Here is an interesting Swedish documentary on Climategate, with some of the first footage of Jones, who, as has been observed from time to time, looks quite frail from the experience. At least half is in English and you can follow it without Swedish.
The image of the words “hide the decline” is a motif that recurs throughout the video. These words animated much of the early attention. The failure of the “inquiries” to confront the most notorious email is both disappointing and inexcusable.
Mann gives an “explanation” at about minute 22.20. Mann (rough transcript):
The original publication was about that problem [the decline] – it was hardly something they were hiding. What Phil Jones was saying, in a clumsy way, was that he didn’t want to include bad data, data after 1960 which known to be unreliable, so he talked about hiding the divergence problem, hiding the decline, by not showing the bad data.
Here, as so often in this affair, one sees someone who purports to be a “scientist” making unsupportable statements. There is no evidence that the tree ring density data after 1960 is “bad data” in the sense that it was measured incorrectly, that there was some sort of instrumentation or measurement problem. On its face, the density data shows that this particular proxy didn’t respond in a linear manner to warmer temperatures in the late 20th century. See here for a blog discussion of the IPCC and the trick and here for a longer (updated) exposition.
Mann states, as though it were a fact, that the Climategate dossier originated by someone “literally breaking into an academic institution”. To my knowledge, there is no evidence at the present of a “literal break-in”, with many commenters presuming that the dossier was compiled by someone at the UEA. Mann accuses critics of “dishonestly cherrypicking and looking for words out of context”. However, no Climategate defenders, including Mann, have provided additional contextual material justifying the words in question. I, for one, have gone to considerable lengths to place matters in as precise a context as I can and, in my opinion, the words in context are generally worse (a view shared by Mosher and Fuller in CTUTape Letters and to some extent by Fred Pearce in The Climate Files.)
Jones was asked about data withholding. Unfortunately, the question wasn’t sharply posed – Jones wasn’t asked why he sent data to “friends” (Scott Rutherford, Mann, Peter Webster), while claiming that confidentiality agreements prevented him from sending data to others. Jones (about minute 28) discusses matters very late in the day (when the supposed confidentiality agreements were sought after years of stonewalling):
I’m not sure how we could have acted differently. We tried to respond where we could. We put up the agreements we had. A lot of the time we didn’t have the information that they were after. it became obvious that it was just time wasting in responding because they would just go on to something else, with another question and it was just taking up to much of our time.
Gavin Schmidt explains that they aren’t “saints” nor “Mother Teresa”, a point on which he and Climategate critics can undoubtedly find common ground, as though this were a reason for not providing data to critics:
We’re not climate scientists because we’re saints, we’re not Mother Teresa. People who launch off – we’re know you’re a fraud, but give me all your data, all your time and all of this. You know what – people are not going to be well disposed. Given all the things that they could be doing with their time, they’re not going to spend time with these people.
Here, as so often, Schmidt, although purporting to be a “scientist” is disseminating disinformation. My suggestion throughout has been for scientists and journals to archive data and metadata at the time of publication. This removes the temptation to give preferential treatment to friends. Archiving code will, in many cases, avoid the need for someone asking a question about the methodology. Scientists have spent far more time thinking up reasons not to archive data than to archive it in the first place.
In addition, scientists have wasted both their own time and time of critics by giving untrue answers in refusing data.