Let’s look at one of the illegally hacked emails in more detail — the one by NCAR’s Kevin Trenberth on “where the heck is global warming?”

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"Let’s look at one of the illegally hacked emails in more detail — the one by NCAR’s Kevin Trenberth on “where the heck is global warming?”"

The answer to the question “where the heck is global warming?” is “precisely where you would expect,” as we will see.

Wired has done some excellent reporting on one of the supposed start-dumping-your-clean-energy-stocks e-mails — the one by Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado:

Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming? We are asking that here in Boulder where we have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record. We had 4 inches of snow. The high the last 2 days was below 30F and the normal is 69F, and it smashed the previous records for these days by 10F. The low was about 18F and also a record low, well below the previous record low”¦.

The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment, and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.

Note:  No, I’m not thrilled with reprinting part of an illegally stolen e-mail, but this was in Wired and has been confirmed by the author and actually deals with the science.

This email allegedly “suggests that reality contradicts scientific claims about global warming,” at least to those who don’t understand and accept climate science.  Not surprisingly, the author, one of the country’s leading experts on climate, disagrees.  Let me first note that Trenberth signed the Must Read Bali Climate Declaration by Scientists, which opens:

The 2007 IPCC report, compiled by several hundred climate scientists, has unequivocally concluded that our climate is warming rapidly, and that we are now at least 90% certain that this is mostly due to human activities. The amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere now far exceeds the natural range of the past 650,000 years, and it is rising very quickly due to human activity. If this trend is not halted soon, many millions of people will be at risk from extreme events such as heat waves, drought, floods and storms, our coasts and cities will be threatened by rising sea levels, and many ecosystems, plants and animal species will be in serious danger of extinction.

One can only dream that we lived in a world where that important declaration by more than 200 of the world’s leading climate scientists would get even one half the media coverage of a bunch of stolen e-mails that do nothing whatsoever to change the scientific evidence or the urgent need for action.  But I digress.

Trenberth says,  “If you read all of these e-mails, you will be surprised at the integrity of these scientists.  The unfortunate thing about this is that people can cherry pick and take things out of context.”  Here is Trenberth explaining what his e-mail in fact meant in context:

But Trenberth, who acknowledged the e-mail is genuine, says bloggers are missing the point he’s making in the e-mail by not reading the article cited in it. That article – An Imperative for Climate Change Planning (.pdf) “” actually says that global warming is continuing, despite random temperature variations that would seem to suggest otherwise.

“It says we don’t have an observing system adequate to track it, but there are all other kinds of signs aside from global mean temperatures “” including melting of Arctic sea ice and rising sea levels and a lot of other indicators “” that global warming is continuing,” he says.

Or, as Gavin Schmidt explains deep in the comments section of RealClimate, when asked “Is Dr Trenberth correct in his claim that we can’t explain why the planet hasn’t been warming as expected?”

[Response: It is the level of explanation that is the issue. The zero-th order explanation is that ‘natural variation’ and possible structural issues in the surface data sets are plenty large enough. But it would be good to know exactly what form that natural variation has taken and why exactly it has the impact on the global mean temperatures it has. It is this second-order explanation that Trenberth is discussing. – gavin]

I would urge people to read Trenberth’s article, which asks:

The global mean temperature in 2008 was the lowest since about 2000 (Fig. 1). Given that there is continual heating of the planet, referred to as radiative forcing, by accelerating increases of carbon dioxide (Fig. 1) and other greenhouses due to human activities, why isn’t the temperature continuing to go up? The stock answer is that natural variability plays a key role1 and there was a major La Ni±a event early in 2008 that led to the month of January having the lowest anomaly in global temperature since 2000. While this is true, it is an incomplete explanation. In particular, what are the physical processes? From an energy standpoint, there should be an explanation that accounts for where the radiative forcing has gone. Was it compensated for temporarily by changes in clouds or aerosols, or other changes in atmospheric circulation that allowed more radiation to escape to space? Was it because a lot of heat went into melting Arctic sea ice or parts of Greenland and Antarctica, and other glaciers? Was it because the heat was buried in the ocean and sequestered, perhaps well below the surface? Was it because the La Ni±a led to a change in tropical ocean currents and rearranged the configuration of ocean heat? Perhaps all of these things are going on? But surely we have an adequate system to track whether this is the case or not, don’t we?

No, we don’t know for certain what explains 2008 — but as I’ve written many times, the combination of an extended La Ni±a plus “the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century” plus natural climate variability offer more than enough explanation for 2008 being … still bloody warm, among the ten warmest years on record – 0.1°C warmer than the decade of the 1990s as a whole - and warmer than any year of last century beside (the El-Ni±o-enhanced) 1998.  And if you read the article you’ll see that Trenberth goes through all of the relevant factors that contribute to natural variability.

It bears repeating that a new NOAA-led study, “An observationally based energy balance for the Earth since 1950” (subs. req’d, release here) concluded:

[S]ince 1950, the planet released about 20 percent of the warming influence of heat-trapping greenhouse gases to outer space as infrared energy. Volcanic emissions lingering in the stratosphere offset about 20 percent of the heating by bouncing solar radiation back to space before it reached the surface. Cooling from the lower-atmosphere aerosols produced by humans balanced 50 percent of the heating. Only the remaining 10 percent of greenhouse-gas warming actually went into heating the Earth, and almost all of it went into the ocean.

That is from my post Skeptical Science explains how we know global warming is happening: It’s the oceans, stupid! The key figure:

Figure 1: “Total Earth Heat Content [anomaly] from 1950 (Murphy et al. 2009). Ocean data taken from Domingues et al 2008.”

In other words, the surface temperature data — which is subject to the vagaries of climate variability — only represent a tiny fraction of the human-caused warming.  As another recent study showed, if you look at where most of the heat is going, the warming continues unabated:

Figure [2]: Time series of global mean heat storage (0-2000 m), measured in 108 Jm-2.

Where the heck is global warming?  Just where you’d expect it.  The study makes clear that upper ocean heat content, perhaps not surprisingly, is simply far more variable than deeper ocean heat content, and thus an imperfect indicator of the long-term warming trend.

Let me end with Trenberth’s science-based call to action, from the Bali Declaration:

Based on current scientific understanding, this requires that global greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by at least 50% below their 1990 levels by the year 2050. In the long run, greenhouse gas concentrations need to be stabilised at a level well below 450 ppm (parts per million; measured in CO2-equivalent concentration). In order to stay below 2ºC, global emissions must peak and decline in the next 10 to 15 years, so there is no time to lose.

No time to lose.

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48 Responses to Let’s look at one of the illegally hacked emails in more detail — the one by NCAR’s Kevin Trenberth on “where the heck is global warming?”

  1. Jeff Huggins says:

    Somewhat Like Professional Psychologists Participating in Tortures

    I’d like to make a comment on the MSM coverage of climate change, following from one of Joe’s tangential comments in the present piece.

    At this point, it seems to me, “science reporters” who are participating in the MSM mess of what the MSM call their “coverage of climate change” are behaving much like those professional psychologists who agreed to participate in torture sessions. Science is (clearly) getting tortured, the public’s understanding of science is getting tortured and misled, and the entire world is going to suffer from it.

    Sometimes, to participate in things, without dramatically changing them, is to enable and condone them.

    Self-respecting science reporters — at least, those who think of themselves as genuine science reporters and who understand the power of Mother Nature — and who understand the highest aims of journalism and journalism’s immense responsibility to society — and who understand basic human ethical responsibilities — SHOULD do one of several things:

    They should either completely and dramatically improve the climate change coverage of the organizations they work for and of the MSM at large, insisting to their senior editors and their organizations’ leaders and owners that this be done, pronto;

    Or else they should resign and make a stink about it.

    (Or, if they like, they should turn in their “scientist” credentials and become fiction writers.)

    And, also, and perhaps most importantly, the scientific community should not be putting up with garbage in the media any more. How many scientists realize the vast importance of these subjects and of society gaining enough understanding and will to address these problems, such as climate change? Certainly, most do. BUT, how many scientists are actually speaking out with verve on the matter? Barely any. How many just go back to their benches and papers and sigh? FAR TOO MANY. How many “give up” on society? FAR TOO MANY.

    Does anyone really think that “giving up” is the intelligent AND ethical thing to do? Well, “giving up” on a matter like this isn’t intelligent or ethical, and it’s certainly not both.

    Although there are some exceptions, of course, many scientists are giving the impression that they are willing to put up with BS from the media, to be ignored, to be sidelined, and so forth, even when the future climate itself is at stake. Even when the futures of their own grandchildren, and their grandchildren, and theirs, are at stake!

    In my view, self-respecting “science reporters” should be marching up to the Managing Editor’s office and insisting on change. And, self-respecting scientists should be putting their shoes on, eating their oats, and getting ready to express their concerns in the streets.

    Has science not concluded that humans are warming the climate itself, in all reasonable likelihood, based on multiple independent lines of evidence? OK then, what does it say about us that we are putting up with all the BS and delays, including dismal coverage of the problem in the MSM?

    Aarrggghh!

    Jeff Huggins
    U.C. Berkeley, chemical engineering, class of 1981
    Chevron Research Corporation, 1981-84
    Harvard Business School, class of 1986, Baker Scholar
    McKinsey & Company, 1986-90
    Concerned parent and citizen

  2. Paul Klemencic says:

    When I read the Trenberth comment, I immediately knew what he was talking about. He is decrying the fact that we can’t yet track the Earth’s heat balance year to year. As pointed out in this post, the majority of the heat ends up in the oceans, and we know this heating is occurring with a certainty, even without the upper level ocean heat content data. The focus on atmospheric air temperatures by both the skeptics and the modelers is somewhat misplaced. The key metric showing global heating is sea level rise. Trenberth commented on CERES data, which is trying to measure the net planetary energy balance from incoming sunlight and outgoing long wave radiation (infrared). He was trying to see if scientists could measure the energy balance for periods as short as one year (2008) from all the observational data collected. The problem is that we don’t know how to measure or model ocean heat content on such short intervals, and can’t model the exchange of heat between the oceans and the atmosphere accurately enough yet. This is a key goal for climate scientists.

    This is a short description that I have been sending to friends to try and explain global heat buildup. The graph in this post supports this write-up beautifully:

    Lets discuss the key data supporting global warming… the effect can be summarized fairly briefly:

    First look at the heat balance on Earth:

    1. Energy from the sun strikes the Earth, and some of the energy is absorbed in the atmosphere and at the surface.

    2. The only way that energy can leave the Earth is as long wave radiation (similar to the infrared radiation a human body emits, that can be seen in IR detectors, such as those used by the military). This is because the Earth is surrounded by the vacuum of space, which prevents heat loss, and so energy loss is limited to outgoing long wave radiation.

    3. OLR increases as the temperature of the upper troposphere and stratosphere increases, and decreases as the temperature drops. Long wave radiation from lower levels of the atmosphere are mostly absorbed, then re-radiated, but the net OLR balance is set in the upper troposphere. In the upper troposphere, and in the even higher stratosphere, most of the outward long wave radiation escapes into space.

    4. If the energy coming in from the sun is higher than the OLR, the Earth gets hotter. And the heat must build up somewhere. The bulk of the excess heat will end up in the oceans, with lesser amounts melting icecaps and glaciers, and even lesser amounts heating up the land, and a small portion heating air and water vapor in the atmosphere, thus raising global surface temperatures.

    Now lets look at the data; satellite measurements show that the temperatures of the upper troposphere and stratosphere are cooling globally, so the net LW radiation going out is dropping. This is incontrovertible… a lower temperature in the atmosphere at that level must result in less outgoing LW radiation and hence less energy loss.

    So where is the heat building up? In the oceans! Sea levels have been steadily rising, and although a portion of sea level increase is due to the melting of ice sheets, the bulk is due to thermal expansion of sea water. This is also incontrovertible… rising sea levels clearly show increased heating of our planet.

    In addition, NASA’s GRACE satellite project (which uses changes in measured gravitational pull) clearly show that the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctic are losing ice mass. Furthermore,the long term global temperature record for the planet surface shows that the ten hottest years have been in the period from 1998 until 2008. So all three major components of our planet are showing heat buildup; the lower atmosphere and surface is heating, the ice sheets are absorbing more heat, and most importantly, the oceans are heating.

    Meanwhile, other possible sources of heat, such as total solar irradiance (TSI) remain remarkably constant. Although there is an eleven year cycle in TSI, the net energy from changes in solar are almost insignificant in explaining the heat buldup on Earth. A major volcanic eruption can slow down the heating for several years, but the planet has heated over time in spite of the cooling effect of these eruptions.

    Notice, all this data clearly shows global heating. The key datasets showing global warming are actual measured data, and don’t rely on the complex computer models attempting to analyze the impacts of increased GHGs on the planet. The facts point overwhelmingly to global warming, and the heat buildup will impact and severely change our planet’s existing biosphere.

  3. Eric says:

    sigh. and sadly, as my homepage (and many others are as well) is MSN.com, this story was one of the first and last things that the average citizen will read in any great depth about global warming today…or this week…maybe ever?

    I had to rush over here to see how fast a rebuttal would be supplied and to what mass it would reach.

    What is the lesson here? I’m thinking that any action, no matter how benign, can be spun by the nefarious powers that be into something sinister and controversial. I might imagine that this news should be (and will be) treated with the same unadulterated opposition and dissent from the science community as the Dubner and Levitt junk.

    At least the covering author at MSN mentioned that the opposing “expert” had their research subsidized by big oil.

    a last thought, a “worldwide coup by hundreds of scientists, scientific organizations and governments to swindle the world into paying higher taxes” is the real culprit…*really*?!

  4. Leif says:

    Right on Jeff.

  5. ken levenson says:

    I’m with Jeff and I’ll add:

    Joe you’ve clearly been too kind to Andy Revkin over these past two years of Andy’s confused reporting. I’m afraid Andy’s hacker article – which should be critically noted is on A1 in the paper! – reveals something far more prosaic and nefarious.

    At the paper there is a never ending competition to get on A1 – by almost any means necessary. Andy saw a way to hit A1 and went for it – climate crisis be damned. How did Andy accomplish this? – in a few tried-and-true steps:
    1. Get a “culture story” that is about the horse race behind the news – that’s “exciting”. (and of no news value)
    2. Better still make it a culture story that at first blush reinforces “the controversy” – allowing The Paper to demonstrate that it presents the “Full” picture. (fair and balanced)
    3. Make the culture story an explanation of the utterly obvious, imbued with the “Times Voice of Authority” – so the obvious must be somehow therefore magically illuminating…(NOT)
    4. Don’t bother actually reporting or drilling down because that won’t work with your tidy prepackaged culture controversy story line and the deadline is just too damned close….
    5. Watch the A1 editor’s salivate at this golden egg you’ve just handed them, sit back and enjoy seeing your name, once again on A1….if below the fold. (you can’t have everything)

    Far too much of what is on A1 is a product of this sort of sausage making – and Andy Revkin is a full accomplice – selling out climate science in the process. Shameful.

  6. ken levenson says:

    Let me be clear – the scenario is conjecture on my part. I don’t KNOW what Andy was thinking. BUT I do understand pretty well the sausage making that occurs there….

  7. Richard Pauli says:

    If one listens to fire department emergency transmissions, every so often the dispatcher will get the address wrong — incorrect numbers or calling a street an avenue…. but the house fire continues to burn despite any errors.

    Claiming that a reporting error is proof that there is no fire is both stupid and dangerous…the goal is still putting out the fire…. or perhaps some do not want that.

  8. Gail says:

    Jeff, I was surprised and disappointed about how tepid these experts are when it comes to ringing the alarm bell: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/f1d9f856-d4ad-11de-a935-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1

  9. It’s disheartening when the deniers get so much attention to promote the fossil fuel industry’s agenda. For me, however, it’s an opportunity to learn more about climate change. For example, when I saw this e-mail issue erupt on the front page of the NY Times, I went immediately to Joe’s blog to get the straight scoop not only from him but from the many knowledgeable letters to the editor. I wasn’t disappointed.

    As a non-scientist, but strong believer in the scientific method, I feel pretty confident from reading this blog that I’ve got a good laymen’s understanding of global warming. Joe, you need another outlet for people who don’t read blogs. How about your own television show? You came across pretty well on Letterman.

  10. Cynthia says:

    AOL SURVEY:
    Do you believe that humans impact GW? Response: No-42%, Yes-34%, Some-24%. How worried are you about GW? Not at all–58%!!!

    Deniers are good! They do double talk.
    I think we’re doomed.

  11. Richard Brenne says:

    Jon (#10) –

    I don’t see the precision of thought in your comment that I see regularly from Gail and in these postings from Jeff (#1), Paul (#2) and Ken (#5), which make truly excellent points.

    So you think that scientists make more money than the CEOS, stockholders and management of the coal, oil and gas industries, and all those that rely on them like the automotive industry? In fact because our entire economy runs mostly on fossil fuels, the denial I see is to perpetuate and sustain what is clearly unsustainable.

    Kevin Trenberth is certainly one of the world’s top climate scientists, the second-most cited by the IPCC, the only group leader or lead author in all four IPCC Reports, etc, etc. He also gives about 40 talks a year, is very kind in appearing on my panels and when I send out questions relating to talks I’m giving, he usually reponds within the hour and in detail.

    His thoroughness as a scientist in asking these questions has been cherry-picked, as the denier community cherry-picks all its “data.”

    If you really want to have the ultimate denier convention in hell, that is one thing. Attempting to drag the rest of us down with you is another.

  12. Gail says:

    Hey thanks Richard Brenne. I guess Joe sent Jon’s comment to moderation purgatory, I don’t see it.

    Although honestly, I disappointed in these deniers. These emails – and Al Gore’s house – are the most compelling evidence they can steal that watermelon warmists are part of a vast conspiracy. Can’t they come up with some incriminating sex tapes of these scientists? Now that would mean there’s no global warming, for sure!

  13. mike roddy says:

    Yeah, you’ve been going pretty easy on Andy, Joe, but some of us DE regulars are picking up the slack and whomping him pretty hard.

    There’s no excuse for giving Patrick Michaels a voice as if he were on equal footing with an actual publishing climate scientist. The Times should only mention people like Michaels, Milloy, Singer etc as documented paid shills for the oil and coal companies. It appears that the New York Times is now no different from USA Today, which is a sad state of affairs for this country.

  14. Spaceman Spiff says:

    So let me get this straight. The denialists consider climate science to be a vast conspiracy, that squashes all dissent. But then when it is discovered (in a lowly manner) that the same scientists discuss the “known unknowns” and speculate on what might be among the “unknown unknowns” — like all good scientists, their out of context statements are held up as “see, I told ya so!”.

    Boy, I’m impressed. (sigh)

  15. caerbannog says:

    FYI, here’s part of a post I put up over at realclimate.org, along with Gavin Schmidt’s reply. Gavin’s response tells you all you need to know about the AGW “skeptic” community.

    ########################################
    Under Hansen, the NASA/GISS data and source code have been freely available on-line for years. And all of the sceptics’ scrutiny of said data has uncovered only one or two minor “glitches” that have had minimal impact.

    Just a quick question (or two) to Gavin, if you feel the need to spend even more of your weekend downtime answering questions here.

    Given that all of your climate-modeling source-code has been available for public scrutiny for quite a long time, and given that anyone can download and test it out, how many times have climate-model critics have actually submitted patches to improve your modeling code, fix bugs, etc? Have you gotten *any* constructive suggestions from the skeptic camp?

    [Response: Not a single one. – gavin]

  16. David B. Benson says:

    What a complete waste of everybody’s time!

    But that was the point of “the hack”, wasn’t it?

  17. Mike says:

    Just wondering: what criteria are used to delete posts? (I ask because I’m now curious about what Jon said in that missing post…)

    [JR: Oh, repeated attempts to libel the scientific community, pushing ideological talking points that are devoid of factual content, misrepresenting the views of the editor of this blog…. If you’re curious about the kinds of things he wrote, just go over to WUWT and start reading the comments.]

  18. Trofim Lysenko says:

    My only question is thus.

    Over the past 25 years or so, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on global warming (er, climate change) research. De facto, these moneys may be viewed as having been diverted from such things as food and medicine for the globe’s most unfortunate, or perhaps from AIDS or cancer research. Opportunity cost: one could argue that many thousands, if not millions, died as a result of a diversion of these funds.

    And, now, we discover that the science underpinning the funding was fraudulently conducted.

    Should this cabal stand trial for crimes against humanity?

  19. joe1347 says:

    Ok, Scientists, it’s starting to look like it’s time to put down your pencils and sliderules and stop wasting your time writing papers and doing that silly peer reviewed research stuff. Otherwise, you won’t have scientific careers in a few years if this story gets any more out of control and Congress decides to cut off all funding for climate science in an attempt at damage control.

    The Scientific Community that already understands the facts needs to push back hard and fast on this story. It’s clearly starting to get out of control on the web with regards to creating uncertainty in the general public towards whether global warming is actually real. Hopefully it’s not too late already. Suspect that the mainstream press will be all over it next week since they just love any controversy that brings in viewers (and advertisers).

  20. Jeff Huggins says:

    (Thanks for the kind comments above.)

    I agree that many, many scientists should take a good deal of time to look up from the lab bench or the task of publishing long enough to help ensure that the public, the media, and politicians understand what science already understands. Action is a part of wisdom.

  21. Craig Allen says:

    Trofim #18:

    Have you any information about what percentage of the Global or US research budgets is spent on Climate Research? I’m betting that it would be minuscule. And how does spending on military and military research (for example) compare spending on climate science.

    People of the right so routinely resist and denounce calls from the left for increased spending on foreign aid and other assistance for the developing World, while constantly demanding increases in spending on the military. And in the US when the Democrats try to implement a more inclusive healthcare system, the right denounce it as communism or fascism, while demanding that funding for nuclear and other weapons systems be increased. The hypocrisy is galling.

    And where is your evidence of fraud? Nothing I have seen in the hacked emails so far comes even close to the duplicity, stupidity and moronic nastiness that you see in plain view in the posts and comments on the Climate Audit, Watts Up With That websites.

  22. Worth checking the high tech blog Slashdot for an interesting viewpoint: basically saying what a stupid thing it was to hack data and then offer a subset of the entire data set. Why offer 61MB of data if there was 61 GBytes available?

    http://politics.slashdot.org/story/09/11/20/1747257/Climatic-Research-Unit-Hacked-Files-Leaked?art_pos=6

  23. Leland Palmer says:

    I think it’s time for scientists to start defending themselves, and start posting on boards like Watts Up With That.

    This is fear based anti-scientific hysteria. People find the idea of a scientific conspiracy so much more comforting than the thought that the climate really is destabilizing, especially when they are victimized by paid demagogues.

    Scientists need to start frequenting such boards, and defending themselves, being nice and polite, but firm.

    Christ, it’s the new dark ages.

    And all to benefit the fossil fuel companies, and protect them from the consequences of their current and past behavior.

    Unbelievable.

  24. Craig says:

    In explaining this email, you make the following statement:

    ‘This email allegedly “suggests that reality contradicts scientific claims about global warming,” at least to those who don’t understand and accept climate science.’

    Now let’s be honest: The number of people who have the requisite scientific background and sufficient time to read and understand the relevant scientific literature so as to reach a deeply informed conclusion about global warming is actually pretty small. There are many, of course, who profess to understand the science. But that group includes a large number of people who have what amounts to a superficial understanding, gleaned from popularizations of the subject.

    For most of us, expressing a belief in AGW is really much more a matter of believing in the system, i.e, believing in the process of science, and believing that the practitioners have made a good faith and trustworthy effort to find the truth. So for most of us, belief in AGW hinges on trust in the process and the people involved. And trust is the element which is most likely to be damaged by this data breach. To the extent that these e-mails reveal behavior on the part of climate scientists that looks and feels untrustworthy to the general public, it will reduce the public’s willingness to trust in the conclusions related to AGW.

    Unfortunately, as others have noted, a significant fraction of the American public already seems to view the pronouncements of science with suspicion . It is hard to see how this kind of publicity is going help, or how that lost trust is going to easily be restored.

  25. Jeff Huggins says:

    To Thomas Friedman, Regarding “Advice From Grandma”

    Grandma advises: “Examine thyself.”

    Although I often enjoy Thomas Friedman’s column (although I recently quit buying The Times), and he and Paul Krugman (especially) do a great job of commenting on climate change, overall it is quite clear that the mainstream media, INCLUDING The New York Times, are a very big part of the problem.

    C’mon, Thomas: Just analyze the paper — ideally, the front page — over the last two years. How well is The Times covering climate change, really? I mean, Really?

    The Times hasn’t even covered the amazing letter from eighteen leading scientific organizations (including the AAAS, the ACS, and many others) that they sent to all members of the U.S. Senate regarding the clear scientific view of climate change. This is just one of many examples. And, The Times doesn’t even raise a peep to set the record straight after ExxonMobil misleads people, quite often, in The Times itself, often ON the front page.

    And, how well did The Times cover the causal factors leading up to the financial meltdown BEFORE it happened? How well has The Times covered the health care problems?

    Frankly, The Times is much more part of the problem than it is part of the solution.

    Although I enjoy your columns, usually, Thomas, your grandma really should have pointed these things out to you. (To those who haven’t seen his column Sunday, I’m referring to “grandma” only because of the theme of his column. Normally, I don’t comment about grandmas, except for positive comments.)

    I’d be happy to describe the problem to you, if you like. Both Andy Revkin and Joe Romm know how to reach me.

    If you genuinely want the U.S. to address the problems you raise in your column, you will do your very best to dramatically insist that The Times improve itself. That IS one of the key things that citizens should insist upon. Period.

    Please, if you do that, I do hope you will succeed.

    Regards,

    Jeff Huggins

  26. Cynthia says:

    My name’s not Jon!

  27. Eli Snyder says:

    I see two significant takeaways from this episode:

    1) Scientists are human. They are not always dispassionate or objective or polite. Of course that’s not surprising, but it is also not surprising that people in a position of such importance — one could argue that climate scientists at this point in history are some of the most important humans who have ever lived — will be held to a higher standard of behavior. When the stakes are this high, you can’t afford many mistakes.

    2) The skeptic community, and certain news outlets, are unbelievably irresponsible. This isn’t really news either, but it’s pretty shocking how starkly this episode illustrates it. Nothing that I’ve seen in this hacked data comes even remotely close to proving that global warming is false — and yet the WSJ, Fox and others are spinning it as though it calls the science of global warming into question. To make that claim, which they surely know is false, at this point in history… well, words fail me to express how dangerous and immoral that is. Certainly it is far worse than anything these scientists are alleged to have done.

    So far I haven’t seen the MSM calling them on it. They question the integrity of the scientists, some point out that the actual hack was criminal, but they seem to be giving a pass on the spin this is being given in some circles, which is by far the most immoral action associated with this incident.

  28. Craig Nazor says:

    I’m new here – I really like the web site! I have a few thoughts to offer.

    I believe that it is not a good idea (or very realistic) to expect many scientists to get involved in the political debate, primarily because it can appear to destroy their scientific credibility. It might be helpful for a few scientists with a flare for speaking or with a post that already includes some of the more political aspects of the business to speak out, but the majority of researchers will probably serve humanity the best by doing the observations and getting us the critical data just as soon as humanly possible.

    I think it is best to leave the main responsibility of making the public arguments to the journalists, bloggers, science administrators, and teachers, with the support of the overwhelming scientific data. And the most important part of that is to explain to more people the basic nature of science and how the whole peer-review process works to insure unbiased data. The biggest lie of them all is that somehow the scientific process has been corrupted by some as yet unexplained process.

    My experience as a teacher is that few enough Americans understand what science really is, let alone how the peer-review process works. It isn’t that hard to explain, and the explanation makes an effective argument. It’s just that more people need to be making the effort to explain how it works.

    After all, these stolen emails are really just the bits of human debris already cleaned away from the necessarily messy scientific process to leave the data behind, which is what good science is all about. A better understanding by the public of the scientific process would help enormously to effectively stifle the deniers and get the political momentum into high gear.

  29. Eli Snyder says:

    Greenfyre has a great post about the strategy of how to deal with this, definitely worth a read:

    http://greenfyre.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/cru-hack-time-to-hit-back-hard/

    News outlets such as Fox and the WSJ are spinning this as though it calls the science of global warming into question — press them to prove it. What science, exactly, is supposedly falsified by this information?

    The answer, of course, is none, but we have to make them actually come out and say that.

  30. stroller says:

    Blimey,
    I wondered why it had been so windy lately. It’s Kevin Trenberths’s arms waving about like windmills and Joe exhaling high speed hot air.

    Party’s over lads. Sorry.

  31. Jeff et al, as to media, don’t expect much. The few science jurnos who still have jobs aren’t marching into editors office on principle. I’ve been a freelance enviro and sci writer for 15 years and there is no longer any space, or money or interest in science unless its easy-to-do, contrarian crap like the CRU hack.

    Talked to many of my colleagues in last few months and many important stories are going unreported. Traditional journalism is in a death spiral.

    Will there ever be an investigative piece into who paid for this hack? This was hardly a random bored geeky teenager effort…

    Meanwhile the glaciers continue to melt

  32. C says:

    So stroller, the analysis of the laws of physics, which tells us that adding C02 to the atmosphere increases temperatures, is wrong?

    And the data that showing atmospheric temperatures rising for most of the past century, and ocean temperatures continuing to rise over the past decade, is wrong?

  33. James says:

    C – Yes, and yes. If you’d bothered to read any of the latest news (or even taken it upon yourself to read the leaked information), you’d already know that something’s fishy.

    Or, of course, you could always wait and let the Goracle tell you what to think…

  34. C says:

    Unlike probably 99% of skeptics, I’ve made an impartial attempt to see what the evidence points to. I couldn’t care less what Gore says.

    I see nothing of any great interest among the leaks.
    A ‘trick’ to help make a point. An attempt to make life more difficult for skeptics. Frustration that the case remains only probable rather than proven.

  35. Mal Adapted says:

    Just wondering: what criteria are used to delete posts? (I ask because I’m now curious about what Jon said in that missing post…)

    [JR: Oh, repeated attempts to libel the scientific community, pushing ideological talking points that are devoid of factual content, misrepresenting the views of the editor of this blog…. If you’re curious about the kinds of things he wrote, just go over to WUWT and start reading the comments.]

    So why not block Trofim, Stroller and James? Now I’m really curious about what Jon said 8^)!

    [JR: I’m just one guy. Really, it has to be pretty egregious.]

  36. Tim Joslin says:

    Hi,

    I posted a comment at 6:36am yesterday, but it’s still showing as “awaiting moderation”. I thought I was making a pertinent point. Is there a problem?

    All the best,

    Tim

  37. Ed says:

    And today the Dutch right wing paper Telegraph and Wilders right wing party the PVV picks up the story as well. Nice to know that computer whizzkids now contribute to right wing politics. Freedom of speach in Holland these days means freedom to preach your own opinions about matters, and has constituted the rain of the stupid masses over the knowledgeble few. Last year we had a mildly cold winter with not even an “Elf steden tocht” and they speak of a global cold. Wether has it’s own variation and climate itself is nothing more and nothing less than a 30 year moving average of temperature, precipitation and wind. That itself is constantly changing due to forces like rises and falls in solar activity on a short term, the continous rise of solar emmisions on eonic scale, natural CO2 emissions (decan and siberian traps), cotinental drift, oceanic cycles and jetstreams. Now we have added ourselfs to the equation. When men started to setle and practice agriculture he has transformed the landscape and he has never stopped doing so, from the hils of Lebanon to the Pantanal, from the first coal mines of the German black forest to the open cast mines Gatzweiler I and II and from the first oil and tar pits of the 19th century to the petrol stations of today, we have altered, used, abused and plundered the riches of a finite planet with a sheer infinite number of hands and mouthes. This itself posses a risk to the wellbeing of everyone as anyone can clearly see when he or she looks up from the shiny palaces of our western culture and looks at the 1 billion people living subsistance lives. And finaly we are also at the heart of climate change, the finger of science and the finger of sanity points towards our own doing. We are a contributing force to the atmosphere of the planet as Paul Crutzen pointed out when he spoke of the Antropocene. I think the PVV politicions who infest and infect Dutch politics in all shapes and form since Pim Fortuyn climbed to power in 2002 (al be it as a corpse) should try to get to Australia and explain their ideas of global cooling to a farmer who just had to sell his livestock because his pastures did not feed them anymore. Or tell it to a mother who’s house has just burned down in one of the many bushfires sparked by lightning and running out of control in the bonedry woodlands. Or they could also go to Cumbria were floods triggered by terrential downpores have wipped away bridges that stood the English climate for more then a century.

    When scientist have a discourse and decide not to accept articles into a paper or as part of a discourse it is the classic form of science. Science itself comes in two distinct flavours. Good science and bad science. The magazine Nature does not publish UFO stories (unless you present hard physical evidence prefferably in the form of a living and speaking alien ready for a beauty shot and press conference) the History channel does so without hesitation. So if global cooling stories, which contradict all sorts of hard evidence (from satelites as well as terra firma) and all sorts of places (from the tropics where Mount Kilimanjaro will soon have to undergo an name change due to lack of whiteness) to the poles (where the Eastern ice sheet is rappedly loosing mass) are scuffed they can only be scuffed because they are based on incoherent, incomplete, unexplained or otherwise inadequate science. The thruth is not a democratic event, it does not lend itself to debate and does not come sheaply either. It is hard found, it takes the sweat and inginuity of 1000th of scientists or the inginuity of single individual but it always needs to stand it’s ground in the scientific discourse. So if you tell the world this planet is cooling you need to have a verry convincing and long term dataset (as long a the 400.000 year long hockystick at best). And since this evidence is simply lacking any propper scientist will:

    a) Thouroughly question the dataset used to prove the point of global cooling.

    b) Seek for alternative explanations (try to falsify your theory is a task of the scientist presenting it but if he or she fails at this others gain the right to do so for them).

    c) Accept is as a new paradigm as step a and b seem to be unsuccesfull until new evidence shows up to correct matters

    That is the way science works and that is the way science deals with the problem of global warming/climate change. Unfortunatly in combating the results of this problem science itself (that is climate science) can be of little help, for combating the problem we need either a benevolent dictator in combination with a military willing to enforce the climate rules (China for day in Hot Green and Crowded by Tom Friedmann has a point I fear). Or we need a mass of people that is conviced that:

    a) The problem exists

    b) The problem can be mitigated by a conserted action

    c) Every indivudual should sacryfise some of their personal freedoms in order to benefit all.

    The first step has not been reached and therefor wether or not Copenhagen or for that matter any climate conference is a succes or not, no action will be taken because of politicians get an agreement (binding or not) signed, their signature will be as valuable as the electional power of the masses they think they represent. In a democraty power of a politician is derived from the people and not the other way around, and so all policy can only be as wise as the avarage of the masses and if they do not agree to the adhere to the problem politions be it Balkenende or be it Obama are reduced to paper tigers and the world will have to witness climate change in its fullest darkest scenario. All hail to a 6 degrees warmer world.

    Greetings, Ed

  38. Curious says:

    Made a comment yesterday. Seems to be still in moderation.

  39. Marshall says:

    So this is the beginning of the excuse making engine going into full protection mode. I’m hardly surprised, especially with TRILLIONS of dollars at stake. However, I’ll predict this now. This the beginning of the end for the climate change movement and is the biggest story in human history!

  40. waterguruguy says:

    as an environmental engineer specializing in remedial activities, as well as an avid conservationist, i still have many issues with global climate change…maybe someone can elucidate me on my misgivings, since most of my comments are left unaddressed at other webpages

    CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are expected to continue to increase and possibly reach 500 ppmv prior to stabilization near 2040 (remarks by Hansen), which is 150 ppmv past his declared ‘tipping point’ of 350 ppmv, when catastrophic environmental consequences will occur

    if this theory is widely accepted, why are only ‘agreements’ (read lip-service) being floated at COP-15? Why is the global community even discussing ‘funding mechanisms’ if we are moving down a path of global clamity and strife? Why doesn’t the scientific community back and support GIVING the green technology to the developing countries, so we can make ACTUAL gains is stabilizing these emissions?

    and honestly, after reading numerous peer-reviewed research papers, i am still not able to make a conclusion that i am comfortable with…many of these papers contain the words ‘possible’, ‘maybe’, ‘suggests’ a little too much for my liking, and the release of these emails do nothing but plant more seeds of doubt

    and i am still wary of the IPCC climate model results and lack of validation after nearly a decade

    and what is the ‘optimal’ temperature of the earth supposed to be anyway? do we even know?

    honest discussion and open debate, rarely seen in the contentious acedemic scientific community, needs to occur in order to further this highly volitile issue and reach more than just 90% certainty, because rarely do people forget the chicken littles (next ice-age, unchecked population, etc…)

    thanks for the forum to express my opinions and views even though they may differ from the majority on this thread

  41. Some Guy says:

    Deniers? You guys sound like religious nuts. Since when has approaching any scientific discipline with caution been such an issue? If it calls into question a worldview upon which many have based their professions, scientific integrity, and lives, I admit it would invoke quite an emotional response. But I thought scientists approached an experiment or hypothesis with no reservations or preconclusions. Massaging or altering ANY data should and would normally be the cause of a downpouring of disdain and disapproval from the scientific community.

    The point to all of this is that by even HINTING that there might be unscientific practices at play here calls into question the premises upon which scientists have made their conclusions and the direction of their research. If the foundation of your building is unstable, when an earthquake hits, it could collapse on you.

    The worst part of the whole debacle, I think, is that the data would have stood for itself – and it should have never been falsified or denied to the community in any way, shape, or form. Their acts provide fodder for others and casts a shadow of doubt on subsequently good research. Human or not, scientists’ responsibility is to present facts. These acts are disingenuous at best. And I don’t think it’s wrong to call their conclusions into question now and reevaluate everything from the ground up.

    If this was not such an emotional topic (e.g., say we found evidence that dinosaurs actually became extinct 80 million years ago instead of 65 million years ago), I don’t think anyone would take such arms against an inquiry and regrounding of the fundamental hypotheses.

    If you truly believe in these issues, then don’t be afraid to have your ideas stand to scrutiny. If you’re for enlightened ideals, then what’s wrong with revisiting the issue and gaining new perspective? Perhaps it will provide grounds for convincing more “deniers.”

  42. C says:

    waterguru, 350ppmv is not politically achievable – too many people would be unwilling to make the necessary adjustments to their lives. So we must aim higher and hope for the best. A downward revision of the target may be possible if the evidence for warming grows stronger.

    Look up ‘climate sensitivity’ in wikipedia, and consider that in conjunction with the higher temperatures that the laws of physics tell us to expect, atmospheric and ocean temperatures have indeed generally been rising.

    To a degree, an optimal temperature is one that we’re used to. Many parts of the world have been inhabited under certain weather conditions. If those conditions change, massive population movements may be needed.
    While one or two degrees would be manageable, five degrees of warming would greatly reduce the proportion of the earth’s land fit for agriculture.

  43. robert says:

    I am a regular guy with no knowledge of science. I live on the beach and keep expecting to see the ocean rise up and swallow my home. I have not seen one bit of change yet in the last 20 years. getting off petro products is something most of us understand from an economical stand point. this whole idea of al gore, eco taxs,and 30 ft rise in ocean levels in a few years doesnt work. and dont talk down to us, that wont work either. we all want a great electric car, bring that on.

  44. J~dog says:

    Could someone please point me to a scientific study that shows more than a corrollary equation between co2 and temprature?

  45. Dave Bouwer says:

    The increasing acrimonious outcry from skeptics on CO2/Global Climate is highly reminiscent of the CFC/Ozone debacle 30 years ago. We now know Rowland, Melina, and other scientists were right, the industry-funded skeptics and popular press were wrong, and the public’s view of science was terribly distorted. Fortunately, the level-headed in government, science, and industry averted what could have been a far greater disaster by banning CFC’s and finding economical alternatives. When science is done in a “fishbowl”, to those with a slanted view, the fish will look like a snake. We should spend less effort on the intransigent, and focus more on the next generation in our schools with better science education.

  46. hawk says:

    Regarding Dave Bouwer Nov. 29. Just remember 40 years ago climatologists were telling us another ice age was just around the corner.

  47. “hawk” — how unsurprising that you cower behind annonymity — the claim that “40 years ago climatologists were telling us another ice age was just around the corner” has been so thoroughly and repeatedly debunked that it is altogether impossible to claim mere ignorance on an issue so trivially easy to understand.

    That statement is nothing more than a bald-faced lie.

  48. Robert Ndlovu says:

    This is the dumbest generation of Americans in history.

    Well while you argue over trivial issues – the Chinese are finishing tests on the next electric car that will be made in China and exported to the US.

    Poor America – certainly going to the dogs – at this rate at least.