“Teacup Tempest”?

William F. Jasper | The New American
Friday, 18 December 2009

"As near as I can tell, Climate-Gate is almost entirely a tempest in a teacup,” wrote Kevin Drum in a November 30 column for the left-wing magazine Mother Jones. “There’s nothing questionable there,” he insisted. The tempest-in-a-teacup/no-big-deal trope has been regularly invoked by the proponents of global-warming alarmism to dismiss the significance of what may be one of the biggest science scandals in history.

The “Climategate” to which Drum refers is, of course, the still-developing scandal involving the release of thousands of e-mails and documents from a British climate research center. The leaked documents expose some of the biggest scientific names in the global-warming debate to serious charges of fraud, unethical attacks on colleagues, censorship of opposing viewpoints, and possible criminal destruction of, and withholding of, evidence.

The timing of Climategate has been a major boon to skeptics of catastrophic climate change and a monster headache to alarmists, breaking onto the world scene only three weeks before the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) convened on December 7 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Michael Mann, James Hansen, Phil Jones, Michael Oppenheimer, Stephen Schneider, and Kevin Trenberth — some of the biggest names in global-warming alarmism — are unfavorably exposed in the documents that were posted on the Internet on November 20 by unknown hackers who penetrated the computer system of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at Great Britain’s University of East Anglia. Phil Jones, the director of the CRU and a top guru in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN’s climate brain trust, comes off especially poorly in the e-mails. After initially balking at calls to resign or step down, the university announced on December 1 that Jones would be taking temporary leave while an independent inquiry is conducted into the matter.

Climatologist Patrick Michaels, who has long criticized the IPCC process, sees the e-mail scandal far differently than Kevin Drum, and chooses a much different metaphor to describe it. “This is not a smoking gun,” says Dr. Michaels, “this is a mushroom cloud.” On the face of it, it would seem difficult to dispute Professor Michaels’ assessment. The Climategate e-mails provide powerful confirmation of charges by many scientists over the years that the UN’s IPCC process is politically — not scientifically — driven and that claims of scientific “consensus” to justify radical policies are a gross corruption of science. In the past, scientists who questioned the Jones-Mann-IPCC “consensus” have been denounced as “deniers” — a vicious attempt to associate them with Nazi holocaust denial — or “shills” for the fossil-fuel industries … or both. Now, however, scientists who cannot be classified as skeptics — indeed, some are prominent names in the alarmist camp — are challenging the IPCC and the Climategate defendants to come clean and release the data on which they have been basing their dire predictions, but have been withholding from the public and their scientific peers.

“Tricks” and “Consensus”

In one damaging e-mail that has been widely publicized, Jones writes to colleagues that he has just used “Mike’s Nature trick” of adding other temperature data to “hide the decline” in recent global temperatures. They had to resort to such trickery because the data conflicted with their claims that anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming, or AGW, is heating up the planet to unacceptable levels and must be curtailed before it leads to irreversible global catastrophe.

The Mike referred to in this message is Michael Mann, professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University, whose influential “hockey stick” graph utilized statistical manipulation to produce a curve that would support claims of recent human activities causing the warmest period in the past millennia. The now thoroughly discredited “hockey stick,” which was a big component of Al Gore’s Nobel Prize-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, attempted to wipe the Medieval Warm Period, one of the most solidly established periods of climate history, from the historical record.

During the Medieval Warm Period (about A.D. 800–1300), temperatures were higher than today; the Vikings colonized then-balmy Greenland and roamed the ice-free waters of the North Atlantic. If allowed to stand, this inconvenient truth would undercut the alarmists’ exaggerated claims that burning fossil fuels is causing the warmest temperatures in 1,000 years.

In trying to make the Medieval Warm Period disappear, the Jones/Mann team went too far, and other scientists responded with a robust “smack-down” of this attempt to falsify the historical record. However, before Mann was forced to retract some of his most egregious statistical falsifications, he and his allies had managed to vilify many reputable scientists and keep their sham going for several years. In 1998, astrophysicists Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics challenged the Mann-Jones thesis, arguing in the journal Climate Research that the evidence supported the existence of the Medieval Warm Period. Drs. Soon and Baliunas were soon subjected to a smear campaign and six editors at Climate Research were forced to resign for allowing the Soon-Baliunas article to be published.

Now the Climategate e-mails are showing that the corruption of science in the name of “saving the planet” from the supposed scourge of climate change is far more extensive and egregious than the public or the scientific community realized.

In an e-mail of January 29, 2004 to Michael Mann, Phil Jones refers to the recent death of global-warming critic John L. Daly with this churlish comment: “In an odd way this is cheering news!” In the same e-mail, Jones then suggests to Mann that he has obtained legal advice that he does not have to comply with Freedom of Information (FOI) requests from other scientists to release data and codes underlying his research claims.

Some of the e-mails seem to confirm concerns that Jones, Mann, et al., have destroyed data that could expose their fraudulent methods. That appears to be the case in a May 29, 2008 e-mail message, in which Jones writes to Mann about deleting data for the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4):

Mike, Can you delete any e-mails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise.... Can you also e-mail Gene and get him to do the same?... Will be getting Caspar to do likewise.

In another e-mail that has shocked and infuriated many in the scientific community, Jones reveals the lengths to which he is willing to go to sabotage fellow scientists in order to maintain the myth of AGW “consensus.” In a July 8, 2004 e-mail, Jones assures Mann that he (Jones) and Kevin Trenberth will censor opposing scientific views from the forthcoming IPCC report. Jones writes:

I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!

Similar e-mails paint a picture confirming the charges of critics that Jones, Mann, and other IPCC activists constitute a “climate mafia” or “climate cartel” that punishes dissenters and rewards those who toe the global-warming party line. The e-mails are shedding light on ugly episodes over the past decade or more in which the cartel trashed the reputations of, and slammed doors on, distinguished scientists who dared to dispute the politically ordained AGW orthodoxy. With this kind of control, claims of overwhelming consensus become a self-fulfilling prophecy; contrary opinions are effectively barred from publication in accepted “peer-reviewed” literature. Besides Drs. Soon and Baliunas, other eminent scientists who are trashed or referred to crudely in the CRU e-mails include Richard Lindzen; Hans Von Storch; Sonia Boehmer-Christianson; Patrick Michaels; Roger Pielke, Sr.; Robert Balling; Fred Singer; and Tim Ball.

Huge government grants, impressive computer models, and guaranteed headline stories from sympathetic activists in the media have transformed climate scientists into celebrities and power brokers. However, even with their super computer programs, political connections, and prestigious awards, they still haven’t learned how to predict the weather, let alone control it.

An amusing admission against interest is this comment in an October 12, 2009 Climategate e-mail from Dr. Kevin Trenberth. He is stunned that not only have temperatures not warmed as predicted, but the temperatures have actually hit historic lows in his area, contradicting the supposedly authoritative pronouncements of the climate cartel. Trenberth comments:

Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming? We are asking that here in Boulder [Colorado] where we have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record.

Trenberth then goes on to admit: “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.”

Not only did Trenberth, Jones, Mann, et al., miss the current temperature downturn, but none of the IPCC’s highly praised computer models foresaw the global mean temperature decline of the past decade. However, their inability to explain away this enormous fact, which Trenberth admits is “travesty,” has neither diminished the cartel’s certitude nor dampened its zeal for implementing a planetary climate regime.

“Ignore That Man Behind the Curtain”

For years, the IPCC climate cartel has been using the “Wizard of Oz” defense every time some “Toto” pulls back the curtain to expose the IPCC’s secretive machinations and its sanctimonious claims of “transparency,” “openness,” and “overwhelming consensus.” Inquiring scientists and the general public alike are told not to pay attention to the mysterious process behind the curtain where the fantastic and frightening scenarios of impending doom are being created.

However, two Canadian “Totos” refused to stop tugging on the curtain, and, as a result, have successfully exposed some of the trickery of the IPCC “wizards.” Retired businessman and statistician Stephen McIntyre and economist Ross McKitrick have doggedly pursued the truth and have subjected the IPCC’s “climate science” to rigorous examination. Troubled by unexplained statistical anomalies in Mann’s infamous “hockey stick” graph, they contacted Mann to request copies of his data sets. Mann balked and also refused to divulge publicly the algorithm he had used to concoct his “hockey stick” graph. McIntyre and McKitrick published several articles challenging Mann’s work on a number of key points. Their path-breaking research sparked a congressional hearing validated by two independent academic panels, one of which was appointed by the National Academy of Sciences.

McIntyre and McKitrick have continued their independent investigations on their award-winning Internet website,, which has won the respect of even many AGW proponents. However, it is clear that Mann, Jones, and the climate cartel regard the two dauntless sleuths as the enemy, and they are the subject of many Climategate e-mails, often referred to as “MM” or “the two MMs.”

In an incriminating CRU e-mail of February 2, 2005, Jones writes to Mann:

The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone.

Oops! The Dog Ate It

The climate cartel, it appears, has already carried through on the data deletion threat. Scientists at the University of East Anglia CRU have admitted throwing out much of the raw data on which their ominous predictions are based.

In a statement on its website, the CRU said: “We do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (quality controlled and homogenised) data.” What happened to the original data? According to the CRU, it was discarded back in the 1980s. What this means is that the original CRU data cannot be checked or replicated, which means that the graphs, research, and predictions supposedly based on the missing data is worthless. The available “value-added” and “homogenised” data would also then be worthless, since there would be no way to verify or replicate it.

How many other data sets have likewise been “lost” or “accidentally deleted”? We may soon find out, as official investigations and FOIA lawsuits progress. In the meantime, we are simply supposed to trust the IPCC “experts” who say that we must “invest” trillions of dollars for mitigation and reparation of past carbon consumption, as well as for prevention of future warming.

IPCC vice-chairman Jean-Pascal van Ypersele tried to minimize the significance of the e-mail scandal as the Copenhagen conference opened by claiming that Climategate only pertains to one data set out of many that confirm the serious peril posed by anthropogenic global warming.

“It doesn’t change anything in the IPCC’s conclusions,” said van Ypersele, “it’s only one line of evidence out of dozens of lines of evidence.” This is the party line echoed by most of the AGW alarmists in government, media, and environmental activist circles. Along with this corollary: The skeptics (or “deniers,” “shills”) are exploiting the e-mail controversy simply to sabotage Copenhagen and distract the scientists and politicians from the important work they must conclude there.

“We mustn’t be distracted by the behind-the-times, anti-science, flat-earth climate sceptics,” British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the Guardian. “We know the science. We know what we must do. We must now act and … seal the deal.”

Brown’s Environmental Secretary, Ed Miliband, was even more scathing, describing skeptics as “dangerous and deceitful.” “The approach of the climate saboteurs is to misuse data and mislead people,” he charged. Miliband’s accusations are especially audacious, inasmuch as it is his alarmist camp, not the skeptics (or “climate realists,” as many prefer to call themselves), that has been caught red-handed misusing data. “The skeptics are playing politics with science in a dangerous and deceitful manner,” Miliband continued, then concluded with this warning: “There is no easy way out of tackling climate change despite what they would have us believe. The evidence is clear and the time we have to act is short. To abandon this process now would lead to misery and catastrophe for millions.”

According to van Ypersele, “We are spending a lot of useless time discussing this rather than spending time preparing information for the negotiators.”

Professor Judith Curry has provided van Ypersele, Miliband, Brown, the IPCC, and other alarmists with an easy solution to this problem: Stop hiding your data and stop engaging in the hostile “tribalism” displayed in the infamous e-mail attacks on fellow scientists. Dr. Curry is no “climate skeptic.” In fact, she is an AGW true believer, an IPCC expert reviewer, and chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Curry says:

Scientists claim that they would never get any research done if they had to continuously respond to skeptics. The counter to that argument is to make all of your data, metadata, and code openly available. Doing this will minimize the time spent responding to skeptics; try it! If anyone identifies an actual error in your data or methodology, acknowledge it and fix the problem. Doing this would keep molehills from growing into mountains that involve congressional hearings, lawyers, etc.

In other words, why not actually practice the transparency and openness that the UN and IPCC claim to favor? Don’t hold your CO2 while waiting for that to happen.