November 28th, 2009

By Brianna Aubin

Last weekend, an anonymous hacker (or possibly whistle-blower) released nearly 160 MB of emails exchanged between some of the most prominent US and European scientists in the climate change debate.  The results aren’t getting quite the degree of media attention they deserve, especially in light of the upcoming Copenhagen meeting, but after some hours of selective trawling through the database I wanted to share what I felt were some of the more outrageous gems that I found.

For example, here is an excerpt sent from scientist Michael Mann at the University of Virginia to New York Times environmentalist reporter Andrew Revkin on the subject of a published skeptic paper; Mr. Revkin wanted to know if there was anything about the paper that warranted a response.  What was Mann’s answer?

The McIntyre and McKitrickpaper is pure scientific fraud. I think you’ll find this reinforced by just about any legitimate scientist in our field you discuss this with. Please see the RealClimate response…  The Moberg et al paper is at least real science. But there are some real problems with it (you’ll want to followup w/ people like Phil Jones for a 2nd opinion).

Wait.  Please see the RealClimate response?  You mean the RealClimate site about which Prof. Mann later wrote his fellow scientists Tim Osborn and Keith Briffa to reassure them that they could:

think of RC as a resource that is at your disposal to combat any disinformation put forward by the McIntyres of the world. Just let us know. We’ll use our best discretion to make sure the skeptics don’t get to use the RC comments as a megaphone

Incidentally, Andrew Revkin was the reporter who broke this email story for the New York Times.  His piece can be read here.

Now if you go back to that first excerpt, you’ll see that Prof. Mann also urges Mr. Revkin to contact scientist Phil Jones for a good second opinion.  You mean, the Prof. Jones who wrote this?

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 from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.

The trick refers to two sets of data, one derived from tree rings and the other from temperature measurements.  Apparently, they were giving different results, some of which were found inconvenient.  Now if I had two different data sets that were giving me different results, my first reaction would be to ask myself which one was wrong and why.  But apparently that’s something only us old-fashioned, ethical scientists and engineers do.  Prof. Jones claims that this was only an unfortunate word choice and that he really doesn’t recall the details (his defense can be read in the Revkin article referenced earlier).  Sure.  And my friend’s gravitational assist trajectory solver was coming up with some amazing trajectories when it was accidentally combining the position of Mars with the mass of Venus.  Too bad it wasn’t true in real life. (Side note: he discovered the bug and fixed it.)

But really, we need to give Prof. Jones the benefit of the doubt.  After all, in the words of scientist Ben Santer:

The sad thing here is that Phil Jones is one of the true gentlemen of our field. I have known Phil for most of my scientific career. He is the antithesis of the secretive, “data destroying” character the CEI and Michaels are trying to portray to the outside world….  The bottom line, Rick, is that I am incensed at the “data destruction” allegations that are being unfairly and incorrectly leveled against Phil and Tom by the CEI and Pat Michaels.

No, whatever Prof. Jones’s blind spots, he would never deliberately destroy research data just to keep it from getting into the hands of people he disagreed with.  Right?

Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4?  Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis.  Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address.  We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.


You can delete this attachment if you want. Keep this quiet also, but this is the person who is putting in FOI requests for all emails Keith and Tim have written and received re Ch 6 of AR4. We think we’ve found a way around this.


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 all about. Once they became aware of the types of people we were dealing with, everyone at UEA (in the registry and in the Environmental Sciences school – the head of school and a few others) became very supportive.

So… okay, maybe not.

But wait; these individual scientists may be doing things that are unethical, but it’s still true that there isn’t much skeptic literature in any peer-reviewed journals, right?  See:

So more likely he won’t submit for peer-reviewed scrutiny, or if it does get his criticism “published” it will be in the discredited contrarian home journal “Energy and Environment”. I’m sure you are aware that McIntyre and his ilk realize they no longer need to get their crap published in legitimate journals. All they have to do is put it up on their blog, and the contrarian noise machine kicks into gear, pretty soon Druge, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and their ilk (in this case, The Telegraph were already on it this morning) are parroting the claims. And based on what? some guy w/ no credentials, dubious connections with the energy industry, and who hasn’t submitted his claims to the scrutiny of peer review.

Well, let’s just say you’d be surprised.  Just look at this:

I know editors have difficulty finding reviewers, but letting this one pass is awful – and IJC [the International Journal of Climatology] was improving.

Or this:

Just for interest! Keep quiet about both issues. In touch with Wei-ChyungWang. Just agreed with him that I will send a brief response to Peiser. The allegation by Keenan  gone to SUNY. Keenan’s about to be told by SUNY that submitting this has violated a confidentiality agreement he entered into with SUNY when he sent the complaint. WCW has nothing to worry about, but it still  unsettling! All related to a paper in Nature from 1990! Keenan ought to look at the temperature data (which he has) rather than going on and on about  site moves. See the end of this email and the response about E&E and the 3 reviewers.  Amazing! We all knew the journal was awful.

Or this:

Let me fill you in a bit (confidentially). You probably know the panel members. We were concerned that the chair would be a strong person. It is Jerry Mahlman — about the best possible choice. Richard Smith is the statistician — also excellent. Dave Randall, too — very good. As token skeptic there is Dick Lindzen — but at least he is a smart guy and he does listen.

Or this:

One approach is to go direct to the publishers and point out the fact that their journal is perceived as being a medium for disseminating misinformation under the guise of refereed work. I use the word ‘perceived’ here, since whether it is true or not is not what the publishers care about — it is how the journal is seen by the community that counts….  Mike’s idea to get editorial board members to resign will probably not work — must get rid of von Storch too, otherwise holes will eventually fill up.

Or these:

I went to JGR site to look for index codes, and I see that the offending article has been downloaded 128 times in past week (second). All the more reason to get on with it [publishing the rebutting article]….

To get a spread, I’d go with 3 US [reviewers], One Australian and one in Europe. So Neville Nicholls and David Parker. All of them know the sorts of things to say – about our comment and the awful original, without any prompting.

Or these:

This is truly awful. GRL has gone downhill rapidly in recent years.

It’s one thing to lose “Climate Research”. We can’t afford to lose GRL.

I’m not sure that GRL can be seen as an honest broker in these debates anymore, and it is probably best to do an end run around GRL now where possible.

Or this:

If you think that Saiers is in the greenhouse skeptics camp, then, if we can find documentary evidence of this, we could go through official AGU channels to get him ousted. (note: Saiers was eventually ousted)

Or this:

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…

Or this:

I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!

And obviously the anthropogenic advocates found a solution to the skeptics ability to get published in peer-reviewed journals too: disparage the journals and redefine the process of peer-review.  The Journal of Geophysical Research, Environment and Energy, Climate Research, and Geophysical Research Letters — all of them “corrupted” by skeptics… and all of them immediately denounced as rubbish thereafter.  Of course, there will be those who will say that perhaps all of these journals really were going downhill.  However, considering that four separate journals were referenced in the emails (and perhaps more that I didn’t see), I find this defense hard to believe.

So just from this (never mind the material that I didn’t include), we can see that there is a pattern of fiddling with the data, deleting information, maligning opponents, stacking the media deck, and blacklisting journals on the part of the anthropogenic climate change advocates.  Does this mean that the idea of anthropogenic change is out altogether?  No.  But I do think it’s safe to say now that many of the most prominent anthropogenic advocates in the debate are no longer trustworthy and neither is their data.  So how about we put a hold on the international agreements and costly emissions proposals until we’ve gotten the whole fiasco straightened out.

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10 Responses to “ClimateGate”

  1. Tom |

    Excellent article, Brianna, and a heroic research effort! I’ve read a few reports in the media (mostly UK media) and seen a few quotes of the emails, but nothing like the detail you’ve provided here.

    This is a prime example of what happens when scientists become “true believers” and are corrupted by political correctness. I agree completely with your conclusions — this doesn’t mean that there is no AGW, but it does mean that we need to be very skeptical of the data and conclusions drawn from them, and we need to re-think hugely expensive and life-altering measures like cap-and-trade. We also need to be very cautious about our involvement with the international community on climate and environmental issues because some folks (most notably the Europeans) are fully invested in the most extreme fears of global warming.

  2. larry |

    Great article.
    The mixture of science and politic is scary.
    The scientist is looking for recognition and fame.
    The politician wants total countrol.
    Sadly one hand washes the other.

  3. Brianna |

    I didn’t get it out as quickly as I wanted because it took a while to get the full context of the data and bludgeon it into order. Rest assured that there are even more gems like this than I have shown; I only included here the most damning ones and the ones that flowed best in the article.

  4. Brianna |

    Here is the best single list of tips that I found regarding the East Anglia emails. In order to check them out, just click on any of the links above to take you to the email website, then start typing the numbers at the end of each tip into the search bar. A lot of them are already included in the article of course, but like I said, space was limited and I was trying to make things flow, so… have fun.

    * Phil Jones writes to University of Hull to try to stop sceptic Sonia Boehmer Christiansen using her Hull affiliation. Graham F Haughton of Hull University says its easier to push greenery there now SB-C has retired.(1256765544)
    * Michael Mann discusses how to destroy a journal that has published sceptic papers.(1047388489)
    * Tim Osborn discusses how data are truncated to stop an apparent cooling trend showing up in the results (0939154709). Analysis of impact here. Wow!
    * Phil Jones describes the death of sceptic, John Daly, as “cheering news”.(1075403821)
    * Phil Jones encourages colleagues to delete information subject to FoI request.(1212063122)
    * Phil Jones says he has use Mann’s “Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series”…to hide the decline”. Real Climate says “hiding” was an unfortunate turn of phrase.(0942777075)
    * Letter to The Times from climate scientists was drafted with the help of Greenpeace.(0872202064)
    * Mann thinks he will contact BBC’s Richard Black to find out why another BBC journalist was allowed to publish a vaguely sceptical article.(1255352257)
    * Kevin Trenberth says they can’t account for the lack of recent warming and that it is a travesty that they can’t.(1255352257)
    * Tom Wigley says that Lindzen and Choi’s paper is crap.(1257532857)
    * Tom Wigley says that von Storch is partly to blame for sceptic papers getting published at Climate Research. Says he encourages the publication of crap science. Says they should tell publisher that the journal is being used for misinformation. Says that whether this is true or not doesn’t matter. Says they need to get editorial board to resign. Says they need to get rid of von Storch too. (1051190249)
    * Ben Santer says (presumably jokingly!) he’s “tempted, very tempted, to beat the crap” out of sceptic Pat Michaels. (1255100876)
    * Mann tells Jones that it would be nice to ‘”contain” the putative Medieval Warm Period’. (1054736277)
    * Tom Wigley tells Jones that the land warming since 1980 has been twice the ocean warming and that this might be used by sceptics as evidence for urban heat islands.(1257546975)
    * Tom Wigley say that Keith Briffa has got himself into a mess over the Yamal chronology (although also says it’s insignificant. Wonders how Briffa explains McIntyre’s sensitivity test on Yamal and how he explains the use of a less-well replicated chronology over a better one. Wonders if he can. Says data withholding issue is hot potato, since many “good” scientists condemn it.(1254756944)
    * Briffa is funding Russian dendro Shiyatov, who asks him to send money to personal bank account so as to avoid tax, thereby retaining money for research.(0826209667)
    * Kevin Trenberth says climatologists are nowhere near knowing where the energy goes or what the effect of clouds is. Says nowhere balancing the energy budget. Geoengineering is not possible.(1255523796)
    * Mann discusses tactics for screening and delaying postings at Real Climate.(1139521913)
    * Tom Wigley discusses how to deal with the advent of FoI law in UK. Jones says use IPR argument to hold onto code. Says data is covered by agreements with outsiders and that CRU will be “hiding behind them”.(1106338806)
    * Overpeck has no recollection of saying that he wanted to “get rid of the Medieval Warm Period”. Thinks he may have been quoted out of context.(1206628118)
    * Mann launches RealClimate to the scientific community.(1102687002)
    * Santer complaining about FoI requests from McIntyre. Says he expects support of Lawrence Livermore Lab management. Jones says that once support staff at CRU realised the kind of people the scientists were dealing with they became very supportive. Says the VC [vice chancellor] knows what is going on (in one case).(1228330629)
    * Rob Wilson concerned about upsetting Mann in a manuscript. Says he needs to word things diplomatically.(1140554230)
    * Briffa says he is sick to death of Mann claiming his reconstruction is tropical because it has a few poorly temp sensitive tropical proxies. Says he should regress these against something else like the “increasing trend of self-opinionated verbiage” he produces. Ed Cook agrees with problems.(1024334440)
    * Overpeck tells Team to write emails as if they would be made public. Discussion of what to do with McIntyre finding an error in Kaufman paper. Kaufman’s admits error and wants to correct. Appears interested in Climate Audit findings.(1252164302)
    * Jones calls Pielke Snr a prat.(1233249393)
    * Santer says he will no longer publish in Royal Met Soc journals if they enforce intermediate data being made available. Jones has complained to head of Royal Met Soc about new editor of Weather [why?data?] and has threatened to resign from RMS.(1237496573)
    * Reaction to McIntyre’s 2005 paper in GRL. Mann has challenged GRL editor-in-chief over the publication. Mann is concerned about the connections of the paper’s editor James Saiers with U Virginia [does he mean Pat Michaels?]. Tom Wigley says that if Saiers is a sceptic they should go through official GRL channels to get him ousted. (1106322460) [Note to readers – Saiers was subsequently ousted]
    * Later on Mann refers to the leak at GRL being plugged.(1132094873)
    * Jones says he’s found a way around releasing AR4 review comments to David Holland.(1210367056)
    * Wigley says Keenan’s fraud accusation against Wang is correct. (1188557698)
    * Jones calls for Wahl and Ammann to try to change the received date on their alleged refutation of McIntyre [presumably so it can get into AR4](1189722851)
    * Mann tells Jones that he is on board and that they are working towards a common goal.(0926010576)
    * Mann sends calibration residuals for MBH99 to Osborn. Says they are pretty red, and that they shouldn’t be passed on to others, this being the kind of dirty laundry they don’t want in the hands of those who might distort it.(1059664704)
    * Prior to AR3 Briffa talks of pressure to produce a tidy picture of “apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more in the proxy data”. [This appears to be the politics leading the science] Briffa says it was just as warm a thousand years ago.(0938018124)
    * Jones says that UK climate organisations are coordinating themselves to resist FoI. They got advice from the Information Commissioner [!](1219239172)
    * Mann tells Revkin that McIntyre is not to be trusted.(1254259645)
    * Revkin quotes von Storch as saying it is time to toss the Hockey Stick . This back in 2004.(1096382684)
    * Funkhouser says he’s pulled every trick up his sleeve to milk his Kyrgistan series. Doesn’t think it’s productive to juggle the chronology statistics any more than he has.(0843161829)
    * Wigley discusses fixing an issue with sea surface temperatures in the context of making the results look both warmer but still plausible. (1254108338)
    * Jones says he and Kevin will keep some papers out of the next IPCC report.(1089318616)
    * Tom Wigley tells Mann that a figure Schmidt put together to refute Monckton is deceptive and that the match it shows of instrumental to model predictions is a fluke. Says there have been a number of dishonest presentations of model output by authors and IPCC.(1255553034)
    * Grant Foster putting together a critical comment on a sceptic paper. Asks for help for names of possible reviewers. Jones replies with a list of people, telling Foster they know what to say about the paper and the comment without any prompting.(1249503274)
    * David Parker discussing the possibility of changing the reference period for global temperature index. Thinks this shouldn’t be done because it confuses people and because it will make things look less warm.(1105019698)
    * Briffa discusses an sceptic article review with Ed Cook. Says that confidentially he needs to put together a case to reject it (1054756929)
    * Ben Santer, referring to McIntyre says he hopes Mr “I’m not entirely there in the head” will not be at the AGU.(1233249393)
    * Jones tells Mann that he is sending station data. Says that if McIntyre requests it under FoI he will delete it rather than hand it over. Says he will hide behind data protection laws. Says Rutherford screwed up big time by creating an FTP directory for Osborn. Says Wigley worried he will have to release his model code. Also discuss AR4 draft. Mann says paleoclimate chapter will be contentious but that the author team has the right personalities to deal with sceptics.(1107454306)

  5. Warren Bonesteel |

    searchable database located here:

    Go. Read, Learn. Don’t take anyone else’s word for granted, not even mine.
    Do your own research. Think for yourself.

  6. Cristla |

    Great Article Brianna
    I agree with Tom on the research effort.

  7. Harvey |

    Excellent article Brianna, thanks!

  8. The Bumbling President - CollegeTimes™ |

    […] year in office. That isn’t going to happen, and as time goes on, especially in the wake of ClimateGate, the bill may never be passed, at least in a form that remotely resembles what Obama […]

  9. Al Gore’s Ongoing Affair with Truth (or lack of it) - CollegeTimes™ |

    […] The inconvenient truth, of course, is that most of the damning e-mails are much more recent, some from 2009. You can see the dates on specific e-mails linked to in Brianna Aubin’s recent article, ClimateGate. […]

  10. Opinion Forum » Blog Archive » ClimateGate Fallout |

    […] Spiegel has published a long, fascinating article examining the fallout from ClimateGate and how both scientists and politicians are dealing with it.  It’s better and more balanced […]

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