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 HadCRU. The 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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