Love John Prine’s droll, aw shucks intro, but the music starts at 1:23, if you can’t wait.


The recent loss of sea ice in the Arctic is greater than any natural variation in the past 1½ millennia, a Canadian study shows

“The recent sea ice decline … appears to be unprecedented,” said Christian Zdanowicz, a glaciologist at Natural Resources Canada, who co-led the study and is a co-author of the paper published Wednesday online in Nature.

“We kind of have to conclude that there’s a strong chance that there’s a human influence embedded in that signal.”

In September, Germany’s University of Bremen reported that sea ice had hit a record low, based on data from a Japanese sensor on NASA’s Aqua satellite. The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center, using a different satellite data set, reported that the sea ice coverage in 2011 was the second-lowest on record, after the record set in 2007. 

Toronto Globe and Mail:

“If you take this reconstruction and you put it in parallel with a number of studies that have emerged, the indications are pretty strong that the warming of the Arctic is accelerating.”

He acknowledged that although he has been able to get more detail on ice fluctuations than ever before, the time span considered in the paper isn’t very long by geologic standards.

However, he points out he was involved with a previous paper that went back 10,000 years. That paper found sea ice was lower between 6,000 and 8,000 years ago — and also explained why.

“At the time, due to changes in the Earth’s orbit, the northern hemisphere was receiving more solar energy than it does now,” Zdanowicz said.

“That process cannot account for what we are observing now. In fact, we should be heading into a gradual cooling trend right now if our climate was strictly controlled by orbital factors.”

Daily Climate:

When news broke earlier this week that another cache of emails had been released purporting to show that climate scientists had “cooked the books,” parties around the world looked carefully, this time with a doubtful eye. They had a right to doubt. Two years ago, almost to the day, similar emails had been released just before the United Nations’ climate change conference in Copenhagen – the last best hope to take meaningful action to halt the warming climate.

The original 2009 release caught the world by storm and created an uproar that successfully put climate science on the defensive for nearly two years. Whoever is behind the release of these stolen emails was clearly hoping the same play would work again.

It won’t.

A few things are different this time around. Most importantly, many journalists now realize they were played the fools. They were told that these emails showed scientists “hiding declines in temperature” and conspiring against others. These same media outlets had a lot of work cleaning egg off their face when it became clear that the correspondence said nothing of the sort. In a “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” manner, the media is largely ignoring these new emails, or they are reporting the real story: The emails are taken out of context, the science is robust and has been upheld by every investigation of the 2009 release, and that climate change is already underway.

9 Billion Dollar Drought 

That last point is the real story behind this new email leak: The science is so solid, the denier camp can no longer argue an alternate theory. In past years, that camp would promote their own “scientists” whose work, they said, called into question climate change. In the past few years, the evidence of climate change has become so apparent that denial is no longer valid. As Texas sits through a $9 billion drought and other parts of the United States suffer from either record droughts or flooding, even skeptical citizens are starting to realize that climate change is real, and it affects them and their pocketbook.

In addition, the dwindling number of “scientists” that have represented the denialist camp have seen their research crumble like a deck of cards. These scientists have no one to blame. They are one-man wrecking crews of their own reputations. They have regularly published work that reportedly shows climate change either isn’t happening or is inconsequential. And just as regularly, their work is shown to be seriously flawed and is roundly rebutted and criticized.

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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?

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The Real “Climate-Gate”

November 23, 2011

The Conversation:

Emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit have once again been hacked and released on the internet. The timing is similar to the “climategate” scandal of 2009, with emails published just before an important UN climate conference. Does this mean the science is in doubt? Quite the opposite, says Stephan Lewandowsky.

An ambulance pulls up behind you. You know it’s an ambulance because you can read AMBULANCE in your rear view mirror. But you can also read it when you look at the vehicle directly; because the human visual system has the ability to quickly correct complete inversions or left-right reversals of letters. In fact, a complete inversion is easier to read than letters that are rotated only partially.

This human ability to process complete inversions more quickly than just partial distortions, alas, lends itself to exploitation by ruthless propagandists who seek to create a chimerical world in which up is down, left is right, and good is smeared as evil.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the netherworld of attacks on climate scientists.

Remember “climategate”? The illegal hack of personal emails released just before the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009 that some columnists pronounced to be the (approximately 132nd) “final nail in the coffin” of global warming?

Remember the “errors” in the IPCC’s 2007 report? “Amazongate”,“Himalayagate”, and so on?

What has happened to “climategate”?

What’s happened is this.

First, the UK Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee exonerated the scientist at the centre of the tempestProfessor Phil Jones, finding he has “no case to answer” and that his reputation “remains intact.”

Then Lord Oxburgh (former chairman of Shell-UK) and his panel likewise exonerated the researchers, finding their “work has been carried out with integrity, and that allegations of deliberate misrepresentation” are “not valid.”

Another enquiry, chaired by Sir Muir Russell, found the scientists’ “rigour and honesty” to be beyond doubt.

Two enquiries by his university also cleared Professor Michael Mann – who presented the first of now innumerable “hockey stick” graphs – of all allegations.

Ultimately the (conservative) UK Government concluded “the information contained in the illegally-disclosed emails does not provide any evidence to discredit … anthropogenic climate change.”

Not one, not two, but by now nine vindications.

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Richard Black, BBC:

My guess is that several readers will have fingers poised over the “comments” button to ask “why do you call it a hack with such certainty?” (I’ve had a few emails already asking the same thing in reference to my news article.)

I have it from a very good source that it absolutely was a hack, not a leak by a “concerned” UEA scientist, as has been claimed in some circles.

The Norfolk Police clearly see it as a criminal act too, a spokesman telling me that “the contents [of the new release] will be of interest to our investigation which is ongoing”.

Groups like (Union of Concerned Scientists) are, however, beginning to ask where that investigation has got to.

I have been passed information stemming from an FoI request to Norfolk Police showing that over the past 12 months, they have spent precisely £5,649.09 on the investigation.

All of that was disbursed back in February; and all but £80.05 went on “invoices for work in the last six months”.

Of all the figures surrounding the current story, that is perhaps the one that most merits further interrogation.

Press release – Rep. Edward Markey:

WASHINGTON (November 22, 2011) – Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) today called on the United States intelligence community to join the British and others in rooting out the hackers who have stolen emails from climate scientists and released them in advance of two major climate negotiations, including the upcoming talks in Durban, South Africa.

With the release of emails in 2009 in advance of the Copenhagen climate talks, and now a similarly-timed event before the South African session, a clear pattern has emerged that could negatively affect the interests of the United States as it tries to partner with other nations to reduce global warming emissions.   In both cases, the hacked emails reportedly first surfaced on servers in Russia and posted to blogs associated with global warming skeptics, and in both cases the original source of the disclosure was unknown. Nine independent investigations have validated the climate science and climate scientists on the hacked University of East Anglia emails.

This is clearly an attempt to sabotage the international climate talks for a second time, and there has not been enough attention paid to who is responsible for these illegal acts,” said Rep. Markey, who is the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee and is the co-author of the only climate bill to pass a chamber of Congress. “If this happened surrounding nuclear arms talks, we would have the full force of the Western world’s intelligence community pursuing the perpetrators. And yet, with the stability of our climate hanging in the balance with these international climate treaty negotiations, these hackers and their supporters are still on the loose. It is time to bring them to justice.”

Is the media determined to botch the biggest story of the millennium?

“We did it for the Iraq War, why not do it for the Climate Issue, too?”

Indeed. Why not?

Media Matters:

Earlier today I asked whether American news outlets would do their due diligence in evaluating the content of the newly-released batch of “Climategate” emails hacked from the University of East Anglia two years ago. It didn’t take long for our esteemed print outlets to disappoint.

Writing on the Washington Post’s website, Juliet Eilperin quotes an email exchange that she said was about “whether the IPCC has accurately depicted the temperature rise in the lower atmosphere”:

In one round of e-mails, researchers discuss whether the IPCC has accurately depicted the temperature rise in the lower atmosphere. An official from the U.K. Met Office, a scientific organization which analyzes the climate, writes to the Climate Research Unit’s former 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.”

Astoundingly, Eilperin does not tell readers that these email exchanges took place in February 2005 and were about the first draft of a chapter of the IPCC report released two years later. The emails depict the authors of the chapter hashing out what should be included — exactly what you would expect this process to look like.

After providing comments on the draft, then-Met Office official Peter Thorne wrote: “I’m pretty sure we can reconcile these things relatively simply. However, I certainly would be unhappy to be associated with it if the current text remains through final draft – I’m absolutely positive it won’t.”

So were his concerns addressed in the final draft? If only we had reporters who asked these questions. For his part, The Hill’s Ben Geman simply repeats what Eilperin reported, while admitting that he hasn’t even “been able to view the newly released emails.”

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National Hurricane Service:

700 AM PST TUE NOV 22 2011

LOCATION...12.7N 113.9W




100 PM PST TUE NOV 22 2011


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Statement from University of East Anglia in regard to newly released emails:

While we have had only a limited opportunity to look at this latest post of 5,000 emails, we have no evidence of a recent breach of our systems. If genuine, (the sheer volume of material makes it impossible to confirm at present that they are all genuine) these emails have the appearance of having been held back after the theft of data and emails in 2009 to be released at a time designed to cause maximum disruption to the imminent international climate talks.

This appears to be a carefully-timed attempt to reignite controversy over the science behind climate change when that science has been vindicated by three separate independent inquiries and number of studies – including, most recently, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature group.

As in 2009, extracts from emails have been taken completely out of context.  Following the previous release of emails scientists highlighted by the controversy have been vindicated by independent review, and claims that their science cannot or should not be trusted are entirely unsupported. They, the University and the wider research community have stood by the science throughout, and continue to do so.

UPDATE – new summaries of tired old tactic:
Media Matters
Climate Progress 
Washington Post
Best quote attributed to a climategate-jaded journalist comes via Gavin Schmidt:

“Even my “climategate” obsessed editors are cool on this. Lets hope it doesn’t become thanksgiving tradition…if they really do have 220 thousand more we could be eating the leftovers for another 80 years at this rate”

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