“Keith Should Say…”

I doubt that many inquiries are provided with documents in which the subject of the inquiry not only asks subordinates to delete documents subject to an FOI request, but also states in writing that he expects a subordinate to give an untrue statement to an official. And even rarer that an inquiry would not clarify the subject’s state of mind and knowledge when the expectation was issued.

Jones’ request to delete emails is notorious. His email saying that “Keith should” make an untrue statement to university FOI official Palmer has thus far not been analysed, but is obviously something that the Parliamentary Inquiry should have considered before purporting to blame UEA administration for CRU obstruction of FOI requests.

I’ll start this backstory in early 2008. David Holland was offended by Briffa’s seemingly highhanded dismissal of AR4 Review Comments. Holland observed that IPCC procedures required Review Editors to ensure that authors responded adequately to Review Comments. IPCC’s procedures also stated that their procedures were to be “open and transparent” and that all review comments should be maintained in a public archive for 5 years. However, the WG1 archive notably did not include any comments by Review Editors. Holland began an effort to obtain these review comments, an effort that, despite one refusal after another, continues to this day.

One of the IPCC Review Editors of particular interest was then UK Met Office Chief Scientist John Mitchell, who was the Chapter 6 Review Editor (and thus dealing with Briffa and the proxy reconstructions.) As reported in a CA post on Jan 30, 2008, the Review Editor reports that Holland obtained from IPCC were perfunctory. Holland sent an inquiry to Mitchell (Holland MOD07) on Feb 22, 2008 asking questions about his actions as Review Editor.

On March 14, instead of seeking advice from Met Office officials on his responsibilities, Mitchell sought direction from IPCC WG1 Chair Susan Solomon (copying Briffa and the other chapter 6 Review Editor, Jean Jouzel), stating in his email that Holland had “links with Stephen McIntyre and his Climate Audit website”.

Without cautioning Mitchell to determine his obligations under UK FOI legislation, Solomon advised Mitchell not to provide additional information. Solomon:

“The authors are responsible for the content of their chapters and responding to comments, not REs. [Review Editors]. Further explanations, elaboration or re-interpretation of the comments or the author responses would not be appropriate. All of the comments and all of the authors responses have been made available. All of the comments and all of the authors responses have been made available. These are the proper source for anyone seeking to understand what comments were made and how the authors dealt with them and it would be inappropriate to provide more information beyond the references to the web pages where this can be found.”

Mitchell’s reply to Holland about two weeks later (March 27, 2008) followed Solomon’s instructions almost verbatim:

You should note that the review editors do not determine the final content of the chapters. It is the authors that are responsible for the content of their chapters and responding to comments, not the review editors. All of the comments and all of the authors’ responses have been made available, and are the proper source for anyone wishing to understand what comments were made and how the authors dealt with them. It would be inappropriate to provide more information beyond the web pages already freely provided.

The Climategate Letters subsequently showed that Solomon’s assertion (adopted by Mitchell) that “all of the comments and all of the authors’ responses have been made available” was untrue.

Mitchell’s letter added the surprising comment that he had not kept any “working papers”, incorrectly saying that there were no such IPCC obligations:

I have not kept any working papers. There is no requirement to do so, given the extensive documentation already available from IPCC

Jones had already been briefed on Holland’s inquiry by March 27, when emailed Trenberth, Overpeck, Mann, Santer and Solomon warning them that Holland had been “hassling” Mitchell.

Mitchell’s March 27 letter to Holland (following Solomon’s language) had said that “review editors do not determine the final content of the chapters. It is the authors that are responsible for the content of their chapters and responding to comments, not the review editors.” Following this lead, Holland pursued his inquiries with Keith Briffa on April 1. (Although CRU later took the position that they treated correspondence as confidential, neither CRU nor the Met Office treated Holland’s inquiry as “confidential”; in this case, Briffa immediately forwarded Holland’s letter to Mitchell, Chapter 6 Coordinating Lead Authors Overpeck and Jansen, and, of course, Phil Jones, stating that he would send Holland a “brief response” when he “got round to it”.

Frustrated by Mitchell’s implausible claim that he had “not kept any working papers” on his activities as IPCC Review Editor, Holland submitted a formal FOI request on Apr 4 to the Met Office, asking for release of all documents concerning the IPCC assessment of [Historic Temperature Reconstructions] held by the Met Office, referring specifically to the Hockey Stick controversy.

The Met Office responded to Holland’s FOI request about threee weeks later (May 1, 2008) with a dossier of only 6 emails (two of which were to or from Holland himself). The other four emails in the dossier contained the interesting correspondence of March 2008 between Mitchell, Solomon and Briffa referred to above. The Met Office stated implausibly (and untruthfully) that this was “all the information held by Dr Mitchell, on behalf of the Met Office regarding all of your questions asked.” Their answer was so far from the truth that one of their later FOI excuses was that Mitchell’s IPCC correspondene was so voluminous that searching it would exceed statutory costs limitations.

I had posted in January 2008 ( here here) on Holland’s efforts to that date. As a result, Holland forwarded me the Met Office’s response to his FOI request and the next day (May 2, 2008), I published a post reviewing the situation.

To guard against the possibility that his request may have missed relevant documents by being too narrowly specified, Holland re-submitted a follow-up request on May 5, this time asking for all Mitchell’s correspondence as IPCC Review Editor.

On the same day (May 5, 2008), Holland sent his first FOI request to CRU, in which he took note that his earlier letter to Briffa had gone unacknowledged and that Briffa’s letter in the Met Office dossier said that his response to Holland would be “brief when he got round to it”. He also expressed disagreement with Solomon’s instructions not to disclose any information not already in the public domain. Holland’s FOI request specified “all letters, facsimile and email correspondence to or from Drs Briffa and Osborn in connection with their work as an IPCC Lead Authors”.

On May 8, UEA FOI Officer Palmer met with Briffa to discuss Holland’s request.

Following up the meeting the next day (May 9), Palmer notified Jonathan Colam of Holland’s inquiry and of the potential for an appeal; Briffa emailed Holland acknowledging receipt of his April 1 letter and promising a reply the following week; and Jones (1210341221.txt) notified Mann, Bradley and Ammann that CRU thought that “they’ve found a way around” Holland’s FOI requests, concluding his email by saying “This message will self-destruct in 10 seconds”.

Presumably prompted by his meeting with Palmer, Briffa responded on May 15 to Holland’s questions – questions which had focused on IPCC’s failure to accurately represent the actual state of controversy about temperature reconstructions. The issue remains pertinent today. Julia Slingo’s testimony to the UK Parliamentary Committee, in which she reported that the disputes had been “fully addressed” and “largely resolved”, is an inaccurate impression that derived from the Briffa AR4 section that concerned Holland.

Meanwhile, I happened to be re-visiting Wahl and Ammann 2007 – the Supplementary Information was still unavailable and had been recently refused by Ammann. On April 3, I had asked Stephen Schneider, editor of Climatic Change, how an article that was supposedly “accepted” on Feb 28, 2006 included citations to (and relied on results from) an article that was not submitted until August 22, 2006. Schneider replied on May 20. Needless to say, there wasn’t (and could not be) a valid explanation. O posted Schneider’s evasive reply on May 23 here .

The juxtaposed fresh looks at AR4 Review Comments and Ammann and Wahl 2007 caused me to notice striking parallels in language between in Briffa’s Author Responses and Ammann and Wahl 2007 ( not Wahl and Ammann 2007). For example, the Second Draft Author Responses contained the following comment:

Finally, it does not take into account that some of the verifications seen as “skillful” are associated with very poor/exceedingly poor calibrations, which would be rejected on first principles in real world reconstruction applications. ..

which was an odd way to say things, but paralleled almost exactly in Ammann and Wahl 2007:

Furthermore, the MM05c proxy-based threshold analysis only evaluates the verification-period RE scores, ignoring the associated calibration-period performance. However, any successful real-world verification should always be based on the presumption that the associated calibration has been meaningful as well …

Bishop Hill wrote this up engagingly in Caspar and the Jesus Paper. I hadn’t noticed the parallels when the Review Comments became available (in June 2007) for the simple reason that Ammann and Wahl 2007 wasn’t published until September 2007.

The interesting thing about the parallels is that the peculiar “findings” of Ammann and Wahl 2007 did not exist in any other literature and, as noted above, Ammann and Wahl 2007 wasn’t even submitted until August 22, 2006 – after the Second Draft Author Responses had been finalized. Neither Ammann nor Wahl had submitted any on-the-record Review Comments for chapter 6- Wahl hadn’t even been nominated as an IPCC Expert Reviewer.

So how did language from a still unsubmitted paper get applied in Review Comments purporting to dismiss Mc-Mc results? On May 24 here, I surmised that, contrary to Mitchell (and Solomon’s) representation that all the review comments were on the record, that Ammann must have been making surreptious off-the-record review comments to Briffa (since Wahl wasn’t an IPCC reviewer, the idea of Wahl making surreptious off-the-record review comments was overlooked). I wrote:

Terminology from a then unsubmitted paper turns up in the Chapter Author replies to Review Comments. Compare the terminology in the answer to Review Comment 6-735 (which would have been final around Aug 4, 2006) to the language in Ammann and Wahl, which, as we recently learned, was submitted on August 22, 2006. Some language points track exactly and do not occur elsewhere in the literature. So there is no doubt that Ammann made written comments to the Chapter Authors of Chapter 6, but these are not on the record despite IPCC policy.

Climategate Letters later showed that it was Eugene Wahl that had been in intimate contact with Briffa in the preparation of the Review Comments – not Ammann. Otherwise, my surmise was 100% correct. Climategate Letters in 2006 show voluminous correspondence between Wahl and Briffa about the Final Draft – entirely in violation of IPCC procedures. The emails show great concern on the part of both Wahl and Briffa that this contact be kept secret and that any language “stolen” [their words] from then unsubmitted Ammann and Wahl not be traceable. In one email, Briffa asked Wahl to assure him that his use of Ammann and Wahl language would “not later be obvious”:

please assure me that this OK (and will not later be obvious) hopefully.

I wouldn’t say that the connection would necessarily be “obvious” to most readers, but, as of May 24, 2008, it was clear to me that some sort of surreptitious connection had been made to Briffa (though, as noted above, I presumed that it was Ammann, rather than Wahl.)

Holland appears to have read my post, as a few days later (May 27), he amended his FOI request, particularizing three items, one of which (Item 3) was specifically mentioned Ammann,

“any emails or other documents from IPCC contributing author Caspar Ammann or the Journal Climatic Change that discuss any matters in relation to the IPCC assessment process.”

While emails from Wahl would fall outside this item, they would, of course, be included in the more general correspondence request of May 5, 2008. Holland’s FOI request (Item 2) also included a list of articles submitted in response to the July 3, 2006 request for “additional papers that are either in-press or published in 2006”. Holland received this information only a few days ago – this time in response to a request for an attachment to a Climategate Letter.

Holland’s May 27 request initiated a flurry of activity at CRU.

At 6:30 pm, FOI officer Palmer wrote to the CRU Three, stating in no uncertain terms that he wanted to do as much as possible ‘by the book’ in this instance” (888. 1212009215.txt):

I just wish to ensure that we do as much as possible ‘by the book’ in this instance as I am certain that this will end up in an appeal, with the statutory potential to end up with the ICO.

Osborn was the first to respond (late in the evening of May 27), saying in respect to the Ammann correspondence:

we’ll send the same enquiry to Ammann as we sent to our other colleagues, and let you know his response

The “same enquiries” to their “other colleagues” are not presently on the record. Around midnight, Osborn sent an email to Ammann (cc Jones, Briffa) asking him whether he considered any emails as “confidential”:

In particular, we would like to know whether you consider any emails that you sent to us as confidential.

About a half hour later, Ammann (who is in Colorado) replied (cc Jones, Briffa) that he would answer the question of confidentiality “in a couple days” as he didn’t “recall” any specifics off the “top of his head”.

Oh MAN! will this crap ever end??
Well, I will have to properly answer in a couple days when I get a chance digging through emails. I don’t recall from the top of my head any specifics about IPCC.

At 5:13 pm the next day (may 28), Jones sent a remarkable email (888. 1212009215.txt) to FOI officer [David] Palmer (copying Briffa, Osborn, McGarvie) stating that “Keith should say that he didn’t get anything extra that wasn’t in the IPCC comments”:

Keith (or you Dave) could say that for (1) Keith didn’t get any additional comments in the drafts other than those supplied by IPCC. On (2) Keith should say that he didn’t get any papers through the IPCC process.either. I was doing a different chapter from Keith and I didn’t get any. What we did get were papers sent to us directly – so not through IPCC, asking us to refer to them in the IPCC chapters. If only Holland knew how the process really worked!! Every faculty member in ENV and all the post docs and most PhDs do, but seemingly not Holland.

So the answers to both (1) and (2) should be directed to IPCC, but Keith should say that he didn’t get anything extra that wasn’t in the IPCC comments.

What Jones expected Briffa to say was untrue (I’ll examine the 2006 exchanges between Briffa and Wahl in a separate post.)

The following day (May 29), Jones sent his now notorious email (891. 1212063122.txt) to Mann, asking him to “delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4”, assaying that they will be getting Caspar [Ammann] to do likewise and asking him to get Gene [Wahl] to do the same:

Mike,
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.

Cheers
Phil

Mann replied immediately that he would contact Wahl about this ASAP:

Hi Phil,

I’ll contact Gene about this ASAP. His new email is: enerwahl@yahoo.com
talk to you later,
mike

Recently, Mann has reported his disapproval of the conduct requested by Jones and denied that he took any steps to further Jones’ requests.

The Climategate letters, while voluminous, still only afford vignettes of CRU conduct. Thus we don’t know exactly how events played out after the “Keith should say” email. Was FOI officer Palmer left in the dark about the extensive off-the-record correspondence between Wahl and Briffa, that Jones said did not exist? Did Briffa “lie in the weeds” allowing Palmer to run with Jones’ false characterization or did Briffa immediately notify Palmer (as he obviously should have) that Jones’ characterization of events was untrue? If Briffa did not inform Palmer that the “Keith should say” version was incorrect, Palmer (who has been unfailingly polite to FOI requesters) and other UEA officials must surely be bristling at being allocated a seemingly disproportionate amount of blame in the Parliamentary Committee report.

And what exactly did Jones know about Briffa’s exchanges with Wahl? Given the extremely close contact between Jones and Briffa, it would be very odd, to say the least, if Briffa’s exchanges with Wahl had been so secret that not even Jones was aware of them. Either way, there’s a problem. If Briffa kept his surreptitious exchanges with Wahl secret even from Jones, this is very convincing evidence of Briffa’s awareness that his exchanges with Wahl were in violation of IPCC procedures.

Alternatively, if Jones knew of the surreptitious contact, then his “Keith should say” email to Palmer is arguably even more damning than his “delete all emails” to Mann – perhaps even keeping his reputation “intact” though not in the sense intended by the Parliamentary Committee.


65 Comments

  1. EdB
    Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 6:00 PM | Permalink

    You do amazing work Steve! If it is true that the truth shall set us free, then the CRU and IPCC will have to completely restructure how they do business.

  2. Mike Davis
    Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 6:29 PM | Permalink

    To read the comments related to the white wash and then to take a walk down memory lane to see what actually happened! This reminds me of the normal workings of anything related to IPCC. Trust us we know our fairy tales are in your best interest! SNAFU!

  3. R.S.Brown
    Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 7:41 PM | Permalink

    “…but it would be wrong.”, said Richard Milhous Nixon, reguarding the plan to set in motion a
    coverup of the Watergate break in, knowing full well his conversations were being taped.

    Mann seems to be offering up a similar exculpatory ploy in regard to data and email deletions.

    It didn’t work for Nixon back then, and it probably won’t work for Mann and his crew now.

  4. Peter Wilson
    Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 8:04 PM | Permalink

    Well done, Steve. Yet another example of something getting much worse when provided with the context.

  5. Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 8:23 PM | Permalink

    This is the real Inquiry.

  6. Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 8:32 PM | Permalink

    Context, very nice.

  7. Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 8:34 PM | Permalink

    Amazing. Simply amazing.

    I’m thinking of a lot of words right now that Steve doesn’t allow…

  8. Ausie Dan
    Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 9:12 PM | Permalink

    Steve – two comments:

    1. Your ability to sift through documentation is just as amazing as is your ability at statistical analysis.
    Your work in all this deserves a real Nobel Prize (NOT the Al Gore replica type).

    2. This report deserves to be spread throughout all of the UK mainstream press (hard copy too, not just the internet).
    Anyone with the right connections MUST forward this to objective reporters.

    It is clearly dynamite. Far worse than the Watergate break in; far worse even than the cover up.
    This is the cover up of the cover up.

    Wow! What other word is possible?
    Just WOW!!!!!!!

  9. Peter Pond
    Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 10:11 PM | Permalink

    There are two groups of professional people who appear to have little or no ability to understand statistics – politicians and the media. It seems that they also have little ability to analyse emails to derive the truth therein.

    Steve, thank you for your keen interest in getting at the truth.

  10. Bernie
    Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 11:17 PM | Permalink

    Steve:
    Very nice job. What exactly is the status of the Holland FOI requests that have not been fully responded to? Are Briffa et al now obliged to reveal what they had previously sought to hide?

    • bobdenton
      Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 2:14 AM | Permalink

      … And does this conduct amount to “blocking” or “concealing” forthe purposes of S77 FoIA 200?. If so there is no time bar to prosecution.

      One for the ICO to consider.

      Steve: to the extent that CRU concealed contact betweeen Wahl and Briffa from the university, I suppose that it would be a continuing offence and thus not statute barred. But let’s not discuss the statute bar on this thread.

      • bobdenton
        Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 7:20 AM | Permalink

        I’ve posted my further suggestions at unthreaded #43 Apr 3, 2010 at 7:16 AM

  11. Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 11:34 PM | Permalink

    Without the benefit of all the background Steve has provided above, in January, I did an analysis of Briffa’s “post Wahl consultation” responses to the Reviewer Comments on the Second Order Draft “on behalf of the chapter team”, in which readers might be interested:

    http://hro001.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/the-climate-change-game-monopoly-the-ipcc-version/

  12. geo
    Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 11:34 PM | Permalink

    It does seem to me that the FOIA section of the report is the most implausible, and shows the clearest evidence of MPs straining to find a way to defend British national pride of CRUs position in the world at whatever lengths necessary.

    The report trys to make it UEA Admin failing CRU re FOIA. The documentary record makes it painfully clear that CRU lead UEA FOIA officers down the garden path.

  13. Dave L.
    Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 11:40 PM | Permalink

    This is like reading the conclusion to a Sherlock Holmes mystery book.

  14. chili palmer
    Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 1:17 AM | Permalink

    Re the Nixon Watergate comparison, I’ve been wondering where Woodward and Bernstein are in this scandal, or those who came after them. The only answer I come up with is Woodward and Bernstein went after the government, but their counterparts in the US today wouldn’t dream of doing so. They view themselves as in business with government against the people.

  15. jorgekafkazar
    Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 1:29 AM | Permalink

    Infamita!

  16. geronimo
    Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 2:40 AM | Permalink

    Why doesn’t Holland resubmit his FOIs? I would expect the response to be less evasive now.

  17. OYD
    Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 3:14 AM | Permalink

    Steve this is amazing. I am not sure these guys can “hide” any more. Jones must be asking for more sleeping pills at this rate. You make us really proud, congrats!

  18. Vince
    Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 8:41 AM | Permalink

    Steve, you said

    “Recently, Mann has reported his disapproval of the conduct requested by Jones and denied that he took any steps to further Jones’ requests.”

    We do know that Mann took a further step by replying to Jones email requesting deletion of emails and to contact Gene. He replied to Jones assuring him he would contact Gene ASAP.

    “I’ll contact Gene about this ASAP. His new email is: generwahl@xxxxxxxxx.xxx

    In addition, as I read Mann’s response in the PTR it seems as if he saying he did forward Jones email to Wahl. If he did that would be a further step.

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/regional/s_655948.html

    Another article where Mann briefly discusses his actions in response to Jones email is found in the CDT.

    http://www.centredaily.com/2010/03/28/1880457/pa-global-warming-researcher-calls.html

    In my opinion when Mann notified Jones that he would “contact Gene about this ASAP,” Mann became a co-conspirator when he assured Jones that he would contact Gene about deleting emails.

    Does anyone know of any further statements of Mann concerning his actions, other than that he did not delete any emails, in the email deleting episode of Climategate?

  19. snark
    Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

    Funny, my memory of history is that Watergate was about the illegal breaking in and stealing of property for political purposes. This has now been turned around such that those doing the illegal breaking in and entering are not the criminals. As for David Holland, he is a vexatious amateur with no understanding of he science. And finally McIntyre himself has laboured for years on the science coming up with nothing of estimation in the real world, only on the irrelevant world of he blogs. That he has nothing better to do in regards to the science only bears this out. Keep reading Steve, your one miserable publication is testament to your empty rhetoric, and underlying vindictiveness. For all your pretences at calm, dispassionate objectivity,

    “Steve: to the extent that CRU concealed contact betweeen Wahl and Briffa from the university, I suppose that it would be a continuing offence and thus not statute barred. But let’s not discuss the statute bar on this thread.”

    are not sincere, you are after blood.

    • TAG
      Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 10:25 AM | Permalink

      Please tell us what you really think.

      My memory of Watergate is that first among of the heroes was Deep Throat who directed W&B to pertinent areas by his knowledge of inside FBI information. The comparision of the person(s) who relased the Climategate emails and Deep Throat seems quite apt.

      • TAG
        Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 10:31 AM | Permalink

        In Watergate as well, W&B were unimportant beat reporters. I have read that if iportant political reporters had been assigned to it then Watergate would have come to nothing. It takes outsiders with dogged perisistance to penetrate the comfortable world of an ‘elite’.

    • Arn Riewe
      Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 10:26 AM | Permalink

      Thanks for your great demonstration of your intellect, Snark. You have certainly convinced me that Steve has provided no contribution to the debate / Snark off

    • TT
      Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 11:10 AM | Permalink

      Leaving aside the “vexatious” part, how is it relevant, for whether or not Holland has a right to have an FOI request answered, that he is an “amateur with no understanding of the science”? Must one be a scientist to make an FOI request? If so, what are the qualifications for that (BSc, PhD, research job)? Snark’s attitude is typical of RealClimate: leave it to us scientists; you amateurs have no business checking our work or questioning it on blogs.

    • James
      Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 11:32 AM | Permalink

      No Mr. Snark, Watergate was not about a 2nd rate burglary of the Democratic Party office in the Watergate Building. It was about a criminal conspiracy among the very highest members of the Executive branch of the United States to cover up that burglary. President Nixon’s involvement was established by the tape recording he kept of all of his Oval Office communications and meetings.

      Jones, Briffa, Mann et. al., government employees all working in the course and scope of their government employment, engaged in a conspiracy destroy data and evade lawful requests for information (to say nothing of data manipulation). Their undoing, like President Nixon, will be the very communications records they kept of their illegal intentions….assuming anyone in government is actually interested in prosecuting these men. Unfortunately, those currently in position to do so believe so deeply in the deception of AGW, that they are willing to look the other way, or as in Great Briton and at Penn State, stage superficial commissions stocked with “right thinking” arbiters seemingly intent on predetermined outcomes. In much the same way IPCC reports are produced.

      • sod
        Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 12:31 PM | Permalink

        No Mr. Snark, Watergate was not about a 2nd rate burglary of the Democratic Party office in the Watergate Building. It was about a criminal conspiracy among the very highest members of the Executive branch of the United States to cover up that burglary. President Nixon’s involvement was established by the tape recording he kept of all of his Oval Office communications and meetings.

        a pretty weird interpretation of what happened.

        in the CRU case, the thieves were from the sceptic side.

        • Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 12:56 PM | Permalink

          Show us the thieves and their convictions in a court of law and we might take such language seriously. Until then, it’s laughable. And if it wasn’t a hack, it was a whistleblower. Thanks for making that point so clearly.

        • Punksta
          Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 9:56 AM | Permalink

          The ‘thief’ – let us call him Deep Climate – was almost certainly a disgusted insider.

  20. LearDog
    Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 9:45 AM | Permalink

    This is just amazing to me. Steve (yet again) spoon feeds the stuff needed to have this whole thing explode – and in this case in court of law.
    Yet no reputable investigative journalist seems to want to bite. Its too ‘inside baseball’.

    But I would guess that Steve has new allies in the UEA FOI office. Who could probably demand restoration of archived email files.
    I’d resubmit requests gents.

    • Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 10:32 AM | Permalink

      One of the lessons of climategate is the complete corruption of the media. They have really brought their motives into focus. How can they be trusted in any way to report any story. I mean what about a story where a policeman makes an arrest. Can you really take the media’s word? Politics in media has long been a problem in media reporting but this story has been so badly covered, it leaves one shaking your head.

      When you have no choice but to get your news from unfunded bloggers, we have a very big problem in this world.

      • dougie
        Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 4:03 PM | Permalink

        I agree Jeff

        I think it all stems from reliance on ‘experts’ presented by MSM/ IPCC & government to inform Joe public.

        over the years I’ve began to question in my own mind their ‘expertise’ & try to evaluate
        the evidence by reading/blog lurking/etc..

        the problem for the vast majority is, they cannot not, or will not do above work (to busy with day to day life, or ‘just tell me what i need to do’ mentality).
        they therefore trust MSM/IPCC & ‘experts’ not to mislead them.

        therefore the only answer i can see is MSM/IPCC/government need to be reminded & castigated if they fail in their duty to inform impartially (may be too late/impossible, donno, as bender would say).

        ps. last i heard from bender he thought the GCM were next for audit, so he is probably immersed in that analysis.

      • ianl8888
        Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 7:23 PM | Permalink

        Sorry, Jeff, but I do not believe that “complete corruption of the media” is a lesson from climategate – at best it is simply a further demonstration of it

        More interesting is try and have Editors and sub-Editors expound on how they decide on what they term the “play of stories” in each edition, be it print, TV or radio

        When one can actually get them to answer the question, it is a mix of sensationalism (to gain or keep circulation), the “fit” of various stories to on-going ideologically chosen campaigns (if a story cannot be easily “fitted” it is generally ignored), and equally importantly the need to not upset their preferred audience by confronting prejudice with fact. Added to this mix is the unacknowledged desire to maintain their credibility by not publishing facts that expose their naivety

        I know this is teaching my grandmother to suck eggs, but many posts here and on other sites show a naff belief in the view that MSM have a requirement of full-enough objectivity. As Murdoch said: “There is no requirement for the MSM to educate the public” … so they don’t

        • Jimchip
          Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 9:01 PM | Permalink

          Re: ianl8888 (Apr 3 19:23),

          I am not arguing, Ian, but “More interesting is try and have Editors and sub-Editors expound on how they decide on what they term the “play of stories” in each edition” should include Science and Nature. And Other Journals. And, maybe, IPCC AR5, for a change.

        • ianl8888
          Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 10:00 PM | Permalink

          Yep … of course

          But my point is that it is naff to expect straight answers to these questions

  21. Beresting
    Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 10:53 AM | Permalink

    Excellent work. Pure joy to read. And any prosecutor in both US and the UK should really be fired up over this and start investigating and collect evidence right away. I would if I had a law degree.

    On a brighter side. I had to laugh when I was writing this comment and saw the usual:

    Post a Comment:
    Your email is never shared. I guess pun was intended :)

  22. Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 11:36 AM | Permalink

    I don’t think there is much understanding of journalism on this particular thread, or in the skeptic community as a whole (not necessarily claiming that this is part of the skeptic community, btw).

    How many reporters do you think decide what they will write about, as opposed to saying ‘Yes ma’am’ as they respond to the editor?

    How do you think editors decide what stories to cover and which reporters they will use? By checking out what the competition is doing and assessing the institutional information they have in house, certainly. But also by assessing the holes they have to fill in their paper or broadcast. This is most easily done by maintaining a calendar of upcoming events. The events on this calendar are by nature going to support organisations large enough to schedule events in advance.

    The climate change consensus controls much more than the data, and influences much more than academic publishing. They schedule events, seminars, press releases in advance of events–they make life easier for understaffed news organisations that face real problems do to lack of profitability, staff turnover, libel concerns and incredible competition from new news sources–e.g., this weblog. Climate Progress and Joe Romm (hiss, boo) make life easier for news organisations. This weblog (and my much more humble column) make life more difficult for them. Where do you think instinctive predispositions will fall?

    Potential ways to change this:

    1. Calendar or post forward publishing schedules
    2. Organise semi-formal events (online conferences, Web debates between bloggers, etc.)
    3. Press friendly archive and structured links to previously published material relevant to fresh stories.
    4. Outgoing communications directed at editors and reporters

    Consensus weblogs do some of this. If we want to be more than just marginal critics, we would have to do it as well.

    As we are much more diverse in opinion than the consensus holders care to believe (or at least say publically), this would be like herding cats. I don’t consider myself a skeptic–and from what I have read, I don’t think our gracious host does, either. And yet we would have to share infrastructure with real skeptics with whom we are unlikely to agree–and take a hit in the media for that fact. I’d be more than happy to share anything I have with Jeff Id–I’d be grumbling about sharing with Monckton…

    Happy Easter/Passover/ other holiday as appropriate…

    • Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 11:59 AM | Permalink

      Tom, very helpful. Don’t know if I agree with all – would have to think quite deeply on some of it – but you’ve hit a number of nails that I know I can see on the head. And you’re bound to see more of them than I do. And most of us. Thanks.

    • TT
      Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 12:12 PM | Permalink

      Tom,

      What you describe sounds to me more like a public relations agency than a newspaper run by journalists. But then my expectations of journalists have change a lot since the days of Woodward & Bernstein, and when I studied for a journalism degree. The new, operative motto of the NYT is “all the news that fits our narrative”. You, Tom, are one of the old school, relying on shoe leather rather than press releases. I’m grateful for that, but sad for the profession.

      • Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 1:02 PM | Permalink

        I agree about being grateful for Tom. And one of the strengths in what he’s written here is the candour about the lack of resources in old-style media. The advertising figures are awful, in case nobody’s noticed. Google is eating everyone’s lunch and the media world is being transformed very fast on the back of that. It all very well harking back to what seem halycon days of the Watergate affair (and I don’t personally think they were) but those days are gone. The battle is all about new media. This simple blog and Watts Up With That being prime examples of its power. And more change is on the way. Another reason not to hark back and to listen carefully to what Tom says here.

        • TT
          Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 1:55 PM | Permalink

          Agreed to some extent, especially re: Google. But the comparative ratings for Fox News and CNN, whatever else they imply, show there is an appetite–and a market–for news that doesn’t fit the NYT narrative. Surely out of all the thousands of journalists and editors re-cycling press releases, there has to be some (market) incentive for a few of them to go after the readers that could be gained by doing the kind of expose Steve has just done? There’s blood in the water, and the sharks aren’t interested. Ideological bias has to be a major part of the explanation for their timidity. Halcyon days or not, journalists used to be more aggressive interested in scandal for its own sake. All that being said, it is a challenge to figure out how to monetize our willingness to click on Climate Audit, WUWT, etc. to get the real story, when Google is eating up the ad revenue. The WSJ seems to have figured it out, and it will be interesting to see what will happen with Murdoch’s recent moves toward subscriptions at the Times (London) and threats to withdraw his content from Google search. But obviously it would be OT to debate Murdoch here!

    • sod
      Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 12:37 PM | Permalink

      The climate change consensus controls much more than the data, and influences much more than academic publishing.

      the completely overblown claims about the CRU mails got massive coverage. the house of commons report didn t make the same kind of headlines.

      We believe that the focus on CRU and Professor Phil Jones, Director of CRU, in particular, has largely been misplaced. Whilst we are concerned that the disclosed e-mails suggest a blunt refusal to share scientific data and methodologies with others, we can sympathise with Professor Jones, who must have found it frustrating to handle requests for data that he knew—or perceived—were motivated by a desire simply to undermine his work.

      http://climateprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/HC387-IUEAFinalEmbargoedv21.pdf

      did the sceptic community publish any results based on the FOI requested stuff? or was undermining scientists work enough?

      • Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 1:06 PM | Permalink

        To blog is to publish. To undermine the work of people who are called scientists but don’t act as such is to advance science. Your point is?

      • TAG
        Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 1:28 PM | Permalink

        From a New York Times artilce at

        http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/29/weekinreview/29revkin.html?_r=1

        Not all climate scientists buy into alarmist rhetoric. And notice the quote that indicates the need to clearly indicate and delineate what is known about climate from what is unknown.


        But other scientists say there is little hard evidence to back up specific predictions of catastrophe. They worry that the use of the term “tipping point” can be misleading and could backfire, fueling criticism of alarmism and threatening public support for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

        “I think a lot of this threshold and tipping point talk is dangerous,” said Kenneth Caldeira, an earth scientist at Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution and an advocate of swift action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. “If we say we passed thresholds and tipping points today, this will be an excuse for inaction tomorrow,” he said.

        For example, the idea that recent sharp retreat of summer sea ice around the North Pole has now taken on its own momentum has been challenged recently in papers by the earth scientists John S. Wettlaufer of Yale and Ian Eisenman of the California Institute of Technology. They contend that thin ice floes have the capacity to regrow quickly as summer ends, balancing out the melting that occurs as sunlight hits and heats dark open water.

        More generally, Dr. Wettlaufer has stressed the importance of being “caustically honest about what we know and don’t know.”

      • TAG
        Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 1:32 PM | Permalink

        …Professor Jones, who must have found it frustrating to handle requests for data that he knew—or perceived—were motivated by a desire simply to undermine his work. …

        Is the attempt to falsify a current theory and thus to advance scientific knowledge an attempt to undermine it. We can certainly hope so since science advances by revealing the deficiencies in current theories.

        The quoted sentence reveals a complete misunderstanding of science.

      • geronimo
        Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 9:15 AM | Permalink

        sod, I think you’ll find that no FOI requested stuff has been provided to this day by the CRU. In fact if you go back and read the article you will see at the very beginning that David Holland is still chasing the original FOI request.

        In case you are unaware, it is highly irregular for scientists to produce papers and then refuse to let others see the data. In fact I would say with certainty that people asking for the data and methods a scientist has used are not regarding as trying to undermine scientists in every other scientific discipline. The only reason a scientist could possibly have for not providing data and methods to others is that they believe themselves to have committed scientific malfeasance and don’t want the evidence out in the open.

        Unless, of course, you can provide a cogent reason why they shouldn’t.

        Steve; some data was supplied under FOI requests – for example, tree ring locations were obtained under FOI after being obstructed for a long time.

      • Michael Smith
        Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

        Sod approvingly quoted

        “. . . we can sympathise with Professor Jones, who must have found it frustrating to handle requests for data that he knew—or perceived—were motivated by a desire simply to undermine his work.”

        Sod, the data is what it is. If your work with the data has been honest — that is, if the data actually supports both the claims you are making as well as the level of certainty you are expressing about those claims — and if you have not ignored, suppressed or otherwise failed to mention any facts about the data that are inconvenient to your claims or might otherwise significantly weaken your position — then you have absolutely nothing to fear from having others seek to “undermine” your work.

        True, since no one is omniscient, others might find an error in your work that invalidates the claims. But if they do, you are always better off knowing the actual truth instead of clinging to a falsehood. And if they fail to find anything wrong, your conclusions are only further strengthened by the examination.

        Now, if you have manipulated the data in some fashion, or cherry-picked it — or if you have wildly oversold the level of certainty that can be assigned to your conclusions — or if you are aware of possible errors or biases in the data and simply decide to ignore them — then there is good reason to fear an independent examination. For under these conditions, what might be discovered by an outside examiner is something far worse than an honest error.

      • Glacierman
        Posted Apr 5, 2010 at 8:27 AM | Permalink

        He was worried they only wanted to undermine his work? If he didn’t know that the data was in shambles, and what he did did not stand up to appropriate scientific standards, he would not have been worried would he? Simply release the data and either nothing would come of it because his work was done correctly, or his work would have been shown to stand up to sceptical review. Only someone with something to hide acts this way.

      • Roger Knights
        Posted Apr 8, 2010 at 5:02 PM | Permalink

        Sod wrote, “the completely overblown claims about the CRU mails got massive coverage.”

        There was only one story on them in the US in the first two weeks after Nov. 19, and relatively little in the UK. Coverage elsewhere in the world even up until now has been sparse — e.g., virtually nothing in Australia.

    • Kenneth Fritsch
      Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 1:41 PM | Permalink

      Tom Fuller when you say, “I don’t think there is much understanding of journalism on this particular thread, or in the skeptic community as a whole (not necessarily claiming that this is part of the skeptic community, btw).”, I think you may be deluding yourself or being ironic. What you describe is not what most observers would attribute to classical journalism and I confident that goodly number of participants here are well aware of what you note passes for journalism these days.

      I guess that the more apparent misunderstanding of journalism comes for those who apparently think some required social good mysteriously appears from the process no matter how it is done and to the point of subsidizing what is evidently become a turn-off for large percentages of the public.

    • FHB
      Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 3:04 AM | Permalink

      Great expose Steve.

      We need to remember that Climate Change is more than just an issue about which objective reporting can be expected. For most Warmists climate change has a strong resemblance to religious fervour. Therefore reporting adversely about this religion would be in the nature of heresy for the believers. My view is that many journalists and editors are in fact believers and therefore they would be fanatically against reporting any facts which would cast doubt on their religion. Some of the commentary against “deniers” has all the air of the the reaction one would expect from the climate change taliban.

    • Roger Knights
      Posted Apr 8, 2010 at 5:57 PM | Permalink

      Our sides’ failure to provide the sort of media-friendly PR effort that Fuller advocates is one more indication that climate contrarians are not part of a “well-funded, well-organized” operation.

  23. Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 1:43 PM | Permalink

    OT but I hope interesting.

    Is Google biased?

    A year ago my colleague and I did an analysis of popular climate blogs based on Google ‘page rank’. The page rank goes from 0 to 10. The higher the rank the more enquiries Google is likely to send to that site. What we have found is the while non-sceptic sites are more or less in balance, as many sites have moved up as have moved down, for sceptic sites this is not the case. The number of demotions is more than 5 times higher than the number of promotions.

    (http://www.climatedata.info/Discussions/Discussions/opinions.php )

    It is not due to changes in posting frequency. We have also found that non-sceptical sites with few visitors (according to Alexa) sometimes have the same page rank as popular sceptic sites with 100 times as many visitors.

    It seems as if Google is biased against climate sceptics.

    • Arthur Dent
      Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 3:27 PM | Permalink

      This is of course not connected to the presence of Al Gore on its Board of Directors

      • Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 4:27 PM | Permalink

        Google guards its reputation for the independence of its search algorithm (and I know that’s almost got all of Al Gore’s name in it but please bear with me) as one of its cardinal USPs. I have never had any truck with these kinds of theories, that suggest AG’s directorship could affect such a thing. It would be madness. And because the algorithm is complex, unknown and inevitably faulty (as seen from the point of any single individual) it’s incredibly hard to know that you’ve come up with evidence of bias. How could you do an exhaustive test of that, across all possible searches? All I know is that very often when I google Climate Audit comes out top or in the first three. Quite right too it seems to me – but it probably wouldn’t to Gavin Schmidt.

        I’m not saying people shouldn’t look. I’m just saying I seldom bother. Which is a strength or a weakness, depending on the validity of the judgement expressed above. And there’s another reason I take Google at their word. These young men and women are very bright, extremely influential and, in my limited experience, often highly idealistic. I’ll be blunt. I don’t want to piss them off, at least without a very good reason. What good can that possibly do?

    • charles the moderator
      Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 4:38 PM | Permalink

      Re: Ron (Apr 3 13:43),

      Ron, this is off topic here and discussion should not be carried out here. I believe you are mistaken and posted the reason at your blog. I will not discuss it here.

  24. Tenuc
    Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 4:26 PM | Permalink

    Good piece of work. Just need one of the UK major newspapers to pick up and run with this one. In the current climate of pre-election jitters, this one will run and run.

  25. TAC
    Posted Apr 3, 2010 at 5:13 PM | Permalink

    Steve, this truly is amazing. Thank you!

  26. Larry T
    Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 5:55 AM | Permalink

    Violation of the FOI act is a crime and the solicitation of someone to do same is a conspiracy. When we will get an attorney general to bring RICO charges against them? A criminal search warrant is a lot harder to ignore.

  27. Slabadang
    Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 7:52 AM | Permalink

    Steve!

    Youre no less than a hero!! Fantastic work!!

  28. Dominic
    Posted Apr 4, 2010 at 9:18 AM | Permalink

    Sorry to be O/T but I just finished Bishop Hill’s book on the Hockey Stick Illusion. A devastating piece of writing and one that I urge you all to buy and read and then hand on.

  29. S C Brown
    Posted Apr 7, 2010 at 8:33 AM | Permalink

    Just finished Montford’s book. Deeply shocked. Science being discredited by a selfish few. The current view that science is no longer a matter of fact, but of concensus, is utter tosh. I can’t wait for the day when Climate Change is declared to be unsubstantiated and sincerely hope I live that long. I’m 58. Will I make it? Proper Nobel Prize for M&M. Time for a letter to HM King of Sweden.

  30. James in Perth
    Posted Apr 8, 2010 at 11:05 PM | Permalink

    While I enjoy reading this website for the ample information it provides regarding the faulty science behind the IPCC Assessment Reports, it makes me sad that the authors have out of necessity had to become so well-versed in the legalities of climate scholarship and FOI laws.

    Here’s hoping that someday this site will only have to address reasonable differences of opinion on what causes climate change and where the planet is heading.

    • S C Brown
      Posted Apr 10, 2010 at 1:31 AM | Permalink

      James, have a read of Heather Brooke’s “The Silent State”. Everyone, don’t forget the tipjar. MM must have spent loads on this and we should support them in the best way we can. Keep them on the road doing for us what we may not be able to do for ourselves.

  31. Faustino
    Posted Apr 12, 2010 at 3:17 AM | Permalink

    Just noticed the following finale to an Economist article on the Commons CRU inquiry, 31/3/10:

    “Mr Stringer moved to have the report urge that it is “vital that these two inquiries have at least one member each who is a reputable scientist, and is sceptical of anthropogenic climate change.” The rest of the committee voted this suggestion down, arguing that scepticism was a proper attitude expected of all, rather than the badge of a preceding conviction. Steve McIntyre, a retired Canadian mining consultant whose blog, Climate Audit, has been the source for much detailed critique of climate reconstructions, including those of CRU, might, though not an academic, be the sort of person Mr Stringer is thinking of. For his part, Mr McIntyre says that his preference would not be for someone sceptical of anthropogenic global warming per se, but rather for someone familiar with the detailed issues that he and others have raised—or, better yet, for a judge.”

    The article also referred to the “apparently stolen” e-mails – has that issue been resolved at all?

5 Trackbacks

  1. By TWAWKI on Apr 3, 2010 at 6:37 AM

    [...] of climate science. A quick surf around the net reveals the appalling nature of the report. Climate audit discusses the details they failed to look at, The Airvent poses the point that silence screams from the rooftops, Roger [...]

  2. By Some context for Climategate « CO2 Realist on Apr 3, 2010 at 2:48 PM

    [...] Keith Should Say… [...]

  3. [...] Over at CA, McI has an interesting post up. Clearly unsatisfied with the findings of the Parliamentary Inquiry into the CRU Emails, and of course, 3 of the 4 aspects of the Mann inquiry, McI is doing his own inquiry, rehashing some of the issues he feels were inadequately addressed in the UK Inquiry. [...]

  4. By Climategate, what is going on? - EcoWho on Apr 6, 2010 at 6:27 PM

    [...] Keith should say… [...]

  5. [...] break their own rules on sources, [...]

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