Climategate 2.0: they knew they were lying

The Climatic Research Institute, where Climategate really came from
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The original Climategate source released another trove of documents and e-mails yesterday. The evidence is just as damning.

What was Climategate?

Climategate was and is a scientific scandal. It broke when some person or persons unknown collected (some say stole) thousands of e-mails, documents, data sets, and program code listings from the Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, Norwich, England, UK.

The original gatherer might, or might not, have been a freedom-of-information compliance officer. He gathered the documents to comply with a Freedom of Information request from Steve McIntyre of the Climate Audit site. Then he realized that Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the CRU, never meant to obey the law. So he took the law into his own hands. First he shopped his archive to a site called Real Climate, but they “ratted him out” to Jones. Then he placed his archive on an obscure File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server in Tomsk, Siberia, Russian Federation. He shopped that link to several prominent climate-skeptical blogs. They included The Air Vent, Climate Audit, The Blackboard, and Watts Up With That.

The gatherer-releaser never identified himself. So the blog administrators wondered whether the 6.2 megabyte archive was genuine. While they were doing that, an English reader of The Air Vent mentioned it to the Essex County Conservative Examiner. He downloaded the archive, extracted it, and examined it On November 19, 2009, he published it.

Twenty-four hours, and thirty-five thousand page views, later, Climategate was born. The mainstream media were slow to pick up on it, but Fox News Channel and The Wall Street Journal were both talking about it within hours. When Jones admitted that an e-mail with his name on it really repeated his own words, no one would ever be able to deny it. And those words were highly incriminating:

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline. Mike’s series got the annual land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999 for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998.

“Hide the decline” became a by-word for deliberate manipulation, misconstruction, and even falsification of data.

In the above quote, Mike is Dr. Michael Mann, then at the University of Pennsylvania but originally at the University of Virginia. Mann is famous for the Hockey Stick graph. In that graph, he predicted that global temperatures would rise catastrophically, and that mankind would drown in its own waste heat and the resulting floods. The problem: the Hockey Stick was never accurate, and CRU knew it wasn’t accurate.

Keith is Keith Trenberth. He is famous for another infamous Climategate quote:

We cannot actually show significant warming, and it is a travesty that we can’t.

No, Mr. Trenberth. The travesty is that you and your colleagues, for many years, strove to show something as proved that was highly questionable at best.

(Full disclosure: your editor, and the Essex County Conservative Examiner, are one and the same person. I remember telling my UK correspondent, before I decided to publish, that I hoped that he would provide counsel, in every sense of the word, should I need it. In the United Kingdom, truth is not an absolute defense against a charge of libel, as it is in the United States. I expected Messrs. Jones, Trenberth, et al. to sue me. They did not; nor did they sue anyone.)

Climategate broke shortly before the Fifteenth Conference of Parties in Copenhagen, DK. To the surprise of absolutely no observer, the Copenhagen conference was a failure.

The original archive is available for download here.

Climategate 2.0

The Climatic Research Institute, where Climategate really came from

The Hubert Lamb Building, University of East Anglia, home of the Climatic Research Unit. Credit: User ChrisO/Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported License

Two years after that fateful day, the same anonymous gatherer-releaser has released another archive. It is 173 MB in size. Oddly, the releaser encrypted most of this and coyly refused to divulge the passphrase to unlock it. Watts Up With That has the most comprehensive running entry on Climategate 2.0 thus far. The archive may be found here.

The Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow released this statement today about Climategate 2.0. They note with appreciation that the releaser chose to release the archive now, for the greatest possible impact. This date is important, not because it is the two-year anniversary of Climategate 1.0 (actually, it comes three days later), but because the Seventeenth Conference of Parties will take place this December, in Durban, South Africa.

The archive has 5000 text files, each having the text of an e-mail, and a handful of proposals, reviews, and other documents. The top-level folder has a “readme” file, in which the releaser sets forth his purpose:

“Over 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day.”

“Every day nearly 16.000 children die from hunger and related causes.”

“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.”

Today’s decisions should be based on all the information we can get, not on hiding the decline.

This archive contains some 5.000 emails picked from keyword searches.  A few remarks and redactions are marked with triple brackets.

The rest, some 220.000, are encrypted for various reasons.  We are not planning to publicly release the passphrase.

We could not read every one, but tried to cover the most relevant topics such as…

Except for the 2.5 billion-person figure at the beginning, the releaser uses European pointing-off conventions for large numbers: periods to group thousands, and a comma for the decimal point.

The “readme” file goes on to list some telling excerpts from the e-mails, with specific references. They show that at least some persons in Phil Jones’ close-knit circle worried about appearances of impropriety. For example, Peter Thorne at the UK Meterological Office, in a letter dated February 4, 2005, sends this to Jones:

Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these further if necessary [...]

Evidently Jones did not take Thorne’s advice. Why should Jones “accept one single study and approach and discount a wealth of others?” Because he had already decided what point he wanted to make. Years later, Thorne clearly was not through:

I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.

“Not too clever” did not half say it.

In another e-mail, Michael Mann said this:

the important thing is to make sure they’re loosing the PR battle. That’s what the site [Real Climate] is about.

The site RealClimate.org was the first place that the releaser shopped the Climategate 1.0 archive. Their administrators “ratted him out” to Jones. Not that it did them, or Jones, any good.

Worse still are some e-mails that show that at least some scientists seriously questioned some of the conclusions that Phil Jones was making. Geoff Jenkins, also of the Meterological Office, said this in 2004:

we have been concerned that people often use the melting glacier on kilimanjaro as an example of impacts of man-made warming. you may have seen some stories countering this on the sceptics websites.

I got philip brohan to look at temps there (see attached) and there isnt any convincing consistent recent warming in the station data. but your gridded CRUtem2V does show a recent warming. presumably that is because (as philip suggests) the gridded stuff has influences from quite a large radius, and hence may reflect warming at stations a long way from kilimanjaro? would you agree that there is no convincing evidence for kilimanjaro glacier melt being due to recent warming (let alone man-made warming)?

Jones did not agree.

Other messages that the releaser called attention to, showed the bias that pervaded the climate scientists’ work, and the dismissal of all opposing viewpoints. Repeated reports said that much of the “warming” that they “observed” happened because their weather stations were close to expanding cities. Their response was to call people “nitpicky jerks” for pointing this out. Some accused “climate skeptics” of having “extreme religious views,” while others sought to present the man-made global-warming message as a Christian message. At one point, the co-chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that he “prayed” that laypeople would “pick up [the] message” from a motion picture (The Day After Tomorrow, prod. and dir. Roland Emmerich, with Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Emmy Rossum, Twentieth Century-Fox Pictures, 2004).

The Lessons of Climategate 1 and 2

These are not the considered acts of scientists. This is a political campaign by political hacks. Worse, it involves improper manipulation of data.

Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged) captured the mind-set of the Climategate clique. In that novel, the head of a government-run research institute defends his often inconsistent behavior:

It is only in the realm of pure science that truth is an absolute criterion. When we deal with applied science, with technology — we deal with people. And when we deal with people, considerations other than truth enter the question.

Those considerations seem to include politics. Not to mention crony capitalism on a global scale. (When the then-chairman of the IPCC talked of metering the water taps in hotels, he forgot to mention how he himself stood to profit from proposed carbon dioxide mediation.)

In the years since Climategate 1, these same climate scientists ignored the bad publicity, until it died down. They could not have known that the same person(s) who gathered the original archive, had more e-mails to release. These e-mails, even more than the documents that the Climategate 2 archive holds, show a cavalier attitude toward the truth. As the fictitious Dr. Robert Stadler said, “considerations other than truth” matter at least as much as, if not more than, the truth. Rand’s former protégé, Nathaniel Branden, put it this way:

How low in their priorities is the issue of truth for most people when matters are involved about which they have strong feelings.

Or when they stand to profit, either materially or politically, from a version of earth’s history that might not agree with the facts.