More on the UEA 'Climategate' emails - recommended reading
- 23 Nov 2011, 14:10
- Christian Hunt
We're a day on from the
release of another batch of the emails taken from the
University of East Anglia (UEA) server, mirroring 2009's
'Climategate' incident. It's a story that is filling online climate
forums and has also had a bit of pick-up by the media. Here's a
selection of the most interesting pieces:
First: is it just us, or does The Daily Mail's coverage have a
tinge of boredom about it?
New leak of hacked global warming scientist emails: A 'smoking gun'
proving a conspiracy - or just hot air?
"The identity of the people who posted
it was not revealed - although the clear political statement is
new. The file also contains more than 200,000 other emails, which
are encrypted, and no password is provided.
"Presumably, this is to protect the
individuals involved - or simply because the material is so
non-controversial or boring that it's not worth releasing.
"The University of East Anglia has not
confirmed whether the material is genuine.
"None of the material appears to be new,
either: it seems to date from the first release in 2009.
"It also occurs against a rather
different scientific background, after the Berkeley Earth Surface
Temperature review of climate-science data by prominent climate
sceptic Richard Muller, which analysed 1.6 billion temperature
records, and concluded that global warming was a genuine
Black at the BBC has detail on the hack and the police
investigation, as well as the framing of the release:
"[U]nless appearances are very, very
misleading, [the emails] were hacked from UEA in the same attack
that led to the 2009 posting.
"Some of the emails in the new release,
for example, appear to be continuations of conversations that
emerged back then - you can even find the
infamous "hide the decline" phrase.
"Whoever hacked the documents and
whoever's releasing them - code-name FOIA 2011 - leaves an
intriguing clue to his or her rationale, in a file released with
the hacked material.
"''One dollar can save a life' - the
opposite must also be true,' he/she writes. 'Poverty is a
death sentence. Nations must invest $37 trillion in energy
technologies by 2030 to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at
"One hesitates to dive into anyone
else's mind on the basis of a few words... but as far as I can
see, the only logical explanation is that the writer thinks curbing
greenhouse gas emissions will cost so much that the developing
world will be left poverty-stricken as a result.
"It's odd, because the poorest nations
on the planet - through the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) bloc,
the Small Island Developing States (SIDs) bloc, and the Africa
Group representing the poorest continent - are calling for action
louder than just about anyone else in the world.
"What does FOIA 2011 know that they
don't?...The majority of poor countries lobby for more, not less,
action on climate change. If the emails disproved man-made
climate change, he/she would have a point. But judging from
what I have read, they do not."
Scientists have also been quoted on the topic. Including, in
contrast to the last time this happened, reactions from UEA
scientists like Phil
The New York Times
spoke with one scientist who, according to an email, called a
colleague's scientific paper "truly pathetic":
"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
There has also been analysis of the media coverage. Media
Matters assesses the US media's
take of the story:
"Raphael Satter of the Associated Press
has also has a premature
report, which has been
published on the websites of countless news outlets, asserting
that the emails "appeared to show climate scientists talking in
conspiratorial tones about ways to promote their agenda." What
agenda is that? The article doesn't say. Satter admits that the
context of the emails 'couldn't be determined' because the
'Associated Press has not yet been able to secure a copy' of the
Meanwhile the skeptic blogs certainly are excited about it, or
at least they're pretending to be. Anthony Watts headlined
his blog post: "They're real and they're spectacular!"
The Examiner is carrying a piece entitled
Climategate 2: Sensational Email Release, Durban Conference
Derailed, which might be a little premature.
Finally, the blog RealClimate, where many of the climate
scientists who feature in the emails write, is trying to answer
in the comments of this post. Here's a sample:
"Could you put these in context,
[John] Cook: "I am afraid that Mike [Mann] is defending something
that increasingly can not be defended. He is investing too much
personal stuff in this and not letting the science move
[Response: Not "John", Ed, and this was in 2002, related to the Briffa/Osborn
perspective in Science 2002. Those were early days in the
paleo-reconstruction business and different groups had different
opinions about how to proceed and interpret the results. Normal
science.... - gavin]
Bradley: "I'm sure you agree-the [Mike] Mann/ [Phil] Jones GRL
paper was truly pathetic and should never have been published. I
don't want to be associated with that 2000 year
[Response: Again, people are free to make their own judgements on
papers. This was in 2003 (discussing
Mann and Jones (2003)). - gavin]
Crowley: "Phil [Jones], thanks for your thoughts - guarantee there
will be no dirty laundry in the open."
[Response: The discussion is related to SST anomalies, but I don't
really understand crowley's characterisation. The difficulties in
the SST record have been well discussed in the literature - most
Kennedy et al. - gavin]
[Phil] Jones: "There shouldn't be someone else at UEA [University
of East Anglia] with different views (from "recent extreme weather
is due to global warming") - at least not a climatologist."
[Response: Jones is pushing back against the idea that there are
always 'two sides' on science discussions for a media event, where
the organisers wanted someone else from UEA to argue with Jones. -
Oh, and has also emerged that Norfolk police
spent nothing on investigating the UEA hacking incident since
March. Maybe this will encourage them to get back to it.