Bad News for Deniers: Grown-ups Weigh in on Email Leftovers

November 23, 2011

The Journalistic first-stringers are starting to react, and climate denialists don’t like it – note the title of the snippet from BBC above, posted on youtube, apparently by a disgruntled climate-conspiracy crank – “AlJaBeeba Does Climategate 2”.
Hmmm, I’m guessing the anti-muslim slur is a clue, once again, as to the intellectual strata we are dealing with…..

24 hours in, one thing that’s different from round one, 2 years ago, is that scientists, bloggers and journalists on the side of reason have become organized and ready to respond to these guerilla attacks, and within hours of the first release, there was a major, organized push-back on the web, with top level scientists weighing in and putting out-of-context material in perspective.
It appears that the rapidly-jelling mainstream perspective will indeed be guided by the maxim “Fool me once…”

OK, now I can go pick up my turkey.


The new e-mails appeared remarkably similar to the ones released two years ago just ahead of a similar conference in Copenhagen. They involved the same scientists and many of the same issues, and some of them carried a similar tone: catty remarks by the scientists, often about papers written by others in the field.

A string of investigations following the 2009 release all came to the conclusion that scientists had not manipulated data to support their findings, though some of the reports did criticize them on minor points, such as failing to share their data or to respond properly to freedom of information requests.

Michael E. Mann, a Pennsylvania State University scientist who wrote or received some of the e-mails, said they showed the opposite of any conspiracy, demonstrating instead that climate science is a vigorous enterprise where scientists were free to argue over conclusions. “Scientists rely on the ability to have frank, sometimes even contentious discussions with each other,” Dr. Mann said in an interview Tuesday. “Science requires that.”

In one of the e-mails, Raymond S. Bradley, director of the Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, criticized a paper that Dr. Mann wrote with the climate scientist Phil Jones, which used tree rings and similar markers to find that today’s climatic warming had no precedent in recent natural history. Dr. Bradley, who has often collaborated with Dr. Mann, wrote that the 2003 paper “was truly pathetic and should never have been published.”

Dr. Bradley confirmed in an interview that the e-mail was his, but said his comment had no bearing on whether global warming was really happening. “I did not like that paper at all, and I stand by that, and I am sure that I told Mike that” at the time, he said. But he added that a disagreement over a single paper had little to do with the overall validity of climate science. “There is no doubt we have a big problem with human-induced warming,” Dr. Bradley said. “Mike’s paper has no bearing on the fundamental physics of the problem that we are facing.”

Some of the other e-mails involved comments about problems with the computer programs used to forecast future climate, known as climate models. For instance, a cryptic e-mail apparently sent by Dr. Jones, a researcher at East Anglia, said, “Basic problem is that all models are wrong — not got enough middle and low level clouds.”

Gavin A. Schmidt, a climate modeler at NASA, said he found such exchanges unremarkable. He noted that difficulties in modeling were widely acknowledged and disclosed in the literature. Indeed, such problems are often discussed at scientific meetings in front of hundreds of people.

Of the new release of e-mails, Dr. Schmidt said, “It smacks of desperation.”

Washington Post – Capital Weather Gang:

The “new” emails (not new in that they are from 2009 and earlier) – while trumpeted by some climate skeptics as “spectacular” and draining life from the manmade global warming movement – mean little substantively from a scientific standpoint, just like the set that preceded them.

The climate skeptic blogosphere has been quick to cherry pick certain snippets from the emails they claim show dissension within the climate science ranks, perhaps to demonstrate scientists may express more doubt about their confidence in the science in private than they do in public.

Time – “Climategate 2.0: A Weak Sequel” –

Otherwise the new batch of emails seem to add little to what was raised two years ago. Climate scientists—especially when you quote selectively from emails they think are not for public viewing—can be hypersensitive to criticism and clannish. Within the climate science world, there are clearly differences of opinions on aspects of climate science, on the certainty of models and on the confidence we can have in any sweeping assessment of global warming. Those differences come out in the emails, sometimes very bluntly—but that to me isn’t evidence of some kind of international conspiracy, but rather the not always pretty process of science and collective decision-making happening in real time.

Here’s an example: in the Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin quotes one of  the hacked emails:

An official from the U.K. Met Office [Peter Thorne], a scientific organization which analyzes the climate, writes to the Climate Research Unit’s then-director Phil Jones at one point: “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 […]”

Later, the official adds, “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.”

That might sound bad, although again, this appears to be part of a back-and-forth. But as Jocelyn Fong of the liberal press watchdog group Media Matters writes, these emails were sent in February 2005 and were discussing a first draft of what would become part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment. The final version of the chapter the two scientists were quarreling about seemed to reflect Thorne’s concerns, and cited his research several times. Isn’t that what this process supposed to be about?

Politico -“Scientists Scoff at Stolen Emails”:

Climate skeptics see gold in the latest batch of stolen emails from a British university server, purportedly showing that scientists colluded and propped up their data to demonstrate that greenhouse gases are changing the planet.

But just as a similar 2009 document dump mattered little in unraveling the scientific consensus on global warming, the 5,300 new emails and other files that surfaced on a Russian computer server Tuesday inspired little worry among researchers that the fact of human-caused climate change is in danger of being undermined.

108 Responses to “Bad News for Deniers: Grown-ups Weigh in on Email Leftovers”

  1. Typo correction: “dataions” should be “stations”

  2. Following up here…

    I just read through Eschenbach’s pathetic whine-fest over at WUWT.

    It’s telling that Eschenbach (as well as all of the other lazy, incompetent losers over at WUWT) is still going on and on about 2-3-year-old FOI issues when the data that was the subject of all that FOI activity has been available to him for *months*.

    Instead of rolling up his sleeves and diving into the data that the CRU made available to him *months ago*, Eschenbach is still whining about years-old FOI issues. It may be true that the CRU folks did not follow proper FOI issues when dealing with Eschenbach, but it is also equally (and obviously) true that Eschenbach is an incompetent whiner who wouldn’t have a clue as to what to do with the temperature data if it were served up to him on a silver platter (which is exactly what the CRU did do several months ago).

    If there’s a lesson to be learned by the CRU folks, it’s that the FOI laws are written in such a way as to force busy scientists to drop what they are doing and give incompetent jerks every bit as much priority as highly qualified colleagues.

  3. Hengist : if one doesn’t get immediatly the irony of the “AGW logically impossible” page, no amount of explanation will suffice.

    Caerbannog666: you’ve avoided my point about the double stupidity of making a fuss about providing data to the public. Pontificate on.

  4. Martin_Lack Says:

    Maurizio says “please contact me when back on Planet Earth” but, as is typical of the vacuous High School-style one-liner put-downs that surplant intellectual debate in much of the blogosphere, this did not address in any way the points I made earlier!

  5. Caerbannog666: you’ve avoided my point about the double stupidity of making a fuss about providing data to the public. Pontificate on.


    What part of Much of the raw data was encumbered by “license agreements” limiting the distribution of that raw data to third parties. The CRU couldn’t legally release it all… did you fail to understand?

    And let me emphasize once again — the CRU raw data that the deniers had been fussing about was released *months* ago. But in all those months, none of the deniers who had been demanding the data have done anything with it, even though a thorough sanity check of the CRU data and results would take a competent programmer/analyst no more than a few days to complete.

    You guys spend untold amounts of time spinning conspiracy theories and excuses, but when it comes to doing a little *work*… that’s another story completely.

  6. Caerbannog666 – I guess the bit where Phil Jones says in Sep 2009 that he won’t be sharing data any longer after another scientist called Webster upset him, hasn’t yet registered in your brain. Try again.

  7. […] Peter Sinclair at Climate Crock of the Week: Bad News for Deniers: Grown-ups Weigh in on Email Leftovers […]

  8. Caerbannog666 – I guess the bit where Phil Jones says in Sep 2009 that he won’t be sharing data any longer after another scientist called Webster upset him, hasn’t yet registered in your brain. Try again.

    And all of the raw data that Jones supposedly previously refused to share has been parked on the CRU web-site for the past 4 months, just waiting for you “skeptics” to download and analyze it.

    Can you tell me why none of you have managed to do so? You’ve had full access to that data for *months* — a competent analyst could perform a full validation analysis in just a few days.

    So Jones got fed up with dealing with lazy, incompetent a**holes and “lost it” in a few email messages. So why can’t you get over that and get to work on all the data that the CRU has made available to you guys?

    What is keeping you guys from doing that? Is it laziness or incompetence?

    • greenman3610 Says:

      or just dishonesty?

    • daveburton Says:

      “supposedly previously refused to share” is a strange phrase, Peter. The word “supposedly” indicates that you doubt it is true.

      Is that the case? Do you really think the CRU did not previously refuse to share that data?

  9. Pure comedy! First accusations of being conspiratorial then of being in a conspiracy then of dishonesty. Carry on!

    • Martin_Lack Says:

      Howzabout you justify telling me that I need to come back to planet Earth? Just where was my statement of historical facts and explanation for the last 20 years of inaction in error?

    • Martin_Lack Says:

      The silence is deafening (and speaks volumes)!

  10. […] 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 – […]

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