With all the wild accusations flying around over the illegally obtained email correspondence from the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit, I thought I would ask one of the scientists in the middle of the issue to provide some context.
Penn State University climate scientist, Dr. Michael Mann, whose name appears in some of the stolen emails, provided me with a run-down of the emails that involve him. His responses provide some much needed context and give you an idea of just how wildly some people have blown this story out of proportion.
What follows is quotes taken directly from the stolen emails, followed by Dr. Mann’s response:
1. “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i. e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” (from Phil Jones).
Phil Jones has publicly gone on record indicating that he was using the term “trick” in the sense often used by people, as in “bag of tricks”, or “a trick to solving this problem …”, or “trick of the trade”.
In referring to our 1998 Nature article, he was pointing out simply the following: our proxy record ended in 1980 (when the proxy data set we were using terminates) so, it didn’t include the warming of the past two decades.
In our Nature-article we therefore also showed the post-1980 instrumental data that was then available through 1995, so that the reconstruction could be viewed in the context of recent instrumental temperatures. The separate curves for the reconstructed temperature series and for the instrumental data were clearly labeled.
The reference to “hide the decline” is referring to work that I am not directly associated with, but instead work by Keith Briffa and colleagues.
The “decline” refers to a well-known decline in the response of only a certain type of tree-ring data (high-latitude tree-ring density measurements collected by Briffa and colleagues) to temperatures after about 1960.
In their original article in Nature in 1998, Briffa and colleagues are very clear that the post-1960 data in their tree-ring dataset should not be used in reconstructing temperatures due to a problem known as the “divergence problem” where their tree-ring data decline in their response to warming temperatures after about 1960.
“Hide” was therefore a poor word choice, since the existence of this decline, and the reason not to use the post 1960 data because of it, was not only known, but was indeed the point emphasized in the original Briffa et al Nature article. There is a summary of that article available on this NOAA site.
One of my favorite bloggers Josh Nelson has put together the definitive guide to the hacked climate science email story. Below is the original article from his website Enviro Know.com.
The SwiftHack Scandal: What You Need to Know
First of all, this story should never have been called ClimateGate. Given the similarities between this smear job and the Swift Boat attacks on Senator John Kerry, SwiftHack is a far more appropriate name.
I’ve attempted to cover the major points of interest in this story. Consider this post a perpetual work in progress. It will be continually updated. Please leave appropriate links and angles I’m missing in the comments.
For your convenience, the following 6 points each links to the corresponding section of this post:
The scientific consensus on climate change remains strong.
The impacts of catastrophic climate change continue to rear their ugly head.
Hacking into private computer files is illegal.
All of the emails were taken out of context.
The story is being pushed by far-right conspiracy theorists.
Scientists are human beings and they talk frankly amongst themselves.
Selling out is one of those good problems, and given the amount of online and traditional media the book has received since we launched, it looks like Amazon better stock up!
Here’s the monster list of Climate Cover Up mentions, we’ve had more than 200 separate posts over the last 6 weeks:
[PS: for those of you yet to review Climate Cover Up, let me know when you do and I will put it out on a few of our “monster” Twitter, Facebook, Digg and StumbleUpon accounts]
Very nice kudos for our new book Climate Cover Up, from the highly respected Guardian columnist and author, George Monbiot today.
In his column today on the Climate Research Unit hacked email story Monbiot writes:
“The greatest tragedy here is that despite many years of outright fabrication, fraud and deceit on the part of the climate change denial industry, documented in James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore’s brilliant new book Climate Cover-up…” [my emphasis]
The climate conspiracy theorists are enjoying their moment of glory with the hacked emails that were made public late last week.
And who can blame them, given that many of them were relegated to the fringe years ago?
I suspect that most mainstream media will not buy the overblown rhetoric. After all, it is ridiculous to assert that stolen emails from a few climate scientists somehow refutes decades of research by thousands of experts.
The emails will batter the reputation of a few scientists, but they contain no evidence to undermine the theory of man-made climate change.
But that hasn’t stopped the denial industry from pushing the line and at least one outlet, in San Diego, has fallen for it. The coverage came in a story on The Copenhagen Diagnosis, a summary of the latest climate science research put together by 26 researchers, citing over 270 research papers.
Former Republican strategist Marc Morano is having as much fun with the stolen emails from the Climate Research Unit that he did with the Swift Boat Veteran’s for Truth attack he led against John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.
Morano and his site Climate Depot has become the climate conspiracy hub since this story broke on late Thursday.
This cabal of climate deniers seems to think that 12 year-old emails between climate scientists somehow refutes the thousands of research papers produced over decades by thousands of researchers at some of the best scientific institutions in the world.
While Morano is the master of right-wing spin and is using these emails for his political agenda, the bigger question here is:
Who stole all this private data from the University in the first place?
Regular DeSmog readers know we are big fans of Guardian columist George Monbiot, and we’re very proud to be co-sponsoring a big event next weekend in Toronto with Monbiot as our special event.
Here’s the details, hope to see you all there!
Join George Monbiot, Guardian columnist and author of “Heat: How To Save The Planet From Burning,” in Toronto next weekend for a special event!
Countdown to Copenhagen: Who in Canada is Killing the International Climate Treaty?
With the international climate treaty summit less than a month away, leading experts on the science, policy and politics of climate change will lead a forum on the role Canada is (and isn’t) playing on the international stage.
I’ll admit, as someone who spends most days looking for leaked documents, the package of stolen emails and documents from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University is pretty juicy. Anything that provides insight into the inner-workings of your opponents is pretty much manna from heaven in this line of work.
I have been going through all the files today and I hate to disappoint but it just ain’t the scandal climate conspiracy theorists want it to be.
These emails are blissfully being spun by the climate contrarians as proof of some type of worldwide conspiracy by scientists to fake the climate change crisis. Michelle Malkin, who relishes Ann Coulter-esque statements, goes so far as to call it “the global warming scandal of the century.”
As Brad Johnson writes, it’s more likely proof that climate deniers are the crazed conspiracy theorists we always thought they were.
At the center of the conspiracy claim is a quote in a casual conversation between colleagues talking about Mike’s Nature “trick.”
They are referring to the Michael Mann hockey stick study from ten years ago that has been the subject of attacks by climate skeptic bloggers for many years now. In fact, it got so bad that the US National Academy of Sciences was called in by the US Senate to look further into the validity of the Mann study.
It’s been a few short weeks since the launch of Jim and Richard’s book Climate Cover Up, and I just got word that it is already in its third print run and sold out on Amazon (don’t worry, they’re restocked now).
In other words, it’s been a great start and it’s all thanks to our loyal DeSmog friends and allies who’ve helped us get the book out there in a big way!
If you already have a copy of Climate Cover Up, then please pass it on to a friend when you’re done. If you don’t have a copy, then go to Amazon and pick one up (and maybe one for a denier friend).
And, as always, if you’re a blogger or a journalist and you’d like to do a review, please email me at: [email protected] and I’ll send along a review copy.
I just got word that Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is planning on protesting a presentation Al Gore is making tomorrow night in Portland, Oregon.
Under the guise of the “teabagger movement” AFP will do what it does best, which is protesting clean energy and green jobs.
It’s hard to believe this is much of a grassroots “teabagger” movement when the organizers get so much money from the largest private energy company in the United States.
Below is everything you need to know about AFP and their president Tim Phillips that we’ve pulled from our research database.
All this will be passed on to the local Portland media to ensure that they include this important context in any reporting they do on this story. If you’re from Portland or know anyone from the area, please pass this around to local bloggers and media.