Fool Me Once, Shame on You, Fool Me Twice, Shame on the Media: More Stolen Emails Can’t Stop Catastrophic Global Warming, Only We Can

The UK Guardian reports today that the deniers are serving 2-year-old leftovers for Thanksgiving:

Fresh round of hacked climate science emails leaked online

A file containing 5,000 emails has been made available in an apparent attempt to repeat the impact of 2009’s similar release….

The initial email dump was apparently timed to disrupt the Copenhagen climate talks. It prompted three official inquiries in the UK and two in the US into the working practices of climate scientists. Although these were critical of the scientists’ handling of Freedom of Information Act requests and lack of openness they did not find fault with the climate change science they had produced.

Norfolk police have said the new set of emails is “of interest” to their investigation to find the perpetrator of the initial email release who has not yet been identified.

Actually nine independent investigations have vindicated climate science and climate scientists on the hacked University of East Anglia emails (as Skeptical Science explains, for those who want the full history).

As one scientist put it to me today:

“Two years ago, emails were released and the American people were lied to about their content.  Now, we are expected to be gullible enough to believe the original liars a second time.”

Media Matters also has a good post, “Memo To Media: Research First, Then Report On Climate Emails.”

The bad news is that, as Media Matters explains in its latest post, “Media Already Botching Reports On Hacked Climate Emails,” with some awful “reporting” by the Washington Post already (see below).

The good news is that the perpetrators and their fellow deniers apparently think the international climate talks in Durban are actually important enough to try to trick the media once again into prematurely running stories on out-of-context excerpts from private emails from scientists, most of which were written years ago, discussing science that has long since been resolved.

Leftovers, again? One climate scientist calls the email dump, “Two-year-old turkey from Thanksgiving 2009.”

These are the “second string” emails.  The Varsity team couldn’t derail the science so it’s  really hard to see how the Junior Varsity team could. In other words, if multiple independent investigations showed that climate science was unscathed by the original batch of emails — which must have been the ones the deniers thought were the best they had — then what precisely are the chances these even weaker second-stringers are going to beat the climate science team?  After all, the climate science team has gotten considerably stronger in recent years.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences concluded its 2010 review of climate science, saying it is a “settled fact” that “the Earth system is warming.”  As for the cause, last year, Time reported on a comprehensive new review paper of “100 peer-reviewed post-IPCC studies” in an article titled, “Report: The Case for Global Warming Stronger Than Ever”:

By looking at a wide range of observations from all over the world,  the Met Office study concludes that the fingerprint of human influence on climate is stronger than ever. “We can say with a very high significance level that the effects we see in the climate cannot be attributed to any other forcings [factors that push the climate in one direction or another],” says study co-author Gabriele Hegerl of the University of Edinburgh.

In a AAAS presentation last year, the late William R. Freudenburg of UC Santa Barbara discussed his research on “the Asymmetry of Scientific Challenge“: New scientific findings since the 2007 IPCC report are found to be more than twenty times as likely to indicate that global climate disruption is “worse than previously expected,” rather than “not as bad as previously expected.”

And, of course,  in the real world, Arctic sea ice is disappearing faster than the IPCC climate models projected, the  Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are disintegrating faster than the climate models projected, the tropical zones  are expanding faster than the models projected (a key cause of Dust-Bowlification), and, sadly, greenhouse gas emissions are rising faster than the primary worst-case IPCC scenario — see An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts.

Recall the foundation of the phony Climategate charge.  Somehow the climate scientists at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, led by Phil Jones, were manipulating the data and the peer review process as part of a grand conspiracy to convince the public the earth has been warming faster than it really is.  The “CRU compiles the land component of the record and the Hadley Centre provides the marine component.”

The BEST team vindicated climate science.  The key paper found “ a degree of global land-surface warming during the anthropogenic era that is consistent with prior work (e.g. NOAA) but on the high end of the existing range of reconstruction.

D’oh!  The BEST data shows considerably higher warming in recent years than HadCRUThe group whose emails were hack have been UNDERestimating global warming!

If you waste your time looking at these second-string emails, you’ll see, for instance, the perpetrators tout e-mails involved the urban heat island issue, but BEST have already demonstrated for the umpteenth time that that it isn’t tainting the surface temperature record.

So you can see why these emails didn’t make the Varsity team.  These truly are minor league emails.

Here is the UEA response to the emails, yet one more plea to the media from the scientists involved not to fall for the trick of the out-of-context excerpt:


While we have had only a limited opportunity to look at this latest post of 5,000 emails, we have no evidence of a recent breach of our systems.

If genuine, (the sheer volume of material makes it impossible to confirm at present that they are all genuine) these emails have the appearance of having been held back after the theft of data and emails in 2009 to be released at a time designed to cause maximum disruption to the imminent international climate talks.

This appears to be a carefully-timed attempt to reignite controversy over the science behind climate change when that science has been vindicated by three separate independent inquiries and number of studies – including, most recently, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature group.

As in 2009, extracts from emails have been taken completely out of context. Following the previous release of emails scientists highlighted by the controversy have been vindicated by independent review, and claims that their science cannot or should not be trusted are entirely unsupported. They, the University and the wider research community have stood by the science throughout, and continue to do so.

Shawn Otto comments on a couple more emails:

Here are the shocking – and I mean shocking – things that climate scientists are emailing each other, according to Id: “We need to communicate the uncertainty and be honest.”

Wow.  That’s a shocker.  A scientist saying they need to communicate the uncertainty in their data.  Which, by the way, they do in every study they publish.  It’s a required part of science.

“I find myself in the strange position of being very skeptical of the quality of all present reconstructions, yet sounding like a pro greenhouse zealot here!”

Geez.  Another shocker.  A leading expert of temperature reconstructions is skeptical of temperature reconstructions but still lets the data guide his ultimate conclusions.  Isn’t that sort of skepticism what we want?

This is a bit like the loony old argument that it’s just a theory – when in science a “theory” is the one explanation that’s supported by all the experiments and data we’ve accumulated to date.

By the way, the “very skeptical of the quality of all present reconstructions” emails appears to from January 2005.  It is nearly 7 years old.

There have probably been about a dozen major independent analyses of the paleoclimate reconstructions since then — see, for instance “Two more independent studies back the Hockey Stick: Recent global warming is unprecedented in magnitude and speed and cause.”  In fact, there was an entire review by the National Academy of Sciences in 2006 that reaffirmed the reconstructions.

So again, much ado about not bloody much.

I’ll end with an excerpt from two Media Matters posts.  First, “Memo To Media: Research First, Then Report On Climate Emails“:

The previous release of hacked emails triggered a storm of ill-informed media coverage in December 2009, with news outlets rushing to quote the documents without taking the time to research the context or ask experts to translate the scientific language. (As we know, terms used in scientific discussions often have a different meaning than when used in normal public conversation.)

As a result, numerous mainstream news outlets repeated allegations that the emails showed scientists doctoring data to exaggerate global warming. That claim has become part of the version of history told by conservative media even after multiple investigations found it to be false. But the damage had been done. A study conducted by researchers at Yale and George Mason University found that “Climategate deepened and perhaps solidified the prior observed declines in public beliefs that global warming is happening, human caused, and of serious concern.” This contrasts with the views of the vast majority of climate scientists.

Last month an independent study set up by physicist Richard Muller — and funded by the Koch family — investigated criticisms of the prevailing global land temperature records, including the record produced by the University of East Anglia. Announcing the results, Muller stated:

When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn’t know what we’d find. Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that. They managed to avoid bias in their data selection, homogenization and other corrections.

There are individuals, corporations and interest groups who seek to distract from the mounting body of evidence indicating that humans are changing the climate. In fact, an action plan created by the American Petroleum Industry outlined a strategy to manipulate media outlets in order to create confusion among the public about climate science.

The question is: will mainstream media outlets allow themselves to be manipulated by a campaign to distract the public from the big picture on climate change? Or will they fulfill their responsibilities as journalists? Looks like we’ll find out if they’ve learned their lesson to research first, then report.

Sadly, “it didn’t take long for our esteemed print outlets to disappoint,” as Media Matters explains in a second post:

Writing on the Washington Post’s website, Juliet Eilperin quotes an email exchange that she said was about “whether the IPCC has accurately depicted the temperature rise in the lower atmosphere”:

In one round of e-mails, researchers discuss whether the IPCC has accurately depicted the temperature rise in the lower atmosphere. An official from the U.K. Met Office, a scientific organization which analyzes the climate, writes to the Climate Research Unit’s former director Phil Jones at one point, “Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these further if necessary […]”

Later, the official adds, “I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.”

Astoundingly, Eilperin does not tell readers that these email exchanges took place in February 2005 and were about the first draft of a chapter of the IPCC report released two years later. The emails depict the authors of the chapter hashing out what should be included — exactly what you would expect this process to look like.

After providing comments on the draft, then-Met Office official Peter Thorne wrote: “I’m pretty sure we can reconcile these things relatively simply. However, I certainly would be unhappy to be associated with it if the current text remains through final draft – I’m absolutely positive it won’t.”

So were his concerns addressed in the final draft? If only we had reporters who asked these questions. For his part, The Hill’s Ben Geman simply repeats what Eilperin reported, while admitting that he hasn’t even “been able to view the newly released emails.”

In the email exchange, Thorne provides comments “on the upper-air portion” of the chapter. He wrote: “There is little effective communication in the main text of the uncertainty that is inherent in these measures,” later adding, “we need to communicate the uncertainty and be honest.”

And this is from the final version of the chapter, which cites Thorne’s own research at least 5 times:

Within the community that constructs and actively analyses satellite- and radiosonde-based temperature records there is agreement that the uncertainties about long-term change are substantial. Changes in instrumentation and protocols pervade both sonde and satellite records, obfuscating the modest long-term trends. Historically there is no reference network to anchor the record and establish the uncertainties arising from these changes – many of which are both barely documented and poorly understood. Therefore, investigators have to make seemingly reasonable choices of how to handle these sometimes known but often unknown influences. It is difficult to make quantitatively defensible judgments as to which, if any, of the multiple, independently derived estimates is closer to the true climate evolution. This reflects almost entirely upon the inadequacies of the historical observing network and points to the need for future network design that provides the reference sonde-based ground truth.

Raphael Satter of the Associated Press has also has a premature report, which has been publishedon the websites of countless news outlets, asserting that the emails “appeared to show climate scientists talking in conspiratorial tones about ways to promote their agenda.” What agenda is that? The article doesn’t say. Satter admits that the context of the emails “couldn’t be determined” because the “Associated Press has not yet been able to secure a copy” of the documents.

Maybe the quote should be, Fool Me Once, Shame on Deniers, Fool Me Twice, Shame on the Media.

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53 Responses to Fool Me Once, Shame on You, Fool Me Twice, Shame on the Media: More Stolen Emails Can’t Stop Catastrophic Global Warming, Only We Can

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    It will be interesting to see how MSM reacts this time around, and I hope there will be a detailed monitoring. Even Monbiot got swept up in the hysteria in 2009, and a lot more Americans are aware of the “Climategate scandal” than the multiple exonerations that followed.

    I’d be shocked if MSM acts properly this time, but if they don’t, it’s one more reason to get ready to discredit and bypass them altogether.

  2. While Rome burns …

  3. It seems the SwiftHackers profess a great, great concern for poor people, so I wrote the following response on my blog, on Climate Audit, and on the Air Vent:

    Yo SwiftHackers,

    Poverty did you say? Are you really interested to know the real causes of poverty?

    Well, just take a look at the BP oil spill. Take a look at the behaviour of the AIG fat cats when the 2008 financial meltdown occurred. Take a look at the Bank of America and their fraudulent, illegal foreclosures of people’s homes.

    Who are the real causes of poverty? Not climate scientists!

    No, the real causes of poverty are the super-rich 1% who still think they’re not rich enough, who plunder people’s homes, plunder the earth, plunder the atmosphere, just so that they can make more money. And many of the super-rich 1% are also embarking on smear campaigns against climate scientists to distract people away from their own immoral crimes — smear campaigns which you are facilitating.

    Do you, SwiftHackers, truly work for your own good, for the good of your family and friends, for the good of the 99%?

    Or do you work to serve the 1%’s plunder?

    I think, deep in your heart of hearts, you know the answer. It’s time to wake up.

    — frank

  4. SecularAnimist says:

    Media Matters wrote: “The question is: will mainstream media outlets allow themselves to be manipulated by a campaign to distract the public from the big picture on climate change?”

    I would submit that the question is:

    Are mainstream media outlets being “manipulated”, or are they in fact deliberate, knowing collaborators in a campaign to distract the public from the big picture on climate change?

  5. cervantes says:

    The corporate media don’t even have to be manipulated, or for that matter willing co-conspirators, because the conventions of stenographic he said/she said journalism mean that any garbage you can dump into the news hole automatically wins credibility. As Krugman put it, “Shape of the earth: views differ.”

  6. cervantes says:

    Definitely check out Naomi Klein in The Nation. This should be front-paged here. A pull quote:

    “But at a time when a growing number of people agree with the protesters at Occupy Wall Street, many of whom argue that capitalism-as-usual is itself the cause of lost jobs and debt slavery, there is a unique opportunity to seize the economic terrain from the right. This would require making a persuasive case that the real solutions to the climate crisis are also our best hope of building a much more enlightened economic system—one that closes deep inequalities, strengthens and transforms the public sphere, generates plentiful, dignified work and radically reins in corporate power.”

  7. Toby says:

    I can see this having a perversely good effect. It is a chance to remind the public that the original hack led to the clearing of all the scientists involved.

    The fact that five times as many e-mails were released this time also suggests some desperation on the part of the perps.

    Britain is seeing front-page headlines about the malignant phone-hacking by the Murdoch press, the subject of a public enquiry, so no one will be eager to jump all over this. BTW, I believe, though only on slim evidence so far, that the Murdoch Press are also behind the 2009 hack.

  8. Berbalang says:

    Joe, I wish I shared your optimism.

    My gut feeling is that the hacker or hackers are trying to keep the Climategate controversy alive and have very closely watched how people have responded and what evidence was brought forward to show the climate researchers acted responsibly in the first email release.
    Then hacker would specifically select emails to create the impression that the conclusions reached in the first Climategate attack were wrong. After all, he/she/they have had about two years to do this.
    More importantly, if this salvo of emails fails to get the desired response, they will quickly do another release.

  9. Toby says:

    I ahsre Joe’s optimism. Hell, what would pessimism buy us, anyway?

    The public are not as gullible as you might think … Joe Sixpack will quickly realise he is being “played” by a dribble of faux-scandalous e-mails. If the hacker (and I still suspect the Murdoch press – hacking is their trademark) was neutral, why not release all the e-mails immediately, or send them to a “neutral” media outfit for assessment.

    The fact that they are initially released to climate denialist web sites telegraphs the motive.

  10. EDpeak says:

    His website says William Freudenburg passsed away in Dec of 2010, not very long after the AAAS presentation therefore.

    Rest in peace.

  11. Alan Larkman says:

    Slightly OT, but another quote from Naomi Klein’s excellent article:
    “The fact that the earth’s atmosphere cannot safely absorb the amount of carbon we are pumping into it is a symptom of a much larger crisis, one born of the central fiction on which our economic model is based: that nature is limitless, that we will always be able to find more of what we need, and that if something runs out it can be seamlessly replaced by another resource that we can endlessly extract. But it is not just the atmosphere that we have exploited beyond its capacity to recover—we are doing the same to the oceans, to freshwater, to topsoil and to biodiversity. The expansionist, extractive mindset, which has so long governed our relationship to nature, is what the climate crisis calls into question so fundamentally. The abundance of scientific research showing we have pushed nature beyond its limits does not just demand green products and market-based solutions; it demands a new civilizational paradigm, one grounded not in dominance over nature but in respect for natural cycles of renewal—and acutely sensitive to natural limits, including the limits of human intelligence.”
    I’m sorry to say that sometimes even the articles and comments I read on this blog don’t always seem to reflect these wider concerns. If only fossil fuel use was the only thing threatening our world…

  12. prokaryotes says:

    Thanks for the insightfull quote, keep it coming Alan!

  13. prokaryotes says:

    Two-year old turkey

    The blogosphere is abuzz with the appearance of a second tranche of the emails stolen from CRU just before thanksgiving in 2009. Our original commentary is still available of course (CRU Hack, CRU Hack: Context, etc.), and very little appears to be new in this batch. Indeed, even the out-of-context quotes aren’t that exciting, and are even less so in-context.

    A couple of differences in this go around are worth noting: the hacker was much more careful to cover their tracks in the zip file they produced – all the file dates are artificially set to Jan 1 2011 for instance, and they didn’t bother to hack into the RealClimate server this time either. Hopefully they have left some trails that the police can trace a little more successfully than they’ve been able to thus far from the previous release.

    But the timing of this release is strange. Presumably it is related to the upcoming Durban talks, but it really doesn’t look like there is anything worth derailing there at all. Indeed, this might even increase interest! A second release would have been far more effective a few weeks after the first – before the inquiries and while people still had genuine questions. Now, it just seems a little forced, and perhaps a symptom of the hacker’s frustration that nothing much has come of it all and that the media and conversation has moved on.

  14. Andy Olsen says:

    Again, we need to ask Whodunnit? Who stole these emails? And why?

    And why do our news media think it’s okay to carry out debates by committing theft?

    Last I checked on this question, Scotland Yard was investigating. Perhaps some reporter could, oh I don’t know, call up Scotland Yard and ask how that is coming.

    Of course, given that Scotland Yard has been implicated with the various crimes of the Murdoch media empire, they may be too compromised. In that case, they could refer the investigation to a reputable investigatory outfit.

  15. Steve Bloom says:

    Joe, we should not forget the key role played by the Guardian (and not just Monbiot) in launching “Climategate.” Recall e.g. not just the original coverage (bad enough) but the months-long promotion of Fred Pearce and his book.

    I remember a Climate Audit comment (IIRC from Steve Mosher), in response to the hacker wondering what was going on with the material he had provided, that things were happening “behind the scenes.” I thought at the time and still think that the reference was to negotiations with the media, including and certainly most importantly the Guardian.

    Maybe they’ll be too embarrassed to play such a role this time around, but as we see with the AP story much of the media remains primed for this stuff.

  16. WyrdWays says:

    Very much on-topic, I’d say.

    The technical level of the climate change debate (is it really warming? by how much,?will it affect us badly? is the conspiracy from warmists or denialists?) is in many ways irrelevant.

    It is plain to all we are taking a huge gamble with our future, by continuing to pump out GHGs, irrespective of the details. The consequences of runaway climate change are non-trivial – and so to be avoided, even if the risk was as low as 1%, or 1:1000.

    The phony war over AGW is a dangerous distraction.

    Because, as Naomi Klein says, the fact that our system allows us to push those dangerously risky boundaries, without a care or a thought, reveals how psychotic our materialist economic system has become.

    Climate change requires fast deployment of technical solutions, to reduce emissions, undoubtedly. But without radically changing the system, we will continue to crash in natures hard-edged boundaries.

    The good news is that radically changing the system could mean the unlocking the traps of global inequity, the smashing the relentless pace of the economic treadmill for all, and ability to focus on the happiness, health and social riches of all of humanity.

    That’s a good sell – and where the CC debate really needs to be taken.

  17. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Monbiot suffered a severe case of ‘holier-than-thou-ism’ over the stolen and misrepresented e-mails. He played into the villains’ hands. A real error of judgment in my opinion, like his latter-day nuclear mania.

  18. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Of course she is correct, but HOW exactly does she propose to ‘make a case’. The villains of the piece, the architects of our doom, the 1% of relentlessly avaricious parasites, control politics, business and the MSM. If Klein came close to persuading the populace to abrogate capitalism and redistribute the planet’s wealth from the 1 to the 99, she would be subjected to a campaign of vilification without parallel, and quite possibly worse. If she lived in Colombia or a score of other countries, her fate would be grim indeed.

  19. Andy Revkin says:

    Just to be clear, no British law enforcement agency has yet said whether a crime has been committed. I have called the Norfolk Constabulary more than once and mum’s still the word. In my post today I suggested someone send in Nicholas Angel (the bane of criminals in exurban England from Hot Fuzz):

  20. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Precisely-the MSM, ahem, manipulate themselves, if you get my drift.

  21. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Monbiot was in my opinion incorrect to make a fuss over the stolen e-mails, but I still see him as an honest and honourable contributor. ‘The Guardian’, however, is, I believe, a tricky, slippery, disingenuous and dishonest organ of the Rightwing MSM. Its charade as the ‘liberal’ voice is betrayed by its actions, over and over, and we must never forget to beware the capitalist wolf in ‘liberal’ sheep’s clothing.

  22. The most fascinating part of Climategate 2.0 is concept that it is aimed at derailing the talks in Durban.

    Number one, the public doesn’t even have a clue that Durban is happening. Or care.

    Secondly, those few who do care have been feasting on a steady diet of “nothing meaningful is going to happen until 2020 at the earliest”.

    Either the hackers are totally clueless or there is some level of progress happening under the surface in the run up to Durban that hasn’t made it into the press.

    It would ruin the whole narrative arc of our climate misery for sanity to suddenly march onto the stage at Durban…so I’m going to sadly have to go with “clueless”.

  23. I’m not sure I get the reference to “Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere unless…” There is no claim that temperatures are rising throughout this region or any other, is there? Maps such as this: always show global warming to be a scattered affair, concentrated in polar regions, with some areas of cooling in the tropics as well as elsewhere, but with average warming. So why would observations that don’t show warming everywhere even be an issue?

  24. Stephen Watson says:

    “Two years ago, emails were released and the American people were lied to about their content. Now, we are expected to be gullible enough to believe the original liars a second time.”

    That’s like the government lying about Iraq and then expecting them to believe similar lies about Iran! Oh, hold on a minute …

  25. Lionel A says:

    What don’t you get Andy?

    Crimes have been committed and at so many levels.

    This was no whistle-blower trick.

    The timing of the first tranche by causing trouble at Copenhagen was criminal by virtue of the fact that it caused further delays on substantive action to reign in GHGs and thus leading, by default, to millions of deaths and even more displacement in the interim.

    The latest effort by these climate criminals (whoever they be) is an attempt to repeat that process and that is another multiple crime against humanity. These are serial offenders and there is no excuse.

    I recollect that Watts, in the wake of the BEST report was bragging about knowing something that we did not. Was it this imminent release of another clutch of STOLEN emails to be hacked, in the journalistic sense, by the likes of Delingpole, Bolt, Ackerman, Phillips and others?

    Nothing is beneath Watts it would seem.

    Now assuming that you would be offended at being categorised similarly to those media hacks indicated above maybe you should consider this article by Stephan Lewandowsky and let us know what your position really is.

    No crime was committed according to police is not good enough. I once had white paint poured over a nearly new red car in the middle of a freezing February night – no crime according to the police who attended. Funny, I didn’t see it that way.

  26. Salamano says:

    I’ve got a question…

    When it’s emails from the servers at the CRU, it’s “hacked/stolen” emails.

    But when it comes from the Chamber of Commerce it’s “uncovered/discovered” emails.

    There should be more consistency, yes?

  27. Alan Larkman says:

    For me, responding to a big problem is a two-stage proces.
    First, we have to get as accurate and true an analysis of the nature and scale of the problem as we can.
    Then we think about practical solutions, in the knowledge that they may fall short of what we would really like to see.
    Kidding ourselves that all the problem demands is that we drive lighter cars, build a few nuclear power plants and beat China in the race to corner the market in PV hardware will get us nowhere.
    In fact, if we do manage to achieve some or even all of these things, and they still leave the world in a total mess, the stock of scientists and environmentalists will be devalued even further.
    We have to get concerned people (we can forget about the intellectually blind, deaf and corrupted for now) talking and thinking about the big issues, rather than pretending they don’t exist.

  28. Alan Larkman says:

    Mulga, I hesitate to risk being on the receiving end of your withering prose, but I think it is far too easy and superficial to think that our problems all stem from the 1%.
    Fossil fuels get burnt to heat my house and run my car. My country (the UK) was almost entirely deforested before the industrial revolution even started, largely to meet the needs of subsistence agriculture. Much current deforestation is still driven by poor farmers trying to grow enough to survive.
    I’m no fan of the 1% or the big corporations and I don’t want to downplay their role, but I think we should be honest about just how widely the blame must be spread.

  29. Millicent says:

    Climategate2 is so feeble that I find it hard to imagine what its purpose is. So feeble, it seems strange to me that even the usual denialist demagogues would be willing to risk their credibility with their disciples by giving time to it.

    But I note that it is sometimes referred to as 2.0. So I wonder if its purpose is to accustom us all to the material released being genuine even if it is innocuous. Then 2.1 could unveil a further batch into which fake material has been inserted, and refuting blatant falsehood becomes harder.

  30. Alan Larkman says:

    WW – I totally agree. Climate change is a problem so important and so global that it gives us the opportunity to think the unthinkable and contemplate making big changes.
    While we’re thinking about these big changes, shouldn’t we also try to push things in the direction of making the world a better and a fairer place?
    Or can we only discuss solutions that represent extensions of what got us into this state in the first place?

  31. Artful Dodger says:

    … Romm illuminates.

    Thanks for all that you do, Joe!

  32. Ed Darrell says:

    You know, we need to pay attention to history on this.

    In December of 1917 H. L. Mencken wrote a hoax story for his column, an effort to show that the American public, even in time of war, would believe any fool thing in print. The completely false story was that Millard Fillmore’s only notable achievement as president had been to put a plumbed bathtub in the Executive Mansion (not called “White House” until after 1900).

    To his chagrin, the hoax took off. Even today you can find that claim at many places, some of them quite authoritative and all of them who should know better.

    Worse, the story obscures Fillmore’s actual actions as president, including the opening of Japan to trade and commerce. This latter action could be blamed partly for events in China including the Boxer Rebellion, and it certainly was a chief cause of the Russian-Japanese War, and it might rightly share some blame for Japan’s dreams of empire that resulted in World War II in the Pacific.

    See the story about Mencken, here:

    A hoax that has a plausible story line can catch on.

    We need to ask serious questions in this discussion, especially about how to talk about it. Which group of scientists is the mad scientist group? Which story, if followed, leads to ruination of economies? Which story, if not followed, leads to destruction of major economic powers and an upset of world order?

    This seems a lot like one of the early James Bond movies. Where is Bond when we need him?

  33. Lore says:

    Sequels are never quite as satisfying as the original. Although they do bring back the die hard fans to the box office.

    Chalk it up as just another feckless attempt at igniting the base of nascent nattering nabobs of negativism.

  34. Well, if you’re still hung up over that difference as if it means the entire world, just remember that the US State Department diplomatic cables were emphatically not hacked — they were leaked by a whistleblower.

    — frank

  35. Andy, I’d wager the police are just being cautious and talking up the uncertainty. The balance of evidence certainly suggests there was a cyber-attack on CRU (if not on RealClimate).

    — frank

  36. Berbalang says:

    The target is to stir up the Climate Deniers (The ones a few cans short of a six-pack.) to get them to take disruptive action during the Summit. I view my pessimism as being realistic. Admitedly I would love it if the hacker’s scheme backfired.
    FOIA is the name that the hacker seems to use to announce postings. I have to wonder what really motivates him/her/it. Is it coverage of Climategate? Is it stopping the UN Summit? Is it payment from a conservative think tank?
    There was a readme.txt(?) file with the emails, I have read excerpts but think it might be illuminating to read the whole thing just to get an idea of what really motivates FOIA.

  37. Mike Roddy says:

    Nice post, Lionel.

    Scotland Yard and other law enforcement agencies appear to be indifferent about who hacked CRU and burglarized Victoria. An independent investigation is called for.

  38. prokaryotes says:

    British police investigating climate email hackers

    (Reuters) – British police will examine a batch of email exchanges between climate scientists which appeared on the Internet Tuesday as part of an inquiry into the hacking of the private documents, police said Wednesday.

    The University of East Anglia, whose Climate Action Research Unit is considered one of the world’s leading institutions on climate science, said the emails appeared to be “a carefully-timed attempt to reignite controversy over the science behind climate change.”

    “Nothing so far leads us to believe the emails raise any new issues. If, on closer study, we see anything that requires further investigation, that we will do,” Edward Acton, vice chancellor of the university, told reporters Wednesday.

    “It may throw more light on the perpetrator rather than the victims of this invasion of privacy. I am very keen to know who did it,” he added.

    Good News!

  39. Berbalang, one admittedly hacky way to extract just the README file is to download the front part of the file and then run “pkzipfix” (or whatever equivalent .zip file repairing program you have) on the partial file.

    Oddly enough, the first half of the file is pretty much just the README and the encrypted all.7z file. I find that pretty irritating. :|

    — frank

  40. Random, possibly (un)related fact:

    Yesterday at 12:11 UTC I got this terse comment on my Decoding SwiftHack blog:


    Wake up!

    Not sure if this mysterious commenter has anything to do with SwiftHack, but there you go.

    — frank

  41. Peter Mizla says:

    funny how republicans in the US see infinite markets, using fossil fuels that produce a atmospheric blanket that can and will warm the climate to intolerable levels.

    its also fun to see through this folly, for what it is- something that all global conflicts of the past could not accomplish through World Wars- mass culling of the population.

  42. Texas Aggie says:

    “… an action plan created by the American Petroleum Industry outlined a strategy to manipulate media outlets in order to create confusion among the public about climate science.”

    Does anyone need any further evidence of who the hackers were working for? Don’t forget that the same organizations who scripted Big Tobacco’s fight against the Surgeon General’s report have been enlisted in this fight against the science of global warming. I have no doubt that one of those organizations is responsible for hacking and disseminating the edited emails.

  43. Rob Jones says:

    I love it.
    To read this when I posted an exact sentiment only yesterday is heart lifting.
    There must be more of us around than we realise. I live in Australia and have arrived at your exact same conclusions. Your post has given me more drive to continue to prosecute my case I hope mine will do likewise for you.

  44. Rob Jones says:

    I understand your point but I believe the reason that the UK did as you say was that it had exceeded the natural carrying capacity of the islands.
    Without the fossil fuels that were used to support this a new dynamic equilibrium would have been established that would have been sustainable. An new one will also be reached worldwide. You can depend on t. Either we will work with nature to achieve it or nature will do it for us. Both prospects involve some harsh measures but one we can have some control of an the other will be forced upon us. A more enlightened society would choose to humanely impose constraints. Can we get there? I do hope so.

  45. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Alan, my prose is more blathering the withering, believe me. I agree with what you say. We’re all complicit in this disaster, but it is a matter of degree. The 1% are merely metaphorical. The 0.1% are probably even more dangerous, rascally and destructive, and the top 10 or 20% are certainly more responsible than the bottom 80 or 90%. In the end I see the capitalist system as the prime villain, and I see it as the outgrowth of the psychopathology of the worst and most dangerous human beings. Why they are as they are is a BIG question, but even more puzzling is the degree to which people who are victims of this destructive and iniquitous system identify with it and reject all alternatives to it. That is really mystifying.

  46. Alan Larkman says:

    Rob Jones – sorry, I didn’t choose my examples very well. I just meant to say that causing damage to the environment and to our future was not restricted to the 1%.
    Your point about carrying capacity is well made. Many studies have shown that we are well above the sustainable carrying capacity of the earth, even without that capacity being reduced by climate change. Until the wealthy (maybe 20% globally?) stop consuming far more than they need, and until we moderate what WyrdWays aptly called ‘the relentless pace of the economic treadmill’ we will just lurch from one crisis to another, and the least well off will always bear the worst of it.

  47. Alan Larkman says:

    Mulga – I think that is spot on (except the bit about blathering – I always enjoy your comments).
    These are massive issues and problems, and I don’t like hearing simplistic explanations and solutions, especially when they let us point the finger at someone else and say it’s all their fault.
    Why are we like we are? I always think in terms of biology. We have inherited a set of instincts and drives that probably served us very well during our dog-eat-dog evolutionary past, making us energetic, competitive and self-centred. But they are proving disastrous in an overcrowded and overexploited world. In other words, we’re well adapted for fighting against the natural world, not so good at nursing and supporting it. It’s going to need a big change in culture and outlook to equip us for this new situation.
    Why do so few see this? For me, it just highlights the enormous power of skilful and incessant propaganda.

  48. Salamano says:

    It looks like my response got deleted. It’s okay. It’s a sensitive topic.

  49. KiwiCM says:

    The Denial Movement

    Got denial constipation?
    Can’t get that train to leave the station?
    Not a plausible fact in creation?
    But then how to spread it across the nation?
    Simply use insinuation and allegation
    Add accusation and defamation
    Then simply call for a new investigation
    To resume sphincter relaxation

  50. Martin Vermeer says:

    A Nature interview with Phil Jones on Nov 18 last year was quite explicit:

    Although the police and the university say only that the investigation is continuing, Nature understands that evidence has emerged effectively ruling out a leak from inside the CRU, as some have claimed. And other climate-research organizations are
    believed to have told police that their systems survived hack attempts at the same time.

    The latter would include RealClimate.

    Andy, perhaps you’re just not important enough a journalist to be given real answers ;-)

  51. a face in the clouds says:

    The story does not appear to be getting any traction in the “mainstream” fringe press (InfoWars, Rense, Drudge, etc.). There seems to be even less interest among audiences beyond the fringe. During a recent visit to North Texas, I spent a good deal of time channel surfing through my in-laws’ vast selection of religious/political cable programs from around the U.S., and there was no mention of the story. It’s noteworthy because these have been reliable vehicles for spreading disinfo into the barber shops, but this time they didn’t bite.

    Haven’t seen nor heard much of anything about it in the state’s mainstream press either. In the aftermath of last summer I don’t think they can look people in the eye and report this stuff anymore. The fake balance sounds foolish when people can see the truth just outside their living room window. Texans who didn’t believe the science now believe their own eyes.