. McIntyre has reported on climategate.

Happy reading and Happy Thanksgiving.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | November 22, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

--continued from my previous comment--

My question to you, Mr. Freedman is - What did your "investigations" reveal as to the motive of that request by Phil Jones? Why did he ask Michael Mann to delete all correspondence re AR4 and Keith Briffa?

Phil Jones has admitted that he did indeed delete those emails. Why?

People wanting honest, unbiased information on climategate should go here. There is enough research to keep you busy for a week.

As far as the question I asked Mr. Freedman, I wish him luck in finding an answer to it. One of the "investigations" completely failed to ask him about that because, according to them, "Muir Russell told the Parliamentary Committee that he didn’t ask Jones (or anyone else) about email deletions since that would in effect be asking them to confess to a crime."

That is one heck of a thorough investigation there! Not!

I encourage anyone who wants to know more about the "investigations" into climategate to follow the first link that I provided. It will talk about climategate and the investigations into climategate. You don't even need to bother with the comments if you prefer. Simply read Mr. McIntyre's articles/posts on the issue. He provides fair and honest reporting. Which is precisely why Mr. Freedman pretends that he doesn't exist. He can't honestly refute anything that Mr. McIntyre has reported on climategate.

Happy reading.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | November 22, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the double post. I waited three minutes and then assumed my post had gotten lost in the vast ether. But after four minutes it appeared. I should have given it one more minute! My bad.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | November 22, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

ClimateGate led me to analyse the Climate models. I am concerned with the 'cloud albedo effect' cooling correction, 175% of bare AGW signal in AR4. I think there's been a big error in the physics used to calculate this. It's because it assumes a form of directed diffuse backscattering due to constant Mie asymmetry factor [equal to the single particle value]. But Mie calculated that for a plane wave and that does not apply within a cloud. In reality, the optical physics is a curve fit without such predictive ability.

Also, by 2003, there had been no experimental evidence of the correction. So, to put it simply, about half present median net AGW in AR4 is imaginary. Take that away, do some simple reanalysis because you've got a greater mismatch between prediction and reality, and the IPCC's predictions of future CO2-AGW are exaggerated by at least a factor of 3.

However, there's worse: because 'cloud albedo effect' cooling is false because the optical physics is wrong, correct that physics and instead of cooling, it's heating. So, you might have to reduce the CO2 effect still further.

Since 2003, ocean heat capacity has stopped rising. The real 'polluted cloud AGW is self limiting [aerosols reduce direct backscattering at the upper cloud boundary]. So, I'm beginning to think much recent AGW has been from aerosol pollution caused by Asian globalisation, and it saturated in the early 2000s. It should also be reversible.

If it was the CO2, we'd still be heating.......

Posted by: apdavidson | November 22, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

In climategate, people stole emails, publicized what the scientists thought were private communications, took individual phrases and sentences wildly out of context and interpreted them in the worst possible way, and refused to consider the scientists' explanations. That to me was the reprehensible part. The scientists involved acted all too human and could have avoided some of the trouble by more professional, open, more courteous behavior.

But why do such standards only apply to one side? Some want to hold the scientists to the highest possible standards and demonize them for any failing, no matter how trivial, while ignoring the far worse behavior of their accusers.

Concerning Mann's work and the "inconvenient data", I have read that issue was thoroughly discussed in the literature. I have also read that other researchers have found results very similar to Michael Mann and people I know and trust have said that even if Mann had followed different procedures his results would not have significantly changed. It's time to move on beyond the hockey stick.

There are serious questions about global warming that need to be addressed. As far as I'm concerned, whether or not it is occurring and whether or not much of it is anthropogenic has been settled.

Posted by: Dadmeister | November 22, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

The investigations took the same attitude of the OJ jury. That they found him not guilty may have some legal functionality, but anyone with a brain knows the completely obvious conclusion.

Posted by: gorak | November 22, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

The sentence: "As numerous investigations have found, the scientists involved in the emails did not commit scientific fraud, and the emails' scientific significance was negligible" is based on a review of the official investigations into climategate, including the Parliamentary investigation in the U.K., the report from Penn State, and the Inter Academies Council report.

Posted by: afreedma | November 22, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Dadmeister, "far worse"? Here is Judith Curry at RealClimate: "The centered PCA and R2 issues are much more straightforward. The centered PCA is bad statistics, and just because no single significance test is objectively the best in all circumstances does not mean that you can cherry pick significance tests until you find one you like and ignore R2."

Here's is Gavin Schmidt's response: "This is simply insulting. You have absolutely no evidence that this was the case. The RE/CE statistics are perfectly fine at describing what the authors thought were relevant and have a long history in that field (Fritts, 1976) and as we have seen the PCA issue is moot."

The facts: Mann's R2 was close to zero when emulated. Fritts 1976 refers to the theory that trees in one part of the world grow in proportion to temperature in another part or in a broader region of the world. Fritts did NOT recommend ignoring R2. Here's an explanation of all of that and more: http://climateaudit.org/2010/07/25/the-team-defends-paleo-phrenology/ The PCA centering that Mann used is just wrong, not moot. The effect it had did not cause as many problems as the data selection and other problems, but it was part of the problem, not "moot".

In just this one example of many, the critics make reasonable, factual criticisms and the "hockey team" replies with bluster and obfuscation. The pattern from the 2005 until today has been the same, reasonable critiques from the critics and arrogance and bluster in response.

Posted by: eric654 | November 22, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

You are further validating what I wrote. You only luck at the investigations that you want to. You willfully ignore the all credible investigations which pose serious questions and challenge your world view. Good luck with that.

Why did Phil Jones request Michael Mann delete all emails pertaining to AR4 and Keith Briffa (while having in their possession a FOI request which covered that information!!!)?

If your so called "investigations" don't provide an answer to that question, what does that say about the voracity and thoroughness of those "investigations"?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | November 22, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

You are working so hard to ignore the actual issues.
Frankly you journalists have covered yourselves in disreute by refusing to actually investigate this.
All you did- and you know it- is to take the excuses of those who were exposed in the e-mails at face value. And you refused to even interview skeptics in any way more than perfunctory. The real question, if you are capable of honest self-reflection is why and all too many journalists decided to to do this?
What you have done is as if Watergate was excused by the word of the Nixon whitehouse.

Posted by: hunter3 | November 22, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

and one other thing: From reading how AGW believers toss around the word 'denier', it is clear that 'denier' is the epitaph 'ni**er' for the AGW community. It is designed to end discussion, to put skeptics in an impossible situation and to deny them any sort of humanity ore reasonableness. Your support fo the use of that word says more about you and the other believer who denigrate skeptics, than you would probably like to consider.

Posted by: hunter3 | November 22, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Saying over and over again that investigations cleared the 'scientists' of wrong doing and 'validated' the science will never make it true. You would know better if you bothered to look, and that makes you one of those who knowingly or negligently spread dishonest propaganda.

There was a time when the Post operated with ethics and integrity. It actually spoke truth to power, and I was there to read it. There isn't much point in reading the Post today. I see no need to waste my time paying for or reading propaganda.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | November 22, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Look up the word "deny" in the dictionary.
A denier is one who denies. Any other connotation is in the eye of the beholder.

To be skeptical is to "instinctively or consistently questioning". Many of the critics of AGW are not skeptics, they accept unconditionally anything as long as it contradicts AGW.

Multiple investigations of the scientists (WITHOUT QUOTATION MARKS) looked into whether or not there was evidence of fraud or misconduct. They found no evidence of fraud and only minor misconduct.

Insisting that someone is a fraud with no evidence is slander and a lie.

Posted by: Dadmeister | November 22, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Freedman, you claim to be a journalist, yet you do no independent investigation of your own on any climate science topic. Just replaying other peoples' claims and assertions. Climate Audit at least has done some analysis of the various "indpendent investigations" in the UK and has some back with a pretty sorry tale. I did some of my own by talking to some faculty who were involved in the Mann assessment. Had you bothered to search you would also have found a pretty sorry tale of an investigation that was a complete scam. Some faculty admitted privately that they were pushed pretty hard not to ask too many questions by Penn State administrators. It is amazing how sloppy the entire "investigation" really was. But, hey have you asked any hard questions? Not likely, since you are not really a journalist.

Posted by: 123andy | November 22, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Mr.Freeman you seem to be a bit hard of hearing! Numerous commenters have talked about the white wash by the press and scientific community of the climategate emails as demonstrated by the website climateaudit and you refuse to reply.What are we supposed to think about your behaviour?

Posted by: adriansmits | November 22, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

The scam has been exposed and people are no longer listening. Sorry the world wealth redistribution outfit has to come up with another method.

Global warming "science" has been a disgrace to real science and has shown how low academia will stoop to further their ideals.

The Chicago Climate Exchange, aka the Milk the US Exchange built in 2000 to distribute wealth is sold. Cap and trade is dead.

The left will probably try to do the same thing using the EPA and other govt agencies but the main drive is dead. Good riddance to this dark hour of politics in the name of science.

Posted by: Cryos | November 22, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Andrew, I think you need to stop ending your posts with the "The views expressed here are the author's alone and do not represent any position of the Washington Post, its news staff or the Capital Weather Gang." disclaimer. The science is settled: CC is real, it is caused primarily by human activity, and it has already cost and will cost us tremendously in the future. You're undermining all the good work you do in communicating the undisputed science of ACC by playing politics with that sentence.

Posted by: vnangia | November 22, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Dadmeister says "Many of the critics of AGW are not skeptics, they accept unconditionally anything as long as it contradicts AGW." That's true on both sides. Better to argue against the skeptics rather than the strawmen deniers because that has a better chance of being a scientific argument rather than a political one. Besides, the other commenters above are correct, the political argument is not a winning argument since it is based on overtly political ideas like "developed countries caused the problem and must fix it" (therefore China is off the hook which makes our cuts moot)"

Posted by: eric654 | November 22, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Some of the climate change scientist were secretly conspiring behind the scenes in peer review (peer review is supposed to be confidential) to control the published data. If confidentiality is not maintained and communication is not blocked, then the colluding authors can conspire to publish each other's research in a quid pro quo manner, not based on research, et cetera.

This is the email real data of some of the climate scientist's behavior. We do not have their telephone conversations, nor the possibly many deleted emails. This undermines the value of published peer review science. Personally, this type of behavior should be considered scientific misconduct.

“From: Phil Jones
To: "Michael E. Mann"
Subject: HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL
Date: Thu Jul 8 16:30:16 2004

Mike,
... I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow - even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is !
Cheers
Phil

Date: Wed Mar 31 09:09:04 2004
Mike,
... Recently rejected two papers (one for JGR and for GRL) from people saying CRU has it wrong over Siberia. Went to town in both reviews, hopefully successfully. If either appears I will be very surprised, but you never know with GRL.
Cheers
Phil
May 29, 2008-
Phil Jones, director of East Anglia's CRU, wrote to Mr. Mann, under the subject line "IPCC & FOI," "Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith [Briffa] re AR4 [the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report]? Keith will do likewise . .”

In this email Dr. Michael Mann points out to their conspiring peer group where the names of editors of the Climate Research Journal are located. Why? So all the conspiring scientists Drs. Mann and Jones and cronies can reject any papers co-authored by editors of Climate Research they receive for review.

Dr. Mann to Mr. Jones on July 11, 2003
"I think the community should . . . terminate its involvement with this journal [Climate Research] at all levels . . . and leave it to wither away into oblivion and disrepute.".........The skeptics appear to have staged a 'coup' at "Climate Research" (it was a mediocre journal to begin with, but now its a mediocre journal with a definite 'purpose'). Folks might want to check out the editors and review editors: [1]http://www.int-res.com/journals/cr/crEditors.html

Posted by: concerneddemo | November 22, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Politics aside, I am still intrigued by the fact that three of the four global data sets (UAH, RSS, and HadCrut) cite 1998 as the warmest year on record. Twelve years and lots and lots of CO2 ago.

Posted by: MattRogers1 | November 22, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

@MattRogers1 --- I seem to remember a lot of reports on CWG stating 2010 is the warmest so far.

Posted by: kperl | November 22, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Good grief, Matt, you know better than that. Global warming occurs on a decadal scale. There are many other factors that affect annual means, particularly the very strong El Nino of 1998. The fact remains the last decade is the warmest in the instrumental record.

Posted by: imback | November 22, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

kperl, in a few years the mantra will be we've had no warming since 2010!

Posted by: imback | November 22, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

In nonpolitical terms: the difference was a super strong El Nino in 1998 versus just a strong one a year ago. Essentially, we made it back to the 1998 temperature with a lesser El Nino so the world has warmed a bit all other things being equal.

Now the slightly political part: the CAGW promoters say that the world should warm by about 0.15 degrees per decade (based on their hypothesis of high sensitivity from water vapor feedback). From http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/ there was about 365 ppm CO2 in 1998 and there is 390 now. If a doubling from 280 to 560 is supposed to produce 3C in temperature rise, then a 25 ppm rise should produce a 0.3 degree rise (since 1998) Would a super El Nino last year have peaked 0.3 degrees above 1998's peak? Doesn't look likely http://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/ Therefore the warming is not 3C per doubling but something less.

Now the really political part. I think politics is the worst influence on science possible. That goes both ways. Even worse is the legal abuse of scientists (fishing for financial irregularities when there is no evidence of any) like what Cuccinelli is doing. I hope that the others here (esp Andrew) would condemn any political or legal prosecution of dissent by skeptics.

Posted by: eric654 | November 22, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

One year later and this website has yet to make anything other than a one-sides report on climategate. Just like the various inquiries, not one serious issue has been resolved regarding the emails. If the climate science community wants to rebuild their reputation, then confronting the junk science in the field will need to be done. This is not only hurting the integrity of climate science, but of science as a whole. I think it would be interesting in Mr. Freedman would interview someone not entrenched with the team on this issue.

Posted by: Tom8 | November 23, 2010 12:19 AM | Report abuse

Industries Buried Internal Findings
Climate Wording Cut From Public Report
(Sat, April 25, 2009 - Juliet Eilperin)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/24/AR2009042403331.html

"A group funded by fossil-fuel-dependent companies that argued for years that human-generated greenhouse gases were not driving global warming was advised by its own scientists that this was the case, according to documents submitted as part of an ongoing lawsuit between auto manufacturers and states seeking to regulate vehicles' greenhouse gas emissions.

The Global Climate Coalition, a group of representatives of the oil, auto and coal industries, spent years telling the public that the link between human activity and climate change was too uncertain to justify U.S. participation in the Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 treaty aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions. In 1995, however, a "primer" on the issue produced by the organization's own scientific experts concluded that "the scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied."

This language was deleted from the primer when the group released it to the public. "

Posted by: Airborne82 | November 23, 2010 12:38 AM | Report abuse

as a Long time Beleiever in AGW let me apologize for Andrew Freemans' laughable distortions.

In this post...Mr Freeman while admitting the need for more openess... totally glosses over the Mistakes Dr Jones made. So while it is TECHNICALLY true there was NO evidence of outright fraud on Dr Jones or Dr Mann's part they DID make SERIOUS mistakes.

Oddly Mr Freeman has NEVER talked about the findingd of the UK's Alastair Muir Russell.

AGW fanatics and Kooks Like Mr Freeman Love to focus on the word "TRICK" as an example of the "Deniers" spinning and over reacting. and there is some truth to that.

But the above cited Emails from Dr Jones to Dr Mann in 2004 is REAL. and it is totally unjustified.

NO SCIENTIST SHOULD EVER TALK ABOUT TRYING TO STOP VALID RESEARCH FROM BEING PEER REVIWED & PUBLISHED ... becuase they dont what b the other guy's conclusions are.

breaking out 2008 Obama camapign slogans is not going to fix that sort of arrogance.

Posted by: wxrisk | November 23, 2010 12:56 AM | Report abuse

I notice that much of this discussion regards merely the physical data regarding whether the planet is warming, which I find surprising. I respectfully suggest some may wish to survey the past several decades of biological rather than the physics literature on this topic. There have been major biotic changes planet-wide that indicate a warming climate: wide-spread bleaching of coral reefs which may have a devastating affect on ocean productivity, migration of tropical species into temperate zones including the appearance of tropical fish in the Mediterranean etc, significant changes in temperate species annual migration patterns (e.g. bird species remaining further north in the northern hemisphere in winter), disappearance of altitude-adapted species at lower altitudes and their appearance at higher altitudes (one biologist has described "trees walking off the tops of mountains" as they can no longer move high enough to stay within their climate-adapted zone), changes in territorial home range patterns of Arctic biota, etc. Obviously none of this addresses the source of the warming, but certainly indicates that climatologists, whatever their faults, are not the only scientists who are concerned about a warming planet. None of the biological data has anything to do with the IPCC or the emails that were hacked, so it would be paranoid indeed to invoke a science-wide conspiracy - and to what purpose? The narrow focus of this discussion perhaps allows one to become distracted from the larger planetary picture. From my reading of these comments the politicization and lack of civil discussion have also distracted from the important task of finding clean energy alternatives, the need for which may also be indicated by the apparent human epidemic of asthma particularly among urban children, the Deep Horizon ecological disaster which is only one of several such accidents world wide, etc. It has also distracted from a civil discussion exploring the opportunity that investment and job creation in a wide variety of alternative energy technologies might present during a world wide economic downturn when at the same time many are already referring to society having reached or passed the Peak Oil mark with dwindling supplies costing more to retrieve. If any of my comments are taken as a criticism of any side in this debate, it is not my intention but rather to suggest that joining forces to solve some major problems facing humanity may be more productive than taking sides.

Posted by: paulj1 | November 23, 2010 5:33 AM | Report abuse

paulj1, I recommend the book "The Little Ice Age". In their you will find much more significant changes than the ones you are describing. For example, plants didn't do so well under permanent snow in Scotland. Before the LIA was the Medieval Warm Period where "trees walked off the tops of mountains" and all those other things you described (and more) happened.

The big picture is that the current warming is not unusual nor unusually rapid. Mankind is going to have to adapt to many climate changes in the future, both warm and cold, and the best way to do that is to not emulate the French monarchy with top-down central planning (they didn't do so well in the LIA). Perhaps the French are a better example now with their nuclear program. There are 40 or more reactors being built worldwide, mostly in China, none in North America (I think one is being refurbished). Alternative energy sources are not concentrated enough to heat our houses and get us to work. I would love to give up part of my river front for a hydroelectric dam that would also tame the floods and enhance biodiversity.

The solutions require a big picture view of the problem (mankind faces plenty of challenges more serious than climate) and an objective view of economics.

Posted by: eric654 | November 23, 2010 6:45 AM | Report abuse

paulj1, the IPCC AR4 WG2 did cover a bit of biological response to climate change. (See http://ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/ch1.html for instance.) IPCC AR5 is just underway and may accept suggestions. :)

Posted by: imback | November 23, 2010 7:47 AM | Report abuse

kperl, the 2010 "warmest year on record" was coming from 1 (of 4) data sets that best fits the "consensus"- NASA GISS. But I believe even that data (managed by folks like James Hansen and Gavin Schmidt) will succumb to the cooling effect of this La Niña.

Posted by: MattRogers1 | November 23, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

The claim of a "scientific consensus" on catastrophic warming is simply untrue.

I have asked journalists, politicians & alarmist lobbyists now totalling in the tens of thousands worldwide & including the WP on previous occasions when they made this claim, to name 2 prominent scientists, not funded by government or an alarmist lobby who have said that we are seeing a catastrophic degree of warming . None of them have yet been able to do so. I extend this same invitation yet again.

There is not & never was a genuine scientific consensus on this, though scientists seeking government funds have been understandably reluctant to speak. If there were anything approaching a consensus, with over 31,000 scientists having signed the Oregon petition saying it is bunk, it would be easy to find a similar number of independent scientists saying it was true, let alone 2. The whole thing depends on a very small number of people & a massive government publicity machine, both very well funded by the innocent taxpayer.

Because, to quote Mencken "the practical purpose of politics is to keep the polulace frightened & anxious to be led to safety by threatening them with an endless series of hobgoblins - all of them imaginary."

Posted by: NeilCraig | November 23, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

@vnangia

Thanks for your comment about the disclaimer. As Andrew posts opinion pieces and is not a Washington Post employee (he is a freelance contributor), it was determined this disclaimer was necessary to make clear Andrew does not speak for the Washington Post and his opinions are his own.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | November 23, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

paulj1

Thanks for your thoughtful and informative comment on the nature and importance of biological changes consistent with a warming planet. As you indicate it is totally independent of physical data, IPCC, etc.

Unfortunately, attempts will be made to undermine your thesis by irrelevant, misleading, erroneous, etc. attacks. That's just the nature of the die hard community which finds it necessary to feed the beast of climate change denial. Pay no attention to anything but objective science of physical AND biological aspects of the issues.

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | November 23, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Steve ... let me make sure I understand your post here.

Are you seriously argung that only the DENIERS are the ones engaging in personal attacks distortions hype and scare mongering?

REALLY?

Posted by: wxrisk | November 23, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

PAULJ1...

"There have been major biotic changes planet-wide that indicate a warming climate."

um....ok... so?

isnt that is what suppose to happen in biological systems are the planet goes through warming and cooling cycles?

You seem to be suggesting that Humans have some sort of responsibility to ensure that we " fix" things... or
"take care of things"...

Dude the 1960s and 1970s have been over for a while.

Just sayin'

Posted by: wxrisk | November 23, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Happy Thanksgiving to.all, CACS advocates, realists, skeptics and deniers, all. Let us give thanks for all that we have learned and received the past year, and hope for more honest discussions and debate in the years ahead. In the end, all are acting on their understanding and conviction in the best interest of people around the world. Keeping it civil will get better results than shouting and name calling each other. Enjoy!!!

Posted by: 123andy | November 24, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

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