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Revisiting Climategate as Climatism Falters

By Steve Goreham -- June 6, 2013

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.

In December of 2007, The RENIXX index of the world’s largest renewable energy companies soared to over 1,900. Barack Obama was elected President of the United States in 2008, heralding the rebirth of a more environmentally conscious nation. After securing the majority of primary delegates in June, 2008, candidate Obama declared, “…this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal…”

The year 2009 was set to be a year of triumph for Climatism. The US House of Representatives passed the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill in June and sent it to the US Senate. The Copenhagen Climate Conference in December 2009 was to be the major next step to control global emissions. But the release of the Climategate e-mails just one week prior to the start of the conference shook the science of man-made warming.

Climatism’s Downward Spiral

Today, the man-made global warming movement is headed for a crash. United Nations climate conferences at Cancun (2010), Durban (2011), and Doha (2012) failed to produce an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Kyoto Protocol climate treaty expired at the end of 2012 without a successor agreement. The Waxman-Markey bill was ignored by the US Senate and climate legislation is now a non-starter in the US Congress.

Contrary to climate model predictions, global temperatures have failed to increase for the last fifteen years, confounding the sirens for dangerous climate change. In January of this year, the UK Met Office revised their global temperature forecast downward for the next decade. The early release of a chart from the upcoming Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC showed that temperatures are running far below IPCC projections. Scientists and leading publications, such as The Economist, now question whether the climate models are too sensitive to greenhouse gas levels.

Meanwhile, renewable energy subsidies have been cut in Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Spain, the UK, and the US. Governments across the world are rethinking their commitment to green energy. The RENIXX index has fallen to 250, down almost 90 percent from the 2007 peak. In April, the European Parliament rejected an effort to prop up the Emissions Trading System. The price of a carbon allowance dropped to under €3 per tonne, down from €20 per tonne in 2011. Climatism, in short, has become shaky business.

The Climategate e-mail release has played an important role in shifting global opinions about the theory of man-made warming. Below are some of the most important quotes from Climategate emails. More quotes on climate change, energy, and the environment can be found here.

Emails: On the Theory of Man-Made Warming

“I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards ‘apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more in the proxy data’ but in reality the situation is no quite so simple.”

—Dr. Keith Briffa, Climatic Research Unit, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Sep. 22, 1999

“Keith’s [Briffa] series…differs in large part in exactly the opposite direction that Phil’s [Jones] does from ours. This is the problem we all picked up on (everyone in the room at IPCC was in agreement that this was a problem and a potential distraction/detraction from the reasonably consensus viewpoint we’d like to show w/ the Jones et al and Mann et al series).”

—Dr. Michael Mann, IPCC Lead Author, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Sep. 22, 1999

“…it would be nice to try to ‘contain’ the putative ‘MWP’ [Medieval Warm Period]…”

—Dr. Michael Mann, IPCC Lead Author, disclosed Climategate e-mail, June 4, 2003

“By the way, when is Tom C [Crowley] going to formally publish his roughly 1500 year reconstruction??? It would help the cause to be able to refer to that reconstruction as confirming Mann and Jones, etc.”

—Dr. Michael Mann, IPCC Lead Author, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Aug. 3, 2004

“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, or her professional credibility.”

—Dr. Michael Mann, IPCC Lead Author, disclosed Climategate e-mail, May 30, 2008

“Well, I have my own article on where the heck is global warming…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.”

—Dr. Kevin Trenberth, IPCC Lead Author, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Oct. 12, 2009

Emails: Manipulating Temperature Data

“I’ve just completed Mike’s [Mann] 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 [Briffa] to hide the decline.”

—Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Nov. 16, 1999

“Also we have applied a completely artificial adjustment to the data after 1960, so they look closer to observed temperatures than the tree-ring data actually were…”

—Dr. Tim Osborn, Climatic Research Unit, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Dec. 20, 2006

“…If you look at the attached plot you will see that the land also shows the 1940s warming blip (as I’m sure you know). So, if we could reduce the ocean blip by, say 0.15 deg C, then this would be significant for the global mean—but we’d still have to explain the land blip…”

—Dr. Tom Wigley, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, on adjusting global temperature data, disclosed Climategate e-mail to Phil Jones, Sep. 28, 2008

“We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (i.e. quality controlled and homogenized) data.”

—Climatic Research Unit web site, the world’s leading provider of global temperature data, admitting that it can’t produce the original thermometer data, 2011

Emails: Data Suppression and Freedom of Information (FOI) Avoidance

“…We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try to find something wrong with it…”

—Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University, email to Warwick Hughes, 2004

“I’m getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data. Don’t any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act.”

—Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Feb. 21, 2005

“Mike [Mann], can you delete any e-mails you may have had with Keith [Trenberth] re AR4? Keith will do likewise…Can you also e-mail Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his e-mail address…We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.”

—Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit, disclosed Climategate e-mail, May 29, 2008

“You might want to check with the IPCC Bureau. I’ve been told that IPCC is above national FOI Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 [the upcoming IPCC Fifth Assessment Report] would be to delete all e-mails at the end of the process. Hard to do, as not everybody will remember it.”

—Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit, on avoiding Freedom of Information requirements, disclosed Climategate e-mail, May 12, 2009

Emails: Subverting the Peer-Review Process

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

—Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit, disclosed Climategate e-mail, July 8, 2004


Steve Goreham is Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition of America; environmental researcher at the Heartland Institute; and author of the influential expose, The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism: Mankind and Climate Change Mania.


  1. Ed Reid  

    With appropriate apologies to William Shakespeare, “For tis the sport to have the climate scientists hoist with their owne petar”. (Hamlet, modified)

    “Oh what a tangled web we weave
    When first we practice to deceive.” – Sir Walter Scott (Marmion)
    (Refer to “Harry Read Me” notations from Climategate.)

    I am reminded of the painfully humorous “six stages of a research project”:
    Search for the Guilty
    Punishment of the Innocent
    Praise and Honor for the non-Participants

    I am surprised that you did not mention the covert attempts to destroy the careers of skeptical scientists, such as Chris deFreitas, Patrick Michaels and Chris Landsea; and, to destroy publications which dared to publish contrary research.

    We can consider ourselves fortunate indeed that Mother Nature has chosen not to participate in the subterfuge.


  2. William Griesinger  

    Mr. Goreham,
    Thank you for this useful trip down memory lane and your important summary. It’s a great publice service, really. What I often have to tell the alarmists or alarmist sympathizers, still after all the damning evidence that’s been exposed, is the fact that our side (we’re supposedly the climate doomsday deniers, right?) doesn’t have to prove anything at this juncture. We’re not the ones fudging, manipulating and obfuscating the data! Your side is! And, as it turns out, has been for a very long time. I’ve always admonished and pointed out to those who continually claim, often vociferously, that the “science is settled” are up to something no good. Anyone who is familiar with the Scientific Method understands that the science is never really settled and to claim so means you’re hiding something…And the Alarmists were, as it turns out. Thanks again for the summary. Constant reminders are required for our hard-headed DENIERS on the Alarmist side.



  3. Ray  

    Just doing what Schneider said. Dr. Schneider was famous among skeptics for saying, “We need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.” He later stated that he was not advocating lying. That’s rather like Henry II later stating that he wasn’t advocating the murder of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket.


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  5. Robert C Whitten  

    Science, like nearly all of present day political systems, is hopelessly corrupt. ClimateGate proves the former beyond a shadow of a doubt.


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    There were farms on Greenland before the industrial revolution. There are reports of receding glaciers uncovering prehistoric forests (No AGW possible) Recent report shows high CO2 and “temps” before humans existed and sea levels many feet higher than now. Effects of AGW are trivial relative to natural processes.


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  8. Jimbo  

    The incident was branded “Climategate” by British columnist James Delingpole,…

    Hi, I think it was a commenter on WUWT called Bulldust. James Delingpole acknowledges it in his article below, first paragraph.


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    The e-mail from Phil to Mike is not about Keith (Trenberth) but Keith Briffa


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