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Category — Climategate

Revisiting Climategate as Climatism Falters

Climatism, the belief that man-made greenhouse gases are destroying Earth’s climate, is on the wane. Once riding high, the ideology of man-made climate change is losing its influence in governments across the world. Climategate, the release of e-mails from the University of East Anglia, called the science of dangerous warming into question and turned the tide of global opinion.


On November 19, 2009, and unidentified hacker or internal whistle-blower downloaded more than 1,000 documents and e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University in the United Kingdom and posted them on a server in Russia. Within hours, these documents were accessed by websites around the world.

These e-mails were a subset of confidential communications between top climate scientists in the United Kingdom, the United States, and other nations over the last fifteen years. These were the very same scientists that developed the surface temperature data sets, promoted the Mann Hockey Stick Curve, and wrote and edited the core of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports.

The incident was branded “Climategate” by British columnist James Delingpole, a label soon adopted by the world. These e-mails provide an insight into practices by researchers that are poor science at best and fraudulent at worst. Bias, manipulation of data, avoidance of freedom of information requests, and efforts to subvert the peer-review process are apparent, all to further the “cause” of man-made global warming. The e-mails were released on the eve of the 2009 United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen.

Climatism’s Apex

Just two years earlier, Climatism had swept almost all in its path. The IPCC 2007 Fourth Assessment Report declared that mankind was very likely the cause of global temperature increase. That same year, former Vice President Al Gore and the IPCC shared the Nobel Peace Prize. [Read more →]

June 6, 2013   10 Comments

Global Lukewarming: A Great Intellectual Year in 2011

“Mounting evidence [of lukewarming] begins to start to make you wonder whether there is some fundamental problem between climate models and reality.”
“To me, the most significant thing that the Climategate emails show is that the deck is stacked against the publication of research results that are critical of the established scientific consensus, and the skids are greased for papers that run in support…. Not a good situation for the advancement of science.”

“Lukewarmers” are those scientists (and others) who believe the balance of evidence is middling between “climate alarmists” (who tend to think that the global temperature rise will lie in, or even exceed, the upper half the IPCC’s 1.1°C–6.4°C range of projected temperature rise this century) and ultraskeptics, or “flatliners” (who tend to think that the addition of human-generated carbon dioxide has virtually no impact on global temperatures).

Lukewarmers have found the world to be a lonely place. But favor (think physical processes of global climate) smiled for us in 2011. Several scientific studies produced results, when considered in combination, provide evidence that the general warming of the earth’s climate is proceeding at a rate that lies in the lower half of the IPCC’s projected temperature change during the 21st century.

And with a low-end temperature rise comes along low-end impacts. Seemingly good news for all!

2011 Temperatures

First, let’s review the global average temperature, both at the surface, and in the lower atmosphere since 1979—the year that satellite observations of the temperature from the lower atmosphere become reliably available, and pretty near the beginning of the second warming episode of the 20th century. [Read more →]

January 19, 2012   40 Comments

Scientific Communication: Preach or Engage? (Judith Curry vs. AGU climate bias)

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is going to cost a lot (both in terms of dollars and effort), and it is going to produce few if any demonstrable climate results for decades to come (if ever).” 

The scientific community—or especially that part of it which holds the opinion that not enough is being done to mitigate potential climate change—is struggling with why the general public (and hence policymakers) are not heeding their call to action on global warming.

In a recent post, I pointed to one reason: the fast diminishing role that any U.S.-side mitigation would have in curbing greenhouse gas emissions enough to measurably affect global climate. This is a classic bang-for-the-buck evaluation. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is going to cost a lot (both in terms of dollars and effort), and it is going to produce few if any demonstrable climate results for decades to come (if ever).

In short, a mitigation (versus a wealth-is-health adaptation strategy) is a tough sell given even the most alarming climate change projections, and becomes nearly impossible under more modest climate change scenarios.

The role of climate change science has been, and continues to be, in arbitrating between the potential climate outcomes. And although there are some who argue that the science no longer matters as far the politics go, a lot of other scientists who make at least a partial living studying climate and climate change (including myself) would like to think otherwise.

And many of us have taken the additional step of not only producing science, but also translating our results (and that of others) into more layman’s terms, describing what implications the results have on the bigger picture of climate change, and then suggesting what, if anything, should be done about it. With mixed success (depending on who you ask). [Read more →]

December 16, 2011   7 Comments

Climategate 1.0/2.0 Did Not Begin With Climate: Revisiting Neo-Malthusian Intolerance

Michael Mann: “I gave up on Judith Curry a while ago. I don’t know what she thinks she’s doing, but it’s not helping the cause.”

Phil Jones: “I’ve been told that IPCC is above national FOI Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the process.”

The above emails are representative of the sickly fare of a group of physical scientists who set out to change the world from one of open-ended economic growth to one of economic constraint via international carbon planning. The good news is that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gatekeepers have once again been exposed by the e-mail release of last week, now known the world over as Climategate 2.0.

Having conversations like this is way beyond the bounds of scholarship or decent inquiry. We have heard of market failure and government failure–we need the term academic failure to describe scientists behaving badly.

For students of neo-Malthusianism (alarmism in different dimensions that began with Robert Thomas Malthus’s An Essay on Population in 1798), Climategate 1.0 and 2.0 continue a trend line. To really appreciate the desperation of climate alarmists in the face of contimuing anomolies, theoretical and empirical, context is required. That context is the failed worldview of modern neo-Malthusianism, which has promoted fear after fear with an intolerant, smartest-guys-in-the-room, above-the-rules mentality.

Remember the “population bomb” where many millions would die in food riots? Well, obesity turned out to be the real problem.

Remember the Club of Rome’s resource scare? In 1972, 57 predictions of exhaustion were made regarding 19 different minerals. All either have been falsified or will be.

Remember the global-cooling scare promoted by, among others, the Obama administration’s science czar, John Holdren? (Yes, global cooling was a big deal, although it was not a “consensus.”)

And all of the above doom merchants were uber-confident and still are loath to admit they were ever wrong. Holdren, for example, has not disowned his prediction that as many as one billion people could die by 2020 from (man-made) climate change. That’s nine years, folks.

Climategate/Climate McCarthyism

Intolerance rules in the global warming scare. Read the new flaming emails from the principals of Climategate. Read about Joseph “Climate McCarthyism” Romm by his critics on the Left.  Read the words of (non-Climategater) Michael Schlesinger, who lost his cool against New York Times environmental reporter Andrew Revkin. [Read more →]

November 29, 2011   4 Comments

State Climatologist of Georgia Ousting: Was It Justified? (‘Skepticism’, not only alarmism, can get political)

The political battle to control the flavor of scientific discourse claims another victim. This time it was Dr. David Stooksbury, the 12-year veteran State Climatologist of Georgia whose middle-of-the-road opinions about climate change apparently ran afoul of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s more conservative views.

In an executive order issued last week, Governor Deal stripped Dr. Stooksbury of his title and conferred it to a current employee of the state’s Environmental Protection Division—a position under direct government control, unlike Stooksbury’s rather independent office at the University of Georgia.

Certainly, the Governor can do as he chooses. And the newly tapped Georgia State Climatologist, Bill Murphey is seemingly qualified for the job. But, the move has all the signs of haste, and none of an orderly, well-thought out and coordinated transition. Which hints of something fishy going on.

It is worth bearing in mind that politics should consider scientific opinion, not shape it.

Stooksbury’s ouster is just the latest in a string of State Climatologists have been “replaced” in recent years for what seem like political reasons. [Read more →]

September 19, 2011   9 Comments

Muir Russell Findings No Solace for U.S. EPA

[Update 07/29/10: The EPA has announced its decision to deny all the petitions asking it to reconsider its Endangerment Finding, claiming that it could find no evidence in the Climategate emails indicating that climate change science could not be trusted. Read on to see if you think this decision is justified.]

While the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency would surely love to use the findings of the Independent Climate Change Email Inquiry (aka the Muir Russell report) to brush aside the many challenges mounted, in response to the Climategate email scandal, to the EPA’s finding that greenhouse gases endanger the public’s health and welfare (a finding which enables the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions), they’ll find little in the Muir Russell report to help in their defense.

Well, I should qualify that. They’ll find little scientifically to help their defense. Politics is another matter.

Since the EPA has largely based its Endangerment Finding on an appeal to authority—the primary authority being the IPCC—rather than its own investigations, the Muir Russell report plays right into the EPA’s hands when concluding (emphasis in original):

[W]e do not find that their [influential scientists from the Climate Research Unit of the U.K.’s University of East Anglia] behaviour has prejudiced the balance of advice given to policy makers. In particular, we did not find any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments.

At face value, it seems as if the EPA could take this as the only proof needed to dismiss all of the post-Climategate calls for it to reconsider it pre-Climategate Endangerment Finding.

But, as with just about everything else about the EPA’s Endangerment Finding, such action would be a gross oversimplification, a side-step around the deeper complexities, and an incomplete address of the issues raised against it. [Read more →]

July 27, 2010   7 Comments

Muir Russell Climategate Findings: Superficial, Uncompelling

Reactions to the findings of the last of the investigations into the “meaning” of the contents of the Climategate emails—the so-called Muir Russell report—are still trickling in. And truly, there have been few surprises.

The Muir Russell panel—hired by the University of East Anglia (UEA)—concluded (some add, predictably) that the scientists from for the Climate Research Unit (CRU, which is part of the UEA) had not really done anything wrong aside from not being particularly cooperative with folks that they didn’t like.

The CRU scientists and their close colleagues who were caught up in the Climategate affair claim vindication (see RealClimate), alarmists love it (see ClimateProgress, Newsweek), those in the middle were a bit displeased (see The Atlantic, New Scientist) or wishy-washy (see DotEarth), and those feel that the Climategate emails revealed glaring problems with how climate change research is being conducted and brought to the public were crying “whitewash” (see Wall Street Journal, Watts Up with That).

It makes me wonder why Muir Russell bothered in the first place.

I find my reaction somewhere between the last two categories, which I guess would make me wishy-whitewashy. I don’t think Climategate revealed any great fractures in the general concept that human greenhouse gas emissions are leading to a warmer world, but it most definitely did confirm what I felt had been the case all along—that the Climategaters were not playing fair. And not playing fair has a lot more consequences than the Muir Russell panel cared to admit—this is where the “whitewash” comes in for me. [Read more →]

July 26, 2010   8 Comments

‘Tipping Points’: Does the Opinion of Experts Reflect Reality?

Last week, an advance copy of a paper to appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) was released which reported that a collection of “experts” suggests that climate tipping points (codename for something bad but we don’t know exactly what) would be knocked over by 2200 if we stay on our current greenhouse gas emissions pathway (for about the next 200 years). Underlying these views is the experts’ opinions as to what the earth’s equilibrium climate sensitivity—the rise in global temperatures resulting from a doubling of the earth carbon dioxide concentration—likely is.

But do the experts opinions actually reflect the scientific knowledge on these subjects?

The answer is no.

In fact, the experts’ opinions tended towards the extreme, despite recent science which should have reeled them in. Which is a lesson in and of itself. [Read more →]

July 6, 2010   2 Comments

Reconsidering the Dessler/North Op-Ed on Settled Alarm, Climategate-as-Distraction (Part III in a series)

[The other parts of this series on the activism of Texas A&M climatologists are here: Part I, Part IIPart IV, and Part V]

Scientists find themselves fighting science when it comes to the highly unsettled physical basis of climate change. An example of this is the March 7th Houston Chronicle op-ed by two Texas A&M climate scientists (and four colleagues from other universities), “On Global Warming, the Science is Solid.”

I took general exception to their piece in Part I in this series, titled “Andrew Dessler and Gerald North on Climategate, Climate Alarmism, and the State of Texas’s Challenge to the U.S. EPA’s Endangerment Finding.” Chip Knappenberger yesterday took issue with their claim that the Texas Petition was flawed because it “contains very little science.”

This post critically reconsiders the op-ed, which argued, in effect, that the science behind climate alarmism is settled and that Climategate is a distraction from the core issues. Just the opposite may well be true.

Some Background

Evidently, Dr. Dessler wrote this op-ed and got sign-on from other Texas scientists to make it a ‘consensus’ statement. Here is how the Houston Chronicle attributed it:

This article was submitted by Andrew Dessler, professor of atmospheric sciences, Texas A&M University; Katharine Hayhoe, research associate professor of atmospheric sciences, Texas Tech University; Charles Jackson, research scientist, Institute for Geophysics, The University of Texas at Austin; Gerald North, distinguished professor of atmospheric sciences, Texas A&M University; André Droxler, professor of earth science and director of the Center for the Study of Environment and Society, Rice University; and Rong Fu, professor, Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin. 

I refer to the piece as Dessler/North because the activist-oriented Dr. Dessler is the leader, and the most distinguished climate scientist of the six named authors is Dr. North.

Criticism of Dessler/North (et al.) Piece

A critique follows with the exact language of the (entire) op-ed in quotation and black and my comments in blue for ease of reading. [Read more →]

March 19, 2010   4 Comments

The Texas Petition against the U.S. EPA’s Endangerment Finding: A User’s Guide (Part II in a series)

[The other parts of this series on the activism of Texas A&M climatologists are here: Part IPart IIIPart IV, and Part V]

“Texas’ challenge to the EPA’s endangerment finding on carbon dioxide contains very little science….”

- Andrew Dessler, Gerald North, et al….., “On Global Warming, the Science Is Solid,” Houston Chronicle, March 7, 2010. [Also see yesterday's Part I post on Dessler/North.]

Last month, the State of Texas filed a petition for reconsideration in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (summary here) against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Petition lays out why the EPA’s reliance on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to provide an assessment of climate change science was a very bad idea.

After documenting flaws in the scientific literature, flaws in scientific behavior, flaws in the IPCC process, and flaws in the IPCC’s conclusions, Texas asks the EPA to re-examine its conclusions regarding climate change and its potential impacts on human health and welfare, and this time, not to rest its conclusions on the biased opinion of the IPCC.

In other words, Texas asks the EPA to do the work themselves—something they are mandated to do anyway.

The complete Texas Petition is available here in a single pdf file. But for easier navigatation, we have broken the full Petition up into its individual sections, and linked them into the Table of Contents page, which is reproduced below.

Hopefully, this will enable you to read through it in a more directed fashion so that you can go straight to which ever section you may be most interested in and see how Texas lays out its case for Reconsideration. [Read more →]

March 18, 2010   6 Comments