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.


24 Responses to “Press Begins Skeptical Dissection of Bogus Climate Hack Spin”

  1. Martin_Lack Says:

    “Climategate” has become the “WMD” of the climate denial movement [but there] will always be the die hards that insist there really was something there…‘ — Inspired!

  2. daveburton Says:

    “I wasted a part of a day deleting numerous emails and exchanges with almost all the skeptics. So I have virtually nothing. I even deleted the email that I inadvertently sent. There might be some bits of pieces of paper, but I’m not wasting my time going through these.”
    -Phil Jones (Wed Dec 3 13:31:06 2008) describing his criminal behavior

    • daveburton Says:

      It is sad that so many in the Climate Movement have such seared consciences that they apparently aren’t even bothered by such crimes.

      • Dave, Your outrage is not symmetrical. Stealing private emails is certainly crime. Are you certain that deleting these emails is a crime?

        The senders’ relentless purpose has been to misinform the public with distorted interpretations of informal statements, and to distract recipients from performing useful work. Ignoring them by any means possible seems like a rational choice. One can assume that the scientists, but not the attackers, will once again be on trial. So, we’ll once again waste time learning more about what transpired.

        Who do you think would come across as the more virtuous group if we could compare ClimateGate emails with a 20 year climate related email dump from “conservative” think tanks and the Saudis?

        • daveburton Says:

          1. The emails in question were not private, they were on-the-job emails from public employees in public institutions, and the whistleblower even courteously redacted some personal bits.

          2. The alarmists’ relentless purpose has been to misinform the public with cherry-picked and manipulated data, and exaggerated claims of danger, coupled with exaggerated claims of certainty, while hiding and even destroying data to protect their schemes, and blackballing skeptical scientists to prevent the the truth from being published.

          3. There is no question at all that the sorts of misbehavior revealed by these emails between the leading climate alarmists are unlike anything you would find in emails between the leading skeptical scientists. Ethical scientists do not behave like that. (Your reference to the Saudis seems strangely random; I’ve never heard of a Saudi Arabian climate scientist, either skeptic or alarmist.)

          • Martin_Lack Says:

            What “whistleblower” is that, Dave?

            I do not think that someone who can claim that crop failures, poverty, starvation and death are being caused by attempts to mitigate climate change could possibly have a Degree in anything other than Reality Inversion.

          • Dave,

            1. The Norfolk Police and Britain’s Domestic Extremism Team consider it to be a crime worthy of investigation. Do you think the polite culprit/hero who actually pulled data from the server was an EAU employee?

            2. Why do you think so many scientists would want to lie about their research? Do you really think that such a vast worldwide conspiracy would hold together by simply blackballing a few skeptical scientists whose behavior (IMO) you project upon the “alarmists”?

            3a. Regarding the notion of squeaky clean ethical behavior of skeptical scientists, you have much more faith in human nature than I do.

            3b. Mentioning Saudi Arabia is somewhat, but not totally, random. Historically, the Saudis have played a big role, along with the US, Russia and China in soft pedaling the IPCC’s assessment of climate risks. (You and they might read the same science.) I couldn’t find a Saudi Arabian climate scientist. Dr. Taha M. Zatari, an environmental scientist, is the co-chair of the IPCC’s Governance and Management Task Group.

  3. sailrick Says:


    What you don’t get.

    “So, no conspircy, no collusion, no manipulation of data, no corruption of the peer-review process, no scandal; just an understandable reluctance to hand over data to dishonest people with a history of misrepresenting it.”
    Joe Romm


    Dishonest people, who have a long long well documented history of dishonest fake science parading as skepticsm.
    You don’t have to quote mine thousands of emails and cherry pick a few lines to see what the ‘skeptics’ have been been up to. If you like, I’ll send you my notes, which are archives of links to thousands of articles of which a large percentage are debunkings of obvious fraudulant or just plain bad science.

    Your comments about “alarmists’ relentless purpose has been to misinform the public with cherry-picked and manipulated data” are just complete horse sh..t.

    And this is priceless “There is no question at all that the sorts of misbehavior revealed by these emails between the leading climate alarmists are unlike anything you would find in emails between the leading skeptical scientists. Ethical scientists do not behave like that.”

    You mean like John Christy misinforming congress when a GOP denier asked a willfully ignorant question about predictions of global cooling from a handful of 1970s scientists?

    Or do you mean Fred Singer, who has been an “expert” for industry on everything from acid rain to tobacco, CFCs, global warming etc? Yeah he’s a real credible scientist. Hell, he’s an expert on everything.

    Or Roy Spencer who in his own words is motivated more by his political ideology than science?
    He and Christy kept alive, for about a decade, the erroneous myth that temperature stations didn’t agree with satellite data, because they screwed up the work. And then wouldn’t admit it.

    Or Pat Michaels who is spinning a recent study to say it proves IPCC climate sensitivity estimates are too high, when the researcher and author of the paper says the opposite, that it is not proof?

    The skeptics eternally misrepresent other scientists work, just like Michaels, as a matter of course.

    Or how about Willie Soon and Salie Baliunas, who published a skeptic paper so flawed, that the entire staff of the science journal that published it, all resigned. Willie Soon has received $1 million dollars from fossil fuel interests.

    I’ll be kind and include Anthony Watts among the scientists. After all he’s a real expert to ‘skeptics’ right?

    Then why does he post the complete nonsense of Monckton on his website?
    Why has he posted the gawdawfull ficticious charts of temps, sea levels, sea ice etc, dreamed up in the imaginative mind of Steve Goddard. This stuff is so obviously fake that even a 5th grader could understand the numerous debunkings from people like Tamino at Open Mind, and at Skeptical Science and other sites?

    And why would Anthony Watts post nonsense of he and his buddy D’Aleo on his website, like the following?


    Yeah sure. Except they managed to leave out a whole century out of the three and half centuries in the study.
    And they forgot to include any winters at all, because winters were unusually warm during this period. Conveniently for them, summer were cooler than average.

    I’ve seen a mountain of cherries from the so called skeptics, but his cherry pick might take the cake.

    I’ll leave it at that for now,
    But don’t be disappointed, I have lots and lots more where these come from. Lots and lots.

    Sure you don’t want me to send you my archives?

    I could go on and on long enough to fill a book.

  4. neilrieck Says:

    “The Inquisition of Climate Change” by James Powel
    Quote from page 46: By now, the conservative administration of U.S. President Ronald Reagan had begun to worry that action to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions could hurt the American economy. [snip] Growing alarm over carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels might lead to a Montreal-like protocol to reduce carbon emissions, allegedly crippling the economy — and on Regan’s pro-business watch. To have scientists meeting where they liked, saying whatever they pleased, issuing disquieting statements, could force the government to respond. The solution was to create a new, international scientific body and endure that government representatives vetted it reports. The U.S. signed off on a proposal from the United Nations to create an overarching climate advisory committee called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), mandated to “provide the decision makers and others interested in climate change with an objective source of information”. Governments would appoint their own scientists to the panel. Diplomats and government bureaucrats form scores of nations would oversee the scientists’ work and edit their reports. The structure guaranteed that the IPCC reports would neither appear too rapidly nor overdramatize the extent of global warming. From the get-go, by design, the IPCC was a conservative organization predestined for understatement.

    Okay so if the IPCC is a political creation to tamp down the science then let’s get rid of it and return to a situation where American Scientists speak directly to the American public.

    • Martin_Lack Says:

      Thanks, Neil. This is a very interesting statement of historical fact that proves that the claim – made by John Bolton, James Delingpole, Andrew Montford, Fred Singer, etc – that climate change alarm is a politically-motivated conspiracy being orchestrated by the UN, WMO and the IPCC is utterly false.

      Therefore, those who make it are either totally ignorant, woefully misinformed, or being deliberately deceitful. My guess is that they are generally the latter.

    • daveburton Says:

      ROTFL!!! Are you sure you don’t want to buy a nice bridge? I’ll give you a fantastic deal on it!

  5. daveburton Says:

    Three more years gone by, and still no warming — it looks like Phi’s hopes will be dashed.


    From: Phil Jones []
    Sent: 05 January 2009 16:18
    To: Johns, Tim; Folland, Chris
    Cc: Smith, Doug; Johns, Tim
    Subject: Re: FW: Temperatures in 2009

    Tim, Chris,
    I hope you’re not right about the lack of warming lasting
    till about 2020. I’d rather hoped to see the earlier Met Office
    press release with Doug’s paper that said something like –
    half the years to 2014 would exceed the warmest year currently on
    record, 1998!
    Still a way to go before 2014.

    I seem to be getting an email a week from skeptics saying
    where’s the warming gone. I know the warming is on the decadal
    scale, but it would be nice to wear their smug grins away.

    Chris – I presume the Met Office
    continually monitor the weather forecasts.
    Maybe because I’m in my 50s, but the language used in the forecasts seems
    a bit over the top re the cold. Where I’ve been for the last 20
    days (in Norfolk)
    it doesn’t seem to have been as cold as the forecasts.


    • daveburton Says:


    • Martin_Lack Says:

      Like I have said to Professor Colin Robinson at the Institute of Uneconomic Affairs and Dr Benny Peiser at the Global Wonky Policy Foundation, the temperature change over the last decade (or absence of it) is utterly irrelevant in the context of 7,000 years of stable climate and stable sea level.

      Similarly, the fact that the Earth has been much warmer than it is today in its distant past is utterly irrelevant in the context of the conditions to which all life on Earth is currently adapted.

      Given these two FACTS, why on Earth are you still trying to find something suspicious in these data-mined emails. I think you should, quite literally, ask yourself, “What on Earth am I doing?”

      Welcome back, by the way. You have missed loads of excellent comments from me and others (on purpose perhaps?)…

    • greenman3610 Says:

      since the last 3 years have included 2 of the warmest in the record,
      I’m not quite sure what you are talking about.

    • neilrieck Says:

      “Global Warming” is an observational fact. In this debacle, evidence falls into two categories: direct measurements (started with the invention and distribution of inexpensive, yet accurate, thermometers in the mid 1860s) and proxy measurements. Proxy measurements require quite a bit of interpretation (because they cross many scientific disciplines -and- are spotty and so do not necessarily represent world wide events) and so should only be left to the experts in the court of peer reviewed science. Direct measurements require very little interpretation provided you understand a very small amount of science. So here little are some facts that are visible to all:
      1) CO2 levels have been rising constantly since annual measurements began in 1957.
      2) Oxygen levels have been dropping constantly since annual measurements began in 1989
      3) Ocean levels have risen 20 cm (8 in) over the past 100 years.
      4) Greenland and the arctic in general are melting at an unprecedented rate (which contributes to some of the ocean level rise)
      5) Most glaciers today are already less than 25% of their size compared to 1900 (Glacier National Park will soon need to change its name)
      6) Human population more than quadrupled from 1.5 B (in 1900) to 7 B (in 2011) and a larger fraction is already living industrially by burning energy derived from fossil fuels.

      I find it amusing when some people are still saying “don’t worry about these events” when it is obvious their pants are on fire (metaphorically as well as physically). Deniers will cry out the loudest to the government when they have little to eat or drink.

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