Mainstream media misdirected in stolen email story

Unless you live under a rock, you have undoubtedly heard by now about the emails stolen from a computer server belonging to the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University in Britain.

This hack job was committed by an unknown individual or group who illegally infiltrated the university’s system, stole thousands of emails from a select group of climate scientists spanning over a decade, and then published a subset for the world to see, ostensibly to prove that global warming is a ‘hoax.’

While the scientific evidence demonstrating that climate change poses a very real threat to our health, economy, and planet has never been clearer, an army of climate deniers has used its extensive echo chamber to manufacture a ‘scandal’ out of this rather bland collection of email banter.

The mainstream media has swallowed the bait hook, line and sinker, developing an obsession with ‘Climategate,’ without ever asking the most fundamental questions this ‘scandal’ raises:

Who performed this illegal hackjob, and how did they do it? Who paid for it? What was their motivation?


Was this release timed to further confused the public in the days before world leaders meet in Copenhagen to attempt to come up with a plan for global action to address climate change?

Is there really a controversy over climate science here, or simply a lot of talk about a collection of occasionally embarrassing private email exchanges?

Once again, the media is not asking the right questions. Distracted by the fabrication of a ‘scandal’ concocted by a group of industry-funded deniers who have cherry-picked from the emails to suit their agenda, major papers like The New York Times are providing a platform for climate skeptics to spout their discredited conspiracy theories.

I fully understand that any ‘scandal’ is a newsworthy topic in these days of dwindling revenues at traditional media outlets, but where is the scandal here? I don’t see any evidence anywhere in the hacked emails suggesting a grand conspiracy of global collusion to rig the science.

What I do see is a small group of expert climate scientists repeatedly discussing how depressing and troubling it is that industry-funded skeptics have successfully misconstrued their work, harassed their colleagues with information requests that take them away from doing real science, and distorted their conclusions to suit their denier agenda.

Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May took the informed step that few if any reporters took before commenting on the emails – she read all 3,000+ of them, in threaded context, painstakingly looking for any evidence of a ‘scandal.’  Her conclusion?

They never once suggest ‘cooking the books’ or fudging the science. How dare the world’s media fall into the trap set by contrarian propagandists without reading the whole set? … Certainly nothing in these emails suggests any problem with fundamental science,” May says. 

Or, as another DesmogBlog reader put it after commencing his own review of the hacked emails:

From what I’ve read so far, honest people doing honest work. This is an ongoing study in how framing a few things people say can lead to such distorted images of what they are doing.”  (Submitted by Mark Francis on Thu, 2009-12-03 09:39.)

While UK climate change denier James Dellingpole labeled the matter ‘Climategate’ (a term which now returns nearly 14 million results in a Google search), blogger Josh Nelson at affixed a more appropriate name to this episode: SwiftHack (only 13,000+ Google results).  This smear campaign targeting scientists more closely resembles the outrageous Swift Boat attacks on Vietnam veteran and 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry than it does the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon.

Senator Barbara Boxer accurately dubbed the hack job ‘Email-Theft-Gate’ during a meeting this week of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and suggested that those responsible should face criminal charges. (The only coverage her suggestion garnered appears to come from right wing papers and blogs attacking her.)

The real scandal here is that no media outlet appears willing to track down the perpetrators of this criminal hack in which more than 3,000 emails and documents were stolen.  And no outlet has properly connected the dots between this episode and the greater effort by polluting industries to convince the public that global warming is a hoax so they can keep on pumping CO2 into the atmosphere with abandon.

There is a crystal clear trail of money and extensive evidence tying a small group of climate change deniers and skeptics, fueled by millions of dollars from polluting industries, who have worked tirelessly for the past few decades to confuse the public about science and delay action on a host of public health and environmental priorities, none with greater potential consequence than global climate change.

DesmogBlog has spent years documenting this industry effort, and my colleague Richard Littlemore and I recently published the book Climate Cover Up to explain it comprehensively.

The journal Nature, unquestionably one of the most credible sources in science today, weighed in this week with an editorial on the hacked email controversy, noting that “denialists use every means at their disposal to undermine trust in scientists and science.”

This denial industry has successfully duped the media on multiple occasions, and the email hack job is no exception. Indeed, the most vocal deniers stoking this controversy are the same characters that have spent the last decade building the echo chamber of confusion in order to delay action on climate change. 

This is just another chapter in an all-out political war on science waged by industry-funded skeptics and front groups. They have proven willing to do or say literally anything - even commit crimes, as in the case of Astroturf firm Bonner & Associates’ forgeries this summer, and now the CRU hack - in order to stop any progress to address climate change and transition the world to cleaner forms of energy.

In this case, they’ve taken a few tiny out-of-context morsels from a large collection of emails sent over the course of 12 years in order to manufacture a mountain out of a molehill. It is a technique that surely has its roots in the era of World War II propaganda, employing character assassination, innuendo, misdirection, and obfuscation.  The Great Houdini briefly hides the scientific facts up his sleeve while presenting a sparkly ‘scandal’ easily digestible by a lazy, incompetent media.

Is there no rational, critical thinking in the media anymore? How else could the skeptics get away with this manipulation?

These days, the public is subjected to tabloid journalism more befitting of Entertainment Weekly, not the kind of probing conducted by investigative journalists like Edward R. Murrow, Seymour Hersh or Bill Moyers in days gone by.

What happened to the role of the journalist as fact finder, capably sifting through misinformation, digging to find the truth and providing it in plain language to engage an informed citizenry? Journalists have forgotten their role as watchdogs, content to print whatever sensational quote from a skeptic responding to an actual scientist in order to fit their new ‘balance’ paradigm.

Take, for example, the rather dismaying efforts of late from The New York Times’ writer Andrew Revkin.  Although Mr. Revkin is widely respected for his coverage of climate science, he repeatedly provides a forum for non-scientists and deniers - perhaps never so egregiously as in his stories on the CRU hack.

Revkin is not alone, the entire media has let the public down by ignoring the real issues raised by this criminal act. It must have taken quite some effort for the unidentified hacker(s) to pull off the CRU heist. And to what end?

Ice core samples don’t lie, melting glaciers aren’t Hollywood props, and increasingly extreme floods and droughts are not hallucinations. The facts are staring us in the face.

These stolen emails reveal nothing that changes our extensive understanding of climate science. The global scientific consensus - that unchecked climate change poses serious risks to our economies, health and the future of the planet as we know it - was reached through decades of work by thousands of independent scientists from prestigious institutions in nations around the world, and confirmed once again in the recently-released Copenhagen Diagnosis. 

This is a manufactured scandal, a distraction meant to hinder the efforts of world leaders to craft a swift, meaningful response to the climate crisis during the U.N. climate summit this month in Copenhagen.

With the media asleep at the switch, the denial machine is driving us further towards the cliff of catastrophic climate change.


The media is just one big megaphone and they work with what they have.

The hacker, leaker or whistle blower hasn’t been identified so they focus on what they have - the emails.

Even if someone is actually identified, there will be only a limited media frenzy over that. At most that will turn out to be a little information theft.

What the emails contain is the bigger issue because big, big money is involved in this climate thing. And most people feel out of the loop on what’s really going on. If energy prices will necessarily skyrocket (Obama says so) then lets grab these researchers by the ankles first and shake them up a little and see if anything falls out of their pockets that doesn’t belong there.

You co-religionists are absolutely missing the point. The e-mails are certainly interesting, and don’t do your religion any favors.

However, the truly damning evidence is in the freaking computer code!

Sorry, boys, but the gig is up.

Where have you been?

Go to Wattsupwiththat and climateaudit, they discuss what is in there. Nasty. And very damning for the AGW cause.

Things like Artificaly adjusting the data appears MANY TIMES, a nice little “fudge factor” in one line to alter a graph to look like temps are rising. Comments about not using a route after 1961 because it gives incorrect results (of tree ring numbers) and many instances where the programmer just gives up trying to make sense of the database because it’s mostly “garbage”. And in the emails Jones says that CISS (NASA) database is “inferior” to theirs!!!

Really? So it’s OK for these “scientists” to conspire to prevent others who disagree with them from publishing?

It’s not damning that they admit they cannot understand why the climate is cooling?

etc. etc… Interesting…

It is right for scientists to work together to keep nonsense from being published. It happens all the time. An author must correctly quote previous work, among other requirements for a research paper to be published. (If somebody chooses to run out to the media and jabber nonsense, then scientists can say it is nonsense, if the press bothers to ask, but they cant stop the jabberer from “expressing their opinion”.) If a scientific journal published uncorrected errors, and do not publish the corrections, the scientists HAVE AN OBLIGATION to state that it is an unreliable source. RIGHT and PROPER behavior, to insist other scientists prove their case.

Unlike your blogosphere which REITERATES LIES endlessly.

Wigand also broke the law but is considered a hero. So I find it very contradictory that this whistleblower is now a criminal. Interesting the perspective depending upon the side of the fence you are on, eh?

Let’s speculate on the answers to your bolded questions:

“Who performed this illegal hackjob”
An insider who was tired of the lies coming from the CRU.

“and how did they do it?”
Since by law the university is required to have backups of all emails, and such emails would reside on a backup server, they just spent the time getting those emails and source code documentation that were pertinant to the issue.

“Who paid for it?”
Ever thought it possible they didn’t get a DIME for this. Likely. You always have to find Big Oil somewhere don’t you.

“What was their motivation?”
They had had enough of science being destroyed because of what Jones et al were doing by altering the data with a “fudge factor” (Comment in the source code), artifically altering the data (Comments in the source code), and that the database of past records was “garbage” (Comments in the source code). Plus the conspiricy to prevent any ligitimate skeptic from publishing, turfing out of editors and threatening to kill journals that publish papers they disagree with. Oh, but all that is just “rather bland collection of email banter.” Right.

this email thing has done wonders for desmog comment section and I can only assume desmog traffic. It must be doing pretty well.

Heard on the radio. 20% of Americans follow Climategate closely. 25% claimed they accept AGW as fact (down from 55% 18 months ago) and 59% claim scientists fabricated the data to fit what they were looking for.

Tide has clearly turned. Problem for you people now is that you can’t get that 59% back now with Climategate in the wind.

Jr., unless you can provide a link to supporting information for this kind of “radio” report, I will have to suggest that you dig the tinfoil out of your teeth and start getting a bit more skeptical when you hear these kind of voices.

Guess you don’t follow the polls. Not good for a PR hack!

Better take your own advice, and dig that tin-foil out of your rear molars before you choke on it!

The gig is up, fraudsters. Rather than go down with a rapidly sinking ship, I suggest executing a well-spun exit strategy. Or have you already begun?

lysenkoist you need to settle down. There’s no ‘gig’, no ‘sinking ship’. The science is still the same, the evidence is still the same. The only thing that’s really changed is the level of bombast being pouring out from denialist think tanks.

Of course I deliberately left out my source because I knew someone would question the authenticity of the source because they cannot fathom that the public has turned against AGW.

Should I give you the source, would you agree it’s valid?

Why would anyone promise that? The poiint of naming your source is so people can judge its credibility. No source, no credibility.

Because not first providing the source lets me see how you people react to the information, which is very predictable BTW. The source has been posted.

“Americans Skeptical of Science Behind Global Warming”

Read an weap, you are loosing the battle. And just like we cannot change the minds of those who think the world is only 6000 years old, you cannot change the minds of these people either. You are loosing the political battle.

Oh, and BTW, just because people don’t believe in a world older than 6000 years, which is their free right to do so, does not mean you get to impose anything on them simply because YOU think they are wrong.

That’s how democracy works.

And even these numbers don’t show the TRUE depth of skepticism. Because people give answer that they think are expected and politically correct. 46% of Americans think global warming is a serious problem??

No they don’t! They fool themselves.

99% of Americans think long haul flights to tropical vacation hotspots are a great idea EVERY YEAR if they can scrape together the cash. 99% think big houses and EATING MEAT are top priorities and the way to live. 99% want LOWER gasoline prices and BIGGER cars. 99% want to live large, emit lots of carbon and maybe say something to pollsters that sounds environmentally friendly.

and take a look at what Copenhagen delegates want: More Limos and More private Jets. IT’S A PARTY!

1200 limos and 140 private jets? - c’mon guys you can do better than that! surely you can find another 50 gulfstreams somewhere.

Of course the local airport won’t be able to handle that many private jets. They have to be shuttled out and parked at other airports.

Now theres a good story for Glen Beck or some such character to have some fun with. “The elitist party snobs in favor of cutting your CO2 emissions so they can emit more of their own”.

Like most denialists you think this is just a game to win or lose. Nothing to do with reality, only scoring points. “Read an weap, you are loosing the battle.” We’re all losing the battle.

Yes, we are all going to lose the battle if only you people have say and ban the rest of us from adding our points of view. You DO NOT own the truth. No one does. So quit thinking you do.

Calling us derogatory names just shows how utterly biased and bigoted you all are. When I get insulted by opponents I know I have won the dabate as insulting is the last straw people graps at when they cannot win. Hence insults to me have no effect except the opposite of what you want.

And don’t forget the percentage of Americans who also believe the Earth is less than 6,000 years old. Science works by research, not polling.

This is a manufactured scandal,

No, this is a real scandal, if there was any “manufacturing” it was by the CRU scientists adjusting the data to fit their views.

a distraction meant to hinder the efforts of world leaders to craft a swift, meaningful response to the climate crisis during the U.N. climate summit this month in Copenhagen.


you mean to impose a one world dictatorial socialist government on all of the western world, so as to rape it of the last bits of wealth we have and give it to rogue third world countries, killing democracy and capitalism in the process. Yep, the jig is up.

By the looks of things Copenhagen is dead. Oh, they will pretend all is well, but in reality it will be rejected as no country, especially the US is going to add anything that will kill the economy, especially since they are trying to get universal healthcare off the ground. AGW mitigations will kill that for them.

The reality is the US Senate will kill it. The Australian Senate will kill anything there and next year the UK election will bring in a huge Conservative majority, and AGW will be dead there too.

It’s all over but the crying from your side, and the lawsuits from our side (already underway).

Oh, and for

“Ice core samples don’t lie, melting glaciers aren’t Hollywood props, and increasingly extreme floods and droughts are not hallucinations. The facts are staring us in the face.”

There is nothing happening in the climate today that is beyond normal variations in cycles of 1000, 10,000 and 100,000 years. Not one thing.

There are people who feel it would be better to get no agreement out of Copenhagen than a flawed one. But, you know, whatever happens in Copenhagen, all of the world’s governments are going to have to act to deal with climate change one way or another, and all the lies and thefts and forgeries and frauds committed by the denialists cannot stop that.

No binding agreement will come out of Copenhagen. And governments will respond in the manner they deem appropriate when the electorate gives their leaders the authority to do so. So far, the electorate in most nations is not ready for drastic action.

It was Winston Churchill who said that truth had barely got its pants on when the lie was already halfway around the world.

But ultimately truth will catch up and the lie will be confined to the denialist realm where it belonged right from the start.

The public at large might be momentarily deceived but I noticed that leading polticians do not care much about this manufactured ‘scandal’.They know dirty games from experience.

As far as Australia is concerned: either there will be a double dissolution of the House and the Senate in March, followed by an election after which the combined House and Senate will have to vote together and not separately on the carbon emissions trading bill, or there will be an election at the end of next year. Either way that emissions trading bill will be passed. The opposition has no hope in hell of winning either election.

Future historians will look back upon November 20 2009 as the decisive turning point, the date at which the world began to recognize AGW as the delusional fantasy it has always been.

Sorry, Jim, you put up a good fight and you have nothing to reproach yourself with, but the battle is over. No doubt there are still a few skirmishes ahead but from now on it is really just a mopping up exercise.

Only if it is also revealed that the Illuminati are behind this.

We know you’re disappointed; coming so close. It was all within reach. Now, you watch in horror as your Henny-Penny-The-Sky-Is-Warming climate change hoax plummets like a runaway meteor while climatological experts — men and women learned in the CRU gang’s fields — take your one world puppets and pimps to the scientific woodshed after reading the data and emails and correspondence they hid from their contemporaries lo these many years.

Trying to make the hacker and those reading the CRU’s files the conspirators against mother earth won’t work. Not this time.

What you could say, though, is that the shills at the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University in Britain along with their American and Club of Rome and Bilderberger confederates cherry-picked real science for the data they needed to hack into the public’s mind with a global warming lie for the puppeteers behind the curtain.

Gosh, if you could only catch your “criminal” hacker how the columns would flow; no end to the pilloring and pious posturings and what-might-have-beens.

Whatever the hacker’s motivation to distribute the global warmers’ files — laid bare before the world and experts to study — their content reveals an unquestionable, deliberate, perpetration of a global warming hoax upon humanity and the planet; an organized cabal perpetrating a heinous lie and hoax across the globe to enrich themselves and their handlers; an evil intention, really

Global warming is a hoax that will sear itself into people’s minds right alongside Darwin, War of the Worlds, the Piltdown Man, the Loch Ness Monster, 9/11’s false flag “terrorist attack,” Swine Flu, genetically modified seeds, the “Green Revolution,” and the great “Wall Street Meltdown” hoax.

All of the hoaxes following 9/11 were initiated, supported, and set in motion by the world’s mega-rich “elitist” pests, the England- headquartered international banking cabal that runs the Bank of International Settlements in Basil, Switzerland, as well as the world’s central banks, and the multinational BigAgra/BigPharma corporations — the people behind the curtain.

All of the above hoaxes were designed to make them money, eugenicize the world, and give them absolute control over the earth’s resources.

Now, there’s you some tin-foil-hat-grist for the weeks ahead.

A lab employee in Latvia decided to test the 72kg of vaccine that Baxter International (an elite-controlled vaccine manufacturer) had shipped to labs in some of the European countries to be given out as vaccine shots to thousands of individuals as “protection” against the swine flu hoax. All of the lab animals tested with Baxter’s vaccine died. The lab employee wasn’t required to test the vaccine. He/she just did it. And prevented the contaminated vaccine from starting a “false flag pandemic” in Europe.

What motivated the lab employee to test it?

What motivated Dr. David Ray Griffin, a 70-something retired theologian and professor, to methodically expose the 9/11 false flag hoax using the scientific method in his nine books?

And what motivated your “criminal” hacker to distribute on the Internet the global warming cabal’s data, thoughts, and files?

You think money motivated these people?

I think not.

God has His ways.

James, they have a vested stake in supporting petro-interests and they have been infiltrated by individuals from many of the institutions that form the skeleton of the Denier Society that you profile so poignantly in ‘Climate Cover Up’.

The CanWest media chain is a perfect example of this … and so it goes with many media chains worldwide. Shifting the status quo - implementing a carbon diet - is highly threatening and therefore anathema to the owners calling the shots.

In giving voice to the Denier Society and its fakeries, mainstream media is complicit in this fakery, an accesory to its subterfuge, and it should be held to account for this. Journalistic ‘responsibility’ or integrity has, lamentably, become a casualty for which we may all soon pay a very heavy price.
- Michael Maser; Gibsons

The argument was lost before it ever happened because this was never meant to be an argument. The intent of swifthack is to slander institutions the people who are involved with them and the environmental community at large. This was a crime against CRU where thugs then accused the victim of being guilty. Debating issues point by point even when you are right 100% of the time won’t undo the damage being done. Science has nothing to do with this affair. It is politics of the ugliest kind and should be discussed only as such. This is a crime that is meant to do damage, those championing it are complicit.

Sure Wygand exposed the harmful effects a corporation was having on society. So sure he is very similar to how CRU is exposing the harmful effect co2 is having on society. Its funny that both tobacco and co2 polluters hire the same pr firm as well as use the same think tanks.

Well they made a movie about Wygand you could watch that. I don’t really know that much about him after all you brought him up. As for CRU they do climate research and part of it involves documenting co2. If you’re suggesting that I could prove the work of a building full of scientists then you have a far higher opinion of my intelligence than I do of you of yours. But really to think that I or any other nitwit on the intertubes could prove their work is as ridiculous as someone saying they could disprove it.

There is no whistle blower. No one has come forward openly, anonymously, or fraudulently. The use of a nonexistent whistle blower is merely a charade to falsely assume the highroad when in fact the whole methodology of this attack has been dirty. I hope you’re getting paid good for this the Boogie Man would be proud. Or maybe he would have referred to you fondly as part of The Missing Chromosome Crowd.
You’ve got nothing.

Sayonara Baby.

The phrase “hide the decline” that has everyone in a furore is not about temperatures in the first place. Prof. Briffa is talking about a decline in *tree ring* proxy indicators - the so-called “divergence problem” that is widely discussed in the journals. His “trick” is to “add in the real temps” in the graph he is building. The email says nothing about him fudging any actual temperature data. All he does is display real, direct readings from thermometers where they are available, and leave off the tree ring signal since 1960 where it diverges from the real temperatures.
This is so far from being a “scandal” or “deception” that its ridiculous:
* the “decline” is only a decline in *tree rings* in one or two data sets
* the “real temps” that he uses to “hide” that are way, way better data: direct readings from thermometers, from all over the world (over 10,000 stations at present)
* the divergence of the tree rings from the far better, direct readings from thermometers is not a secret, hidden inside CRU and blocked from FOI requests; the topic has been discussed at length in many journal articles, in the open.
* It is not fraud to display a better data series based on thousands of actual direct measurements, and to leave out from *one specific graph* a segment of one small, indirect proxy tree ring source that is known to diverge from the “real temps.” Even if this graph has been widely cited and included in an IPCC report, this does not imply that the IPCC has been hiding or ignoring the divergence problem. They just accept the very logical choice to prefer thousands of direct instrument readings over a tiny number of indirect proxies in the time frame where these overlap.

When people quote this on FauxNews and the like, they have been adding in words that arent in the email, saying “hide the decline *in temperatures*”, and their viewers accept their take that the emails had those extra words. An honest reporter should pick up that this is about a decline *in tree rings* and not in temperature readings.

Just to be clear: there is NO DECLINE to “hide” in the *real temps* from the instrumental record. There is a clear and unusual *increase* since the 1960s, in both the direct instrumental record and in most other proxy indicators other than these tree rings: corals, stalactites, ice core isotopes, borehole temperatures, etc. The combined graph shows all of this.

There is no worldwide conspiracy by thousands of scientists to cook the books and “hide a decline” in global temperatures; no leaked email ever gave any reasonable basis for making that outrageous accusation, either. But some people want that to be the conclusion, so they will grasp at any straw to get an online rabble roused to that libelous framing of these few words.