Archive for the ‘CRU Hack’ Category

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Climategate Redux

November 22, 2011

Brace yourselves… BBC has the scoop.

Contents include more than 5,000 emails and other documents, some relating to work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

A similar release in 2009 triggered the “ClimateGate” affair and accusations of fraud that inquiries later dismissed.

Now, as then, the release comes shortly before the annual UN climate summit.

The university has yet to comment on the document cache, which is posted on a Russian server.

A text file included with the batch, apparently written by someone involved in the release and headed “FOIA 2011 – Background and Context”, reads: “‘One dollar can save a life’ – the opposite must also be true. “Poverty is a death sentence. Nations must invest $37 trillion in energy technologies by 2030 to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at sustainable levels.”

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Scandal-less

July 7, 2010

The New Scientist has an interesting piece on the Climategate Scandal that never was:

In truth, climategate was a pseudo-scandal, and the worst that can be said of the scientists is that they wrote some ill-advised things. “I’ve written some pretty awful emails,” admitted Phil Jones, director of the CRU at the time. The scientists also resisted turning over their data when battered by requests for it – requests from climate sceptics who dominate the blogosphere and don’t play by the usual rules.

But there is nothing very surprising, much less scandalous, about such behaviour. Yes, a “bunker mentality” developed among the scientists; they were “huddling together in the storm”, in Pearce’s words. But there really was a storm. They were under attack. In this situation, the scientists proved all too human – not frauds, criminals or liars.

So why were their hacked emails such big news? Because they were taken out of context and made to appear scandalous. Pearce repeatedly faults the sceptics for such behaviour. Yet he too makes the scientists’ private emails the centrepiece of the story. Pearce’s investigations don’t show any great “smoking gun” offences by the scientists – yet he still finds fault. And who wouldn’t, when they can read their private comments in the heat of the battle? (I can’t help but wonder what Pearce might think if he had the sceptics’ private emails too.)

Meanwhile, the Guardian offered some insight into the vitriol sloshing around in the buckets and pails immediately afterwards.

The scientists revealed they have been told to “go gargle razor blades” and have been described as “Nazi climate murderers”. Some emails have been sent to them without any attempt by the sender to disguise their identity. Even though the scientists have received advice from the FBI, the local police say they are not able to act due to the near-total tolerance of “freedom of speech” in the US.

Mmm. Razor blades. Made in Germany.

And on that note, today Germany will slash Spain.

[UPDATE: Doh!]

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Mann Exonerated

July 1, 2010

Joe Romm has the skinny.

Who’s next?

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Advanced Agnotology

June 7, 2010

Here’s some light reading for your evening, cross-posted from Crooked Timber. On the Cuccinelli/Mann affair:

First and foremost, public accountability in matters of science is crucial.  Somewhere in that pile of grant applications, letters, and emails, surely, is “smoking gun” proof of Michael Mann’s wrongdoing; indeed, I suspect that Attorney General Cuccinelli is looking for, and will find, the legendary “bwah hah hah” diary entry in which Mann writes, “Today!  Today is the day that I will perform the ‘trick’ that hides the decline!  And then the entire planet will kneel before Zod as I institute ‘cap and trade’ socialism around the world.”  There is also a rumor that the files contain a valuable photograph of Mann and colleague Phil Jones rubbing their hands together in glee, as well as a LOLcat captioned, “IMIN UR NATUR / HIDIN TEH DECLINE.”  Finally, and most importantly, if the files turn out to weigh the same as a duck, they must be made of wood, and I’m sure you can all draw the obvious conclusion from that.  So yes, the public needs to know.

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Ole Virginny

May 1, 2010

I was born and raised in Virginia. Most of my immediate family still lives there. That’s why, I suppose, it doesn’t surprise me that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is pushing the ridiculous CRU e-mail controversy by once again singling out Michael Mann for investigation. The Charlottesville Hook reports that:

In papers sent to UVA April 23, Cuccinelli’s office commands the university to produce a sweeping swath of documents relating to Mann’s receipt of nearly half a million dollars in state grant-funded climate research conducted while Mann— now director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State— was at UVA between 1999 and 2005.

And who might Cuccinelli be interested in? Taking his lead from Coby Beck, Deltoid has the scoop:

Cuccinelli isn’t just asking for documents relating to his research grants but all correspondence Mann had with Caspar Ammann, Raymond Bradley, Keith Briffa, John Christy, Edward Cook, Thomas Crowley, Roseanne D’Arrigo, Valerie Masson-Delmotte, David Douglass, Jan Esper, Melissa Free, Chris de Freitas, Vincent Grey [sic], James Hack, Malcolm Hughes, Eystein Jansen, Phil Jones, Thomas Karl, Otto Kinne, A.T.J de Laat, Murari Lal, Stephen Mackwell, Glenn McGregor, Stephen McIntyre, Ross McKitrick, Patrick Michaels, Jonathan Overpeck, Tim Osborn, Roger Pielke Jr, Benjamin Santer, Gavin Schmidt, Stephen Schneider, Olga Solomina, Susan Solomon, Kevin Trenberth, Eugene Wahl, Edward Wegman, Thomas Wigley, Vincent Gray [again!] and all RAs, secretaries, and administrative staff at the University of Virginia. As well as all correspondence that references anyone in the list above.

Wowzers. That’s a lot of co-conspirators. The reliable rabbit picks up the thread, pinning the tail on Professor Curry.

I did get a little kick out of Prof. Singer’s e-mail, reposted by Eli:

There is a good chance that Virginia’s Attorney-General Ken Cuccinelli will come up with the “smoking gun” — where other socalled investigations have only produced one whitewash after another.

We know from the leaked e-mails of Climategate that Prof.Michael Mann was involved in the international conspiracy to “hide the decline” [in global temperatures], using what chief conspirator Dr.Phil Jones refers to as “Mike [Mann]’s trick.” Now at last we may find out just how this was done.

There’s a substantial amount of cognitive dissonance in those two paragraphs. Let’s see: so in the first paragraph, there’s a tacit admission that we have no smoking gun, and that the investigations haven’t really turned up much other than whitewash; but lo, in the second paragraph, there’s a relatively bold assertion that the very same Climategate e-mails mentioned in the paragraph immediately above have given us all the knowledge we need to connect the dots and conclude that Michael Mann was involved in an “international conspiracy” with “chief conspirator” Dr. Phil Jones. Of course, the controversy will go on. Roger notes that there is zero chance of Mann being found guilty of violating the Fraud Against Taxpayers Statute. This should be fun.

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Curruption Eruption

April 18, 2010

While our friends across the pond are wrestling the Icelandic smoke monster, Judy Curry (Georgia Tech) has piped in with a few of her own words on the recent CRU exculpations. My colleague Roger Pielke Jr. has the original scoop, and my other colleague Tom Yulsman takes a mini-scoop out of the original scoop to highlight the impending scoop explosion. I thought I’d grab a spoon for my own dollop off the mini-scoop, however, and unscoop some of the mini- from that explosive mini-scoop. [UPDATE: I have been corrected by Keith Kloor that my chronology is wrong here (see below). There's some enigmatic chain of scooping and re-scooping -- I can't quite figure it out -- but the long and the short of it is that all the climate people, including Keith Kloor, who originally scooped the scoopers, are talking about this.]

Here’s Curry’s incriminating language:

The corruptions of the IPCC process, and the question of corruption (or at least inappropriate torquing) of the actual science by the IPCC process, is the key issue. The assessment process should filter out erroneous papers and provide a broader assessment of uncertainty; instead, we have seen evidence of IPCC lead authors pushing their own research results and writing papers to support an established narrative. I don’t see much hope for improving the IPCC process under its current leadership.

Roger just lets this cherry macerate. Tom, however, digs in, following Gavin and Keith:

“Corruption” is a mighty strong word, and Gavin Schmidt over at RealClimate has already criticized it. But just because he takes exception to it does not mean that journalists should ignore what Curry has to say.

In any case, to prepare yourself for what’s in store in coming days as climate scientists, climate skeptics, journalists, bloggers — in short, the gantse megillah on climate change — weigh in on this, you absolutely must read “Some Spicy Curry” by Keith Kloor.

Let’s parse the language, shall we?

First, Curry didn’t say that climate scientists were corrupt, she said that there were “corruptions of the process.” (I’ll get to her second clause next.) There’s a big difference between claiming corruption as a character trait and claiming that the long and elaborate IPCC process has been subject to corruptions. Matter of fact, one of the reasons that we have a process in the first place, whether it’s with climate science or with any other matter, is in an attempt to minimize corruptions, which are to be expected. Since we’re more or less all aware that humans can make mistakes, that our perceptual apparatus sometimes goes blinky, or that we may even be subject to the pulling and tugging of our beastly desires, we try to formalize systems and processes so as to minimize the distortion. Seems to me that this is a perfectly reasonable statement.

Second, Curry dives in slightly deeper when she claims that “the question of corruption (or at least inappropriate torquing) of the actual science by the IPCC process” is the real question, because this seems to indict (on an extremely uncharitable read) specific actors and their intentions, though even this doesn’t indict the character of any specific actor; but on another more literal read, it suggests that she’s somewhat Socratic in her understanding of science and the process. The very Laws of Athens (or in this case, the Laws of the IPCC) may distract from the science (where Science = Truth). If that’s the case, it is not the people involved in the scientific process who are in need of an adjustment, but the process itself.

It gets foggier still when Curry says that “we have seen evidence of IPCC lead authors pushing their own research results and writing papers to support an established narrative,” as this would appear to indict the character of the perpetrators. But again, as I said above, processes are in place to cope with deficiencies in character and the enticements of whimsy, weaknesses which are known to all but the most deluded idealists. Moreover, it is hard to imagine a circumstance in which an individual actor wouldn’t push his own research results and write papers that support the established narrative. If it’s my research, and it supports the established narrative, what the hell else am I gonna push?

The big question here is not whether there was corruption, but whether this is a mere “narrative,” as Curry has put it. We know from Curry’s earlier statements that she doesn’t think concerns over climate change are a mere narrative. Instead, she’s trying to shore up the process, to secure integrity so that the results are more robust. I think others, like Roger, are trying to do that too, much to the consternation of those who are not in the fold.

Fortunately, Curry is a living, breathing climate scientist, so we can ask her what she meant. It may well be that the IPCC process is, at this point, beyond repair… but that is likely as much due to the corruptions of the process from external sources as from internal sources, due to political factors like the CRU hack that interfere with the apparatuses of an otherwise workable scientific machine. Many branches of science, like medicine, say, endure the hiccups and belches in their own unique processes, but I’m not about to throw out the results of these branches of science as mere narratives. That would be folly. Most of the time, we look past the hiccups and belches and move on.

It is only because the stakes with climate change are so high that the hiccups and belches in the process become indictments of the entire body of research… but that’s a political move, a shifty way of changing the topic. The general thesis of the vast body of research remains unscathed, just as most climate scientists claim. Unfortunately, this is a political fact that many in the climate community are also aware of, and I suspect that, because of this awareness, they circle the wagons, defend their own, and further, gads, corrupt the process.

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We Are All Skeptics Now

April 9, 2010

I don’t generally read the Washington Times, but for some reason, I ventured over to their editorial page yesterday. Turns out, they have an editorial on Ross McKitrick. And that’s basically all it is… an editorial. The logic is appalling, and the supporting evidence is, well, unsupportive. Take this opening salvo:

The prophets of global warming continue to lament as their carefully crafted yarn unravels before their eyes. Ross McKitrick, an intrepid economics professor from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, has tugged apart the thin mathematical threads that once held together the story of climate change.

This is an editorial from the editorial staff of a newspaper, mind you, not from the univocal pen of Ann Crackpot or Glenny-Penny. (The sky is falling. The sky is falling. Oh noes!)

To begin with language about prophets, laments, “crafted yarns,” and then support it with claims of intrepid professors… it just boggles the mind. Colorful to be sure. Loaded? You bet.

The editorial continues that McKitrick has been trying to publish a “nail in the coffin” style document that has been bullied out of the peer reviewed literature by protective opportunists in the climate community. That would be a fine charge, as opportunism and protectionism clearly happen, but the editorial fails to present, or even to link to, any clear evidence that supports either the claim that this article is so damning or the claim that it has been bullied out of the peer reviewed literature for non-scientific reasons. Here’s the best they can do:

Scientific journals evaluate arguments of this sort using a peer-review process by which purportedly impartial experts in the relevant field verify the paper’s accuracy and suitability for publication. By addressing issues raised by reviewers, researchers are able to present an improved and refined final product. In Mr. McKitrick’s case, the process appears to have been abused to stifle dissent.

The leading journals Science and Nature both rejected the paper as too specialized and lacking in novelty. The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society did not respond. Reasons given for refusing the paper in other outlets frequently contradicted one another.

One of the famous leaked e-mails from the former head of the Climatic Research Unit at Britain’s University of East Anglia sheds light on what really happens behind the scenes. “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report,” professor Phil Jones wrote in reference to a 2004 journal article by Mr. McKitrick. “Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”

Again, those infernal CRU e-mails keep coming up…and it’s always the same damn one, thereby unravelling this finely crafted tapestry of a tale that the climate community has woven, all in a single sentence. Of course, offhand comments of this sort do not a case make, nor does the fact that this paper wasn’t published in Science or Nature suggest or imply that somehow it was bullied out of those journals. But never mind, inferences be damned.

Plainly, my expectations are pretty low for the characteristically yellow journalism at the Washington Times, but this exceeds even those expectations. Well done boys.

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Data Valid

March 30, 2010

The AP reports that the UK panel charged with investigating the use of CRU data has found that the representations were valid.

LONDON (AP) — A parliamentary panel investigating allegations that scientists at one of the world’s leading climate research centers misrepresented data related to global warming found no evidence to support that charge, a panel announced Wednesday.

But the Science and Technology Committee of the British House of Commons did fault scientists at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit and its director, Phil Jones, for the way they handled freedom of information requests from skeptics challenging the evidence for climate change.

The panel said that Professor Jones and his colleagues could have saved themselves a great deal of trouble by aggressively publishing all their data instead of worrying about how to stonewall their critics.

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Mann on E-mails

March 30, 2010

Climatewire offers a quick peek into Michael Mann’s regrets about the CRU e-mails.

“I wish in retrospect I had told him, ‘Hey, you shouldn’t even be thinking about this,’” Mann, a prominent climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, said in an interview with The Morning Call. “I didn’t think it was an appropriate request.”

<snip>

“There are a lot of things we could look back at and say, ‘Gee, I wish I had done this or that,’” Mann said. “The important thing is, I didn’t delete any e-mails. And I don’t think [Jones] did, either.”

The article opens with “Michael Mann has a regret.”

No doubt about it. The question is: what’s the nature of this regret? Is it a regret stemming from the political hysteria that has ensued following the release of the much-ballyhooed e-mails? Or is it a regret about the mistake of not trying nip Phil Jones’ actions in the bud?

Frankly, I think there’s good reason to believe that it’s the former, and I can certainly understand that why it would be the former, the question for me as an ethicist, at least, is how to impress upon other scientists — not just in climate science, but in all branches of the sciences — that it is mighty important to self- police on matters such as this for reasons that extend beyond the potential political repercussions.

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Flash in the Pan

March 13, 2010

The numbers are in. The CRU hack had its day in the sun. Not much to see here. Move along. Move along.

Despite recent news reports questioning the credibility of climate science, the vast majority of Americans continue to trust the scientists who say that global warming is real, according to a new Stanford University study.

<snip; shuffle>

Stanford University communications researcher Jon Krosnick has released an analysis of his latest public opinion survey on American’s perceptions of global warming. A synopsis of the survey analysis is below, including a video interview of Professor Krosnick. (See links at left for figures used in story below, complete survey results and working papers that provide in-depth analysis of survey results.)

Survey results indicate:

  • 75% of Americans believe that the world’s temperatures have probably been going up;
  • Public confidence in what scientists say about the environment has remained constant over the last few years with 70% of respondents trusting scientists a lot or moderate amount;
  • More people believe that weather has been relatively cooler and more stable in 2008 and 2009 compared to previous years; and
  • Climate skeptics are having some affect on the public’s belief that there is agreement among scientists that global warming is happening

Matt Nisbet has some interesting commentary.

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