20 November 2009

CRU-Gate: Climate Conspiracy or Much Ado About Nothing?

UPDATE: Real Climate explains that it is in fact much ado about nothing.

So by now everyone is aware of the emails leaked/hacked/TBD from CRU. While the significnace of these emails has yet to be determined, it seems that they are indeed real, based on these comments from Phil Jones of UEA, who is involved in many of the emails. Here is an interview just published by TGIF (PDF):
The internet is on fire this morning with confirmation computers at one of the world’s leading climate research centres were hacked, and the information released on the internet. A 62 megabyte zip file, containing around 160 megabytes of emails, pdfs and other documents, has been confirmed as genuine by the head of the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, Dr Phil Jones.

In an exclusive interview with Investigate magazine’s TGIF Edition, Jones confirms his organization has been hacked, and the data flying all over the internet appears to have come from his organisation. “It was a hacker. We were aware of this about three or four days ago that someone had hacked into our system and taken and copied loads of data files and emails.”

“Have you alerted police?”

“Not yet. We were not aware of what had been taken.”

Jones says he was first tipped off to the security breach by colleagues at the website RealClimate.
“Real Climate were given information, but took it down off their site and told me they would send it across to me. They didn’t do that. I only found out it had been released five minutes ago.” The files were first released from a Russian fileserver site by an anonymous tipster calling him or herself “FOIA”, in an apparent reference to the US Freedom of Information Act. The zip file contains more than a thousand documents sitting in a “FOIA” directory, and it prompted speculation that the information may have been in the process of being compiled for consideration of an information act request.

Jones, however, says the files were not contained in a “FOIA” directory at the Climate Research Unit. “No. Whoever is responsible has done that themselves.” “I’m not sure what we’re going to do. I’ll have to talk to other people here. In fact, we were changing all our passwords overnight and I can’t get to my email, as I’ve just changed my password. I’ve gone into the Climate Audit website because I can’t get into my own email. “It’s completely illegal for somebody to hack into our system.”
While the significance of the emails has yet to be determined, there are some questions already being asked:
In one email dating back to 1999, Jones appears to talk of fudging scientific data on climate change to “hide the decline”:
From: Phil Jones
To: ray bradley ,mann@[snipped], mhughes@[snipped]
Subject: Diagram for WMO Statement
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15 +0000
Cc: k.briffa@[snipped],t.osborn@[snipped]

Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm,

Once Tim’s got a diagram here we’ll send that either later today or first thing tomorrow. 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 [sic] from1961 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.

Thanks for the comments, Ray.

Cheers, Phil
Prof. Phil Jones
Climatic Research Unit
TGIF asked Jones about the controversial email discussing hiding “the decline”, and Jones explained he was not trying to mislead. “No, that’s completely wrong. In the sense that they’re talking about two different things here. They’re talking about the instrumental data which is unaltered – but they’re talking about proxy data going further back in time, a thousand years, and it’s just about how you add on the last few years, because when you get proxy data you sample things like tree rings and ice cores, and they don’t always have the last few years. So one way is to add on the instrumental data for the last few years.”

Jones told TGIF he had no idea what me meant by using the words “hide the decline”. “That was an email from ten years ago. Can you remember the exact context of what you wrote ten years ago?”

The other emails are described by skeptic commentators as “explosive”, one talks of stacking the peer-review process to prevent qualified skeptical scientists from getting their research papers considered.
Surely lots more to come on this.

88 comments:

RWP said...

As a scientist, I have to say I'm disgusted. They discuss manipulating or replacing raw data before releasing it, 'removing' blips, deleting emails to avoid releasing them, etc. etc..

This is not how most of us do science.

The Iconic Midwesterner said...

Last night I didn't believe it, and said so.

Today I don't know what to believe.

I know I'm the type of person who has thrown around the word "fraud" in the past, but I always meant it in the "they are seeing things with their heart not their head" kinda way. To me the biggest problem was their getting ahead (sometimes way ahead) of their evidence, not that they were deliberately attempting to obfuscate.

However this all shakes out, it will get ugly.

Robert said...

If this is true, it's hardly much ado about nothing.

It'll be bigger than Monica's blue dress.

Bigger than Watergate, perhaps.

An Inconvenient Comment said...

I dunno how comfortable you'd be with a direct link, so I won't post it, and I understand if you don't publish this comment at all, but, in case you do and people are interested, there's a link in the comments at this tAV post that seems to be to the original file...

Trey said...

According to a commenter at WUWT, you and/or your father are mentioned 17 times.

Name Mentions
McIntyre 109
McKitrick 32
Christy 52
Pielke 17
Spemcer 12
Lucia 2
WUWT 8

One example email had less-than-flattering comments on your father. I guess this is no surprise.

My thoughts regarding this post's heading: This is NOT 'much ado about nothing'. You have said that "climate science is a contact sport". If so, then it SHOWS (we already expected) that there are no rules in the game ("Mike's Nature trick") and the referees are also the players on one team only (IPCC is heavily influenced by this group).

Scott said...

Sweet Bejebus, he really doesn't get it does he? Pasting a different two different data sets together and them selling them as only one data set is really really bad.

W.E. Heasley, CLU, LUTCF said...

Wonder if any of these e-mails concern instructions on how to properly airbrush in Hurricanes, Melting Ice Caps, or a reduced sized Florida Peninsula?

http://www.prisonplanet.com/with-hurricanes-at-thirty-year-low-gore-turns-to-photoshop.html

Malcolm said...

It would appear that there have been systematic attempts by the HS team to have your research and your father's research from ever appearing in journals as part of a strategy to discredit you and your father.

Me - I would be mad, incandescent, outraged at this.

Paul Biggs said...

Certainly not much ado about nothing - there's a lot to plough through, times consuming but compulsive. None of these emails were intended to see the light of day. The Pielke name is certainly smeared, along with Christy and others. Much 'discussion' on Douglass et al/Santer. No sympathy for the death of John Daly, quite the opposite in fact.

Interestingly, the recent '10 years of non-warming' report by the BBC caused much upset, even though Trenberth described it as a 'travesty' that 10 years of temperature stagnation remains unexplained.

The emails present an unpleasant picture of a number of prominent scientists who are promoting and protecting a consensus which knowingly exaggerates the evidence in favour of man-made global warming.

There's also a nice copy of the AR4 chapter 6 reviewers comments, and much, much more.

eric144 said...

I wasn't even mildly surprised at the revelations. McIntyre's work, the cover ups and the zoo which is Realclimate paint a clear enough picture.

It is wonderfully ironic that it was an internet hack that caught them.

One of the great attractions of the internet is the capability of the state to track everything that happens here.

Even though there is mention of them deleting sensitive emails (suggesting we haven't seen the worst of it), they were still too sure of themselves to exercise more caution.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-9-Paul

The Pielke stuff is minor. The exchanges with my father over the CCSP committee are old news, and the fact that they were hiding stuff from him is not news (he blogged on that at the time).

Jones says he is honest and Wigley says his work is interesting, even if he disagrees. So while there are a few negative comments, you'll also see begrudging respect.

I am not mentioned except in passing.

edaniel said...

Well, since the objectives of the discussions in Copenhagen have been, let's say, scaled back a little, this situation will give them something to fill their time with.

SBVOR said...

Combine the story Roger describes with this story and the pieces start to fit together.

Charlie said...

Monica's dress was mentioned above.

Kind of like in that situation, the act itself wasn't significant, but the coverup and lieing under oath were.

E-mails are easy to be taken out of context. There is one e-mail where there is a discussion of decreasing global SST by exactly 0.15C to reduce a 1940 peak in global temps, while still leaving the right land vs sea anomaly ratio. (See 1254108338.txt )

If this was a conscious "I know what I want the historical instrumental data to be and I will find adjustments to make it so", then it is truly amazing.

If on the other hand, they are talking about tweaking a model run, then it is all just ordinary conversation.

--------------------

The other thing to keep in mind is a meme that Steve McIntyre often reminds us .... even if the e-mails show conscious, deliberate goal-oriented tampering with the adjustments of the historical temperature record, it does not prove anything one way or the other about AGW. I may show that some specific AGW supporting evidence is bad, but it is NOT a proof that AGW is bogus.

Andrew said...

Among all the revelations this, if all 100% true (and not everything has been confirmed) it would mean that Climate Scientists speak frankly to one another about being happy that their enemies die, seriously contemplating assault and battery on a colleague, conspiracy to gatekeep the peer reviewed literature, have a colleague thrown out of AGU, fabrication, tax evasion (!) FOIA defiance, and general hatred of questioners and Right Wing commentators.

Scandalous stuff.

Charlie said...

W E Heasley said "Wonder if any of these e-mails concern instructions on how to properly airbrush in Hurricanes, Melting Ice Caps, or a reduced sized Florida Peninsula?"

If they did, they forgot to mention that one shouldn't put Southern Hemisphere clockwise cyclones just off the coast of Florida. That's a true howler of an error, right up there with Gore's comments about the earth's core having a temperature of millions of degrees.

Stan said...

A comment posted at CA:

Mike Mann talks about how to destroy the reputation of "Climatic Research" a journal:

"It is pretty clear that thee skeptics here have staged a bit of a coup, even in the presence of a number of reasonable folks on the editorial board (Whetton, Goodess, …). My guess is that Von Storch is actually with them (frankly, he's an odd individual, and I'm not sure he isn't himself somewhat of a skeptic himself), and without Von Storch on their side, they would have a very forceful personality promoting their new vision. There have been several papers by Pat Michaels, as well as the Soon & Baliunas paper, that couldn't get published in a reputable journal.

This was the danger of always criticising the skeptics for not publishing in the "peer-reviewed literature". Obviously, they found a solution to that–take over a journal!

So what do we do about this? I think we have to stop considering "Climate Research" as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board…

What do others think?

mike"


You just have to love that. Discredit your opponents by yelling "peer-review" and then work to make damn sure they never get published. Nice of him to admit it. Let's hope that bogus "peer-review" gambit get a stake through its heart now.

Now that there is proof at how corrupt the publication process is (there are other e-mails which detail more on this), no one can, in good faith, insist that peer-review adds any authority to the quality of someone's work.

Mark Yoxon said...

I think that the main outcome of these leaked documents will be that peer-review is discredited pretty thoroughly, along with some individual reputations. It's clear that the process is incestuous, collusive and fundamentally biased.

bigcitylib said...

RC has just responded to Jones' "trick". Watts and MC will be made fools again.

The rest of the emails contain bitching and back-biting--they don't like your dad, they don't like Defreitas--but hardly anything earth shattering and alot of stuff thats pretty close to reading a laundry list for entertainment value.

Robert said...

bigcitylib,
Jean at ClimateAudit also 'just responded' to it.

Who do you now think is more credible.

Jean has not only the context, but the facts and the math.

RWP said...

One of the things I find most disturbing is the collusion in peer review. It's clear they were discussing within the group papers sent to them in confidence for refereeing, and sharing and coordinating reviews. This is a direct violation of most journal policies.

Stewart said...

The realclimate response suffers from a number of deficiencies.

First, it subtly mischaracterizes the issue as the hacking and release of "personal" emails. Personal emails are emails from a personal account. Emails sent from a work address, regarding a person's work, aren't personal; they aren't generally personal intellectual property and they shouldn't be assumed to be such.

Second, the paragraph beginning with "more interesting is..." is classical rhetorical technique. Set up a bunch of criteria which are exaggerated and not directly relevant, then argue about those criteria to prove your point.

What is not addressed anywhere are the clear statements in the files about deleting data and emails, and the hypocrisy that emerges over peer reviewed literature.

Realclimate can call the incriminating statements 'cherry-picked and poorly-worded “gotcha” phrases' - but the beauty of the current situation is that we can read the whole emails ourselves and judge for ourselves.

I suspect that's the very thing the realclimate response is trying to prevent.

Paul Biggs said...

Roger - I haven't got too far yet reading through the emails - I haven't seen your name yet, just Pielke Sr mentioned once, so far, in derogatory terms, although I can't remember by whom.

The list of email correspondents is a who's who for climate science.

Although I presume that AR4 WG1 chapter 6 reviewer comments are online anyway, I enjoyed Eric Steig's comment, which included "over-emphasis on papers by the authors themselves, which do not accurately reflect the communities' view."

bigcitylib said...

1) Stewart. It was an illegal hack and the police have been called in. Lets start with that, shall we? Also, having looked at probably two hundred of the emails,I can say they come from all over the place, all sorts of authors. How do you know they are all work addresses? And even if they are from work addresses, how does this justify the illegal hack?

2) Their response to deleting emails is in the comments. I don't know what you're comment re "deleting data" comment is about. That is NOT what happened with Jones and the Briffa series.

bernie said...

Stewart:
As I have said elsewhere, I think the RC statement is actually well written. It reads like something a top notch PR firm would produce after a scandal or disaster - possibly the guys from Fenton Communications, RealClimate's enablers, helped out? I agree with your other points also - the silence on the FOIA is deafening.
Traffic from the RC regulars will surely go to WUWT and CA. There, as someone has already noted, they will see a nice piece by JeanS which explains Mann's Trick and why it is justly named a trick - as in optical illusion.

Stan said...

Bigcitylib,

Watts and MC can't be made fools of "again". They haven't been made fools of once.

And you can wave your arms, stamp your feet or stick your fingers in your ears all you want. We can read the e-mails ourselves. The dishonesty and violations of ethical and legal requirements are all over them.

edaniel said...

re: the RC "response"

Yet Another Naked Strawman (YANS). This one will burn to nothingness exceptionally fast.

The facts will not go away for a very long time.

DaveJR said...

Charlie wrote: "E-mails are easy to be taken out of context. There is one e-mail where there is a discussion of decreasing global SST by exactly 0.15C to reduce a 1940 peak in global temps, while still leaving the right land vs sea anomaly ratio. (See 1254108338.txt )"

That one struck me as well. If this is a discussion on how to adjust SSTs then I don't think the method has been peer reviewed. The adjustments to these records need auditing to check that published scientific methods are being adhered to.

"Here are some speculations on correcting SSTs to partly
explain the 1940s warming blip.

If you look at the attached plot you will see that the
land also shows the 1940s blip (as I’m sure you know).

So, if we could reduce the ocean blip by, say, 0.15 degC,
then this would be significant for the global mean — but
we’d still have to explain the land blip.

I’ve chosen 0.15 here deliberately. This still leaves an
ocean blip, and i think one needs to have some form of
ocean blip to explain the land blip (via either some common
forcing, or ocean forcing land, or vice versa, or all of
these). When you look at other blips, the land blips are
1.5 to 2 times (roughly) the ocean blips — higher sensitivity
plus thermal inertia effects. My 0.15 adjustment leaves things
consistent with this, so you can see where I am coming from.

Removing ENSO does not affect this.

It would be good to remove at least part of the 1940s blip,
but we are still left with “why the blip”.

Let me go further. If you look at NH vs SH and the aerosol
effect (qualitatively or with MAGICC) then with a reduced
ocean blip we get continuous warming in the SH, and a cooling
in the NH — just as one would expect with mainly NH aerosols.

The other interesting thing is (as Foukal et al. note — from
MAGICC) that the 1910-40 warming cannot be solar. The Sun can
get at most 10% of this with Wang et al solar, less with Foukal
solar. So this may well be NADW, as Sarah and I noted in 1987
(and also Schlesinger later). A reduced SST blip in the 1940s
makes the 1910-40 warming larger than the SH (which it
currently is not) — but not really enough.

So … why was the SH so cold around 1910? Another SST problem?
(SH/NH data also attached.)

This stuff is in a report I am writing for EPRI, so I’d
appreciate any comments you (and Ben) might have.

Joel Jarrard said...

edaniel:

I'm not sure you know what a Straw Man argument is. There's nothing about this scandal -- and that's what it is -- that attempts to divert any attention away from the topic at hand. It IS the topic at hand: that a handful of propagandists posing as scientists have hijacked this whole field of study.

That they ceased to practice science over a decade ago in favor of forcing their demented version of reality onto the world at large can't be rationalized away by a delusion that they are somehow enlightened saviors of mankind.

The facts are becoming more apparent everyday to the public at large that these buffoons don't have the requisite integrity to properly conduct science. They shouldn't just be unfunded, perhaps they should also be jailed. They've tainted the name of science and wasted a whole lot of the public's money on their mini disaster movie of the week.

MIKE said...

Whoever hacked these files did it for what's now occuring. I doubt this is the work of a disinterested hacker. I think the hacker is an interested party who had some idea of what the emails contained.

Robert said...

What MIKE said. This was clearly someone inside. Maybe a fellow climate scientist that just got disgusted with it all (there are a few that have integrity).

Or maybe just some network Admin -- one equally disgusted.

320 gig unzipped. How big is your thumbdrive?

Geckko said...

The response at RC and the comments from Gavin reveal an astonishing hubris and arrogance.

These guys give the impression that they believe they are untouchable.

The way climate scientists and politicians around the world have used each other to reinforce their own interests and advance their own agendas has clearly created a monster.

Who now is going to rein in these guys??

Unless someone representing the public stand up shortly and addresses the alarming problems this information exposes, I genuinely fear for western democracy.

Stan said...

I wouldn't be surprised if the "hacker" is really an insider. Perhaps someone who was aware of the FOIA requests and was appalled at the stonewalling and lying. Maybe even someone who had begun the search for responsive documents and was shocked to learn that they weren't going to be produced as required by law.

MIKE said...

FOX NEWS has it as a lead article on their website.

DaveJR said...

Some of you need to be careful about going too far. Just because it appears that some people want to stack the deck in their favour, doesn't mean that they aren't going to be proved right in the future. The science isn't settled one way or the other. The experiment is, ultimately, still ongoing.

However, in the meantime, the science needs a chance to speak for itself without self-appointed gatekeepers doing everything in their power to ensure only their "message" sees the light of day.

The current importance of climate science in the global agenda and to the future of the planet means that the level of science must rise to pharmaceutical trial standard rather than the petty "cabalish" state we see documented in the emails.

Geckko said...

I am most amazed at the episode relating to referees and journal editors. Mann (and Gavin in his RC response) are coming across as completely unhinged):

"This was the danger of always criticising the skeptics for not publishing in the "peer-reviewed literature". Obviously, they found a solution to that–take over a journal!"

It is clear they genuinely believe that the definition of "peer reviewed research" should only extend to peer reviewed research as approved by them or people with a common interest to them.

Then, almost in the same breath the rabbit on about the method of "peer reviewed science", which even a dolt like me knows is about responding to research you believe is flawed by publishing a reply or making an argument, not trying to censor others.

Seneca the Younger said...

Roger, I'm not sure I agree. It seems there are three points here.

1) There is clearly some collusion going on in the peer-review process. That's certainly not unknown, and while it isn't terrifically ethical, it would probably be handled with a vigorous wrist-slap. A little worse, but in the same category, is the deliberate suppression of opposing work like you're father's. Again, this is hardly unknown, although generally a mistaken approach to science.

2) There are discussions that appear to explicitly describe how data was massaged to get it to fit the theory. Some of it appears to me to verge on scientific malfeasance, even possibly fraud. Does it invalidate all global warming research? No. But it needs to be appropriately investigated.

3) There are pretty clear discussions in the emails of steps taken to prevent the release of data under Freedom of Information Act requests, including direction to delete all emails from certain people on certain subjects that appear to have been sent *after* consulting with local authorities on what the FOIA request requires. There is, in particular, a statement that they would delete the data rather than let McKittirck and McIntyre have it. (It may be completely coincidental that M&M were later told that certain data sets they requested had been "accidentally deleted", but now, with these emails, that seems awfully convenient.)

In any case, if that can be proven, it would constitute multiple federal crimes.

eric144 said...

I am reading a book by Christopher Booker called 'Scared to Death' which charts the peculiarly British rise of the global warming industry which I have mentioned before.

Margaret Thatcher created the CRU and the Hadley Centre as part of her war against coal (her husband was an oil company director and her deadly eemies were the mining unions).

She managed to get Hadley Centre founder Sir John Houghton into position as the lead author of the first three IPCC reports and he became the co chair.

'Sir John was a fervent believer in the theory that the cause of global warming is man-made CO2, and the HadCrut computer models, run by his CRU ally Professor Phil Jones, were programmed accordingly.'

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/5955955/Weather-records-are-a-state-secret.html

Tony Blair was basically responsible for the Kyoto Protocol and The Stern Report. Nicholas Stern is employed by British investment banker Jeremy Grantham in a London based climate institute.

Gavin Schmidt is also British.

This is my page of article links to the British connection

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/sealed/gw/politics.htm

Keith said...

It is very dissapointing that so called professional scientists would stoop to these tactics, or even comment on them in email exchanges. The warmers are of course downplaying the significance of this material.
I say who needs it. The published fruits of Hadley's labours are sufficient to expose them for their ideological bias, and alternative published work is already challenging the much vaunted Hadley establishment.
This latest revelation simply points out the extremist attitudes necessary as basic criteria to obtain employment there.

eric144 said...

The reason why Scmhidt et al are so confident is that global warming is politically driven with science being used as a mere accessory. They are protected from a very great height and they know it .

Here are the BBC and Guardian reports on the CRU.

The Guardian article (not commentable on) is written by a director of the aforementioned Grantham Institute of Investment Banking (sorry Climate). It is extremely biased.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/20/climate-sceptics-email-hacking

Unbelievably, the BBC treat the story as a criminal break in.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8370282.stm

W.E. Heasley, CLU, LUTCF said...

Here is the Fox News post on foxnews.com

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,576009,00.html

Hans Erren said...

Before I make any judgement, I would need confirmation that the content of all these emails hasn't been tampered with by the hackers. Somebody has already requested a copy under the FOI to do a comparison.

K.C. said...

Quite the opportunity to discuss the role of experts in policy...

Sharon F. said...

Like Hans, I would like a check on the emails.
However before we arrive at the conclusion that climate scientists are worse than others, we would have to do the experiment.. get emails from a random array of institutes in other scientific fields- perhaps 3 per field (so we would need two more in climate science). We could rate them on 1) snarky sttitudes toward other scientists, 2) evidence of stacking panels for grants with their buddies, 3) evidence of excluding diverging opinions from publication and other factors.

Dean said...

How many individuals are implicated by the most incriminating of these emails? However many it is, it is these individuals who are incriminated. Nobody else. We don't do guilt by association (which presumably is an association of agreeing their opinions).

It isn't just much ado about nothing. These cases need to be looked into, and if it pans out, proper punative action taken. Through adequate due process. But I'm not going to pore through them myself to try and determine whether or not they are out of context.

As Sharon points out, I doubt that any large field of endeavor is without abuse. And in an age where you can go to jail (at least in the US) for joking about a bomb, nothing is private.

Also, since it seems that CRU found out about this from RC, they apparently didn't even know. I wonder if these hackers attacked other sites and found nothing worth disclosing.

And lastly, yes, anybody who hacks into computers to steal data should be prosecuted.

Freedom's Truth said...

I'm with Mark and Stan on this ...I found the manipulation and their attempt to change the editorial board of a journal in order to stop peer-reviewed publication of 'skeptic' scientific papers shocking. Not shared here are some the emails suggesting what they need to do to remove the 'troublesome' editors; in 2003, indeed, half the editors of the Journal in question did resign. It's the kind of political intimidation pulled by agitators of the Al Sharton ilk, not 'scientists'.

It's among the worst of the offenses committed by the Hockey Stick Team, but not the only one.

Mann: "I think we have to stop considering "Climate Research" as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal."

I think we have to stop considering Michael Mann and his ilk as legitimate climate scientists. The man has lost all credibility (if he ever had any left).

Seneca the Younger said...

On the hacking issue, I'm a computer security guy by background. The more I look over the data and so forth, the more probable it seems to me that this was primarily an insider job. First, because its usually about 10 to 1 that any major disclosure was an inside job; second, because the data overall would normally be organized among many systems in any system of realistic size. So any outside attacker would need to compromise the system, root about for an extended time, and find all these things, then copy them to another system.

This is certainly not inconceivable, but it would be risky, and might mean compromising not just one but several machines.

On the other hand, an insider could work on these things with very little chance of detection.

(This is, btw, assuming that this wasn't a data collection actually prepared in response to an FOAI request. If it was, then an outsider might have found it providentially; on the other hand, an insider might have responded to a decision not to provide the data after all.)

Here's a point to think about: these files have significant gaps. The easiest way to capture them would have been to copy whole directories.

I wouldn't want to bet that this is the only shoe to drop.

turboblocke said...

The US is increasingly getting the blame for this hack in the UK. We Brits have noticed for years that our trans-Atlantic cousins have been trying to trash one of our research institutes, whilst leaving the local ones untouched. (It would be un-American to trash NASA, wouldn’t it?)

The question being asked here is “Cui bono?” There is no real denier movement in the UK, it’s too late to influence Copenhagen here and the risks of being prosecuted are significant.

However when you look at the USA, it’s completely the opposite.

So please heed this message from one Brit: I’m already disappointed at the US response to AGW for the last couple of decades, I’m disappointed that there is so much airtime given to the unscientific ravings of the deniers in the US and I’m most unhappy that your internal wrangling has led to an attack on one of our research institutions. Remember that the UK has stood with the USA in difficult times in the recent past and we hold you in great affection, but we object to being used by some of you as a punching bag.

bernie said...

turboblocke
#48

Your comments are silly beyond belief. Are you suggesting Monckton and Booker carry no weight in the UK? In all likelihood this dump of information was done by someone from within CRU. How does that jibe with some kind of US inspired conspiracy?
I am also a Brit. Your comments are both disparaging to the British and the Americans. It is fine that you believe in AGW. I am skeptical of CAGW based on a close reading of the empirical data and the research literature. The likelihood of confirmation bias is huge - and this will be part of the back story to the release of these emails. That man impacts climate goes without saying. That the AGW impact is likely catastrophic is unproven.

Dean said...

Referring to Bernie's:

That man impacts climate goes without saying. That the AGW impact is likely catastrophic is unproven.

The question of impact is not yes or no. If you believe that man impacts climate, then isn't the level of that impact dependent on when it is that we decrease our impact, and what level that is? In other words, if sensitivity is lower than the IPCC says, and thus we don't take action now, doesn't that only delay the impact?

MIKE said...

This is sort of reminiscent of the Pentagon Papers. The story like those is on the front page of the NY Times today.

patrickinken said...

Do you remember this from David Appell's blog? I wonder whether he will reconsider his views? Maybe he should reflect on Lenin's phrase. What was it? "Useful something or others"?

"Roger Pielke Jr is running an open invitation on 10 questions, and I'm going to respond to one of them:

"9. In their political enthusiasm, some leading scientists have behaved badly

"I have been attending climate conferences for years now -- a couple each year, as many as I can on my tiny freelance earnings, and hardly all of them -- and have attended talks by scientists locally. I've questioned them in person and on the phone and via email. And I have never once seen any canonical scientist "behave badly." On the contrary, everyone I've talked to or communicated with -- including many of the big names -- have all behaved professionally and politely and responsibly, without fail. Without fail."

RWP said...

#48.

I've done sabbaticals in US government labs. They take information security very seriously. I'm not saying this couldn't have been done at NCAR or NASA, but it would have been much harder.

And I agree with StY; I'd bet dollars against donuts this was an inside job -- particularly since some prominent 'skeptics' have gotten inside information from CRU in the past.

Sharon F. said...

Bernie and Dean- not to be the PC police here, but doesn't "humankind" impact climate? Just sayin'.:)

Sharon F. said...

As to the reference to Newton, I would say that the more empirically testable, by others, transparently, in real time, your hypotheses are, the less "nice" you have to be for people to accept your findings.
But climate science and what to do about AGW are not like that (again, post-normal science), so the trustworthiness of that science community will always be under greater scrutiny.

Reiner Grundmann said...

It is hard to believe when you see things like these:

From:
To: mann@virginia.edu
Subject: Fwd: CCNet: PRESSURE GROWING ON CONTROVERSIAL RESEARCHER TO DISCLOSE SECRET DATA
Date: Mon Feb 21 16:28:32 2005
Cc: "raymond s. bradley" "Malcolm Hughes


Mike, Ray and Malcolm,
The skeptics seem to be building up a head of steam here ! Maybe we can use
this to our advantage to get the series updated !
Odd idea to update the proxies with satellite estimates of the lower troposphere
rather than surface data !. Odder still that they don't realise that Moberg et al used the
Jones and Moberg updated series !
Francis Zwiers is till onside. He said that PC1s produce hockey sticks. He stressed
that the late 20th century is the warmest of the millennium, but Regaldo didn't bother
with that. Also ignored Francis' comment about all the other series looking similar
to MBH.
The IPCC comes in for a lot of stick.
Leave it to you to delete as appropriate !
Cheers
Phil
PS I'm getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data.
Don't any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act !

There will be no wiggling out of this, along the lines of: 'trick' does not mean deceit but 'technical accomplishment'. Here the author says explicitly that they have something to hide. Chilling how uninhibited they are... as if it was a matter of routine.

eric144 said...

turboblocke #48

I am British too. My reading of modern history tells men that most of the major events were carried out in Britain while blaming the Americans.

For example. The destruction of the Russian economy apparently by Soros, Sache et al was really the work of the Rothschild family in Britain. That was revealed in The Times when Yukos boss Khodorkovsky went to jail and his shares defaulted to Lord Rothschild.

The Iraq war was fought on the basis of ridiculous MI6 lies who then blamed the Americans in the manufactured 'Downing Street document'. The Iranian foreign minister and government blame Britain for Iraq and the recent trouble in Iran, not the Americans. Blair (in a radio interview)said he took the Americans into Iraq, not the reverse.

The three banks who's fall started the financial crisis. Northern Rock, Lehman Brothers and AIG were brought down by British actions, despite Gordon Brown blaming it on local American difficulties. The AIG cds operation was run out of London in an orgy of regulation free criminal lunacy. The British government rejected a last minute Barclays bid for Lehmans on very trivial grounds. That finished it and triggered the global financial crisis.

Joel Upchurch said...

What I think might find interesting is that England has some of the toughest defamation laws in the world. Also it appears that something doesn't have to be published to qualify for defamation. I would think emailing disparaging comments about one climate scientist to others in the same field might fall under the heading of defamation.

Also I agree with the other people who said that the references to deleting documents is probably the most damaging in the long run. The thing is that I've worked in the IT business and I know how hard it can be to really delete files. The stuff we've seen so far is only what fell into the cracks. Imagine what will turn up if someone subpeonas the backup tapes to recover the deleted documents.

bernie said...

Sharon:
Being a gentleman, I was trying to give women the benefit of the doubt but if you insist: "That humans impact climate goes without saying..." I stand corrected. ;D

Sharon F. said...

Bernie,

We women take hot showers, drive to work, bake pumpkin pies, do laundry and sometimes use clothes driers... if we were to calculate carbon guilt by gender I don't know which gender would be more guilty.
As usual, we are all in this together.

eric144 said...

Bishop Hill has compiled a list of the more interesting emails.

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2009/11/20/climate-cuttings-33.html


He also says

A commenter has just pointed out to me that the hackers who left the file link at the Air Vent described what they had made available as "a random selection" of what there was. So there could be more to come.

Hans Erren said...

Joel Upchurch (#58)
The UK has also a wistleblower law that protects messengers of bad news.
http://camirror.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/uk-whistleblower-legislation/

bernie said...

Based on the name of the file and the timing of the release of this file just after the UEA FIA guru declined Steve McIntyre's appeal of the rejection of an earlier FIA request that the file was released by a "whistleblower" from within CRU. Given the tone of many of these emails it would not be surprising that someone viewed Dr Phil Jones machinations as not cricket and decided to out him. Now Jones et al have a real problem: If the whistleblower was privy to discussions of how to respond to McIntyre's and others' FIA requests (especially if the person made contemperaneous notes or even written objections to the stonewalling) how on earth are they going to pursue the person without revealing even more damaging information. The basic issue remains the same: the inappropriate blocking of access of data led to an inappropriate behaviors and, ultimately, response to a legitimate FIA request.

Dr Jones and the UEA bureaucrats have created a very nasty Catch-22 for themselves. They may be whiz scientists, but they have demonstrated an all too human lack of basic inegrity and amazing lack of understanding of human behavior - on a par with tobacco company executives.

DeWitt said...

Oliver North of Iran/Contra fame found out that emails he thought he deleted still existed in the backups and were admissable as evidence.

see U.S. v. North, 713 F. Supp. 1452 (D.D.C. 1989)

Sharon F. said...

It sounds like regardless of the emails, the FIA request was rejected, and the appeal of that rejection was declined. On what basis was that done?

Is IPR (which I assume is intellectual property rights) related to releasing the data under Freedom of Information? Does it depend on whether the study was funded by the government or privately? I don't understand the way it works in the UK.

Thanks.

willis said...

As far as I know, I am the person who made the original Freedom Of Information Act to CRU that got all this stirred up. I was trying to get access to the taxpayer funded raw data that they built the global temperature record out of. I was not representing anybody, or trying to prove a point. I am not funded by Mobil, I'm not a member of a right-wing conspiracy, I’m an amateur scientist with a lifelong interest in the weather and climate. I made the FOIA application because I had sent the following to EAU with no response:

"I would like to obtain a list of the meteorological stations used in the preparation of the HadCRUT3 global temperature average, and the raw data for those stations. I cannot find it anywhere on the web. The lead author for the temperature average is Dr. Phil Jones of the Climate Research Unit.
Many thanks, Willis Eschenbach"

Receiving no reply, I filed the FOIA application. They stuffed me around with a bunch of bogus excuses, even after I had appealed the decision. Basically, they just tossed my request into the trash.

Now the emails reveal that Jones convinced the University FOI official to simply blow off all of the emails from people associated with Climate Audit. Since I post there regularly, I was automatically one of the evil people whose requests could just be thrown away.

From Phil Jones:

"1. Think I’ve managed to persuade UEA [University of East Anglia, where CRU is located] to ignore all further FOIA requests from if the people have anything to do with Climate Audit."

and

"When the FOI requests began here, the FOI person said we had to abide by the requests. It took a couple of half hour sessions — one at a screen, to convince them otherwise showing them what CA was about. Once they became aware of the types of people we were dealing with, everyone at UEA ... became very supportive."

Now I’d like all of you folks that are claiming that is just boys being boys, and thats how scientists act, and that there’s nothing there, to explain how Phil Jones blocking my honest, sincere, legitimate Freedom of Information Act requests, along with FOIA requests from everyone who posts at Climate Audit, is normal science at work. It is not. It is a direct and scurrilous attack on the scientific method itself.

Science works by one person making a claim, and backing it up with the data and methods that they used to make the claim. Other scientists attack the work by (among other things) trying to replicate the first scientist’s work. If they can’t replicate it, it doesn’t stand. So blocking the FOIA allowed Phil Jones to claim that his temperature record (HadCRUT3) was valid science.

So this is not just trivial gamesmanship. This is an attack on the heart of science, by trying to keep people who disagree with you from ever checking your work and seeing if your math is correct.

That’s the point. The data is not there to examine and test, and not only that, you can’t get to it even with a legal FOIA request ... because they simply illegally evade the request. Now, they’re trashing emails to try to hide their trail ... anyone else want to say that’s how normal science operates, and that this is much ado about nothing? Because in my case, it's definitely about something.

nygoe said...

Has anyone found anything to date regarding James Hansen of NASA in the available data?

Dean said...

Willis - To be blunt, I don't really know whether you're honest and sincere. And I also am not famliar with the FOI act in the UK. But in the US, I don't think the motivations of the requester are really germane. The question is only whether the information in question can be released based on objective criteria - which only deals with the information being requested.

I am no fan of CA, I never read it. And to be blunt again, my inclination is to question the motivations of people who are regulars there. But I am a fan of objectivity in how the FOIA is handled. And if somebody who controls data can sit down with FOI decision-makers and convince them that the source of the request is the determining factor, then there is a problem.

Can somebody clarify if the FOIA in the UK works? What are the criteria for approving and denying?

Jonathan said...

Sharon F #65, my request for the CRUTEMP station data was refused on essentially two grounds: (1) that the data was already publicly available, and (2) that the data was held by the CRU subject to confidentiality agreements. The apparent conflict between these two statements didn't seem to worry them. Furthermore neither of them is true :-)

Jim Clarke said...

Willis,

Thank you for your story. While the AGW crowd has, from the very beginning, insisted that all skeptics are pawns of big oil, the reality is that most are individuals seeking answers very independently.

The good guys and the bad guys are becoming better defined every day.

Thomas said...

Scientific Doomsday Mania
by
Amitakh Stanford
22nd November 2009

There is a doomsday message that is swiftly gaining global acceptance. The new wave is clothed in acceptable clichés and has won over the support of many of the respected scientific communities.

Unlike most other doomsday messages, this one is supposedly based upon scientific evidence. The scientific “doomsdayers” wear masks and pretend that they are predicting calamities based on hard evidence. This lulls the unsuspecting public into absolute belief and acceptance of the doomsdayers’ ravings.

willis said...

Dean, thanks for your comment, viz:

>Dean said...
>Willis - To be blunt, I don't really know whether you're honest >and sincere.

Not sure why you would doubt that, but if you need more evidence, search the CRU emails for "Eschenbach" and you'll see that I'm on Phil's enemy list ... or you could look at a record of my FOIA correspondence at http://www.climateaudit.org/correspondence/cru.correspondence.pdf, which was posted back in 2008.

But I'm not the issue. The issue is things like this, from email 1200493432, Phil Jones:

>I have had a couple of exchanges with Courtillot. This is the last of them from
>March 26, 2007. I sent him a number of papers to read. He seems incapable of
>grasping the concept of spatial degrees of freedom, and how this number can
>change according to timescale. I also told him where he can get station data at
>NCDC and GISS (as I took a decision ages ago not to release our station data,
>mainly because of McIntyre).

Funny, I was unaware that "being Steve McIntyre" was a legitimate reason for refusing an FOI request ...



You sound like you are proud of never reading anything at CA, yet you question the motivations of people who do post there, which is hardly a scientific attitude. I'd recommend that you take a look at the site. Most of us who author head posts there are interested in one thing - replicable science. And for any study to be replicable, you must have data and methods. We are not climate activists, we all have day jobs or are retired, we're just driven by this outdated idea that if you can't replicate a study, it is not science.

Sharon F. said...

Thanks for the information..

It seems to me (commonsensically) that intellectual property would be 1) something yet unpublished so that you would not want to release it prior to the scientists in your institution getting the credit for publishing, or 2) a specific invention that the scientist is currently making money from, and that the release of information on the technology would reduce the scientist's income.

Don't know how this fits with the UK FOI regs.

willis said...

Sharon F., there's a complication. Anything Phil Jones develops in the course of his employment at UEA, including computer software, doesn't belong to him but to the University. From the UEA Intellectual Property Regulations at http://www.uea.ac.uk/polopoly_fs/1.130501!FWF31%20INTELLEC%20PROP%20REGS.pdf

University's ownership claims: staff

3 Subject to the qualifications below the University asserts its right to ownership of Intellectual Property generated by staff in the course of their employment in accordance with the provisions of the Patents Act 1977 and the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, which state respectively that ownership vests in the employing organisation when (and only when):

• an invention is made in the course of an employee's normal or specifically assigned duties;
• a 'work' [i.e. anything that is the subject of copyright protection, including computer software] is made by an employee in the course of his employment, subject to any agreement to the contrary.

Information on exemptions under the UK FOI is at http://www.foi.gov.uk/guidance/exguide/index.htm

There is no exemption for "intellectual property", but there is one for "trade secrets".

Hope this helps,

w.

Ron Cram said...

Without doubt the CRU cabal has done a great evil to science in general and climate science in particular. The question now is what will be done to make amends?

* James Saiers should be reinstated as editor of GRL.

* Nature, Science, PNAS and the journals of AGU should all issue gold embossed invitations to Steve McIntyre, Roger Pielke, Anthony Watts, John Christy, Roy Spencer, Craig Loehle, Pat Michaels and Richard Lindzen to publish any paper they believe should be published.

* Journal editors need to tell their own story of how they were pressured by the CRU cabal. Science does not bow to authority or consensus. It is important to know how they exercised this power so it will not happen again.

* The IPCC needs to make certain Phil Jones, Mike Mann, Keith Briffa etc are never lead authors of an assessment report.

* The IPCC needs to publish a minority report that can be signed by climate scientists and IPCC reviewers whose comments were rejected by the lead authors.

Jonathan said...

Dean #70, you can find out all about UK FOI at http://www.foi.gov.uk/index.htm

On key quote is "No regard may be had to the identity of the person who is requesting the information nor to the purpose to which they will put the information."

SBVOR said...

Dr. Pielke casually dismisses ClimateGate as “much ado about nothing”.

Meantime, Britain’s chief alarmist -- George Monbiot -- sez:

“It’s no use pretending that this isn’t a major blow. The emails extracted by a hacker from the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia could scarcely be more damaging. I am now convinced that they are genuine, and I’m dismayed and deeply shaken by them.”

Interesting contrast…

Click here and read the rest.

Click here for a compendium of reporting and commentary.

Sharon F. said...

maybe I'm missing something but I don't see the link between the request for "stations" and "data" and the concepts of "software" and "inventions" being owned by the university. Are the raw data perceived to be "owned by the university?"

RWP said...

Roger didn't dismiss it as 'much ado about nothing'. He attributed that sentiment to realclimate.org. One might consider the possibility that this attribution contains an element of sardonicism.

SBVOR said...

-79-RWP,

Your suggestion is plausible. But, I would rather let Roger explain his meaning.

Roger said:
“UPDATE: Real Climate explains that it is in fact much ado about nothing.”

Personally, if I were choosing words to convey what you suggest, I would select “asserts” rather than “explains”. And I would not say “it is in fact”.

But, that’s just me.

Reiner Grundmann said...

Phil Jones is quoted in the Guardian as saying that CRU data tally with other sources: 'Our global temperature series tallies with those of other, compeltely independent, groups of scientists working for NASA and NOAA'

Nice one!
He goes on: 'even if you were to ignore our findings, theirs show the same results. The facts speak for themselves.'
Is he backpeddling? Is he no longer interested in the integrity of his dataset? The suspicion arises as he makes the point that the 'timing of the theft' was chosen to cause maximum embarrassemnt for the Copenhagen talks.

It seems as if the political message of the scientific datasets is his only concern.
Such a concern cannot be admitted, hence the quick addition:
'I am a very apolitical person, I don't want to get involved in the politics, I am much happier doing the science and producing the papers.'

After so much politics, this will set the record straight ;-)

Andrew said...

81-Here is our host's father's take on the Jones quote:

http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2009/11/25/an-erroneous-statement-made-by-phil-jones-to-the-media-on-the-independence-of-the-global-surface-temperature-trend-analyses-of-cru-giss-and-ncdc/

willis said...

For those interested, I've posted up an account of my involvement in this whole mess at Watts Up With That:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/24/the-people-vs-the-cru-freedom-of-information-my-okole.../

I believe it is a clear account of the Freedom of Information Act issues in the whole story. I encourage people to read it, as it provides a context for a jumbled stack of emails.

Sharon F. said...

Thanks, Willis!
I deal with FOIA (the US kind) in my daily work. Many of the requests we get are from entities who intend to, and later do, litigate the government. So if we were to make our lives easier, we could just say "that X group, they are always hanging us up and litigating, let's just not respond," But we wouldn't do that because it's illegal.
Further, following this law does take a lot of seemingly nonproductive time .. of scientists.. and others. It seems as if the scientist was saying that their time is more important than that of all the other individuals who follow the law.. there seems to be a certain amount of arrogance inherent in that.
Finally, there does seem to be inherent tension between transparency and replication of science and "proprietary" models. I wonder if we could look for other examples in "proprietary" cell lines and how replication is done in those scientific environments.

willis said...

Sharon, I agree that if you get an FOIA, it messes with your time. A scientist should never have to face an FOI as Jones and Mann and the rest have. Why not? Because making the data public is PART OF THE JOB DESCRIPTION. I did not want to file an FOI, it's a hassle for everyone concerned. But I was forced to because Jones and the other scientists are afraid to make their data public, claiming that someone will want to poke holes in it.

So while you are correct that answering an FOIA is entirely "nonproductive time", if they would simply follow the scientific norms they'd never have to face a single FOIA.

Regarding the tension between science and "proprietary models", I'm not sure where that might apply in climate science. I mean, it's not like somebody is sitting around waiting to make a million dollars off of the CRU global temperature computer code ... where do you see the "inherent tension"?

Sharon F. said...

Willis, Just to be clear, I don't think models (especially those developed by people with government funding) should be proprietary..

I was assuming there was some kind of legitimate reason for the claims of "proprietariness" since I don't really understand all the ins and outs of climate models and the computer programming that goes with them.

Jason said...

Here's a really lengthy reconstruction of the CRU e-mail sequence establishing context. It's a guest post by John Pittman.

http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/context-2/

Brendan said...

As a science lover, I'm totally disgusted. I hope it turns out to be Much Ado. But so far, I fear that not only climate science, but all science in general will be tarnished as scientists get labeled "political" and willing to "alter data" to support political and ideological biases. I can hear the intelligent design proponents preparing a new round of propaganda already. Roger Bacon and 400 years of followers in the scientific method must be rolling over in their collective graves.

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