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Posted by wmmbb in Environment.

Now we have  “climategate” – the definitive proof, or so the story goes, that climate scientists have been cooking the books.

The BBC reports:

The e-mail system of one of the world’s leading climate research units has been breached by hackers.

E-mails reportedly from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU), including personal exchanges, appeared on the internet on Thursday.
A university spokesman confirmed the email system had been hacked and that information was taken and published without permission.

An investigation was underway and the police had been informed, he added.
“We are aware that information from a server used for research information in one area of the university has been made available on public websites,” the spokesman stated.
“Because of the volume of this information we cannot currently confirm that all of this material is genuine.

“This information has been obtained and published without our permission and we took immediate action to remove the server in question from operation.
“We are undertaking a thorough internal investigation and we have involved the police in this enquiry.”

Researchers at CRU, one of the world’s leading research bodies on natural and human-induced climate change, played a key role in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report, which is considered to be the most authoritative report of its kind.

So what is to be made of the emails? Why were they hacked? Who did it? Do they significantly discredit the weight of published, vetted scientific research? What conclusions if any can be drawn from this material?

According to Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, writing in The Guardian:

For the past few years, a small group of climate change ‘sceptics’ have been poring over scientific journal papers that report historical trends in temperatures from around the world, as recorded by directly by thermometers and other instruments, and by ‘proxies’, such as tree rings. Their primary objective has been to seek out evidence that global warming has been invented by climate researchers who fake their data.

Why would either party to this now sordid tale wish to do what is alleged?

The attacks on the hockey stick graph led the United States National Academy of Sciences to carry out an investigation, concluding in 2006 that although there had been no improper conduct by the researchers, they may have expressed higher levels of confidence in their main conclusions than was warranted by the evidence.

The ‘sceptics’ believe they have been vindicated and have presented the hockey stick graph as proof that global warming is not occurring. In doing so, they have ignored the academy’s other conclusion that “surface temperature reconstructions for periods prior to the industrial era are only one of multiple lines of evidence supporting the conclusion that climatic warming is occurring in response to human activities, and they are not the primary evidence”.

More importantly, these skeptics have not overturned the well-established basic physics of the greenhouse effect, namely that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and increasing its concentration in the atmosphere causes the earth to warm. They also have not managed to make melting glaciers and rising sea levels, or any other evidence of warming, disappear into thin air. But they have managed to confuse some of the public about the causes of climate change.

The self proclaimed climate warming deniers have to prove that carbon dioxide, and for that matter methane, are not increasing in volume in the Earth’s atmosphere, and that they are not greenhouse gases.


The climate scientists are liars story is continued, with more expertise in other places:

Kevin Grandia at Desmog.com

Brian, as expected, is on the case at Larvatus Prodeo.

Real Climate is onto the CRU Hack as well.

So what was the point of the hacking? The challenge that the “skeptics” or “delusionists” should take up, is not to engage in argumentum ad hominen but to produce evidence that global warming and climate consequences are not taking place and implied from the continuing emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The argument based on bad faith and deception is juvenile. In other words the delusionists would have to understand the Earth’s climate system better than the climate scientist who on the balance of the evidence think that the Earth is cooking, with all that implies, some of which we may be witnessing around us. The alternative evidence, as welcome as it would be, is highly unlikely to be the case.

Sinclair Davidson sets out the case against the climate scientists based on what was written in private emails (Refer Comments for Professor Davidson’s clarification). More argumentum ad hominem, i.e. This does not seem to me to either scientific argument or meeting the standard of probative evidence. The science has to be judged on the published evidence, not the unedifying back talk in the back channels.

Kevin Drum thinks that the climate scientists have been remarkably restrained.

Tim Flannery is interviewed on Lateline.

UPDATE – 07 December 2009:

Brian, at Larvatus Prodeo, has puts the case covering most of the important issues for the scientists side in the contest it seems with the climate change deniers.Who would have thought the defining issue of our day is not in essence scientific, which after all is methodology, but truth. What is truth – need we ask this question?



1. Sinclair Davidson - November 22, 2009

Actually I’m not commenting on their science at all. I’m am commenting on their behaviour as evidenced by their emails. Whether that behaviour has influenced their science is still an open question.

wmmbb - November 22, 2009

In fairness then we ought to consider the behavior of the adversary position (however described).

I still think that the primary issue is the science, and not the ego problems that sometimes accompany it.

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