Why Climategate 2.0 matters, but also why it doesn’t matter at all.

I have been reading a fair amount of the news associated with the latest release of the CRU emails and have even downloaded the whole cache and peeked through them a little.  It is entertaining and somewhat informative, but my response to the whole thing seems to be very different than the response of others.  The person who is releasing the emails clearly has a political motive based simply on the timing of both releases.  Both the Copenhagen and Durban conferences were targets for the release and there will be disruptions as a result.  Of course the entire global warming debate has always been political so I suppose that this is a fair tactic.

Before I go into my personal views on this I would like to contrast the two typical responses that are taking place.  The first is the thunderous response from the Skeptic side of the debate.  This can be easily demonstrated by the top of page headline that it has been for the past week at Watts.  I suspect that it will continue to be top news there for a while.  This is a convenient sorting house for the thousands of emails and documents because it is useful to know what is in them.  The clear intent of any article from this realm is to discredit the climate scientists, or at least to paint them in a bad light.

The flip-side of the debate is the denounce the whole thing as an illegal political ploy.  Any article that starts out with a comment on the illegally stolen emails usually falls into this category and there are many like this, this and this.  This is simple damage control aimed at getting the idea out there that private emails should not be released because it is private.  There are many comments along the lines of “How would you feel if your private email was released to the public?”  Mix that in with the constant barrage that only conspiracy theorists can find anything useful in the emails and you have pretty much the response of the warmists.

There is plenty of truths in both sides of the response.  The emails were obtained illegally, but that also doesn’t matter.  My work email is subject to many government regulations of storage and retention so if something illegal is happening, the company will be held accountable if emails are destroyed and they can’t prove wrongdoing as a result.  Much of the same regulation applies to public resources and it should.  Anyone using their work email should expect that it could come back to haunt them.  That is life in the modern world.  In addition public universities get public funding from the government.  It is my tax dollars they are using to fund their research (at least in the U.S.).  They have every responsibility to show that they are using that money wisely.  So despite the fact that the emails were obtained illegally, the emails should be available anyway through proper channels.

This of course leads to the issues of avoiding Freedom of Information requests.  It is clear from the emails that the climate scientists were actively discussing ways to avoid releasing information under FOI requests.  Here is the legal definition of conspiracy.

Law . an agreement by two or more persons to commit a crime, fraud, or other wrongful act.

When people agree to a method to circumvent the law, it is by the legal definition a conspiracy.  Granted this is a foolish and silly one, but nonetheless it is conspiracy.  This leads to a merry-go-round of stuff that is best left to lawyers, but based on my experience in the workforce, if I was caught doing what they were doing, I would most likely lose my job and be on my own in facing the wrath of the courts.  So I have very, very little sympathy for the scientists who were for the most part using their work email in these discussions.

Aside from the legal shenanigans, the most disturbing aspect of this is release is the response that the warmists have for any paper that disagrees with their all important consensus.  The paper and the author are instantly and immediately treated like a fool and disparaged as such.  There is no room for dissent within the community.  This is insanity in its clearest form.  In my work getting 10 people to agree to something all the time is a joke.  Healthy disagreement is part of getting to real solutions.  Walking on eggshells to avoid irritating anyone else is the worst possible way to reach good solutions or good science.  The climate scientists are a best case example of a completely dysfunctional team.  They are incapable of direct honesty with each other and resort to sniping each other behind each others backs.  It is no wonder that their science sucks as bad as it does (yes, I mean that).

That of course is the key problem.  Their science is just bad.  There is a lot of good science taking place, but all of it is warped to fit around CO2.  As a result, their conclusions are always skewed towards their incorrect assumptions.  That they are always looking to show that CO2 causes all past changes, they succeed.  That is what they have done with the opening of the Drake Passage and with the more recent glacial/interglacial cycles.  If their science were good, then the emails wouldn’t matter.  That the science is bad also means that the emails mean nothing, but they provide an insight into why their results are so completely wrong.  Any group that cannot tolerate any dissent is doomed to reach bad conclusions.  They provide a wonderful example of how to not do science.

Posted in Bad Science and Skeptic by inconvenientskeptic on November 29th, 2011 at 7:13 am.


This post has 13 comments

  1. The emails were obtained illegally”

    How do you know? Was it you?

    Please don’t repeat the propaganda.

  2. inconvenientskeptic Nov 29th 2011

    The basis for illegal is that it was not an approved release.

    If someone with inside access is acting as a whistleblower, it could still be considered illegal, but then there are whistleblower laws to protect such individuals.

    In almost every conceivable situation the person who released these emails could be in trouble with the law for releasing them. That is a good indication of illegal.

    If you have a scenario where someone could have legally released the emails, please let me know because that would be interesting to know, I just have not once seen a mechanism by which this release would be legal.

    I am not opposed to the leak, but people have gone to jail for leaking information on such a scale.

  3. Eric Anderson Nov 29th 2011

    “Any group that cannot tolerate any dissent is doomed to reach bad conclusions. They provide a wonderful example of how to not do science.”

    This is very key and an excellent point.


    One way the emails could have been released (who knows?) is if the emails were gathered as part of an initial internal FOI exercise, and then stored on a publicly-available part of the server. There was some discussion with Climategate 1.0 that this may have been the case, and there was also some precedent with other CRU materials that they accidentially stored on a publicly-available access point. I don’t know how likely it is and the emails may have been obtained illegally as you suggest, but it is interesting how there seems to be so little hard information from CRU and/or the police inspectors about the situation. Other than immediately proclaiming that they were “hacked” when Climategate 1.0 occurred 2 years ago, I’m not aware of any hard evidence pointing to an identifiable breach. Most hacking schemes that access huge amounts of data are identifiable, at least in terms of when and how it happened, if not perhaps by whom.

  4. inconvenientskeptic Nov 29th 2011

    Leaving information openly available on a public server is certainly a possibility, but I consider that unlikely.

    I remain convinced that this is an inside job. Someone who knows that he/she would be in trouble for releasing this information.

    I have no evidence to support that, but there is so much information and the timing shown supports the idea that the person who got the information is aware of the political context. They also know what they are doing because of the well encrypted data that will be instantly available by posting a single key. Whoever it is, they know what they are doing.

  5. There are some indications.That it is an internal leak going on.Maybe even a “team” member who is tired of the prevaricating crap!

    It is probably released illegally.But they I am not going to give a dam because of the “victims” involved.

    They have been exposed for probable criminal activities.They have been protected under several whitewash investigations.They have been given undue confidence of their obviously flawed opinions.They have been given a lot of money for their unethical and possibly criminal activities.They have been given absurdly favorable media support.

    This is one illegal expose we are greatly befitting from.Since it is obvious that despite the damning fresh revelations of their possible lawbreaking and unethical activities.They are once again going to get away with it.

    Thus the e-mails being sprung without their approval is the best it has ever happened.

    These scoundrels deserve being exposed for what they are.SCUMS!

  6. John,

    You might find this blog post interesting:

    Pointman — A dead man’s hand detonator on hidden emails may protect ClimateGate whistleblower


    A snippet from the link,

    “Looking at the “Background and Context” section of the readme file that came with the latest release, their motivation is plain for all to see, as are a number of other things. They are quite prepared to burn climate science down to its very foundations to stop it being used to justify environmental policies that they believe are killing people in the developing world. It is a motivation and strategy I share with them. My admiration of them is only tempered by my awe at the escalated level of risk they’ve now decided to take on.”

    I think this is one very angry and determined whistleblower.I no longer care if they are being release illegally or not.The expose shows why it should not matter.As Pointman points out here:

    “From the viewpoint of the political establishment, the original climategate was probably viewed as a squabble about the details of a branch of science and it was strictly confined to the blogosphere, since it was never reported on by the mainstream media. It looked like a one-off, so there was no ongoing political liability to worry about. Release 2 changes things, both for the whistleblower and the parties involved in the political emails. I’ve no doubt that at the time of the first release, the “scientists” assured the politicians that no significant political emails had been compromised and after two years of complete silence, it looked to be so.

    With release 2, all bets are off. The release of explicit emails between scientists and senior political figures conspiring to deceive the electorate would not only be politically terminal but would also have to be reported on in the mainstream media. There’d be no way of ignoring them. The whistleblower is not going away and this means a real attempt is now going to be made to find them before they release any more emails. The last time, finding them was the last thing anyone wanted. This time, they simply have to be found and fast. Given the greater will and a lot more resources, there’s a real danger they’ll locate the leaker this time.”

  7. Eric Anderson Nov 29th 2011

    Well, you may be right. And perhaps you could say the emails were “obtained illegally,” though if the person had access to the internal system in their capacity as a CRU employee, I’m not sure “illegal” is the right word, as presumably it wouldn’t be illegal for them to see, read, review, even copy emails. Perhaps we could say the emails were released publicly against internal CRU policy, which would probably be enough for a firing, but I’m not sure it would be enough for an indictment, particularly at a public institution. Anyway, just thinking out loud here.

    The whole lack of information about whodunnit, though, is strange. Like I said, an outside hack that obtained this much data would likely be something they could identify, at least as to time and manner. An inside job might leave less of a trail, but one would think there would be some trail in the system. I’m not too impressed with someone being able to encript a batch of emails with a commercially-available product. But I am more impressed if an insider was able to gather all the data right under CRU’s nose on CRU’s own equipment and then completely erase their tracks to the point that the computer forensics police (who, if I recall correctly, looked at the computers) have not been able to solidify any leads to the point where they can even identify a preliminary suspect as being under suspicion. Maybe they have, but CRU and the police have sure been quiet about it, in contrast to their public rhetoric about how outraged they are that they were “hacked” . . .

    Fun to speculate . . .

  8. John,

    There is some quasi-science content in the emails related to the hockey stick. I’ve read some “behind-the-scenes” recognition of the problems by a few scientists communicating with “the team”.

    It was refreshing to see that at least a few scientists interacting with Jones et al still have some integrity. Just my $0.02.

  9. inconvenientskeptic Nov 30th 2011


    You are correct in stating that there is some “behind-the-scenes” recognition of the issues with Mann’s Hockey Stick.

    That is exactly the type of dissent that is needed to reach good conclusions. It was that dissent that Mann is so extremely intolerant of dealing with at a professional level.

  10. Richard111 Dec 1st 2011

    Good post John. I agree wholeheartedly.
    Long ago,when the world was young and fresh, I worked in IT.
    Over at WUWT is a Guest Post by David M. Hoffer.
    Although things have moved on I can endorse his essay.
    I really do recommend anyone involved in IT read it.
    I have a huge reel of tape from some IT department in my past. What is on it I haven’t a clue. It is my “no sh1t” tape. 🙂
    When your boat is layed up for the winter, tie some tape from
    the mast to various points on the railings. Make sure it is fairly
    tight and not too twisted. When the wind blows the tape hums.
    Seagulls hate it. 🙂

  11. inconvenientskeptic Dec 1st 2011

    You didn’t by chance work in IT at the CRU did you?

  12. Richard111 Dec 1st 2011

    No chance! 🙂 I was doing Novell Netware and Modula 2, both gone the way of the dinosaurs. But I was involved in backups. Worst part was when tearful secretary says she has been typing for three hours and her PC crashed. Never once hit the “save” button and overwrote the start of the harddrive. :sigh:

  13. Sheri Dec 4th 2011

    Excellent post.

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