Press Begins Skeptical Dissection of Bogus Climate Hack Spin
November 25, 2011
Worth going to the original to take a look. This is the evolving template for how the mainstream media is approaching the new climate science emails posted on an obscure Russian server this week – that is, handling this demonstrated bogus meme with rubber gloves, hazard precautions, and nose clothespins.
Following the publication this week of 5,000 hacked climate emails, we look at what was happening in those exchanges.
(Stolen email snippets in italics – PS)
“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.”
• Peter Thorne, research scientist, Met Office Hadley Centre, to Phil Jones, UEA, 4 February 2005 (email 1939)
Thorne’s email repeatedly criticises the then-current draft of a report for the US Climate Change Science Programme (CCSP, now the Global Change Research Program) for over-simplifying or even dismissing the uncertainty about temperature rises in the atmosphere. This reflects badly on the authors, but also demonstrates that there are climate scientists who are critical of ignoring contradictory evidence and are not afraid to speak their minds. As urged by Thorne, the final report said: “The new evidence in this Report – model-to-model consistency of amplification results, the large uncertainties in observed tropospheric temperature trends, and independent physical evidence supporting substantial tropospheric warming (such as the increasing height of the tropopause) – favors the second explanation. However, the large observational uncertainties that currently exist make it difficult to determine whether or not models still have significant errors. Resolution of this issue requires reducing these uncertainties.”
“Getting people we know and trust [into the IPCC report team] is vital.”
• Phil Jones, UEA, to Kevin Trenberth, NCAR, 15 September 2004 (email 714)
In an earlier email in the thread, Jones refers to two scientists he does not “trust”. He does not say why, but does not say because he does not agree with them. He and Trenberth discuss a huge range of names as possible contributors, from several countries, and are keen to widen the net.
“Mike, the figure you sent is very deceptive … there have been a number of dishonest presentations of model results by individual authors and by IPCC.”
• Tom Wigley, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, US, to Michael Mann, Penn State University, US, and others, 14 October 2009 (email 2884)
Wigley is referring to a graph on the Real Climate blog by climate scientist Gavin Schmidt. On Wednesday Schmidt responded, again on the blog, saying he “disagreed (and disagree) with Wigley”, and replied at the time to say so. The general allegation about dishonest presentations is uncomfortable, but these are often scientifically difficult judgements, and are being argued out.
“The trick may be to decide on the main message and use that to guide what’s included and what is left out.”
• Jonathan Overpeck, University of Arizona, to Ricardo Villalba, IANIGLA-CONICET, Argentina, 16 December 2004 (email 4755)
Overpeck is advising Villalba on how to edit something down to a half-page summary, in which context his advice looks less conspiratorial. Notably, he goes on immediately to say: “For the IPCC, we need to know what is relevant and useful for assessing recent and future climate change. Moreover, we have to have solid data – not inconclusive information.”
“I find myself in the strange position of being very skeptical of the quality of all present reconstructions, yet sounding like a pro-greenhouse zealot here!”
• Keith Briffa, UEA, to Edward Cook (probably Edward R Cook at the Earth Institute, Columbia University), 20 January 2005 (email 2009)
Briffa explained to the Guardian: “I am trying to reinforce the request to my co-author to provide a strongly critical review of the draft text. I believed that I had taken account of the considerable uncertainties in the evidence when producing the draft and still came to the conclusion that the late 20th century was unusually warm.” This explanation is backed up by the email thread, in which he writes: “Really happy to get critical comment here.” Not in keeping with the idea that the scientists were only interested in opinions that agreed with theirs.
Waspishly, Briffa does also suggest however that another climate scientist, Kevin Trenberth, is “extremely defensive and combative when ever criticized about anything because he figures that he is smarter than everyone else and virtually infallible.” That does not make Trenberth unique!
There’s more here – and there will eventually be a point by point contextualizing of the most widely bandied missives. The most important take away on this is that the press, still peeling egg off its face for the embarrassing performance last time around, is taking a much more measured, even bored, approach with this new scam.
“Climategate” has become the “WMD” of the climate denial movement. There will always be the die hards that insist there really was something there. The rest of us have moved on.