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What do the 'Climategate' hacked CRU emails tell us?

What the science says...

Select a level... Intermediate Advanced

A number of independent investigations from different countries, universities and government bodies have investigated the stolen emails and found no evidence of wrong doing. Focusing on a few suggestive emails, taken out of context, merely serves to distract from the wealth of empirical evidence for man-made global warming.

Climate Myth...

Climategate CRU emails suggest conspiracy
“[T]he 1079 emails and 72 documents seem indeed evidence of a scandal involving most of the most prominent scientists pushing the man-made warming theory - a scandal that is one of the greatest in modern science. […] emails suggesting conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more.” (Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun)

In November 2009, the servers at the University of East Anglia in Britain were illegally hacked and emails were stolen. When a selection of emails between climate scientists were published on the internet, a few suggestive quotes were seized upon by many claiming global warming was all just a conspiracy. A number of independent enquiries have investigated the conduct of the scientists involved in the emails. All have cleared the scientists of any wrong doing:

  1. In February 2010, the Pennsylvania State University released an Inquiry Report that investigated any 'Climategate' emails involving Dr Michael Mann, a Professor of Penn State's Department of Meteorology. They found that "there exists no credible evidence that Dr. Mann had or has ever engaged in, or participated in, directly or indirectly, any actions with an intent to suppress or to falsify data". On "Mike's Nature trick", they concluded "The so-called “trick”1 was nothing more than a statistical method used to bring two or more different kinds of data sets together in a legitimate fashion by a technique that has been reviewed by a broad array of peers in the field."
  2. In March 2010, the UK government's House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published a report finding that the criticisms of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) were misplaced and that CRU’s "Professor Jones’s actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community".
  3. In April 2010, the University of East Anglia set up an international Scientific Assessment Panel, in consultation with the Royal Society and chaired by Professor Ron Oxburgh. The Report of the International Panel assessed the integrity of the research published by the CRU and found "no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit".
  4. In June 2010, the Pennsylvania State University published their Final Investigation Report, determining "there is no substance to the allegation against Dr. Michael E. Mann".
  5. In July 2010, the University of East Anglia published the Independent Climate Change Email Review report. They examined the emails to assess whether manipulation or suppression of data occurred and concluded that "we find that their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt."
  6. In July 2010, the US Environmental Protection Agency investigated the emails and "found this was simply a candid discussion of scientists working through issues that arise in compiling and presenting large complex data sets."
  7. In September 2010, the UK Government responded to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report, chaired by Sir Muir Russell. On the issue of releasing data, they found "In the instance of the CRU, the scientists were not legally allowed to give out the data". On the issue of attempting to corrupt the peer-review process, they found "The evidence that we have seen does not suggest that Professor Jones was trying to subvert the peer review process. Academics should not be criticised for making informal comments on academic papers".
  8. In February 2011, the Department of Commerce Inspector General conducted an independent review of the emails and found "no evidence in the CRU emails that NOAA inappropriately manipulated data".
  9. In August 2011, the National Science Foundation concluded "Finding no research misconduct or other matter raised by the various regulations and laws discussed above, this case is closed".

Just as there are many independent lines of evidence that humans are causing global warming, similarly a number of independent investigations have found no evidence of falsification or conspiracy by climate scientists.

"Mike's Nature trick" and "hide the decline"

The most quoted email is from Phil Jones discussing paleo-data used to reconstruct past temperatures (emphasis mine):

"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) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline."

"Mike's Nature trick" refers to a technique (aka "trick of the trade") used in a paper published in Nature by lead author Michael Mann (Mann 1998). The "trick" is the technique of plotting recent instrumental data along with the reconstructed data. This places recent global warming trends in the context of temperature changes over longer time scales.

The most common misconception regarding this email is the assumption that "decline" refers to declining temperatures. It actually refers to a decline in the reliability of tree rings to reflect temperatures after 1960. This is known as the "divergence problem" where tree ring proxies diverge from modern instrumental temperature records after 1960. The divergence problem is discussed in the peer reviewed literature as early as 1995, suggesting a change in the sensitivity of tree growth to temperature in recent decades (Briffa 1998). It is also examined more recently in Wilmking 2008 which explores techniques in eliminating the divergence problem. So when you look at Phil Jone's email in the context of the science discussed, it is not the schemings of a climate conspiracy but technical discussions of data handling techniques available in the peer reviewed literature. More on the hockey stick divergence problem...

Trenberth's "travesty we can't account for the lack of warming"

The second most cited email is from climate scientist and IPCC lead author Kevin Trenberth. The highlighted quote is this: "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't." This has been most commonly interpreted (among skeptics) as climate scientists secretly admitting amongst themselves that global warming really has stopped. Trenberth is actually discussing a paper he'd recently published that discusses the planet's energy budget - how much net energy is flowing into our climate and where it's going (Trenberth 2009).

In Trenberth's paper, he discusses how we know the planet is continually heating due to increasing carbon dioxide. Nevertheless, surface temperature sometimes shows short term cooling periods. This is due to internal variability and Trenberth was lamenting that our observation systems can't comprehensively track all the energy flow through the climate system. More on Trenberth's travesty...

The full body of evidence for man-made global warming

An important point to realise is that the emails involve a handful of scientists discussing a few pieces of climate data. Even without this data, there is still an overwhelming and consistent body of evidence, painstakingly compiled by independent scientific teams from institutions across the world.

What do they find? The planet is steadily accumulating heat. When you add up all the heat building in the oceans, land and atmosphere plus the energy required to melt glaciers and ice sheets, the planet has been accumulating heat at a rate of 190,260 Gigawatts over the past 40 years (Murphy 2009). Considering a typical nuclear power plant has an output of 1 Gigawatt, imagine over 190,000 power plants pouring their energy output directly into heating our land and oceans, melting ice and warming the air.

This build-up of heat is causing ice loss across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Both Greenland and Antarctica are losing ice at an accelerated rate (Velicogna 2009, ). Even East Antarctica, previously thought to be too cold and stable, is now losing ice mass (Chen 2009). Glacier shrinkage is accelerating. Arctic sea ice has fallen so sharply, observations exceed even the IPCC worst case scenario. The combination of warming oceans and melting ice has resulted in sea level rise tracking the upper limit of IPCC predictions.

Rising temperatures have impacted animal and plant species worldwide. The distribution of tree lines, plants and many species of animals are moving into cooler regions towards the poles. As the onset of spring is happening earlier each year, animal and plant species are responding to the shift in seasons. Scientists observe that frog breeding, bird nesting, flowering and migration patterns are all occurring earlier in the year (Parmeson 2003). There are many other physical signs of widespread warming. The height of the tropopause, a layer in our atmosphere, is rising (Santer 2003). Arctic permafrost, covering about 25% of Northern Hemisphere land, is warming and degrading (Walsh 2009). The tropical belt is widening (Seidel 2007). These results are all consistent with global warming.

What’s causing this heat build-up? Humans are emitting huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - 29 billion tonnes in 2009 (CDIAC). Greenhouse theory predicts that more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will trap heat energy as it escapes out to space. What do we observe? Carbon dioxide absorbs heat at certain wavelengths. Satellites over the past 40 years find less heat escaping to space at these wavelengths (Harries 2001, Griggs 2004, Chen 2007). Where does the heat go? Surface measurements find more heat returning back to the Earth's surface (Philipona 2004). Tellingly, the increase occurs at those same carbon dioxide absorption wavelengths (Evans 2006). This is the human fingerprint in global warming.

There are multiple lines of empirical evidence that global warming is happening and human activity is the cause. A few suggestive emails may serve as a useful distraction for those wishing to avoid the physical realities of climate change. But they change nothing about our scientific understanding of humanity’s role in global warming.

Last updated on 24 February 2014 by dana1981. View Archives

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The House of Commons report on the emails stolen from CRU has vindicated Phil Jones -- he has "no case to answer":

The focus on Professor Jones and CRU has been largely misplaced. On the accusations relating to Professor Jones's refusal to share raw data and computer codes, we consider that his actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community. We have suggested that the community consider becoming more transparent by publishing raw data and detailed methodologies. On accusations relating to Freedom of Information, we consider that much of the responsibility should lie with UEA, not CRU.

In addition, insofar as we have been able to consider accusations of dishonesty--for example, Professor Jones's alleged attempt to "hide the decline"--we consider that there is no case to answer. Within our limited inquiry and the evidence we took, the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact. We have found no reason in this unfortunate episode to challenge the scientific consensus as expressed by Professor Beddington, that "global warming is happening [and] that it is induced by human activity"

Official statement from Climatic Research Unit (CRU)

In an interview with Andrew Freeman, historian Spencer Weart puts Climategate and the global warming skeptic phenomenon in perspective:

"...we've never before seen a set of people accuse an entire community of scientists of deliberate deception and other professional malfeasance. Even the tobacco companies never tried to slander legitimate cancer researchers."

George Monbiot reveals the most damaging email in The Knights Carbonic. Here is an excerpt, revealing the depth of the climate conspiracy:

"Then began the most hazardous task of all: our attempt to control the instrumental record. Securing the consent of the scientific establishment was a simple matter. But thermometers had by then become widely available, and amateur meteorologists were making their own readings. We needed to show a steady rise as industrialisation proceeded, but some of these unfortunates had other ideas. The global co-option of police and coroners required unprecedented resources, but so far we have been able to cover our tracks.
Our co-option of the physical world has been just as successful. The thinning of the Arctic ice cap was a masterstroke. The ring of secret nuclear power stations around the Arctic Circle, attached to giant immersion heaters, remains undetected, as do the space-based lasers dissolving the world’s glaciers.
Altering the migratory and reproductive patterns of the world’s wildlife has proved more challenging. Though we have now asserted control over the world’s biologists, there is no accounting for the unauthorised observations of farmers, gardeners, bird-watchers and other troublemakers. We have therefore been forced to drive migrating birds, fish and insects into higher latitudes, and to release several million tonnes of plant pheromones every year to accelerate flowering and fruiting. None of this is cheap, and ever more public money, secretly diverted from national accounts by compliant governments, is required to sustain it."

Another amusing parody is Newtongate: the final nail in the coffin of Renaissance and Enlightenment ‘thinking’ which scrutinizes the private correspondance of Isaac Newton to cast doubt on Newtonian physics and integral calculus.

MediaMatters examines many of the claims coming out of "Climategate", exposing how the emails have been distorted and misrepresented.

Comments

1  2  Next

Comments 1 to 50 out of 75:

  1. As stated above: "However, the crucial question is whether these emails reveal that climate data has been falsified."

    It's your website, but, for what it's worth, I disagree with your line of reasoning here.

    I think the crucial question is: was this scientist attempting to mislead? And if so, what was his motivation? Also, could this same motivation broadly exist in the climate science community.

    If we are intellectually honest, we have to address this question.

    I think reasonable people could agree that the climate issue has been so politicized over the last decade that it is often extremely difficult to discern the truth. I appreciate the efforts of this site to attempt to coherently dispute the disputers.

    I do, however think that the recently publicized e-mails by a "ranking" member of the non-skeptic climate community are harmful to the cause of discerning the truth, at least for those people who have not drawn a final conclusion about the evidence, which apparently concludes that anthropogenic CO2 + feedbacks = catastrophy, and that climate sensitivity is a solved problem.
  2. As i see it, there are two parts in this story. One is the behaviour of the few scientists involved in the stolen emails, the other is the broad impact on climate science.

    Starting from the latter, which i think is the topic of this post, i can see no impact whatsoever. Luckly, science is not a matter of a few guys or a few experiments. So even if some fake science could have made it's way through the selection of the scientific community, it does not affect climate science as a whole.
    And even admitting (i do not) scientific misconduct by those CRU scientists, are we allowed to doubt of hundreds of other? Not for sure, each of us is responsible of its own actions and there is nothing in the emails pointing to a much broader involvement of the whole community.

    Here is the link to the first part of the problem. What did they actually do? I mean, actions, not words. At the very least, from the emails we can't deduce anything and there are no facts elsewhere confirming any action. There is some not appropiate wording, but nothing regarding arbitrary data manipulation. While I can understand that they might be "condemned" for their personal attitudes i strongly disagree to involve the science.

    Finally, a political consideration. Before a couple of decades ago, global warming was not a political issue. But then, when the "risk" of concrete actions became too high, it switched to a political issue. The explicit interest was to confuse the two planes, politics and science. This is not new, indeed, we've seen this happen before (mainly in the USA i admit).
    Who is responsible? Not scientists for sure, they kept doing their work while were being involved in the arena. Some of them even started to be advocate, which is definitely a right for anyone.
    Should we conclude that AGW is now politics and not science? Not at all. The solution of the problem is politics, indeed; its assessment is science.
  3. Nicely put Riccardo, but unfortunately the few scientists involved were in positions of high authority which changes the dynamic somewhat. Public confidence will take a dive regardless, boosted by those who have opted out because their work has been (so they say) misrepresented/misused.
  4. Whenever scientists fight disclosure - as is evident in the emails - everyone should be concerned. As for it being a couple of scientists, given they control the main temperature history used by the IPCC the fact that they are few in number is somewhat less relevant than the position they hold. I'm no scientist but it seems to me that in the CO2 caused global warming debate the temperature record is of a certain significance. I don't see why the temperature record including unadjusted data and methodologies should not be publicly available. After all we wouldn't trust a government to run an election, count the votes and then tell us who won. The main thing that the emails demonstrate is that the politics and science are very tightly intertwined. This serves politicians more than scientists.
  5. There's an elegant counter to the skeptic argument that scientists adjusted ground temperature data to bias it toward warming. Giorgio Gilestro simply plotted all the adjustments made to each of the GHCN/CRU individual temperatures. The average adjustment is... zero degrees. And a nicely uniform, normal distribution around zero.
  6. "What do the 'Climategate' hacked CRU emails tell us?"

    It tells us what we already known since long; the science behind climate changes is far from well understood - if it was then it would not be any interesting Nature/Science articles left to write and the whole area would "degrade" into an engineering discipline taught as an academic subject at universities where one could graduate as a climate engineer. However we dont have any graduated climate engineers - only climate researches.
  7. RE:#6 batsvensson.

    From your attack on science articles it sounds like you have absolutely no experience with academic scientific research so I suggest you start doing the homework yourself and tell us all why it only takes excerpts from two leaked emails over 13 years to prove that the whole of climate science is far from settled.
  8. "While some of the private correspondance is not commendable"... It is more than that. The authors said they were going to erase emails subject to a Freedom of the Information Act request. That is a felony.
  9. Michael949,
    please stick to the facts. None of them ever said they were going to delete the email.
  10. Regarding "hide the decline":

    If it is true that tree rings are definitely inaccurate after 1960 (having compared them with the instrumental temperature record), shouldn't we question the entire data set, as that might be flawed too?
    Response: This is a good question and is explored in Tree-ring proxies and the divergence problem. In short, tree-ring proxies show good agreement with other proxies before 1960 and also show good agreement with tree-ring proxies that don't show divergence (eg - at lower latitudes). This indicates divergence is a purely recent phenomenon (and hints that there's a good chance it's anthropogenic in cause).
  11. Riccardo : '' None of them ever said they were going to delete the email.''

    Maybe not, but this quote is rather close (from Phil Jones). Close enough for me!:

    ''If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone...''
  12. Argus,
    did it never happen to you to say in a private conversation "if he does this i'm going to kill him" or "i love this thing, i'm going to steal it" or something like this? Wow, that's incredible.
  13. One thing is how it seems these emails mentions intentions to make graphs fit the claims of Co2 and global warming, another thing is to loose the raw data? Woops, that was unfortunate.

    Which basically takes just about all the evidence on this website, and invalidates it. Seems it is back to the drawing board. At the moment, too much of the world do not accept the lack of raw data, and the whole thing is being looked looked into.
  14. kblood, the raw data were not lost by the organizations that are actually responsible for collecting and keeping them. The U. of East Anglia was only one of many consumers of those data. The data still are available to the U. of East Anglia, and even to, say, you! A big list of links to the data sources has been compiled at RealClimate, for your convenience.
  15. kblood, you're claiming that failure of a small research unit to efficiently maintain backups of copies of data obtained from a primary source still able to supply the data in question invalidates all of the research findings presented here at Skeptical Science?

    Can you demonstrate how the loss of copies of a a few years' temperature data invalidates the work of thousands of persons working in a plethora of fields pursuing numerous lines of inquiry? No, obviously you can't. You make a ridiculous charge, harmful to your own credibility.

    Take a few moments to read what others write here, rejectionists and skeptics included. Get calibrated, please.
  16. It's particularly silly to complain about "loss of data from UEA" since there are now a whole bunch of replications of the same results using 100% publicly available data from GHCN.

    If you don't like the UEA temperature reconstruction, use the one from GISS or NCDC or any of the various open-source efforts that people have developed in the past few months. They all show the same thing.

    Link 1
    Link 2
  17. nice to see what the supporters have been saying confirmed, but many will say the judgment was rigged.



    Inquiry backs scientists in global warming row
  18. Good to hear that the second enquiry into CRU has (generally) backed them.
    I know the so-called skeptics will be shouting 'whitewash' again, but they must be ever-so desperate now for something to come out of the final enquiry - not that anything will, of course, but surely the more intelligent of them will be questioning some of their scepticism ? That is, will they be true sceptics or so-called skeptics ?
  19. Here's a link to the report from that second inquiry: the Oxburgh Report.
  20. Obviously the whole point of the hacking was to look for dirt to publish. I'd love to know how many other people got hacked with nothing published, because there was no dirt to find.

    I know the answer might be "none", but equally, it could be hundreds.
  21. Here’s a link to the final and most comprehensive inquiry: the Muir Russell report.
  22. There have been five major investigations by experts into the climategate frenzy, and none of them found any evidence whatsoever of fraud, or misconduct. Yet the conservative media is still cherishes the nonscandal as if it is the latest news. I find this amusing and laughable.
    Why won't the conservative media stop? Its so irratating seeing this worn out climategate tantrum persisting.
    Does anyone have any explanations for this?
    Response: That's six investigations, actually:
    1. February 2010. the Pennsylvania State University released an Inquiry Report that investigated any 'Climategate' emails involving Dr Michael Mann, a Professor of Penn State's Department of Meteorology. They found that "there exists no credible evidence that Dr. Mann had or has ever engaged in, or participated in, directly or indirectly, any actions with an intent to suppress or to falsify data". On "Mike's Nature trick", they concluded "The so-called “trick”1 was nothing more than a statistical method used to bring two or more different kinds of data sets together in a legitimate fashion by a technique that has been reviewed by a broad array of peers in the field."
    2. March 2010. UK government's House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published a report finding that the criticisms of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) were misplaced and that CRU’s "Professor Jones’s actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community".
    3. April 2010. University of East Anglia set up an international Scientific Assessment Panel, in consultation with the Royal Society and chaired by Professor Ron Oxburgh. The Report of the International Panel assessed the integrity of the research published by the CRU and found "no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit".
    4. June 2010. Pennsylvania State University published their Final Investigation Report, determining "there is no substance to the allegation against Dr. Michael E. Mann".
    5. July 2010. University of East Anglia published the Independent Climate Change Email Review report. They examined the emails to assess whether manipulation or suppression of data occurred and concluded that "The scientists’ rigor and honesty are not in doubt".
    6. September 2010. UK Government responded to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report, chaired by Sir Muir Russell. On the issue of releasing data, they found "In the instance of the CRU, the scientists were not legally allowed to give out the data". On the issue of attempting to corrupt the peer-review process, they found "The evidence that we have seen does not suggest that Professor Jones was trying to subvert the peer review process. Academics should not be criticised for making informal comments on academic papers".
  23. Re: Karamanski (22)

    It is a time-honored feature of American politics to repeat a lie so often that it becomes the truth. A feature we now see adopted by the MSM (controlled by their corporate masters).

    The X-Files featured this prominently back in the '90's with their running theme of plausible deniability.

    Oh, crap. Mod beat me with a much more literal response. Oh, well.

    The Yooper
  24. Since the rebuttal for climategate addresses the cynicism of the skeptics towards climate science another good rebuttal should debunk the argument "climate scientists exaggerate to get more funding". I know this defies the comments policy, but I see this argument everywhere in skeptic blogs and conservative op-eds. I would really like to see this argument get shot down. Do you think a rebuttal for this argument would be a good idea for Skeptical Science?
  25. Karamanski, well there are many articles addressing whether scientists have exaggerated or not (e.g. 'Is the IPCC alarmist?')... so the issue has been covered from that side; predictions of impacts were lower than what has actually been observed, ergo the predictions were not exaggerated.

    I'm guessing you may mean to go at it from the other direction, how money is allocated... but that is a much trickier thing to pin down given thousands of in and out fluxes of research cash around the world.

    A third approach would be reviewing the results of research by scientists not in the climate field. If climate scientists were exaggerating AGW's impact on Arctic sea ice then biologists would find that seals and bears are not facing adverse impacts, oceanographers would find that the Arctic ocean was not acidifying, botanists would not find plants growing further North of their previous ranges, et cetera. Yet all these other scientific fields are finding results which support what the climate scientists are saying. Ergo, the 'skeptic' argument really becomes a claim that nearly all members of multiple branches of science all over the world are engaged in a vast conspiracy to exaggerate AGW. Which most people are rational enough to see for the complete lunacy it is.
  26. Karamanski #24

    The argument that climate scientists exagerrate the role of climate change to get more research dollars has never made any sense to me whatsoever. If you want money for research, you don't go around saying that the problem is essentially solved. You argue that there is an interesting/important problem that needs solving (e.g. cancer).

    Think about this analogy...my car has been acting funny so I go to a car mechanic. He explains that he knows what's wrong with my car, in fact he's been predicting for years that something will happen because of how I drive it. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the tools to fix it. He then asks me to bring the car back next week so he can diagnose it again, without fixing it. Am I going to give him the money to do so? Not if I'm sensible.

    The irony is that only a "skeptic" (of the current climate sort) would make the mistake of doing so. (And maybe that's why they find the argument so compelling!). After talking to some crazy uncle (who has a grudge against the car mechanic) he goes back to the mechanic thinking he may be wrong, and pays him again to diagnose the car using more elaborate machinery. He then gets angry when he gets the same answer yet again. Repeat a thousand times...

    Now the focus on climate science has improved modeling capacity dramatically and resulted in work on a lot of processes that weren't that well understood, and that is a good thing. We would have benefitted from a better understanding of climate even in the absence of AGW. Climate relates to human health, economics, agriculture, infrastructure planning... you name it. We know it changes for a range of reasons so understanding that is important. So even if there has been an increase in funding for climate science resulting from the doubt about AGW, it has large societal benefits in the long run.

    Other branches of earth and environmental science (including mine) are doing a lot of work trying to suss out the less obvious implications of climate change, so you could argue that those areas could profit from an argument for AGW. But those areas are not funded via the same channels as climate scientists that argue for AGW(at least in the US), a point which climate skeptics seem to miss entirely in their case for a self-interested rational for supoprting AGW.

    Also I can tell you from bitter experience that those areas have been been rather flat funded over the last decade, so what has really happened is a shifting of priorities forced by the shadow of an impending disaster, not an increase in funding. It's a shift that many are not happy about, but it is unavoidable. As I tell my students, we now talk a lot about climate change in our core courses simply because it will be the main thing they will be asked to address as professionals in the future. That's not a strategy, it's just a reality.
  27. NOAA PR, Feb 24, 2011:

    Inspector General’s Review of Stolen Emails Confirms No Evidence of Wrong-Doing by NOAA Climate Scientists

    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2011/20110224_climate.html

    Partial excerpt:
    At the request of U.S. Sen. Inhofe, the Department of Commerce Inspector General conducted an independent review of the emails stolen in November 2009 from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, and found no evidence of impropriety or reason to doubt NOAA’s handling of its climate data. The Inspector General was asked to look into how NOAA reacted to the leak and to determine if there was evidence of improper manipulation of data, failure to adhere to appropriate peer review procedures, or failure to comply with Information Quality Act and Freedom of Information Act guidelines.

    “We welcome the Inspector General’s report, which is the latest independent analysis to clear climate scientists of allegations of mishandling of climate information,” said Mary Glackin, NOAA’s deputy under secretary for operations. “None of the investigations have found any evidence to question the ethics of our scientists or raise doubts about NOAA’s understanding of climate change science.”

    The Inspector General’s report states specifically:

    “We found no evidence in the CRU emails that NOAA inappropriately manipulated data comprising the [Global Historical Climatology Network – monthly] GHCN-M dataset.” (Page 11)

    “We found no evidence in the CRU emails to suggest that NOAA failed to adhere to its peer review procedures prior to its dissemination of information.” (Page 11)

    “We found no evidence in the CRU emails to suggest that NOAA violated its obligations under the IQA.” (Page 12)

    “We found no evidence in the CRU emails to suggest that NOAA violated its obligations under the Shelby Amendment.” (Page 16)

    PR truncated here - read the rest here: http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2011/20110224_climate.html

    No backlinks to this page exist yet as of this post.
  28. Re: A Pennsylvania State U. Board clearing Michael Mann of wrongdoing:

    In other news, A review board of Exxon stockholders and tanker captains has cleared Exxon Valdez captain Joseph Hazelwood of any wrongdoing, adding "environmental damage was minimal, and birds and fish in the region can just "get over" any ill effects and the oil may actually help them fly and swim faster".

    Facetious, well sure. What else when I'm reading these kind of arguments for a rebuttal?

    "Professor Jones’s actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community".


    And told I'm supposed to just forget about it, instead of ask why we aren't looking at the conduct of more of these people?

    You're asking everyone in an industrialized nation to feel horrible about getting in a car and going to work and earning a living. Whole segments of our economies are based on such things, people are going bankrupt and putting their babies to sleep at night with empty tummies. If these people have misled anyone it should not be swept under the rug.
    Response:

    [DB] If you are implying something untoward, I would remind you of the Comments Policy here at SkS.

    Please note that posting comments here at SkS is a privilege, not a right.  This privilege can be rescinded if the posting individual treats adherence to the Comments Policy as optional, rather than the mandatory condition of participating in this online forum.

    Please take the time to review the policy and ensure future comments are in full compliance with it.  Thanks for your understanding and compliance in this matter.

  29. batvette @28, the initial review at Penn State was conducted by the Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School; Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Research, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, and Director of the Office for Research Protections, Research Integrity Officer. In other words, it was an inquiry by Michael Mann's boss, his bosses boss, and the chief ethical officer of the university. Now, unless you are suggesting the unusual idea that a persons boss should never have a role in disciplinary actions with regard to their employees, there could hardly have been more suitable people to make such an inquiry. However, as you are not only suggesting that they are unsuitable, but implying that they are involved in a cover up, perhaps you can present your evidence for what would be professional misconduct on their behalf.

    You will further notice that on the one matter on which the initial panel made no firm decision, they appointed a five person panel, all of whom where professors and/or heads of departments, and none of whom came from Michael Mann's own department. In other words, they were people who had the necessary knowledge and experience to judge the case but who were by any reasonable standard, independent. Again, your suggestion of a cover up implies professional misconduct by this panel. Do you have any evidence to suggest that professional misconduct - or do you think slanderous allegations require no evidence any time a panel disagrees with you?

    Finally, you make allegations about the harm being caused by the so far minimal and ineffective action being taken against global warming in Western nations. Babies, apparently, are going hungry because of anti-global warming policies. Frankly, I think that factoid was simply made up. But I'm open to persuasion, show me the evidence of babies being left hungry, indeed starving ("empty bellies") because of anti-AGW policies.

    In the absence of such evidence (on all three counts), two things will be obvious:

    1) Your demand for open access to relevant information is for you a purely tactical demand which you have no wish to comply with yourself; and

    2) You think the way to debate is to simply make up "facts" that suite your case.
  30. Tom is there any particular reason you chose to include those last two untasteful comments which were clearly directed at my person, which even preempt any opportunity to offer such evidence?

    I'm not even sure I want to engage someone who seems to be here not to discuss the principals of this issue but seems so willing to pounce on someone criticizing them.

    However back to the matter of Michael Mann and the Penn State review board, I don't know either way about Mann's actions, but it jumps out at me that the University itself would have the integrity of its science dept under fire for for allowing Mann to be inbvolved with any impropriety like this and would have every reason to try and protect their own- for this reason an "independent review" is almost always called for, not an "internal review" which is what seems to have been what went down here.

    I don't think I need to produce evidence to prove common sense now, do I? Neither on that or the economic hardships that have been and will continue as a result of sacrifices made by people in the name of conservation. In case you hadn't noticed, the US handily transformed its economy into a service and consumption based economic model by the turn of the millenium, and we have indeed been questioning every bit of our lifestyles and being told that any unnecessary energy use is going to cause irreperable harm and be a burden upon our children. People aren't going to the movies, they rethink that trip on summer vacation.
    Are you going to argue this is not one of if not the primary factors why our economy is in such trouble?
    Are we shocked we were selling a message and people actually may have been listening?
  31. bv "...we have indeed been questioning every bit of our lifestyles..."

    So how do Europeans manage the same standard of living, including holidays, but produce only half the CO2 emissions of US citizens?
  32. I don't believe the discussion is about comparison of lifestyles between citizens of different regions of the world, though any competant sociologist, geographer, or citizen who can analyze a map, can tell you that the United States and Europe have completely different topographies and urban/suburban living arrangements. Much of which should be evident with the single term "Interstate Highway System" which began originally as the Pershing map in 1921, but was officially implemented as policy by Eisenhauer in the 1950's. (ironically it was his experience with the Autobahn System in Germany in WW2 that caused him to see the benefit of such a system in the US for national defense).
    As someone who rides a bicycle many more miles a year than I drive a car, I do lament the unfriendly nature of our car culture toward more green transportation. I am realistic enough to understand why it is however.

    I doubt that we are alone in seeing a culture of conservation replacing a culture of consumption eventually causing economic hardship- surely Europe will see it as well, though it will be less of a shock than it is here.

    Most humans make their livelyhood engaged in one form of human industrial activity or another. Telling people they have to stop living, and it really is that brutally simple, to save the earth... how do you think they'll take that?

    To be transparant I am not a contrarian or denier but I'm not 100% sold on the consensus either. Many of us "fencers" speak in percentages, I'm 80/20 that it is warming, 50/50 that it's human caused/could we arrest it with current sociology trends such as the industrialization of India and China.

    In that respect I think we've already passed that point of no return long ago:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/06/09/annual_bp_energy_survey/

    I would ask why there is not an uproar that it appears the Kyoto protocol was not only ineffective but probably has facilitated this global GGE increase?

    Something to do with that talk about "climate justice" or "carbon equity"?
  33. I've responded to this comment over at "too hard".
  34. 30 - batvett

    "I don't think I need to produce evidence to prove common sense now, do I?"

    It makes me want to quote Rene Descartes
    Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have.

    And the point out that, stating something is "common sense" doesn't make it true. You have to show show much hardship is "in the name of conservation" as opposed to policy on home ownership, deregulation etc. contributing to the financial turn-down. How about other factors like demand on oil from China, instability in Arabia and north Africa leading to higher oil prices and therefor higher production cots etc.?
    You have to show how many people are not going to the movies due to "the environment" as opposed to the explosion in home entertainment (download/postal delivery movies, gaming etc.)

    In fact you have to argue how climate contributes, in what proportion, to the current state of the economy; and "well, it's common sense" doesn't cut it.
  35. batvette @30 there are three very good reasons for my including those last two comments:

    1) I am used to deniers claiming falsehoods as facts when the falsehood can be shown to be such with the most trivial fact checking. In other words, many deniers simply make things up because it will be convenient to there argument;

    2) You where making particular claims which I know to be highly improbable and for which it is very dubious that you have evidence. In particular you made the highly emotion laden claim that people where "...putting their babies to sleep at night with empty tummies" because of anti-AGW policies.; and

    3) It is standard practise for deniers to apply standards to climate scientists that they neither accept for themselves, nor demand of their fellow travellers.

    Based on that experience, I neither expected you to comply with the standard you demand of climate scientist, and indeed you have not. And nor did I expect you to back your claims, and again you have not.

    In one point you claim that:

    "... it jumps out at me that the University itself would have the integrity of its science dept under fire for for allowing Mann to be inbvolved with any impropriety like this and would have every reason to try and protect their own- for this reason an "independent review" is almost always called for, not an "internal review" which is what seems to have been what went down here."


    What jumps out at me about this statement is that it shows absolutely no knowledge of typical disciplinary procedures at universities.

    For example, at the University of Queensland if the matter is disputed, allegations of misconduct are heard by a committee whose composition is determined as follows:

    "3.2.11 A Committee of Review will consist of a Chairperson, a nominee of the staff representatives of the ASCC and a nominee of the Relevant Senior Executive. The Chair will be chosen by the Relevant Senior Executive from a list of suitable persons agreed between the Relevant Senior Executive and the staff representatives of the ASCC at the commencement of the Agreement. Additional persons may only be added to this list by further agreement."


    In practise all three committee members will be university staff, or in some other way closely associated with the University. For non-academic staff, that the committee members be staff of the university is an explicit requirement.

    At George Mason University a similar procedure is followed. One difference is that it is an explicit part of the policy that:

    "Only university employees may serve on an inquiry or investigative committee in a research misconduct proceeding. However, the university
    may obtain the advice of non-employees with relevant expertise at any stage of the proceeding, including the preliminary assessment of the allegation. Except in extraordinary circumstances, the majority of a
    committee‟s members are tenured faculty"

    (Quoted in Appendix A)

    And at Penn State:
    "When an investigation is warranted, the Vice President for Research, in consultation with the appropriate budget executive and budget administrator, will appoint an ad hoc investigatory committee. The committee membership will include at least five tenured University faculty."


    So what you consider highly suspicious and reason to suspect a cover up was in fact simply following the stipulated procedures for investigating alleged academic misconduct at Penn State. That the university did exactly what its by-laws required of it in the circumstances, you and hundreds of denier blogs have interpreted as a cover up.

    In the meantime, the genuine cover up, the fact that George Mason University has ignored its stipulated policies for investigating misconduct when it comes to the plagiarism by Wegman and Said is simply ignored by the deniers and you.

    Plainly there is a double standard here, for it is not the probity of the Penn State inquiry into Mann that agitates the deniers. If it were, they would be more agitated and more vocal about the lack of inquiry at George Mason University.

    Turning now to that poor starving fictional baby, it is very plain that you do not know of a single such case. Had you known of it, you would not have appealed to "common sense" as evidence for it. "Common sense" in such discussions is always just a persons prejudices fed back to them and given a false stamp of authority by being labelled "common sense". But what common sense is never, and never can be is proof of particular incidents.

    If you step outside of the echo chamber you call "common sense" and into the world of genuine data, you would know that implementation of anti-AGW policies have not resulted in an economic downturn in any country or any region in the world. You would also know that postulated anti-AGW policies are shown by economic analysis to be compatible with continued per capita economic growth. Therefore there is not basis for you claim in fact, and we are left with the simple fact- you made the claim up yourself, and did so based on no evidence stronger than your own prejudice.

    So that is a fourth reason for the two comments you find so offensive:

    They where true!
  36. Les I'm not denying that many factors contribute to our bad economy.
    However this economy is highly dependent on consumption and the mantra of climate change is that we've got to stop consuming or we're committing a horrible sin.
    If anyone wishes to argue this doesn't affect the economy they can go right ahead, in my opinion this is highly disingenuous.
    I would assume I am allowed an opinion.
  37. batvette @36,

    1) I note that you now call your very inflammatory comment that:

    "... people are going bankrupt and putting their babies to sleep at night with empty tummies"


    was simply a "rhetorical claim". As is plain on reading that "rhetorical claim", it is presented in the present tense as something that was actually, currently happening. There where no markers in the comment that it was intended as rhetorical. Your new claim that the comment was "rhetorical" and that therefore it can require no justification completely vindicates my suspicion that "You think the way to debate is to simply make up 'facts' that suite your case."

    Indeed, it now turns out that your finding that suspicion offensive was itself rhetorical in that you were merely being suspected of doing what you in fact did do.

    2) I further note that you have nothing to add in defence of your criticism of the Penn State inquiry into Michael Mann. You now know that Penn State did exactly what their regulations required them to do, and that it is standard practise in Universities, at least in Australia and the United States. You further know that the critical stage of the inquiry was conducted by five senior academics with no faculty ties to Michael Mann, and who therefore would not have has their faculties reputation damaged by an adverse finding against Michael Mann. This knowledge has not changed your position in the slightest.

    It should also be noted that you have not raised one iota of evidence to suggest Mann should not have been exonerated.

    So, in the end, your opinion that there is a reasonable perception of a cover-up is based solely on your opinion that there is a reasonable perception of a cover up, an opinion which does not adjust in the light of new evidence.

    Given points (1) and (2), let me assure you it is not just with me that you have no credibility.

    However, there is still your little scare campaign against letting people know the truth about global warming. Apparently, according to you, it is unacceptable to tell people about the truth of global warming because "...scaring people and making them feel guilt that every bit of fossil fuel they consume imperils the planet."

    Well, first let me say, If we do nothing about global warming, they should be scared, and they should be guilty. The risks of inaction regarding global warming run from massive economic losses and the deaths of hundreds of thousands at the low end of the scale to the deaths of billions at the high end. (I do not include the physically possible, but equally and very low probability scenarios of little net harm and the extinction of all life on Earth.)

    But the proponents of informed debate on global warming do not advocate doing nothing. They advocate taking concrete action on global warming which will reduce the harm to minimal levels. What is more, with few exceptions they advocate doing so in ways that will not wind back consumerism one iota. Green Peace may be running an anti-consumerist scare campaign based on global warming, but nobody on this forum is to my knowledge (although some would see winding back consumerism as beneficial).

    Personally, I am on record as objecting to methods of combating global warming that do wind back consumerism, because they will not work. Not only will they not work, but they will delay the taking of effective action, and the longer that is delayed, the more costly it will be.

    So it turns out that all that remains of your position if we remove the rhetorical factoids, and dogmatic opinion is simply a straw man, and an inflammatory straw man at that.
  38. Well said Tom. Batvette, you've managed without evidence to continue unfounded accusations agains Mann and Penn State, and imply some kind of global conspiracy. Apart from the multiple independent inquiries that exonerated the science of all involved, many of which were not internal, nobody has quite explained how the global conspiracy would work, given the tens of thousands of researchers in a multitude of field who have findings perfectly consistent with, and in many cases distinctly driven by, the increase in GHGs.

    The economic argument is ridiculous though, and I'm sure you know it. When the motor car was invented around the turn of the 20th Century, eventually putting a vast number of horse stables, farriers, saddle manufacturers etc out of business, did the economy go into meltdown? No, it moved onto the new technology with vast numbers of new jobs in car manufacture, maintenance, road building, infrastructure etc. Why do you think that a transition to a low-carbon economy is a bad idea, with a high proportion of renewable energy on the grid, and the development and production of many new technologies and products, and all the supply chain infrastructure that goes with the development? The old industries may die (or at least eventually become greatly reduced in their influence, like horses today), but the new industries will provide just as much opportunity for employment in R&D, manufacturing and maintenance as their predecessors.

    The only people who would think otherwise might be the employees and acolytes of the old industries that are under threat from the new.
  39. 37 - batvette
    1/ No one said you weren't allowed your opinion. In saying that you are playing the Martyr; just as cheap a trick as saying "it's common sense" when it isn't.

    2/ I see you have not provided evidence to backed up your assertions that "People aren't going to the movies, they rethink that trip on summer vacation." due to climate change. nor that AGW is "one of if not the primary factors why our economy is in such trouble?"

    3/ IMHO (note, it is my opinion, not "common sense") not all environmental management policies require making consumption a "sin" (another cheap trick, using the word "sin"). Smart consumption, low/zero carbon technologies, recycling etc. all provide environments for new industries, innovation, services etc. As such it's completely in scope for AGW amelioration to provide a huge economics boost... indeed this is how many industries are treating it.

    There are lots of economics and social factors... non of which are "common sense"!
  40. batvette wrote : "I stand by my points, however, which are:

    Michael Mann's sole review was an internal one by the entity who he is a part of and represents, who have every reason to not allow any possible misconduct taint their reputation, and...

    If any malfeasance or impropriety has happened and it is systemic and not isolated, this is a serious matter as the livelyhoods of many millions of people are adversely affected by even voluntary conservation of various resources."



    How can you stand by points which have no validity or basis in fact or reality ?
    In fact, you should withdraw those accusations or you will show yourself as someone who would rather ignore the evidence (as has already been pointed out to you admirably by many others here), in order to purvey disinformation.
    Which is it to be ?
  41. batvette, what Tom said. Further, just as there are different modes of production, there are different modes of consumption. The current mode in the US and other "developed" nations is consumption-as-an-economic-driver. In other words, increasing consumption is understood by economic managers (under the current mode) to be vital to the mode: consumption drives production, and production drives the generation of capital, and the generation of capital is, in this mode, synonymous with required "economic growth." Products need to be consumed or destroyed at an increasing rate, and so consumption and destruction are encouraged . . . strongly.

    The economy is no longer based on organic, unmanaged demand. Demand is now managed through a culture of consumption. Waste has not been a factor in the management of demand until recently. For 150 years, consumption-without-consequence has been central to the culture. Your response, "However this economy is highly dependent on consumption and the mantra of climate change is that we've got to stop consuming or we're committing a horrible sin," is an understandable expression of that culture.

    Has this economic mode and its culture been beneficial? Absolutely. Has it also been destructive? Absolutely. Is it in the immediate interests of those who are privileged by the mode to downplay the destruction and hype the benefit? Absolutely. I argue that smart people, even if they are privileged by the current mode, are able to shrug off the influence of the current mode and understand that other modes may be more personally and socially responsible in the long run and within the context of history. Someone once said that the current mode will allow us to fully develop the means of production, but the next mode will allow us to use those means responsibly.

    It's not that consumption needs to end. It's that the current mode of consumption that needs to end. It's happened before--just 300 years ago, roughly.

    I also find it interesting that you say "Most humans make their livelyhood engaged in one form of human industrial activity or another. Telling people they have to stop living, and it really is that brutally simple, to save the earth... how do you think they'll take that." Capitalists have been replacing people with machines for two hundred years--a kind of externalization (humanity as pollution). This replacement is a consequence of the same economic mode you seem to defend, done for the sake of more efficient production of capital. If people lose their livelihoods because we are transitioning to a more sustainable mode, should we not blame ourselves for allowing the unsustainable mode to support the growth of a long-term unsupportable population?
  42. "If people lose their livelihoods because we are transitioning to a more sustainable mode, should we not blame ourselves for allowing the unsustainable mode to support the growth of a long-term unsupportable population?"

    Thank you for (unintentionally) supporting my position and providing the only rebuttal necessary.

    I believe the words of one Maurice Strong convey the sentiments of those who would obviously never publicly admit them:

    "If we don't change, our species will not survive...
    ...frankly, we may get to the point where the only way of saving the world will be for industrial civilization to collapse."
  43. JMurphy, is this statement disinformation or false?

    "Michael Mann's conduct was examined by an internal, not independent, review board of the entity which employed him and stood to lose credibility if it were revealed he acted improperly."

    This is what I've been saying, it's all that I'm saying, (on that matter) and if you are going to accuse me of "purveying disinformation" please specify what about it is.
  44. 43 - how about this statement:

    "Michael Mann's conduct was examined by an internal, review board of the entity which employed him and is seen to be completely credible in the absences of evidence to the contrary."
  45. Les:

    "Smart consumption"

    I guess that's what you would call a "cheap trick" way of saying people are staying home watching TV instead of driving to movie theatres?

    Thanks for making my "common sense" argument for me.
  46. Les... @45:

    He accused me of purveying disinformation. I'd like to see his reply.
  47. 46/47
    My observation is that you use framing and nit facts to make and bias your arguments. It's transparent. That's what I mean by "cheap tricks" and what skywatcher means by "no evidence".
  48. batvette @43, that statement is false.

    It is correct to say that:

    "Michael Mann's conduct was reviewed by an independent review board established by his employer, and entity whose reputation would not have been damaged by finding him guilty of impropriety, but whose reputation would be severely damaged by finding him not guilty when he was in fact guilty."

    I am aware that deniers will not accept any panel reviewing Mann's actions as being properly constituted unless it is chaired by McIntyre and recruited from the regulars a WUWT. I know also that if such a panel were to find Mann innocent, it would be promptly repudiated. That deniers have earned that reputation should be very concerning to you.
  49. @48 How was this review board "independent"?

    There are other flawss in that reply, but I'd love to see how you can explain how they were independent from the institution.

    Also please review the comments guidelines regarding use of the term "deniers".
  50. Les, now you've lost me. Is what I'm doing transparant or am I employing cheap tricks? Seems to me it's one or the other, not both at the same time.
    But WTH, I'm not the topic here, at least I hope not.
    So I'm curious, can you define "smart consumption" for me? While we would all believe this means stopping for groceries on the way home from work, not going home and the light bulb turns on and think "oh yeah I think I need groceries" and making a seperate trip, fact is high gas prices already drive this and the rest of us aren't as dumb as you'd like to think. It's not as simple as "let's cut out all that needless, wasteful energy use that we can easily eliminate by just being smart, because leaving that porch light on all night didn't employ anyone!"
    It comes down to people don't drive their kids to Disneyland. They stay home and watch a Disney movie on pay per view. People don't drive to the beach. They watch Baywatch on pay per view. (okay I ran out of analogies here)
    There really is no denying here that the overall message is "we need to consume less because it's been harming the planet" and there is truth to that but why would anyone enter a discussion on it by denying if people listened to that it would harm a consumer based economy?

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